Establishing a new business nowadays is both easy and challenging. It’s easy because suppliers and potential buyers are within arm’s reach through the internet. At the same time, it is challenging because businesses in a given niche are all fighting for the same customers. This isn’t just true for global. If you are a local business, you are part of the game. And to survive, you need to do this one thing – sell online locally.
Selling locally through ecommerce stores is not just for large businesses. In fact, it is highly advisable that you start online selling as soon as you launch your local business. The same applies if you are an established business in your community.
Yes, people may already know you, but how about those who have not heard of your business yet? Will you be willing to let go of the opportunity to expand your reach and maximize your sales?
You see, selling locally using old and traditional marketing practices is a good thing. But it might hurt your business in the long run. Therefore, it is about time that you upgrade your skills, think big, and use the power of ecommerce to your advantage.
- Benefits of Selling Stuff Online
- Is It Expensive to Sell Stuff Locally?
- 4 Best Websites to Sell Stuff Locally
- Products and Services You Can Sell Online Locally
- What to Notice When Selling Online Locally
- Bottom Line
Benefits of Selling Stuff Online
Despite the recent health crisis, the growth in number of online shoppers from 2020 to 2023 has seen an upward trend from 208.1 million to 218.8 million. An increase of more than 10 million new shoppers in just three years in the US alone. And the projection shows a strong continuous growth up until 2026.
Some businesses still survive by just selling through their physical stores. But nowadays, if you stick with the traditional methods of selling, you might miss out on opportunities that can exponentially take your business to greater heights. Thus, the benefits of online selling hugely outweigh the challenges of doing it.
Here are some benefits you can get if you sell stuff locally:
01. Gain Access to Business Tools
Using ecommerce platforms to sell locally gives you access to automated tools that can help you track your inventory, online sales, profit margins, shipping costs, in-store customer activities, and more.
These tools will help you bring better products and services to the market. Additionally, they can help you figure out potential problems before they occur by just looking at the reports provided by the platform.
This eliminates the need to use spreadsheets, or worse, pen and paper to keep track of everything. Ultimately, it saves you precious time from repetitive tasks.
02. Promote Brand Awareness
Nowadays, the most effective way to establish brand awareness is through social media marketing. Social media marketing is a great way to promote brand awareness and sell stuff locally without spending hundreds of dollars. And you can do all that at practically no cost.
When done correctly and consistently, social media marketing (SMM) will help you reach local buyers in your community by doing what billboards, newspapers, and TV commercials can do. This will give your business the online sales boost it needs.
03. Establish Better Customer Relation
Selling online locally can help you establish better relationships with your local customers through the help of social media marketing. SMM is not just for promoting brand awareness. It is also a great tool to be up close and personal with your potential buyers.
There are different strategies to do that. You can post about how your products are made and how you prepare their orders for delivery. You can also post videos that show your everyday life in the business to give your customers a peek into your humble local business.
Literally, your imagination is the limit when it comes to social media marketing.
04. Be More Competitive
Online selling lets you tap into hundreds of potential buyers online. This gives potential customers more choices when looking for products to buy.
When a customer who is ready to buy comes to your online store, chances are, you can make a sale out of it. For a potential buyer, shopping online is more convenient than spending time to go outside and travel to physical stores.
Selling stuff online lets co-exist with similar online selling businesses. Thus, if your online marketing efforts are effective, you get the chance to take a piece of the pie.
05. Save Money
If you are just planning out your business, selling online locally means that you no longer need a physical store to transact with your local buyers. Eliminating the need to rent a commercial space means saving on other fees such as electricity, internet, and water bills, among other things.
You can sell stuff locally at the comfort of your home. All you need is a space to store your inventory.
These savings could easily amount to a few thousand dollars in a year. Money that you can use to purchase more products, expand your inventory, improve your online store, or be aggressive on your social media marketing efforts.
Is It Expensive to Sell Stuff Locally?
After learning the exciting benefits that you can get from online selling, you might be wondering how much money you will need to start the business.
The truth is, the answer depends on the online selling platform that you choose (more on that in the next section). If your budget permits, you can pay for an ecommerce website that you can own.
You can list your products on Amazon (and other similar websites) for practically no cost. However, you pay a percentage to them each time you make a sale.
