Online marketplaces - what's the deal?

Sales on online marketplace sites like Amazon and eBay account for more than half of all global web sales — a whopping $1.66 trillion.

With online marketplaces continuing to grow, you’re probably wondering, “What is the top online marketplace?” and “Is it better to sell on my website or an online marketplace?”

This all-encompassing online marketplace guide will answer all your burning questions about how and where to sell online in 2020 to get the best possible return.

Table Of Contents

Statistics: Top U.S. Online Marketplaces

U.S. online marketplaces account for $525 billion in sales, making digital retail platforms a valuable investment for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). When deciding how and where to sell online in 2020, you’ll want to consider these powerhouse platforms.

Let’s look at some stats about America’s top-ranking online marketplaces:

Where to sell online: Which online marketplace is right for my business?

Now that you have an overview, let’s break down the ins and outs of where you can sell your products and how to sell online with each marketplace. Use the links below if you'd like to jump straight to a specific marketplace:

Amazon Marketplace

Amazon Marketplace ranks number one on our list of the best online marketplaces in 2020.

In the U.S. alone, more than 1 million SMBs sell on Amazon Marketplace.

It’s fairly easy to start selling on the platform, and Amazon Marketplace allows sellers to get more eyes on their products fast.

How to sell on Amazon Marketplace

Wondering how to sell online with Amazon Marketplace? Here’s how to get started:

  1. Decide what you want to sell. Amazon offers more than 20 product categories, plus 10 additional categories to Professional Sellers.
  2. Choose a selling plan. Amazon offers two options for sellers, which we’ll cover below.
  3. Create an account. To register your account, visit Seller Central, Amazon’s online interface for managing seller accounts.
  4. List your products. Individual sellers can add products to the Amazon Marketplace catalog one at a time. The Professional plan lets you add products in bulk.

If you’re listing products already on Amazon.com, you will need to indicate:

  • Product quantity
  • Product conditions
  • Shipping options

If you’re listing products that aren’t on Amazon.com yet, you’ll need to identify their UPC/EAN and SKU, as well as list product attributes like titles and descriptions.

  1. Start selling. You’ll receive payment directly to your bank account and receive an email notification when payment sends.
  2. Ship your products. Amazon will notify you when a customer places an order. You can use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to let Amazon handle shipping — or take care of shipping products yourself.
  3. Get paid. Amazon deposits payment into your bank account at regular intervals and notifies you when it sends.

Cost of selling on Amazon Marketplace

Amazon offers two plan options for sellers:

With the Individual plan, sellers pay $0.99 per item sold, plus additional selling fees.

The Professional plan allows you to sell an unlimited number of products for $39.99/month with additional selling fees.

If you only sell a few products each month, the Individual plan may work for you. However, the Professional plan appeals to sellers with larger product quantities.

Amazon ad options

Amazon offers numerous ad options to help sellers reach more customers and boost online sales.

They include:

  • Sponsored Products: Ads appear in search results and on product pages to improve the visibility of individual products.
  • Sponsored Brands: Ads appear in search results and include your logo with a custom headline to boost brand awareness.
  • Sponsored Display (beta): A self-service ad solution that allows you to reach relevant audiences on and off Amazon.
  • Stores: Free, multi-page stores on Amazon to drive customer loyalty.
  • Display ads: Ads that showcase your brand or product on websites, apps, and devices on and off Amazon.
  • Video ads: Video ads on Amazon sites, devices like Amazon’s Fire tablets, and across the Internet.
  • Custom ads: Custom ad experiences boost brand awareness.
  • Amazon DSP: Amazon’s demand-side platform (DSP) provides advanced tools for buying ad placements on and off Amazon.

Amazon shipping options

When it comes to shipping your Amazon Marketplace products, you have two options: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and the Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN).

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

A noteworthy perk of selling on Amazon Marketplace comes from Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which you can use to ship your products.

With FBA, you pay to store products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. When a customer places an order for your FBA product, Amazon receives the info, picks the stock from the shelves, packs, and ships the item.

Amazon also provides customer service for all FBA products.

FBA fees depend on the size and weight of items sold. Amazon also charges short- and long-term storage fees, so you’ll pay more for products that stay in the FBA inventory longer.

FBA offers many benefits, including:

  • Free shipping on eligible orders: FBA products are eligible for Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping perk, as well as free shipping on eligible orders.
  • Customer service and returns: Amazon handles customer service and returns for FBA products.
  • Exclusive programs to expand your reach: FBA Subscribe & SaveFBA Small and LightMulti-Channel Fulfillment, and FBA Export help sellers maximize sales and inspire repeat purchases.
  • Business management tools: FBA sellers can access optional services like product preparation, labeling, repackaging, and Amazon-partnered carrier options.

How to get started with FBA

To begin using FBA, follow these steps.

  1. Set up FBA. If you already sell on Amazon, just add FBA to your account.
  2. Create product listings. Add products to the Amazon catalog one at a time, in bulk, or by integrating your inventory management software with Amazon’s API.
  3. Prepare your products. Check out Amazon’s packaging and prep requirements to ensure your products arrive at the fulfillment center safely.
  4. Ship your products to Amazon. Finally, create your shipping plan, print your Amazon shipment ID labels, and ship your products to the appropriate fulfillment centers.

If you need to convert existing inventory to FBA, you can:

  1. Visit the Manage Inventory page and select the products you want to sell via FBA.
  2. Click “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” from the “Actions” menu.
  3. Select “Convert & Send Inventory” to continue creating your shipment or choose “Convert only” to continue adding inventory.

Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN)

If you don’t want to use FBA, you can ship products via the Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN), also known as Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM).

MFN allows you to ship products directly from your home, business, or warehouse. Just remember — with this option, you’re responsible for locating stock, packing orders, arranging shipping, and providing customer service.

