The best ways to sell your stuff online
If you’ve sorted out your product and your brand, the next thing you need to work out is how you’re going to sell. Brick-and-mortar stores require a serious investment of time and money, which is why vendors are increasingly turning to ecommerce, online platforms that offer you a virtual storefront.
(Read more on on brands leading the way with sustainable packaging here; read more on startups with incredible branded merch here.)
Ecommerce platforms offer all the tools you need to manage your own online store and payments. There are many options out there, and which one you choose depends on factors including your technical knowledge, how sophisticated your sales operations are and how much customer support you need from the platform. Here’s our guide to the best options.
The big daddy of ecommerce platforms is one of the most popular out there, having built its name on a simple and versatile system. You don’t need design or technical know-how to start your online store, and can be up and running within an hour of getting started.
With a range of mobile-optimised themes to choose from, Shopify is perfectly suited to smaller brands selling products in low-order volumes — though there is an expanded “Plus” version for those with more complicated operations, which includes dedicated account managers.
This platform is often mentioned in the same breath as Shopify, so you know it’s a strong contender. As well as the payment management and templates that you would expect, Big Commerce has a knowledge centre with articles and videos which help your business grow. They also offer a team of ecommerce experts who can provide advice about online sales.
Everything is customizable on this platform, from payment and shipping details to neat touches like the incorporation of live quotes for flexible shipping options. Their newest features include integration with major platforms such as Amazon and Instagram.
Though Wix is an all-round website builder rather than purely an ecommerce platform, it is still an attractive option for online vendors. Wix offers a comprehensive suite of tools for sales including 500 templates specifically for ecommerce, which can be edited using a simple drag-and-drop mechanic, and a library of stock images which you can use to jazz up your page. With over 100 million users and several cheap pricing models, it’s a good one for those who are getting started.
Specifically targeting artists looking to sell their work, Big Cartel is great for those looking to show off their portfolio and sell small amounts of products. There are free themes or the possibility of designing your own if you have some coding abilities, and the platform offers real-time sales tracking as well as user-friendly setup and payment options.
The third big name in the ecommerce game, Volusion offers all the professional-grade features that you expect, including SEO customisation, social media features and order management systems. It also boasts a custom design service which can help you create the best look for your store and social media presence. Another plus point is the platform’s stability, meaning your customers are never going to encounter a glitch at the point of purchase.
Often called the “Wordpress of ecommerce”, Magento is set apart by the fact that it is open source, so you can download the platform and install it on your own servers. If you have some technical knowledge, this offers an enormous amount of control: you can tweak basically anything in terms of functionality and design.
If you don’t have the knowhow, there is an alternative Cloud Edition where all of this is taken care of for you. There is a long list of the usual features, including a few nice touches such as the ability to create separate sites for operating in different languages. Best of all, the basic edition of Magento is totally free to use.
One of the oldest ecommerce platforms, 3dcart keeps a strong user base with its templates which are easy to edit and integrate with social media, as well as strong 24/7 customer support and the ability to blog directly through the site. An intriguing touch is the negotiation feature, which allows a buyer to make an offer and haggle with the vendor if the price isn’t quite right, and a specific module to order an item gift-wrapped.
More specific than any of the other platforms on the list, Etsy has a limited product range but serves its market perfectly. The site focuses on handmade and vintage items (the vintage ones must be twenty years old or more) as well as craft supplies.
Stocking everything from homemade clothing to custom furniture, Etsy is a hotbed of artisans and makers from the whimsical to the highly artistic. With over 39 million buyers on the site, Etsy is a juggernaut, and its strong community base means you’ll easily attract people to your store if you have some decent pictures.
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