With the rise of online marketplaces, eCommerce has become a reliable way to earn money. When you use the right platform and connect with customers online, you can supplement your income or even launch a full-time business.
There are plenty of platforms that allow you to sell products or services online. Each online marketplace has its own niche and its own benefits for sellers.
This guide evaluates common online selling sites and how they can help you launch and manage your online business. We break down the advantages and disadvantages of both starting your own online business and using a marketplace. Then, we give you a list of the best online selling sites, considering factors such as product or service niche, commission, and transaction fees so you can choose the platform that's best for the growth of your business.
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DIY — Build Your Own Store
If you have a bold vision for your brand, you may want to build your own website. This option offers a rewarding challenge, but it’s easier if you have experience with coding, web design, and marketing.
If you’re willing to put in the work to build your website and brand and market your site, operating your own website can be more profitable than using an online marketplace. However, if you're lacking time, staff, or resources, building your own website may not be possible in the beginning. And the good news is that with online marketplaces, the days of having to run your own website is a thing of the past.
Pros and Cons of Having Your Own Online Store
Using your own website to sell online has its benefits:
- Maximized profits: Having your own website means you won't pay listing and commission fees to sell your products and services.
- Control over branding and user experience: Using specific fonts, colors, packaging, and a brand voice that’s consistent across all your channels can help you build a better connection with existing and future customers.
- Full control over inventory: You can sell anything on your site without being limited to the niche of the marketplace. You'll still have restrictions on payment processing, data privacy, and federal regulations depending on where you or your customers are located, but as a website owner, you have a little more control.
However, there are a few drawbacks to consider:
- Cost for infrastructure and products: Building your own website can be a huge upfront cost and very time-consuming. You must pay to host your site, purchase your domain name, and build a site infrastructure that lets you manage payments, listings, inventory, and more. You also have to monitor the platform, purchase the products, and find fulfillment partners. If you choose this option, you may not see enough product sales to earn back your initial investment until you’ve been building your brand for a while (years).
- Cost for marketing: You'll have to market your own website and build your brand from the ground up. Once your site is up, you’ll need a digital marketing plan and execution strategy to drive people to your site. This can cost anywhere from $2,500 a month to over $10,000 a month, depending on how much marketing you want to do and whether you have in-house support or not.
Use a Marketplace to Start and Grow Your Business
If you don’t have the coding skills or the time to design and build your own site, or you don’t have the time, money, or personnel to properly market and maintain your site, consider a marketplace that helps you start your business and sell products, services, or both! Many of these sites are user-friendly and already have an existing customer base.
Before choosing a platform, consider what you’re trying to achieve.
- If you sell products:
- What type of products do you focus on? Whether it's furniture, health or wellness products, old computers, essential oils, soaps, or handmade crafts, some online buying and selling sites will be better suited for your products than others.
- Who buys your products? Do some research on where your buyers tend to shop.
- If you sell services:
- What type of service do you offer? There is an online marketplace for almost any niche, including babysitting, yoga, healthcare, wellness, health coaching, and consulting services. Have you heard of Sofia yet?
- Who buys your services, and where can they find these services? Research where customers can find the kind of service you provide and where your competitors are selling.
Pros and Cons of Using a Marketplace
Whether you’re an established business or starting from scratch, an online marketplace offers the following benefits:
- Business infrastructure: Getting online is easy, and you won't have to worry about any coding. Most marketplaces have integrated payments, customer chat, and seller support.
- Visibility: Your products or services will be displayed on an existing website that people know, so you can easily get new customers without spending a lot of time and money on marketing. This will allow you to focus on putting your business in order and learning about marketing while still growing your business.
- Ease of use for customers: Some sites also integrate with schedule management and appointment booking software, so your customers can request services and shop for products in one place.
However, there are some drawbacks to using online selling sites:
- Branding options: Marketplaces can charge extra fees for increased brand exposure. For example, Etsy and amazon charge for ad space to put your products at the top of the list. This is a huge advantage if buyers love your product or service but it will cost you.