Now that you understand how selling on Amazon Marketplace works, you’re probably wondering, “Is it better to sell on Amazon or my website?” 

Let’s look at some pros and cons of selling on Amazon Marketplace.

Pros and cons of selling on Amazon vs. your website

First, let’s look at some advantages of selling on Amazon Marketplace.

    Pros

  • You can start selling fast: Amazon Marketplace allows you to start selling without creating a website, and you can easily manage everything from Seller Central.
  • You can leverage Amazon’s traffic: In the U.S., Amazon has more than 150 million unique monthly visitors. If you just launched your website or don’t use search engine optimization (SEO) services, it’s difficult to drive that kind of traffic. Selling on Amazon can get more eyes on your products, which means you can sell more.
  • You can streamline fulfillment: FBA makes inventory management and shipping processes easy for sellers. So, if you’re worried about keeping up with order fulfillment, Amazon Marketplace is an excellent option for your business.
  • You can combat copycats and scammers: With the Amazon Brand Registry, you can protect your products against copycat sellers with knockoff products. Check out our Amazon Brand Registry consulting services to learn how to protect your brand!

    Cons

  • You have greater competition: While Amazon gives you access to a broader audience, you’ll also experience a higher volume of competitors on the platform. This means you’ll need to employ strategies like Amazon SEO to help your listings stand out and encourage people to buy.
  • You experience fixed pricing: Greater competition also means you’ll have to monitor your pricing to remain competitive. If other sellers offer products of equal value for cheaper, you’ll likely lose sales and revenue.
  • You have to pay fees: Selling on Amazon also requires you to pay a monthly fee, plus additional selling fees, which can cut into your profit.

Additional Amazon Marketplace resources

For more info on Amazon Marketplace selling and marketing, check out these resources from WebFX.

Summary

Want to boost online revenue fast? Amazon is a good option for small and midsize businesses selling a range of products like apparel, home goods, electronics, and much more!

START SELLING ON AMAZON

Walmart Marketplace

Walmart Marketplace comes in second on our online marketplace ranking list.

In the U.S., 100 million people visit Walmart.com every month.

Selling on Walmart Marketplace expands your reach immediately, helping you sell more products.

How to sell on Walmart Marketplace

To get started selling on Walmart Marketplace, you’ll need to:

  1. Fill out an application with information about your business and products.
  2. Sign your contract. Sign the Retailer Agreement with a Walmart representative.
  3. Complete your seller profile and connect a payment account.
  4. Complete the onboarding process. Choose an integration method, add products, and test orders.
  5. Go live. Walmart will conduct a final review before giving you the green light to start selling.

Cost of selling on Walmart Marketplace

While Walmart does not charge monthly fees, sellers can expect to pay referral fees ranging from 6-20% for various product categories.

For example, if you sell apparel on Walmart Marketplace, you can expect to pay a 15% referral fee.

Before you start selling on Walmart.com, you’ll have a chance to review the Product Categories and their referral fees in your Walmart Marketplace Retailer agreement.

Walmart Marketplace ad options

Select Marketplace sellers have access to the Walmart Sponsored Products program.

This program, which requires a $1000 minimum monthly ad spend, allows sellers to create native ads that appear in search results, as well as item, category, and product pages.

Walmart Sponsored Products

Walmart's Sponsored Products program allows you to increase the visibility of your products without paying directly for views. Similar to pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you only pay when customers click on your ad. Walmart’s internal relevancy engines help determine the best time and place to make that happen.

While sellers can oversee their ad strategies in-house, Walmart offers ad management services for campaigns with budgets over $25,000.

Participation in Walmart’s Sponsored Products program requires approval and onboarding from the Walmart Media Group.

To get started, you’ll need to:

  1. Provide basic company details to confirm eligibility.
  2. Receive confirmation of successful onboarding.
  3. Log in to advertising.walmart.com to start advertising.

Walmart Marketplace shipping options

Walmart Marketplace offers five shipping methods, including:

  • Value
  • Standard
  • Expedited
  • Next Day
  • Freight

Sellers select the carriers, shipping price, and shipping method when setting up their profile in Seller Central.

The online marketplace requires sellers to ship orders in non-branded packaging, and you can’t include materials from any company other than Walmart.

With Walmart Marketplace, sellers have access to the platform’s TwoDay Delivery option, which is a great incentive for buyers.

For more information, check out Walmart Marketplace’s shipping guidelines.

Pros and cons of selling on Walmart Marketplace vs. your website

Let’s look at some pros and cons of selling on Walmart Marketplace vs. your ecommerce site.

    Pros

  • You don’t have to pay monthly fees: Unlike a lot of other online marketplaces, Walmart doesn’t charge sellers monthly, setup, subscription, or listing fees.
  • You have access to Walmart’s TwoDay Delivery program: Sellers on Walmart Marketplace also have access to the platform’s TwoDay Delivery option. This incentive adds value and encourages shoppers to order.
  • You can reach a broad audience: Walmart.com receives 100 million unique visitors every month. Selling on the platform allows you to reach a massive audience of consumers and boost sales for your SMB.

    Cons

  • You pay referral fees: While Walmart Marketplace axed monthly subscription fees, you will still have to pay a referral charge for every product you sell. With referral fees up to 20%, Walmart Marketplace can cut into your revenue.
  • You must maintain competitive pricing: While you set prices for your inventory, you’ll need to price your products competitively to help them stand out from competitor offerings and Walmart’s stock.
  • You can’t include branded shipping: Selling on Walmart also prevents you from including branded or promotional shipping materials. So, you’ll need to consider the branding drawback when selling on the platform.

Additional Walmart Marketplace resources

For more info on Walmart Marketplace selling and marketing, check out these resources from WebFX.

