The 6 Best Ways to Start an Online Shop

6_BEST_WAYSSo this is another way to make extra income online which I at first thought would be very time consuming and not worth the effort. I’ve got to admit though, I was wrong. There are so many ways in which you can set up your store, which basically does everything automatically. Ultimately the most time consuming parts would be to get the store 100% set up, and maybe also to actually send bought items to the respective buyers (but some of the shop platforms actually creates the shipping labels for you too, so even this could element can’t take that much time).

With this post, I am mainly going to discuss the different options you have when setting up your own online store. If you’re keen on starting your own online store but still wondering what to sell, get yourself some ideas by reading my next blog post, What Products to Sell in your Online Store.

In the meantime, here are the five best places to sell your stuff:

1. Shopify

There is a saying about leaving the best for last… but I’m not going to do that. Shopify is the best option, in my opinion. They have become increasingly popular and actually serve an average of 100,000 page views PER MINUTE – and this number jumps to 500,000 at peak! What I’m thinking is, with that amount of page views, certainly your shop can not NOT be seen?!

With Shopify you can have your own online store (“Sell Online”), but if you’ve got a store in real life as well, Shopify can help simplify your offline sales as well (“Sell in Store”).  I will discuss the “Sell in Store” option a bit further below.

Well firstly, Shopify offers a 14-day trial period so you can try it out before having to commit to paying feese – you don’t need to provide them with your credit card info when registering for the trial. With regard to the different plans they offer and the pricing, there are various. You can choose to only sell online – the plans range from $14 per month to $179 per month. You could also only sell in store for $20 per month to $199 per month, or if you prefer to sell online or in store, the fees range from $69 to $219 per month. The plans are on a month-to-month basis, unless you choose to sign up for an annual (10% discount) or biennial (20% discount) plan and can be cancelled at any time (which I’m sure you will never want to do in any case).

Let’s see some of the benefits you will get under the different plans – I’m just going to mention some of them however, as there are waaaay to many to list here. If you want to see a complete list of the benefits, you can find it here.

Some of Shopify’s perks – “Sell Online”:shopify

  • You can use your own domain name.
  • There are no bandwidth fees and you have unlimited bandwidth.
  • No need for your own web host – Shopify plans include hosting for your online store.
  • Shopify is constantly adding new features and upgrades and they do this automatically, without interrupting your shop… no downtime for you, meaning no profit loss.
  • Process credit card payments directly through Shopify,
  • You could sell gift cards as well.
  • Shopify has an integrated blogging platform.
  • Detailed ecommerce analytics available.
  • Built-in SEO, coupon codes and A/B testing available.
  • Also has a built-in mobile commerce shopping cart.

Shopify’s “Sell in Store” main perks (but there is a lot more than mentioned here):

  • Gives you the ability to use your iPad to scan the products your customers are buying and to collect their payment via multiple payment options – this basically turns your iPad into a till.
  • You can use your own external credit or debit terminal as well with this software.
  • It automatically calculates taxes based on your store’s location.
  • Syncs your inventory and stock count with your online store (if you have one).
  • Gift cards can be issued and redeemed in store or online.
  • Split tenders can be done.
  • You can integrate Shopify’s software with, for example, Quickbooks.

Shopify is unquestionably my preferred method to run my online shop but if it’s not quite what you’re looking for, one of the other methods below might be more to your liking.

2. Yahoo! Small Business

There are different plans available to start your own your own Yahoo! Small Business store but  typically you have an option between Basic ($26 per month and 1.5% fee on each transaction), Professional ($69 per month and 1.0% fee on each transaction) and Premier ($249 per month and 0.75% fee on each transaction). If you’re only just getting started, you could also try out their Lite Plan which is only $13 per month.Yahoo

You do get a lot of benefits for these fees though, such as:

  • Easy-to-use and customizable templates to start your store with.
  • A free domain.
  • Plenty of tools to work with, each which will help you to host, build, manage, expand, promote and maintain your online store.
  • Your store is also automatically set up to receive payments from American Express, Discover Network, Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.
  • Yahoo! makes the shipping admin just as easy because you can print labels and customise your shipping rates too.
  • Yahoo! is obviously very popular and this also works in your favour with regards to SEO – the shopping cart is also SEO friendly.
  • Powerful analytics tools for your website.
  • 24/7 support from Yahoo!.
  • You don’t need any knowledge of programming or website designing.

In my personal opinion, I like Yahoo! Small Business a lot but they are a bit expensive if you take the transaction fees into consideration. Yes 1.5% is not a lot, but if you are selling expensive stuff or if your sales are very high, it quickly starts adding up!

3. eBayebay

eBay also has different store plans available– a Basic plan from $15.95 per month, Premium from $49.95 per month or even the Anchor plan from $179.95 per month.

