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Ecommerce 101: How to Start Selling Online

In today's economy, selling products online is a great way to earn money. Some people choose to do so because they enjoy working from home. Others sell online as a second job to earn additional income. Whatever your motivation, with some thought and the right resources, selling online can be a great way to make a profit. This article gives you a checklist of important things to accomplish in order to successfully begin your e-Commerce venture.

Your checklist for getting started:

  • Choose a product to sell
  • Choose where you want to sell your product
  • Get set up on an online marketplace and/or build your own website

1. Choose a product to sell

So you want to sell online, but where do you start? What do you sell? We have a few recommendations if you're asking yourself these exact questions.

  • Sell what you know – Select a product that you enjoy and are familiar with. This will make running your business more fun and build credibility with your current and future customers.
  • Start small – Focus on one product category to sell and learn about the customers in that market. What do these buyers want? Where do they currently shop? If you can solve the problems of a targeted, unique customer base, then you'll be seen as an expert in your industry. So start out small and test the success of a low-risk product . . . there may be room to expand later.
  • Research your product – Who is currently selling it? Where are they selling it? How much are they charging for the product, and also for shipping? Start thinking of ways that you can gain a competitive advantage over others. For example, if there are a lot of sellers for a hot item such as an MP3 player, consider selling the accessories instead. By performing a Google Shopping search, you can catch a glimpse into your potential competition, from Amazon sellers to local business.

2. Choose where you want to sell your product

Thanks to emerging software and online marketplaces like eBay, there are a variety of places where you can sell your products and make a profit. We've evaluated the pros and cons of several options for you to get started selling online, and offer a comparison below.

Create Your Own Website
Pros Cons
• No platform listing fees
• Ability to interact with customers
• Design the entire user experience from entry to checkout
• More time consuming
• Need to drive your own traffic to your website and develop a marketing strategy to gain new business
• Longer process to get started (establishing a site, marketing your site, etc.)

Use an online marketplace (i.e. eBay, Amazon)
Pros Cons
• Fast
• Easy to use
• Reach millions of buyers instantly
• Less flexibility to merchandise your product
• High competition
• Minimal customer interaction
• Potentially restrictive policies/rules
• Potentially high listing fees

3. Get set up on an online marketplace and/or build your own website

Online Marketplaces

The easiest way to begin is to sell on already established marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. If you decide to take this route, then your next step is to get to know each of these marketplaces; learn the ins and outs of each site and its selling policies. This will involve getting to know the customers, products, pricing, shipping methods, and payment policies on these marketplaces. For a quick-start guide to selling on eBay, you can visit Quick Start Guide. If you're looking for tips on using Craigslist, click here to read our article.

Build Your Own Online Store

While this is a bit more involved, many buyers on Liquidation.com have seen huge success in creating their own online businesses. Here are some basic steps and resources for getting started:

1. Purchase a domain. Visit a site like GoDaddy.com to purchase a domain name for roughly $10-$50 per year. Select a name that will be easy for your customers to remember and clearly relates to your business.

2. Select a hosting provider. Select a hosting provider that offers tools and packages to help you maintain and grow your website. Some popular and affordable providers include GoDaddy.com, justhost.com, and hostmonster. To find the web host that's right for you, you can visit Web Hosting Search.

3. Build your storefront There are many options you can choose to build your own website, the easiest of which is to hire a professional. This is the best option for e-Commerce sites and is the one that will make your site most attractive to potential buyers.

If you prefer to build your site yourself, you may consider starting with a free service such as Yahoo! Site Builder or Yahoo! Site Solution. These tools are easy to use, customizable, and give you the ability to have your site up and running in minutes. For more information, visit Yahoo Webhosting.

When building your website, you'll need to create a secure and easy-to-use checkout process. To help, we recommend creating a PayPal account to facilitate your customers' online payments. In addition, PayPal's Express Checkout service is widely used by major e-commerce sites, such as GoDaddy.com and Wal-Mart, and can help you build a clean and clear checkout process for your site. For more information, visit Paypal X Developer Network.

Once you've accomplished these tasks, you're ready to upload your website and open your doors for business! Your next step should be to develop a marketing plan that will drive new customers to your site; in a future article, we'll give you some tips and tricks for creating and executing a successful marketing strategy.


Resources

1. Tips and tricks for selling on eBay: eBay.com Quick Start Guide.

2. Choosing a domain name: GoDaddy.com

3. How to choose a web hosting provider: Web Hosting Search

4. Building your own website: Yahoo Webhosting.

5. Creating a checkout process and establishing payment methods: Paypal X Developer Network.


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quotation mark Start small enough so as to get a feel for the market (any market) – that is, buy small amount of product to see how it will sell before actually investing in product. Always research the market first and try to get a feel for the consumers and what their buying habits are (and selling policies). – Laurie A.