Where to sell furniture online, and how to get started
The US has the largest furniture market in the world, with a revenue of about $116 billion in 2018 – and it’s surprisingly easy to get involved!
Selling furniture online can be a quick way to make a buck off the old wardrobe sitting in your spare room, or it could be your gateway into a small business. Who knows – maybe you’ll start off by selling one item, and discover that it’s super easy to grow things from there.
Either way, the process isn’t hard – you just need to know what to do! We’ve identified how to sell furniture online in seven easy steps, so let’s get started!
The question of “where to sell furniture online” can seem overwhelming, since there are a few different ways to go about it. The best platform really depends on how much you want to sell, and how often. If you’re just looking to get rid of a used item or two, then online marketplaces (like eBay or Etsy) are a good choice. But if you want to make and/or sell furniture as more of a hobby (or even a small business!), then ecommerce website builders (like Wix or Square Online) are the best choice.
Online marketplaces and ecommerce website builders are the two most effective ways to sell furniture online, and we’ll review both in this section so that you can make the best choice for your purposes:
|Online Marketplace Pros||Online Marketplace Cons|
| •Large audience: If you’re selling through a popular online marketplace, then the website will already have a dedicated customer base. |
•Easy setup: The website itself is already designed and live, so all you have to do is create an account and upload your products.
| •Lots of competition: Unlike your own website where it’s just your furniture for sale, popular online marketplaces feature thousands of other sellers and pieces, so it’s harder to stand out from the crowd. |
•No creative control: Since online marketplaces are designed for multiple sellers, you won’t be able to personalize your own page however you’d like.
|Ecommerce Website Builder Pros||Ecommerce Website Builder Cons|
| •Lower transaction fees: Online marketplaces make money by charging transaction fees for every seller, but many ecommerce website builders scrap transaction fees altogether. |
•More creative control: You have complete control over the layout and design of your website, checkout page, and product displays – and you don’t need any tech skills to make these changes.
•Easier to stand out: Instead of getting lost among thousands of furniture sellers on an online marketplace, you can use an ecommerce builder to tell potential buyers a little more about yourself.
| •More setup involved: Designing a website with an ecommerce builder is not difficult, but it does involve more of a time investment than an online marketplace. |
•Harder self-promotion: Unlike an online marketplace, your own store won’t come with a preexisting audience, so you’ll have to promote your furniture yourself (we have a section on promotion later on!)
Now, let’s dive deeper into these two choices – and learn more about the costs!
Selling Furniture With an Online Marketplace
What are online marketplaces?
Online marketplaces are established ecommerce websites which allow you to create an account and list products for sale.
Who are they best for?
Online marketplaces are best for those who want to sell just a few pieces of old furniture. They let you start selling quickly, because there’s no setup involved – you just need to sign up for an account.
Online marketplaces are also convenient because they already receive lots of traffic, meaning potential customers are already waiting to discover your furniture. However, your products can easily become a drop in the virtual ocean, because marketplaces have so many other sellers (Esty alone has over 2.5 million active sellers!). In other words, there’s a lot of competition on online marketplaces.
How much do they cost?
Instead of fixed monthly fees, most online marketplaces charge transaction fees for a certain % of each sale you make on the platform.
Transaction fees differ for each platform, and some charge additional fees as well. Check out this pricing breakdown for a few of the most popular online marketplaces:
|Transaction fee||10% of each sale||5% per shipment||5% of each sale|
|Listing fee||Free for first 200 items per month||None||20¢ per product|
|Payment processing fee||2.9% of each sale||Included in transaction fee||3% + 25¢ for each sale|
While online marketplaces seem tempting at first because there are no monthly subscription fees, it’s easy for transaction fees and other expenses to eat into your revenue over time (or even just lower the profit you make on a single used item)!
Selling Furniture With an Ecommerce Website Builder
What are ecommerce website builders?
Ecommerce website builders are beginner friendly, drag-and-drop website building tools. They’re built to help anyone set up an online store with ease, and don’t require any tech knowledge whatsoever.
Who are they best for?
