How To Sell Online: The Best Ecommerce Ideas For 2021

By Rodney Laws | Ecommerce

Jul 05
Business looking for products to sell online.

Want to learn how to sell online? Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

When starting an online business, you enter a competitive playground broader in scope than any brick-and-mortar store. Selling online has never been more accessible, but with that comes competition that challenges even the savviest of business owners. 

With that said, however, the hassle of establishing an online presence is offset by reaping the rewards such a platform offers your business. 

Ecommerce allows your business to grow beyond borders and reach brand new audiences. In this article, we define online selling, outline the best ecommerce ideas, and help you establish an efficient selling platform. Read on as we explain how to sell online.

Online selling definition— and why should your business care? 

Ecommerce, otherwise known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, is the process of buying and selling goods or services over the internet. In the UK alone, online retail sales grew 74% year-on-year, and accounts for 35.2% of all retail — a record that beats any sales peak in recent memory. 

Nowadays, it’s nigh-on impossible to imagine life without the internet, which is why online selling is enjoying a purple patch as the logical evolution of commerce around the world.

Here are the incentives to sell your products online: 

Facilitate business growth

Requires a relatively small investment

Sell products online 24/7

Reach a global audience

Flexible business management 

When selling products online, you can control your business, manage growth around the world, and never need to close shop — all with a relatively small investment (as long as you have access to a reliable internet connection).

With that said, ecommerce isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme that will guarantee you a windfall of sales, nor a wave of new customers without first putting in the hard work. 

Here are some inevitable ecommerce risks you should watch out for: 

Online security and privacy issues 

Platform or system reliability 

Lack of traffic to convert

Warehouse and shipping logistics

Want to sell your products on the web? Learning how to sell online is about maximizing the benefits by mediating the risks. Below we explore the best ecommerce ideas that can help you establish a manageable and efficient online presence.

Best ecommerce ideas for selling online

Establishing an online store is about finding a profitable idea to launch your operation, whether this is a desirable business model or a must-have product.

For many aspiring entrepreneurs and savvy business owners, discovering an idea to take advantage of is easier said than done, but sometimes the simple ideas are best. 

In this section, we discuss a few ideas that can have you start selling online with confidence in 2021. 


Dropshipping is an ecommerce fulfilment model that doesn’t require you to store a large amount of inventory. Instead, when users make a purchase on your online store, you source the product from a third-party distributor like Oberlo who holds the inventory and ships the product to your customers. 

The dropshipping model is a great way to start selling online because it suits nearly any size business, from dabbling in merchandise to running a multinational enterprise. 

For smaller businesses and startups, operating a dropshipping store means you can mediate around some of the inherent risks that come with ecommerce. Here’s why: 

  • It’s cost-effective: less capital required and low overheads to maintain growth 
  • It’s easier to test: gauge customer appetite without buying lots of stock
  • It’s more manageable to scale: most of the heavy lifting is done by suppliers
  • It’s flexible: manage your store from anywhere at anytime

These benefits make dropshipping an attractive online business idea for 2021, but flexibility and convenience come at a price. For example, being so reliant on third-party suppliers, you might discover quality and delivery issues of your control — this can reflect badly on your brand, so make sure you wholeheartedly trust your supplier and their service. 

Print on demand

Print on demand (or POD) is an easy way to get into selling online. 

It’s very similar to dropshipping, with one big difference — when someone orders an item via your website, it goes to a third party supplier who will print the specified design onto the product before it is shipped to the customer.

This means that you can easily personalize your products with your own branding and unique designs. 

You can read more about print on demand and the best POD apps you can use here.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is an ecommerce model that allows you to make money anytime, anywhere — and all without selling a product. Instead, you supply a valuable service for another, much larger business. 

Affiliate marketing is the process by which you earn commission by delivering traffic to another businesses website. Businesses regularly work with affiliate marketers because the process spreads marketing responsibilities across several parties and websites rather than relying on an in-house operation. 

What do you get in return? When another business leverages your talents to market its brand, you’ll be rewarded with a share of the profit. As an affiliate (or creator) the business provides you with a link so they can track who is responsible for a sale, thereby allowing you to earn commission on a per click, per lead, or per-sale basis. 

With affiliate marketing, you can enjoy the flexibility of running an ecommerce website and have the potential to achieve high ROI, but only if you have strong marketing knowledge and possess the expertise to rank effectively in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Stay on top of trends to find opportunities for your online store

Every aspiring entrepreneur or seasoned business mind dreams of predicting the next big thing, but sadly there is no way of knowing for certain what trends will gain traction in the following years and months. 

However, you can maximise your chances by keeping your finger on the pulse and staying on top of what is selling in the here and now. 

Google Trends, for example, is a great platform to explore what the world is searching for, and identify products and services currently rising in popularity by extracting online search results. 

You can also conduct keyword research using a paid tool like Ahrefs or go online for free using Google Keyword Planner. This allows you to see what customers are searching for in your chosen niche and use it to find ideas that can make you money. 

Failing that, however, you can always stick to selling what you love. While this might sound sentimental (and it is), if you’re passionate about something it’ll show up on your ecommerce platform through product descriptions, marketing campaigns, and social media content. Do the research first, but if there is demand for something you love, you’ve got the best of both worlds. 

Choose how to sell online: best ecommerce selling platforms

Best platforms an online business can use to sell products.

Image: Pixabay

Selling products online is a daunting process when you’re unsure how to get the process rolling. In this section, we explore the best selling platforms available to you. 

Use an ecommerce store builder

Creating your own online shop using builders like Shopify or BigCommerce is a great way to secure a domain name and get your store up and running quickly in return for a monthly fee. 

Read our ecommerce reviews as we compare the best online store builders for 2021 to help find a platform that works for your goals and online selling needs. 

Use a WooCommerce plugin for WordPress

Turn your WordPress site into a lucrative sales channel using the WooCommerce plugin. 

Installing the app is free, but you’ll have to pay for other elements like hosting, website maintenance, and theme design. Plus you’ll likely need some knowledge on coding given WooCommerce is open-source software

Use online marketplaces

Selling using an online marketplace like eBay, Amazon or Etsy is among the quickest and easiest ways to sell and shop products. 

These marketplaces have built authority and trust with their user base — plus you’re virtually guaranteed round-the-clock site functionality and trading. 

The downside of using an online marketplace is they tend to charge a fee or commission to sell your product. For example, to sell on eBay your listing is subject to charges like a final value fee

Summary: how to sell online and establish your store 

Selling online is easier than ever before, but the best ecommerce platforms know competing in such a market is a challenge. Use this guide to help navigate around the world of online selling and establish a fruitful ecommerce presence in 2021.