Sometimes it’s easy to get tunnel-vision when it comes to selling anything online.
If you were to ask any random person on the high street how they would go about selling products online, I’ll bet you a pound to a penny that they would mostly answer ‘eBay’.
This answer is not wrong of course, as eBay is huge, but, as I have been attempting to illustrate in my last couple of newsletters, there are some other very good alternatives.
In this penultimate newsletter highlighting eBay alternatives, I want to shine a light on two further websites, each with a very different retail appeal.
Background: ASOS was originally ‘As Seen On Screen’ when it started in 2000 and specialised in selling celebrity-inspired products.
ASOS is now one of the most successful online fashion retailers around.
In 2010 the global website launched ASOS Marketplace for people around the world to sell fashion to each other. Speciality:
This is a site, first and foremost, for those interested in fashion. If you have any new, pre-owned or vintage fashion lying around the house then ASOS Marketplace could be your perfect alternative to eBay.
- ASOS Marketplace offers unlimited free listings for both individual and shop sellers.
- ASOS do, however, charge a 5% commission fee based on the final value of any item sold, invoiced every month and limited to 100 live items at any one time.
- If you sign up as a ‘Boutique Seller’, you pay a £20 monthly subscription fee, along with a 20% commission fee on sold items. In return, you are allowed to list an unlimited amount of items from a customisable storefront site. You also given a blog and the services of an account manager.
- ASOS Marketplace uses PayPal for secure transactions. You will be billed monthly from this account and will be liable to PayPal processing fees as well.
ASOS attracts 18.5 million unique visitors a month, with seven million registered users from 191 countries.
- The strength of ASOS lies in the fact that they purely focus on fashion, to the exclusion of all other market niches. So they can focus their marketing efforts in one single direction.
- You get four photos free per listing, with up to 100 free live listings before you are required to sign up for one of their Boutique Seller storefronts, which allows unlimited free listing.
You do need to provide good-quality pictures when selling on ASOS. They insist your clothing is worn by a model when photographed. Don’t worry: you won’t have to start phoning up modelling agencies – anyone from your circle of family and friends would qualify.
Two UK based entrepreneurs – Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish – founded www.notonthehighstreet.com from their kitchen table in 2006.
They started with only 100 creative small businesses when they first launched. Now they have thousands of ‘partners’ – a bit like John Lewis, but without the annual dividend – with more joining every week.
These partners are supported by team of over 120 support staff based at their HQ in Richmond, S.W. London.
The original concept of the site was to curate the original items from the most creative small businesses around the UK, bringing them together in one place and making it easy for people to browse and buy.
These small businesses thrive under the umbrella of www.notonthehighstreet.com, contrasted by the struggle they might have encountered by going it alone as a start-up business.
A highly polished website is provided, along with a fully integrated content management system and a commitment from the company to actively promote their partner businesses.
Pricing: Quite expensive: prices are available upon application, but apparently people are being quoted around £500–£700 to join the site, plus around 25% commission on each sale.
Their site gets over two million unique visitors per month. Apparently this doubles at Christmas. Their TV and outdoor ad campaigns are also seen by millions.
- Great exposure by the company: they actively promote their partners businesses and put their money where their mouth is.
- Getting on-board with www.notonthehighstreet.com seems to work best if you are a new start-up company, requiring a good-looking website, along with plenty of market exposure, rather than an existing business with a long established website.
- High joining fees, or at least so it may seem on the surface. This may seem very expensive if you have priced your stock to cater to the direct retail market, as possibly with eBay. But if your prices are geared more towards a wholesale market, then the 25% commission will seem much less onerous.
Also, consider the costs of having your own bespoke website designed from scratch: good web design and marketing does not come cheaply when running a stand-alone business.
- They like to keep all their customers in-house. Whilst I do not believe that they dissuade you from having your own website, it is certainly obvious that any marketing expenditure is geared towards building the market brand of www.notonthehighstreet.com, rather than your own personal website.
They are less likely to aggressively market your products if they see you pushing customers from their portal site directly to your website for final sale.
I will talk to you again this time next week.