Shopify

Next, we’ll look at Shopify, which is another one of 2020’s top online marketplaces.

A complete ecommerce solution, Shopify allows you to start, grow, and manage your business — all from one platform.

How to sell on Shopify

Here’s an overview of how to sell online using Shopify:

  1. Set up your Shopify account. Visit Shopify’s website to create your account and start your free 14-day trial.
  2. Enter a domain address. By default, your domain will look like “examplestore.myshopify.com,” but you can purchase a custom domain or connect a domain you already own so it looks like “examplestore.com.”
  3. Select a Shopify theme. Choose from free or paid themes. Then, customize your theme to create a unique storefront.
  4. Add products. If you’re selling less than five products, you can manually add them by listing product names, descriptions, and types, as well as uploading images. To bulk upload more than five products, you can import a CSV file.
  5. Install apps and integrations. Shopify offers a host of integrations to expand your business and help you sell more products.
  6. Optimize your site. To boost conversions, consider using SEO, email list building, and social media services from a company like WebFX.
Shopify Website

Cost of selling on Shopify

Shopify offers sellers a free 14-day trial, so you don’t need to enter a credit card when signing up on the platform.

When your free trial ends, you’ll need to select a pricing plan that matches your budget and business goals.

Choose from five plans:

Typically, small and medium-sized companies opt for the Shopify or Advanced Shopify plans, so you can expect to pay $79-$299/month to sell on Shopify.

Large businesses can sign up for Shopify Plus, but you’ll need to contact the company for a custom quote.

You may also opt for the Shopify Lite plan that allows you to sell on Facebook and interact with customers on Facebook Messenger. With this $9/month plan, you’ll add products to a website or blog and accept credit card payments.

Shopify ad options

Like Amazon, Shopify gives sellers access to several custom advertising options.

Google Smart Shopping

One of the first platforms to integrate Google’s new Smart Shopping campaigns, Shopify allows Google to pull product information from sellers’ stores.

Google then creates ads automatically and shows them to relevant audiences in places like Google search, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Display Network.

The seamless integration uses Google’s Smart technology to analyze results and optimize campaigns automatically, so you can maximize your paid ad budget.

Facebook Carousel ads

In addition to ads on Google, Shopify sellers can also run Facebook Carousel ads right in Shopify.

These ads include up to five products or images to engage customers and boost awareness of your offerings.

You can also track your Facebook ad results in Shopify.

Shopify shipping options

Shopify Shipping gives sellers access to pre-negotiated shipping rates and labels with shipping carriers, based on your subscription plan.

In the U.S., sellers have access to USPS, UPS, and DHL Express.

Sellers in Canada have access to Canada Post.

Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Choose shipping carriers you’d like to enable at checkout.
  2. Customers select their shipping service and speed at checkout.
  3. Receive payment for orders and shipping costs.
  4. Fulfill the order in Shopify and print the correct shipping label and packaging.
  5. Drop off the package with the appropriate carrier or schedule a pickup.

Shopify Shipping offers a suite of tools to aid with the shipping process via your Shopify admin. For example, you can purchase and send return labels to customers from your Shopify admin.

U.S. sellers can also schedule package pickups.

If you purchase UPS or DHL Express labels via Shopify Shipping, you can schedule a pickup from your Shopify admin. 

When using Shopify Shipping, remember that the cost of shipping labels gets calculated using the weight of the products and packaging. You can enter this information in your Shopify admin easily, as well as purchase and print your shipping labels.

Final shipping costs depend on the distance and how quickly customers want to receive the products.

Pros and cons of selling on Shopify vs. your website

    Pros

  • You can easily and quickly create a store: Easy-to-use, Shopify’s interface is built specifically for “technically challenged individuals.” That means you can launch your store and start selling without hassle. You can even use a custom domain name with Shopify.
  • You can customize your storefront: Shopify’s online store builder and themes allow you to customize your online store. Create a store to match your brand and boost awareness of your business and products.
  • You won’t have to update software and servers: Since Shopify is cloud-based and hosted, you won’t have to worry about upgrading or maintaining software or web servers. This also means you can run your business from anywhere with an Internet connection.

    Cons

  • You have to pay fees: Like other platforms, Shopify charges sellers monthly. Depending on your goals and budget, it may make more sense to launch your own site or optimize an existing store.
  • You have very basic content features: When it comes to advertising your products, content marketing is a huge asset for growing leads and sales. While Shopify offers built-in blogging software, its functionality is very basic — especially if you’re used to WordPress posting.

Additional Shopify resources

For more info on Shopify selling and marketing, check out these resources from WebFX.

Summary

Want an easy-to-use interface that lets you quickly boost online sales? Shopify is a good option for small and midsize businesses offering a variety of unique products!

START SELLING ON SHOPIFY

Target+

Target+ is next up on our online marketplace ranking list.

A relatively new online marketplace, Target+ allows third-party sellers to sell on Target.com.

The platform expands Target.com’s product offerings in categories like home furnishings, toys, electronics, and sporting goods.

Target+ Categories

How to sell on Target+

Unlike other online marketplace platforms, Target+ is invite-only.

To become a Target supplier, you must uphold the company’s values, which include:

  • Diversity
  • Sustainability
  • Education
  • And others

If you want to boost your visibility with the Supplier Diversity team, you’ll need to fill out the Supplier Registration form.

You can also connect with a merchandising or sourcing team member. If selected, you will receive an email invite from a Target team member to set up an account on the Partners Online portal.

Then, Target will validate your company’s information during its approval and onboarding process.

You’ll also need to provide a list of brands you own or license from the trademark owner.

Cost of selling on Target+

Target has not published information regarding Target+ commissions and fees.

