Since the internet was introduced into our daily routine life, it has altered our perceptions, thinking and the way we act towards things. Many critics argue that the internet had brought and still bringing devastating impacts on our lives and the lives of generations to come. If you are daring enough to call spade a spade, it has brought countless good things too and eCommerce probably tops the list without a doubt.
Sites like Amazon, eBay and even social media are not only websites but have become a whole marketplace of their own. Now a day, if you are good at something whether it is self-learned art or a developer with a professional degree from a prestigious institute, you can sell your skills, products and service through the internet and make yourself a good fortune all without leaving the comfort of your couch. Isn’t that seem easy that you get up one day and decided to sell your favourite sandwich that you’ve been making for yourself for the past 5 years or so? Well, to be honest, it’s not that easy too!
Before you step into the world of online business, you need to get a good grasp of the basics. By the word “Basics” we mean that you need to learn what to sell? Where to sell? and most importantly, How to sell? Let’s make it simple for you! The online marketplace is divided into three major categories that are
- Social Media Marketplace
- Online store / Marketplace
- Your Own websites
Here, we’ll explain which one of these market should you opt for and how to operate and market your product or service to where it needed.
Social Media Marketplace
Let’s begin by talking about the most powerful tool present today. Social media, the platforms which were once were only used to share the precious moments of your life with your loved ones has now become a channel to take any product and services to millions of people where they can change lives for good.
Facebook & Instagram
The social media marketplace is more suitable for people looking for a side hustle other than their main business or job. One of the reasons for such people to opt for such a strategy is that it is easy to access and manage your sales from the convenience of your mobile phone device. You can talk to your customers directly on Facebook & Instagram messenger to answer any queries or negotiate the prices. It cuts the cost and time of formal customer support like other businesses.
Now let’s take about the list of most popular products that you start to sell on your social media business accounts and how to market them. You can do it all without any hidden charges or unknown commissions to pay
Modest Fashion & Jewellery Products
Islam has a completely different sense of fashion than any other religion. Online selling sites around the world offers millions of fashion products, but not every product is for the Muslim. Muslims around the world create a relatively large fashion market with new designs of hijabs, modest dresses, halal jewellery stuff. Market yourself as a Muslim fashion brand that sells its fashion products entirely based on Islamic values. As you enter such an industry, you can even target the non-Muslim customer with products like necklaces, bands, watches and many other things inspired by Islamic culture because people across borders love having layering that is unique, modest and represents their personality.
Lifestyle & Health Products
As you are well aware of the fact most social media users are the ones who are actually more conscious about their social lifestyles. These are the most potential customers for products pertaining to lifestyle and fitness. Such product includes home fitness gear, posture belts, halal herbal teas and supplements and many more. We suggest that before you decide, visit Instagram one last time as a buyer and see what is trending on social media for a better understanding of market trends at the moment.
Halal Home Decor Products
If there’s one thing a Muslim homeowner can not resist, it’s a good Caligraphy piece of art that represents Islamic history and culture. Muslim loves home decor products such as good Caligraphy pieces of ALLAH (SWT) Holy Names, Quran’s Ayahs. Such pieces are much popular with people decorating their homes of the dream to get ALLAH (SWT) blessings. Apart from such art pieces, there are certain types of scents that are mutually loved by Muslim homeowners all around the world. This can also be a good niche to target.
- These platforms are easy to access and easy to manage. All you need is an average working device with a proper internet connection and your business is already halfway set up for you
- Social Media has more traffic than any other conventional marketplace because a user visits social accounts for many reasons other than shopping. See it for yourself, you visit Facebook and Instagram to see the posts from your friend and there you come across your favourite shoe brand while you only visit Amazon and eBay, let’s say once a month when you feel a need for a new kitchen or bathroom accessory.
- Social Media do charge you for selling your product on the platform, but compared to other conventional marketplaces, this fee seems nothing more than few pennies being paid for revenue of thousands of dollars.
- Since every business can make it to the social media listing, building trust and authority for your brand is much more difficult than on websites like Amazone and eBay
- Due to the presence of hundreds of business around you, there’s a fair chance of you going up against too many competitors selling the same product or service as you.
- Talking of competition sometimes, the competitors compel you to sell your product or service on a very little margin in order to keep yourself in the market. There are no price checks and quality control mechanism on such markets.
The Online Stores/Marketplace
The online marketplace is just like the real market places, they react to situations like real markets, they change the trends like real markets, they act exactly like real markets but virtually. The online markets work through already set up platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and many more. The integration of technology only helped both buyer and sellers as it cuts time and cost by a huge margin. Looking at a versatile number of platforms, one might wonder what makes them different. Every online marketplace is known for its strengths and weaknesses that you must be aware of. Here’s a detailed analysis of each marketplace and products in accordance with each other.
