E-commerce platforms: Key tips and which one to choose?

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Internet Business 101 Season 1

If you are planning to start selling online, this is a great choice! The internet offers unlimited possibilities for sellers, allowing you to reach a wide range of customers and increase your profits. However, before you start selling online, you need to consider many factors, such as the choice of the best e-commerce platforms, legal and organizational issues. In this article, we will discuss the cross-sectional possibilities you have to start selling online.

Goals

At the beginning, we need to consider what our goals are and whether eCommerce is to be an addition to something. An additional source of income, whether this is to be our target business. I will write this article from the perspective of an additional source of income and supplementing the offer. Some experiences may be different if yours is different, but I hope some things will be useful anyway.

If we know what our goals are, how much we want to sell, to which markets, we can wonder what to choose.

Choosing an e-commerce platform

Choosing an e-commerce platform is very important. Not only from a convenience perspective, but also from a legal and service perspective. The more things there are on the platform side, the easier it is to launch and manage such a store. (Both technically and legally)

The following elements are worth considering:

  • The legal complexity of the solution in your country
  • Funding management and requirements.
  • Warehousing of goods
  • Returns Service
  • Customer service

Bulletin boards and auction sites

Bulletin boards and auction sites will be the best form for you if you sell occasionally or create some kind of handicraft.

Remember that in this case the maximum is on your side. Only the technological platform is provided by the service provider. The upside is that you can sell any product.

Specialized portals

In this section, we will describe specialized portals that, depending on the chosen form, allow us to create a shop with printed clothes and additionally gadgets. Products of this type do not require storage and purchase of goods in advance. The supplier takes care of products in the unprinted version, the print itself is created only when someone orders such an item. All 3 forms belong to the same group. Only their purpose differs.

SPOD

Do you want to create your own t-shirt and print shop? But you don’t want to freeze cash in the goods and deal with its shipping and production? SPOD allows you to design your own prints and create a store, and then integrate it with your own store run on the most popular platforms in the next step. (E.g. WooCommerce described below)

From this solution, we tested the introduction of our own prints and products for Blogelist and ordered a sample product:

Minuses? Financial and legal support for the client is on our side. The shopping platform as well. We are charged by the platform owner for production and shipping costs. We have to collect the margins from the client ourselves and calculate the costs. This is not the preferred solution to start with.

SpreadShop

The next level, which we have chosen as the most optimal for Blogelist, is our own “SpeadShop“. (We are still working on target products) Here it does not require running a store. The entire store is run by the service provider. We can still set our own margins, determine whether we participate in promotional campaigns of the service provider. And even add the option of personalizing the goods for the customer along with access to the supplier’s catalog with additional motifs. (This is also available in our store)

SpreadShirt Marketplace

We also have a Marketplace option in the same platform. The main difference with the previous solution is that we do not have a separate store with full customization here. Here we have a Marketplace profile (the solution is most similar to auction portals and bulletin boards) and our Goods are offered to all customers of the platform. The advantage of this solution is that we can use both of these solutions at the same time and increase our chances of reaching the customer. As a Blogelist, we will also have our profile here and some products will be available on the Marketplace.

Free Self-hosted E-commerce Platforms

Here briefly. If for some reason you want to have everything at your place. There are free platforms that you can use with full customization and the ability to extend through plugins.

Woocommerce

We tested Woocommerce. There is also an integration of this platform with SPOD, which we also tested. It works nice. But for starters, we think it’s going to be using the other two platforms from the previous section. And we went this way ourselves.

Payment Gateways

The Payment Gateway at your own stores can be an important choice. Because we went in the direction of using foreign platforms at the beginning. We will describe only the two most famous and useful solutions.

1 Koszyk

1 Koszyk (1 Cart) – is the best solution for small, simple sales. Also electronic products. An additional advantage is support for unregistered activities. The perfect solution to test yourself in business or start starting your business.

Defect? The system works only for Polish companies and sales in Poland.

MailingR – Another way

We do not want to leave the rest without an alternative. (Global sales and foreign companies) Other scenarios, especially for electronic products, including Paid Mailings, Membership, Access to Knowledge Bases, can benefit from MailingR.

Summary and Tips

Final Tips

If you are starting your own business or running a very small business. The simplicity of the solution will be paramount. Better service on your side? after a foreign one? Is it better to receive the full amount of the order or commission/margin? Do we want to sell “continuously” or occasionally? Based on the choices, we can use one of the solutions given above.

Summary

Starting to sell online can be a challenge, but with the right approach and tools, you can succeed in e-commerce. Remember that creating a strong brand, understanding customer needs and effective communication are key factors for the development of an online store. Be patient and open to experimentation as testing different strategies can lead to discovering the best practices for your business. Thanks to this article, you now have a basic cross-cutting knowledge of the various possibilities. Good luck in testing and choosing the optimal version for yourself!

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This series is cross-published in SellBiz Blog. It is created as non-paid cooperation as workload exchange. In the first season, you can read half articles written by a Blogelist representative and the second half by SellBiz.

The Polish version of this article is published in SellBiz Blog here.

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