Selling items on online platforms

You want to sell products through online platforms such as Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Zalando, Marktplaats, Etsy or bol.com. So you sign up to such a platform as a seller, giving you access to millions of buyers. But is it really as simple as it seems? Read here how to get customers through online marketplaces and what about terms and conditions, costs and creating a sales account.

From starting to experienced entrepreneur, you are constantly looking for ways to increase your sales. CBS research (in Dutch) shows that by 2020, almost 8% of businesses were selling products through an online platform. Almost 2% of these companies only sold via online platforms, so without their own website or app. Do you also want to sell your items via a platform? Then take into account the following:

Rules

General terms and conditions

There are rules governing the transparency of online platforms. For instance, platforms have to be open about general terms and conditions. So that your customer knows your payment terms and warranty policy.

Also, be clear about what your company does. Add your company details and make it clear what service you offer. That way, your customer knows who they are doing business with. And remind the customer of the legal cooling-off period: a customer can always cancel the purchase 14 days after receiving the product.

You must also comply with the rules on delivery. Explain how you deliver the product, always deliver within 30 days and describe what your customer can do if you do not deliver on time.

Reviews, discounts and more

If you do business with consumers via an online shop, sales platform, or social media, you have to comply with rules on reviews, discounts, 'free' online services and comparison sites, among other things.

Security

If you import and sell products through an online platform, you are responsible for the safety of these items. Avoid bringing unsafe goods onto the market. The platform you sell on can take goods offline and the NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) can force you to recall the products and/or give you a fine.

Sustainability

From 2024, large companies will have to report on how sustainable their supply chain is. This includes online platforms. If you sell your products via an online platform, you may be asked questions from the platform, for instance about how and where your product is made.

Platforms and KVK number

If you want to sell products via for example, bol.com's partner programme, you have to meet a number of conditions. One is that you are registered at KVK. Sometimes you have to be at least 18 years old to open a business account with a sales platform. To register with KVK, you do not have to be 18 years old. So, pay close attention to the platform's conditions.

Do you want to register with KVK? Then check these conditions first. Then fill in the registration form and make an appointment. You choose your own date, time and place. You pay a one-off fee for your registration. You will be given your KVK number at the appointment. Sometimes a platform does not process your registration until several weeks have passed (in the case of bol.com up to 10 weeks) after you have registered with the KVK.

Conditions and costs

Selling via a platform costs money. Usually, you pay a monthly fee for a business account on a platform. Sometimes a fee per sale is added. This is usually a percentage of the turnover and can vary per product category. And you may have to pay for extra options. Think of a link with your social media channels, a payment module or a chat module.

You can also advertise on the platforms. You can pay extra to appear higher in the search results. This way, customers find you faster.

Shop page

As a partner of the platform, you set up your own shop page. This contains information about your online shop, contact details and conditions. Here, visitors will also see how other customers rate your shop and find an overview of your offer.

Product descriptions and returns

Be complete in your product descriptions. Do not just give the specifications, but also show the advantages of your product and tell what the customer will gain by buying it. This extra information attracts customers and reduces returns.

If customers still return your products, ask them for the reason for return. Improve your product information accordingly. This will prevent returns in the future.

Frequently asked questions

You can also put a heading of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on your website. This way, customers can find a lot of information and solve problems themselves. With a good FAQ, you will receive fewer e-mails, saving you time. In the FAQ, you can put questions and answers about, for example:

  • payment
  • exchange and returns
  • order processing
  • shipment
  • warranty

Quality mark

As a seller on online platforms and marketplaces, you can join Thuiswinkelwaarborg. Here, you can get a certificate, which allows you to stand out from your competitors and achieve a higher ranking on the platform. The certification shows that you comply with laws and regulations and that your buyers can make use of complaints mediation and independent help to solve problems.

Service standards

Online platforms often measure response times. Such a time indicates how long it takes a seller to respond. For example, bol.com expects you to handle ninety percent of customer queries within eight business hours. This can be done through the platforms' systems, or via email, for example. So make sure you can always respond to your customers quickly enough. This will keep your customers happy with you as a seller.

Also make sure you have enough products in stock. In case of delivery problems, some platforms put you lower on the ranking. This makes you less findable for customers. Sometimes platforms can even close your sales account.

Fulfilment

Many online platforms also take care of packaging and shipping your products. This is called fulfilment. Using this service saves you work. You pay an agreed amount per package sent.

Dropshipping

You can choose to buy products from a (foreign) supplier and have them delivered directly to the online platform or customer. This is called dropshipping. An advantage of dropshipping is that you are not stuck with goods you do not sell. A disadvantage is that you do not see the goods yourself. So you have no control over the quality.

Trademark registration

For certain product groups, platforms like Amazon and bol.com require that the brand under which you sell the products has an official registration in the Benelux trademark register. You arrange this through BOIP. This is not always done quickly and easily. Among other things, you first have to investigate whether the trademark is not registered in someone else's name. The basic fee for a trademark registration is €244.

Would you also like to sell your products via your own website and build your name and brand? Then follow the handy step-by-step plan for starting an online shop.

General starter information