What is included in these fees:

  • Depending on the plan, you get a number of free listings per month (i.e. 150 for Basic, 500 for Premium and 2,500 for Anchor
  • There are also discounted auction-style insertions fees, fixed insertion fees and discounted fixed price insertions on items such as Books, Movies, etc. The percentage of these fees are also dependant on which plan you signed up for.
  • Free selling manager with which you can track and manage your sales, create email templates, print invoices and shipping labels, monitor your active listings, etc.
  • Great analytics tools for your website (though the amount of detail the analytics tool provides depends on the type of plan you have).
  • Easy templates to create your store with.
  • eBay provides an excellent tool with which you can create and manage promotions, as well as sales

4. BigCommerce

Another good option to consider is BigCommerce. With plans ranging from $29.95 per month up to $199.95 per month, is definitely a bit more expensive than a lot of other shop options but could be well worth it. With the most basic plan, you also have a 1.5% transaction fee but no transaction fee is payable on any of the other plans. They offer a free 15-day trial too so you can give it a go before you spend any money on this option. And what I love most about this trial is that you don’t need to give them any credit card information before signing up (don’t you also despise sites that ask you for your credit card information when you have no idea whether you will actually be making use of them or not?!)BigCommerce

There are also no contracts to sign, payments are made month by month.

Okay so keeping in mind that BigCommerce is a more expensive option, I’ve got to say, at least you get a lot of benefits from this subscription. As always, the benefits differ depending on the plan that you take, but generally you get:

  • Assistance to get a domain name, if you haven’t gotten one already.
  • Unlimited products.
  • Built-in blog and SEO.
  • 60+ Payment Options (I didn’t even know that so many payment options existed!).
  • Access to 150+ apps.
  • Social Shop (a shop that can be operated right on Facebook – your fans can browse and even buy items from your shop, without ever leaving Facebook).
  • Ratings and Reviews.
  • Coupons, Discounts and Gift Certificates.
  • Real-time shipping quotes.
  • 24/7 support.

If you decide to go with one of the more expensive plans, there are additional benefits as well, such as:

  • Abandoned cart saver.
  • Loyalty marketing (a type of reward program for returning and frequent shoppers).
  • Omni-Channel Sales (helps you to sell your items on other platforms such as eBay and Google Shopping as well).
  • White Glove Setup (someone to help you set up your shipping, taxes, etc).
  • Google Trusted Automation (this will help send traffic to your site) etc.

Taking into account the 1.5% transaction fee on the Basic plan together with the added benefits of the more expensive plans, I would really suggest going for a more expensive option. Or at least to start up with the Basic plan, but upgrading to a better plan as soon as the number of sales are higher

5. E-junkie

Starting at a very affordable $5 per month, as well as being able to try it out for a trial period at first, E-Junkie is a very good storefront to consider. There are no bandwidth limits, no transaction limits and no transaction fees.

e-junkieLet’s see what they have to offer:

  • No programming or HTML knowledge needed.
  • You can integrate the “Buy” or “Cart” option right onto your own website as well, if you would wish to do that.
  • If you are selling digital items, E-Junkie can store the files on their system and send it to the buyer automatically as soon as the payment has been received, together with a “Thank You” email. You can, however, store the file on your own computer too.
  • If you are selling an eBook, E-Junkie can stamp each eBook with the buyer’s name, email address and transaction ID. This helps to prevent unauthorised sharing as you will be able to see exactly who “shared” the eBook.
  • Multiple payment choices available.
  • Built-in shipping, sales tax and VAT calculator.
  • Manages your inventory automatically.
  • You can list and promote your products on the E-Junkie Marketplace, Google Center, Google Shopping, Google SiteMaps and other feeds.
  • Easily create discounts for products; you can also create percentage discount codes on order total, quantity or the shipping amount.
  • Can send updates and newsletters to buyers.
  • Built-in tracking with Google Analytics.

E-Junkie is a very good option but I would really recommend E-Junkie mostly to beginners though.

 

6. Etsy images

With Etsy you can sell more unique and rare goods, such as handmade goods such as beauty products, art, clothing and jewelry; or craft supplies suchas beads or jewlry making tools; or vintage items (items which are 20 years or older). This is obviously a big advantage if you want to sell one of these type of items because all the buyers on this site would be potential customers but if the product that you want to sell doesn’t fall into this category, then rather move onto the next option.

There is no monthly fee to start a store on Etsy, but they do ask a $0.20 fee to list an item and if the item gets sold, they charge a further 3.5% of the sale price of the listing.

Benefits:

  • There are over 30 million buyers registered on Etsy so you’ve got a lot of potential customers.
  • Etsy provides a lot of promotional tools for you to make use of.
  • There are no membership fees.
  • To list an item is very inexpensive.
  • They offer an easy-to-use payment system where buyers can pay with their debit or credit card, in their currency, but you still receive the funds in your bank account in your own currency.
  • Lots of other payment methods as well, such as Paypal, money order and cheque.

In Conclusion

I would recommend that you start up by signing up for as many trials as you can, to get a feel for each store before you commit to it. Some of these sites might work exceptionally well for one type of product or niche, but be unsuitable for another. Try them out and see which one works best for you and your products!

So how do you feel about selling products online? Have you got any personal experience with one of the shop methods in this article, or perhaps you might know of even better platforms?

Please, let me know below!

Leave a reply