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Ecommerce Platform Comparison: 11 Ways To Build An Online Store

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You may have heard, or read, time and time again that a great way to make some extra money, or even to work full-time on, is having an online store.

Whether you’re wanting the store to sell your hand-made products, your writing, your hobbies, stuff you’ve found, or products from other providers. An online store can be a great source of income.

The problem is which one? There are so many options out there! Not to worry, I’ve done the homework for you. Here are some of the more popular e-commerce sites and what they entail – their various fees, requirements, and limitations.

1. Shopify

We’ve all heard of Shopify and seen their ads all over social media, but what is it exactly? Shopify allows you to sell online, on social media, from an actual store, or in person.

You sign up, pick a theme design and then you’re ready. They handle “everything” such as the marketing, payments, shipping and even the products you can sell.

Because they handle everything their fees depend on what plan you choose:

Basic Shopify
  • $29 monthly fee
  • Online Credit Card rate – between 2.9% plus 30¢ to 3.5% plus 30¢
  • In-Person Credit Card rate – 2.7%
  • Transaction fees –   Using Shopify’s own Payment System  0%
  • Using an External Payment Site 2%
  • Shipping Discount – “Good”
  • $79 monthly fee
  • Online Credit Card rate – between 2.7% plus 30¢ to 3.4% plus 30¢
  • In-Person Credit Card rate – 2.6%
  • Transaction fees –   Using Shopify’s own Payment System 0%
  • Using an External Payment Site 1%
  • Shipping Discount – “Better”
Advanced Shopify
  • $299 Monthly fee
  • Online Credit Card rate – between 2.4% plus 30¢ to 3.3% plus 30¢
  • In-Person Credit Card rate – 2.4%
  • Transaction fees –   Using Shopify’s own Payment System 0%,
  • Using an External Payment Site 0.5%
  • Shipping Discount – “Best”

All these packages offer unlimited file storage and an unlimited number of products you can list. The drawback is having to make enough sales to cover the monthly fee and transaction fees.

2. Etsy

If you are a creative crafter, or hobbyist, you could sell your homemade wares on Etsy. Other products allowed on this site are craft supplies and “vintage” collectables (things that are 20 years old or older). This is great if you’re a craft store drop-shipper or garage sale & flea market hunter.

There is no monthly fee but they do charge the following:

  • 20¢ per listing (active for 4 months or until they sell)
  • 3.5% Transaction Fee
  • 3% + 25¢ Payment Processing Fee

They offer your own storefront, shipping discounts, and various free selling and marketing tools.

3. eBay

Everyone’s heard of eBay and may have sold one item or two on this site. But how do you earn a great income on here with a store as opposed to a regular member account?

First, an eBay store allows you to display all your listings in one place with your own customable web address and store front design (as opposed to the “standard” page). You’ll have access to many more selling tools – directory listing, more listing choices, more price options, offer sales, discounts, and more.

All you need to open your own store is an existing account and a verified PayPal account. There are several types of stores (and fees) and they depend on which subscription you purchase and these are:

  • Monthly Subscription – $24.95/month
  • Yearly Subscription – $19.951/month (paid for 1-year term)
  • Fixed Price Insertion Fee – 20¢
  • Auction-style Insertion Fee- 25¢
  • Final Value Fee – 3.5% – 9.15%
  • Fixed Price Insertions – Limit of 250/month
  • Auction-Style Insertions – Limit of 250/month
  • eBay Shipping Supplies – $25/quarter
  • Store Categories – 300
  • Email Marketing & Promos – 5,000/month
  • Monthly Subscription – $74.95/month
  • Yearly Subscription – $59.95/month (paid for 1-year term)
  • Fixed Price Insertion Fee – 10¢
  • Auction-style Insertion Fee – 15¢
  • Final Value Fee – 3.5% – 9.15%
  • Fixed Price Insertions – 1,000 a month
  • Auction-Style Insertions – 500 a month
  • eBay Shipping Supplies – $50/quarter
  • Store Categories – 300
  • Email Marketing & Promos – 7,500/month
  • Monthly Subscription – $349.95/month
  • Yearly Subscription – $299.95/month (paid for 1-year term)
  • Fixed Price Insertion Fee – 
  • Auction-style Insertion Fee – 10¢
  • Final Value Fee – 3.5% – 9.15%
  • Fixed Price Insertions – 10,000 a month
  • Auction-Style Insertions – 1,000 a month
  • eBay Shipping Supplies – $150/quarter
  • Store Categories – 300
  • Email Marketing & Promos – 10,000/month

There are other advantages, availabilities and features for each type of account that were minor to mention. Also for the Premium and Anchor stores you cannot let your seller performance rating fall below a certain point or your store is suspended.

4. Facebook Page

Having a store on Facebook is as easy as creating a new Business Page in your account. Once you set up a Page, you can add a Shop section and start listing products.

Facebook guidelines for your shop are:

  • 1,000 products per collection & only 10 in the “featured” section
  • At least 1 image per product & must be of the product itself
  • Descriptions for each image (no HTML)
  • No more than 4 variants per product (different color, size, etc.)
  • Products not allowed: Prescription Drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition (gun shops may list items for sale at their location but not use Facebook’s payment services), alcohol, tobacco, and gambling.

