Go Beyond Amazon
Five online marketplaces other than Amazon.
eBay. The original still has some juice. Launched in 1995—seriously, 1995?—eBay experienced ups and downs over the years as it has shifted its focus to keep up with the ever-changing online retail landscape. It remains a great destination if you are launching a business with very little capital. You’ll retain control over pricing. There are also three plans to choose from as a seller—the Standard plan with no monthly fee but charges when items sell, the Plus plan with a monthly fee, and a Premium plan with advanced merchant tools.
That said, eBay is still a bit like the Wild West—your products could be going up against typical sellers with new merchandise, or a re-seller of slightly used products at seriously discounted prices. You’re also more likely to find yourself up against counterfeit goods. Despite these and other negatives, putting eBay on your list of online marketplaces means you’ll be getting your products in front of lots of eyeballs and an audience that is comfortable buying online.
NewEgg, for instance, has been gaining momentum, appealing to a seriously tech-savvy audience between the ages of 18 and 35. Its demographic does skew male, but it has expanded its product inventory to grow its appeal among female shoppers. It now offers health and beauty items, office supplies, and automotive accessories, along with more consumer electronics than it did in the past.
You’ll have to apply to sell on NewEgg, but this marketplace is known for being start-up friendly. A bit of an underdog itself, it has some special programs to help nascent companies. One of the big selling points for NewEgg users—it offers a Prime-like service to drive repeat business—is the speed of its fulfillment. It uses a robot-powered system that gets high demand items out extremely quickly.For sellers, NewEgg is appealing because it offers some of the lowest commission fees among all the online marketplaces. Combined with its focused audience of shoppers, it is worth the effort for sellers of technology products.
Another niche offering with real traction is Reverb, a UK-based online marketplace that focuses on products for musicians and has impressive reach. Whether it’s a full-time career or a hobby, music sparks passion and the people who buy instruments and equipment to make it are particular about their purchases. That’s why Reverb has become a go-to for many.
It’s free to list—a 3.5% fee is applied when a product sells. Reverb Payments also takes 2.7%. All in, the relatively low fee structure and ease of listing products without risk means it’s easy for sellers of musical instruments or gear to reach an audience that appreciates this marketplace because it provides good value and a sense of community.
Unlike Reverb, sellers on The Grommet are carefully vetted. Its goal is to introduce out-of-the-ordinary products to its audience of quality-oriented and values-based consumers. In other words, this is a curated online marketplace and you’ll need to make a submission to be included in it. It’s competitive—The Grommet reviews 300 submissions each week and features three.
What do they look for? In the words of founder Jules Pieri, it’s a product from, “…someone who is solving a problem in a fresh way and there is something about the company that people can relate to.”
If you’re honest with yourself and believe your item is extraordinary or your company has a powerful story to tell, submitting to The Grommet could be a very valuable investment of time. Shoppers on this online marketplace are unusually dedicated to the products sold on it, and startups that received a big boost from it in the past include Fitbit, GoldieBlox, and SodaStream. Maybe yours is next.
The list of niche marketplaces goes well beyond those mentioned here. If you are a brand with a product or a product line that serves a specific audience, research your options and seek out one that would let you stand out far more than you will when you become another listing on Amazon.
Amazon, sure. But not just Amazon.
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