Ecommerce website builders are perfect for those who want to sell on their own terms, without the competition of online marketplaces. Ecommerce builders let you create a unique home for your products, instead of blending in among millions of sellers somewhere else.
They’re also ideal for anyone with a creative side, because you’ll get to design your own store (and like we said, you don’t need any tech skills to do it!) – that means every element, from product listings to checkout pages, will have your unique stamp on it.
How much do they cost?
Ecommerce website builders charge monthly fees, and each builder offers a variety of different pricing plans. In order to sell furniture online, the most basic plan from each builder should be enough to start with, so those are the prices we’ll compare below.
Heads up: You can sell for free with Square Online
In addition to its $12/month plan, Square Online offers a free plan that still lets you sell online! The drawback is that you’ll have to put up with ads on your site, and settle for a domain that ends in “.square.site” instead of something trustworthy, like “.com.”
Learn more about these builders with some quick snapshots:
BigCommerce is currently offering one month free when you sign up to a paid plan – no card details required. That’s one very generous free trial!
- For more information on the best options for your store, read our review of the Best Ecommerce Platforms
- Read our Square Online Review for a full look at this leading ecommerce platform
- Read our Wix eCommerce Review and find out if it’s the right ecommerce builder for you
- Read our BigCommerce Review for more information about this powerful platform
- If you’re having trouble choosing, take a look at our Online Store Comparison Chart for a side by side look
- See the top choices in our review of the Best Ecommerce Software
Whether you choose an online marketplace or an ecommerce builder to help you sell furniture online, the next step is to create your online presence and start uploading your furniture for sale.
If you’ve chosen an ecommerce website builder, the first step for you is choosing a domain name.
A domain name is your website’s address, and it’s how people recognize and find you online – for example, ours is www.websitebuilderexpert.com. Domain names are important for building a professional and trustworthy image, especially for anyone selling online.
Domain names don’t come for free, but they’re definitely worth the investment. They vary in price, but usually average out at around $20 per year. The good news is, a lot of builders offer a free domain for the first year when you sign onto a free plan!
Alternatively, you can buy one from a domain name registrar – such as Domain.com – who often have various discounts. You can save 25% on the cost of your domain name through Domain.com, using the coupon code WBE25.
Lots of people already own a domain name. If you’re one of them, you can connect your domain to the website you’ve made with your chosen builder.
Square Online, Wix, and BigCommerce all let you do this, and all have help guides to see you through the process.
The next step, for both ecommerce builders and online marketplaces, is to customize your pages.
Customizing With an Online Marketplace
If the look and personality of your store is really important to you, then we recommend using an ecommerce website builder to sell furniture online – unlike online marketplaces, website builders are literally built to help you customize and personalize your selling.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to spice up your page on an online marketplace. For example, Etsy lets you set up your “shop home” – kind of like your virtual storefront – with handpicked colors, fonts, and photo styles. One Etsy seller, a greeting card business called SurfingSloth, has even used their own illustration as a shop icon:
You can also add banner images to your storefront (although you’ll have to pay extra to add more than one image in a carousel), like party decor shop Seattle Giant Flowers has done:
Banners and icons are great ways to add a bit of personality to your pages.
These “shop homes” look great, but if branding and creativity is important to you, you may feel a little boxed in with an online marketplace.
Customizing With an Ecommerce Website Builder
On the other hand, ecommerce website builders offer an amazing amount of branding opportunities and creative freedom – and better still, they’ve been designed with tech novices in mind!
A template is basically the structure for a page layout, filled with example images and text to help you see its potential. It’s like viewing a house – you can see where the light fittings are, and where the current owners have put the TV. But once you move in, you can replace everything with your own stuff, allowing you to bring your own style to the layout.
Once you’ve chosen a template, you can customize everything from fonts and color schemes to menus, headings, galleries, and page layouts. You can also add different pages to your website, like an invaluable About Us page to help potential buyers learn more about you.
