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Top 10 platforms for multichannel selling

You have set up your ecommerce store and designed products ready to wow customers anywhere in the world. However, if your store is not visible where people are looking, how can they find you?

Back in the day, securing a store front location on the busiest street in town or at your local mall was a pretty sure recipe for attracting customers. Today, some of these prime locations have been replaced with online platforms such as Shopify, Etsy and Google - and not being visible is pretty much the online equivalent of opening up shop in a dead-end alleyway.

Placing your ecommerce store at the right place at the right time

With online shopping you have the opportunity to select not only one, but several prime locations that you know your target customers are frequenting and browsing for inspiration. Think of it as opening up several branches. By exposing your brand and designs to more people where they are and at the time when they are looking for the products you sell, you are increasing the entry points to your store and thereby your volume of potential shoppers.

Yet, with the whole world as your oyster, which platforms to pick, and which can you skip? Which offer the best features for your business? Although online visibility will cost you less than prime real estate on 5th Avenue, getting your store to catch browsers’ attention requires marketing budgets and platform fees. Here are ten of the top marketplaces to place you on the path of consumers on the search for customized products:

1. Shopify

Shopify is an easy-to-use platform that enables you to build your ecommerce store choosing from various themes and customizable templates. Pros include an easy set up of your store with no need for technical or programming skills. Being an all-in-one solution, Shopify helps you take care of both the setup of the store, order management and hosting, enabling you as a seller to focus on sales, which makes it a popular choice.

You can also easily choose from various add-ons and tools in Shopify’s app store to help you with anything from social media marketing to drop-shipping, like Gelato.

Integrate your store with Gelato through our Shopify app in minutes, making both transferring existing products or creating and uploading new ones done fast and easy.

2. Etsy

Etsy is a marketplace that specializes in handmade products, vintage items, and craft supplies. It’s one of the most popular platforms for online shoppers who are looking for unique products with a special and artistic touch that aren’t easily found in other stores.

There are no subscription fees with Etsy, but you are charged for listing and selling items. While Etsy is a busy marketplace with lots of competition, you might be able to charge a premium price as people expect to pay more for unique or custom items. That is also why it is important to make your products look their very best, as well as writing creative and detailed product descriptions to make your designs stand out.

Make sure you upload high-quality product images - both lifestyle images and mockups (we can help you with this in our mockup generator). Etsy has also gathered several tips for making your products searchable. You may also want to take a look at the Etsy Seller Handbook - or go straight to Gelato to learn how to integrate your Etsy store in minutes!

3. WooCommerce

WooCommerce WooCommerce is a flexible, open-source platform for ecommerce sellers, whether you are selling products or services. As with Shopify, you can choose from several free and paid extensions to add to your store, including integrated marketing solutions and production on demand. You can easily connect your WooCommerce store to Gelato, read how it is done here.

WooCommerce can be added to any WordPress site for free. Because it is open-source it enables you as a seller to remain in complete control of your store. Whereas other platforms will charge you for advanced options, WooCommerce gives you as a seller flexibility to adapt the solution to your store’s needs. It can be an advantage to have previous experience with WordPress, but there are also a myriad of support forums and communities hosted by both WooCommerce and others that can help you with any questions or issues that arise.

You can read more about WooCommerce’s features for sellers here, or you can check out their guide for new sellers.

4. Wix

Wix is an easy-to-use drag-and-drop website builder that offers more than 500 customizable designer-made templates, web hosting, and domain name registration. You can build a basic website for free, but you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan to use Wix’s ecommerce features.

As far as ecommerce functionality goes, Wix has several helpful tools to help you build and grow your business. The platform allows merchants to track orders, accept online payments, sell on multiple channels, and create abandoned cart campaigns. It also grants you access to several free tools that can be helpful for your business, like Wix Logo Maker, Wix SEO Wiz, Wix Video Maker, and Wix Blog.

It lacks certain desired tools for ecommerce sellers such as low stock alerts, and you will need to use a third-party app for social commerce integrations. You can read more about Wix for ecommerce sellers here.

5. Amazon

With more than 200 million unique visitors each month, Amazon is the largest player in ecommerce. Due to the scale of shoppers the platform attracts, merchants find it relatively easy to get people in front of their products. Other advantages include gaining new consumers who may purchase from you again, and an easy checkout and fulfillment process for retailers and customers alike. Some of the downsides of selling on Amazon include their seller guidelines, which merchants must adhere to, and that e.g. include that all your orders must meet shipping time deadlines, and that customer service tickets must be answered within 24 hours.

Amazon operates with per-item fees, which means that you will be charged a certain fee per item that you sell. The fee will vary depending on the type of product and what type of seller plan you use with Amazon. Keep in mind that Amazon is known for having competitive pricing, so be prepared to compete to stay ahead of the competition. You can also check out Amazon’s page with more resources for sellers. If you choose Amazon as your next sales channel, you can easily integrate with Gelato via OrderDesk. Read more about this in our Help Center.

