Building a successful eCommerce website is profitable and highly satisfying. However, you might one day reach the point of deciding to sell your eCommerce website in order to embark on new endeavors.
Before you do, think of the countless hours of work that have gone in. You may have made a mint off the site, but how can you ensure you sell your eCommerce website at top dollar as compensation for such stunning success?
To help meet your needs, we’ve built a three-step guide to preparing your website for sale. Don’t be fooled by the few steps though, lots of consideration needs to go into each.
Step 1. Run a Website Audit (or Two)
Website audits cover multiple areas and can give a very comprehensive technical status report. This report is essential to help you convince potential buyers that your eCommerce website is worth every penny they’re about to pay.
While the audit process can cover more or fewer areas, ensure that you touch as many of the critical bases as possible, including:
Many website owners start on solid ground and create a fantastic foundation. But as needs changed, you likely made significant changes over time. The money you have rolling in may have blinded you to the fact that your eCommerce website isn’t converting as well as it could.
If you haven’t been careful about your development roadmap, a new spotlight must be shined on web server speed and page load times. As an eCommerce site owner, you’re aware that performance affects user experience and conversion rates – You can bet that the prospect will know that as well.
Nothing says “I don’t value this website” louder than having multiple parts of it broken and unfixed. From missing images to broken links, everything needs to be working so buyers won’t frown and use “lots of work” as an excuse to pass over your website.
Apart from what goes on inside, potential buyers will also want to know the strength of your backlink profile. Unfortunately, this is something that’s often forgotten about when trying to sell a website. If you haven’t done this before, it may take some time.
Backlinks are a part of why our websites rank well, and I’m sure you’ve built a formidable portfolio of links over time. The question is; are you aware of how great a link portfolio you have? If you aren’t sure, you might be missing out on an opportunity to push up the price.
For eCommerce websites that focus on specific localities or regions, a local audit can come in handy. You’ll discover that having a focus region for sales can be a double-edged sword; it may turn off many buyers or drive prices up in the right scenarios.
Let’s consider the case of a brick-and-mortar store that’s looking to acquire an eCommerce website and integrate it as part of their business. If you’re able to match their regional needs, they may pay top dollar for it; if they have the correct information from you.
Knowing what you have in your backyard is an integral part of selling it. The larger a content base you have, the more it’s likely to be worth. A potential buyer could prize even the content that doesn’t seem significant to you.
When trying to improve our websites, the competitor audit is something that can be very helpful. You may be surprised to know it can help when you decided to sell your eCommerce website. If you cannot show how well your eCommerce site is doing comparatively, buyers may quickly lose interest.
Telling your potential buyers that you’re top dog won’t cut the ice. You need the numbers to show them that you’re worth more than them having to look elsewhere for another purchase option.
Step 2. Build Your Business Documentation
With the technical details out of the way, it’s time to show them the money. That means collecting all the necessary data to show interested buyers that your website is worth every penny they’re about to fork out.
The data and documents needed might be all over the place, so let’s instead consider the objectives to meet with the various sets of information.
Being able to show that your eCommerce website is profitable should be a no-brainer. Simplistically speaking, you need to ensure that revenue exceeds expenditure. Be prepared to let the numbers demonstrate that you can sustain a profit over time is more meaningful to many investors.
Having the numbers that show you’re earning money each year isn’t enough. Ideally, the numbers should be able to demonstrate clear growth. If this isn’t something you can achieve, consider selling on the potential for expansion to show other possibilities.
Also, be prepared for buyers not to want to take your data at face value. Some may require personal verification through access to some services you use. In such cases, granting temporary access is feasible but make sure you share any credentials like passwords securely.
I’ve found using a secure password manager handy for things like this. It allows you to share passwords securely, without risking having them transmitted in the open.
Legal & Regulation
eCommerce websites have to adhere to specific regulations depending on the regions served. No buyer wants to be caught with his pants down by the law, so make sure you have a clear outline of the regulations you’re compliant with and the accompanying proof.
What you want to convince buyers of is that your eCommerce site is profitable, or at the very least, has the potential to grow into something worth their money. Along the way, it also has to give them minimal problems, technical, business, or legal.
Step 3. Find the Right Platform to Sell Your eCommerce Website
Now that you’ve prepared all the things needed to convince potential buyers to offer the best price, it’s time to find the best place to list your website. There are many ways you can flip your websites via an auction, through a website broker, or even sticking up a “For Sale” notice.
Before you go ahead and try out all of them, consider the pros and cons of each platform. Flippa is recognized as one of the top places to go if you’re trying to sell. The platform offers comprehensive listing features and allows a safe bidding and transaction process to take place if things go well.
Being an industry leader, Flippa also offers other benefits, such as attracting more buyers to the website listings. Websites sold here have hit as high as over a million dollars, so you can be sure yours will get the proper attention.
Listing a site in this manner will also help you showcase all the hard work that’s gone into your eCommerce website. Visibility is prominent, and you’ll feel vindication each time you see a bid icon light up for your listing.
What Helps Grab premium Website Prices
Once you have decided to sell your eCommerce website it’s natural that you want to get maximum value out of the sale. There are two main conditions that can help you grab a premium price: potential and risk.
Although website buyers can be a very diverse group of people, many are savvy in money-making. That’s where they got the cash to buy your website. Because of this, you need to adopt a very business-oriented mentality when preparing your site for sale.
