Choosing Your Global E-Commerce Platform: Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or Shopify

07 Mar Choosing Your Global E-Commerce Platform: Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or Shopify

With so many different ways to sell products online, how do you know which platform to choose?

It’s like deciding between Facebook and Instagram for marketing. Which outlet will maximize your reach, or do you leverage both? Maybe you’re creating your first online course. Which platform is better for hosting, Kajabi or Teachable? If you’re launching your first email marketing campaign, which tool will better meet your needs, Mailchimp or Constant Contact?

Choosing the right technology platform is key to the growth of your business. So how do you select an e-commerce platform when you’re going global?

While there are dozens of options out there, let’s take a look at some of the most popular online marketplaces for global sellers: Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Shopify.

The bottom line? Each of these platforms is equipped to support your launch into international selling.

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Etsy is an online marketplace where creatives can sell handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. The site boasts some serious market potential for makers. Last year nearly 30 million buyers around the world spent over $2.8 billion on Etsy. That’s a lot of arts and crafts!
To support the aspirations of these creatives, Etsy offers a thorough Seller Handbook that includes international selling tips for appealing to international buyers and calculating international shipping. Etsy also provides forums, teams, support specialists, and a newsletter to assist you on your way.

One Etsy seller debunks the belief that many creatives have when considering shipping across borders. “A lot of sellers don’t offer international shipping because they are afraid that no one will be willing to pay the cost. But if they really want what you are selling, they will be willing to pay.”

For help getting started with Etsy, check out the It’s Your Etsy Business training offered in Redding starting April 8.

eBay

eBay is a consumer to consumer and business to consumer sales platform with more than 160 million shoppers. That’s more than four times the population of California! Sellers offer everything from spare electronics and shoes to used gift cards and musical instruments on eBay.

eBay has a global shipping program designed to simplify selling an item to an international buyer. The site also offers podcasts, webinars, blogs, forums, and FAQs to sellers growing their businesses beyond borders.

The great thing about eBay is that you only pay a service fee if your item sells, so the risk of trying it out is low.

Amazon

Amazon is gargantuan. The American company reported $177 billion in revenue in 2017. They have customers in over 180 countries and tons of resources to help you reach them.

Amazon’s resources include the Global Selling Program and a video introduction to selling globally. The company also provides newsletters, forums, a Seller Central database of answers to international business questions, and in-depth information on tax and regulatory considerations in different markets here. The site also provides tools like the “Ready to Sell” checklist.

To help handle all of your international selling needs at every stage of the selling journey, Amazon gives you access to a giant network of third-party service providers.

You will, however, be competing with Chinese sellers who are driving prices down with knock-off products, as explained in a 2017 Forbes article.

The thing to consider with Amazon is that you’ve got to go all-in to make it worth your time and effort. When people go with Amazon for their e-commerce platform, they aren’t usually selling through other outlets.

Shopify

If you do a Google search for anything regarding e-commerce solutions, Shopify comes up #1 in the paid ads section. It looks like they’re putting some serious money into getting your attention.

Shopify is a turn-key e-commerce solution designed to support online and in person selling. Interestingly, it’s based in Canada.

Shopify handles everything from marketing and payments to secure checkout and shipping. The platform supports close to half a million entrepreneurs (the majority of whom are women) with 600,000 businesses and 1 million active users, and has sold a grand sum of $55 billion worth of goods since its founding in 2004.

With Shopify, you build your own online store. The system offers a variety of plans and pricing and supports sellers with personalized customer support (email, chat, phone), a rich FAQ database, forums, free online trainings, helpful blogs, a newsletter, and more. In How to expand your Shopify store to multiple countries, you get specific examples on how other e-commerce store owners have transformed their business with a step-by-step process.

Both the U.K. and Australia are strong markets for U.S. retailers, says a Shopify blog by Matt Orlic. The article also gives 12 things to consider when opening up your e-commerce store to international consumers.

Nate Shivar gives a great in-depth review of Shopify if you want more detail.

When it comes to e-commerce platforms, we agree with Nate when he says, “There is no such thing as a “best” choice – only the right choice for your store based on your resources and objectives.”

If you’re considering going global, it’s likely you’re already selling to your domestic market through an online marketplace. Our advice? Before taking the leap, do a little research into the support your current platform offers for selling internationally.

If you think online selling could be your cup of tea but don’t have a clear product idea yet, here’s a list of 10 trending products to sell in 2018. May it spark your creativity!