Beyond Amazon and eBay there are smaller boutique online shopping sites used by many online shoppers.
For several years eBay and Amazon have dominated in the world of online selling for individuals, small businesses and also larger retailers. We’ve written about the online shopping sites that are bigger than Amazon and the typical major online shops. In this article we look at the smaller boutique sites. Gone are the days that eBay was known for selling second hand wares and Amazon as an online bookstore – both have for some time been a source of new items and an outlet for many recognised brands.
There are other alternatives however which are becoming increasingly popular. Selling on eBay and Amazon isn’t as cheap as it may have once been and so for smaller businesses especially the alternatives could have more appeal.
Alternatives to eBay and Amazon
Smaller boutique online shopping site #1 Etsy
Since 2005 this online selling platform has attracted circa 1.6 million active sellers and 26.1 million active buyers. It is a niche site for craft items, craft supplies and handmade/vintage goods and for many is a go to site for this kind of product. This means that individuals and small boutique businesses can list their wares to an audience that is looking for this type of item as Etsy has forged a name for itself in this area.
On the whole it is a way of direct selling for many crafters and makers of all kinds – even wholesale craft supplies can be found here. Listings last for much longer than on eBay – 4 months and commission is less at a fixed price of 3.5%. eBay has a higher reach as it generates much more traffic but for niche sellers this may not be cause for concern.
Smaller boutique online shopping site #2 Shpock
Described as ‘your favourite car boot sale – just got easier’ this app is a simple to use concept targeting the sale of predominantly second hand goods. Users can access the app to sell their wares via means of a picture and brief description. Purchasers can peruse the site and make offers or make contact to buy at the listed price.
Whilst is free to use which is huge plus it cannot be used to really sell in bulk so only suited to individuals or small set ups. The downside is that arrangements to do the deal need to be made directly – which is a plus for no commission charges but obviously could be risky and ultimately tends to mean sales are then face to face.
Smaller boutique online shopping site #3 Facebook Marketplace
Another free to use option anyone with a Facebook account can also use the app to sell and add listings to selling groups, Facebook Marketplace or both. Whilst it can be used to sell a range of items (second hand or new) it could prove tricky to sell anything of scale and so again like Shpock could be more suited to individuals or small businesses. Items can appear in your newsfeed or you can filter in the Marketplace section of Facebook to view items close by or those that perhaps could be posted to you.
Smaller boutique online shopping site #4 Shopify
Strictly speaking Shopify isn’t a sales site in the ‘traditional’ sense but it is an online marketplace that can host an online shop. Users then have the option to list items on other channels including Amazon and eBay among others. The benefit of this is that sellers can use a single platform to sell across several selling options which could be useful for larger businesses or those hoping to target a wider audience. Customisation of the site along with assistance with managing stock levels and shipping are also available.
The downside is that costs are higher as a result of the extra benefits and extensive customisation may require technical knowledge.
Tips for online selling via smaller boutique online shopping sites
Selling online may not be an overnight success especially in such a crowded marketplace. These are some useful tips that could help you start in the right place:
- Figure out your strategy – even if you are selling on a small scale it is worthwhile having a plan in place as otherwise it could be a waste of time. Evaluate which site best suits your goals for selling and is cost effective.
- Use original photos – every picture tells a story and it is important to photograph your wares well so that people know what they are getting. Using original photography is also key as pinching stock shots or someone else’s photos is generally bad form and could impact potential sales.
- Customer service matters – being responsive to queries, polite and being able to answer questions is a great way to build rapport and help you stand out online.
- Deliver promptly and affordably – keeping delivery costs and return costs as low as possible could help entice customers. High costs for delivery don’t win business very often particularly as many people are well versed in what things cost. Sites like eBay are likely to punish sellers that try and profit from postage which is not going to create a good impression.