February 24, 2010

Choosing the Best Place to Sell Online


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

With so many options for selling your products online, deciding which is best can be overwhelming for any small business. Web sites like eBay, Etsy and Amazon offer lots of buyers, but which, if any, are right for your business?


eBay touts itself as “the world’s largest online marketplace” and with 90 million active users around the world, it’s no wonder. As long as it doesn’t fall under their prohibited items list, if you have it, you can sell it on eBay.

With categories ranging from antiques to electronics, eBay offers small sellers an opportunity to reach a global audience. It’s free and easy to set-up a seller’s account. For a fee, you can even create an online store that can help further your brand and cross-sell.

There are various fees for selling on eBay including insertion fees (listing) and final value fees (commission paid to eBay). There’s a steep learning curve for selling on eBay, but the rewards can be great. Get your feet wet by buying a little and selling a few low-cost products before you jump in with both feet.


Etsy is a niche Web site that specializes in handmade items, commercial and handmade crafting supplies and vintage items. If you sell new products or anything that doesn’t fit into one of those three categories, Etsy isn’t for you. If your products are a good fit (like jewelry, candles or vintage clothing), Etsy can be a great venue.

It’s free to sign-up as a seller and you’re automatically given a storefront at no extra cost. Each listing cost $0.20 to create and then you’re charged a 3.5 percent commission when it sells.


Amazon is about as vibrant a marketplace as you can get. Like eBay, Amazon has multiple categories ranging from books to tools. Whiles used or refurbished items are okay, for most vintage or collectible items Amazon isn’t the best choice.

If you’re a small seller (fewer than 40 items a month), it’s free to set-up a seller’s account. It’s $39.99 per month for sellers with a larger volume. Both types of sellers pay a commission type fee on sales that varies from 8 to 15 percent.

Amazon is a good choice if you prefer or need less customer interaction. Amazon handles most of the transaction and communication. You simply fulfill the orders. eBay and Etsy require a more hands-on approach.

Your Own Web site

No matter which site or sites you choose, you should also start building your own Web store. No other site gives you that level of control or flexibility. It takes time to build momentum, but you can use your experience from selling on other sites to refine your presentation and build a client base.

Diversify. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In the ever-changing world of ecommerce, you’ve got to be ready to adapt to shifting marketplaces. Don’t be afraid to list in multiple channels. Just manage that inventory! The more chances you give yourself for success, the better.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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