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The 4 Best Online Marketplaces for Young Entrepreneurs

Creating a unique, helpful, and life-changing product is only half the battle for young entrepreneurs hoping to make a name for themselves. You still have to sell that product. And selling online can overwhelming when it comes to choices. What’s the difference between Etsy and Shopify? Will you have to pay? If so, how much? Do you need to hire a web designer? What about shipping your products? 

Never fear, young entrepreneurs! We’re here to break down the four best online marketplaces to consider. We’ve checked out the sites and read reviews that break down each site’s pros and cons. This way you can make an informed decision and choose the online marketplace that’s right for you. 

1. SQUARESPACE 

Anyone who listens to podcasts probably knows about Squarespace by now. Their motto is, “Everything to sell anything,” meaning they consider themselves an all-in-one online shop for entrepreneurs.  

You can choose from hundreds of templates and designs to get your site up and running. You can even create a blog or membership site, which will come in handy as your business grows and expands. 

Pros: 

  • High-quality designs and templates for a polished, professional look 
  • Fully customizable 
  • App available for young entrepreneurs on the go 
  • Live support 
  • 1,000-page limit (great for multiple products!) 
  • Customer-friendly check-out process 
  • Free trial with no credit card required 
  • Custom domain name with an annual subscription 

Cons: 

  • Does not autosave your work 
  • Limited menu options for your customers 
  • Pages may take longer to load for customers 
  • Not hard to use, but may take some time to learn 
  • No backup feature 

Pricing (as of Fall 2021): 

The per-month cost to use Squarespace runs from $16-24. To save money, paying upfront for an annual subscription would be $12-40 per month, or $144-480 for the year. 

2. SHOPIFY 

Their motto, “The platform commerce is built on,” is maybe not the most reader-friendly, but Shopify does, in fact, focus entirely on selling. That’s good news for those of you who just want to run an online shop. 

Shopify users get to be part of a larger community of online entrepreneurs, including business courses, podcasts, and community events. Become as involved or not as you feel like but know that others are there for you. 

Pros: 

  • Ease of use 
  • A wide range of options for selling and shipping 
  • 24/7 customer support 
  • App available for young entrepreneurs on the go 
  • Good for shops of all sizes 
  • Free trial with no credit card required 
  • SEO tools 
  • Marketing help 

Cons: 

  • Only 10 free templates to choose from (others cost money to use) 
  • Customer reviews also cost extra 
  • Shopify-owned servers mean they can take down your shop at any time 
  • Blogging add-on is clunky 
  • Some formats might be confusing to edit 

Pricing (as of Fall 2021: 

Monthly hosting with Shopify will cost $29-299 per month. However, Shopify has a “Lite” plan for just $9 per month. This plan is for anyone who is not hosting with Shopify but would like to use their system to create a “buy button” for an existing website or a “point-of-sale” feature for an in-person shop. 

3. ETSY 

Etsy started life as an online marketplace for entrepreneurs like you. They specialize in crafters looking to sell their handmade goods, makers selling unique items, and business-minded designers ready to put their products out into the world. 

Kind of like you! 

Sellers like Etsy because all you have to do to get started is upload your stock inventory. Etsy also helps grow your customer base with marketing and advertising tools.  

Pros: 

  • Etsy is already a popular and well-known brand. This means built-in customers searching for your product on a site they know they can trust. 
  • Easy and quick set-up 
  • No monthly subscription necessary 
  • Discounted postage rates for your shipping needs 
  • App available for young entrepreneurs on the go 
  • Designed for smaller businesses 
  • Using tags enables built-in SEO 

Cons: 

  • Without a monthly subscription, you’ll have to pay listing and transaction fees 
  • No format or template choices 
  • Limited options for what you can sell 
  • Disputes tend to side with buyers 
  • Lack of customer service for sellers 
  • Your account can be suspended or deactivated with little or no warning for not following Etsy’s regulations 

Pricing (as of Fall 2021): 

The listing fee costs $0.20 per item for four months or until the item sells. For each item that sells, there is an additional 5% transaction fee, with an additional 3% + $0.25 processing fee for using Etsy Payments. There is also a $10 a month Etsy Plus option for sellers, which gives you ways to customize your shop and advertise to more buyers. 

4. AMAZON 

Yep, that old standby still works for young entrepreneurs looking to sell their products. Like Etsy, Amazon is a known brand, which means you’ll have at least some built-in customers. Statistically speaking, Amazon is enormous and even small businesses can make money using their platform.  

But is Amazon right for you? 

Pros: 

  • It’s Amazon 
  • Two sale models to choose from 
  • You can resell wholesale items 
  • The lowest sale prices will be first up in customer searches 
  • Option for customer reviews 
  • App available for young entrepreneurs on the go 
  • You can sell new or gently used products 
  • Easy product listing 
  • Fee per item sold (no monthly costs) makes this a good model for smaller businesses 

Cons: 

  • Less control than the other marketplaces we’ve mentioned 
  • Selling fees can get confusing 
  • You are competing with millions of other sellers 
  • If you choose the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) option, you need to stay on top of your inventory a lot 
  • If you choose the Fulfillment by Seller (FBS) option, Amazon will charge buyers a flat shipping fee no matter how much it costs you to ship your product 
  • It’s Amazon 

Pricing (as of Fall 2021): 

Amazon’s individual plan charges $0.99 per item sold, plus an additional selling fee. Their professional plan is $39.99 per month, plus additional selling fees. There are also “referral” fees that Amazon charges, and those charges depend on what item(s) you sell. For example, “home & garden” products cost a 15% referral fee with a $0.30 minimum per item, but video game consoles cost an 8% referral fee plus a $1.80 closing cost with no minimum per item.  

At the end of the day, it’s up to you which platform you use. Which pros matter the most when it comes to your business? Which cons are deal-breakers? How much investment capital do you have to spend on this part of your business?  

Whatever you choose, we wish you the best of luck and lots of sales! 

Find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s commitment to young entrepreneurs, including our college scholarships for high school students, by clicking here. 


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