How to Start Selling Online-Part One

Have you ever thought about selling on eBay, Amazon, or your own Shopify store, but you’re not sure where to begin? This guide will show you how to start selling online and show you how to find trustworthy wholesalers to partner with.

Okay, so you’d like to start selling stuff online, right?

Do you feel like you’re on a rat-race to start your own business by selling products online? Or maybe you’d be happy making some extra cash to build your retirement or to pay down your debt. 

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to sell online, eCommerce offers immense opportunities for anyone with an internet connection. I would have to admit that of all the numerous ways to make money online, selling is the easiest to get started with because of it’s simplicity. 

I put together this ten-minute online guide by using some of the challenges I faced along my journey. I started with eBay, then added Amazon FBA, and finally began my very own eCommerce store with Shopify. After reading this, you will know how to sell products online.

credit card for shopping online

How to Start Selling Online

So, let’s dive right in with what you can expect here:

I took the time to break down the online selling process into these six steps to keep it short and digestible.

Step 1: What to Know Before You Begin Selling Online

Of course, it’s a good idea to know if selling online is a good fit for you before investing time and money.

So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of selling online so that you can analyze it to make an informed decision.

The Pros of Selling Online

Obviously working from home in your pajamas is a significant benefit, but guess what, there are plenty of other fantastic reasons to start selling online and growing an eCommerce business:

Pros

  • You can work from anywhere, choose your own hours, and decide how far you want to take it. Do you want to make it to a full-time income? Or, do you want to bring in extra cash for your household? With this business, the possibilities are endless. You control the glass ceiling.
  • You’re likely to have some level of familiarity with eCommerce. If you’ve ever bought something online, then you basically have an understanding of what selling online consists of. Ultimately, this will shorten your learning curve.
  • You can use your own interest as motivation. What does this mean? If you are passionate about fishing, hunting, or camping, you can find products to sell that would be useful in those categories. If you like motorcycles and racing bikes, then you could use those categories. Maybe you like interior design or cake decorating, those are other options for you to explore. Selling online is a way to turn your passions into profits.
  • Selling online is less risky than the traditional business model. You don’t have to rent space to store inventory, and you don’t have to invest a lot of money to get started. Overall, the barrier-to-entry is low.

The Cons of Selling Online

There are cons to anything in life, and selling online is not an exception. Here are some things for you to consider before you begin your online store. The cons will help you set realistic expectations.

Cons

  • First of all, it takes time. Don’t be surprised if it takes a month or two to start seeing consistent sales. You may have sales within your first few weeks of opening your store, but it takes time to see consistent results. In other words, the chances of making over $100 (profit) on your first day are unlikely.
  • Expect a learning curve. If you’ve sold anything online before then, you are already a step ahead of your competition. However, you’ll need to read and do some studying before you start selling online professionally.
  • Prepare yourself for the multi-tasking duties of your business. You will play the role of all the department heads. The accountant, the project manager, the marketer, the web designer, customer service, and everything else to run a successful online eCommerce business. That means you will have to shoulder all the responsibility yourself.
  • Contradictory to what you may have heard, it is not all passive income. In the beginning, you will not have your own staff. If you are dealing with regular sales, shipments, fulfillment processing, and customer inquiries, then your business is on its way to success. Unfortunately, this also means you will be putting in some real work. (At least until you can afford to hire staff.)

What next?

So just to be clear, this is not a get-rich-quick ordeal, and success doesn’t happen overnight. Also, be mindful of internet scammers posing as wholesalers. Next, you should choose an eCommerce business model.

1.2: Choosing an eCommerce Business Model

There are several eCommerce business models to consider before you start selling online, and each of them has there own set of pros and cons.

Think carefully about which model is best for your business. Since they each have unique characteristics, they may require different levels of financial risks and complexity. Therefore, they will determine how you structure your store.

Take this quiz to find out which business model is best for you.

online eCommerce store

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is the jewel of the eCommerce realm. Why? Simply because the barrier-to-entry is so low. As mentioned earlier, the financial investment is small. You won’t pay for the products you sell until someone makes a purchase on your site. 

You don’t have to store inventory, you just need to find things to sell online and find a supplier that provides dropshipping services. Then, list your products on your chosen marketplace, and the supplier will ship the product to your customer for you. 

Here are the steps to dropshipping:

  1. A customer purchases a product (at the retail price) from your store.

  2. You receive the payment from the customer and place that order with your supplier (at the wholesale price).

  3. Your supplier will package and send the product to your customer for you.

The key to a successful dropshipping store is finding a supplier with reasonable shipping times and shipping costs. Typically, it takes about three weeks to receive products from China. Nevertheless, the dropshipping business model is attractive. 

Sourcing

Sourcing is a term used to define how you buy your inventory. You can source from wholesalers or manufacturers. 

