Purchased as Beam by Microsoft in 2016 and rebranded a year later, Mixer has long played second fiddle to Twitch in the world of video game streaming platforms. However, the lesser popularity isn’t all bad. Because Mixer has fewer broadcasters and viewers than Twitch, it may be easier for new streamers to stand out in the crowd.
Plus, Mixer has also been making waves recently. In August 2019, the platform lured Twitch’s top streamer, Ninja, away from its Amazon-owned competitor. A few more big-name streamers — notably Shroud and KingGothalion — followed in Ninja’s footsteps later in the fall. With exclusivity deals in place with these streamers, Microsoft has certainly lined Mixer with some deep pockets.
Despite the success of a fortuitous few, achieving the dream of making money off of playing video games still takes hard work and dedication. Most new streamers will struggle to collect a consistent paycheck without putting in a fair amount of effort and a little bit of luck.
Is Mixer the right place for you to make money off your streaming career? Keep on reading to find out!
How Streamers Make Money On Mixer
Streamers can make money on Mixer through several avenues. The platform does offer a partner program that enables viewers to reward their favorite streamers with “Skills,” “Sparks,” and “Embers” (which can then be converted into cold hard cash by the streamer). However, Mixer’s requirements to get into the partner program are rather stringent.
As such, most Mixer streamers will want to try earning money via third-party services. Examples here include donation platforms, merchandise, sponsorships, and affiliate linking.
How Much Money Can You Make From Mixer?
The amount of money you can make on Mixer depends on how big your following is. With this in mind, most new streamers won’t be earning very much money — it takes time and effort to grow an online community. And while some may eventually be able to break into banking six figures a month, most will not. Because the amount you could potentially earn depends on your audience size, it’s difficult to gauge just how much money you might be able to make from Mixer. In all likelihood, you won’t be earning a living wage — at least at the very start.
All that said, Mixer definitely has the money to throw around. When the platform poached Ninja from Twitch in 2019, the streamer was reportedly paid between $20 and $30 million to switch over. Of course, not everyone will be able to reach the same level of clout and celebrity as Ninja. It is simply unlikely that your average streamer will be making tens of millions off their streaming career.
What is easier to gauge is how much money you might make from individual contributions by viewers. Embers — one of Mixer’s in-house currencies — will net a streamer $0.01 for every one used on Skills during their stream (Skills are basically just emojis and GIFs viewers can use within a stream’s chat log). That means if your viewers purchase a number of Skills worth 1,000 Embers during your stream, you’ll collect a tidy sum of $10.
Partners: Mixer’s Monetization Program
Mixer’s partner program allows streamers to natively earn money through the platform. This program won’t be for everyone, however. There are fairly strict requirements that will restrict new streamers from qualifying.
How Mixer Pays Its Partners
Mixer pays its partners through Sparks and Embers, both of which act as a form of currency for the platform. Note that Mixer does not currently have a paid subscriber system in place, unlike Twitch (there is a Mixer Pro subscription available, but a viewer’s money won’t be earmarked for a specific streamer).
Sparks — which viewers earn through watching Mixer content — can be used to trigger Skills on your channel. Once enough viewers have collected Sparks through your channel and launched Skills, you’ll be able to cash out your earnings for actual cash. Unfortunately, Sparks and Skills don’t have an easy-to-calculate dollar value.
Embers, as mentioned above,Â do have a calculable dollar value. Embers can be used by viewers to purchase premium Skills. For every Ember a streamer earns via unlocked Skills, they collect $0.01 in real-world money. Unlike the watch-to-earn Sparks, Embers must be purchased by viewers.
How To Register As A Mixer Partner
To become a Mixer partner, you’ll need to apply through the partnership tab in your dashboard. Note, however, that Mixer does have a set of requirements you’ll need to meet before going through with an application. According to Mixer, the minimum metrics required for partnership are:
An account that’s two months or older
2,000 followers or more
12 days or more per month with streams
25 hours streamed per month
Note that even if you meet the above criteria, you might not be approved for partnership because Mixer also looks at a channel’s quality and may reject those who lack proper “Professionalism, Uniqueness, and Community Building.”
Should you already have a successful brand on a different platform, you may be able to become a Mixer partner without hitting the above requirements. If you have 100,000+ views in the last 30 days on YouTube or you average 300+ concurrent viewers on Twitch, Mixer may consider your partnership qualifications outside of the normal application process. In some other cases, special exceptions might be made for celebrities or industry-related organizations.
Other Ways To Make Money From Your Mixer Following
Because becoming a Mixer partner isn’t the easiest thing in the world, you’ll probably want to consider a different route to earn money while streaming. Even if you are a Mixer partner, the options below could still prove to be solid moneymakers.
Setting up a third-party donation system can enable you to receive money directly from viewers without needing to worry about Sparks or Embers. PayPal, in particular, has a popular donation platform that many communities use throughout the internet.
You could also consider signing up for a membership platform, such as Patreon. You can receive monthly donations through these platforms in exchange for giving followers perks, such as exclusive Discord access, bonus content, physical merchandise, and more.
If you want to learn more about accepting online donations, Merchant Maverick has an article on the topic.
Selling products promoting your channel can be an excellent revenue source if you have an audience ready and willing to help spread your brand. Example products include such things as t-shirts, sweatshirts, and mugs. Numerous services exist online to help make merchandise a reality. Some of the bigger names include Teespring, Redbubble, and Zazzle.
Besides selling products with your channel’s logo, you can also reach out to artists (either on a site such as Fiverr or within your own following) to craft new designs that align with your audience.
Big brands often leverage the influence of popular streamers to promote their products. For the streaming world, this could be in the form of sponsorships or by playing a particular video game on stream for a set number of hours. The exact details of these sponsorship deals will depend on the brand and the individual streamer involved with the agreement.
For brand promotion to be successful on your channel, you’ll (unsurprisingly) need to have a sizable following. Of course, there may be situations where you can find a brand that aligns with your community’s particular niche. In this instance, you might be able to strike a deal without having thousands of viewers watching each stream.
If you are unable to get direct brand sponsorships, you might still be able to generate revenue by promoting products through an affiliate or referral program. These programs share a small portion of the profits each time someone clicks on a link you share and buys a product.
As an example, if you enjoy using specific accessories, hardware, or software during your streams, you could provide links to those products via the Amazon Associates program. Your viewers can then buy those products by clicking your link and giving you a bit of extra income.
A few specific brands operate their own affiliate programs. For instance, the gaming hardware company Razer has such a program that can share up to 10% of each sale to affiliates — this is a much better rate than you might get with Amazon Associates. If there is one brand you like in particular, it may be worth digging up info on whether or not they have an affiliate program.
All told, don’t expect streaming on Mixer to be a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ll need to put in a fair amount of time to set up a consistent streaming schedule and promote your channel’s brand. Plus, you’ll need to be patient as your following grows over time. On top of all of that, it will take some luck for you to start seeing leaps and bounds in viewership.
As such, focus on the fun aspect of playing video games. Gaming and streaming should ultimately be about having fun and making social connections — any money earned is only a bonus.
Want to learn more about streaming? Check out Merchant Maverick’s guide to making money on Twitch.
The post How To Make Money On Mixer: 5 Ways To Monetize Your Stream appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Are you looking to start selling online? With the steady increase in popularity of online shopping, developing your own online store is crucial to ensuring you meet the needs and expectations of your customers.
But for many new online sellers (including those who already operate a brick-and-mortar business, as well as those who are just beginning), the costs of operating an online store can feel overwhelming. There’s the monthly subscription rate that you pay to your eCommerce platform, as well as the cost of transaction fees, payment processing, software extensions, and integrations.
Fortunately, you can ease some of the costs of opening an online store when you use a free eCommerce platform. Although you still have to pay for other expenses related to online selling (such as the cost of payment processing and software extensions), at least you won’t have to pay to use the actual selling software. This reduction in costs can lower the barrier to entry and help many businesses take the first steps to start selling online.
Free eCommerce software tends to come in two forms. Some software is available as a free plan on an all-inclusive cloud-based software. These free plans tend to give users the basic features they need for online selling while placing limits on product listings and advanced features. The other form of free eCommerce software is downloadable open-source software. This software is always free to use, and it does not limit its users in any way. That said, it is not nearly as user friendly as cloud-based software, and the software does not include web hosting or customer support.
It’s clear that each type of free eCommerce software offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, both cloud-based software and open source software are great options for sellers who are looking to get started with a free eCommerce platform.
Best Free eCommerce Platforms
In this article, we’ll cover the best free eCommerce platforms on the market. Some of these options are free plans for cloud-based eCommerce software, while others are free open source eCommerce software. All of the free eCommerce platforms in this list meet our standards for security, available features, customer support, and usability.
Best for makers and artists who plan to list only a few items at a time.
Big Cartel is a cloud-based online store builder that is designed specifically with artists in mind. Content creators and makers of all types use Big Cartel to establish a website, build out an online store, and sell their digital and physical products. Big Cartel is incredibly simple and easy to use, which makes it an excellent option for anyone who is new to online selling.
Additionally, Big Cartel is a great alternative to marketplace selling, and their free option makes it accessible for everyone. Using this free plan, sellers can list up to five products on their online stores, and they gain access to Big Cartel’s most basic selling features. Keep reading to learn more of what’s available with Big Cartel’s free plan.
Easy to use
Geared toward artists
Customer support available for all users
Big Cartel Pricing
In this article we will be focusing primarily on Big Cartel’s free plan, but it’s important that you know about their paid plans as well. Big Cartel keeps pricing for their plans fairly low, ranging from just $10/month to $30/month. Each increase in pricing gives users access to more product listings and features. At the highest level plan, sellers can list up to 300 products.
Big Cartel’s Gold (free) Plan includes all of the features you need for basic online selling, although it limits users to just five product listings.
The Gold Plan includes:
One image per product
Use your own domain
Full code customization
Automatic tax calculations
Advanced tax settings
Product option groups
As we’ve mentioned, Big Cartel is a simple selling solution. Its aim is to provide sellers with an easy-to-use platform, and part of the way Big Cartel accomplishes this mission is by including only the features that most merchants need to sell online. You won’t find any fancy bells and whistles here–just the basics. Here are a few of the features you can expect from Big Cartel:
Sell on Facebook
SEO features like plain-text URLs and automatic sitemap generation
There are a few potential downsides to using Big Cartel. The first is the limited feature set and the reduced ability to customize your software. If you have a number of specific needs that you are trying to solve, Big Cartel might not be the right option. In addition, Big Cartel has a fairly small selection of extensions and payment methods. This further limits your ability to customize the software to suit your business.
Fortunately, Big Cartel does a good job when it comes to customer support. Although they do not offer any phone support, they do have a very good response time via email (we consistently receive replies in under two hours) and their self-help tools–such as the help center, the pre-recorded live classes, and the blog–are good resources for figuring things out on your own.Â
When To Use Big Cartel
We think that Big Cartel is best for small businesses and artists. Because of the limits on product listings, the free plan in particular is best suited to hobby sellers or artists who sell only a few pieces at a time.
Best for small to mid-size businesses that want to add an online store to their WordPress site.
WooCommerce is an open-source shopping cart plug-in designed for use on WordPress. WooCommerce is free to download and use, and it allows you to easily add an online store to your existing WordPress site. With over 84 million downloads, WooCommerce is incredibly popular. The software currently accounts for 26% of the top one million sitesÂ worldwide.
Although WooCommerce is free to download, it isn’t totally free to operate. You’ll have to pay for your WordPress account, as well as web hosting, security, and extensions. That said, WooCommerce is still an excellent choice for many businesses. The open-source software is completely customizable and full of useful features for online selling. All-in-all, WooCommerce is one of our favorite open-source solutions. Keep reading to learn more about why we love WooCommerce.
Numerous integrations available
Limited customer support
Site hosting not included
Add-ons often necessary
Steep learning curve
WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin that’s free to download and use.
That said, there are a few expenses you should account for as you implement WooCommerce. You still have to pay for your WordPress site, along with your web hosting and domain name. You also will likely need to purchase a few add-ons and extensions for your online store. These add-ons range in price from free to hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, they are all available as one-time purchases.
WooCommerce follows a Core + Extensions model when it comes to features. In an effort to keep the software easy to use, they offer only core features already built in. These core features include everything the average merchant needs to get started. Any advanced features are available as extensions. Here are a few of the core features that come built-in with all WooCommerce downloads:
Sell physical and digital products
Create coupons and discounts
Although WooCommerce is a generally well-liked software, there are a few downsides to the platform. One downside is the learning curve that users must overcome. While it isn’t the most difficult software to use, it isn’t necessarily intuitive, and it will likely take some time to get the hang of daily use. What’s more, the cost of adding new features via extension can quickly add up. If you aren’t careful, WooCommerce could become more expensive than a cloud-based software with a monthly payment plan.
When it comes to customer support, WooCommerce is like most open-source software. There are very few options for personalized support from WooCommerce representatives. Instead, customer support takes the form of self-help resources. Available resources include a knowledge base, developer documentation, and a community forum. If you need personalized support, you can also hire a WooExpert to help out.
When To Use WooCommerce
We recommend WooCommerce to small to mid-size businesses. In particular, WooCommerce is best for businesses that want to add an online store to their WordPress site. WooCommerce works well for sellers who want a customizable solution and who don’t mind figuring things out on their own.
Best for mid-size businesses that can handle a technical challenge and need a way to sell internationally.
PrestaShop is a open-source eCommerce solution with an international reach. PrestaShop allows users to sell their goods across the globe with multiple available currencies, languages, and international payment processors. As an open-source solution, PrestaShop is free to download and use, although you’ll still have to foot the bill for web hosting, support, and extensions.
PrestaShop is one of the more technically complex options on this list. In order to get the best use of the software, you need a solid understanding of code, or you need the resources to hire someone who can manage the technicalities for you. In exchange for this complexity, however, you gain access to a strong selection of features and customization. Keep reading to learn what we like best about PrestaShop.
Excellent support materials
Strong user community
Expensive customer support
Developer skills required
PrestaShop is free to download and use.
That said, you will still need to account for a few expenses related to running an online store. PrestaShop users pay for their own hosting, domain name, site security, payment processing, and technical support.
PrestaShop offers over 600 features already built into their free software. Here’s a bit of what those features include:
Create coupons and discounts
Reports and analytics
Despite these positives, however, PrestaShop is not a perfect solution. The software shares many of the drawbacks that are typical of open-source software. Although the program is free to download, users still have to account for the cost of hosting and integrations, as well as expenses related to hiring a developer. In addition, in order to get the best use of the software, you really need to understand how to code.
Similarly, PrestaShop is like most open-source software in that support is available primarily through self-help resources. You can use the knowledge base, user forum, and some web ticket support to find answers to your questions about the software. In order to get a dedicated support representative, however, you’ll have to pay an additional cost.
When To Use PrestaShop
Because of the technical challenge involved with using the software, PrestaShop is best suited to mid-size businesses that have the resources to hire a developer. PrestaShop is great for businesses that need advanced features, including the ability to sell internationally.
Square Online Store
Best for sellers who already use Square to process in-person payments.
Square is a payment processing company that has revolutionized the way small businesses are able to accept payments. Now, Square is expanding its offerings to provide sellers with an omnichannel selling platform. You can now create an online store that connects seamlessly with Square’s Point of Sale system. And the best part is, this online store (with hosting, domain name, security, and customer support) is completely free for merchants who use Square.
Square Online Store was designed using Weebly’s website building software. This means that the software is incredibly easy to use. Square Online Store is available for free to anyone who processes their payments via Square, and they also offer a few paid plans that include additional features and payment processing options. We’ve been impressed with Square Online Store as a free, cloud-based option for online selling. Keep reading to find out why.