However, Target has stated that Target+ sellers are responsible for shipping and other costs.

Target+ ad options

Target’s advertising platform, Roundel (previously Target Media Network), allows companies to reach Target shoppers with custom advertisements.

Going beyond display ads, Roundel clients can advertise brands — even brands not sold in Target stores — on Target’s website and external channels like Pinterest, PopSugar, and NBCUniversal.

Currently, Roundel is used by businesses in financial services, automotive, travel, and more. Its clients include heavy hitters like Coca-Cola, Disney, Pepsi, and Mastercard.

That said, advertising with Roundel may not be the best fit for small and medium-sized businesses. Fortunately, WebFX specializes in helping SMBs expand their presence on online marketplaces like Target+.

Check out our Target+ management and optimization services to learn more.

Target+ shipping options

While Target+ sellers are responsible for shipping products, Target processes online and in-store returns.

Questioning if Target+ selling could work for your business?

Here are some pros and cons of selling on the platform.

Pros and cons of selling on Target+ vs. your website

    Pros

  • You can entice shoppers with benefits: Target+ shoppers receive 5% off using a Target REDcard, free shipping, and easy in-store returns. These benefits, not available to SMBs selling on their own sites, can entice shoppers to buy — and become repeat purchasers.
  • You have access to a broad audience: Target is the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S. with more than 1800 storefronts nationwide. When you sell on Target+, you’ll receive access to Target’s massive audience, boosting brand awareness and sales for your business.

    Cons

  • You have a high barrier to entry: Since Target+ is currently invite-only, it’s difficult to get your products listed on the platform. You can submit a Supplier Registration form, but there’s no guarantee Target will approve your business.
  • You must have a proven track record: Target prefers to work with businesses and products that have a proven track record — and you’ll need to uphold Target’s values. This means that if you’re a startup or even established SMB, you may have a hard time gaining entry to the Target+ marketplace.

Additional Target+ resources

For more info on Target+ selling and marketing, check out these resources from WebFX.

Summary

Want to expand your reach with the backing of a renowned brand? Target+ is a good option for established businesses selling home furnishings, toys, electronics, or sporting goods!

START SELLING ON TARGET+

eBay

Another top online marketplace in 2020, eBay allows consumers to buy and sell everything, from cars to electronics, sporting goods, and more. This powerhouse platform rakes in $35 billion in domestic sales each year — and it’s a household name across the globe.

How to sell on eBay

To start selling online with eBay:

  1. Create your account. Sign up for an eBay account to start selling.
  2. Navigate to “Sell.” Click “Sell” at the top of any eBay page or go to Sell your item.
  3. List products. Create and publish your product listings.
  4. Confirm your details and start selling. During this step, you can also add an automatic payment method for eBay fees.

Cost of selling on eBay

Individual eBay sellers can expect to pay several fees, including insertion and final value fees.

Insertion fee

Each month, eBay sellers get up to 50 zero insertion fee listings — or more if you have an eBay Store (more on that later).

After you’ve exceeded the allowance, you’re charged insertion fees, which include:

  • Fee charged per listing and category
  • Fee charged for the original listing and each time you relist your item
  • Fee charged per listing if you create duplicate auction-style listings for identical items
  • Fee charged only once per listing for listings with multiple items

Final value fee

Sellers are also charged a final value fee when an item sells.

This fee gets calculated as a percentage of the total sales amount, including any shipping and handling charges.

The amount eBay charges depends on the following factors:

  • Item price
  • Item format
  • Item category
  • Additional listing upgrades
  • Seller conduct and performance

eBay Stores

Sellers also have the option to open an eBay Store to receive discounted fees and more free listings each month. Store owners have access to additional tools to manage and promote their businesses too.

To get started, you’ll need an eBay seller account with an automatic payment method on file.

If you want to open an eBay Store:

  1. Go to Account in My eBay.
  2. Select “Subscriptions.”
  3. Select “Chose a Store.”
  4. Find the Store type you’d like to subscribe to and choose “Select and review.”
  5. Select the subscription term (yearly or monthly) and enter a name for your Store.
  6. Select Submit order to purchase the Store subscription.

Store subscription plans from eBay start at $4.95/month (with a 1-yr plan) to $2999.95/month (with a 1-yr plan).

When opening an eBay store, you can choose from the following plans:

Take a look at eBay’s Store subscription fees to compare options and choose the one that’s right for your business.

eBay ad options

Like other online marketplaces, eBay allows sellers to meet specific objectives with ads.

These goals include:

Drive brand awareness

Build brand awareness for your company with these eBay ads:

  • Home Page Takeover: Purchase valuable placement on eBay’s home page.
  • Super Nova Takeover: Own high-impact, above-the-fold placements across eBay’s top pages for an entire day.
  • eBay Audience Platform – Display and Video solutions: Expand your reach across premium partner sites and use eBay’s shopper data to optimize campaigns.

Drive consideration

Get shoppers to start thinking about your brand and products with these eBay ads:

  • Category Homepage Takeover: Promote brand consideration as shoppers browse products on eBay.
  • My eBay Billboard: Personally engage consumers with online billboard ads.
  • Checkout Success Page: Reach highly-engaged customers who are ready to buy.

Drive conversions

Secure more sales and happy clients with these eBay ads:

  • Search Results Page: Encourage action as consumers search for relevant products on eBay.
  • Ebay Sponsored Ad
  • Order Details Page: Reach millions of consumers at the point of purchase.
  • Promoted Listings: Unlock placements on eBay’s most-viewed pages, including top search and product pages.

eBay shipping options

When selling on eBay, you’ll follow these steps to ship products:

  1. Set up your shipping options
  2. Print your shipping labels
  3. Pack sold items
  4. Track products

Sellers on eBay can also attract buyers with Fast ‘N Free shipping.

