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There are currently over 2.5 million sellers on Amazon. Over 1 million merchants in 175 countries on Shopify. 35,000 private sellers on Walmart.
Why? According to AcquireConvert, e-commerce sales are expected to grow 33% from 2020 to 2021. And: "By 2021, global e-commerce is expected to be $ 4.97 trillion – an increase of almost 400% in seven years."
That said, the e-commerce space is still booming and not slowing down. It can be alarming to newbies when so many people drop into a certain category, but that doesn't mean that there aren't more options. In fact, there is “space” for everyone, as almost all stationary companies can go online at some point. And there are still countless niches that need to be converted to digital sales.
As a four-time digital entrepreneur and with over 150 marketing campaigns for clients ranging from Billie Eilish to Mark Cuban's Prep Expert to the famous TikTok app, I've seen a wide variety of companies, marketing campaigns, and sales data. This is where these data point.
Assess your options for starting an online business
Ultimately, most of us shoot for financial and time freedom. This is the reason why e-commerce is so attractive compared to a stationary company. You can operate your online shop at any time and from anywhere.
The most popular eCommerce platforms continue to be Shopify, Amazon and now the Walmart Seller platform. This is followed by WordPress, WooCommerce, Webflow, Squarespace, and a few others.
Shopify remains the platform of choice for brands. If you want to start a long-term business, say over five years, Shopify is your best option. It takes a long time to build a legitimate brand, gain trust with your customers, and get your message across organically. Your business starts with zero traffic and you need to do all of your marketing. However, brands always take home the greatest profit margin and have incredible scalability once they are profitable thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube ads.
Amazon Seller Central is the most popular. Amazon is also good for brands, but it has much lower margins, difficult compliance measures, and requires a lot of platform know-how. In order to achieve strong and constant growth in an Amazon seller store, it is imperative that you either have an expert by your side or that you have an in-depth study of the platform. This enables you to sell in restricted categories. However, the demand and traffic are essentially endless, so it is much easier to market and sell products than competing as a brand in the open market or on Facebook ads. Countless companies such as PushAMZ and Omnitail specialize in setting up and operating Amazon stores that can do this for you.
Walmart Seller is a little-known "secret," if you will. Just like Amazon, you can sell your product there and take advantage of the incredible traffic and demand that the online platform has to offer. They have the fewest sellers, but they are growing quickly and taking Amazon on its head. However, Walmart doesn't want to be Amazon. They avoid the logistics game and don't want fulfillment centers, warehouses and trucks. They're more like Walmart salespeople like you and me who take on the job of getting products to customers in a purposeful way, which in turn gives you more flexibility. Walmart may be the "blue ocean" you are looking for.
These are the most popular and sophisticated platforms for selling online. There are other options like WordPress and WooCommerce, but these have been post-facto adapted for e-commerce instead of originally designed for it. So you are not that streamlined.
Related: 7 Steps To Start A Small Business Online
Assessment of products, demand, opportunities and scalability
The most important step in building your online business is choosing the right product. It is a good rule of thumb to find a very specific, very "painful" problem and offer a direct solution to it.
As you know, many brands don't solve a problem per se, but instead offer something that is fashionable, trendy, or a status symbol. The latter is the hardest type of business to become profitable as it takes years of extensive and expensive brand marketing.
Finding the right product is difficult and shouldn't be rushed. And be careful about products or stores that you feel very "passionate" about. When looking for the fastest route to profitability, find a product that solves a specific problem and is highly desirable, not something that feels like a success. The more emotional products like luxury sunglasses are better than a brand that has evolved over time.
Some tools that you can use to quantify the demand for a product you are interested in include:
Just put the keywords in Google's Keyword Tool related to your proposed business and see if the demand is increasing and if the competition is high or low. Next, check the relative growth in demand for a new product over time by looking at the trend line on Google Trends.
Related: Meeting the Scalability Challenge
Choosing your platform
The big question: which platform should I go with? Before diving in, think about your goals for yourself and in business. Some questions to consider are:
In what period of time would I like to make a profit? Amazon and Walmart are usually the fastest.
How long do I want to run this shop? Shopify is better for longer deployments and can potentially be sold.
Am I doing this to create a brand or movement, or just to make money? Shopify is better for brands, Amazon and Walmart for easy deposit and withdrawal.
How much time do I have to spend on this? Shopify takes the most time and effort and is a longer-term investment. Walmart and Amazon generally take less time because you don't have to do as much marketing as they already have traffic.
If you've chosen the fastest profit and the shortest time, then Amazon and Walmart are optimal. However, they require a lot of platform know-how, which means it might be better to hire an expert. Many Amazon Automation agencies take care of things from A to Z, and you simply invest a one-time fee to create them while the agency operates them. Conversely, if you've chosen the brand route, Shopify is optimal.
Related Topics: How Brands and Sellers Can Benefit from Amazon's Massive Growth
The first step in choosing a new company is with your own goals: where will this company take me and when? This allows you to select the appropriate platform.
If you are doing this as a side gig, you should be aware that it will take just as much time to do as any other business. And no business is easy, period.
So do your homework, talk to experts, then choose a platform and stick with it. Your success is inevitable!