Easy to use
Ideal for low-volume merchants
Sell in-person and online
Integrates with the Square ecosystem
Only one payment option
Square Online Store Pricing
Square Online Store’s free plan includes a basic feature set, up to 500 MB of storage, and the ability to process payments through Square. Three paid plans are also available, ranging in price from $16/month to $79/month. These paid plans include additional features, storage, and payment processing options (lower processing rates and access to PayPal processing).
Square Online Store’s free plan includes:
2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (via Square)
Automatic inventory, orders and items sync with Square POS
Free SSL security
Order status text alerts
Automatic tax calculator
Square gift cards
Lead capture and contact forms
Support via a community forum, email, chat, and phone
Square Online Store’s free plan gives users access to only the basic features that you need for online selling. Here’s a quick list of some available features:
Sell digital and physical products
Sell memberships, services, and carry-out orders
Sync with Square POS
Automatic tax calculator
Create coupons and discounts
Sell and accept gift cards
As with all free plans, Square Online Stores comes with limitations. You can only process payments through Square, and you do not get access to real-time shipping rate calculations.
Fortunately, there are no limitations placed on customer support. You can reach customer support via phone, email, and live chat. You can also always access the help center, community forum, and tutorial videos. We’re impressed that Square Online Store offers personalized support even on their free plan. This is a very uncommon benefit.
When To Use Square Online Store
Square Online Store is best for merchants who already sell using Square Point Of Sale, and who are looking for a way to take their store online. We recommend Square Online Store’s free plan to individuals and startups, and we recommend the paid plan to small businesses.
Best for individuals and beginning sellers who need an easy to use platform.
Ecwid is a cloud-based shopping cart widget that allows you to add an online store to any website. With Ecwid you can choose to build an entire website from scratch, or you can add an online store tab to your pre-existing website by just copy-pasting a couple of lines of code. Ecwid allows you to sell on multiple different channels at the same time, including on social media sites, on marketplaces (such as Amazon and eBay), and in person.
Ecwid is a very affordable platform, with the highest pricing plan set at just $30/month. They also offer a free plan, which we’ll be discussing here. Ecwid is user friendly, which makes it an excellent option for small businesses and startups. Many individual sellers will likely find that Ecwid’s free plan offers the features and usability they need to venture into online selling.
Suited for startups
Easy to use
Add an online store to any existing site
Basic design tools
Ecwid’s free plan comes with a paired down feature set. In order to get access to the full selection of features, you have to subscribe to a paid plan. These plans range in price from $15/month to $35/month. Each step up in pricing includes more features, more products listings, and more available sales channels.
Here’s what’s available in Ecwid’s Free Plan:
List 10 products
Advertising on Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Snapchat
Instant Site builder
Sell on multiple sites
Apple Pay (via Stripe)
Self-help support options
Ecwid’s free plan includes only the fundamentals of online selling. You can list up to ten products, market your products on social media, adjust the look of your online store, accept payments, and process orders. Here are a few available features:
Sell on multiple websites and in-person
Social media integrations
List product variants like size and color
Automatically translate your store in 50 different languages
Although Ecwid certainly has a lot to offer its users, it has a few limitations as well. The biggest drawback of Ecwid’s free plan is the limit they place on available features. You do not get access to features like automatic tax calculation, inventory tracking, discount creation, or digital products. You are also restricted to just ten product listings. This makes Ecwid’s free plan only good for the smallest online sellers (those who are just starting out, or artists who sell their pieces as a profitable hobby).
Support for users of Ecwid’s free plan is available via email. You can also find answers in self-help resources like the help center, tutorial videos, and community forums.
When To Use Ecwid
Ecwid’s free plan is best for individuals and beginning sellers who are looking for an easy way to take their products online. Growing sellers will quickly have to transition to a paid plan, but Ecwid’s free plan is a great starting point for many.
Best for mid-size and large businesses that want a customizable solution and can handle a technical challenge.
Magento is a software company that offers multiple solutions for online selling. In this article, we are focusing on Magento Open Source (formerly called Magento Community Edition), which is a free, downloadable selling software. Magento Open Source is completely customizable, and it comes with loads of features already built-in.
As an open-source solution, Magento is not known for its ease of use. In fact, you really need to have a good amount of experience with software development in order to implement this platform. With that in mind, we recommend Magento primarily to mid-size businesses that have a team of software professionals on hand.
Free to download
Impressive feature set
Active, global user community
Developer skills required
Steep learning curve
No customer support
Magento is free for users to download and use.
However, Magento is not a “cost-free” selling solution. In order to get your online store running, you’ll have to pay for web hosting, a domain name, integrations and extensions, and payment processing. Also, if you don’t have experience with code (especially PHP), you’ll have to hire a developer.
Magento offers an incredible number of features, even without any add-ons. Here are a few available features:
Coupons and discounts
Share on social buttons
Sell digital products and bundles
Tax and shipping calculations
Unfortunately, in order to access these features, users have to overcome a steep learning curve. Without the support of a developer, this learning curve may be too much for some businesses. In addition, while Magento is free to download, the platform can quickly turn into an expensive option when you consider the cost of hosting and integrations, as well as the cost of hiring a developer.
Magento is also a challenge for some users because of its limited customer support. Magento does not offer any support through phone, live chat, or email. Instead, you have to figure things out on your own with the user guide, community forum, and developer documentation.
When To Use Magento
Magento is a great solution for mid-size to large businesses that need a customizable and feature-rich selling software. Magento is only a good option for smaller businesses if they have the resources to hire a developer.
Free Shopping Carts VS Open Source eCommerce
All of the solutions we present above fall into one of two categories: a free plan on a cloud-based software, or an open-source downloadable software. Lets take a closer look at these two categories to find out which option is best for your business.
What Is Open Source eCommerce?
Open source eCommerce software are software that are made available to the general public. You can typically download the software for free, and all of the documentation that was used to build the software is available for public use. In general, open-source software is highly customizable, with strong features. Typically, companies that create open-source software make money on software extensions and technical support, rather than sale of the software itself.
The Pros & Cons Of Open Source eCommerce Platforms
Take a look below for the common advantages and disadvantages of open source eCommerce platforms:
Free to download
No monthly subscription costs
Web hosting not included
Users manage their own security
No personalized customer support
More difficult to learn and use
Developer support often required
Businesses that benefit from open source software are typically mid-size to large businesses. These businesses need customizable software, and they often have access to a developer.
What To Look For With Good Free eCommerce Software
Here’s how to identify a secure, high-quality free software option:
Open Source: For open source software, look for an option that is free to download and doesn’t make you pay for software updates. Look for lots of built-in features and a strong user community. Dive into the community forum and online reviews of the software to find out if general opinion of the software is positive or negative.
Cloud-based: When it comes to free plans on a cloud-based software, you should look for the ability to list at least 5-10 products. Double check that the software offers free hosting and domain names, as well as customer support options. It’s also a good idea to look for affordable paid plans in case you need to upgrade from the free plan in the future.
As you look for a free eCommerce software, you should also keep your eyes peeled for warning signs that a software may not be worth your time. Be wary of free plans that are so limited they are largely unusable. You should also be cautious of software that are not well reviewed online. Software without a significant number of reviews or software with a large number of negative reviews are often out-dated and clumsy to use.
Look below for answers to some Frequently Asked Questions regarding free eCommerce software.
Which free eCommerce software is best?
We think the best free eCommerce software overall is WooCommerce. WooCommerce provides the tools that most businesses need to sell online, and it is relatively easy to use. For sellers who prefer an all-in-one selling solution, however, we recommend Square Online Store. This software has the advantage of including web hosting, even though the feature set is much more limited than WooCommerce’s.
Are there free website builders with eCommerce built-in?
BigCartel, Ecwid, and Square Online Store (built on Weebly’s software) all offer elements of both website building and eCommerce. However, many popular website building software, like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, do not offer any free eCommerce features.
Do any free eCommerce platforms have unlimited products?
All open-source eCommerce platforms allow users to list unlimited products. Square Online Store is the only cloud-based eCommerce solution we know of that has unlimited products on their free plan (although, they do place a limit on data storage).
When would I have to upgrade to paid eCommerce software?
Typically, you have to upgrade to paid eCommerce software in order to list more than ten products and access features like real-time shipping and tax calculation. This only applies to cloud-based software since most open-source platforms are always free.
How To Choose The Right Free eCommerce Platform
Choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business is a process that involves careful consideration. In order to land on a great choice, you’ll have to make a number of smaller decisions along the way.
The first choice you should make is between cloud-based software and open source software. This decision should be based on your technical experience and your preferences regarding customization. Sellers who’d prefer to have their site’s hosting and security managed on their behalf should choose cloud-based software, while sellers who prioritize customization should choose open-source software.
Now that you’ve decided between cloud-based and open source software, you should take some time to come up with a list of features that your business absolutely must have. These should include key features like the ability to list digital products, calculate taxes and shipping costs automatically, and track your inventory totals. You should also look into customer support options–make sure that your business can manage with the support options available.
Once you’ve found a few software options that might work for your business, dive into the available customer reviews. Find out if users have a generally positive experience with the platform. If not, look elsewhere!
Finally, once you’re narrowed your options to one or two platforms, take the plunge and sign up for (or download) the software. Since it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose, and there’s no harm in testing multiple products. Trying out the software for yourself will give you a good understanding of whether or not a software can work for your business.
If you choose to use any of the software on this list, we feel confident that you’ll have a positive experience. Even if the software isn’t a perfect solution, it is free, and it’s hard to go too wrong with a free option! No matter which software you select, we wish you the best of luck in your venture into online selling.
For more information on setting up an online store, check out our Complete Guide To Starting An Online Store For Your Brick & Mortar Business as well as our free eBook: The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store.
The post The Best Free eCommerce Platforms & Shopping Carts appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Twitch began its life as a humble service for broadcasting and viewing video games online. Now the Amazon-owned live-streaming platform pumps out endless hours of content created by millions of broadcasters each month. With so many eyeballs locked on Twitch content every waking hour, it’s unsurprising that this digital entertainment behemoth makes money for more than just a few folks.
Some high-profile Twitch streamers have managed to build incomes high above the national median. For many more, Twitch has become an excellent source of supplemental income. For the dedicated enough, Twitch promises the opportunity of a potential part-time career down the line.
It’s also worth noting that while Twitch is primarily focused on live-streaming video games, you don’t just have to play video games to stream on Twitch. Some broadcasters have become famous for their IRL (“in real life”) streams while artists have built dedicated communities of people watching them create. Still other streamers are known for simply chatting with their viewers.
Ready to learn more about how Twitch streamers make money? Keep on scrolling for all the deets!
How Streamers Make Money On Twitch
Streamers make money on Twitch through several avenues. The primary (and easiest) way of making money through Twitch is to take advantage of the service’s built-in features. These features, which allow viewers to sign up for paid subscriptions and hand out donations, are only available for streamers who have been invited to Twitch’s affiliate and partner programs.
Streamers can also profit off their following outside of Twitch proper. Example moneymakers here include utilizing third-party donation platforms, selling merchandise, and signing sponsorships.
If you choose to dip into Twitch as a professional pursuit, don’t expect streaming to be an instant cash machine. Simple economics means that you’ll earn more money the more followers you have. Because it takes time and effort to grow your following, it is unlikely you’ll be raking in the Benjamins right away.
A caveat to this above rule of thumb is if you already have a large following on some other platform. For instance, if you have a large YouTube subscriber base to draw from or have a number of Twitter followers that want to watch you make art, you may be able to qualify for one of Twitch’s programs faster than other new streamers. This will allow you to start receiving Twitch subs and donations — the core to a streamer’s revenue — sooner than you might have otherwise.
Twitch Monetization Programs: Affiliates VS Partners
Twitch offers two programs that help content creators earn money through streaming: one for affiliates and one for partners.
The affiliate program is something that most people can qualify for. It has very clear qualification guidelines. Once you meet those guidelines, Twitch will automatically invite you to join the affiliate program. After joining the program, a streamer can take advantage of the subscription and donation tools baked into Twitch.
The partner program, meanwhile, is a bit more complex. It is only for the most popular streamers (around 1% of Twitch’s active broadcasters are in this program). Additionally, Twitch doesn’t have clear guidelines for what it takes to become a partner. As such, new streamers will want to focus on becoming an affiliate first.
How The Twitch Affiliate Program Works
The easiest way to make money directly through Twitch is by becoming part of the affiliate program. Affiliates can receive subscriptions and bits from views — both ways will help you generate revenue. Besides the monetary value of becoming an affiliate, other perks include additional emote slots, channel points and polls, and priority transcoding.
How Much Do Affiliates Make Per Sub?
The exact amount you can earn from each subscription will depend on the tier number. Essentially recurring monthly donations, tiers 1, 2, or 3 run viewers $4.99, $9.99, or $24.99, respectively, a month.
Streamers can also earn revenue from viewers who subscribe through the free subscription that comes with every Twitch Prime account. This is basically the same as the $4.99 tier 1 sub. However, viewers must manually resubscribe each month — there’s no auto-subscribe function with a Twitch Prime sub.
Generally speaking, you’ll receive a 50% cut of each subscription. In some cases, Twitch partners may receive more than a 50% cut. However, Twitch only shares larger pieces of the pie with very popular streamers, so this isn’t something that most newcomers will experience.
Beyond subscriptions, Twitch affiliates can also receive “bits” as one-time donations by viewers. Bits are basically Twitch’s currency — for every bit a streamer receives, they’ll receive $0.01 in return. When a viewer donates bits, they do so by “cheering” for the streamer, which generates a “cheermote” — essentially just a GIF that pops up in the stream’s chat log, notifying the streamer and other viewers of the donation.
How To Get Affiliated On Twitch
To become an affiliate, Twitch requires that you meet these specific guidelines of at least:
500 total minutes broadcast in the last 30 days
Seven unique broadcast days in the last 30 days
An average of three concurrent viewers over the last 30 days
After you’ve met these requirements, your channel will be automatically invited into the affiliate program. Once invited, you’ll be prompted to fill out basic information, accept the program’s agreement, and finally provide Amazon/Twitch with your tax and payment info.
How The Twitch Partner Program Works
Once a streamer has gotten really popular, they may be invited by Twitch to join the partner program. Those who join the partner program will receive access to more emote slots, custom cheermotes, better video tools, and a dedicated Twitch support team.
This exclusive club isn’t for everyone, however. According to Twitch, only 27,000 of their 2 million active streamers are partnered. This program is certainly reserved for the cream of the crop!
How Much Do Partners Make Per Sub?
Just like affiliates, partners earn the money from their subs at the same 50-50 split. And, as mentioned above, some of the most popular partners may be able to earn a higher percentage from their subscriptions. Partners also qualify for the same $4.99, $9.99, $24.99, and Twitch Prime subs that are available to affiliates.
Bits cheered on from viewers are another popular earning method for partners. As previously mentioned, for every bit a streamer earns, they’ll collect $0.01 from Twitch.
Besides subs and bits, Twitch partners can also make additional revenue by running ads on their stream. On average, Twitch doles out $2 per 1,000 viewers. Because this is such a paltry sum, ads shouldn’t be a primary source of income — even for those who average hundreds of viewers each stream.
