How to sell on Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and AliBaba

When you prepare for expansion onto foreign markets, you will face the choice whether to create your own online shop or use an available sales system. If you’re considering the second solution you will have four largest global platforms available to choose from: Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and AliBaba. Which platform should you choose and how to make your online sales through them?

How to sell online – brief information about sales platforms

Let’s start with a short characteristic of each of the four platforms. Amazon.com was established quite a long time ago, in 1994 in Seattle. The name itself refers to the Amazon River, which Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) picked as the river presenting the scale of product flow in his online shop. Time has evidenced that he wasn’t wrong. Today, Amazon.com is the largest global online shop which generated over USD 118 billion in revenue, in 2018.

eBay’s history is slightly different. As compared to Amazon, the platform was initially assumed to be an auction site where users were had the possibility of completing a transaction based on the highest bid price. The service started its operations in 1995 and thanks to dynamic growth, it is currently the biggest platform of this type in the world. You can sell and buy in 37 countries, including Poland.

Chinese e-commerce platforms

AliExpress is an online sales system that offers products supplied primarily by Chinese manufacturers. The idea for this service was to offer local Chinese products on a global market. Currently, you cannot offer sales from Poland but most likely this will change and it’s just a matter of time. Especially because in 2019, AliExpress launched such a possibility to small and medium-sized companies from Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

The situation is slightly different when looking at AliBaba. The company was established in 1999 and it is an equivalent of the Polish Allegro but it operates on a global scale. This is the key e-commerce platform in China and one of the largest platforms in the world. The above is evidenced by the value of this company, amounting to USD 486 billion. You can buy and sell products here, with access to manufacturers from all around the world.

How to sell on Amazon?

As we have already mentioned above, Amazon.com is the biggest online shop in the world. Its offer includes Amazon label products (such as the Amazon Kindle e-book reader). It is worth noting, however, that half of its sales is generated from products supplied by their partners, from entrepreneurs like you.

Types of accounts on Amazon

Each user has a choice of two accounts: standard and PRO. In the case of the first account, you will not need to pay any subscription fees. You will only pay commission from sales, which is usually approximately GBP 1.00 per item (but it depends on the category). This account has some limitations. You can only sell up to 33 items per month.

PRO account users will have significantly bigger possibilities. When you decide upon this solution, you will not face any quantity-related limitations. You will have to pay GBP 25.00 in monthly subscription, however. Amazon may not charge commission in the case of insignificant sales of single items. With a bigger turnover, commission will apply, which is usually between 10-15%.

Logistics on Amazon are a huge advantage

The possibility of reaching customers worldwide is not the only advantage of using Amazon. The logistic system is a huge convenience for sellers. When you decide to cooperate with Amazon, you will not have to worry about storing your products. Amazon features distribution centres. There are 5 such centres in Poland, with the 6th one being under construction.

How do Amazon distribution centres work?

Thanks to such a solution, you have the possibility of sending your products directly from an Amazon warehouse. From there, they will be shipped to your customers globally. The warehouse employees will also package and secure your shipments for a small fee. The cost of such a service depends on the size of the package but it is usually not more than EUR 5.00.

Besides benefits provided through logistics, when you decide to sell on Amazon, you won’t need to set up your own online shop. This way, you won’t need to worry about costs related to its management, server maintenance and other expenses. You are also benefiting from the recognised Amazon brand which is known globally.

Amazon sales tools

The commerce giant improves tools for sellers continuously. You have the possibility of setting special deals instantly as well as configuring price management automatically. Specifically the second option is worth your attention. After defining the appropriate principles, the system will reduce prices itself, when a cheaper competitor appears. Unfortunately, the additional options are mostly available to PRO account users.

How to start your adventure with the platform?

The first step after setting up an account is to make a decision: what do you actually want to sell on Amazon? A lot depends on the adopted business model but JungleScout is a tool that will be very useful. It will help you follow sales trends on Amazon as well as find new market niches. It offers numerous features that will help you optimise your business in this biggest online shop in the world.

