Open Your Own Online Store - It's Easy, Here Are a Few Choices
Want Your Own Online Store, But Don't Know Which?
An insider's scoop on opening and maintaining an online store of your own at the following selling venues: Ecrater, Ebay, Etsy and Bisi (now "Highwire").
Read the following personal experiences and examples to get an idea what each one is like before you take the step to open your online store.
Ecrater is (and they say it will always be) a free place to sell.
There are stores there for handmade goods; vintage items and even a store for Mom's vintage jewelry collections.
It is free to use, but you can opt to pay a small percentage of your sales if you'd like to be included in their marketing and ads. I do and it is very reasonable. You only pay if the sale came through their general "marketplace" that they advertise.
There is great community support and it is well known which can help with your search engine rankings.
It is easy to set up your own store here and if you have a question, look in the community forums for an answer and I'm sure you'll find it.
This is your own store so you must promote it.
We like it there, but you cannot add any links to your listings (or anywhere for that matter) and there is very little design freedom.
Not a big deal - especially since it is free and it can be made slightly personalized to suit your taste. No need for fancy and it is clear and easy for customers to navigate.
There is a forum full of information, and a big plus is the Yahoo group just for its sellers that was set up and is maintained by Ecrater sellers.
Being able to have live HTML in the listings to show matching pieces... would be nice, but I often put the link anyway and most folks are smart enough to do a copy/paste these days.
I did opt-in to be included in their paid ads for their Marketplace, so they take a very small percentage of any sales that come through that, but "Store Direct" sales are still 100% free.
Some folks complain that they have to do the work of promoting their shop. These days, no matter where you sell, you have to promote as the big guys don't care about us and don't promote us anyway, but will gladly charge us a fee.
Ecrater Store Examples
Organic Gifts By Diana is an example of an Ecrater store that has a wide selection of goods showing that you can have a whole bunch of different categories and offer a huge variety of items.
You will see that Ecrater is a simple format, but very easy to use and it gets the job done.
Have a look around at the Ecrater marketplace while you're there to see just how many other folks are using it and the different ways that they have theirs set up to get an idea as to how you can set up your store.
Another example is Vintage Jewelry By Gramz and in this example, you will see how you can showcase one type of goods, but yet offer a large and varied selection within that one type.
There is Always Ebay
It has a millions of varied collectors; buyers and sellers all over the world (but you can choose to just sell locally or just in your own country) and if you pay attention, you can catch the promotions, then you can sometimes list a few things for free each month!
Of course there will be a fee to ebay when your items sell and a PayPal fee, but for this much exposure for your items and your business - it might be worth it.
You can see diana3herbs on ebay if you'd like to see an example.
Etsy for Handmade and Vintage Goods
I only have handmade sachet sets there now because the fees are too much for smaller priced items, but still get orders and repeat customers too of those sets.
The people there are friendly and there are a bunch of hints and tips to help get your store going.
There are groups that you can join too for support or just for fun.
It is not a free option, but it is reasonable and a well liked site by people and search engines.
Want a Nice Looking Website, but Can't Afford to Pay For a New Design, Use a Template.
Use a basic template and add tweaks to make your customers' shopping experience easy and enticing.
There are several places to get one. Freeservers is one option and a good one as it has free and paid plans as well, but there are others.
This is an excellent solution for small and mid-size online businesses who want professional features and and easy to use option.
BuyItSellIt - now known as highwire
BiSi is very flexible as far as design freedom - you can use one of their pre-made templates (if you want) which is great for folks with little design know-how or those who cannot afford to have someone else design one for them.
You can design your own template or hire someone to have a design made to your specs.
If you want/need almost unlimited design freedom, this is a great choice for you !
This store functions about as well as the ones from very expensive web-host companies and you can sell an almost unlimited amount of items depending upon the monthly plan you use.
BiSi management is okay, but not as communicative as they could be - especially since it is a pay for use option.
If you are new to selling online, this option can get expensive unless you REALLY get out and promote your store.
This is your own store and no one else will promote it for you at all.
I like BiSi, but as I said earlier, it is just too expensive for me because I am not a volume seller. I make my own products which take time so paying what they ask each month is too much.