How To Become A Twitch Partner
Becoming a Twitch partner isn’t a clear cut as becoming an affiliate. This is because Twitch doesn’t market any sort of specific requirement to receive an invite into the partner program. However, Twitch does offer some general guidelines to help prospective partners along. According to Twitch, you can help you chances to become a partner by:
Maintaining a healthy ratio of organic viewers over hosted or raided viewers
Bringing a large viewership or following from other services and/or platforms
Twitch also has a “Path to Partner” achievement, which can also help your partnership chances once unlocked. However, note that unlocking this achievement won’tÂ guarantee you an invite into the partner program. The Path to Partner achievement can be unlocked by doing the following:
Stream for 25 hours
Stream on 12 different days
Average 75 viewers per stream
Other Ways To Make Money From Your Twitch Following
Should you still be working your way to affiliate status or maybe you are wanting to tap into other revenue sources, there are a few ways to earn money outside of Twitch’s built-in monetization features. Let’s consider some of the options below!
If you aren’t a Twitch affiliate yet, you can still set up third-party donations. While third-party donations won’t give you access to bits or cheermotes, you’ll still be able to receive revenue from your viewers. PayPal has a popular donation platform that is used throughout numerous communities online.
Another way to receive donations could be through a membership platform like Patreon. These platforms enable users to set up monthly donations to content creators they like for perks like exclusive Discord access, bonus content, physical merchandise, and more.
For more ideas about accepting online donations, check out Merchant Maverick’s article on the topic.
While you will need an audience to actually buy your merchandise, selling such products as t-shirts, sweatshirts, or mugs with branding associated with your streaming personality could be an excellent way to diversify your revenue. There are an array of services that can help you with branded merchandise — Teespring, Redbubble, and Zazzle, to name a few.
Besides producing products branded with your logo, you can also brand products with the channel emotes your chat likes and uses often. Another alternative would be to reach out to artists (either on a site like Fiverr or within your own community) to create fresh designs that resonate with your audience.
Brands like using influencers to promote their products. Once a streamer has enough of a following, a brand may reach out to them to promote a video game or other product in the form of sponsorship. The exact details of these sponsorships will vary from brand to brand as well as the agreements made with individual streamers.
Like with many facets of life, brand sponsorship places a heavy importance on who you know and who knows you. To grow your web of connections, reach out to industry decision-makers via social media or at expos and conventions.
Note that like with the other revenue streams discussed in this article, you’ll need to have a sizable following for brand promotion to be successfully profitable. Of course, if you find a brand that aligns with your following’s particular niche, you may be able to strike a deal even if you aren’t pulling in thousands of views each stream.
Even if you can’t get directly sponsored by a brand, you might still be able to make money by promoting products via an affiliate program (note that this type of affiliate program is separate from Twitch’s affiliate program we talked about above). These affiliate or referral programs will generate you a small share of the profits each time someone clicks on your link and buys a product.
For instance, if you use specific accessories, hardware, or software during your streams, you could provide links to those products through the Amazon Associates program. Your viewers can then click your link and purchase your tools of the trade — giving you a bit of extra cash too.
Amazon Associates may look especially appealing for streamers: Twitch affiliates earn higher commission rates through Amazon Blacksmith — Twitch’s built-in Amazon Associates tool — than standard referral accounts. This means that once you reach Twitch’s affiliate status, Amazon Associates could be a more viable revenue stream compared to other referral programs.
Some specific brands also offer their own referral programs. For example, the gaming hardware company Razer has an affiliate program that dishes out up to 10% of each sale to affiliates — a much higher rate than you might see with Amazon Associates.
Ultimately, becoming a Twitch millionaire isn’t something that happens overnight. While there are plenty of avenues to earn money through Twitch, it takes work and dedication to grow a following (with a little bit of luck sprinkled in too!). The money just won’t come unless you have plenty of eyes watching whenever you stream. Plus — for most of us anyway — it takes time and effort to improve performing in front of camera and interacting with chat — all while playing a game.
Instead of focusing on the money first, Twitch should be an outlet for fun and social interaction. Besides, aren’t those what video games are all about?
The post How To Make Money Streaming On Twitch: Your Guide To Affiliates, Partners, & Other Sources Of Revenue appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you’ve been searching for a payment gateway, you’ve probably come across these two names: Stripe and Authorize.Net. Or heck, maybe you were just searching for a way to take credit card payments online, and these appeared near the top of your search results.
Both companies offer a powerful suite of payment services along with robust support for developers who want to integrate their services into their websites. Both companies provide excellent support for foreign eCommerce transactions.
While Stripe and Authorize.Net aren’t exactly the same type of company — Authorize.Net is not a “full-stack” payment service — it is possible to get most of the same services through either company.
Stripe VS Authorize.Net: Quick Comparison
Evaluating Stripe vs. Authorize.Net comes down to the sheer volume of features vs. flexibility.
Both Stripe and Authorize.Net provide payment gateway access, but Stripe does so as merely one part of a gigantic payment services package. Authorize.Net gives you the option of pairing its gateway service with any merchant account, potentially making it a better choice for businesses with established, stable merchant accounts. On the other hand, Stripe — which has no monthly fee — will probably be the more efficient option for newer businesses.
I struggled with this one for a bit despite, at a glance, it being pretty obvious that Stripe is just a far more massive service than Authorize.Net. That begs the question of whether it’s a fair comparison. Stripe is designed to be a one-stop-shop for your payment processing needs. Authorize.Net focuses on a much smaller part of the payment processing environment. If it offered everything that Stripe does, it wouldn’t be Authorize.Net anymore. In fact, Stripe can be overkill for a lot of businesses, and if all you’re looking for is a payment gateway, it just doesn’t make sense to choose Stripe over Authorize.Net.
Authorize.Net has some niches where it excels, particularly where security is concerned, but let’s give credit where credit is due: Stripe can just plain do a lot more than Authorize.Net. From its more comprehensive support for global eCommerce to its more flexible development environment to its plethora of add-on features, it lives up to its “full-stack” claims.
Stripe is a powerful brand for international eCommerce. Stripe is available to businesses in 34 countries. The company’s reach, however, is significantly greater; you can accept payments from all over the world thanks to Stripe’s support of over 135 currencies and numerous regional payment methods.
Stripe Supported Payment Methods
Stripe breaks its support for payment methods into two categories: universal, for payment types accepted throughout the world, and local, for payment methods that are only supported in specific regions, with particular attention given to the US, European, and Chinese markets.
Stripe accepts the following universal payment types:
Amex Express Checkout
Masterpass by Mastercard
Stripe supports these payment methods in their markets:
SEPA Direct Debit
Stripe Core Features
Listing all of Stripe’s features would make this article unreadable. It’s an enormous ecosystem, with numerous optional features. Here’s a quick rundown of the main features:
Payments:Â Stripe Checkout is a prebuilt form that you can just drop into your site. But if you need something more customizable, Stripe Elements will let you design a form that suits your needs. You can build payments into your website or your mobile app.
Connect: Stripe’s Marketplace tools are some of the most robust out there, allowing you to build and manage your platform, including automated payouts to your merchants. Connect also facilitates connecting Stripe to other services (such as building native payments into eCommerce software).
Billing:Â “Billing” now encompasses all of Stripe’s subscription, invoice, and recurring billing tools. Stripe’s subscription tools have always been powerful, but with the addition of invoice capabilities and the option for metered billing, it’s safe to say that you really can’t beat what Stripe has to offer.
Additional Stripe Features
Sigma: Stripe offers an assortment of standard reporting tools in its dashboard. However, if you want advanced reports, then you’ll need Sigma. For an additional monthly fee (based on volume, see the Pricing section below for more details), you can generate custom reports based on SQL queries.
Radar:Â Stripe’s fraud monitoring tools include machine learning to identify and flag suspicious transactions. Merchants can review and override transactions they know to be legitimate or set up custom rules for fraud transactions, all with far less fuss than you’ll see with Braintree. If you’re very comfortable with fraud management, this is definitely an advantage.
Multi-Currency Displays & Conversions:Â Stripe has spent a LOT of time billing itself as the platform of choice for global businesses. It should come as no surprise then that Stripe allows merchants to display pricing in local currencies and automatically handles the currency conversion. You can connect multiple bank accounts to save money on conversion costs, too.
Account Auto-Updater:Â Keep recurring transactions from failing when customers get new cards. Stripe will automatically update card data in your vault to ensure continuity of subscriptions.
Atlas:Â Atlas allows international businesses to incorporate in the US, set up a US bank account, and get tax and legal guidance. Stripe says it has had more than a thousand startups apply in more than 120 countries, and it has added more than 100 partners to the network since the launch.
Payouts:Â ThisÂ is an automation toolset designed to help you send mass payouts to sellers, freelancers, or service providers. It’s also designed to help simplify compliance requirements with third parties and global markets.
Relay:Â Relay’s features allow merchants to link their eCommerce catalogs with your app or directly upload product information. Relay creates in-app buy buttons and forwards all the sales information to the merchants to fulfill the order.
Integrations: Stripe has more than 300 integrations with all kinds of other software and services that a business might need. The sheer number of supported integrations could be a significant advantage for some merchants. You can browse the integrations by category on Stripe’s “Works With” page.
Stripe Developer Tools
Stripe’s built a reputation on being extremely developer-friendly, and, to be fair, it’s largely earned it. Stripe’s SDK is easy to work with for novices and extremely customizable for experts. Stripe’s documentation is also second-to-none, with detailed tutorials, clone-able boilerplates, and support for mobile platforms.
Stripe supports the following server-side languages:
Authorize.Net’s business support isn’t quite as widespread as Stripe’s; it’s only available to merchants in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. Its currency support is also more limited. Authorize.Net supports different currencies, depending on the region in which your business is located.
US & Canada: USD, CAD
The UK & Europe: CHF, DKK, EUR, GBP, NOK, PLN, SEK, USD
Australia: AUD, NZD, USD
Authorize.Net Supported Payment Methods
Authorize.Net supports the following payments methods:
Authorize.Net Core Features
Authorize.Net’s feature set is considerably smaller than Stripe’s, but at their core, they do many of the same things.
Payment Gateway:Â If you’re working with Authorize.Net, you’re there for the payment gateway. Or even more likely, the payment services company you signed up for is using Authorize.Net as its gateway. It is, however, possible (though not necessarily advisable) to work from the other end and sign up directly with Authorize.Net, in which case the company can help set you up with a merchant account through one of its partners. Just be aware that, unlike Stripe, the merchant account isn’t in-house.
Virtual Point Of Sale, Mobile Point Of Sale & Simple Checkout: Authorize.Net offers ways to accept cards both on the web and through mobile devices. The virtual terminal also allows you to key in card information manually. Authorize.Net is integrated into a dizzying number of third-party shopping carts through Simple Checkout, which allows you to generate HTML snippets for “Buy Now” and “Donate” buttons to add to your website easily.
Billing:Â Authorize.Net allows you to process recurring subscription payments and permits you to not only customize pricing but also offer free trials and installment packages.
Authorize.Net Additional Features
Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS):Â Included for free with your account, AFDS consists of a set of thirteen filters that you can customize to your own needs to help flag and block potentially fraudulent transactions. This feature helps to prevent inventory loss due to fraud and lowers your liability for chargebacks. While Stripe’s security features are nothing to sneeze at, Authorize.Net’s have a reputation for being some of the best in the business.
eCheck.Net:Â This is an optional feature. You can addÂ echeck processingÂ to your existing merchant account or sign up for the eCheck Only Pricing Plan. Pricing is 0.75% per echeck, a much lower rate than you’ll pay for credit or debit card transactions.
Customer Information ManagerÂ (CIM):Â The CIM, one of Authorize.Net’s most powerful standard features, allows you to securely store customer information, such as billing address, shipping address, and payment method information. Because this includes your customers’ sensitive credit card information, the data is securely encrypted. As we’ve noted, however, this security comes at the expense of data portability (see Negative Reviews & Complaints).
Sync For QuickBooks: While a QuickBooks integration is fairly standard these days, it’s still nice to have and will keep your accountant happy, especially if that accountant is you.
Authorize.Net Developer Tools
Authorize.Net also has a healthy developer subculture with excellent online resources and the option to create a sandbox account in which to test out your code. It doesn’t support quite as many languages as Stripe, but where the two overlap, you’ll probably see variable preferences from developer to developer.
Authorize.Net supports the following languages:
Both Stripe and Authorize.Net offer similarly priced services, although making a direct comparison isn’t easy. For purposes of this comparison, I’m only looking at the costs of features the two companies have in common. If you want a complete look at Stripe’s pricing, check out our guide.
If you take Authorize.Net up on its merchant account partnership offer, you’re looking at identical flat-rate transaction costs for both Stripe and Authorize.Net. Beyond that, you have to dive into the secondary fees. If you process a lot of subscriptions, you may incur a processing fee with Stripe. On the other hand, Stripe’s chargeback fees are $10 less. International transactions are more expensive with Authorize.Net unless you need to do a currency conversion, in which case Stripe is more expensive.
And then there’s the gorilla in the room: You can buy Authorize.Net as a humble gateway service without any of the other bells and whistles. With Stripe, if you want to use the gateway, you’re also getting the payment processing bundled up with it.
What ultimately breaks the tie in Stripe’s favor is its lack of a monthly fee. Stripe’s fees are almost entirely usage-based, making it easier to get a sense of where you’re getting value and where you’re not. By comparison, if you’re interested in Authorize.Net, it’s often cheaper to get it bundled with another service than directly from the company.
Authorize.Net Fees & Transaction Costs
Authorize.Net breaks its services into three plans:
All-In-One (includes a merchant account with one of Authorize.Net’s partners)
Monthly Gateway Fee: $25
Per Transaction: 2.9% + $0.30
Payment Gateway Only
Monthly Gateway Fee: $25
Per Transaction: $0.10, daily batch fee $0.10
Enterprise Solutions (for companies processing over $500K/year)
Contact Authorize.Net for pricing info
International transactions cost an additional 1.5%. Chargebacks cost $25 per occurrence. Note that, should you choose the All-In-One package, you may be subject to additional fees associated with the merchant account provider you are paired with.
Stripe Payments Fees & Transaction Costs
Since Stripe has a lot of add-on features that Authorize.Net does not, we’re going to ignore those for purposes of this comparison and just compare pricing for those features that they both offer.
Card Transactions:Â 2.9% + $0.30
Subscription Fee:Â 0.4% after the first $1 million
Stripe charges $15 per chargeback incident. International transactions cost an additional 1%, with another 1% added on if currency conversion is required.
Ease Of Use
Both companies are reliant on a mix of do-it-yourself developer culture and third-party services that integrate Stripe or Authorize.Net into their product.
Starting with the first case, as we touched on above, both companies offer extensive documentation for developers who want to add payment functionality into their websites and apps through the services’ APIs. Stripe’s documentation, support, and interfaces feel just a little more extensive and modern than Authorize.Net’s, but your mileage may vary.
Some users report that Authorize.Net is a little bit faster on average when it comes to payment processing time (one to seven business days vs. two to seven business days).
On the third-party side, your ease of use will depend entirely on the method of integration you’re using, for example, a shopping cart such as WooCommerce. With most of these services, activating your payment gateway is pretty simple, just tweaking some toggles and entering security keys; the challenge with most of these is mastering the eCommerce environment more than the payment integration.
Customer Service & Support
Both Authorize.Net and Stripe offer numerous ways to resolve problems should they arise.
Phone Support: This avenue of support is available 24/7, minus major holidays.
Support Center: The online resources include a knowledgebase, articles, white papers, and video tutorials.
Ticketing System:Â You can open a support case online through the integrated ticketing system.
Social Media: You can reach out to Authorize.Net on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also check out video tutorials and customer testimonials on YouTube.
Phone Support: This avenue of support is available 24/7.
Live Chat: This is also available 24/7 to customers.
Knowledgebase & Documentation: Stripe’s documentation is the gold standard. Developers will have no trouble here, whether they’re searching for a term or clicking through the sidebar. The knowledgebase is a little more sparse but serviceable.