Sales methods

You can also take a completely different approach to selling on Amazon. Generally, there are 5 methods that will help you acquire products:

  1. Arbitrage transactions – in this method, you will use a price scanner that is connected to the transaction system. If you find a product that you think can be resold with a profit, you can scan the price and compare products that are already available on Amazon. If an analysis shows that you can make money on such a transaction, you can purchase products in a retail shop and sell them with profit online.
  2. Wholesale – the most typical method that involves large quantities of products in order to apply a profit margin and sell them on Amazon to make money. This solution has some disadvantages – you have to be in possession of starting capital to make the purchases. Secondly, you may end up investing too much. If it turns out that you will not buy the right products to match market trends, you will not generate sales to cover your costs.
  3. Selling under a private label – this method also applies in traditional commerce. It assumes that you will create your own brand, buy products, place your own labels and resell them. This makes it possible to create an image of a private label, which is a huge advantage. Due to the above, you can become independent of Amazon with time, and you can start selling in your own e-shop. However, you will not have a big impact on the quality of products offered – if the manufacturer releases a defective batch, you will be responsible for it in the eyes of customers.
  4. Handicraft – uniqueness of the offer is a huge advantage. Especially when you sell your own projects. Before you start selling on Amazon, see how well other similar items are sold. This solution has a certain disadvantage: if interest in your offer is huge, you will have to act fast to manufacture a sufficient number of products.
  5. Dropshipping – this method is becoming more and more popular. According to the assumptions of this method, you sell someone’s products under someone’s private label. You are only in charge of optimisation and promotion. You don’t need initial capital because according to this business model, sales is generated first and then the settlement is made with the manufacturer. The disadvantages of this solution is the fact that you have no impact on the quality of products as well as any other aspect such as logistics and shipping.

How to sell on eBay?

eBay offers slightly different selling possibilities. The differences include the fact that you will not depend on decisions made by a commerce giant. When you cooperate with Amazon, you have to be aware that this is an e-shop, which can change contractual conditions when they notice that it is more profitable for them to enrol in a certain niche. There’s no such risk on eBay.

How does eBay work?

The platform may be defined as something similar to the Polish Allegro, but eBay’s reach is European-wide. The principles of sales are similar: first, you have to register an account in the auction system, read the rules and post offers. Then, you can manage the offers to finalise transactions (if anyone makes a purchase). Let’s start with the basics

Setting up an eBay account.

You have to set up an account first. Before you do that, you have to register as a user and then your account has to be verified as a seller. You have several ways to verify your identity:

  1. By telephone.
  2. By mail.
  3. By credit card.

You have to be aware of the fact that most transactions will be settled in Euro. The same rule applies to all costs that are generated due to sales. For this purpose, it is better to configure your credit card so that payments are made simply and conveniently. You can set automated payment of fees made directly from your account so that you won’t forget about them. Transactions with customers will be settled through PayPal, so you will need to set up and verify a PayPal seller’s account.

Sales on eBay

To start sales, first you have to learn about product limitations. The list of products that are banned from sales is quite long. It includes police products, fireworks, weapons, products for adults and many more. Find out more on the dedicated page. It is a good idea to analyse prices of active and ended bids. Due to the above, you can find out how to manage prices of your products.

If you have ever made sales on Allegro, you should not have any problems with further steps. You have to post your products and ensure that they are properly described. Use a catchy phrase and set the price (including shipping costs), etc. When a customer buys something from you and pays for it, you will be notified. Remember that products should be shipped after you get a confirmation of payment being made.

Selling goods abroad

eBay is an international service so you can sell to different countries. To start such transactions, be sure to translate your product descriptions. You can set shipping costs yourself, depending on your contract with a carrier company. Before you post an offer, learn about the sales limitations applicable in the country to which you are shipping your products. It may turn out that your items are banned in Austria, for instance, due to the applicable laws. Find out more on the eBay website, at this link.

How to sell on AliExpress?

As we have already mentioned above, AliExpress.com does not make it possible to sell from Poland at this point. Nevertheless, it is worth keeping in mind that the service is starting to become available to other markets. Already today, companies from Italy, Spain, Russia and Turkey can trade on AliExpress. This is why it’s most likely just a matter of time when Polish entrepreneurs will be given this possibility.

Selling on AliExpress – the basics

To start selling on this platform, you have to meet the following conditions:

  1. You have to manage a business – to set up an e-shop profile, each user has to pass a verification process on AliExpress through the AliPay account.
  2. Optionally, you can create a brand on the platform. You can choose an official shop brand, function as a franchise or a specialised shop. If you do not intend to create a brand on AliExpress, you can skip this step.
  3. You have to pay an annual technical fee.