Amazon & eBay, and Halal Marketplaces
Though the two platforms are entirely different from each other yet they have one thing common in between them. The size of the market and market trends. The two giants record millions of sellers and buyer active on monthly basis. Everything listed on one platform can be seen at the other one, highly competing for the price and quality. The competing companies spend a lot of time and money to ensure the quality of product and service. It’s one of the reasons they are highly conscious about their customer as well as their buyers. So if you are willing to register yourself as a seller, keep in mind that you have devoted a lot of time and fee charges to cover your business initial operation on these platforms.
About the products, here are some of the well-paying niche observed after analyzing Amazon and eBay customer behavior. For business owners targeting to sell Muslim-focused, and halal items, it is best to sell on Halal marketplaces, which we have written in another article.
Home Appliances & Accessories
Amazon as well as eBay is considered to be a trustworthy marketplace when it comes down to shopping for high priced home appliances and accessories. The customers are well aware of the fact that many brands these days also make strategic alliances with these two platforms to sell their authentic products to the customer where they cannot reach directly. If you already own such a business, it’ll be a breeze to register yourself on such a platform and sell your product to a customer even across the border.
Sports & Fitness Gear
Sports goods are considered a popular category explored by many young people. Apart from being sold on eBay and Amazon, such goods have a separate industry and market of their own. Since it is a highly competitive industry, many sellers try to get their products approved by the websites like Amazon and eBay to build more authority. It is one of the reasons that such goods have big sales number on platforms’ data. The good can range from sports clothing to sports and fitness shoes and accessories.
Technological trends are the most dynamic trends to ever happen in any market. Every year you see, a new tech company established and existing companies coming up with new technology and gears. Tech companies also acknowledge that fasted way to reach their customer is through these online platforms, so they turn to these platforms for a supply. You can take advantage of this opportunity too. Offer the latest mobiles phones, audio & video equipment, cameras and countless other electronic stuff on these platforms and your business can touch the skies within half the period compared to any other niche on such platforms.
Readers all around the world are still generating revenue worth millions of dollars from purchasing books online. Amazon is well known for its book market. Apart from literature, novels, fantasy and many other categories, you can sell Islamic books to much larger communities around the world. Islamic history books and elegant copies of The Holy Quran are two popular book category that can be sold on Amazon and eBay for a good profit margin while simultaneously contributing to the betterment of the Muslim community. Though the business is profiteering, do it with an intent to empower Muslim reader through their rich history and Barakah will take your business to new heights.
Prayer Mats and Accessories
This is one of the noblest and sacred niches on these online platforms where you can help millions of Muslims get more comfortable while praying. With times the industry of Prayer mats and other accessories has evolved and Muslims love buys anything that can make their prayer more comfortable and satisfying. You can sell specialized prayer mats designed for elderly people to ease joints pain. Other halal prayer accessories include Tasbieh, Prayer caps for men, Prayer scarfs for Muslim women etc. You can focus on selling these on online Halal Marketplaces.
Foodpanda, UberEats & Other
You run a restaurant, a bakery or even a grocery store that sell halal food items and households items, the internet can help you reach double the number of customer that your business is currently catering to. Platforms like these create a halal food market in a number of countries including both Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike. Especially in Muslim minority countries, offering your halal food times and grocery items is a pretty profitable market share.
With evolving needs and trends, the platforms such as foodpanda, uberEats and many other platforms which were once used for foods only are now delivering groceries to customer doorsteps. You can list your grocery store on platforms which has proved to double the sales in recent times. Seen from an Islamic perspective, not all grocery products are allowed for Muslims. Market yourself as a store that sells every single product manufactured with halal ingredients and promote better quality in halal things in the community
Bakery & Drinks
Freshly baked delicious products and halal drinks stay the all-time favourite of many people. One of the reasons for industry success is that not only it provides food that is tasty and delicious but is ready to take away with you any time anywhere. Selling freshly baked halal products and drinks through online platforms is profitable in the sense that if your taste impresses your customer it’ll bring them to you again and again. You can market yourself as a bakery that bakes the product according to the customer needs and specification through custom orders. It’s an easy way to attract a buyer when they know they are in control of what they are buying
Fast Food and Cuisines
Halal foods have clearly a different taste than non-halal foods because of many ingredients. A halal fast food or restaurants that sell different halal cuisines is a great idea to start your online business. Food is basic to human survival and tasty food with all halal ingredients. Another benefit that your business will have in the food industry is that you can acquire new customers through different combinations of deals on halal foods and introducing halal foods of other Islamic cultures around the world e.g. Asian halal cuisines or European style halal cuisines. This type of innovation keeps the business alive for longer terms.