Email: Stripe offers 24/7 email support but doesn’t give an exact time frame on how quickly someone will get back to you.
Freenode IRC Chat: Stripe’s developers seem to spend their time in the #stripe channel if you need technical assistance. Unsurprisingly, most developers seem to like this aspect of support.
While Stripe offers more methods of contact, Authorize.Net seems to have a better reputation for quick, responsive, and useful customer service. Stripe’s made efforts to improve — including offering phone support — but it still has some ground to make up.
User Reviews, Complaints & Criticisms
Both Stripe and Authorize.Net have avoided any scandals grave enough to drop their BBB ratings below an A+, though both do register a fairly typical spread of complaints. They tend to garner similar scores on various review aggregators, with a few outliers here and there rating one substantially higher than the other.
Stripe High Points
Pricing:Â While it’s not the cheapest possible option, it does offer a lot of functionality for the price.
Global Utility:Â Stripe is a truly international platform, giving businesses the ability to conduct eCommerce all over the world and in different currencies.
Freedom & Control:Â Stripe’s API allows for great flexibility for developers and makes it a good fit for various integrations.
Stripe Low Points
Account Holds & Terminations:Â Like all third-party processors, Stripe ends up doing a lot of its due diligence after the fact, which means it’s easy to run afoul of its opaque quality control processes. Most user complaints about Stripe fall into this category.
Lack Of Fraud Protection: While Stripe’s security features are strong, most of the advanced ones cost extra, leaving some users more exposed to chargebacks than they’d like.
Unresponsive Customer Service:Â While Stripe’s customer service is much improved, many customers were frustrated by Stripe’s inability to resolve or contextualize sudden account holds and terminations.
Authorize.Net High Points
Recurring Billing Support: Many users were pleased with how easy this feature was to activate and use.
Flexibility:Â Between Authorize.Net’s robust API and the ability to pair the service with any merchant account, users were generally happy with the amount of freedom it offered them.
Customer Service:Â Many positive user reviews involve good experiences with Authorize.Net’s customer service.
Authorize.Net Low Points
Billing Issues:Â Most of the complaints you’ll see about Authorize.Net revolve around that pesky monthly fee. The timing of the monthly payments seems to cause confusion for a number of customers, resulting in disputes over what interval of time they were paying for.
Non-Refundable Fees: Related to the previous issue, customers found it difficult to recover fees for which they believed they were wrongly charged. Be aware that if you sign up for an account online, you will be charged the gateway fee.
Data Portability:Â Authorize.Net has a reputation for being a difficult platform to migrate from, although some of this appears to be due to issues that have been at least partially addressed.
If you’re running your credit card through any eCommerce site, there’s a very good chance it’s passing through a Stripe or Authorize.Net gateway. The number of integrations for both services is staggering, and both can be easily plugged into most eCommerce environments with just a few lines of code. In general, you should have very little trouble getting either to play nice with the program of your choice.
Since we are splitting hairs, however, it’s worth mentioning that Stripe is just a bigger fish in the pond, possessing a higher market share and more widespread adoption. That translates to more integrations, should you need to work with something more niche and obscure. But again, both are extremely well-supported.
Which Is Best For My Payment Gateway Needs?
We’ve arrived at the moment of truth. If you’ve been following along until now, you probably already have a sense of the recommendations I’m about to make. If you’re impatient and skipped to the end, and who can blame you, here are my recommendations.
Choose Stripe Payments If…
You Need Payment Services In Addition To A Gateway:Â Stripe works best as a comprehensive, all-in-one platform offering both a payment gateway and third-party payment processing. It delivers the gateway functionality at the same per-transaction cost as Authorize.Net and without the monthly fee.
You’re Doing Business Globally:Â Authorize.Net’s support for foreign transactions is good, but it’s not anywhere near as extensive as Stripe’s. Stripe supports local payment methods in addition to the popular international brands and can handle over 135 currencies.
Choose Authorize.Net If…
You Already Have A Merchant Account You Like:Â If you’ve been taking card payments for a while and are pleased with your merchant account provider, you won’t be able to take it with you if you migrate to Stripe. On the other hand, you can simply add Authorize.Net onto your existing services.
You’re In A “High-Risk” Industry:Â Because it’s a third-party processor, Stripe isn’t keen on taking chances with industries that are flagged as high-risk. As a payment gateway, Authorize.Net has far fewer restrictions regarding the types of businesses it’s willing to partner with (just make sure your merchant account provider is also cool with your industry).
Neither Option A Good Fit For You? Try These Alternatives To Stripe & Authorize.Net
Stripe and Authorize.Net are both excellent gateway options, but they’re not the only ones. If Stripe has too much bloat and Authorize.Net feels too much like a clumsy add-on, consider one of the following options.
If you’re looking for a Stripe alternative with brand name recognition, PayPal’s a no-brainer. PayPal covers most of the same bases as Stripe. It’s a third-party processor/gateway combo that plays nice (even better, arguably) with international markets. Like Stripe, it’s a sprawling platform with tons of optional buy-ins. Just be aware that it doesn’t support recurring billing.
Square is another popular “full-stack” payment services provider. Compared to Stripe and PayPal, Square is a bit more focused on brick-and-mortar transactions, offering a wide variety of productivity-related functionality as well as POS hardware. Square supports eCommerce, but don’t expect the international support that Stripe offers.
It may not be a household name, but Payline Data is one of our favorite merchant account providers here at Merchant Maverick. It offers stable merchant accounts with interchange-plus pricing, not to mention its own proprietary payment gateway free of additional charge.
Comparing Authorize.Net & Stripe Payments: The Final Verdict
The battle between Stripe and Authorize.Net comes down to a big hearty buffet vs. a tasty side dish that can be served with almost any meal. Newer businesses that don’t want to add unnecessary complexity will probably prefer Stripe’s comprehensive payment services. Veteran businesses with stable merchant accounts that want to add gateway functionality may appreciate the flexibility Authorize.Net offers them.
If you’re scratching your head over a lot of the terms used throughout this post, don’t feel bad; payment processing is a very confusing industry. If you want to learn more about it, start with our complete guide to getting a merchant account. You may also want to read more about what a gateway is and how it fits into accepting payments online.
The post Stripe VS Authorize.Net: Which Is Better? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
For many crafters and makers, Etsy has been a life-changer. This marketplace dedicated to independent artists has opened up the door for many to turn their hobbies into careers. Etsy has enabled artists to start selling their wares online by eliminating many of the difficulties involved with running an online store. Sellers don’t need to worry about building a website, attracting web traffic, or calculating shipping expenses and taxes. Etsy is an easy way to sell, and it has gained incredible popularity for it. With 1.8 million sellers currently on the platform, it’s clear that Etsy is a major player in the eCommerce space.
That said, Etsy also has a few downsides. Perhaps the biggest complaint among sellers regards Etsy’s fee structure. Etsy charges a variety of fees from listing fees to transaction fees and payment processing fees, and it can be difficult to keep things straight (and to calculate how much you’ll owe Etsy for each sale). What’s more, Etsy has been known to increase these fees or add new ones, leaving many sellers wanting a way out. Most recently, Etsy has unveiled a new Offsite Ad service that comes with its own fees, and which is mandatory for some sellers.
In this article, we’ll break down Etsy’s pricing and fees. We’ll explain how you can know if Etsy is worth the cost, and then we’ll give a few strategies for succeeding in the Etsy marketplace. And if you ultimately decide that Etsy isn’t the right choice for your business, we have a few suggestions of alternatives you can turn to.
Let’s get into it!
Etsy’s Pricing Plans
Etsy offers users two subscription options for seller accounts: the free Standard Plan and the for-purchase Plus Plan. Take a look below to find out what each plan offers.
Etsy’s Standard Plan is their free seller account, complete with all the basic tools that Etsy offered before the Plus Plan was created. The Standard Plan allows users to list products on Etsy, buy and print discounted postage, and market their products with sales and coupons. The Standard Plan also gives you access to the Sell on the Etsy App.
The Plus Plan is available at $10/month, and it includes all of the basic features of the Standard Plan, plus a bit more. The Plus Plan includes some additional features, such as advanced shop customization options (banner options, new layouts of featured listings, and more) and restock requests for sold out items.
The Plus Plan also offers credits and discounts on additional Etsy services. Here’s a quick list:
15 listing credits monthly (the equivalent of $3 in listings)
$5 USD in Etsy Ads credits monthly
Free .store domains
50% off select domain extensions: .com .net and .ca
Discounts on custom web address
Discounts on custom packaging and promotional materials
The 7 Types Of Etsy Fees All Businesses Need To Know
In addition to the monthly subscription listed above, Etsy sellers must juggle a variety of other fees charged by the platform. Etsy has a rather complicated fee structure, and it’s worth taking a look at their legal terms and policies to really get a grasp on all the nitty-gritty elements of how taxes may or may not apply to fees in your region. For more digestible information on Etsy’s many different fees, take a look below.
Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee for each item you put up to sell on their platform.
This fee truly applies to each product you sell. For example, let’s say you have 10 identical ceramic bowls, which you are selling individually. You can list all of these identical bowls under the same product page, but after each one sells, you much pay another $0.20 to renew the listing. If you sell all of these bowls, you pay a total of $2.00 in listing fees.
If, however, you sold a pack of ten bowls as one product, you would only pay one $0.20 listing fee.
Listings expire after four months, when you’ll have to pay the listing fee again to renew.
Etsy’s transaction fee (not to be confused with their payment processing fee) is a fee that Etsy charges to cover the cost of using their platform. Etsy’s transaction fee is 5% of the price you charge your customers, including the cost of shipping, product customization, and gift wrapping.
For sellers in the US and Canada, Etsy does not charge transaction fees on sales tax (unless you include the cost of sales tax in your listing price). However, for sellers outside of the US and Canada, these transaction fees might include the cost of some applicable taxes.
Payment Processing Fees
In order to accept online payments, all merchants must pay payment processing fees. Payment processors (such as PayPal and Square) typically offer their services at around 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Etsy Payments is Etsy’s own in-house payment processor, which sellers must use to accept payments if they are in one of the 36 eligible counties (including the US, UK, Australia, and Canada). If Etsy Payments is not available in your country, you can use PayPal to accept online payments.
Etsy Payments charges 3% + $0.25 per transaction.Â This allows you to accept payments by credit card, debit card, Etsy Gift Card, Etsy Credit, PayPal, some bank transfer services, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. You can also allow your customers to pay using their PayPal accounts. Etsy Payments rates will apply to these payments instead of PayPal rates.
In-Person Selling Fees
Etsy has partnered with Square to offer sellers an option for in-person selling. In order to accept in-person payments, you’ll need a Square card reader (take a look at our review of Square for more information). When you accept payments in person for items that you have listed on your Etsy site, you’ll pay the usual listing fees as well as Square’s payment processing fees (2.6% + $0.10). You will not pay the 5% Etsy transaction fee.
If you’re looking to build a more personalized website to sell your products, Etsy has an option worth trying. It’s called Pattern, and it’s website building software that allows you to develop your own store that is still connected to your Etsy seller account. Pattern is available for $15/month.
Listing fees also apply to Pattern, although there is a bit of additional complexity. If you list a product only on Pattern and not on Etsy, you must pay a listing fee. If you already had a product listed on Etsy, and you want to also list it on Pattern, you do not need to pay an additional listing fee (you have already paid one to Etsy). What’s more, Pattern listings do not expire.
Currency Conversion Fees
Etsy recommends that sellers list their pricing in the same currency as their payment account currency. This will allow sellers to avoid foreign exchange charges. Customers are able to select the currency in which they view listings, so listing your products in one particular currency shouldn’t impact your sales at all. However, if you do not do this, and you list your products in a different currency than your payment account, you will be charged a 2.5% currency conversion fee.
Over the past few years, Etsy has rolled out some marketing tools for users. These include on-site and off-site ads, which of course come with their own fees.
Etsy Ad Fees
Etsy allows sellers the option of marketing their products within the marketplace via Etsy Ads. These ads are available on pay-per-click pricing, and the cost of each click will vary depending on demand. You can set a budget that limits the amount you’re willing to pay for on-site ads daily, and Etsy will only list your ads until you reach that daily maximum.
Offsite Ads Fees
Etsy’s Offsite Ads are the newest development in Etsy’s advertising. All users are currently being set up to use Offsite Ads, with the option to opt-out available to sellers who have made less than $10,000 in sales in the last year.
With the new Offsite Ads program, Etsy will market your products on major sites like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing. When someone clicks an ad that includes one of your products and then purchases one of your products within 30 days, you are charged an advertising fee on that order. This fee is either 12% or 15% depending on your annual sales. For those who make under $10,000 in sales in the last year, Offsite Ads is an optional service, and the rate is 15%. However, for those who made over $10,000 in sales in the last year, Offsite Ads are mandatory. Etsy charges these sellers a rate of 12% on purchases made from the ads.
What Real Users Have To Say About Etsy Seller Fees
Etsy sellers have mixed opinions regarding fees. Some sellers say that Etsy is the most affordable option for their business while others say that Etsy’s increasing fees are forcing them to leave the platform. Take a look below at a couple of comments I found on Etsy’s community forum from 2019. I think both of these quotes encompass user sentiment:
“I think Etsy’s fees have got ridiculous. I am getting charged nearly 13% (incl VAT). This is not viable for me, I will either have to close my shop or put up my prices. Etsy used to be a viable platform for crafts people, designers and sole traders but their fees are too high and too complicated. I have complained.”
“It’s still much cheaper than eBay, where it’s 10% on sale price and shipping. I think the new billing system did us all a favor by making us much more aware of what our profit margins actually are, and forcing us to take a hard look at our business model. My big revelation was that I seriously need to eliminate ALL the low priced items – a $3 item that sites for 2 years before it sells is actually losing money. Planning to flea market half my inventory when the weather warms up.”
More recently, Etsy has caused a stir with its announcement about mandatory Offsite Ads for some sellers. There are a couple of comments from the community forum in March 2020 that represent the conversation currently underway about this new policy:
“This may be exciting for those who WANT to advertise, but for those of us who do not want to advertise, this is a strong-arm technique. We deserve the right to opt out.”
“…I am capable of working out my own costs and I have. And that INCLUDES advertising. Time will tell but for my shop I think these adverts will increase my profits. Everyone screamed about the current adds, but guess what? Yep, they worked really well for my shop. Business is booming, each month I am up. The only thing I do disagree with is the fact that for successful sellers, its mandatory. That isn’t fair.”
Is Etsy Worth The Cost For Your Business?
So, is Etsy worth the expense for your business? That depends on a few factors: your profit margins, and the value you derive from the marketplace.
In order to really use Etsy to your advantage, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your profit margins. If you aren’t careful, Etsy fees can easily eat into your profits, causing you to actually lose money on a sale. Here’s a reminder of Etsy’s fees:
Transaction fee: 5% of total
Payment processing fee: 3% + $0.25
Listing fee: $0.20 of total
Total Fees: 8% +$0.45
So, let’s imagine that one of the products you sell costs you $5 to make, and you sell it on your platform for $15 with “free shipping.” Here’s a breakdown of what associated fees would be.
Shipping costs (estimate): $5.00
5% transaction fee: $0.75
3% + $0.25 payment processing fee: $0.70
Listing fee: $0.20
Total expenses (including shipping): $6.65
When we subtract the cost of making the product and the expenses related to fees, we end up with a $3.35 profit margin. In this example, you’d likely need to raise your pricing in order to increase your profit margins and better account for the cost of offering free shipping.