But if you are just getting your feet wet, you can start for free using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok.
Learn more about online selling platforms in the next section.
4 Best Websites to Sell Stuff Locally
You have several choices of websites to sell stuff locally. These choices include free platforms such as Facebook and Craigslist, and subscription-based platforms such as Shopify. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Let us talk about them one by one and discuss their pros and cons to help you decide which online marketplace is best for you.
01. Facebook Marketplace
The first choice that comes to mind when thinking of local selling sites is Facebook marketplace. Because why not? As of January 2023, 74% of internet users aged 16 to 64 years old in the US are on Facebook (We Are Social). It is only reasonable to consider Facebook Marketplace as an online selling platform.
- Easy to use
- Target customers are potentially using Facebook Marketplace as well
- Facebook is good for customer engagement
- Can be used in selling both goods and services
- Facebook Marketplace has a generic interface and lacks customization features
- Your product is presented along other similar products
- No automation for payment and shipping
Amazon is the leading online marketplace in the US as of today. Thus, you can’t go wrong by selling your local products on Amazon. Most users trust products on Amazon. Because of that, you gain credibility in the eyes of your potential buyers. This presents an opportunity for you to sell more.
However, it comes with a challenge. Since it is among the more commonly used platforms by online businesses, competition can be too hard to handle. As a local business with an Amazon listing, you are not just competing with other local businesses who sell stuff locally. Instead, bigger businesses also form part of it.
- High sales potential with minimal marketing
- Gain new customers
- Opportunity for international expansion
- Tight selling price competition with similar products
- Selling fees ($0.99 per item or $39.99 flat rate per month)
- Limited branding customizability
- Can only be used in selling goods
Do you want to focus on catering to your community? Nextdoor could be one of the better choices for you if you want to find local buyers and sell stuff locally. Mainly because the website is built around the idea of connecting people within a community. Thus, it is highly targeted and it gives your brand the credibility it needs if it receives recommendations from fellow Nextdoor users.
In reality, Nextdoor is not among local selling sites like Amazon and Craigslist. Just like Facebook, it is primarily a social media platform. But instead of giving you global reach like Facebook, Nextdoor shows you the people who live in your neighborhood and you can message one another.
Nextdoor neighbors use the platform to post local announcements, look for missing pets, and sell products. This type of platform algorithm will be very beneficial to your local business. Adding that element of familiarity with the people around you means that your neighbors can vouch for your store so that local buyers can find you. Just be sure to reciprocate the kindness by vouching for other local sellers.
- Build trust and credibility because people can vouch for you
- Easily get in touch with potential customers
- Highly targeted social media posts
- Great for customer engagement
- Can be used in advertising both goods and services
- It is a social media platform, thus, it is not business-focused
- Limited number of allowable posts. If exceeded, fees are to be paid.
- Your business might be exposed to online trolls – which adversely affect your credibility
Shopify is an ecommerce company albeit hugely different from the ones mentioned above. It is a global platform that empowers entrepreneurs with highly useful tools to automate different business processes. This includes order management systems, product and customer insights, payment gateway, and more.
Unlike other platforms, Shopify does not limit your brand within the features of its website. It can be integrated with third-party page builders like PageFly to add a deeper layer of page and feature customization. If you want more functionalities, you can install other apps in your website that will suit your needs.
When you establish your own platform, you own the entire real estate when selling stuff locally. There is no competition as soon as the customer reaches your website. Therefore, the sale is yours for the taking.
Just because Shopify is a global platform, doesn’t mean that your local business cannot benefit from it. In reality, every business - big or small - should have its own website.
- Cheap starting monthly subscription - starts at $1 per month
- Comes with free business tools for automation and payment security
- No-code website creation and many customization features
- You own the platform
- Can install apps to increase customer engagement within the website
- Great choice in selling both goods and services
- Creating your own website needs a little learning
- Needs commitment
- Can be overwhelming for first-time users
Products and Services You Can Sell Online Locally
Are you still thinking of products or services that you can sell locally? Have a look at these examples to be inspired and jumpstart your creativity.