Etsy & Ruby Lane
The two identical yet competing website hold a separate market than Amazon and eBay, and the size of the market is not less than any other platforms. Ask any handcrafted art lover and he’ll tell you how much these websites are good at selling handmade arts and pieces for home decor and your own satisfaction.
Handmade Art & Goods
If you are good at painting scenes, crafting decoration pieces from plastic bottles in your home or fancy lamps using ordinary bulbs, why not cash it? Platforms like Etsy and Ruby Lane let you reach the right customer for your art and creativity. You can charge a decent amount of money to sell your product.
Yes! You can even sell those antique artefacts that you’ve been keeping for years. Both the website holds a vast market for antique lovers. You’ll find a large number of people willing to pay a high price for something lying in your cupboard for years. You can even find the local antique pieces buy them at comparatively lower prices and sell them to the right customer at higher prices which makes up for your costs and gives you a decent profit.
- You can sell a range of products across these platforms and the price can range from few dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars. The bigger the product price larger your profit margin will be
- Since these platforms are more conscious about their own reputation, they build their authority by having quality check barriers. So every customer that comes to you through these platforms already satisfied with your brand authority which takes the burden off your shoulder.
- The online store lets you reach a large audience and in return, they charge fees for their service. Sometimes these fees can be more than you making monthly from sales. In good times your business can afford these fees but are you sure about the downtime which is a grim reality of having your own business.
- If you are looking to opt for such kind of business as a side hustle, you gonna have to reconsider and change the perspective. Maintaining a high rise and then sustaining it takes a considerable time
Your Own Website
You can create your own online market by creating a website of your brand. Online shopping has not only, nowadays, is not merely a trend but the need of the hour. The recent calamity of Covid-19 has made the personal website and online marketplace a mainstream for shopping. Customer preferred shipping of an item to their doorstep rather than putting themselves and their loved ones in danger for the simple grocery list.
Sales On Personal Business Website
A personal website gives you the freedom of pushing your business in whatever direction you think is the best for your business. A personal website can be customized according to your needs and what kind of products you are willing to sell. Platforms like WordPress has made website creation, maintenance and promotion a breeze. It lets you customize the website according to your business products and nature. You can have a website from a simple food restaurant to a store that sells home furniture The software also gives you the ability to add a personal online payment method if you are willing to take your business next step.
A personal website is a good fit for entrepreneurs. Sometimes you come up with strong ideas that are not already available in the market i.e. no competitors. Owning a website for such a business would not only attract customers but you can become a brand in a very short time than expected as sailing stuff is not the sole purpose of the website, it can also be used for awareness purpose. For more efficient marketing, promote your website through social media like Facebook, Instagram & Youtube ads. Keeping mind the amount of monthly active users on these platforms that cross million and in the case of Youtube the number stacks up to billions, you can imagine the amount of traffic you can get by promoting your website on these media platforms
Though running your personalized website for sales and promotion gives you an extra edge over your competitor, but it comes with its own kind of challenges too. Let’s look at the gains and loose of owning a personal website.
- The most valuable perk you are going to have is the customization of your website and offers as you want. The platforms like Amazon, eBay and many others like them have quality check barriers and price control mechanism along with strong competition. Sometimes this pressure forces you to even sell for cheap or drop some of the lucrative offers that your customers might love to avail. In the case of a personal website, you are free to offer whatever you are good at and at a price you think is reasonable for you and your customers.
- Your online payment receiving methods can make a huge difference. If the same method of online payment is done through social media and online marketplace, you’ll receive your money through various third-party platforms that charge some significant fees to process the payments. For a personal business website, you can ask your own bank to set the payment methods for your sales which can save a lot of money on processing fees.
- The maintenance and updating of the website both time and IT labour. It’s true that it benefits you in any way but sometimes the cost of this maintenance and updating the website can cost you more than it worth. In some cases, it can take a lot more time which also becomes a cost to your business. Imagine being late in updating your winter clothing collection on your website and how it can cost you, especially when the competitors have already done it way before you were planning.
- Unlike social media platforms and online marketplaces, you can not have 24/7 Tech support for your website. If for some reason your website crashes or experience a bug it can cause real trouble to you and your customer. In any case, you fail to resolve the matter on time, it can cost your a customer which means it can cost you a lot of cash in the ultimate run.
Ali Haider Shah is a business graduate with specialization in market research. He holds 4 years of experience in business writing where he served renowned online publications like “Digital Diplomacy”. Currently working as a business writer and a market researcher.