Another factor you’ll want to keep in mind is the value your business derives from the platform. What value does Etsy provide to your business? Is it the ease of being found by new customers? The ability to sell products online without having to maintain a website? This value, whether or not you can put a dollar sign in front of it, is a huge factor in your decision to use Etsy despite the fees.
How To Offset Etsy Seller Fees
As I mentioned above, in order to succeed on Etsy, you have to pay close attention to your bottom line. Here are a few ways you can make sure to stay on top of Etsy Seller Fees:
Increase Prices: The most obvious way to protect your profits is to increase product pricing. Often, sellers are worried that increasing the cost of their goods will make them less competitive. While this is sometimes the case, I have also seen Etsy users reporting that even after they increased their pricing, their sales did not experience any decrease. This could be because buyers often view higher-priced items as higher quality. Perhaps shifting your pricing will surprise you by having a positive impact on your brand.
Cut Costs: This is the next obvious step. Rethink the way you handle both production and shipping. Is there any way you can make your products faster or more affordably without significantly impacting quality? And when it comes to shipping, are you comparing options from multiple shipping carriers to make the best decisions possible? If there’s an area where you can lessen your expenses, do so. It’ll make a big difference.
Weigh The Pros & Cons Of Ads: If you have the ability to choose whether or not you use offsite ads, I would consider this very carefully. If you opt in, you’ll likely get a number of sales that you wouldn’t otherwise, but you will also need to leave space in your profit margins for the occasional 15% fee.
Don’t Keep Stale Listings:Â Because your listings renew every four months (for an additional $0.20 fee), you want to make sure that the products you list on your store move within four months. Don’t keep stale listings around. Over time, they may end up costing you more than the product is worth.
Get Help From The Community: The Etsy community is a strong bunch of sellers. Ask the Etsy community forum for ways they are handling Etsy’s fees, and to get more specific advice on your own store.
Tired Of The Fees & Ready To Switch?
While some merchants choose to navigate Etsy’s ever-shifting fees and guidelines, many sellers are tired of constantly adjusting their prices to reflect new fees. If you’re one of those sellers who is fed up with Etsy’s various fees, it might be time to try something different.
There are plenty of other ways to sell online, including opening your own online store or just trying out a different marketplace. For some advice on leaving Etsy, read our article 8 Signs You’re Ready To Leave Etsy (And How To Do It). And for a few suggestions on quality selling tools, check out our article on The Best Etsy Alternatives For Online Sellers.
So keep making great products, and keep an eye on your profit margins. Whether you choose to stick with Etsy or switch to something else, we wish you the best of luck.
The post The Real Cost Of Selling On Etsy: Etsy Fees, Pricing, & Offsite Ads Explained appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
As we all gear up to face the grim reality of the global coronavirus pandemic, businesses around the world are confronting the enormity of the challenges ahead of them. The need to minimize the risk faced by vulnerable public-facing employees is particularly important.
Thankfully, there are steps many businesses can take to reduce in-person contact. In this article, we’ll discuss ways your business can minimize such exposure by accepting remote payments — both online and over the phone.
Is Cash Still Safe To Handle?
Cash is an efficient means of germ transmission even in the best of times. A Swiss study from 2008 found that, in some circumstances, flu viruses can survive up to 17 days on the surface of cash. Considering the heightened dangers we currently face, preparing your business to accept cashless and card-not-present transactions has never been more crucial.
We understand that the nature of certain types of businesses will preclude the possibility of everyone doing this at scale, but there are ways to accept payments from your customers that don’t involve the exchange of cash or even a credit/debit card.
You Can Still Accept Payments From Customers Who Aren’t Present At Your Place Of Business
If you’re considering shutting down your office and switching your business to delivery-only, know that you can get paid without having to send out invoices. Thankfully, you can accept payments both online and, via a virtual terminal, over the phone. If you haven’t gone this route in the past, we’ll explain how it works.
Of course, accepting these kinds of payments presents security challenges along with logistical challenges.
Security Concerns For Card-Not-Present Transactions
When accepting payments remotely, you’re responsible for ensuring the security of your customers’ payment information. The key to achieving this is to make sure that your payment system is PCI-compliant.
Merchant Maverick does have a complete guide to PCI compliance — what it means and how to bring your business into compliance — but we’ll summarize the main points here.
PCI compliance refers to a set of standards established in 2006 to ensure the security of all customer payment information that is sent and received online
Some of the practices that will help ensure your business remains PCI compliant include:
Use only PCI-validated payment gateway software
Don’t store any sensitive cardholder data
Use a firewall on your network and computers
Never use default passwords
Check that your wireless router is password-protected and uses encryption
Check your terminals, PIN pads, and computers to ensure that no one has installed rogue software or “skimming” devices
Educate your employees about security and protecting cardholder data
If you don’t take the steps necessary to protect your customers’ credit card information properly, you could easily suffer a data breach that puts your customers’ finances at risk — a development which would not reflect well on your business and lead to a general loss of trust in your enterprise.
Again, please refer to our PCI compliance guide for more detailed information on how to maintain best practices and keep your customers’ payment data safe from hackers and other bad actors.
Accepting Over-The-Phone Payments
Businesses in certain industries are more likely than others to be familiar with the ins and outs of taking payments over the phone. For instance, restaurants often use POS systems that include a feature for taking orders remotely and processing remote payments. If you operate a restaurant, there’s a good chance that your POS provider offers capabilities that you may not have had reason to explore in the past. Contact your POS provider and ask about the availability of these features if you’re not sure.
Alternatively, many businesses may find that a virtual terminal is their best option for accepting payments over the phone. For those who don’t know, a virtual terminal is a means of accepting credit card payments without the credit card being physically present. They are typically web-based and involve you entering your customers’ credit card information into a secure web page for processing.
Many POS systems and virtual terminals have a vault feature that keeps your customers’ information stored on file for later use. This allows your customers to simply direct you to charge their card on file when making a purchase. Note that this is acceptable from a security standpoint because the information is not stored on your site or your devices. Instead, it is all encrypted and stored with the processor.
Here’s a good primer on card-not-present transactions.
Accepting Online Payments
Paying for goods and services online has become commonplace over the last few decades — although your business may not have experience with how it all works. In this section, we’re going to run through some common scenarios and let you know how to accept online payments in each instance.
Online Restaurant Orders
Most modern restaurant POS software will include online ordering and delivery functionality (along with payment processing, of course). If you have such a system and you haven’t taken advantage of these features yet, contact your POS provider and ask about how you can implement these features. And if you’re trying to sign up for a restaurant POS system, so you can accept payments online, ask the providers in question about payout times. A waiting period of around two days is fairly standard in the industry, though some processors offer faster payouts.
If you’re running a brick-and-mortar establishment and you’re setting up eCommerce for the first time, your existing credit card processor should be able to help you set up your online eCommerce system.
If you find that your current payment processor doesn’t allow you to do what you’d like with respect to online sales, you could always switch to a third-party processor, such as Square or PayPal. Establishing an account with the likes of Square and PayPal is incredibly easy and painless, so while this obviously isn’t an ideal time to go comparison shopping for a new payments provider, the option is there should you want to take advantage of it, and it shouldn’t take up too much of your time.
Invoices & Online Payment Forms
If you’re trying to further reduce the need for in-person exchanges of payment, you can use invoices and payment forms to send custom links to your customers that allow them to enter their credit card information remotely. This has the benefit of being both safer and faster/more efficient than the use of old-fashioned paper invoices and checks.
Here is an informational article that details the invoicing process.
Is Now Really The Time To Switch My Payment Setup?
Clearly, a global pandemic is not an ideal time for any business to be trying to switch up their payment processing system in order to save a few bucks. However, as the established ways of doing business are being upended at a dizzying pace, businesses everywhere will have to adapt in order to both remain viable and protect the health and safety of employees and customers alike. To that end, Merchant Maverick is here to help you adapt your business practices to our new shared reality.
Here is a link to our COVID-19 resource hubÂ — we are adding to our pandemic-related informational resources continuously. Additionally, you may want to read our piece on business interruption insurance.
Furthermore, you can read our Small Business Outbreak & Pandemic Guide: Coronavirus Edition for more on how your business can handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The post Coronavirus Payments Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Switching To Online & Phone Payments appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
So you want to start a subscription box company. I bet you’ve come here with questions, and if so, you’re in the right spot! We’ve got answers, inspiration, and plenty of resources ready for you to check out. Keep reading to discover how you to find niche subscription box ideas that will turn heads, how to keep your company running like a well-oiled machine, and how to reach more customers and expand your business once you launch. Let’s get going!
Step 1: You Need An Interesting Subscription Box Idea To Succeed
How will you find that amazing idea to dazzle your would-be subscribers? In part, the foundation of a successful subscription box company is that extra something that sets you apart. Interestingly, one of the most successful boxes in the last few years started with a regular old hygiene product we all probably purchase. I’m thinking about what the Dollar Shave Club did with a simple self-care item: the razor. Their campaign used visual textures, packaging, and smart, fun messaging to connect with potential subscribers. While they initially marketed to men, their brand has grown to target both men and women. The idea is that people sign up to save on a razor (something everyone needs anyway) and soon enough they’re adding non-essentials to their box as well. While you might have more of a whimsical idea than just a plain razor, this company shows that anything is possible with the right planning and execution.
There are a lot of exciting possibilities out there, so get a notepad out, grab a refreshing beverage, and let’s explore how to create a very successful subscription box business.
14 Subscription Box Business Ideas To Get You Started
The sky is the limit when it comes to curating a subscription box. It’s true that subscription boxes are becoming a competitive market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach a particular group with a new angle. As we saw with the Dollar Shave Club, sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that take off when coupled with a good message and imagery.
First, you’ll want to figure out your target audience and demographic and do the needed research on these folks. Will your box provide convenience, discovery, whimsy, and/or special interest? Here are some general ideas to help you narrow down the focus and come up with something unique for your subscribers:
Gourmet foods, exotic snacks, coffee, tea, candy, etc.
Pregnancy and baby
Arts and crafts
Gaming and “geek” interests
Fitness and health
Curated clothing and accessories
Self-care and pampering
Inspirational / encouraging
Beauty and grooming
Pet care and toy
Home (plants, cleaning, candles, art)
If you are feeling inspired, keeping brainstorming those ideas and write them down — you’ll need them for the research and discovery steps coming up. Keep reading to find out what you need to know to expand your business or start a brand-new business based on the subscription box model.
Step 2: Before You Start Planning In Earnest, Make A Business Plan
A business plan acts as a blueprint for success. It keeps you on track, aligns your goals, and helps you cover the basics. You’ll also need a business plan should you seek out funding or investors for your subscription box endeavor. The most important person this business plan serves is you, however.
Of course, you’ll need to do some more preliminary research and get your ducks in a row before creating your plan, but it certainly does not have to be complicated. We suggest starting with a lean business plan, which is a one-page document that follows this basic structure:
If you need a little more direction, check out our post, The How-To For One Page Business Plans
Research The Competition & Check Out Other Subscription Box Companies
As a part of your business plan, you’ll want to research the competition. The best way to start that is via a Google search. Go through the first few pages and click through the businesses there. The most important thing you can learn here is the average price point. You also can find product ideas there, but it’s more useful to identify what’s not in those boxes so that you can provide a unique angle.
Step 3: Consider How To Fund Your Subscription Box Business
There are several ways to go about funding expenses. You’ll need to consider a few things to help you assess what exactly you’ll need here.
Will you be paying the full price for some or all items?
Can you source wholesale to save costs?
Can you approach local artists or specialty shops for unique and specially priced inclusions?
Can you reach out to pitch suppliers for special pricing or free samples (more on this later)?
You can certainly do a combination of the above list. But whatever you decide, you’ll need to cover initial costs in marketing, setup, shipping, and inventory. Once you have an idea of what’s going in the box and your costs to fill it, then you can consider how you’ll go about funding the business.
Here are some options to consider:
Borrow money with a startup loan.
Use funds from advanced orders from subscribers.
Utilize a business credit card.
Another approach is to start small and limit quantities initially so you can cover your own costs. By doing this you can reduce your financial risk, not to mention create some urgency in the sale thanks to limited inventory.
Should You Crowdfund Your Subscription Box?
You could think about crowdfunding your fledgling business idea. Crowdfunding certainly has its advantages, along with some unique challenges. For one, you’ll need to devote marketing dollars to outreach and exposure for your campaign. And with that, you’ll need to lead with a great story to stand out and get attention. The best part of all this strategy, however, is that if you get your backers to support your start-up costs, you can reduce your debt and gain supporters while you’re at it. This strategy would likely be best for unique, cause-related, and highly niche ideas, as you’ll have the most potential for excitement from your backers.
There are several types of crowdfunding and (even more platforms to choose from), but rewards-based crowdfunding is likely the most appropriate choice for your subscription box business. Interested in exploring this option for your business? For more ideas and information on crowdfunding, check out Crowdfunding for Startups: 8 Tips For Launching.
Step 4: Seek Out A Supplier For Your Subscription Box Service
You’ve got a few options on how you’ll actually fill your box. You could choose to purchase directly from a wholesale company, pay full-price, or use a combination of both. For some or all of your products, initiating a long-term relationship with a supplier becomes the smartest option.
You can start finding some amazing things for your subscription box by networking and establishing good relationships with vendors, suppliers, or artists. Those of you who focus on unique or one-of-a-kind items will particularly need to get relationships going with specialty shops, sellers at trade shows, local artists, and crafters. Etsy can be a wonderful source for contacting niche and specialty item sellers in all kinds of categories — not just handmade items. Many sellers would be more than happy to supply samples or a discount, and some may even be open to sharing in exchange for exposure.
If you end up creating a full website for yourself (more on that coming up), make it easy for vendors to get in touch with you through a dedicated page and instructions for how to submit a request. While you may not be fielding a lot of inquiries when you launch, get it set up so you’re ready to respond to those requests when they start pouring in.
Why You Need To Perfect Your Pitch Before You Talk To Suppliers
We recommend creating your one-page business plan (discussed in Step 2) before approaching suppliers. If you already have an email list or social following, lead with these resources; suppliers will be more than happy to work with you if additional exposure to their product is in the mix. Whether you’re asking for sample sizes or a discount, remember that transparency, a good plan, and confidence in your approach will go a long way in your pitch.
Step 5: Build Your Web Presence & Customer Service Channels
You can approach selling your subscription boxes online a few different ways:
Hire a firm or freelancer to build a fully custom site.
Integrate a shopping cart with an existing site.
Choose an eCommerce platform including a site builder with website templates and a payment gateway all in one (e.g. Shopify, Read our review).
Sell via social channels only with a Facebook Store or Instagram Shoppable posts.
If the website part makes you a bit nervous, I have some good news for you. It really has never been easier to sell online — with little to no experience or technical expertise — by going with a website builder. Some platforms even offer all-in-one solutions with payments (including recurring billing), website templates, and a plethora of integrations for easier shipping and tracking built right in, too!
Where To Find eCommerce-Friendly Website Builders
Because they are both feature-rich, easy to use, and provide a lot of room to scale, we recommend Shopify and Square to business owners who are starting from the ground up with little to no tech expertise. And for those that do have coding expertise, you’ll have customization tools at your disposal, too! What makes me most excited about Shopify is that it enables multi-channel selling across platforms, including Facebook stores, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Amazon. With these options, you can take advantage of more opportunities for growth while meeting potential customers where they’re hanging out anyway. And what I love is that everything including your inventory and reporting is all synced no matter where you sell!
Whether you’re looking for just a shopping cart integration or a full all-in-one platform, I recommend checking out The Best eCommerce Platforms For Your Small Business as you can compare options side-by-side and get a lot more information regarding what to look for to match what you need.
