Where to Find eCommerce Businesses for Sale
Feb 27, 2024
Not long ago, owning a commercial retail business would have meant renting out a brick-and-mortar store and appealing to a limited pool of customers. Now, thanks to the internet, almost anyone can get into the eCommerce industry.
With an online store, you don't need to own inventory. You can be as ambitious as you like when it comes to your customers, and your potential reach is unlimited. You can sell to, and work from, anywhere in the world.
However, that doesn't mean that starting a store from nothing is easy. You'll need to build your customer base with marketing, source your products, and oversee your online store's software development. You can skip these steps entirely if you choose to buy an already established eCommerce store.
This guide will look at eCommerce marketplaces, and why these are the best locations to buy an online business. By the end, you'll know which eCommerce marketplaces are worth signing up for today.
Why eCommerce businesses are great investments
As with any big purchase, you should consider your circumstances carefully before you invest in an eCommerce business. But, if you have the funds available and you choose wisely, you can purchase a store that will bring money in from day one.
Let's look at four reasons why eCommerce businesses are worth the investment:
The demand for online stores continues to grow.
209.6 million people shopped online in the US in 2016. In comparison, this figure is set to hit a predicted 230.5 million by the end of 2021.
There is far more convenience in being able to source and buy products from a mobile device, rather than having to leave home and visit a particular location. Customers have access to a larger selection of products online, too, which means they're more likely to find the exact product they're after.
Cheaper to maintain
There's no denying that buying an eCommerce store upfront can be expensive. But, if you invest wisely, your store will provide a steady stream of income with minimal effort and money spent on your part.
Aside from buying stock, your biggest recurring spend as an online eCommerce store owner will be for your website's hosting, which typically costs $80-$730 per month. For a brick-and-mortar store, on the other hand, you will need to pay for everything: rent, stock, salaries of in-house staff, vendor agreements, renovations and design, insurance, licenses, permits, store equipment, and more. This could cost thousands of dollars per month.
Many expansion opportunities
With an eCommerce business, there's no limit on how big your store can be, and how quickly you can grow your customer base. If you land on a marketing tactic that works especially well in bringing in paying customers, there's nothing to stop you putting more money into this tactic and doubling, or even tripling, your revenue in a matter of months.
This year, eCommerce retail sales were expected to increase 13.7% to reach $908.73 billion. But the speed at which you increase your own sales is up to you. Of course, business growth is somewhat governed by marketing budget, but there's nothing stopping you from expanding into multichannel and international markets at a much faster rate than traditional retail stores.
Minimal effort required
As with the best investments, investing in an eCommerce business can be very low-maintenance. Many eCommerce website owners choose to outsource their processes to businesses that specialize in eCommerce management. Outsourcing is an increasingly popular option - the most recent statistics from 2019 estimated that the global outsourcing market amounted to 92.5 billion U.S. dollars. You can outsource tasks for a very small portion of your revenue, especially if you choose to outsource outside of the US.
Equally, if you'd rather have more control over your investment, you can choose to manage your business yourself. You should still consider automating the more repetitive processes to help you cut down your daily responsibilities.
Best places to find eCommerce businesses for sale
The benefits of owning a thriving eCommerce business are obvious - but how can you invest wisely?
This section of the guide will look at some of the best places to find eCommerce businesses for sale.
Shopify Exchange Marketplace
Shopify has its own marketplace for buying and selling eCommerce businesses, called Exchange. Businesses that are registered on Shopify have special access to this platform.
On Exchange, business owners can create listings and choose whether to make them public or private. Exchange offers a valuation for businesses before listings are created, but businesses don't have to stick to this if they don't want to - you can set your own price if you prefer.
As a buyer, you can search for businesses by type, including partner stores and dropshipping. There's also a "staff picks" section.
When a sale is made on Exchange, the store is transferred securely to the buyer. Exchange uses Escrow to minimize risks associated with the transfer of funds. The buyer deposits their funds into Escrow, and when the sale goes through, the funds are released to the seller.
Pricing: Contact for more information. Once you accept an offer and set up a transaction, the final service fee is disclosed.
To sum up, let's take a look at the pros and cons of Shopify Exchange Marketplace:
Business owners can create listings and set them public or private.
