8 Amazon Alternatives for Ecommerce Businesses

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8 Amazon Alternatives: What’s Best For Your Business? 2020

Amazon’s popularity may be at an all ti­me high, but anti-Amazon sentiment is also growing fast. The ecommerce behemoth has come under fire for ‘swallowing small businesses’, although those that have found success on the platform swe­ar by it. Whatever your thoughts on Amazon, you’ve come here for an alternative – and we have options for you:

Amazon Alternatives for Small Businesses

  1. Build an Ecommerce Store
  2. Use Google Shopping
  3. Use an Alternative Marketplace (Etsy, eBay, Walmart, Newegg, ASOS)
  4. Use Social Media

We’ve written this guide to Amazon alternatives with sellers in mind, but there’s plenty here for buyers, too. Just jump straight down to sections two and three, where we’ve outlined some alternative marketplaces and options.

Build an Ecommerce Store

Many sellers put off building an online store because they think it’s too difficult, costly, or time consuming. Thankfully, it’s none of these things. And while you may (and can) still choose to sell on marketplaces alongside your online store, it’s something that’s worth having from the start anyway. The greater the percentage of sales completed through your own website, the better; it’s the only platform you, as a seller, have total control over.

But how do you go about creating one? You’ve got two options:

  1. Use an ecommerce website builder – these are simple tools for building an online store, which charge a monthly all-in fee.
  2. Use WordPress (with WooCommerce) – using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress is basically the ‘traditional’ way to build a website – trickier to customize, but with endless potential if you know how to code. You’ll need to pay for a few different components separately.

Let’s take a look at exactly how each one works.

1. Use an ecommerce website builder

You may have heard of platforms like Wix and Shopify, but not be clear on how they work, and who they’re for­:

1. Wix

Best for: smaller stores (under 10 products)

Cost: $23+/month

Commission/seller fees: 0%

Building an online store with Wix is something we’d recommend for smaller sellers with under ten products. It came out joint top in our ecommerce website builder research because of its ease of setup, selection of templates, and low prices.

How does Wix work? 

With Wix, you start out with a template (there are over 100 for ecommerce stores), then use drag-and-drop to switch up the template and make it your own. That said, there’s no pressure to go wild at this stage – you can stick closely to the original design if you prefer! Wix’s ecommerce plans start at just $23/month, with no commission.  

2. Shopify

Best for: larger stores (over 10 products)

Cost: $29+/month

Commission/seller fees: 1-2%, unless you use Shopify Payments

For sellers with more than 10 products, we’d recommend our other top-performing ecommerce platform, Shopify. Shopify works in a pretty similar way to Wix, but it’s not so easy to get to grips with. It’s much more powerful, though, with a really robust inventory system and extra marketing tools to help you scale easily.

How does Shopify work? 

Shopify works in much the same way as Wix – it’s just a little harder to customize your store from the original template. Shopify has 9 free templates, or ‘themes’, and 64 paid ones, costing $160 upwards. Shopify’s plans start at $29/month, but you’ll pay 1-2% commission unless you use Shopify’s own payments provider, Shopify Payments.

Find out more about both platforms in our Wix Review and Shopify Review, or compare them side by side in our Wix vs Shopify post

2. WordPress (with WooCommerce)

Best for: very large stores or highly customized designs

Cost: $15+/month – varies massively depending on what extras you need

Seller fees: 0% (but, as with all other platforms, there will be a transaction fee from the payment processor)

WordPress is the CMS behind around a third of the websites live today. By adding the WooCommerce plugin, you can turn your WordPress website into an online store.

WooCommerce is built for ambitious businesses looking to scale, or those that need specific functionality which can’t be achieved on an ecommerce website builder.

How does WordPress with WooCommerce work? 

First, you need to sign up with a hosting provider. This is like renting a bit of online space for your website to sit on.

We recommend Bluehost for its WooCommerce hosting. It’s reliable, recommended by WordPress, and makes installing WordPress super easy. We have a whole guide to setting up an ecommerce store with WordPress, so we won’t go into too much detail here.

The bottom line is that it’s easy to set up a store, but tricky to get it looking exactly how you want without editing the code. If you don’t have coding experience, it could be worth getting a web designer on board.

What about dropshipping?

Dropshippers set up online stores to sell things on behalf of other sellers. Dropshippers never even come into contact with the products they’re selling; they just act as a middleman, taking a cut of profits in the process. You would still be responsible for shipping the items.