Sourcing from manufacturers is similar to sourcing from wholesalers. Your business objective sets the tone when dealing with manufacturers. If you want to design your own private label product or create a new product from your ideas, then sourcing from manufacturers is the business model for you. The initial investment is higher, but you will have the advantage of selling unique products online.

Sourcing from manufacturers is similar to sourcing from a wholesaler. Your business objective sets the tone when dealing with manufacturers. If you want to create your own private label product or a new product that is created from your ideas, then sourcing from manufacturers is the business model for you. The initial investment is higher but it gives you the flexibility to sell a unique product.

Keep in mind that when you are creating your own product, there are more complex ingredients to maneuver, such as product development, design, testing, packaging, and legal obligations. On the plus side of things, you can differentiate your business from other online sellers.

selling online with Shopify

Making and Selling Your Own Products

Some of you may have a unique skill, as artists, musicians, crafts, jewelry-makers, pottery-designer, woodworkers, and the lists go on-and-on. So think about your skills to see if you can produce something to sell online.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you are going to choose this business model. All of the duties sit on your shoulders, even creating and tracking inventory (that’s a biggie). So you will have to invest time into the production side of things as well as producing enough quantity to keep up with sales. Nonetheless, you won’t have to rely on suppliers or sources for products.

Step 2: Choosing What to Buy and Sell Online

If you’re this far into your decision-making, then you’ve probably thought about what sells well online. There are billions of products available to sell online, so how do you choose which one is right for you?

Choosing what to sell online is arguably the most significant decision you’ll have to make. When deciding what to choose, you should do some research to configure the demand for your product, price, and profitability, competition, marketing, and sales. Do you see why it’s so important?

You can view the full scope of what to sell online, but in the meantime, here is a general rule of looking for products that meet these criteria.

  1. Can you make a profit from it? This is probably the first thought that comes to your mind. Don’t forget to calculate the cost of the item, the cost incurred to ship the product, and the marketplace fees. 

  2. Is there a demand for this product? Often times, new sellers make the mistake of picking products to sell without doing research on the demand for the product.

What does the competition look like? Competition can drive down your profits, especially when there are a lot of sellers for identical products.

2.1: So, How do you Choose What Items to Sell Online?

Well, you can sell almost anything from nearly every category you can think of. Keep in mind the criterion from above. You can narrow products down by your interest, products you’ve discovered online, and products that are backed by market research.

  • Find stuff to sell online that are related to your interests is a great place to start. You will have a certain level of expertise in this niche, which will help you write better copy. That means you can write captivating headlines and personal stories about the products.

  • Consider products that you’ve discovered online. The hottest online selling and buying websites in the marketplace are Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, and Aliexpress. Facebook Marketplace and Pinterest are also becoming a popular go-to platform to shop for unique products online. Think about the steps you take when you are shopping for birthday gifts for family or friends. Other shoppers are likely using these same techniques. 

  • If you want to give yourself the best chance at making money by selling stuff online, DO MARKET RESEARCH. You can do the research yourself. Still, it is time-consuming because it takes a little trial and error, testing, and collecting data.

For example, go onto Amazon and type in a product in the search bar the way you usually would. Amazon will filter it by sponsored products (advertised products), followed by the best sellers. 

Then you can pick a product, open a new tab, and type Google Trends. Once you open that page, type in the product you just found in Amazon to get an idea of how often the product is being searched. You have to repeat this process then begin studying the SERP or Search Engine Results Pages to get a glimpse of the competition. 

As you can see, learning how to start selling online has a bit of a learning curve.

The DIY method of finding products online to sell is costly, timely, and inconsistent. SaleHoo’s effectual market research lab can do the complex brainwork for you. It’s as easy as selecting filter rules to help you find the best selling online products that fit your business model. It’s an easier way to learn how to sell items on the internet.

SaleHoo Labs uses data from Amazon and eBay to ascertain the sell rate, average retail price, and competition for an extensive range of products to sell online.

2.2: What Products are Selling Best Online?

This, of course, is the million-dollar question, right? But, this is like asking a stockbroker which stock is going to make me the most significant gains. The answer is far from simple. There is a wide range of products that are selling well online, and there are many factors in the market that affect the outcomes.

Theoretically, once a product becomes a “best seller,” the market becomes saturated. Therefore, it might be too late to start selling it. Over time, you will learn to anticipate trends. If you have any background in economics, you’ll know to look for complimentary products to the best sellers. 

What do I mean by complimentary? Think about coffee. What are some other products that go well (or compliment) coffee? I think of coffee creamer and sugar. So if the demand for coffee goes up, then sales for creamer and sugar will go up as well. 

Here are five popular evergreen niches that do well. 