Businesses can set their own prices, even if they prefer. In other words, you can sell as high as you want.
Buyers can search for businesses of any type, including dropshipping companies.
Safe transactions with Escrow.
Works only with Shopify eCommerce websites
Flippa is another popular marketplace for buying and selling businesses. On this platform, you can narrow down your search for businesses by price, age, or category, and can choose between domains, websites, apps, services, SaaS, and more.
If you're looking for a well-established marketplace, Flippa should tick your boxes, having facilitated more than 250,000 sales. The site also has more than 120,000 registered buyers to this date.
Flippa offers curated search options that will be of value to you if you have very specific requirements for your eCommerce business. You can choose to search only for businesses with a minimum annual profit, or search for fast-growing or low-maintenance businesses.
If you're a first-time buyer, you may feel more secure using Flippa's optional concierge service. The site also offers a due diligence service and recommends financing and broker services.
Price: Dependent on sale amount; 5-15% transaction fee. Additional pricing listed on site.
Now, let's break down the positives and negatives of the Flippa marketplace:
You can buy websites, apps, SaaS companies, and more, plus filter by price, age, or category.
Large database of registered buyers.
Options to search for businesses with a minimum annual profit or fast-growing firms.
First-time buyers can take advantage of Filipa's due diligence services.
Possibility of fraud according to users. So, do your due diligence before trying to purchase an online firm from Flippa.
Empire Flippers is a curated marketplace that has helped people sell over $200 million worth of online businesses.
Hosting buyers and sellers across the world, Empire Flippers has fine-tuned its process to ensure the safest, most secure buying process on its marketplace.
All sellers are vetted on Empire Flippers, and a site's traffic and history of earnings are assessed before it is listed on the marketplace. Sellers can't list their websites unless they can prove they make at least $1,000 in monthly profit and have a minimum of 1 year's revenue.
You can view the current websites for sale on Empire Flippers without having to log in. Website prices begin in the thousands and peak at more than $7 million.
Price: 2-15% commission, paid by the seller upon completion.
Time to have a quick at the positives and negatives of Empire Flippers:
A curated marketplace with countless active buyers.
One of the most secure buying processes.
Sellers cannot list their websites unless they prove their business is profitable.
No need to create an account and log in to view the websites for sale.
Limited deals and hidden gems due to Empire Flippers extensive due diligence.
GetAcquired is an online marketplace designed for facilitating 6- and 7-figure deals with far less hassle or time-wasting.
The team behind GetAcquired understands how frustrating the business sales process can be, for both buyers and sellers, having been on both sides of the table. A lack of trust on both ends can lead to months of wasted time, delayed transactions, or dead-end communication. GetAcquired helps buyers and sellers achieve faster deals with less hassle, using its simplistic selling process.
A big benefit of GetAcquired is that it's free for buyers - there's no cost to sign up and simply browse your options. You can chat directly to business owners on the marketplace, then securely close a deal if and when you decide to.
The business listings on GetAcquired offer all the information you need to know before making such a big investment. You can see a business's summary, reason for sale, and verified metrics, including monthly recurring revenue (in which sellers connect their billing provider to GetAcquired).
First-time buyers can get the support they need on GetAcquired. You'll have a team of experts to help you handle the communications with a seller, negotiate pricing, and work towards a signed deal. If you're just browsing, you can sign up to get instant access to GetAcquired's current listings.
Price: Free to join.
Designed for facilitating 7-figure deals.
It helps buyers and sellers achieve better and faster deals with no hassle.
Free for buyers since there's no cost to sign up.
Buyers can chat with business owners directly.
Business listings contain every information imaginable, from reasons for sale to monthly recurring revenue.
With your own eCommerce store, you can have the security of knowing you've invested in an industry that only continues to grow, with no sign of stopping soon.
eCommerce businesses are ever-increasing in popularity. They're affordable to maintain and can be expanded much more easily than a physical store.
However, to reap the rewards of a successful eCommerce business, it's important that you buy the right store for your requirements. eCommerce marketplaces can be essential in helping you to understand your options and ultimately make a smart purchase.
Not all marketplaces are equal in the value they offer. Some may be more beneficial to sellers than buyers. It's important to do your research carefully and find a platform that offers equal value to both buyers and sellers when choosing a marketplace to join.