Starting your own business online isn’t difficult. In fact, you don’t need a lot of capital to get your small business off the ground!
With a wide range of ecommerce platforms available, selling online has never been easier. The real question is, which online selling platform is right for you? Should you be a Lazada seller, Shopee seller, or create your own website? And is there really a difference between these different platforms?
This guide will introduce some of the most popular online selling platforms, what to consider when you start your online business, and what makes these platforms great for your business.
What is ecommerce?
Before we dive into the different ecommerce platforms, let’s start off with what ecommerce is really about.
Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services on the internet. Businesses and individual sellers list their products and services on an ecommerce website or marketplace and all transactions are made online!
On ecommerce platforms, consumers can easily browse and search for specific products they’re looking for. The best ecommerce platforms have great end-to-end solutions that let business owners grow their business online!
Unlike traditional businesses, you don’t necessarily need a brick-and-mortar storefront to sell your goods to customers.
What types of online selling platforms are there?
Broadly speaking, there are 3 main types of online selling platforms—marketplaces, your ecommerce website, and social media.
Here’s what sets them apart and some factors you should consider before making a decision to sell on any of these platforms.
Marketplaces host a wide range of brands and sellers. They also have a ready pool of customers who are browsing and ready to shop! Some examples of marketplaces include Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and Carousell.
Benefits of selling on marketplaces
For many businesses, selling on marketplaces feels less intimidating. You won’t need to work as hard to bring traffic to your online store. On top of that, you can use a range of marketing tools that are available on marketplaces and easily jump on 11:11 sales or other seasonal flash sales.
Your own website
Having your own website is quite different from selling in a marketplace. From store customization to delivery services, you’ll be in full control of your ecommerce store.
Benefits of selling on ecommerce website
For some business owners, this could be more good than bad. Unlike selling in marketplaces, you’ll have full control over your brand, how you want to build your website and more detailed insights into your customers’ behaviour.
On top of that, you’ll see less competition. When customers visit your ecommerce website, they’re only looking at your products. On the other hand, customers who shop on marketplaces are often recommended products from various stores.
Want to have a more in-depth comparison between an ecommerce website and an ecommerce marketplace? Read this article to find out more.
Social media platforms
Social media platforms have become popular places for businesses to sell products and services. With the introduction of Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shop, it’s so much easier to convert consumers on social media.
Benefits of selling on social media platforms
Social media has become an integral part of our lives, whether you’re young or old. People are always scrolling through social media to connect with others or discover inspiring new products.
With a business page on social media, you can reach new customers and convert on your social media platforms instantly! Consumers have shorter attention span these days, so making your products immediately available can help with conversion.
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Types of ecommerce platforms to consider
Shopify is perhaps the most popular ecommerce website builder. It has a range of tools that’s suitable for businesses of all sizes. It takes about a week to a month to set up your online business on Shopify and start selling, depending on how complex your requirements are.
There are built-in templates and drag and drop modules on their website builder. So if you’re thinking of getting your website off the ground quickly, this might be an option to consider.
That said, there’s still a learning curve to using Shopify. If you want a more complex website with specific requirements, you’ll need to install some plugins or edit the code. Shopify starts at USD$29/ month
Selling online is a breeze with Cococart. There’s no coding, no app download, and no design experience needed. You can literally start selling with Cococart in minutes!
Cococart has a range of features that are specifically designed with small business owners in mind. With Cococart, you can get all the data on your business at one glance and keep track of your orders easily!
Additionally, you can also streamline your business processes with the in-built deliveries feature—each segment of your business is taken care of on Cococart!
The best part about Cococart? It’s absolutely free and built on a pay as you grow model so your the cost of running your ecommerce website will always be sustainable for your small business.
Wix is primarily a website builder but comes with a host of features that support ecommerce websites.
Similar to Shopify, Wix offers ready-made templates to help you get started quickly. Their drag and drop template helps you create a customized look for your online store while their plug-ins to help meet your business’ needs.
There are three Wix eCommerce plans to choose from and prices start at USD $16/month.
Carousell is a popular marketplace in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia. You’ll find a range of products and services, including second hand items.
There are no registration fees with carousell and sellers can use in-app marketing options to boost their listings and attract more interested buyers. In the past, transactions are made through private arrangements but now, you can make safer payments through CarouPay.
Amazon has been around for a long time and it’s a popular marketplace for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a small business or an entrepreneur of a large organization, Amazon lets you reach millions of customers globally.
Selling on Amazon is a cost effective way to start a new business or create a new channel to sell to more customers online. Amazon sellers will expect to pay USD$39.99/ month to sell on Amazon. For each product you sell, Amazon will also take a small fee. If you choose to use Fulfilment by Amazon, additional charges may apply.
Lazada started in 2012, with the goal of becoming the Amazon of Southeast Asia. The marketplace was sold to Alibaba in 2016 and continues to be a popular ecommerce platform.
There are no sign up fees if you want to start selling on Lazada. However, Lazada sellers need to pay a commission of up to 7.2% of your total transactional amount. Depending on your profit margins, you’ll want to keep these numbers in mind.
With more than 10 million monthly web visits, Shopee is one of the most popular marketplaces in Asia. That could be good news to small businesses looking to sell online. Since its inception, Shopee is now available in most Southeast Asian countries.
In comparison to Lazada, Shopee see have much lower transaction fees at just 2.21%. For small businesses that are starting out, it would make more sense to sell on a marketplace that doesn’t eat into your profit margins.
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Which ecommerce platform is the best for your small business?
Each platform comes with their own benefit and costs and you’ll need to choose the one that makes the most sense for your business.
Cococart’s free plan and 0% transaction fees lets small business owners start selling at minimal cost. You can start your own ecommerce website and start selling in minutes—sign up for an account now and bring your small business idea into reality!
Should I sell on a marketplace or have my own website?
It depends on your business goals. Marketplaces give you access to a pool of customers, however, you may see stiffer competition selling next to similar brands.
With your own website, you can work on creating an impactful brand, but you’ll also need to pour in the effort to look for your own customers.
Can I sell on my website and a marketplace?
Of course! You can try out both platforms concurrently to see which one works better for your small business.
Must I get a license to start my home based business?
Different countries have different regulations. If you’re based in Singapore, read this article to find out more.
How can I start my home based business?
It’s simpler than you think! If you’re based in Singapore, you’ll first need to register your business with ACRA. Next, you’ll need to find out more about the Home Office (HO) Scheme and its regulations. Read this step-by-step guide to get started.