Online marketplaces like Etsy are key for makers, designers, and small businesses looking to increase online visibility and boost sales. Here, we’ll help you decide which platform is right for you and, more importantly, how to make your shop a runaway success.
Why sell online?
If you’re the proud owner of a Moonfruit website and making the most of your online shop, then you might be wondering why we’re encouraging you to sell elsewhere. Well, the truth is that for small businesses like you, it pays to be promiscuous – in a purely sales sense of course. When you’re the little (wo)man, you have to sell here, there, and everywhere if you’re going to get seen. So why have one shop, when you can have three?
Your central website doesn’t lose its importance, as Etsy seller (and long-time Moonfruit user) Jenny McCabe explains – you just maximise your opportunities to sell…
”My website is my best calling card! After every meeting, people go home to check it out and they always get in touch to say how lovely it is. But selling through other online marketplaces has allowed me to reach lots of different customers, especially internationally.”
“I’ve had several designers find me through them and include my work in design schemes which have led to large commissions – this autumn a very large Lakeland Hotel is including my prints in all of its 200 bedrooms – a huge project and will be great for my business.”
Coo & Co is the brand name for work by artist Jenny McCabe. The name comes from her love of birds, which feature heavily in her work.
What’s a marketplace?
An online marketplace does just what it says on the tin. It hosts a collection of shops in one single destination. It’s a bit like an independent retailer selling though larger department stores, as well as having their own shops.
You’ll have heard of the big guns already, the likes of Amazon and eBay, but there’s a new generation of marketplaces popping up and they’re specifically tailored to the creatives like you – do Etsy, Folksy, notonthehighstreet.com, ASOS Marketplace and Society 6 ring a bell?
‘I knew these sellers needed something. Going online, I thought, could be the solution.’ – Holly Tucker, founder of notonthehighstreet.com.
Whether it’s clothing, crafts, or even cookbooks you create, you are one of a thousand makers (and websites) out there. Instead of floating around in the Internet ether, a marketplace hosts all your products and puts them in front of a primed audience of buyers – what’s not to like? Of course, there is a small charge for these services, but if you weigh them up against some of the positives you can debate whether or not you think it’s worth doing.
Moonfruit user and notonthehighstreet.com seller Literary Emporium recently hit 10,000 sales through the online marketplace.
Easy set up – Just like your Moonfruit shop, each marketplace has its own store template ready for use. Simply enter your shop name and information, upload your products, and you’re away (okay, so it’s a bit more involved than this, but you get the drift – the mechanics you need to get selling already exist).
Automatic traffic and reach – Etsy has a global community of 30 million buyers and creative businesses and notonthehighstreet.com gains 2 million unique visitors per month. The people who shop through online marketplaces are looking specifically for products like yours, increasing the likelihood of you being seen (and all over the world too).
Built-in features – Custom store policies (delivery costs and production times etc.), holiday notices (letting your customers know you are away or out of stock), discount codes (perfect for promotions), made-to-order order listings (for custom products) and more… all built in and there to make selling as easy for you as possible.
Free marketing – Marketplaces make a profit from each of your sales, so it’s in their interest for your products to sell (similar to the way here at Moonfruit we promote your websites). That’s why they work hard to promote you through blog features, social media, and newsletters. Keep an eye out for shout-outs to be featured, it’s free advertising!
Support – Most platforms have a dedicated support team on hand to help you (just like us *wink wink*), so if you come up against any problems you’re not alone.
What to sell and where
Moonfruit user Little Lost Soul has branded her Etsy store in line with her website design – nice!
What to sell on Etsy
Suitable for: Creatives looking for a global audience
- Handmade goods (jewellery, crafts, prints, clothing, and accessories) vintage items (20 years or older), and craft supplies.
- Fees: Free membership / $0.20 USD per listing / 3.5% of the selling price.