I will leave one final thought in regards to eCommerce website builders â take advantage of any trial periods or demos to give yourself time to play around and explore your possibilities.
Why Your Choice Of Payment Processor Matters
Your payment processor is how you’ll actually accept payments, so this is an important business consideration. If you’re a fledgling entrepreneur, you’ll likely find yourself below the monthly volume of what many traditional payment processors serve.
Third-party processors like Square, PayPal, and Stripe (the backend processor of Shopify) make it possible for smaller businesses to start taking payments, and they provide an exhaustive set of (oftentimes free) tools to help you manage your business. ThisÂ convenience comes at a cost however: an increased risk of account freezes if you have an uptick in chargebacks or your account is considered higher risk.
Regardless of what type of merchant account you go with, however, you will have this risk, unfortunately. That’s why we recommend arming yourself with knowledge. Check out How To Keep Your Payment Processor From Holding Funds Or Terminating Your Account.
So what should you look for in a merchant account? Here is what you can keep in mind as you research companies:
Product Features: What comes with the account? Are there any beneficial add-on services like email marketing? Reporting tools?
Recurrent Billing: Allowing your customers to save and automatically be charged is a must!
ACH: Automatic bank transfers can lower your processing costs, and it’s another payment method to offer your customers.
Forms of Payment: Some payment flows like Shopify Payments let you easily add PayPal and digital wallets to your checkout.
Card Automatic Updating: This feature can prevent billing issues and ensures you don’t have to chase someone down for updating billing information if their card expires or gets replaced.
Check The Contract: Always read your contract! We recommend merchants avoid long-term contracts as they are often also laced with lots of fees.
Customer Service: It’s important to get the help you need when you need it. Companies that have several active customer service channels and generous customer service hours are a must for the eCommerce subscription box business.
Check out some of our top picks in payment gateways for online payment processing in our post The Best Payment Gateways For Online Payment Processing.
Solving The Customer Service Question
The customer service issue can also happily be solved with the right eCommerce platform, too. For instance, many web builders, like Wix, for instance, now include chatbots that allow you to communicate in real-time to field any incoming questions. Some companies direct their customers to send any order issues or inquiries via Facebook Messenger.Â If you’ve linked a Facebook business account with Shopify, for example, you can take advantage of order tracking as well. Of course, there are always reliable phone and email options. Whatever you decide, make it clear how your customers can contact you, along with the expected response time.
Regardless of customer service channels you ultimately choose, we suggest making it easy for your subscribers to alter their box or skip a month. Enabling them to easily skip a month may feel like losing a sale, but you’ll likely retain them for longer (and keep them less frustrated).
Step 6: Build A Marketing Plan To Draw In Customers
Getting a marketing plan down on paper is an absolute must, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it sounds. The subscription box biz is a bit competitive at the moment, and that’s where being savvy and making the most of the opportunities you already have can go a long way.
Social Media Marketing For Your Subscription Box
Social media can work wonders to establish your brand and get people excited. Follow the strategies below:
Start Posting Regularly: If you already have followers on social, you’re at an advantage, but if you don’t, consider building your following by posting regular content, tagging larger accounts, and networking.
Test A Paid Social Ad: If you’re up to it, I recommend testing a sponsored post or two to get people excited during your pre-launch focus and beyond. Facebook advertising is a very cheap way ($20-30 bucks) to get in front of potentially thousands of people, and your ad will go to Instagram automatically, too. It’s also easy to target your campaign (even down to niche interests).
Excite With a Giveaway: A giveaway is a tried-and-true method of increasing your footprint with every post! Ask your followers to tag friends, share, and direct them to your site to sign up with an email. You increase your reach exponentially while building an email list of people who are interested in you. It’s a win-win.
Tap Into Influencer Marketing: Whether you have a lot of followers or not, an inexpensive way to boost your brand is through influencer marketing. By offering your box to an established YouTube personality in exchange for a shout-out or review on their page, you can reach potentially thousands with your brand name. Influencers will likely be happy about to devote some screen-time to your sub box, as it’s not always easy coming up with fresh content.
Email Marketing For Your Subscription Box
If you already have an established business or a robust email list, email marketing is a great way to promote your subscription box service. Email is still one of the cheapest and easiest ways to advertise new products and services. I love that Square offers this as an add-on service for only $15/month and includes analytics, templates, and targeting.
Don’t have a list? Consider reaching out to another local business and paying a small fee for a shout-out in their next newsletter. Make sure you create an email form on your site to make it easy for people to show their interest in your box. You could even use a credit card number to reserve a spot for a limited quantity of boxes before you’ve even launched! Fanning the flames of FOMO (fear of missing out) is never a bad idea in marketing.
To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to emails, check out How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy (all skill levels).
Step 7: Create A Strategy For Headache-Free Shipping & Fulfillment
There are two major pathways to take with shipping and fulfillment: doing it yourself or outsourcing fulfillment. Of course, the size of your operation and your budget are factors, as well as logistical and space considerations.
Creating a strategy that gets your boxes out on time is key, but you are probably looking for the lowest possible overhead and tools that can help you save time. There are a plethora of integrations that work with Shopify and other eCommerce platforms to make it easy to print labels and ship from your home.
When it comes to costs, your shipping fees can vary widely depending on what’s in your box, size, and materials you need. In your planning stages, do research on which carriers are most economical and if it’s best to use multiple carriers. Most importantly, when it comes to packing up your goodies and shipping out your subscription box, keeping everything protected and beautiful (not to mention eco-friendly) goes a long way in customer retention. The truth is that when you’re starting out, you’re building your reputation one box at a time.
Thankfully, we have a library of comprehensive and easy-to-digest resources to help you find the right solutions and make the best choices for your business. For answers to questions about shipping and fulfillment, check out our posts, 8 Hacks For Saving On Shipping CostsÂ and Learn To Delegate: What It Means To Outsource Your eCommerce Fulfillment.
5 Tips To Keep Your Subscription Box Business Growing
Create Referral Campaigns:Â Make the time-tested and powerful technique of word-of-mouth advertising work for you through a referral campaign. All you need to do is incentivize current subscribers to refer your box to their friends and family. Whether that’s through a bonus box or a few extra treats in their next shipment, those who successfully recruit friends and family to your brand deserve some celebration!
Stellar Customer Service:Â Nothing creates a solid reputation better than stellar customer service. To be the best, it’s not just about answering inquiries or solving problems, it’s about being proactive and listening to your current customers. Send them an email and ask them how they like their box, make amends right away for any issues (even if they weren’t your fault), and generally bring a “service with a smile” approach. Turning a customer into a brand ambassador is the ultimate sign of customer loyalty, and providing excellent care is how you’ll accomplish it.
Check Your Reports & Recognize Trends: Whatever eCommerce platform you go with, take advantage of any and all reporting and insights. Is there a certain geographical area that stands out? A peak time of year for sales growth? What is your “deadzone” in terms of new signups? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you target marketing and encourage growth through marketing when you need it most.
Identify Opportunities & Always Be Closing:Â Knowing what your customers love most about your boxes and looking at your sales reports gives you key insights into what items to purchase for upcoming boxes and new opportunities for growth. Once you have established customers, consider offering related or additional products that you know they’ll get excited about (because you’ve done your research). Remember Dollar Shave Club’s expansion from just the humble razor to a full line of personal care products? You want that potential growth for your business, too! Whether that’s through expanding into a new niche, identifying a new under-served market, or just boosting your sales with your current subscribers, always be closing!
Understand Cash Flow & Plan Ahead:Â Absolutely essential for any small business, including your subscription box company, is knowing your cash flow. You’ll need to figure out your cash flow so that you can make better decisions about your finances. To do this, you must understand how to create a cash flow statement, which breaks down your operating cash flow, cash flow of investments, financial activities, and net cash flow. We make this easier to understand and show you what tools can help in our post, How To Calculate & Analyze Business Cash Flow.Â
Are You Ready To Launch Your Subscription Box Company?
Launching a successful subscription box service requires some smart legwork, including researching your potential customers, curating irresistible products, buzz-building advertising, and structuring a plan of action. With the right eCommerce tools and a well-thought-out business plan, you can whittle down what feels like a giant, overwhelming project into something that’s more manageable.
For more startup resources, check out Small Business Startup Loans: Your 8 Best Options and The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store.
The post How To Start A Subscription Box: 7 Steps To Launch A Thriving Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you own a small business and have a dedicated checking or savings account, now there’s a different way to send or receive money directly from your account. Unlike traditional transfers that can take up to three days, this transfer can be completed within minutes and is often free. The service is called Zelle, and you might already be familiar with it as a money transfer service for one of your personal bank accounts.
Zelle used to be a consumer-only banking service, but recently it’s been opened to small businesses. It’s available at most banks. If you want to learn how to pay or get paid without having to write a check or run to the bank for a deposit — and still be able to use the funds immediately —, read on to learn more.
How Does Zelle Work?
Before we get to the details of Zelle for business accounts, let’s first get a little backstory on how Zelle got its start and how the Zelle technology works.
Origins of Zelle
Zelle is a US-based money transfer service available to those who have a US bank account. It’s operated by a company called Early Warning Services, LLC, which, in turn, is owned by a handful of large banks, including Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank, Citibank, and Wells Fargo. In addition, 400+ “member” banks and credit unions participate in the Zelle service. The complete list of member banks can be found on the Zelle website, and if your small business has a checking or savings account at one of these banks, then you can probably use Zelle for your business.
The Zelle service was launched in 2017. There was an earlier version of the service called clearXchange going as far back as 2011, but accounts for personal money transfers were deactivated by December 2017 and users were encouraged to move to the Zelle service.
Zelle is basically a service started by banks, for banks. So, unlike its competitors such as Venmo or PayPal, each member bank has a lot of control over how to offer the service and whether (or how much) to charge for the service. While there is an independent Zelle app, for most users, the service is typically accessed through a bank’s website or mobile app. To sign up for the service or initiate or manage transfers, you log on to your banks’ website or app and access the Zelle service through tabs on the website or in the app. As a result, security features for the service depend on your bank’s security features.
The Zelle Network
Unlike many other money transfer services where you might have to wait up to three days to finalize a transfer, a Zelle transfer can be completed within minutes, and the money can be available for you to use immediately thereafter. This is possible because the banks that offer Zelle are “member” banks and presumably such banks have been vetted and given a greater degree of trust, so they release the money faster. Behind the scenes, Zelle transfers money via the ACH service, which–while it is possible to settle transfers in less than a day–still does not happen within minutes.
In reality, the service works like this:
Amy initiates a transfer of $100 to Beth through Amy’s banking app or web portal.
Amy’s bank debits $100 from Amy’s account, sends a message through the Zelle Network to Beth’s bank that $100 is being transferred, and moves $100 to a settlement account.
Beth’s bank notifies Beth of the transfer, credits Beth’s bank account for $100, and messages Amy’s bank through the Zelle Network that the money has been credited.
The banks then settle the account through an ACH transfer, which happens at specific times of the day during bank work days.
Can I Use Zelle For Business?
Zelle originally started as a consumer-only service, but, in 2018, it moved to allow small businesses to use the service. If you have a small business checking or savings account, then more than likely you can use Zelle for your business. However, it is possible for some banks to offer Zelle for personal use but not for business use.
If your bank does allow Zelle for small business use, be sure to check restrictions as well as fees for business accounts. They might be different from personal accounts.
Zelle For Business Accounts: What You Need To Know
If you already have a small business bank account, then you can probably already use Zelle. Here’s how.
How To Set Up a Zelle Account
Setting a Zelle account for your business is easy. Typically, a Zelle account can be used in connection with a business checking or savings account. Check your banks’ website to make sure, but if you can use Zelle, you should see tabs and buttons with the Zelle name or logo on the website or in the app.
In order to set up a Zelle account, you must have a cell phone number or email that you can associate with the account. If you already have a personal Zelle account, then you can’t use the same email or phone number for your business account even if your personal account is at another bank. Each Zelle account is uniquely identified with an email or cell number, so you can’t use something that’s already registered with the service. If your cell number is a VoIP number like Google Voice, you can’t use that number with Zelle either.
A unique cell number or email is all you really need. Because Zelle is a service through your bank, they already have your bank transit routing number and account number, so you won’t need to know that. Just follow the simple directions on your banking app or through your bank’s web portal, and you should be able to quickly set up a Zelle transfer account.
You must set up the email or cell number of each and every account you intend to send money to before you can send the money. You can’t just type the email or cell number on the fly and expect the money to be sent right away. The banks want to verify the recipient’s account before actually sending anything.
Here’s a screenshot of the Bank of America Zelle signup page (modified for privacy/security concerns):
What Types Of Transfers Are Allowed On Zelle?
Once you have your Zelle account, you can do two, possibly three things (depending on your bank):
Split a bill
In theory, you could use Zelle to request payment from customers, or receive payment from customers, or to pay vendors or partners — among other uses.
The web or app interface typically looks very simple and all you have to do is to follow directions to complete the action. Again, because your bank ultimately controls which activities it will allow, it’s difficult to show the interface here. Below is a screenshot of the Bank of America mobile app for Zelle transfers. It gives you an idea of what you’ll typically see.
Are There Any Transfer Limits Through Zelle?
There are indeed transfer limits through Zelle. Each bank decides how much that limit is, but typically there’s a limit on the amount and the number of transfers per day/week/month. For instance, Bank of America’s transfer limit is as follows:
So, in one 24 hour period, you can make one $3,000 transfer or 10 $300 transfers. The same goes for the 7 days and 30 days limits. On the Bank of America website, they specifically mention that a small business might receive a higher limit.
Again, because many details of Zelle are controlled by each member bank, be sure to check your bank’s specific number on daily, weekly, and/or monthly transfer limits.
Lastly, note that a transfer limit typically applies to outbound transfers. Usually, banks do not put a limit on how much you can receive through Zelle.
How Much Does It Cost To Transfer Money Through Zelle?
How much it costs for a business to transfer money through Zelle depends entirely on your bank. For instance, Bank of America charges no fees for your business to send or receive money through Zelle.
However, at US Bank, while there is no fee for a business account to send or request money through Zelle, there is a fee to receive money through Zelle. Each inbound transaction costs 2.5% of the transaction amount, with a $15 maximum or a $0.25 minimum per transaction. Given the different fee structure, before you start using Zelle for your business, be sure to do a little research through your bank’s website to find out for sure.
Are There Any Transfer Restrictions Through Zelle?
There is one transfer restriction for business accounts that does not apply to personal accounts. Some consumer users of Zelle bank at non-member banks. They can still use Zelle through the Zelle app by linking their debit card to the app. While this method of using Zelle is fine for personal accounts, businesses can’t send or receive money to this type of Zelle account. In order to use Zelle for business, you must bank at a Zelle member bank and receive and send money to only those who also bank at a Zelle member bank.
Protection For Fraudulent Transfers
Zelle transfers are more like debit card transactions than credit card transactions, so the legal protections available for credit card transactions do not apply to Zelle.
Zelle essentially is an ACH transfer between banks. As such, once that money is transferred, you can’t pull the money back except under very specific circumstances. You can stop the transfer if the other party doesn’t have a Zelle account and before they set one up. Otherwise, if you accidentally send money to the wrong account because of a typo, you would have to call your bank to see if they can pull the money back.
Like all ACH transfers, there is otherwise no protection for fraud, so most banks warn Zelle users to only send money through Zelle to parties they trust and carefully guard access to the Zelle account in the first place.
Zelle VS Other Mobile And Digital Wallets
Zelle was set up by the big banks to compete with mobile and digital wallets like Venmo and Cash App. There are differences between the services, and one of the main ones is that, with Venmo and Cash App, there’s an extra step to get the money into your bank account.