- Commission and fees: Each online marketplace has its own fees. Many are based on the total sale volume, but some sites will also charge a commission and other fees above the initial transaction fee. Some sites won't — for example, Sofia does not have a transaction fee for services. Find the marketplace that’s most cost-effective for your business.
Sofia Health — A Health and Wellness Marketplace for Services and Products
Sofia Health is the easiest way to run your online business. The only platform designed specifically for health and wellness services and products, Sofia makes it easy to get up and running without tech skills or a huge budget.
Sofia Health is the #1 online destination for health and wellness services. You can create a user-friendly webpage that showcases your products and services. Do you offer nutrition consults, health coaching, yoga classes, e-books, oils, or group fitness classes, or are you a physician looking to grow your practice? Sofia might be the right business platform for you.
If you’re already a practitioner and want to sell products alongside services to scale your business, it’s easy to add a product page. You can manage appointments, accept payments, and manage customer orders in one place. You can also share promotional offers and discount codes with ease to reward your customers.
With Sofia Health, there is no monthly fee to sell health and wellness products, but there is a transaction fee. For practitioners or providers, there is only a flat monthly rate — no transaction or commission fees go to the platform for 1:1 services or your group classes. You can book and relax that no one is taking your hard-earned dollars for every client.
The platform is user-friendly and helps you manage all aspects of your business, from marketing to billing. Customers can connect with you based on their needs and what they are looking for. Whether you already have a website and are just looking to grow your brand awareness or you want to skip building a website altogether, Sofia can save you time and money by getting your business online.
Top 10 Sites for Selling Products or Running a Business
No matter what industry you're selling in, these are the top online marketplaces to help you grow your business. This list of online selling sites breaks down the key features of each site and the information you need to know as a potential seller.
Amazon Marketplace lets you list new and used products on its site. It’s easy to use, and you'll get access to Amazon's customer base — one of the largest in the industry with over 310 million customers worldwide.
Amazon continues to be one of the top performers in eCommerce, having earned over $460 billion in 2021. A majority of online shoppers start their searches on Amazon, allowing your products to pop up in more search results and reach more people.
Prices start at $39.99 per month at the professional seller level plus additional selling fees. How much you’ll pay depends on your chosen plan, product category, and fulfillment strategy, among other factors.
However, Amazon is crowded, and you might face stiff competition in your niche.
Etsy is a destination for handmade items. Setting up and managing a shop is simple, and you can reach over 96 million active shoppers on the site.
Etsy offers low listing fees, which start at $0.20 per listing for the first four months. The fee recurs if you want to list an item for longer than four months.
You pay a 6.5% transaction fee per sale, plus whatever you charge for gift wrapping and shipping.
3. Sofia Health
For wellness-related services and products, Sofia Health is the marketplace to use. The site has its own built-in audience of users looking for everything from coaching and mental health services (like meditation) to aromatherapy and yoga products.
E-commerce sellers are charged a transaction fee. Health and wellness providers, on the other hand, only pay a monthly fee. With Sofia Health, you can sell your products and services in one place and access a network of other professionals for networking and potential customer referrals.
You’ll also get access to an active buyer network, a storefront, and tools to help market your business. This platform makes it easy to get online and is the first to allow both services and products. Sofia is a marketplace that helps independent health and wellness providers and entrepreneurs scale their businesses while helping customers find the exact support they need for their whole health needs.
If this is your first online business, Sofia makes getting online easier with a customized onboarding experience. With its white glove service, sellers and wellness entrepreneurs get a one-on-one call to get help and tips for setting up shop, communicating with customers, managing your business, and marketing your site. Topics cover everything from writing effective product descriptions to managing dissatisfied customers.
You can list anything on eBay, from household goods to collectibles, and the site has even updated its category listing to include NFTs and other emerging products. eBay offers a customer base of 135 million users worldwide.
