The Stages Of Selling Online: From Dabbling To Dominating


There can be no doubt that for many businesses, and particularly sole traders, the internet has introduced a level of access to customers that would have been unimaginable to businesses 40 years ago. Being able to sell goods and items online has changed global and domestic business in a number of ways, from making the initial process easier to expanding the potential customer base.

It’s fair to say, then, that the internet is extending the ability to sell – domestically and globally – to small time seller and magnate alike. The question is: do you have to choose which you are right from the get-go? Or can you move: if not from rags to riches, then certainly from riches to much bigger riches?

Dipping your toe in the water: Selling on eBay or with an app

The simplest entryway into selling online … is probably Gumtree or Craigslist, but there are certain elements of selling on such an open forum that make them less than ideal for a business beginning. For the appropriate levels of protection when it comes to transactions and arranging shipping, eBay is a reasonable place to start. You can sell your own possessions as pre-owned, or set up a store from which to sell goods that you make or otherwise source. If you’re selling pre-owned, then sites like Poshmark for clothes, or OfferUp for tech, are mostly app-based services that can also work.

Getting more serious: Amazon Marketplace

If eBay is the tool of the lifestyle business amateur, then the next step up is to get a little more professional, and the most popular way of doing that is taking it to Amazon. The site has become a global player by leveraging its reputation for unerring efficiency, and selling on Amazon USA is one certain way to reach a broad audience who are motivated to make a purchase. You can even – depending on the nature of your business – lean on their Fulfilment by Amazon service, where they will store your inventory, take care of shipping, offer Prime delivery and handle returns (for a cut of the profit, obviously). Alternatives include the Marketplace services offered by Facebook and industry names like ASOS.

Taking it full time: Ecommerce CMS and your own website

Let’s preface this by making clear that selling from your own website does not mean you’ve reached the top as an entrepreneur. In fact, 90% of ecommerce sites fold within their first year, so there are still some hurdles to overcome. However, having your own website – ideally built via a CMS such as Shopify, Magento or Zoomla – does offer you a level of freedom and creative control you won’t get anywhere else, and lets you make dynamic changes to your store at the click of a mouse. Because you’re doing more of the work, you’ll get more of the profit – although it is possible to sell items from your own site and use the Fulfilment by Amazon service for efficiency.

When you begin to sell products, services or items online, you may or may not intend for it to become a big deal. If you do, there are countless ways to get yourself to that level – just as long as people are buying what you’re selling.