01. Arts and Crafts
If you are the type who enjoys designing and creating things using different kinds of media, you can create your own arts and crafts ecommerce store. Take a look at White Rain. It is a family-run business making handmade jewelry, trinket dishes, and tableware. They mainly use ceramics for their art. And upon looking at their collection, you can say that they’re truly pieces of art that you’ll be proud to own.
02. Garage Sale
Do you have an eye for finding the best deals on a thrift shop or garage sale in your local community? It is time to make money out of your hobby.
Keep your eyes open for good items that you can sell online locally. Be it old toys from your now-grown-up neighbor, used office chairs and tables, old chinaware, used power tools, antiques, etc.
Whatever you can find from the garage sale that still has monetary value would be a great deal. In most cases, you can even negotiate with the sellers for less than half of their selling price.
03. Local Community Products
Promoting the local products of your community is a great advocacy. But why not make a business out of it? That is exactly what Sabroso Tsokolate is doing. They source their cocoa beans from Camiguin – a small island in the Philippines – and they process their chocolates using traditional methods.
By supporting stores that uplift local communities, customers will have the feeling that they take part in helping the livelihoods of the people behind those products.
Does your community have a local product that you are proud of? Perhaps it is time for you to support it by selling them online.
04. Products in Your Physical Store
Some ecommerce stores you see online started out as physical stores. And upon seeing the potential of online selling, they adapted to the trend and found success. Therefore, if you are a local entrepreneur, this might be the best time for you to go online.
This is what East Fork did – they adapted to the ever-changing business landscape. They started as a brick and mortar store in Asheville. Now, East Fork is known by its NY-based customers as the go-to shop when looking for elegant and minimalist clay-made plates.
05. Grocery Products
Shopify websites are not just for non-perishable products. If you are in the food business, you can do local selling through your own website. Just like what Katy TX Discount Grocery & Wholesale is doing. Their business to business (B2B) website sells online locally to food services and households.
Since they are a local selling warehouse, they don’t offer shipping. Instead, their customers choose their orders and pay online. Katy TX packs the orders and notifies the customer once the orders are ready. The customers then come to their location and pick up their orders.
It’s quite a unique business model for an ecommerce company, but it works for them because they offer one thing – convenience. Their customers don’t have to push their carts to grocery stores and queue up on long cashier lines.
If you live in a densely populated area, you’ll learn a thing or two from Katy TX Discount Grocery & Wholesale.
01. Home Service Car Wash
Turn your love for cars into a business. A home-service car wash business offers your potential buyers the convenience and comfort of driving a clean car every time they go to work.
Seriously, who wants to drive a filthy car? Busy car lovers will surely appreciate a business like Polished Clean Mobile Car Wash. And who knows, you might stumble upon some exotic cars in your local community and take a picture with them. Now that’s a good branding image to use.
If you have the capital, you can scale your business into something bigger. Invest in multiple mobile car washes so you can cover a larger area of your local community at the same time. If there are businesses around with fleets of vehicles like trucks and vans, you might convince them to have you clean their vehicles.
02. Dog Walking
If you love spending time with your furry friends, a business like Critter Caretakers might suit you. This is one of those jobs that is hardly considered a job because you are sure to have a great time while doing it.
Pet-sitting and dog-walking is a great idea if you live in a busy neighborhood where most people have day jobs.
Create a website where people can reserve time slots for your services. And here’s the good thing, you can dictate your rate, and you can get paid by the hour while staying fit along the way.
03. Lawn Mowing
It’s hard to find a house without a lawn if you are living in a suburban or rural area. Thus, there is a need for this type of service. You don’t even have to do the lawn mowing yourself. Train or hire experienced lawn mowers, pay them by the hour, and charge a reasonable fee to your customers.
Take Lawn Love for example. It is a lawn mowing that is now servicing a large part of the United States. Yes, it is a big company. But that doesn’t mean that the competition is over.
You can still create your lawn mowing business in your local area. But here is an important piece of advice: win the hearts of the locals to win the business.
What to Notice When Selling Online Locally
Online selling gives you the opportunity to cover a larger geographical area when selling stuff locally. This means more leads and higher chances to capture potential buyers.
However, these results do not occur automatically to you. These are only the by-products of your efforts in doing your business.
In some cases, online stores make little to no improvement to the sales of existing businesses. But technology is not to blame in these kinds of situations. Rather, it is the effort put into learning how to use it.