To qualify, you need to meet these requirements:

  • You and your buyer must both be located in the 48 contiguous U.S. states
  • eBay can estimate the product’s delivery date as four business days or less based on your handling time, the delivery service you've offered, your location and the buyer's delivery address
  • You offer free shipping as your default shipping option
  • You don't offer local pickup or freight as your first (default) shipping option
  • The listing isn't in Classified Ad format

With Fast ‘N Free shipping, if a guaranteed item arrives late, eBay will offer buyers one of the following options:

  • Shipping cost reimbursement
  • Voucher for a future eBay purchase
  • Free return label if the seller accepts returns

To learn more, check out eBay’s shipping guidelines and seller shipping rates.

If you’re not sure if selling on eBay is right for you, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros and cons of selling on eBay vs. your website

    Pros

  • You can start selling fast: If you want to start selling quickly, eBay is a good option for you. The platform allows you to set up shop and gain traction for your products fast.
  • You have access to a large audience: The second-largest U.S. marketplace, eBay receives 106 million unique visitors every month. Selling on eBay gives you access to a large market of consumers, ready to purchase from you.

    Cons

  • You have to pay fees: Sellers on eBay can expect to pay a monthly subscription for an eBay store or insertion and final value fees when selling individual products. These costs can add up quickly, so evaluate your budget and profit margins before selling on eBay.
  • You have intense competition: On eBay, there’s a lower barrier to entry, which also means you’ll face more competition on the platform. This means you’ll need to put extra effort into making your listings stand out to attract buyers and earn more revenue.
  • You have to manage your store: Platforms like Amazon offer assistance with shipping and returns. But, with eBay, you’re in charge of managing your store — listing products, picking inventory, shipping items, and more.

Additional eBay resources

For more info on eBay selling and marketing, check out these resources from WebFX.

Summary

Want quick access to a large audience of buyers? eBay is a good option for businesses selling a variety of products from electronics to second-hand items!

START SELLING ON EBAY

Etsy

Etsy is next on our list of the top online marketplaces in 2020.

An online marketplace for handmade, vintage, and craft supply goods, Etsy is an excellent option for sellers catering to those niches. With 39.4 million active buyers on the platform, you can quickly and easily expand your reach and sell more products online with Etsy.

How to sell on Etsy

To open an Etsy shop, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up to sell. Be sure to check Etsy’s Seller Policy to make sure your products meet the requirements.
  2. Set your preferences. Select your shop’s language, country, and currency.
  3. Enter your shop name. Choose a shop name that reflects your business and brand.
  4. Stock your shop. Start listing products you want to sell.
  5. Choose your payment method. Etsy sellers can receive payment via:
  1. Add a credit card. Depending on your country, you may have to enter a credit card to open your shop.
  2. Customize your shop by:

Once your shop is open, you can start selling your products!

Cost of selling on Etsy

Wondering how much it costs to sell on Etsy?

Etsy sellers can expect to pay several fees, including:

Check out Etsy’s complete list of selling fees to learn more.

Etsy ad options

Etsy allows sellers to advertise products on the Etsy site, including in its search results, and on Google.

Etsy ads

Follow these steps to get started with Etsy ads:

  1. Navigate to Etsy’s Shop Manager.
  2. Click “Marketing.”
  3. Click “Advertising.”
  4. Set your daily budget (the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on advertising per day). Etsy’s default minimum daily budget is $1. Your maximum daily budget will depend on your average spend, current payment status, and payment history.
  5. Click “Start advertising.”

By default, starting an ad campaign on Etsy advertises all your listings automatically.

If you want to update which listings you advertise, follow these steps:

  1. From Advertising, click “Change advertised listings.”
  2. Check only the listings you want to advertise.
  3. Click “Save changes.”

On Etsy, you get charged when your ad gets clicked. Etsy calculates your total cost-per-click (CPC) each day and adds it to your payment account.

Etsy shipping options

Etsy makes shipping easy and affordable for sellers with shipping labels, calculated shipping, and shipment tracking.

Like Shopify, Etsy offers shipping labels that allow you to sell directly from your shops via:

  • USPS
  • FedEx
  • Canada Post

 Even better, you can save up to 30% on shipping with Etsy Shipping Labels.

When you purchase a shipping label, Etsy marks the item shipped automatically. Just print the label, package, and send the item.

To start shipping on Etsy:

  1. Create shipping profiles to add shipping costs to items automatically.
  2. Add tracking options to put customers at ease.

For more info about how to get started, check out Etsy’s shipping page.

Not sure if you should sell on Etsy or your website?

Here are some pros and cons of selling on this online marketplace.

Pros and cons of selling on Etsy vs. your website

    Pros

  • You can reach a niche audience: If you sell handmade, vintage, or craft supply goods, Etsy can instantly connect you with your target market. Since the platform caters to a specific niche, there’s a good chance your audience browses Etsy looking for the products you offer.
  • You have streamlined shipping options: Etsy makes it easy to package and ship your products. If you’re worried about shipping rates, take advantage of Etsy’s shipping discounts to make the process as stress-free as possible.

    Cons

  • You have to pay fees: Again, Etsy charges sellers a range of fees. Calculate your budget and profit margins when selling on Etsy to make sure you’re getting a return from using the online marketplace.
  • You have limited ad options: Compared to other platforms Etsy’s ads lack customization and targeting options. If you’re looking for a no-fuss solution, Etsy ads can work for you, but you will likely need more advanced options to drive the results you want.

Additional Etsy resources

For more info on Etsy selling and marketing, check out these resources from WebFX.

Summary

Want to target niche buyers and enjoy streamlined shipping? Etsy is a great option for sellers of handmade, vintage, and craft supply goods!