Uploading Your Furniture
So, you’ve customized your store and (potentially) picked a domain name. Now it’s time to add your furniture! At first, this step seems as simple as clicking “upload.” But if you want to make a great sale, there are a few more factors to think about:
|Descriptions||Selling furniture online means that customers can’t actually see an item before they purchase it. That means your product descriptions can often make or break a potential buyer’s decision. A great product description is informative and persuasive: be specific about materials, dimensions, and weight, but don’t shy away from buzzwords like “elegant” or “unique,” either.|
|Product photos||Nobody is going to buy a sofa if it’s lurking in the gloom of a bad photo. Make sure you’re taking crystal clear, high quality, great color images to show off your products, and avoid grainy, pixelated photos at all costs. Try taking photos from different angles, so that customers can see every part of the item.|
|Pricing||It can be difficult to figure out exactly how much your furniture is worth, but there are a few metrics to think about as a guide. First, your prices should reflect the quality of the furniture you’re selling. Are they custom made pieces you spent time, money, and materials on? Or are they second-hand items which cost less, but needed some cleaning up? One of the best ways of getting your pricing right is to take a look at other online stores selling similar furniture to you. This is good for setting a benchmark, as well as sounding out the competition.|
After doing all the hard work, taking beautiful photos of your products, and painstakingly working out prices, you deserve a reward. And not just any reward – a monetary prize!
Both online marketplaces and ecommerce website builders use a variety of payment processors to transfer money between you and your customers. You’ll almost always have a choice between a few different payment processors, the most popular being PayPal, Square, Stripe, and Apple Pay. There are many more out there, though – BigCommerce alone offers over 65.
So, how do you choose?
Sometimes, you can set up multiple payment methods. For example, the BigCommerce-made store pictured above accepts credit cards, PayPal, and Amazon Pay. But if you need to narrow it down to just one, take a look at the specifics: Does a certain processor accept debit or credit card payments? What about different currencies?
The main thing is to choose a payment gateway that will benefit your customers the most. For example, if your customer base is mostly an older demographic, it’s probably best not to rely on digital wallet payments like Apple Pay.
By now, your online furniture store is almost ready to go. It’s designed beautifully, the products are all in place, and you’re ready to start accepting payments. There’s just one last thing to sort out: shipping.
Shipping Origin Address
First things first – you need somewhere to ship from. The shipping origin will set up how shipping and taxes are calculated, and is especially important for getting real-time shipping quotes.
You can ship from your own backyard, your workshop, or an office. If you’re selling large quantities of furniture as a business, you can even ship from a fulfillment warehouse.
A fulfillment warehouse helps you automate shipping, and even handles most of it for you. Your stock gets stored in a warehouse, and if you’ve integrated your store, then items get packed and shipped once they’ve been sold. This isn’t for everyone and does cost extra, but it’s a way to take the headaches out of shipping large quantities.
Think about where you’ll be shipping to. Will you be shipping locally? Nationally? Internationally?
Of course, it’ll cost more to ship to certain places than others, so you can set shipping zones which have different rates (and even different shipping methods) applied to them. These can be ZIP/postcodes, states, or even whole countries.
This is a great way of controlling where you’re happy shipping to – you can add more zones as you grow, or delete zones you no longer want to ship to. Customers outside these zones will not be eligible for shipping.
Shipping Rates and Methods
There are different types of shipping you can offer. It’s best to make any shipping costs clear from the start, as any surprises at the checkout can put customers off big time. Here’s a quick look at the three main shipping options you can offer customers:
- Exact shipping costs – this is where you charge the exact amount it would cost to ship the item with couriers such as USPS.
- Flat rate shipping – this is the simplest option. It’s like a blanket charge, where you fix a price and apply it to products and/or orders. For example, it would cost $5 to ship one item anywhere in the US.
- Free shipping – we all love seeing this option at checkout, and you can give that warm fuzzy feeling to your customers too. You can offer it for all orders, certain items, or orders over a certain amount.
Some ecommerce builders have more developed shipping tools than others. For example, BigCommerce also offers a “ship by” option, which gives you more control over how much you charge for shipping. This lets you charge by weight, which is good for shipping heavy items (like furniture) which aren’t covered by real-time shipping quotes.
