Work with E-Commerce or Merchant Sites

Some product indexes maintained by e-commerce or merchant sites allow third parties to sell products through their stores. eBay.com and Amazon.com are the two most important. eBay’s entire business model is based on helping people sell their stuff, whether that stuff amounts to a single item or thousands of items.

(Don’t think of eBay as just an auction site, by the way. Most products sold through eBay these days are fixed price.)

As for Amazon.com, it had people fooled for a few years into thinking that its business model was acting as an online retailer, selling its own stuff, but Amazon’s business model, it turns out, is just selling stuff, whoever’s stuff that stuff may be.

A large part of Amazon’s business, certainly more than a quarter of it, is not selling its own stuff but rather selling stuff provided by thousands of other merchants. You could, perhaps, be one of those merchants.

Why bother? If you already have a store on your website, why work with other stores? Because most people looking for products won’t find your site; they’ll go through product sites. Amazon gets hundreds of millions of searches a month, and some of those are for your products, but you’re not getting the sale unless you’re working with Amazon.

Are there other such sites, beyond Amazon and eBay? Well, there’s Overstock.com, with its tens of millions of visitors each month; you can talk to that company about selling products in its catalog, or quickly set up an account to sell through its auction site. Another site is Half.com, an eBay-owned, fixed-price retail site that’s worth checking into. There may be others, but these few are the biggies.

Working with eBay

eBay is the world’s second most popular ecommerce site (after Amazon), although more dollars are spent on eBay than Amazon. It gets almost a billion searches a month.

eBay is not just an auction site, though. It hosts thousands of stores, many of which sell fixed-price goods in addition to taking part in auctions. eBay is part of the overall marketing strategy of many different companies. You may want to consider looking into eBay for your own business.

Working with Amazon

Go to Amazon.com and find the Sell On Amazon link at the bottom of the page. This takes you to an overview of how to sell products on Amazon. There are essentially two programs. If you expect to sell fewer than 40 products a month — or if you just want to get your feet wet — you’ll want to use the basic plan, which charges no listing or monthly fee.

However, on this plan, you’ll pay an additional 99 cents per sale, over and above the regular fees — a percentage commission, and a variable closing fee. Larger merchants can pay a $39.99 per month fee and avoid the 99 cents per sale.

If you want to get an idea of the overall fees for your products, see the Amazon calculator.

Amazon also provides a Fulfillment By Amazon service that is real eye-opener for many merchants. Amazon will stock and ship your products for you, at really great prices. Whether the order comes from your own web store, from eBay, from Amazon, or wherever else, Amazon can handle the shipping for you.

This actually gives you a real advantage when selling your products through Amazon, as your products are treated exactly as though they were being sold by Amazon itself. In particular, buyers get free shipping on your products through its Amazon Prime program. (Amazon provides free shipping on most orders over $25 and free 2-day shipping on any order for Prime members).

You can actually price your products higher than your competitors do and still have an overall lower price; because Amazon ranks products in its list of vendors by total price, including shipping, your product will rank higher than your competitors’. You’ll still have to pay a fee to Amazon to ship your product, but because Amazon is so incredibly efficient at shipping, that fee will be pretty low.

Amazon is actually out hunting for people to sell products. It has staff looking for successful websites with large catalogs of products that are not well represented on Amazon in order to recruit them. Check into it; you may be glad you did!

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