If you’d be interested in working with a dropshipper, try adding your products to sites like SaleHoo. If you’d like to know more about how to start a dropshipping business, look no further than our five-step guide to setting up a dropshipping business.

Use Google Shopping (US Only)

Best for: sellers who already have a website

Cost: you pay every time someone clicks your advert, with the average being around $0.66

This is a fairly new and exciting opportunity for online sellers to take advantage of. Previously, products could only appear in Google’s shoppable section if the seller was also spending money on Google Ads – but this is no longer the case.

Amazon alternatives: Google Shopping
Switch over to Google's shopping tab to see a whole feed of the item you're looking to buy

US-based sellers can put forward products to appear in this section for free, and you don’t even need a website to do this, just a spreadsheet. As with ads, you pay once someone clicks on your product. For most products and industries, the cost per click sits way under a dollar. If you’re based outside of the US, this feature isn’t ready for you just yet – but you can still set up ads in the normal way.

How to get started with Google Shopping

First, you’ll need to sign up for Google Merchant Center (and check out the Terms and Conditions, too).

Once you’re all set up, you can then go about making your ‘feed’ – the spreadsheet where you’ll store all your product information in a way that Google can interpret. Google has a really great guide to creating a ‘feed’, and make sure you follow this really carefully – you don’t want incorrect information pulling through at a cost to you.

Checking out with Google Shopping

Once customers click on your product, they should be redirected to your online store to check out. You’ll want to make this part as seamless as possible – after all, you’ve paid to get the customer to this stage. Have a read of our checkout optimization tips to help with this part.

Good to know: You can use Google Shopping alongside some of the marketplaces we’ll cover next. Some, like Esty, will even manage these ads for you. But just remember to keep a close eye on the Cost Per Click of each item, and any commission taken by the platform – between these, you could find your profit margin quite squeezed.

Use an Alternative Online Marketplace

Heads up: You can easily use an online marketplace alongside having your own online store. Just look out for the app/integration for the marketplace in your platform’s app/integration store. By adding this, you can sync up your inventory across all platforms, and make sure you never accidentally oversell.

If you like the marketplace model, but just don’t want to sell on Amazon, you have plenty of other options. While few offer a product range as broad as Amazon’s, there are loads of marketplaces that have made ‘niche’ a key part of their appeal:

1. Etsy

Best for: Selling handmade items, art, and homeware

Cost: Free to join

Commission: 5%

amazon alternatives: etsy
Etsy is ideal for those selling handmade items

Where consumers go to Amazon for convenience, they go to Etsy for something a bit special. Amazon has a lot of products, but it’s not where you’d look for furnishing your home, or buying something nice for your Mom.

So if you have something a bit special, or handmade, to sell, Etsy is the best place for it. You can also sell vintage items on the site, but these must be over 20 years old (to be classed as ‘true’ vintage).

The competition is pretty strong on Etsy, so make sure that your product stands out, you’re offering a competitive shipping price, and you really go all in when it comes to customer service – people expect a better experience from sellers on Etsy compared to on bigger sites like Amazon.

2. eBay

Best for: Selling unusual or one-off items

Cost: $7.95+/month (if you register as a business), and an insertion fee of $0.05 – $0.30 per listing

Commission: 0% – 10%

Everyone has an aunt who’s addicted to selling all their possessions on eBay, but it’s definitely not just a C2C (consumer to consumer) platform – there’s a lot to be gained from selling on there as a business, too.

eBay is a big platform – the second most popular ecommerce platform on the web, with Amazon being the most popular – and a competitive one too. It excels above Amazon when it comes to selling unusual or one-off items, given its option to run an auction alongside having a ‘buy it now’ price.

If people are after something very specific (for part of a collection), or something unusual (like a piece of vintage furniture), it’s likely they’d turn to eBay over Amazon. But if you’re offering something fairly generic, it can easily get lost in the crowd. Consider other ways to stand out, such as by offering free or fast shipping.

3. Walmart Marketplace

Best for: Being like Amazon, but not Amazon

Cost: Free to join

Commission: 6% – 20%

You may only associate Walmart with the physical stores, but it actually owns a pretty healthy 4% of the ecommerce market.

amazon alternatives: walmart marketplace
Walmart is the third biggest ecommerce retailer behind Amazon and Apple

Although fairly new to the world of ecommerce, Walmart Marketplace consistently reports rapid growth. From a seller’s perspective, Walmart beats Amazon because you can list your items for free, won’t get hit with any sneaky costs, and just pay the seller fee of 6-20%.