Before you sell on eBay, consider the selling fees, which can add up. For each item you sell, the site charges a nonrefundable listing fee and an insertion fee to list the same product in separate categories. You will also pay a final value fee between 10% and 12%, which is calculated by the sale’s value, including shipping and handling.
eBay has been making changes to its site to appeal to more sellers. In 2022, the site enabled on-demand payouts and added payout options so you can access your money faster.
Operating on a commission structure, Poshmark keeps $2.95 for sales under $15 and 20% for sales over $15. It’s easy to list items, and you can leave them up until they sell without paying additional listing fees.
6. Facebook Marketplace
You can sell a wide range of merch on Facebook Marketplace, from housewares and furniture to cars. However, you’re limited to your geographical area. If you want to get into eCommerce but live in a small town, this might not be a good option.
The site itself is user-friendly, and you can sell using your own account. Facebook also takes a 5% selling fee from any items you sell through the marketplace or $0.40 for sales under $8.
7. Ruby Lane
Ruby Lane is a great site for eCommerce sellers specializing in antiques, estate sales, and other big-ticket items. This site does a good job vetting its sellers since merchandise on the site tends to be valuable. Be prepared to show certificates of authenticity or detailed photos of each piece for verification.
To sell on Ruby Lane, you'll pay $25 a month and a 9.9% service fee on all sales based on the purchase order total. This fee is capped at $250, so you won’t be charged outrageous fees on big-ticket sales.
Handshake is a wholesale marketplace operated by Shopify. It connects brands with retailers who then sell their merchandise for them. To use Handshake as a seller, you have to be located in the United States and have an active Shopify store that has made sales.
Once you’re approved, you can set up a platform and start selling wholesale merch to other retail business owners. You can use the platform to find unique products to list on your eCommerce website and buy them in bulk.
Handshake doesn’t charge additional fees for Shopify retailers and brands. You only have to pay for your regular Shopify subscription, which costs anywhere from $29 to $299 per month.
Bonanza is a great marketplace alternative to eBay and Amazon because it was created with sellers in mind. You can sell almost anything on Bonanza. Its merchandise ranges from big-name brands to artisan merchandise.
Its fees are low compared with similar marketplaces. You pay a $0.25 transaction fee and a 3.5% fee based on the final value of each sale. But you can also opt into the advertising program for an additional 5.5% fee based on the value of each sale for a total of 9%.
Even with the advertising fee, your total fees are less than 10%, and Bonanza will help you promote your items until they sell. The site has about 2.2 million active users, and you can network with other sellers to learn tips and tricks to improve your eCommerce site.
Swappa is a trustworthy site for buying and selling tech. If you’ve got old tech collecting dust in a far corner of the closet, check out Swappa. This site lets you sell phones, computers, gaming systems, and more for a decent resale price. The site doesn’t accept any broken items, so stick with tech that’s in good condition.
There are no listing fees, although you can pay $5 to have your product featured like an ad. When you make a sale, the buyer pays a flat fee that’s built into your listing.
Your Swappa listings are only good for 10 days, after which you must manually extend them.
Choosing the Best Online Selling Sites and Strategies
Every online business owner should evaluate different online selling sites. Whether you’re selling health and wellness products, running a dropshipping business, or selling new products, there's an online marketplace out there to help your products or services reach new customers.
Many of these online selling sites can help get your business off the ground with a built-in audience, and many offer resources to help you with marketing and customer service. Some, like Sofia Health, can help you manage multiple parts of your business, such as payment processing and client messaging, in one place.
When deciding on the best online selling site for your business, look for the one that caters to your niche while offering the right features and pricing.
Consider Selling on Sofia Health
If you’re a health and wellness professional, consider selling products or services with Sofia Health. Our platform lets your clients book appointments and purchase your products all in one place. If you’re ready to enhance your practice with an online store, get started today for free.