Remember, ecommerce stores are merely tools. They won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them. Thus, to help you out, here are some of the things that you should be mindful of when selling stuff locally
01. Pick the Right Ecommerce Platform
E-commerce is a war between businesses. The best man flourishes, and the loser perishes in thin air.
When launching a local online business, you need to have a weapon of choice that will help your business gain an advantage – and the right platform will help you find local buyers and win.
Although it is possible, you don’t need to use all online marketplaces to achieve success. Ironically, this strategy might work to your detriment. Tracking several platforms at the same time might be counterproductive. Rather, it is better to just focus on the best one that works for your business model and tailor-fit your marketing efforts to your platform of choice.
02. Create a Trustworthy Website
We believe that creating your own ecommerce website is the best way to sell stuff locally. This will give you the ultimate freedom to implement the branding strategies for your local business.
When creating a website to sell stuff locally the design of the website must be well-thought to evoke the emotions that you want your customers to feel.
This starts with the quality of images in your website. Especially your product photos. You can look for free stock photos online. Better yet, take actual product photos.
Additionally, you should implement impeccable copywriting in your website. This applies to all your web pages that contain text. Most especially, your product descriptions. It will be very hard to trust a website with shoddy copywriting.
Lastly, make sure that your customers feel safe in sharing their card numbers in your payment gateway. Do not skimp on online security because it is your responsibility to make sure that your customers’ data are safe from prying eyes.
03. Focus on Customer Experience
Customer experience begins at the moment your customer sets foot in your website. In this encounter, several aspects of your website are included – load speed, navigation, curation of products, images, text, security, etc. What your customers feel when browsing your website also forms part of the experience. Therefore, it is crucial that you invest in UX design that will benefit the overall customer experience.
Reduce the friction or difficulty your customers have to go through on your website. Make their shopping experience a pleasure, not a chore.
Furthermore, customer experience may extend beyond your website. Even before the customer visits your store. This is done through social media.
04. Be Present Online
Social media marketing is a crucial part of selling online locally. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. are great in establishing your personal brand. Each platform requires a different approach. It is not necessary that you should be on all of them. In most cases, Facebook and Instagram are enough.
Social media marketing is an indispensable part of the game. Therefore, you should learn its best practices to make your efforts pay off in the long run.
You want to be online because you want to be present where your customers are. Work hard on branding your social media pages so that potential buyers will be enticed to follow you.
Soon enough, you will receive direct messages from your potential customers. Be sure to engage in the most professional and friendly manner. That way, you can invite your customers to vouch for your products. That is, if they had a great time shopping and talking to you.
05. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Here is another important element of ecommerce – SEO. In its simplest sense, Search Engine Optimization is making your website searchable on Google. After all, Google is still the top search engine used on the internet. Thus, you better be serious about it.
There are several methods in optimizing your content. This includes:
- Keywords on your landing pages, product descriptions, images, alt texts
- Fixing your location on Google maps
- Inbound links from other websites
- UX and UI Design
- …and more.
SEO may be too much to understand on top of everything you need to do when selling online locally. However, it is an important element that will make your business more visible to your potential customers. Thus, neglecting it could hurt your potential growth.
As soon as you get your website running, it should already be optimized. If you can’t do this by yourself, you can hire an SEO expert to do it for you. It might cost you a few hundred dollars. But if done right, the returns you will get from it will be worth your money. So, make sure SEO is part of your initial budget.
Some local business owners have this mentality that they can survive by just selling in their physical stores. In some cases, sticking with traditional selling works.
However, times are ever-changing and you cannot say for sure that your local business won’t be devoured by a similar business with larger and wider reach. When that point comes, the thing that could have made a huge difference will be ecommerce.
You see, even if you are just a new business owner, you have a lot to gain if you sell stuff online through your website. Primarily, you can establish brand awareness in your community that your business exists. And that alone is a great advantage that you can have early on.
As time goes by and with persistence, you will learn the nooks and crannies of ecommerce and social media marketing. This will give you the opportunity to go bigger on your business.
Who knows, you can be a global brand in a few years. It would be such an immense pride and joy for you to see your small-town, brick and mortar store conquer the world through ecommerce.