Another big thing to consider is which courier you work with to ship your precious cargo. They need to be reliable – you don’t want customer complaints about their furniture turning up crushed, broken, or splintered because of careless courier services.
Here are some of the biggest and most popular couriers:
- Canada Post
- UK Royal Mail
A lot of ecommerce builders have integrations with couriers like these to make your shipping life easier.
For example, USPS, FedEx, Canada Post, Royal Mail, Australia Post, and UPS all provide real-time shipping quotes for BigCommerce users. Real-time quotes help you keep costs to a minimum, and gives the customer control over which option they want to pay for.
There’s no “best” or “right” choice for a courier service – each business will have different needs, so you should have a look around to see which is the best for you.
- Need some help sorting out your shipping? Check out our Shipping Products: Step-By-Step Guide for a full breakdown of the process from start to finish.
By now, you probably want to sit back and relax. But the work doesn’t stop once you’ve launched your online store. Don’t worry, though – this is the really fun part! Now’s the time to take to the virtual rooftops and shout about your online furniture store for all to hear.
Ecommerce website builders know that marketing is key for growing your business, and provide built-in tools to help you promote your furniture. From newsletters to social sharing, you’ve got a world of powerful marketing tools at your fingertips. Online marketplaces are a little less prepared to take you to new heights, but they do provide enough tools to get you started.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way of making your website or product listings attractive to search engines, so that they rank highly in search results. It’s a total mystery to some, which is why both online marketplaces and ecommerce builders try to simplify it as much as possible.
For example, the online marketplace Cratejoy allows members to easily input page titles, keywords, and page descriptions for each marketplace listing – all of which help search engines learn more about your products, and match your pages to relevant search terms.
BigCommerce, Shopify and Wix all have SEO Guides and tools to help you out. Wix even has an SEO Wiz, which gives you a personalized checklist to follow.
And remember, you’ve already made steps towards optimizing your store – those descriptive and informative product descriptions you wrote will do wonders for driving traffic and purchases through your site!
Multichannel selling is where you sell across more channels than just your own website. For example, you can sell across multiple social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. BigCommerce has built-in integrations with these platforms, and makes it super easy to manage all your sales from one place.
Social media is a place most people go for information, entertainment, and to relieve boredom – it’s the perfect storm for shopping. By promoting your products through these channels, you can easily reach a much wider audience than if you just sat around waiting for people to find you in Google.
You can list products on social media, and even set up a Facebook Store which integrates with your main website.
Email marketing – especially personalized emails – is still a very successful way of connecting with customers.
You can send emails to alert customers about a new product collection, a special discount, or a new sale. If that sounds like a lot of work, how about automated thank you emails after a customer has made a purchase?
For those who run a blog alongside your business, this can be a great way of engaging customers and making your emails that bit more interesting.
If you’re worried you have no idea of how to run an email campaign, don’t worry. Your ecommerce builder has had your back up until now, and things aren’t about to change.
For example, Wix has an email marketing system called Wix ShoutOut, which lets you run email campaigns without investing hours and hours of your time. You can easily create customized emails, then track their success using built-in analytics.
While most ecommerce builders have some sort of built-in email marketing system, you can always turn to apps for more powerful tools.
- Thinking of choosing Wix? Read our Wix SEO Review to find out the best ways to rank with Wix
- Make sure you choose the best for your website – check out our review of the Best Website Builders for Search Engine Optimization
- Want to get selling across different channels? Take a look at our guide on How to Set Up a Facebook Store!
Congratulations, you’ve reached the tenth and final step!
People can’t stop talking about your online furniture store. The sales are flooding in, your shipping is running smoothly, and you’re having images of taking on IKEA as the next big thing. Now, you need to keep track of all your orders.
Inventory tracking is where you monitor your stock levels and keep track of which products are low stock, out of stock, or need replacing or removing.
The last thing you want to do is sell that one-off Georgian writing desk, pat yourself on the back, forget to take it off your site… and sell it again. One disappointed customer is one too many, so managing your inventory is vital.