START SELLING ON ETSY

Sears Marketplace

One of the fastest-growing U.S. online marketplaces is Sears Marketplace. This marketplace allows SMBs to sell products on Sears.com and in kiosks in Sears stores.

With millions of Sears.com members, you can access a broad audience of ready-to-buy shoppers.

Sears Marketplace Products

How to sell on Sears

To start selling on Sears.com, you’ll need to:

  1. Fill out your Sears Marketplace application with information about your business and products.
  2. Verify your address. To sell on Sears Marketplace, you will need a U.S.-based business address.
  3. Verify business details. You’ll also need to ensure you have an EIN or SSN registered to a U.S.-based address.

Sears does not guarantee return contact for forms. They will not prioritize incomplete forms either. 

In addition to selling on Sears, you can also apply for the Fulfilled by Sears (FBS) program.

An enterprise-level fulfillment and logistics solution, FBS allows you to sell anywhere (on or off Sears.com) and lets Sears pick, pack, and ship your items. The best part? There’s no minimum volume or long-term commitments.

Sears boasts one of the most sophisticated networks of warehouses, distribution centers, and online fulfillment processes in the country — and the FBS program is designed to fit the needs of any business, from SMBs to enterprises.

How FBS works

Here’s an overview of the FBS process:

  1. Send your products to a designated Sears fulfillment center.
  2. Sears stores your items in a secure warehouse.
  3. Customers order your products.
  4. Sears picks, packs, and ships the items.

For added convenience, Sears also offers customer service for FBS products.

Cost of selling on Sears

Sears.com sellers get charged a $39.99 monthly program fee, as well as commission for each item sold.

Commission fees depend on product categories and range from 8-20%. For instance, if you sell clothing, expect to pay a 15% commission fee for each product sold.

If you opt for FBS, you’ll have access to a pay-as-you-go model with no long-term commitments. This means you’ll only pay for what you store and ship.

Check out the shipping section below to learn more about FBS options and pricing.

Sears ad options

Sears also lets sellers create compelling ads to reach Sears.com shoppers.

With 15 million unique visitors each month, Sears.com is valuable territory for businesses looking to boost brand awareness and purchases.

Advertising on Sears gives you numerous options, including:

  • Display ads: Connect with your target audience with display ads on department pages. You can also create display ads on Sears’ home page — it attracts one million pages views each day!
  • Featured product ads: Highlight specific products with ads in visible locations based on shopper searches and navigation.
  • Sears Sponsored Products
  • Brand showcases: Create multi-channel experiences that earn you qualified web traffic with brand showcases, which feature a hero image, promotional banner text, and more.

Check out the Advertise with Sears page for a full overview of ad options and pricing.

Sears shipping options

If you choose to ship your products, you can manage your shipping via the seller portal.

However, many sellers opt to use FBS to receive discounted shipping rates. As noted, FBS is a pay-as-you-go solution, which makes it perfect for SMBs looking to streamline the fulfillment process.

For a complete breakdown of FBS prices, check out the “Pricing” tab on Sears’ FBS page.

Curious about whether Sears is the right option for selling and shipping your products? Check out the pros and cons of this top online marketplace of 2020.

Pros and cons of selling on Sears vs. your website

    Pros

  • You don’t have a long-term commitment: With Sears.com selling and FBS solutions, you can cancel at any time, and you aren’t obligated to fulfill a long-term commitment. Feel free to try this online marketplace and see if it works for your business.
  • You have access to a large audience of buyers: As mentioned, Sears.com receives more than 15 million unique visitors each month. If you want quick access to buyers, Sears.com selling and FBS are great options.
  • You have an easy-to-use order management interface: For SMBs, it’s a straightforward process to set up your account and start selling on Sears.com — and the platform’s easy-to-use interface is great for sellers without a lot of technical knowledge.

    Cons

  • You have more competition: When selling on Sears.com, you encounter competitors in product categories you offer, as well as products sold by Sears. This means you’ll have to keep a close eye on your pricing and regularly optimize listings to get your products noticed.
  • You must have a U.S.-based business address: To sell on Sears.com, you will need a business address based in the U.S. While Sears does offer options for international sellers, there is a higher barrier to entry.

Summary

Want instant access to an audience of ready-to-buy shoppers? Sears is a good option for businesses selling appliances, home goods, electronics, and more!

START SELLING ON SEARS

Alibaba

A Chinese ecommerce company, Alibaba offers online marketplace, payment, and cloud computing services.

While Alibaba isn’t a U.S.-based marketplace, we think it’s worthy to note on our list of the top online marketplaces. After all, it dominates 80% of China’s online shopping market and boasts $248 billion in online site transactions.

How to sell on Alibaba

To determine if it’s better to sell on Alibaba or your website, let’s look at how to sell on the platform.

Start selling on Alibaba with these steps:

  1. Create your account on Alibaba.com.
  2. Start listing products. Visit My Alibaba to get started.
  3. Secure your trades. Place a Trade Assurance order with online buyers to better protect your trades.
Alibaba Product Categories

Cost of selling on Alibaba

Alibaba offers a Free Membership plan that lets sellers:

  1. List up to 50 products.
  2. Subscribe to Trade Alert to get the latest buyer requests in your mailbox.

In addition to Alibaba’s free option, sellers can opt to pay for a Global Gold Supplier Membership to earn more buyers and buyer trust.

Global Gold Suppliers choose from the following packages:

View Alibaba’s packages and pricing to learn more.

Alibaba ad options

Alibaba also offers ad options to help your products gain exposure on the site.

To start advertising on Alibaba:

  1. Sign in to My Alibaba
  2. In the “Products” section, click “Display New Products.”
  3. Enter the product name you want to advertise and click “Search.”
  4. Select the matching category from the pull-down menu and select “Next.”
  5. Complete the form and click “Submit.”

