Small business advice ONLINE MARKETPLACE SUCCESS
Our guide to kickstarting your e-commerce business
Selling online is a must for many start-up businesses and a marketplace website can offer fantastic exposure as more customers turn to such sites for unique, independently made gifts. Shops on online marketplaces are quick and easy to set up, but it’s important to factor in fees and commission. Standing out from the competition is crucial, so not only do you need to have a great product, but you need to stand out with great photography and branding.
Emily Butterill started her business off by joining notonthehighstreet.com.
‘It’s been a great platform for Glow,’ she says. ‘They’re selective about who they work with and love to support small British businesses.’ Notonthehighstreet. com was set up to support independent creative UK businesses, giving them a platform to sell high-quality goods online, and it supports 5,000 small firms. With a joining fee of £199, plus VAT, commission per sale is 25%. To succeed with notonthehighstreet.com, Senior Curator Francesca Pittaway advises:
Have an original product.
‘We look for original, inspiring and beautifully crafted products that are ahead of the curve with materials and trends. We want to show our customers unique designs that they can’t find anywhere else, so it’s important the businesses we accept on our platform stand out.’
Invest in good photography.
‘Using engaging imagery has never been more important and we encourage a lifestyle approach to photography in order to bring products to life. Our customers can’t touch or feel the products, so showing movement and interaction in product photography is really powerful.
‘There are many ways we promote small businesses that they wouldn’t be able to do themselves. Each business has the opportunity to be featured on our social channels, in email marketing, or in our seasonal catalogues, which are sent to millions of customers. We also offer business support and development plans for those keen to grow their business with us.’
If you make your own products, another great online marketplace is Etsy.
It’s an open marketplace, so anyone can open a shop on it to sell handmade, vintage or craft supplies, and it has more than 33 million buyers worldwide. Fees include a listings fee of around 15p for four months, or until you sell an item, commission of 5% and payment processing of 4%, plus 20p. To be successful on Etsy, UK Seller Growth Specialist Ajeet Jugnauth advises:
Tag your products using keywords. ‘Think about the words customers will use to search for your item and put those words in your product title, description and tags. If you are selling a bracelet, use a descriptive title such as “Sterling silver star bracelet”. Doing this helps search engines find your product.’
Price it right.
‘Pay yourself adequately and don’t undercharge for the items you use to make your products or the time you spend creating them. A pricing formula that a number of Etsy sellers use is materials + labour + expenses + profit = wholesale x 2 = retail.’
Create a brand identity and promote yourself.
‘Think about who your target audience is and what your brand is all about. Pick one or two social media platforms and start building a community around your brand.’
Get in touch with bloggers, journalists and magazines.
‘Briefly introduce yourself, include some eye-catching product shots and invite them to get in touch with you if they would like more information.’