The closer your eCommerce website leans towards being a low-risk, high return on investment (ROI), the higher a price it is likely to fetch.
That being said, however, assuming you were to sell your eCommerce website on Flippa, here are a few tips and tactics that can help you outsell your competitors:
Tip #1 Be Descriptive
Many unsuccessful auctions on Flippa have very little information in the description. From a buyer’s perspective, if you’re not willing to go into some detail about your site it’s usually a bad sign. As a general rule, you should put the same effort into selling your business as you put into running your business.
You need to have a high-level summary or overview at the top of the auction copy and then use the rest of the description to dig into the details. Use headers to break up the blocks of text and point directly to the various sections in your auction copy.
Tip #2 Attention To Detail
While most buyers will be forgiving of a misspelling or two, you’ll want to make sure that your data and statistics are tighter across the board. It’s a red flag if you’re mentioning 7,435 visits per month and then saying 9,305 visits further down the auction copy.
If English isn’t your native language, pay someone to write your copy in a way that you just plug in the numbers from the website you’re selling. It’s more than worth a few dollars up front for the extra value this can bring your listing in the end.
Flippa offers a number of listing upgrade options which can help to not only improve your listing but to also put it in front of more buyers.
Tip #3 Transparency As A Differentiator
People tend to buy from people they know, like, and trust. It may be hard to build rapport in your auction content but consider linking out to your social profiles and show you’re a “real person”.
Buyers find it scary bidding on auctions that are anonymous, so successful sellers often put a link to their blog, LinkedIn profile, etc. This shows buyers that you are not hiding and it communicates confidence that you are someone they can work with should there be any problems.
Since many sellers prefer to remain anonymous, being transparent is a great way for your site to stand out.
Tip #4 Stop Overselling
Buyers do have a “If it’s too good to be true…” philosophy, so stating that your $800 site could, “easily be earning $1,000 per month in a couple of weeks” isn’t going to help.
It’s ok to paint a positive picture, but you’re much better off taking a matter-of-fact approach. Don’t focus on figures when it comes to explaining the site’s potential.
Over emphasizing figures might also low-ball the value that a prospective buyer sees in your site. (e.g Saying your site has the potential to earn $1,000 per month when the buyer sees an opportunity for $5,000 per month). Provide enough information for buyers to work out the potential of the business for themselves.
Tip #5 Respond Quickly
Buyers are more likely to purchase from an excited seller. If you get a message within the discussions porthole, be sure to respond within 24 hours. If you are slow to respond, the buyer will either think you aren’t serious about selling, or that you aren’t a trustworthy person. Nobody wants to purchase a business from a person who doesn’t even respond to a simple question.
Tip #6 Don’t Sell Short During “The Dip”
You’ll get an initial burst of views when your auction goes live and then things will slow down. Way down. The middle of your auction is the dark period where there won’t be nearly as many views.
Savvy buyers know this and will try to reach out and get you to short-sell your site to them directly. If they make an offer you’re happy with, feel free to take it…but we’ve found that these offers are generally much lower than the price we ultimately get by keeping the auction going.
Tip #7 Promote Outside Of Flippa
While Flippa will do everything they can to help you sell your eCommerce website at auction successfully, it doesn’t hurt to help them out! When you’re starting your auction, your job is clear – get as many targeted visitors to your auction as possible.
Look at where you hang out online and see if you can use your authority in that space to drive interest to your auction. If you’re selling a site in the health niche and are a regular member in a health forum, consider linking to your auction in your signature. Search for related posts in that forum and add value to the conversation. This will naturally lead to more visits to your auction.
Don’t be spammy, a soft approach is best. Include your link as a regular part of your conversation and you’ll do just fine.
By now, you probably think that what we’ve covered here sounds like a lot of work for a three-step process. The fact is that there’s a big difference between trying to get your site sold and ensuring it sells for the best price.
Remember that you’re auctioning off the fruits of your labor. Treat your website (and potential buyer) with the respect they deserve. Don’t be in a hurry to wash your hands of everything. Buyers can sense a rushed sale and will try their best to capitalize on it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a professional eCommerce website cost?
The cost of building a successful eCommerce website from scratch can be considerable. Prices easily run into the tens to hundreds of thousands because of the many areas of attention. You’ll need to include the cost of development, marketing, content, maintenance, and more.
How do you value an eCommerce website?
There are various approaches to valuing an eCommerce website, but profitability and historical earnings are common areas to observe. A quick valuation would be multiplying net profit over the past 12 months by a number between 1.5 to 3.5.
How much does an eCommerce website cost in 2020?
Like all other websites, you need to consider the scope of the eCommerce website to know how much it’ll cost. Professionally done websites are expensive, but DIY starter sites can be built using tools like Shopify for as low as tens of dollars each month.
Is it worth getting into eCommerce?
Retail eCommerce has steadily grown, and total market value should exceed $6 billion by 2024. Like other industry verticals, a more significant focus needs to go into a strategy rather than a pure market forecast – but the potential in eCommerce is clear.
What is the best eCommerce business?
If you find the right approach, any eCommerce business can rake in profits. Your choice can also be affected by the resources you have on hand as well. For instance, solopreneurs can consider a niche product instead of generalizing to focus efforts on specific areas.