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There are lots of ways to start selling online from marketplaces to your own stores. Many people when they first get started, will just use one of the marketplaces. Just about everyone knows eBay as the grand daddy of all marketplaces and it is very simple to get started. If you are a making hand crafted goods, Etsy is the place for you to try out as well. And let’s not forget about Amazon, the 800 pound gorilla in the ecommerce space. But, these are not the only marketplaces you can sell online. Bonanza is a company that has been around for a while and if you remember Buy.com, it is not Rakuten Marketplace, a great site if you want to hit the Japanese market. Most large sellers also start selling on other third party platforms including Walmart.com, Sears.com and even Newegg.com. If you want to do a Dutch Auction or even do daily deals, Pricefalls is the site for you.
Your own E-commerce Store
Eventually, many sellers want the control and cost efficiency of selling on their own online store. In the last 3 years the ability to start an e-commerce store quickly has gotten easier and easier. Most people can start out with a hosted platform. I have used many and they offer a ton of benefits including speed to market, easy maintenance and PCI compliance. I currently use Shopify and BigCommerce myself and have used Sparkpay and 3dCart for customers as well. But there are tons of platforms for you to try out and with the plethora of third party apps, it gives you a quick way to build out functionality and attach to third party services.
Whether because of restricted products or over all control, many e-commerce owners want to host their own websites. Magento is one of the newest and most powerful carts but I always recommend people look at Opencart and Prestashop which are lighter and offer very similar functionality and modules. For those that prefer ASP.net, you can take a look at NOP Commerce. Finally, if you like Shopify but want to self host, take a look at Spree Commerce which is also created in Ruby on Rails.
Many people want to create courses, ebooks and even allow downloads of non-physical items for their customers. Clickbank is probably the biggest market for these goods with JVZoo bringing up the rear. For those that don’t need the affilliate exposure, e-Junkie has been around for a long time and is extremely cost effective. Gumroad has become an extremely popular option as well.
Custom Goods and T-Shirts
Want to create custom phone cases, frames and any other thing, there are several platforms that will let you create a marketplace with your very own designed goods. The three biggest are Spreadshirt, Zazzle and CafePress. But, if you are looking to do just t-shirts, the biggest ones are T-Spring and Custom Ink.
Turning your website into a Selling Machine
For many entrepreneurs, having just an e-commerce website might not be exactly what they are looking for. It might be an extension to their existing blog or adding on to a corporate website. The three most popular Content Management Systems make it easy to add an ecommerce store to your site. Drupal has DrupalCommerce, Joomla had VirtuaMart but WordPress has multiple e-commerce systems. Some are plugins, some are hosted applications where you plug into your site. This includes WooCommerce, now owned by wordpress themselves, as well as Cart66 and Exchange by iThemes.
Its easy to start selling online
Now its easier than ever to start selling online. Whether you casually sell on eBay or go full bore with Magento, getting started is the key. Look around your house and sell your first item on eBay and then see how much fun it can be to grow a business.
I know many of you will say, what about X cart, or Y Platform. To be honest there are just to many to keep track of. Go ahead and leave a platform I am missing in the comments so others don’t miss out.
Links to platforms listed here:
Self Hosted Carts
Custom Goods and T-shirts