6. Ebay

With 182 million users worldwide and 25 million sellers, Ebay is another major ecommerce marketplace. Although it originally started out as a platform where people could host and participate in auctions, an increasing number of merchants have opened stores that offer products with set prices, making it a popular place to both sell and browse products. Ebay also offers several options for customization, which makes it easier for you to brand your store and how it looks to shoppers.

To set up your ecommerce store with eBay you pay a monthly subscription fee. There are also two types of selling fees to be aware of:

  • An insertion fee when you publish a product. The price depends on the type of subscription you have, the product, and whether you are selling it in an aution or for a set price.

  • A final value fee when your item is sold. This fee is based on a percentage of the total amount your customers pay, including delivery.

Read more in Ebay’s Seller Center.

7. Squarespace

Squarespace is not only known for its sleek, award-winning design, destined to make your store look stunning, but offers an easy-to-use website builder. The platform offers more than 100 mobile-friendly, customizable templates, a live chat with easy access to customer support, and drag-and-drop tools for easy website creation. Although you don’t need any coding skills to use Squarespace, a little technical confidence will get you a long way.

Squarespace also offers a blog and newsletter tool, so if you are looking to build content marketing and a community around your store, these may be worth checking out. Read more about how to get started in their Help Center.

8. Facebook Shops

With Facebook Shops, you can display and sell products on Facebook and Instagram. Consumers who visit your shop can browse your products, make purchases, and get to know your brand. You’ll create your shop in Commerce Manager a platform you use to manage your inventory and sales on Facebook and Instagram.

Shops let you choose which of your items you want to feature, merchandise with product collections and tell your brand story with customisable fonts and colours. In Facebook Shops, you'll be able to connect with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to answer questions, offer support and more.

“Social selling” can make it easier to connect and engage with new and existing customers, and since both Facebook and Instagram are often already key marketing channels for many ecommerce sellers, offering your products for sale directly within the apps can make the path from inspiration to action that much shorter and easier for consumers. You can read more about Facebook Shops here.

9. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is an open-source and flexible platform that enables you to grow and scale your ecommerce store. It has a reputation as one of the more powerful platforms out there, making it especially suitable for the bigger stores that are already selling on multiple platforms, or a newcomer with ambitions to scale. This may also make it slightly less intuitive and easy to use for smaller merchants, but with some trial and error and checking out their tech support, knowledge base, and BigCommerce community you should still be up and running in a short time. The platform is also known for its many in-house features that are free to use, and make you less reliant on third party apps.

Their monthly plans start at $29.95 per month for a basic plan, whereas a professional plan will set you back $299.95 per month. Read more about their features and how to get started.

10. BigCartel

If you’re an artist or a creator selling your products online, Big Cartel may be the right platform for you. Similar to Etsy, this platform is designed for artists and creative sellers who prefer to invest more time into a smaller selection of carefully crafted products rather than selling thousands of products in a complex inventory system.

Their plans are designed based on how many types of products you offer, ranging from free (up to 5 products) to $29.99/month for up to 500 products. The more products you sell (and the more you pay), the more access you will get to additional features as you need them, such as customizing your store, offering discounts, or tracking website traffic.

Other key features include SEO, customizable code, easy connection to your Facebook page so that you can sell through Facebook, inventory tracking and built-in card processing via PayPal or Stripe. For additional customization of your store beyond the custom look, you may need programming skills or technical support, which may be a hurdle for some small business owners. You can, however, access lots of tips, guides and advice on how to get started in their help center.

Choosing the marketplace that is right for you

You now have many options to choose from, and although adding more channels can help you boost your sales, you want to pick the ones that best match your store’s needs and business strategy. Pay extra attention to the following:

  • Which products are being sold on the platform, and do they match with what you are selling in your store?

  • Find out who your customer persona is, and where they shop. Which of the marketplaces do they frequent more often? Just like there is no point of having your store on 5th Avenue if all your customers live on the West Coast, there is no point in investing in online platforms that your customers rarely frequent.

  • Go through the various payment plans to find out which ones suit your business. You also want to evaluate which guidelines you can easily abide by, and which ones that would e.g. compromise your brand or limit your sales.

  • Find a balance between being unique and fitting in. While you may not want to be selling wall art on a platform known to only offer services, you also want to make sure your products stand out.

  • Find a reliable producer for your products. Gelato integrates with several ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Etsy, Squarespace and WooCommerce, and through OrderDesk you can easily connect your stores to many more. We keep adding new integrations, and for the platforms where integration is not possible you can also fulfill via manual orders.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]. We are always here to support you on your ecommerce business’ growth journey.

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