If you have a large range of products, this can sound pretty full on. Surely you’ll never be able to leave your online store alone? What if an item sells out while I’m out at lunch? That’s where choosing an ecommerce website builder can be a life saver (or a time saver at least)!
With builders like Wix eCommerce and BigCommerce, you can manage the really important and time-consuming tasks with ease. For example, once a stock level reaches zero, that item will automatically be labelled as “Out of Stock” on your BigCommerce storefront.
So you can enjoy your lunch without worrying!
What happens when your furniture selling starts taking off? Regardless of whether you started out selling one old armchair on eBay, or started a small handmade furniture store with Square Online, there may come a day when you’re making more sales than you originally planned on.
This is a great “problem” to have – it means selling furniture online has really paid off, and it’s time to grow your sales! The best way to expand is with an ecommerce website builder, so if you already started with one, then it’s just a matter of upgrading your plan. If you started with an online marketplace, then it’s time to move on to bigger and better things!
To get started, here’s a quick look at the overall price ranges of the three ecommerce builders we spoke about earlier:
- Wix eCommerce: $23 to $49 per month
- Square Online: $12 to $72 per month
- BigCommerce: $29.95 to $299.95 per month
Because these are dedicated ecommerce platforms, they all offer a ton of extra features to help your business grow as you upgrade. You’ll notice that BigCommerce has an especially large price range, which gives your store massive room for growth.
Heads Up: Limited Time BigCommerce Offer
If you’re considering selling furniture online through BigCommerce, there’s never been a better time. If you start a trial today, you’ll get your first three months free when you pick a plan. Check it out!
For all builders, the general rule is the more you pay, the more advanced tools your business gets.
Below, you can see a clear breakdown of the key features offered on a basic plan versus on an advanced plan:
Good question! Let’s break each one down:
- All three builders provide 24/7 support in one way or another, but if you upgrade to an advanced plan, you can access premium support. This could be a dedicated support agent to help you set up, or priority response to any queries.
- Abandoned cart recovery is an extremely useful feature which sends automated emails to customers who have left items in their shopping cart. You can even personalize and add discounts to the email to tempt those shoppers back, saving sales and boosting your revenue.
- SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate is essential for any online store, because it encrypts any information passing through your website and protects sensitive data from hackers. You can see why it’s so important for anyone accepting online payments!
- Bandwidth is how much data can be transmitted through your website. If your data is capped, and you get a sudden surge in traffic, your website may crash.
It’s been a long journey, but we’ve been with you every step of the way. Now that we’ve reached the end of our 7 steps, you know the ins and outs of building your own online furniture store.
To recap, here are our complete steps to help you sell furniture online:
- Choose a Selling Platform: Decide between an ecommerce website builder and an online marketplace.
- Upload Your Furniture: Customize and upload your furniture.
- Set Up Payments: Choose the best payment processor(s) for your customers.
- Sort Out Your Shipping Settings: Set yourself up for easy shipping.
- Promote Your Furniture: Get yourself (and your furniture) into the spotlight.
- Manage Your Inventory: Keep track of your products.
- Grow Your Store: Consider upgrading to make more sales.
By following these 7 simple steps, you can have your own successful online furniture store. We’ve gone into detail in each stage, and suggested how the very best ecommerce website builders – Wix eCommerce, Square Online, and BigCommerce – can help you on your journey too.
Your customers might not know it yet, but they’re waiting for you. So don’t hesitate – get building today, and you’ll be completing step 7 before you know it!
No! Ecommerce builders let you sell whatever you want through your online store, whereas an online marketplace like Etsy imposes its own rules. With Etsy, you can only sell handmade, vintage, or craft supplies, but with builders like Square Online and Wix eCommerce, you can sell vintage furniture alongside modern pieces and even home accessories.
Of course! There are no hidden tricks or rules – set up your store, upload your products, and away you go! You’ll have to pay monthly fees with an ecommerce website builder, and you’ll pay hefty transaction fees with online marketplaces. But you’ll still be able to make a profit through both of these platforms!
Yes! Both ecommerce builders and online marketplaces allow you to add multiple product variants. For example, you could have the same couch in different colors, or the same storage boxes in different sizes.