Among the many reasons to sell on the web, one stands above the rest: making really good money. We think the websites that let you bring home the most bacon are the best places to sell online. These five have a habit of making their sellers wealthy:
Last updated 1/13/2020.
I doubt anyone’s surprised to see Amazon listed yet again as the best place to sell online. Although it has its fair share of detractors, it has more than its fair share of the market. And, it's been turning sellers into millionaires for years.
In a 2014 survey by Feedvisor and Web Retailer, Amazon sellers were more likely than those on any other marketplace to make more than $100,000 in revenue per year and the only ones to break $10 million. By 2016, a few sellers were bringing in more than $100 million just on Amazon.
Nowhere else on the web can you expect to hit those kinds of figures. Merchants who ignore Amazon shoot themselves in the foot.
Common Problems with Selling on Amazon
Amazon has relatively high fees and labyrinthine rules and policies. Expect a few headaches as you learn how it all works and hunt down profitable products to sell on Amazon. Of course, its popularity also means you have to deal with a lot of competition.
More Reasons Why It’s One of the Best Places to Sell Online
Amazon has enormous customer trust, excellent SEO, and just about everything else you could ask for. See “The Benefits of Selling on Amazon” for more.
Feedvisor and Web Retailer’s 2014 survey found that after Amazon, eBay was the single marketplace where a seller was most likely to earn $1M+ in revenue per year.
In 2017, a follow-up survey directed at Amazon sellers asked about their total revenues and which other channels they sold on. 71% of those with annual revenues of $2M+ sold on both eBay and Amazon. In fact, the higher the seller’s annual revenue, the more likely it was that they sold on eBay and Amazon at the same time.
2018's survey showed that a number of Amazon sellers had, surprisingly, given up selling on eBay, though it's still the most popular secondary channel. Given the rapid changes in eBay business strategy lately, I expect some of these sellers to return as it becomes a more customer-friendly marketplace.
On top of being a major moneymaker, eBay has less of a learning curve than Amazon. It’s often the best place for new sellers to learn the ropes of running an ecommerce business.
Statistics suggest that eBay users have less money to spare than Amazon users. This makes them relentless bargain hunters, and they seem to have a habit of pushing eBay sellers into price wars.
More Reasons to Sell There
eBay has lower fees than Amazon and gives you more freedom to run your business your way. See “The Advantages of eBay for Online Sellers” for more reasons to give it a try.
3. Your Own Online Store
None of the giant marketplaces have been able to beat these specialized online stores in Google's organic search results.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: selling on your own online store isn’t easy. Nowhere in the history of business has the saying “If you build it, they will come” been less true. It takes a lot of talent in everything from website building to marketing to pull it off.
But with that said, a site of one’s own often proves crucial to long-term success. Having one means your business won’t go under if you get banned from marketplaces. It also gives you the highest possible profit margins, since you don’t have to pay any marketplace fees.
Feedvisor and Web Retailer’s 2016 survey found that sellers with $1M+ in annual revenue were more likely to have their own webstore than those who earned less.
Likewise, the 2017 survey found that the higher an Amazon seller’s annual revenues, the more likely they were to have some of those revenues coming from their own ecommerce site. A whopping 51% of those with $2M+ in annual revenue ran one.
If anything, the stats for independent online stores are only getting more impressive. Between summer 2018 and summer 2019, 218 million people bought something from a Shopify store. Total Shopify sales hit $41 billion by the end of 2018.
While Shopify is almost certainly the most popular store-builder out there, it's just one of many. There's no doubt that store owners using other solutions like BigCommerce, WooCommerce, 3dcart etc. are pulling in billions more from hundreds of millions of buyers. Amazon isn't nearly the world-ending eclipse it's often made out to be.
In other words, building your own webstore isn’t the easiest of ways to make money, but it is one of the best.
The hardest problem is getting people to visit your site. It can take months to get organic traffic from search engines even if you do everything right, and traffic from advertising costs a lot. Then you have to get the customer to actually trust you enough to buy.
More Reasons to Sell on Your Own
Marketplaces often have strict rules about things like email marketing, making it hard to drive repeat business. When you own the site, the only authority you have to worry about is the law. That frees you to follow all of today’s best practices and build strong customer relationships.
Walmart has been gunning for Amazon for years. In addition to trying to pull away Amazon’s customers, it’s also trying to grab their sellers by offering a similarly attractive marketplace. In some ways, they’re actually hard to tell apart—Walmart’s referral fees mirror Amazon’s almost exactly.
There are some notable differences, though. Walmart charges no membership fees at all. It also vets its sellers heavily and only accepts companies with established reputations.
For anyone who can make it past the bouncers, Walmart is a pretty sweet club. Although its claim of 100 million unique users per month on its US site falls well short of eBay (183 million active buyers worldwide) or Amazon (210 million unique monthly users in the USA), it’s still an impressive number and far more than you’ll find in most other places.
The 2017 survey found that less than a tenth of Amazon sellers also sell on Walmart, Jet, or Rakuten, but 36% of those pulling in $2M+ per year sold on Walmart. The pattern was extremely clear: selling on Walmart made a company exponentially more likely to make loads of dough.
The main problem at this time is getting accepted. If you don’t have a profitable, highly organized business with at least a few years of ecommerce experience, don’t get your hopes up too high.
More Reasons to Sell There
The exclusive nature of the site saves you from the rampant competition you’ll face on other channels, meaning you'll almost certainly get more buyers than you would on the bigger marketplaces. In fact, there are 13 times more visitors per Walmart seller than per Amazon seller! You’re also likely to pay less in fees than you would on Amazon.
Jet has been attracting more and more buyers and successful sellers. It offers a truly different shopping style, motivating customers to buy in large quantities by offering them greater savings the more they add to their cart.
Jet formerly had steep fees, but it now matches Walmart and Amazon in general. However, it has some unique twists, allowing you to opt in to higher fees with the Jet Rules Engine in order to offer better incentives to your customers.
Jet aims to offer the lowest prices on the web, with sellers relying on bulk sales to keep profits solid. If they succeed, they may manage to pull bargain-hungry shoppers away from more established sites.
Selling on Jet certainly seems to be working out for big sellers. According to the 2017 survey, just 2% of Amazon sellers who pulled in less than $250,000 per year also sold on Jet, but 30% of those making $2M+ sold there.
With its emphasis on selling in volume on tight margins, Jet will likely prove challenging for small-scale sellers. It also requires sellers to apply just like Walmart. (It’s not a huge surprise to see similarities between the two—Walmart owns Jet.)
Jet's performance has also been in decline for several years now. With only a fraction of its former traffic, it may no longer be as valuable a sales platform as it used to be.
More Reasons to Sell There
Jet only charges commissions on successful sales. With no membership or listing fees, selling on Jet carries no financial risk beyond the possibility of being a waste of time. With little to lose and everything to gain, it’s well worth a shot.
Isn’t Selling on Multiple Sites Tricky?
Selling on more than one site does create a few problems. Yet, as the stats above show, selling on more than one platform gives you much better odds of hitting seven figures. See our articles on selling on eBay and Amazon at the same time and multi-channel software for ways to deal with the growing pains.