Zelle is a straight bank-to-bank transfer, so the money lands directly into your bank account and you can use it right away. With Venmo, Cash App, and others like PayPal, the money rests with each of these businesses. If you wish to take that money out for other general use, you must first transfer it to your bank. Typically, this is done through an ACH transfer that could take up to three business days.
Other than this main difference, as already discussed earlier, Zelle allows each member bank a great deal of control over how to operate the service and how much, if any, to charge for the service. In other words, if you have several Zelle accounts at different banks, you’ll have to pay attention to the differences between the services in order to not encounter any surprise charges or daily/weekly/monthly transfer limits.
Is It Time For Your Business To Start Using Zelle?
There are definitely advantages to using Zelle for your business. Fast transfer and immediate availability of funds are extremely convenient if you’re receiving payment. However, because ultimately your bank controls how many services they wish to provide through Zelle and how much they wish to charge, always double-check with your bank before you start any large-scale uses of Zelle.
As to how to use Zelle, you can, of course, pay or ask to be paid through Zelle. Simply provide the email or cell number you’ve associated with Zelle on your invoice and let your customers know you can take Zelle as well. You can also see whether the service providers and vendors you work with prefer to be paid through Zelle.
As a business owner, sometimes you can also transfer money to and from your personal and business accounts through Zelle (owner’s draw or increase in owner’s equity). The transfer is fast and you won’t have to write yourself a check or pay for a wire transfer.
All in all, while Zelle is not a complete solution for taking or making payments, it can do a lot. So why not try Zelle for your business? It’s fast, it’s often free, and it’s probably already available through your bank, just waiting for you to set it up.
How do you use Zelle? Leave us a comment and share any innovative ways to use the service!
The post Zelle For Business: What Small Businesses Need To Know About The New Money Transfer App appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark and say that you probably have a PayPal account. As of the third quarter of 2019, PayPal has reported a total of 295 million active accounts worldwide. PayPal has become so embedded in people’s lives that many use their personal PayPal account to conduct business. However, by doing this, you give up the advantages that come with a free PayPal Business account.
We’re here today to explain why, if you’re a PayPal user doing business under your personal account, you should really sign up for a PayPal Business account and do business under that account instead.
Why Use PayPal For Business?
When you use PayPal for Business, you gain access to a plethora of services, both free and paid, that can be immensely helpful to any merchant making money from online sales. You’ll get three options for taking payments, two of which carry no monthly fees. You’ll get access to a plethora of eCommerce integrations, including Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce. Offline merchants will get access to a number of POS integrations, as well as PayPal’s in-house mobile card reader and mPOS app, both of which are bundled together under the PayPal Here brand.
Other features available through PayPal include online invoicing, a Marketing Solutions package, a Virtual Terminal, a recurring billing service, and a lengthy list of developer tools. Of course, other payment processors sport similar tools, so is there truly any advantage to using PayPal for Business? PayPal itself would argue “yes,” and in favor of that argument,Â a recent study found that when a customer chooses PayPal as their payment method, they go on to complete the transaction 88.7% of the time — an average conversion rate 60% higher than that of other digital wallets and 82% higher than the average conversion rate of all other payment methods.
All things considered, a PayPal business account makes it simple and easy to send money back and forth. Whether you’re in the business of offering online subscription services, selling your wares at “meetspace” events like crafting shows and conventions, or even collecting donations for a nonprofit organization, PayPal for Business has plenty to offer.
Differences Between PayPal Personal & Business Accounts
Both personal and business PayPal accounts allow you to send and request money, make purchases, and even receive payments for sales you make — so long as you mark these sales as being for “Goods and services,” thus incurring transaction fees (and PayPal will check to make sure you’re not dodging transaction fees by mislabeling transactions). However, without a business account, you won’t have access to a host of commerce-facilitating features such as creating shipping methods, inventory tracking, allowing employees partial access to your account, and signing up for services like PayPal Here.
PayPal Business Account Requirements
The requirements to set up a PayPal business account are pretty minimal. You’ll need the following:
An email address
A business phone number
Your legal business name — your own name is fine if your business is a sole proprietorship
The last four digits of your SSN
Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) — if you choose individual/sole proprietorship as your business type, you don’t need to provide an EIN
Your date of birth
Your home address
Your bank name, account number, and routing number
This will be sufficient to start selling, but note that after you start actually accepting payments and making money, PayPal may request further documentation, such as bank statements. Third-party processors like PayPal and Square are notorious for their stringent scrutiny of merchants and their tendency to subject merchants to holds or terminations at the slightest hint of trouble. Just be ready to provide whatever information PayPal might ask for in the event that they detect something slightly suspect.
Check out our piece on avoiding account holds, freezes, and terminations to learn more.
How To Set Up Your PayPal Business Account
Start off by clicking on the “Sign Up” box in the top right corner of PayPal’s page. Note that if you are signed in to your personal PayPal account, PayPal will prompt you to either sign out of your current account and set up a separate business account under a different email address OR delete your current PayPal account and set up a business account using the email address previously associated with your old PayPal account. I assume most of you will want to choose the former option.
Next, you’ll be prompted to enter some information about your business. Enter the legal name of your business contact, the name and phone number of your business, and your business address.
Next, you’ll be asked to describe your business type. The options you’ll have to choose from are as follows: Individual/Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, Nonprofit organization, or Government entity.
Next, you’ll be asked to further describe your business. You’ll be asked to choose the product or keyword that best describes your business, your estimated monthly sales, and your website (this one is optional), and you may also be offered the chance to receive a PayPal Business Debit Mastercard after you receive at least $250 in payments.
Now, if your business type is anything other than Individual/Sole Proprietorship, you’ll also be prompted to enter your Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you chose Individual/Sole Proprietorship as your business type, you won’t receive this prompt as you won’t have an EIN.
Next, you’ll be asked to supply some more personal information: the last four digits of your SSN, your date of birth, and your home address.
Once this step is complete, your PayPal business account will have been created. You’ll now be asked whether you want to request or send money and whether you want to send out an invoice (which will start the process of setting you up with PayPal Invoicing, a free service that allows you to create and send customized invoices)
After that, you’ll be prompted to select other PayPal services you may want to use. You can choose which online payment package you’d like to set up for online sales. If you’re in the business of offline sales, you’ll be offered the chance to set up a PayPal Here account. And if you want to sell goods through online marketplaces that PayPal integrates with, you’ll be offered the chance to connect to such a marketplace.
Keep in mind that you can always return to the set of signup options listed above by hovering over the “More” option on your PayPal toolbar at the top of the page and then selecting “Business setup.”
Let’s go back to setting up online payments for a moment. Click on “Set Up Online Payments” and you’ll be presented with the choice of processing all your payments through PayPal or adding PayPal as a supplementary way to get paid.
Depending on which option you select, you’ll then choose how you want to sell online. Choose “Process all payments through PayPal” and you’ll be offered two further options. With Option A, you work with an eCommerce solution that’s already integrated into PayPal. Option B lets you add HTML buttons to your website yourself. Below both options, you’ll see a “Compare options” link. Click it to see the following comparison:
Now, if you chose “Add PayPal Checkout as another way to get paid”, the two subsequent options will be different. Option A will be “I want a pre-built payment solution” while Option B will be “Use our APIs to add PayPal Checkout to your website.” Clicking “Compare options” will then display the following:
After you establish your payment setup, you’ll find an “Account setup” tab next to the “Payment setup” tab. Click on that to finish setting up your account.
From there, follow the links to confirm your email, link your debit card for Instant Transfers to your bank if you wish, link your bank account, make your business name clear for customers, and, should you so desire, get the PayPal Business Debit Mastercard.
Depending on the payment options you selected earlier, you’re going to need to choose between the three available payment packages for accepting payments online:
PayPal Checkout (formerly Express Checkout)
PayPal Payments Standard
PayPal Payments Pro
If you want to add PayPal as a supplementary payment option to your existing website or if you already integrate with an eCommerce provider, PayPal Checkout is a solid choice. You’ll get PCI compliance (PayPal redirects customers to its secure site to complete the transaction), contextual checkout buttons, and localized payment methods for European customers.
PayPal Payments Standard is a more fully-featured payment solution than PayPal Checkout. Payments Standard offers the same eCommerce integrations and PCI compliance offered by PayPal Checkout along with a healthy dollop of additional features. Here’s the full list of what you’ll get with Payments Standard:
Accept credit and debit cards (your buyers don’t need a PayPal account)
Accept PayPal payments
Send invoices online for fast payment
Accept payments in 25 currencies from 202 countries
Simplified PCI compliance
No long-term contracts, setup, withdrawal or cancellation fees
Nonprofit discount available for PayPal transactions
Toll-free phone support
Offer special financing on purchases $99 and up
Both PayPal Checkout and PayPal Payments Standard have the benefit of being free to sign up for with no monthly fees. PayPal Payments Pro, by contrast, costs $30/month to use. Let’s take a look at what you’ll get for the money:
Hosted Checkout page: With Payments Pro, you can keep your customers on your website throughout the entire checkout process and customize the design of your checkout page. If you want to provide your customers with the most seamless checkout experience possible, Payments Pro is the way to go. However, this means that you’ll have to take care of PCI compliance yourself.
Virtual Terminal: PayPal’s virtual terminal allows you to accept payments via phone, fax, or mail. Once you have your customer’s card number, you can key in those numbers from a browser window. It’s definitely a handy feature, and it always helps to be able to take payments by as many means as possible. However, competitors like Square and Shopify offer access to a virtual terminal without having to pay any monthly fee whatsoever.
Recurring Billing: If you’re in the business of selling subscriptions, Payments Pro offers recurring billing tools to power your sales. Unfortunately, recurring billing will cost you an additional $10/month. Oddly enough, PayPal Checkout offers recurring billing tools for no cost whatsoever.
Bear in mind that to implement many of the features on offer with a PayPal business account, you’ll need a developer to help you do the heavy lifting.
Another feature you can sign up for on PayPal’s website is PayPal Here, a suite of services that allows you to accept offline payments via a mobile POS app and a PayPal card reader of your choosing. You’ll find the PayPal Here page under the Tools drop-down menu in the toolbar on your PayPal dashboard.
The first thing you’ll need to do is sign up for PayPal Here. Once you’ve done that, download the PayPal Here mPOS app onto your mobile device. Next, sign in to the app and order your card reader. Of the three card readers currently available, the Mobile Card Reader and the Chip and Swipe reader are both free until June 30, 2020, for new PayPal Here account holders. Also available is the Chip and Tap Reader + Charging Stand combo which you can purchase from PayPal for $79.99.
For a full rundown of the features included in PayPal Here, read our PayPal Here review.
Are There Any Paypal Business Account Fees?
There are no fees incurred when you set up a PayPal business account. It’s completely free to have a PayPal business account (unless you sign up for the PayPal Payments Pro plan). Of course, free payment processing doesn’t exist, and PayPal is no exception. This means that payment processing fees will apply when you make a sale through PayPal. If you’re a US-based merchant, Here’s what you’ll be paying per transaction in the based on the nature of the transaction:
2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
2.7% per swiped, dipped or tapped offline transaction (when you use PayPal Here or integrate with one of PayPalâs POS partners)
3.5 + $0.15 per keyed transaction
2.2% + $0.30 per online transaction for nonprofits (check out PayPal For Nonprofits to learn more)
5% + $0.05 per transaction under the MicroPayments plan
3.1% + $0.30 per Virtual Terminal transaction
Keep in mind that the Virtual Terminal is only available if you have a PayPal Payments Pro plan, which costs $30/month. Overall, PayPal’s fees are comparable to those of other third-party processors, though as I mentioned earlier, both Square and Shopify offer a virtual terminal without a monthly fee.
One recent policy change that has sellers chagrined is that when a transaction is refunded, PayPal will not return the processing fee to you. That means that if you refund a $100 online purchase to a customer, the processing fee won’t be returned to you and you’ll lose $3.20. This may not sound like that much, but if you’re issuing a significant number of refunds, these costs add up quickly. For more on refund policies in the payment processing industry, check out our article on credit card refund fees.
This article doesn’t cover every single fee associated with using PayPal. For more on the costs of such things as card readers for offline sales, conversion fees, chargeback fees, and more, our article on PayPal pricingÂ has the full story. And if you’re a seller outside the US, have a look at PayPal’s complete list of merchant fees, as the fixed portion of your transaction fees (when considering a 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee, the 30 cents is the fixed part) will vary based on the currency you use.
The Bottom Line On PayPal For Business Accounts
We’ve established that if you’re going to use your PayPal account for business purposes, you really should get a PayPal business account. But how does PayPal stack up against competing payment processing solutions?
Overall, despite its shortcomings, PayPal is a solid option for merchants. With its relatively simple, transparent pricing and extensive eCommerce integrations, PayPal works particularly well as a starter option for new businesses and will scale with your business as it grows. What’s more, online sellers can always choose to use PayPal as a supplemental means of accepting payments. This isn’t the case with most of PayPal’s competitors.
PayPal has plenty to offer offline sellers as well — with PayPal’s in-house mPOS app along with its robust POS and accounting integrations, you’ll be able to take payments anywhere with ease. Read our full PayPal review for an even deeper look into what the payments giant has to offer your business.
That being said, PayPal obviously isn’t an ideal solution for everybody. If you’re not happy with PayPal’s business practices or if you’re in the process of comparison shopping, check out our article on PayPal alternatives. You may want to have a look at our merchant account comparison chart as well.
As always, if you’ve used — or are using — a PayPal business account to accept payments, we’d love to hear about it! Please drop us a comment!
The post Why You Need A PayPal Business Account If You Want To Take Payments Via PayPal appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
It’s a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining, and the birds are chirping. Out in the fresh air, you’re surrounded by vendors selling the freshest local produce, natural products, and unique handmade gifts. No, this isn’t a dream — it’s a trip to your local farmers’ market.
Farmers’ markets are growing in popularity across the nation, so it’s no surprise that farmers, artists, and other local vendors are capitalizing on this money-making opportunity. Perhaps you’ve even pondered the idea, or maybe your family and friends have suggested you make some extra cash by selling your handmade or homegrown wares.
In this guide, we’ll explore how to become a seller at a farmers’ market. While it may seem as easy as grabbing your goods, setting up a table, and bringing in customers, there are actually tips and strategies to keep in mind to improve your odds for success … and increase your profitability. From selecting your products to marketing to buyers, we’ll cover it all to help you get started on the right foot. Read on to find out how you can start selling your goods at your local farmers’ market.
Why Are Farmersâ Markets So Popular?
From small towns to big cities, farmers’ markets are quickly popping up everywhere and attracting people of all ages. What makes a farmers’ market so appealing? It might be easier to ask what’s not to love about these local stops!
There are a number of reasons that more people are frequenting farmers’ markets. One of the top reasons is that these are places where you can purchase fresh local produce, most of which is organic and isn’t genetically modified. Compare this to your local supermarket where you aren’t sure of when the produce was picked and shipped or how it was grown. Farmers’ market produce is the freshest, and often the healthiest, that you can find.
Buying locally isn’t just good for your body — it’s also better for the environment. Produce at farmers’ markets usually comes from small family farms, which use fewer pesticides and chemicals. Because these products aren’t being shipped around the country, shopping at your local farmers’ market also conserves fossil fuels.
