eCommerce Websites 101: Know the Ins and Outs for Buying and Selling Online in 2015

E-commerce has made it possible for more people to realize their dreams of going into business for themselves than ever before. Starting an online business doesn't require costly rent for storefront space, you can save money on transportation costs, and you can even work in your pajamas.

However, selling online is a little more involved than setting up a website. Do you have sufficient storage space for your products? How much do you want to invest? Do you have inventory management and cash flow systems in place? What is the competition like? According to one article, failing to ask these questions is one of the top reasons that new e-commerce businesses fail.

One advantage of starting your e-commerce business using an already established sales platform is the high volume of web traffic. Another advantage is that sales platforms often provide insightful tips for new sellers to grow their businesses. The great thing about commissions on sales is that it is in everyone's best interests for sellers to succeed. Take a look at a few things that will be important to know about eCommerce sites in 2015:


Luckily, websites like Etsy make it possible for people to make the most of the time and money they've spent in creating unique products. Founded in 2005, Etsy already has 1.4 million active sellers operating shops on their website, and did over $1.93 billion in sales in 2014 alone. You can open a shop there at no cost with just a credit card. Instead of charging a monthly fee, they charge 20 cents for every item listed for sale and 3.5% of the sale price for each item sold. Etsy specializes in sales of clothes, arts and crafts, and decorative items and it a good option for those with a particular niche. If you are looking for entry into the fashion, crafts, jewelry, or handmade goods market, Etsy is your connection to interested customers in 2015.


Another popular choice for online sellers is Ebay, where you can sell anything from a mobile phone to a house. Listing your first 50 items each month with up to 12 photos is free. Their commission fee structure depends on the kind of items you are selling, whether the prices are fixed or you want to auction them, and what kind of shipping you choose, but the basic fee is 10% of the sale price. You can see a more comprehensive breakdown of specific charges on their site. While the fee is a bit higher, sellers can take advantage of substantial shipping discounts, brand recognition, and other benefits of such a well-established platform, including a mobile app. As mentioned before, mobile will be huge in 2015 so take advantage of this opportunity.


For those with artistic ideas and products for sale, Zazzle is a website that brings designers and manufacturers together. Since its creation in 2005, it has steadily expanded and now sells over 208 million products and has over 30 million customers each month on 17 international sites. On this site, you earn royalties for your creations, as well as retaining copyrights to your designs. Zazzle provides the storefront, the advertising, and even handles the transactions for you for a percentage of the sale price. If you are a creative designer that hasn’t had luck on other selling platforms, 2015 might be your year to try Zazzle.

Yahoo Store

For those who would rather pay a small monthly fee than a percentage of sales and want to exercise a greater degree of control over customizing your brand, another option is listing your products with an established reseller like Yahoo Store, which provides tools for setting up your own website and processing credit-card transactions. For as little as $26 a month, you also receive online support and several advanced features, like web and mobile live chat with your customers and advertising credits.  If you plan to start small in 2015, Yahoo Store is a great place to start.

Your Own Website

If you decide to design your own website, there are companies that offer templates that make the process easy and even fun. Three of the most popular ecommerce website builders are BIGCOMMERCE, Volusion, and Shopify. One of the advantages of using these services is that they offer many ongoing tips about how to grow your business and keep you abreast of developing new trends. You can also begin with a less expensive starter plan, and then upgrade as your business grows. More information about each of them is available here.

Current Trends

According to CEO's of companies who made it onto the list of the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, some of the things that contributed to their increases in sales were marketing via social media, better use of customer data, and improved site searches on their websites. Mobile apps have become a necessary ingredient to the success of any online business. There are some great new apps for everything from marketing to money management that allow you to complete many tasks right from your smartphone.

Another winning trend in e-commerce, pioneered by Zilily, that proved successful, was offering deep discounts for a limited time to customers willing to wait for later shipping. This strategy allows companies to amass orders and then buy in bulk to fulfill them, which decreases their purchase price and increases their savings, which they can pass on to customers. This practice is expected to become more common in 2015, since it is also a great inventory management strategy, reducing the number of potential unsold items. It could very well change the consumer mindset from one of instant gratification to one of great savings being worth the wait.

While your operation might be small now, there are plenty of opportunities in eCommerce that could allow your company or product to see serious growth in 2015. Keep an eye out for the latest trends in products, strategies, mobile features, and eCommerce market changes. As you learn the ropes, you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your landing pages and products, and experience eCommerce success in 2015 and beyond!