Alibaba allows Global Gold Suppliers to post unlimited products.

In addition, you can advertise in Trade Alert emails — Alibaba’s email updates on trending products, buying requests, and supplier info.

If you want to advertise via Trade Alert emails:

  1. Sign in to My Alibaba.
  2. In the “Products” section, click “Display a New Product.”
  3. Complete the form and click “Submit.”

Alibaba shipping options

Alibaba Logistics provides shipping services to sellers in select countries — and you can choose from Air Express and Sea Freight options.

Air Express

This service offers cost-effective shipping to the U.S. in 5-7 business days, as well as online order tracking.

Sea Freight

You can also choose from two sea freight shipping options:

  • Less-than-Container Load (LCL): LCL is perfect for people looking to save money with ocean freight, but don’t have enough volume to fill a shipping container.
  • Full Container Load (FCL): The best choice for high-volume orders, FCL orders fill one or more shipping containers.

For businesses in the U.S., Alibaba offers exclusive access to shipping experts.

Learn more and schedule a call to find out if Alibaba Logistics is right for your business.

Still not sure if selling on Alibaba is right for your business?

Check out these pros and cons of Alibaba selling.

Pros and cons of selling on Alibaba vs. your website

    Pros

  • You have access to a large audience: Alibaba has 654 million active buyers each year — and selling on China’s top ecommerce platform expands your audience instantly.
  • You can reach B2B and B2C buyers: Whether you sell apparel or machinery, Alibaba allows you to reach an audience of B2B and B2C buyers ready to purchase your products.

    Cons

  • You have more logistical hurdles: Since Alibaba operates in China, you’ll likely encounter some logistical hurdles when selling on the platform. You’ll need to pay close attention to pricing and exchange rates to ensure you earn the best possible return.
  • You may pay more for shipping: Depending on the location of your buyers, you may end up paying more to ship internationally.

Summary

Want access to millions of B2B and B2C buyers, ready to purchase your items? Alibaba is a good option for businesses selling everything from apparel to machinery!

START SELLING ON ALIBABA

Rakuten

A top global online marketplace, Rakuten boasts 1.3 billion members across the globe.

While not based in the U.S., Rakuten features 12 million U.S. members.

How to sell on Rakuten

If you want to become a Rakuten marketplace merchant, you’ll need to:

  1. Apply. In the application, you’ll provide information about your business, annual sales, product categories, and more.
  2. Get approved. Once approved, you’ll receive support from Rakuten’s Launch Team to guide you through the onboarding process, which typically takes three to 10 business days, depending on your catalog size.

Brands currently selling on Rakuten include:

  • Lenovo
  • Puma
  • Office Depot
  • And more

For more info about selling on Rakuten, check out its FAQ page.

Cost of selling on Rakuten

Rakuten charges sellers $39/month, plus category commission and $0.99 for every item sold.

Commission fees range from 8-15%, depending on the product category. If you sell electronics on Rakuten, you can expect to pay an 8% commission fee, while selling clothing will cost you 15% commission.

Rakuten ad options

Like most other third-party ecommerce platforms, Rakuten offers advertising options to boost brand exposure and conversions.

Rakuten Ad

If you sell on Rakuten, you can increase exposure with:

  • Homepage ads viewed by millions of unique visitors each month
  • Rakuten Cash Back promotions
  • Promotion via Rakuten’s mobile app
  • Boosted awareness of your best offers and promotions
  • Targeted email and Cash Back campaigns
  • And more

To start advertising on Rakuten Marketplace or the Rakuten Marketplace Affiliate Program, fill out a contact form.

Rakuten shipping options

As a Rakuten seller, you choose the shipping options available to your customers — and you can choose from four shipping speeds.

Rakuten sellers can pick from the following shipping companies and options:

  • FedEx
  • FedEx Smart Post
  • Home Direct USA
  • SEKO Worldwide
  • UPS
  • UPS Mail Innovations
  • USPS
  • Vitran
  • And more

When people purchase from you on Rakuten, you’ll have two days to ship their products. Keep in mind that Rakuten bases its selling fees on the entire transaction cost, including shipping and handling.

Pros and cons of selling on Rakuten vs. your website

    Pros

  • Your shoppers have access to Rakuten’s loyalty program: Rakuten members receive Rakuten Super Points® on all purchases. They can redeem those points to save on future purchases, which keeps them coming back to purchase from you.
  • You can offer shopper incentives: Rakuten shoppers receive up to 40% cash back at 2500+ stores or via PayPal. These incentives encourage shoppers to purchase and remain loyal customers.
  • You can customize your storefront: When you sell on Rakuten, you can customize your storefront to match your brand identity and boost awareness of your business.

    Cons

  • You have logistical hurdles: Like Alibaba, Rakuten is not based in the U.S. — so you may experience some logistical setbacks when selling on the platform.
  • You must be a U.S.-based business: Rakuten only supports selling in the U.S., and international sellers must meet specific requirements.
  • You have pricing restrictions: When selling on Rakuten, you are required to price items, including shipping costs, at the same price you sell them on your ecommerce site and other channels.

Summary

Want to entice shoppers with exclusive deals and promotions? Rakuten is a good option for clothing, electronics, and household goods sellers looking to inspire loyal customers!

START SELLING ON RAKUTEN

Your own website

Now that we’ve looked at the top third-party marketplaces, it’s time to consider creating and selling on your own site.

For many businesses, creating and selling on their own ecommerce websites yields the best return. Since 74% of small business websites don’t have ecommerce functionalities, there’s a significant opportunity for you to move into the online selling space using your site.

How to sell on your website

To start selling, you’ll first need to create or update your website.