There are no membership fees, listing fees, or payment fees from Facebook to sell on your Business Page. Although there might be service charges from the Credit Card company, or PayPal itself that you use for your transactions.

5. Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon, is a service offered by Amazon where you can sell in a variety of methods.

These methods are:

  • Buy Box – You compete with other sellers for the chance to win a buyer with “Sold by” on a product listing
  • Your own Inventory fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) – you ship your products to Amazon’s warehouses
  • Your own Inventory fulfilled by external factories (FBM) – riskier as you cannot guarantee inventory statuses

They have a few selling plans and fees:

Beginner:99¢ per saleProfessional:$39.95/month
Sell in US & CanadaSell in US & Canada
Bulk Listings
Reporting Tools
Customize Shipping Rates
Promotions & Gift Wrap
Top Product Placement

There’s so much more to cover, so if you’re interested in this e-commerce selling method you can check out their How-To Guides. 

6. Volusion

To be honest, I’ve never heard of this site, but apparently they have sold over $26 billion dollars of products on over 185 million orders with over 30,000 different sites.

Here’s what’s available from Volusion:

100 Products1000 Products
1GB Bandwidth3GB Bandwidth
Online SupportOnline & Phone Support
Secure CheckoutSecure Checkout
10,000 ProductsUnlimited Products
10GB Bandwidth35GB Bandwidth
Priority SupportPriority Support
Secure CheckoutDedicated Account Manager
Secure Checkout

7. Payloadz

This site is for digital downloads you’ve created such as eBooks, software, digital art, music, videos, manuals and pretty much anything that’s in digital form.

There is only one plan offered and they do have a 30-day money back guarantee. Here’s what’s involved in joining Payloadz:

  • $19.95/month
  • 2.9% + 29¢ per transaction (billed monthly)
  • 4.9% + 5¢ for orders less than $12
  • Payment is sent to your PayPal as soon as the customer pays
  • Works everywhere – your site, social media, eBay, and their store
  • Accepts many Payment Systems, Credit cards, eChecks, bank transfers, etc.
  • Sell in many countries and currencies

8. Adobe Stock

If your hobby is photography, art, or video creation, you can sell them on Adobe Stock. Using software such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop would be easier to upload directly to Adobe Stock (but is not required).

Their only requirements are that you are over 18 years old and are the sole owner of the art submitted. (If there are recognizable people or private property featured in your art then you must have signed releases).

The earnings you can make depends on what you contributed:

  •    33% for Photos, illustrations & Vector Art
  •    35% for videos

You are paid through PayPal, or Skrill after you’ve met the minimum of €50 (about $58 USD) in royalties in your account.

9. Amazon Kindle Publishing

This site is for eBooks and paperback books to sell on Amazon. It’s a great site and involves very little work (other than the actual writing). Uploading your eBook takes less than 5 minutes, you have an option of converting that eBook into a paperback version (provided it’s larger than 24 pages) and Amazon takes care of the rest. You can just post and share your Amazon Author link or each book link anywhere online. There are no membership fees and publishing is free.

Amazon offers two “Royalties” plans:

70% Royalties Option
  • $2.99 Minimum price
  • $9.99 Maximum price
  • Minus delivery costs (and VAT if applicable)
35% Royalties Option
  • 99¢ Minimum price (Less than 3 Megabytes)
  • $200 Maximum price (Less than 3 Megabytes)
  • $1.99 Minimum price (3 Megabytes – 10 Megabytes)
  • $200 Maximum price (3 Megabytes – 10 Megabytes)
  • $2.99 Minimum price (>10 Megabytes)
  • $200 Maximum price (>10 Megabytes)

They have different price standards for different “territories” but these prices are for the US & Canada. They have easy step-by-step guides and help menus and support services.

10. Storenvy

This site offers two ways to sell your products – buy products directly from their indie brands on your MarketPlace, or build your own storefront.

The MarketPlace is “like a Social Network for Shopping”, you grow your followers and get exposure and sales. Storenvy keeps 10% of every sale you make in your Marketplace.

Your own Storefront uses your own domain name, a simple platform with up to 500 products email and marketing tools and order fulfillments. With your own store front you keep 100% minus transaction fees.

11. Your Own Site

Having a store on your own website keeps it more personal to your brand and personality and there’s really no limit on what you can or can’t sell (as long as it’s legal and within your web host’s contract).

The drawback is the amount of work involved as you also have to manage the invoicing, payments, shipping and all the “back office” management duties.

To get started, we recommend using Bluehost. They offer a great option for beginners, giving you a year’s worth of hosting at only $3.95 along with a free domain name your first year. Most hosting services can be double the price, and domain names usually cost $10/year.

Figuring out which option is best for you all depends on what you’re selling, how much time, money, and effort you want to put into it, and in some cases, having technical savvy.

Now remember, none of these are “get rich quick” options, what you get out of it is sometimes the same as how much you put into it.

Nonetheless, they do provide a little repeat passive income once the elbow grease is done, such as from Adobe Stock, Kindle, and Payloadz for example.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this ecommerce platform comparison. If you have any you’d like to add to the list, please let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!

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