If you meet these conditions, you can move onto registering a seller’s account. First, go to https://sell.aliexpress.com/, and then click “Join AliExpress” in the top right corner. You will be redirected to a form that will make it possible to activate your account. This will take place as follows:

  1. The registration itself involves three stages. First, you need to specify your email address, set a password and enter the verification code received in the email. During the second stage, you need to pick the region in which you will sell your products. You will also have to specify your company’s business details. The third step will be to confirm the data you have entered.
  2. After registering the account, you will have to log into it. In the seller’s panel, first you will need to set the primary category. Then enter the list of products you want to sell and also register your trademark.
  3. Before you start selling on AliExpress, you have to choose the payment method. You will be redirected to a dedicated page with detailed information about sales costs in particular categories. You will also be informed about the annual fee for AliExpress services.
  4. After completing the above steps, you will be redirected to a website for managing the shop. If you have your own brand, you can verify it. 
  5. The last step is to add products to the shop and personalise its appearance. AliExpress offers numerous possibilities in this regard so that you can make your offer stand out. When you finish this step you can activate your shop and start sales.

How to sell on AliBaba?

As compared to AliExpress.com, AliBaba.com was created with B2B in mind. You will find sellers from all over the world here, including from India, Taiwan, China, USA and Poland. When you decide to post your sales offers in this system, you have the possibility of reaching business partners operating on global markets. How to sell on AliBaba?

Sell in wholesale amounts

The first step is to register a seller’s account on AliBaba. You have three choices: free account, GoldSupplier Basic (USD 699 per year) and GoldSupplier Standard (USD 2999 per year). When you use one of the premium options, your company will be verified by independent external experts. When you decide to choose the free account, you have no possibility of becoming a verified user.

After registering the account, you will be redirected to a virtual advisor. It will help you to configure your seller’s account in a few simple steps. First, you will have to define the type of your business, you will have several options to choose from: online shop, manufacturer, commercial company, wholesaler, distributor, sales office, individual seller or another type of activity that you will manage on AliBaba. Then, you have to choose the category of offered products. You will also determine what products you have in your offer.

The virtual advisor will guide you through other personalisation options as well. You will have to answer questions where you will specify your requirements regarding suppliers, the annual expenditure for shopping, etc. Due to the above, the AliBaba algorithm will be able to understand your business better, which will make it easier to use the portal.

Posting products and making sales effectively

Posting offers on AliBaba.com is very similar to Allegro or eBay. You will need to upload high-quality photos, prepare a detailed description of a product and create a catchy title. After posting your product, you will receive a text message with a verification code. All you need to do now is to benefit from the methods for making sales effective.

It is not a secret that shoppers buy with their eyes. So in order to improve your sales results good quality photos will help you as they present all the details of your products. If possible, include the product specification in the title, which is a frequent practice. A good description with details will also be key in the customer’s decision on choosing your offer. It is certainly worth being a verified seller. In order to do that, you have to switch to a premium plan and use the “Verified member” option.

Why is it worth getting your account verified?

Similarly to other sales services, you can come across fraud on AliBaba.com. Despite the fact that it is very difficult to sport fraud-related activity, it is possible. You should specifically pay attention to messages written badly in terms of the language or offers of making prepayments before shipping. There are cases where such a seller disappears with the money you paid and you won’t ever receive the purchased product. If you verified your business, you will let your customers feel safe and will prove it to them that you will not disappear after the transaction is completed. This will increase their willingness to cooperate with you.

Translation of product descriptions is the foundation for market expansion

Regardless of the platform you use, the key aspect of your presence on foreign markets is proper translation of product descriptions. You should ensure stylistic and content-related correctness but also adjust the language to the standards of your recipients. Your international customers live in different conditions than you do so they may have a different approach to shopping. This is why the work of a translator in this industry has a highly-creative nature, as the task of a person working on translation will be to adjust the advertisement slogans to the culture of the recipients’ country.

How to sell on the internet? It easier than ever before!

Availability and functionality of the biggest sales systems make selling online significantly easier. Especially when you want to acquire customers from international markets. Thanks to Amazon, AliExpress, eBay or AliBaba, expansion onto foreign market has never been this easy. If you don’t want to or have no funds to invest into your own shop, it is worthwhile to consider using one of the above options.