Follow these steps to get started selling on your site:

  1. Select your website host.
  2. Register your domain name.
  3. Design your ecommerce site.
  4. Get your SSL certificate to secure your site.
  5. Set up a merchant account to start accepting online payments.
  6. Establish your pricing and start listing products.
  7. Create a plan for managing your inventory and shipping products.
  8. Promote your site with digital marketing services.

Designing and launching your ecommerce store is a daunting task, but WebFX can guide you through every step of the process. Contact us today to speak with an expert and start selling from your custom online storefront.

Cost of selling on your website

Selling on your own site requires an upfront investment, but for many SMBs, it’s the best long-term option.

When creating your site, you’ll encounter several fees, including:

Website design, development, and maintenance

On average, you can expect to pay $12,000 - $150,000 to design and launch a custom ecommerce site. You’ll also need to invest in routine maintenance, which can range from $35 - $5000 per month.

Ultimately, the total cost of selling on your site depends on several factors. For a custom estimate, check out our website cost calculator

CALCULATE MY SITE COST

Ecommerce SEO

If you want to drive long-term results with your ecommerce store, we also recommend investing in an SEO strategy.

WebFX offers ecommerce SEO services, starting at $1250 per month. In the last five years, we’ve generated over $1.5 billion in revenue for clients and driven more than 4.6 million leads for their businesses.

At WebFX, we understand the importance of creating websites that not only look great, but also function well and rank at the top of search results.

When you choose us as your ecommerce partner, you can rest assured we’ll earn you the best possible results — and you’ll enjoy more site traffic, leads, and online revenue.

CREATE MY CUSTOM ECOMMERCE SITE

Ad options for your website

When selling on your own website, you can choose to run paid ads on platforms like Google Ads, as well as social media sites, to boost traffic to your website.

PPC ads appear at the top of search results — above organic listings. And they can help your SMB boost brand awareness, leads, and revenue.

Advertising on social media expands your reach and connects your business with a qualified audience — people most likely to purchase from your online site.

If you’re launching a new site, PPC ads can help you gain qualified leads immediately, while you work to establish your organic site rankings with SEO.

To get the best possible ROI from your paid ad campaigns, we recommend consulting a PPC expert.

At WebFX, our PPC specialists will take a deep dive into your goals and budget. We’ll also create a custom-tailored strategy to help you create and manage result-driving ads.

DRIVE RESULTS WITH PAID ADS

Shipping options for your website

When selling on your own site, you’re responsible for fulfilling and shipping all orders.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Shipping rates and methods: You can choose to pass the full cost of shipping on to customers or offer free, flat-rate shipping to absorb some of the shipping fees.
  • Product size and weights: Recording product weights will help you establish accurate shipping prices, so you can provide value to customers, while still earning the best return.
  • Packaging: SMBs can order packaging from USPS, UPS, or DHL — or you may choose to invest in branded packaging for your ecommerce business.

Keep in mind, you’ll also need to create a return policy and provide customer service to shoppers.

Pros and cons of selling on your own website

    Pros

  • You have greater pricing control: Selling on your site gives you full control over your pricing. While it’s wise to monitor competitors’ online pricing, you have greater autonomy when it comes to setting your pricing, sales, and discounts.
  • You eliminate competitors: When you have your own site, you won’t have to worry about other competitors selling on the same platform. With online marketplaces, you’ll have to compete directly with other sellers and the third-party’s own products.
  • You won’t have to pay a third-party platform: When you own your website, you may choose to pay for services like ongoing SEO and website maintenance. However, you’re investing that money into your website. You also don’t have to worry about paying regular fees to a third-party platform.

    Cons

  • You must have technical expertise: Setting up an ecommerce site takes a great deal of technical know-how. Unless you work with a web design agency, you’ll need to set up and manage your website’s hosting, integrations, site security, payment options, and more. You’ll also need to perform regular maintenance to keep your site operating effectively.
  • You may not get enough web traffic: For many SMBs, especially those with new websites, it’s challenging to drive consistent, qualified traffic to your site. You can have the most beautifully designed site, but if nobody can find it online, you won’t drive any sales.

Investing in an SEO plan can boost traffic to your site, so people can find and contact you. Results don’t happen overnight though, so if you want a lot of eyes on your products quickly, you may consider selling on an online marketplace.

  • You need to work harder to earn consumer trust: Depending on your business, you may also lack the reputation or social proof necessary to inspire purchases. A household name like Amazon doesn’t back your website, so you’ll need to work hard to instill trust in shoppers and keep them coming back to your ecommerce store.

Additional resources for selling on your own site

For more info on creating your ecommerce site, check out these resources from WebFX.

Summary

Want full control of your pricing and online sales platform? Creating your own website is a good option if you want to take the reins and position your business for long-term success!

START SELLING ON MY WEBSITE

So, where’s the best place to sell online in 2020?

The million-dollar question: Should you sell on a top online marketplace or your own website?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer — but hopefully, our online marketplace guide helps you get started. Depending on your business, goals, and budget, you may get a better return selling on an online marketplace, your own site, or a combination of platforms. 

Choosing where to sell online is a big decision — and it can make or break your business.

At WebFX, we understand the importance of fully researching and vetting all options. That’s why we recommend consulting ecommerce specialists, like the WebFX team.

We specialize in creating ecommerce websites that not only look great, but also rank at the top of search results.

WebFX is an online marketplace expert

We’ve designed and launched more than 1100 client websites — and we specialize in online marketplace management.

In addition to custom website design and development, we offer result-driving marketing services for the following online marketplaces:

Start creating and optimizing your custom storefront today - contact WebFX or give us a call at 888-601-5359.

TALK TO AN EXPERT Marketplace Strategist