- Get Started: The Quick-Start Guide to Selling on Etsy
What to sell on Folksy
Suitable for: UK-based makers
- Fees: Basic account (pay as you go) £0.15 + VAT for each item listed and 6% + VAT per sales commission / Folksy Plus is £45 per year + VAT membership and 6% + VAT per sales commission
- Get started: Creating and Maintaining your Folksy Shop
What to sell on notonthehighstreet.com
Suitable for: Business-minded makers looking for high-profile exclusivity
- NOTHS caters for home, garden, print, jewellery, fashion, pet, and wedding products – with a focus on customers finding the perfect gift. This marketplace prides itself on being an ‘exclusive club’ and you have to apply to become a ‘partner’ in order to join, but they do purport to have the highest spending customers in the marketplace sector.
- Fees: £199 joining fee + VAT and 25% commission per sale
- Get started: Apply to sell with NOTHS
Moonfruit user and Ebay ‘powerseller’ Veronica Fever.
What to sell on eBay
Suitable for: Open to all
- Anything and everything, as I am sure you well know. The original marketplace.
- Fees: A basic shop subscription is £19.99 per month with 100 free auction-style or fixed price listings per month (after that they’re £0.35 each).
- Get started: Selling Basics
What to sell on ASOS Marketplace
Suitable for: Budding fashionistas
- ASOS Marketplace is all about clothing, so if you’re an aspiring fashion designer or reseller (sourcing clothing for resale) then this is the one for you. You’ll benefit from selling your wares through the ASOS brand too, one of the biggest in online fashion.
- Fees: ‘Rent’ costs £20 per month and you pay 20% commission per sale.
- Get started: Open a Boutique
What to sell on Society 6
Suitable for: Artists and graphic designers
- With Society 6 all you have to do is post your artwork to make it immediately available for sale as a variety of products. When you sell a product, they produce it, package it and ship it for you.
- Fees: Profits are set and determined per item. Consider this option if you want to keep overheads as low as possible.
- Get started: Seller’s Guide
How to make your online shop a success
Print by Moonfruiter user and Etsy seller Coo & Co.
Obvious you might say, but this point is really about encouraging you. With so many different platforms out there for you to sell on, it can be a little overwhelming. So, why not test-run a few products on different online marketplaces? It might be the case that certain products perform better on a certain marketplace or that one in particular is a runaway success. Either way, you’ll gain insight into which one is worth the most time and effort for you.
Product descriptions are crucial to making sales. Not only do they have the power to grab potential customer’s attention, but marketplaces scan them to find the keywords that customers are looking for (built in SEO). Draw in shoppers with more than just a basic description; include sizing, colour, materials, where you’ve sourced materials, and suggestions for how to use and style products. Where relevant, tell the story behind the product – are your fabrics fair-trade accredited for example, or do you donate 10% of profits to a local charity? Whatever you USP (unique-selling point), shout about it! More on this from Etsy here and here.
Perfect product photography
Big or small – Moonfruit users and notonthehighstreet.com sellers Reloved Vintage, accessorise their furniture so customers get an idea of how they can be used.
Whatever and wherever you sell online, it’s key that your products look attractive. Attract attention with bright images that show items in the best light possible, and make your shop look unified by having a consistent style for your product photography. To be effective, photos should show off your products from different angles, highlight close-up details, and demonstrate it in-situ (eg have a model wearing it for context).
Check out these Moonfruit guides for more tips…
- Video: How to make a lightbox for next to nothing
- 11 easy product photography tips to help increase sales
- Taking stock: Demystifying copyright and online photography
The great thing about selling through Moonfruit as well as online marketplaces is that you become part of a thriving community of fellow sellers. Use chat rooms (the Moonfruit forum, blog and social pages are great places to share inspiration and resources with other users), social media, and organised events to network with other creatives.
Each marketplace has a pretty nifty blog just like Moonfruit Sliced (hey, you’ve got to praise yourself once in a while) full of helpful how-tos and business advice you can learn from. Make the most of them…
An example of an ‘enriched’ Etsy pin on Pinterest.
Post. Tweet. Pin. Instagram. Share your products wherever you can and be sure to tag your online marketplace, as it will increase the chances of them seeing and sharing your creations. When you share your products to social directly from an online marketplace, you get the benefit of enriched content too – they’ll automatically pull in an image, price, and a link to buy.
So there’s your lowdown on how to sell through online marketplaces. We hope you found it useful. If you’re a maker or designer selling online please get in touch with your experiences, we’d love to hear from you!
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