  1. Health & Fitness

  2. Sports Accessories

  3. Pet Supplies

  4. Outdoor Accessories

  5. Electronic Accessories

selling stuff online

Step 3: Finding Suppliers to Start Selling Online

Okay, so you did your research and decided which products to sell online. Now, you need to find a reliable supplier for your eCommerce business. How do you find a supplier you can trust? Here are some ways you can look for suppliers:

SaleHoo’s Supplier Directory

SaleHoo can help you save time and reduce costly uncertainties when choosing a supplier. Their directory offers more than 8,000 valid, low-cost suppliers of an extensive collection of appealing products. And, since suppliers are checked and verified before being listed, you can be confident that they are trustworthy.

Web Search Suppliers

You can use Google to find suppliers that fit into your business model, or other directories such as Alibaba, and Aliexpress. What’s the difference between these two? Alibaba is better for buying merchandise in bulk quantities, (referred to as MOQ, or Minimum Order Quantity) while Aliexpress is for single purchase items.

Using these platforms to find items to sell online takes more research and has higher risks. You have to learn how to filter out fraudulent suppliers or suppliers with less integrity. But you can still find good suppliers here. If your business model includes selling your own private label product, then Alibaba is a good place to start.

[See the complete guide to finding drop ship suppliers]

3.1: Contacting Suppliers to Sell Products Online

How should you communicate with a potential supplier once you’ve found one that you’d like to work with? It seems simple enough to shoot them an email, but consider how many emails they get per day. You have to make a good first impression, so you need to have a concrete understanding of what you want from your supplier and what they expect from you. 

You should research which country your supplier is in and evaluate their cultural differences. I’m domestically in the United States, where we have a “let’s get down to business” mentality. However, many overseas countries favor relationship-building first, business second. 

You’re likely contacting a supplier about a specific product you’re interested in selling online. Think about the supplier or manufacturer when you are ready to start communication with them.

Many of the suppliers are looking for:

  1.  a serious buyer

  2. clear communication

  3. good manners

  4. lasting relations

  5. low-risk business dealings.

Try not to over-load your supplier with redundant questions. What is a redundant question? Here is an example of an unnecessary question; “how long have you been in business?” Questions about the company’s background are irrelevant because you can find this with basic research.

[See the complete guide to communicating with suppliers]

Find suppliers to sell online

3.2: Negotiating with Suppliers to Begin Selling Online

Now, you’ve gone through the process of researching and contacting suppliers. Time to talk about negotiations. The goal for your eCommerce business is the same as that of the stock market, buy-low, and sell-higher. So aim for discounts!

If you want to have a successful business selling things online, then stick to the objective of selling stuff for a profit. Even small gains add-up. Negotiating helps you to get a better deal from your supplier. Especially if you are buying in bulk orders.

The best ways to get discounts to sell stuff online from your supplier is:

  • Order in bulk

  • If you have another income or have the capital to spare, then this might be a viable option to sell stuff online with the Amazon FBA business model. Even though you can find excellent pricing opportunities when you buy in bulk, it’s not always an ideal situation for beginners. 

Fortunately, wholesale directories like SaleHoo has a member forum. Sometimes, members can make an arrangement with other members to split a shipment.

[See SaleHoo’s membership forum]

  • Develop a relationship​​​​​

  • When I found my supplier on Alibaba, she would contact me and give me a heads up on the next trends. So I got deals on items before the demand and price increased. Suppliers are always doing research on their end, so if you find one that proves trustworthy, then it can be a beneficial relationship on both ends.

Shopping online

Conclusion

We've just covered the pros and cons of selling online, choosing what to sell online, and finding suppliers for your eCommerce business. 

I know we’ve covered a lot so far, but now the fun part begins. It’s time to start setting up your online business. To read more about how to start selling online, continue with the next article (coming soon). It will cover:

  1. Setting up Your Business

  2. Deciding Where to Sell

  3. How to Make Your First Sale

If you think you are ready to start finding trustworthy suppliers for your eCommerce business, check out the prices below for access. I know the biggest frustration is finding sources that won't let you down when it's time to ship to your customers. Sometimes it's difficult to trust the supplier to ship the correct item.

Jump over to SaleHoo and click the directory from the top menu to start selling online today!

Do You Waste Time Searching for Suppliers?

Selling things online is one of the easiest ways to start earning extra money from home. There are so many platforms to choose from but the challenging part is finding reputable suppliers. Find high-profit products from trustworthy sources so you can start making money today!

dropshipping online shopping

Pricing

Recommended Products for eCommerce Business

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Shopify offers a handful of resources to help you build and grow an eCommerce business, and is especially helpful for dropshippers.

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Weebly helps you get to the finish line faster with it's powerful drag and drop website builder, and customizable templates.

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SaleHoo is your solution to legitimate low price suppliers. Stop throwing money out the door on items that don't sell. Take advantage of their Research Lab to help you make more money.

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“ Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

~T.S. Elliot

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