The Best Way to Sell Online

Make a plan for what you’ll sell online, who you’ll sell it to, and how—using these 10 steps.

best way to sell online

Selling products online may seem like a straightforward proposition—and it can be, once you’re up and running. But you’ll have to do some research first: You need to find products you want to sell, figure out who your potential buyers are, and determine how you’ll deliver those products seamlessly into your customers’ hands. This preparation will provide the foundation for a winning e-commerce strategy. After all, when you think about how to start a business online, knowing how to sell your product is essential.

Here’s your 10-step guide for how to sell a product online.

1. Find your products

There are 3 ways most online sellers source products: do it yourself (DIY), wholesale, and drop-shipping. Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks. Whatever method you choose, when you think about how to sell a product online, look for products that you feel passionate about and that meet a need in the marketplace.

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DIY product

These are products you make yourself, whether it’s a small-batch baking hobby you’re turning into a business or a 3D print factory in your garage. DIY items are usually the most expensive products to produce, but they can also be the most gratifying if you have a creative urge.

In many cases, you can charge a premium for handcrafted or highly specialized items, just be sure to factor in the time it takes to make the product. Be prepared to reassess your process and strategy if you can’t charge enough to make the business sustainable.

Wholesale products

The traditional retail model is to buy items in large lots from a manufacturer or wholesaler and sell them individually. You can find wholesale items on sites like Alibaba and Etsy Wholesale. You can also find suppliers by searching for wholesale lots on eBay.

Be sure to check your source carefully. Read reviews, look at Better Business Bureau (BBB) listings, and ask lots of questions before you place your first order. You want to make sure that the products you purchase are of high quality and match the specifications in-person that they claim online.

Dropshipped products

In the dropshipping model, you market the products and take orders, but your supplier handles fulfillment. The convenience is offset by a lower profit margin and tough competition—there are many other online shops offering the same merchandise. Popular drop-shipping suppliers include OberloAliExpressWholesale2BInventory Source, and Megagoods.

The best way to compete in the dropshipping market is to select a cohesive catalog of items and market them to a niche audience.

2. Identify your niche market

The market is massive for an online seller, but it’s also competitive. The best way to stand out is to find a niche.

Narrow it down

For instance, if you wanted to sell yoga mats, you’d be up against brands that are already well established in the market. But if you decided to sell yoga mats designed for travel, with hand-painted designs that might increase the cost, you could target a more specific audience—like globetrotting women between the ages of 40 and 55.

Think about your own niche

One way to begin with niche marketing is by thinking about areas where you already have a presence—and perhaps a passion. Maybe your niche market is one that you’re already involved in. Are you a member of any social media groups, message boards, or other online gathering places? Is there a niche where people know you or you have a lot of contacts? If so, that offers a meaningful place to start.

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