Ten ecommerce platforms for selling your products online
There’s a vast array of ecommerce platforms for selling products online. To help narrow the field, below are ten great options for taking your home business online.
Hosted ecommerce solutions are an easy, low-fuss way to start selling your goods online.
You don’t need to be a code wizard to get your store up and running, as these solutions are designed to be super user-friendly. However, there are some trade-offs for this convenience, such as platform fees which are typically charged at a fixed rate per month plus transaction fees. These hosted solutions can also limit your options for customising the look of your online store, so you may find that you’re not able to properly tailor the store design to fit your brand.
You can use your own domain name with the hosted solutions listed below, which is often a sensible approach as it helps to promote your brand, rather than operating under the ecommerce platform provider’s brand.
Pricing starts at $9 USD per month, plus transaction fees.
Pricing starts at $29.95 USD per month, plus transaction fees.
Pricing starts at $39 AUD per month, plus transaction fees. Higher-tiered plans offer fixed monthly fees with no additional transaction fees.
Pricing starts at $9.99 USD per month. Transaction fees will depend on the provider that you use for accepting payments, which can be either PayPal or Stripe.
Self-hosted: DIY solutions with WordPress
WordPress was originally designed for blogging, with a powerful content management system (CMS) at its core, but its ease of use and extensibility has seen it become a platform of choice for a huge variety of applications – from ecommerce stores to community forums. As at April 2016, the WordPress platform is used by 26.4% of the top 10 million websites worldwide (source: W3Techs.com).
WordPress is free to download and can be greatly enhanced using free and paid plugins offering a vast range of capabilities. The design of a WordPress site can also be completely transformed using themes, many of which also add further functionality. There are many free themes available on WordPress.org. ThemeForest is a great place to find high quality paid themes.
WooCommerce is an immensely popular plugin for WordPress, powering 37% of online stores worldwide as at April 2016 (source: WooThemes.com).
The core WooCommerce plugin is free. There are loads of plugins and themes available to add further capabilities and tweak the design of your online store. WooThemes is a good place to start for finding plugins and themes. CodeCanyon and ThemeForest also have lots of options to choose from.
One of my favourite themes to use with WooCommerce is the Bridge theme, which is also compatible with many other popular WordPress plugins. The theme is really easy to use, looks terrific and is hugely customisable. Incidentally, HomeBusiness.com.au runs on the Bridge theme.
The Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin is free, with additional functionality offered through ‘add-ons’ (plugins) for sale in the EDD marketplace. Depending on your requirements, the Core Extensions Bundle could offer a substantial discount compared to buying add-ons individually.
EDD is primarily designed for digital products, such as music, stock photos or ebooks. However, it’s also possible to sell physical products by using their Simple Shipping add-on.
You can even create your own fully-fledged marketplace using the Frontend Submissions add-on to allow other people to sell products in your marketplace.
Marketify is a fantastic theme that was built specifically for EDD.
Selling though an established marketplace offers convenience and access to an existing customer base.
eBay’s marketplace is suitable for selling a wide variety of products, such as electronics, homewares, sporting goods and much more. However, in some categories competition can be fierce and eBay customers tend to be price sensitive – so your profit margin per sale could end up being quite small.
Etsy is a terrific marketplace for selling arts and crafts, vintage items, bespoke products and quirky items. Etsy is best suited to creative products, such as handmade greeting cards.
If you operate an agricultural business, such as an organic farm, then you could join one of the existing marketplaces that connect farmers directly to consumers. The benefit of platforms like Farmhouse Direct is that they have an established customer base; so you may find that you get more customers than you would from starting your own online store.
If you’re a musician, then Bandcamp could be a great option for selling your music. They take a cut of any sales of course, but it’s very competitive compared to other platforms, with artists getting a much greater share of the revenue. Their commission ranges from 15% to 10%, but there are also processing fees for each transaction (varies depending on your account arrangements with the payment services provider PayPal). The revenue share only applies to the first $100 of an item, so if a super fan pays up big for your latest album (there are options for customers to pay what they feel is fair) – you won’t be stung for any fees after the first $100.