When you shop at your local farmers’ market, you’re supporting small businesses, whether it’s a small family farm or a local artist peddling paintings, pottery, or other handmade art that you won’t find in your local department store. In addition to supporting your local economy, attending a farmers’ market is a great way to meet new people. Farmers’ markets are family-friendly (and sometimes, even pet-friendly!) events that let you meet and socialize with people in your community. Some farmers’ markets even offer live music, classes, and other special events that only add to the fun. Add in local food trucks serving delicious meals and treats, and it’s not hard to see why farmers’ markets are truly the place to be.
Now, it’s pretty easy to see why you would visit a farmers’ market, but what are the benefits for sellers? In a 2015 survey, the USDA found that over $700 million of goods were sold at over 8,000 farmers’ markets around the United States — and the majority of that money is being funneled directly back into local economies. The USDA also found that farmers and ranchers make less than 16 cents for every dollar when selling to retailers. On the flip side, they can retain nearly 100% of their profits when selling locally through farmers’ markets.
10 Kinds Of Products You Can Sell At A Farmersâ Market
Despite its name, you don’t have to be a farmer to sell at a farmers’ market. There are lots of ways that you can connect with the community while earning a profit. Items to sell might include:
Sure, you don’t have to be a farmer to sell at a farmer’s market, but if you are, you can certainly bring your freshly grown produce to sell to your customers. Seasonal local fruits and vegetables really sell, but don’t forget about unique products you won’t find in most supermarkets (think colorful heirloom tomatoes or purple cauliflower). No matter what you bring, make sure that you only provide the freshest, highest-quality produce for your customers.
Don’t feel stuck to just fruits and vegetables, either. Mushrooms and fresh herbs that you’ve cultivated yourself are also big sellers at farmers’ markets, providing you with additional opportunities to earn some extra cash.
Milk, Meat & Eggs
If you raise cattle and chickens, it’s a no-brainer to bring your milk, meat, and eggs to the farmer’s market to share with your community while making a profit. These are popular items at farmers’ markets because of freshness, but also because many people prefer buying from small farms that treat their animals humanely, as opposed to large factories that may have questionable practices.
Not a rancher, but you enjoy hunting? Venison, bison, and other wild game can be sold at the farmers’ market. And it doesn’t stop at fresh meat, either. You can always sell your dried meats and jerky that you’ve marinated, cured, and dried yourself.
Your family and friends think you could be the next Betty Crocker, so why not bring your baked goods to the masses? If you love to bake, there are endless possibilities and a whole lot of money-making potential at your local farmers’ market. Bake your homemade cookies, cakes, pies, scones, and cinnamon rolls and sell them to customers during your free time. Again, you can think outside of the box to boost your profit potential by selling unique items such as dog treats or treats for customers with special dietary needs (i.e. vegan or gluten-free).
Flowers, Plants & Seedlings
From season to season, people spruce up their homes inside and out with colorful flowers, outdoor plants, and houseplants. From flower baskets that add a touch of color to your front porch to common and unique species of plants, many customers bypass big-box home improvement stores and instead purchase from local growers.
You don’t even have to wait to have fully grown plants and flowers. Some shoppers may prefer to buy seedlings that they can plant and grow themselves. Succulents and herbs are also popular options to consider.
If you grow roses, tulips, lilies, or other beautiful flowers, you can also create unique arrangements that shoppers may snap up for weddings, prom, Valentine’s Day, or even “just because.”
If you’re a beekeeper, cash in on the benefits of your (and your bees’) hard work by selling your delicious honey at the farmers’ market. Customers can purchase high-quality honey for use as a natural sweetener, but there are also additional benefits of eating local honey. Local raw honey is often marketed as a natural home remedy used to help with seasonal allergies, soothe sore throats, kill bacteria, or even help you get a good night’s sleep.
Want your honey to stand out from the rest? Switch up the way you process your honey to create creamed honey, or consider adding natural flavors to make your own unique honey blend.
Also, don’t overlook the value (for health and your wallet) of pollen granules. These tiny pellets contain a mixture of nectar, saliva, and pollen and are rising in popularity due to their perceived health benefits. Pollen granules are used for treating inflammation, strengthening the immune system, reducing stress, and other ailments.
Soap & Skincare Products
As we learn more about the chemicals in everyday household items, more people are stepping away from these potentially harmful ingredients and going a more natural route. If you’ve created the perfect recipe for homemade soaps, lotions, or other skincare products, set up a display at your local farmers’ market to peddle your natural concoctions.
As more people move to natural products, the farmers’ market in your area gives you the perfect platform for selling your goods. There are lots of opportunities in this space, from creating your own natural (and great smelling!) bug repellent to homemade sugar scrubs and natural deodorants.
One thing to remember is that you can be multi-dimensional at a farmers’ market. For example, if you keep bees, not only can you sell honey and pollen granules, but you can also sell natural beauty products made from pollen, honey, or beeswax.
Need some inspiration for what to sell at the farmers’ market? Look no further than the neighborhood kid with a lemonade stand. And the great news is that you aren’t just limited to lemonade, although selling freshly squeezed lemonade to hot shoppers is an easy way to make some extra cash.
If you make your own local wine or mead, brew your own craft beers, or even make a mean cup of hot apple cider, selling beverages can help draw in customers. Your booth or display can serve as a showcase for your homemade brews, or you can sell beverages in addition to other products. Many people that frequent farmers’ markets are looking for products that are unique and can’t be found in the local grocery store, so think outside the box. Flavored lemonades made with freshly squeezed lemons and natural flavorings, kombucha, and other tasty beverages can be sold by the glass, bottle, or jug.
Spending a long time at the farmers’ market can leave shoppers feeling famished. Why force hungry customers to drive to restaurants when you can bring the food right to them? If you operate a food truck, consider bringing your tasty fare to the farmers’ market. If you have openings in your schedule, a partnership with a local farmers’ market can fill your weekends with customers and the profits they bring with them.
Arts & Crafts
Whether you’re a professional or just an amateur artist, locally-made arts and crafts are big sellers at farmers’ markets. No matter what type of art you make, a farmers’ market is the perfect platform for selling your creations.
Paintings, drawings, embroidered items, crocheted blankets, hand-painted t-shirts, pottery, wood carvings, sculptures, and homemade greeting cards are just a few of the arts and crafts you can peddle at your local farmers’ market.
Other Unique Goods
Don’t see anything on the list that appeals to you? Then tap into your own unique talents. The great thing about the farmers’ market is that there are relatively few limitations when it comes to what you sell. While you can’t sell anything illegal or dangerous, you can let your creative flag fly and bring something truly unique to the table. What can you offer that is different and unique? Exotic spices, ethnic goods, homemade candles … the list goes on.
One way to be a successful seller is to think about what your customers want or need. For example, if you live in an area known for its tasty barbecue, consider selling your own dry rubs or barbecue sauce. Whatever you decide to sell, make sure that it’s unique to attract the most customers. Homemade, natural products are popular, but items like vintage clothing and shoes may also sell quickly. Whatever you do, just make sure that what you’re selling is allowed by your chosen market.
7 Ways To Prepare For Selling At A Farmers’ Market
Once you’ve decided that you want to sell at your local farmers’ market and you’ve decided what products you’ll be offering, the hard work is over, right? Not exactly. Whether your goal is to sell on occasion to earn some money on the side or you dream of bringing in a steady income by selling your goods to the community, there are some steps you need to take to help boost your chances for success.
Find Farmers’ Markets In Your Area: Once you know what to sell, the next step is to figure out where to sell it. And just like the unique products you’ll find from sellers, not all farmers’ markets are the same. Get a good idea of the culture, people, and products at each farmers’ market by visiting them yourself. Keep your eyes open for markets that have a need for what you’re offering, but don’t forget to find a farmers’ market that’s a good fit for you. For example, if there are no other artists and you’d feel uncomfortable selling your art, keep searching. If you’d like to bring your four-legged friend with you, look for a dog-friendly market. You can also turn to the internet to learn more about the farmers’ market in your city and surrounding areas. Look for official websites and social media profiles that feature pictures, posts, and information about each market. Finally, you should get an idea of the registration process. While this process varies across markets, you need to be aware that vendor registration windows aren’t always open, and you may have to sign up weeks, months, or even longer in advance to secure a spot. You can find this information online or talk to a manager in-person to learn more about signing up as a vendor.
Research Local Ordinances & Health Regulations: Nothing can bring your business to a halt faster than getting shut down by the health department or local authorities. Do your research to learn about local ordinances and health regulations, such as how produce and prepared food must be stored or how baked goods are prepared. Laws and regulations vary, so contact your local health department to learn more.
Make A Business Plan: Even if selling at a farmers’ market feels more like a hobby than a business, it never hurts to create a business plan before you get started. This business plan can be used to outline your goals, how you plan to finance your business, and your marketing plan. If you’re panicked at the thought of a business plan that’s an inch thick, don’t — a one-page plan is sufficient for keeping you on track. Don’t know where to get started? Learn how to create your one-page business plan in no time.
Get Startup Capital & Set A Budget: While selling at a farmers’ market can certainly be one of the more inexpensive ways to make money off your homemade goods, there are still some expenses to consider. One of the most common expenses is a booth rental fee. You need to consider other expenses, too — think signage for your booth, tablecloths and other items to spruce up your display, price stickers, and the cost of materials and packaging for samples. It sounds like a little, but these small expenses can add up quickly if you don’t watch out. Determine if you need to get financing before you start selling, set a budget, and stick to it. Want more tips? Check out our guide, How To Start A Side Hustle.
Look Into Business Registration: Depending on local regulations, you may be required to register your business before you take part in a farmers’ market. Some farmers’ markets require you to provide an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) when you register as a vendor. If an EIN is required, it’s easy to obtain one for free from the Internal Revenue Service. Contact the farmers’ market you’re interested in to learn more about the requirements for sellers.
Research Business Insurance: Some farmers’ markets require their vendors to have their own business insurance. Even if this isn’t a requirement, though, you still want to research your options to protect yourself from liability. If you’re unsure of how to get started, check out our article on general liability insurance for your business and contact your chosen farmers’ market to determine if insurance is a requirement. They may even be able to recommend local insurance companies that other vendors use.
Get Accounting Software: Even if you’re just making a little extra money on the side, do you really need accounting software? Yes, you do, and though it may seem like a pain now, you’ll thank us later. No matter how much you’re bringing in from your sales at a farmers’ market, it’s important to keep track of your finances. The best way to do that? Accounting software. The good news is that there are many options available that are low cost (or even free!) and easy to use, even if you have no prior accounting experience. Tracking your finances will help you see how much money you’re making, as well as where you’re spending it — allowing you to determine where you can make changes to increase your profits. You’ll also be glad that you kept track of finances when it’s time to pay your taxes. If you don’t know where to get started, take a look at some of our top accounting software choices for small businesses.
Should You Accept Credit Card Payments At Your Farmers’ Market Booth?
In a world where paying with plastic is quickly becoming the standard, you might be wondering if you should accept credit cards at your farmers’ market booth. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer, but here’s what you should consider before making your choice.
Mobile point-of-sale (POS) apps make it easier than ever to accept credit cards. With your smartphone or tablet and a card reader provided by your chosen provider, you can accept debit and credit cards with ease without a bunch of heavy equipment and complicated systems. Some credit card readers are even available for no cost, and you could even score extras like stickers that advertise that your booth accepts debit and credit cards. There are lots of POS apps to choose from, so do your research on top choices like Square, SumUp, and PayPal Here.
On the flip side, though, you don’t have to accept credit card payments. Many farmers’ markets are prepared for customers that are paying with plastic, so they allow customers to purchase tokens which can be used to buy products from vendors. At the end of the day, these tokens can be redeemed so the seller gets their earnings. If you’re thinking of going the cash-only route, check out our article, Can You Really Run A Cash-Only Business?
If the farmers’ market you’ll be attending does not offer this service, you definitely want to consider getting a POS app and card reader so that you can serve all customers, regardless of how they’re paying. Mobile POS apps come with additional features that may be beneficial to your business, such as inventory tracking and sales reporting.
Another consideration to keep in mind is whether or not you’ll be taking larger orders or custom orders. If this is the case, you’ll need to have the ability to create invoices for tracking your orders and getting paid by your customers. Let’s say that the holidays are coming up, and you’ve been commissioned to make baked goods for a Christmas party. Before you invest your time and money into fulfilling the order, you can make sure you get paid by sending your customer an invoice that can even be paid online. Some mobile POS systems like Square Invoices allow you to create and send invoices, or you can use your accounting software if that feature is available.
Can You Accept Food Stamp/SNAP Benefits At A Farmers’ Market?
Statistics show that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helped 40 million Americans each month in 2018. This program — formerly known as food stamps — provides benefits that allow low-income households to afford food. SNAP participants are provided with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is used like a debit card at participating retailers. This includes grocery stores, convenience stores, and, yes, even farmers’ markets. This system makes it easy for you to accept EBT without having to jump through hoops.
Most farmers’ markets have a system in place that allows SNAP participants to purchase tokens with their EBT cards. These tokens can then be used to make purchases. Many states even reward SNAP participants for shopping at farmers’ markets with “double-up” programs. These programs match each dollar spent (up to a certain amount), allowing these households to receive more healthy and nutritious food using their benefits.
5 Clever Marketing & Promotion Tips For Your Farmers’ Market Stand
You’ve decided what to sell and where to sell it — now, it’s time to sit back and wait for customers, right? Wrong! While you won’t have to have a huge (and expensive) marketing campaign for your farmers’ market stand, there are some steps you need to take to make your business more appealing to shoppers.
Business Cards: A customer that isn’t interested in what you’re selling now may become a customer in the future, or you might have a customer that wants to spread the word about your business. Make sure that they can get in touch with you by passing out business cards. You can easily create business cards online and have them shipped to your door for a low price. Make sure to include critical contact information, including your name, the name of your business, your email address, social media or website links, and any other relevant information.
Email List: Allow your customers to sign up for an email list. There are lots of options for the emails you send, including new product announcements, upcoming sales, or your schedule if you attend multiple farmers’ markets and events. Mailchimp is one good option that’s free for small businesses.
Social Media: Social media isn’t just for connecting with overseas relatives and old classmates. Social media is a great outlet for advertising your business. Create a social media profile for your business and provide contact information, photos of your products, customer reviews, and important updates. You can also join groups in your area that allow you to interact with customers, take preorders, answer questions about your products, and more.
Dress Up Your Display: You can’t just throw your products on a table and expect them to sell. Sure, you may make a little bit of money, but to maximize profits, it’s time to pimp out your display. For this technique, you’ll have to invest a little bit of money, so make sure you budget and plan before implementation. Use signs, tablecloths, and decorations to make your space stand out. Arrange your products neatly and make sure that everything is labeled and priced correctly. This is your chance to really show off your personality, so take advantage of the opportunity to attract customers.
Offer Free Samples: Nothing in life is free — unless you’re a customer and businesses are giving out free samples. While providing samples of your products does come with some expenses, allowing your customers to try before they buy is a good way to get them interested … and have them reaching for their wallets. Provide small bites of your baked goods or testers for your natural lotions and body products. Before distributing your samples, make sure that you’re aware of all health regulations to keep your business in operations and provide a sanitary shopping experience for your customers.
Are You Ready To Start Selling At Farmers’ Markets?
On the surface, selling at a farmers’ market seems easy, but as you can see, there’s actually quite a bit of work that goes into planning, prepping, and selling your products. While it may take a lot of hard work and expense to sell your products and make a profit, there are many benefits to peddling your goods at farmers’ markets, including low costs, more personalized interaction with your customers, and creative freedom.
It’s up to you to determine if selling at a farmers’ market best fits your business goals. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward, we offer plenty of great resources to help you launch and operate your small business. From learning how to apply for a small business loan to choosing the right accounting software and POS systems, you’ll find everything you need to make your business dreams a reality. Good luck!
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