I feel that I keep diverting the question I keep asking which is:
“How am I going to sell stuff online?”
I’ve already kind of poo-pooed the idea of selling stuff with auctions. That being said, don’t completely ignore it. eBay, for example, does offer something called eBay Stores. There are a few great things about this:
- It is a real online store…not just an eBay Auction
- You inherently get traffic from the eBay auctions (this is awesome!)
- The framework is already set-up for you.
Those are all really good reasons to consider an eBay store as a starting point to selling products online. It is very low cost and low risk to begin with (you can start as low as $15.95/month with a 20 cent insertion fee). Now I’m not saying that this is ideal for the long run. Those insertion fees can add up and you really don’t get much flexibility in how you want your store to be. Still, it is not a bad starting option.
Another similar idea (and one that I have personally used to start an eCommerce store in the past) is Yahoo Stores. This is a little bit more pricey per month (starting at $29.96/month) and they do have a 1.5% transaction fee. Still, this has a lot more options than the eBay store and it will look like a true eCommerce solutions online. It integrates shopping carts, merchanting, product placement, etc. Plus you have more flexibility with design (they have some HTML functionality…but it “ain’t” perfect…a lot of the structure of their site is RTML-based which a few select designers really know how to program). I did like this option a lot!
The next step is do it yourself (well, sort of). For the eBay Store and Yahoo Store, they host your website (i.e., you don’t need a hosting company). If you want to manage the entire store yourself and avoid some of those larger monthly fees and transaction costs, you can host a store yourself. There are companies that can sell you the entire template of a store which you (or even them) can install on a server that you rent (you know, through something like HostGator for $10/month).
ShopFactory is a company I’ve used in the past as well. I’m kind of a tech geek so setting it up myself wasn’t a big deal. Still, they offer set-up services to do it for you. For products like this, you pay a one-time cost up-front and then you are done! No recurring fees (other than hosting), no transaction fees. These types of shops you typically have a lot more options with customization, too. That is good.
So there are three good options to start looking at. I’ve used the last two, but I know a lot of people who use eBay Stores, especially for the internet traffic. Just remember that setting up the store does not have to be technical and expensive. This is the easy part! Wait until we start talking about marketing!