From a buyer’s perspective, two day free delivery (plus an option to pay for two hour delivery) is a big hit. Walmart’s clientele are generally young families with houses.

4. Newegg

Best for: Tech-related products

Cost: Free for up to 5,000 listings, $29.95/month for up to 25,000

Commission: 8% – 15%

Newegg looks a lot like Amazon, but has a focus on tech and electrical products, offering everything from computer components to refrigerators.

Customers come to Newegg expecting low prices, and you’ll need to be prepared to offer these to stand up against the competition. With Newegg’s low sellers fees, and no listing fees (up to 5,000 products), this feels a lot more achievable than on Amazon.

Newegg also one-ups Amazon for being set up to sell both B2C and B2B – and, like Amazon, it offers an order fulfillment service.

5. ASOS Marketplace

Best for: Small fashion brands, or vintage/retro clothing

Cost: $26/month

Commission: 20%

UK-based brand ASOS is best known for its main site (asos.com), where you can find ASOS’s own-brand clothing, as well as items from larger brands. While selling on ASOS’s primary site isn’t really an option for smaller sellers, ASOS Marketplace is the perfect place for independent brands and vintage boutiques.

amazon alternatives: ASOS Marketplace
Got a small fashion brand? ASOS Marketplace could give you the boost you need

From a buyer’s perspective, ASOS Marketplace looks great (an instant win over Amazon) thanks to the design of the site, and its rules around product photography. It’s also really easy to shop, whether you already have a brand in mind, or are just happy to browse.

From a seller’s perspective, ASOS Marketplace puts your items in front of a ‘global audience of 20 somethings’, and the curated look and feel means this isn’t a site where people are just looking for the lowest price. That said, ASOS’s commission of 20%, plus a monthly fee of $26, is pretty steep.

Use Social Media

Social media is often pegged as a great way to promote your brand, but it’s now well-equipped to do a lot more than that. Thanks to the new Facebook Shops feature, US-based businesses can now sell directly through Facebook and Instagram, as well as customize a storefront.

It’s easy to sell via both Facebook and Instagram at the same time, but if you need to pick one, we’ve added a bit of detail on each platform’s strengths and weaknesses. As with the marketplaces, you can easily sync these up with an ecommerce store if you have one – just add the relevant app, and away you go.

Selling via Facebook

Best for: Selling to 30+ year olds, and selling your story

Cost: Free

Commission/selling fees: 5%, or $0.40 for items under $8

Facebook has over 2.7 monthly active users, making it a really unique opportunity to grow your brand, reach a large audience, and target a specific demographic. While Facebook is widely used across all generations, it works particularly well for a slightly older audience.

Setting up a Facebook Shop is super simple, especially if you already have a Facebook Business Page. We’ve written a whole guide to setting up your Facebook Store, so check that out for a complete step-by-step walkthrough.

Selling via Instagram

Best for: Selling to under-30s, or selling very visual products

Cost: Free

Commission/selling fees: 5%, or $0.40 for items under $8

Instagram’s audience is smaller (around 1 billion active users per month), but more engaged (1.60% vs Facebook’s 0.09%).

Instagram is by its nature a very visual platform, so lends itself well to selling beautiful things. It’s also extra popular with younger generations, so is a great asset if your products are targeted at teenagers or 20-somethings.

Like Facebook, setting up an Instagram Shop is really easy, especially if you already have an Instagram page.

Amazon Alternatives: Summary

We’ve looked at the best Amazon alternatives, comparing selling fees, setup costs, demographics, and more. By now, you have a clear idea of some alternative options you can try. Here’s a summary of the platforms we’ve covered:

Amazon Alternatives for Small Businesses

  1. Build an Ecommerce Store
  2. Use Google Shopping
  3. Use an Alternative Marketplace (Etsy, eBay, Walmart, Newegg, ASOS)
  4. Use Social Media

Remember, you can easily use a combination of these Amazon alternatives to diversify your income streams. You can even keep Amazon in the mix!

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About Hannah Whitfield

Hannah Whitfield

I’m Website Builder Expert’s Content Manager, which means I’m in charge of checking everything written for our site, as well as writing my own articles.

I started writing about the wonderful world of the web around two years ago, and haven’t looked back since. Put simply, there’s never been a more exciting time to get online. Having tested all of the best website builders and ecommerce platforms on the market, I’m in a great position to help you do just that!

I hope you find our articles helpful, and please feel free to pop me a message with anything else you’d like to see here on Website Builder Expert.

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