TL; DR: Do you dream of becoming a business owner but don’t know how to get started? Exchange Marketplace, a new venue empowering entrepreneurs to buy and sell eCommerce stores, could be just what you need. Rather than build a company from the ground up, Exchange users can browse thousands of existing Shopify sites until they find an entrepreneurial fit with the capacity for growth. With hands-on migration support, a secure exchange process, and free educational resources, the marketplace serves as a helpful gateway into the world of business ownership.
Baking a cake from scratch is overrated. Rather than spend my time carefully measuring ingredients according to a precise recipe, I prefer to hit up Betty Crocker, who’s already done the work for me. I then focus my efforts on the decorating part of the process because that’s where I shine.
When it comes to becoming a business owner, the story’s the same. Aspiring entrepreneurs don’t have to build a company from the ground up if that’s not where their talents lie. Instead of starting from scratch, many budding business moguls opt to add their flavor to an existing small business.
Now, thanks to Exchange Marketplace, that process is becoming easier than ever. The growing marketplace, which launched in June 2017, is empowering entrepreneurs to buy and sell eCommerce businesses securely.
“It’s a great way to find a business that already has proven traction, and then add your unique skills,” said Nicholas Montgomery, Exchange Growth Lead at Shopify. “Say you’re a great marketer or a great designer — you can find a site where another entrepreneur wasn’t able to figure out that piece, then take everything else and run with it.”
With verified sales and traffic data, knowledgeable migration support, and free educational resources, Exchange has made entrepreneurship a seamless process for thousands of buyers. Much like window shopping, the site makes browsing for your dream business painless — even for those who may have never considered becoming a business owner.
The Modern Way to Buy and Sell eCommerce Stores with Confidence
Nicholas told us Exchange serves a wide range of entrepreneurs. “This includes customers looking for anything from what we call a ‘starter store,’ which costs $100 to $500 and doesn’t have any revenue, all the way up to established stores that may have a storefront or wholesale component,” he said.
The marketplace also provides opportunities for current entrepreneurs to sell their stores to interested buyers. “If you’re not a $100 million company, you can’t just list your business on the stock exchange,” Nicholas said. “Without Exchange, you’d be on our own unless you went to a direct competitor to sell your business.”
On a larger scale, Nicholas said the marketplace helps businesses with the same supply chain or customer service tools find opportunities to merge. “There are a lot of different ways we’ve seen this product used over the last year, and that’s why it’s been so exciting to work on,” he said. “The users we’ve been speaking to have done all sorts of things that we hadn’t even thought they would.”
With a search segmented by business type, industry, and location, the platform makes finding the perfect opportunity easy. There are drop shipping businesses that feature integration with whole vendors like Aliexpress and Fulfillment by Amazon; print-on-demand stores for selling shirts, mugs, and more; and various types of retail stores. Industry categories include fashion, collectibles, sports, toys, stationery, pets, music, health, food, and more; and locations span the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.
A Secure Buying and Selling Process with Hands-On Migration Support
One of the biggest perks Exchange offers entrepreneurs is peace of mind through security measures. “In many cases, these are substantial transactions where you’re spending several thousand or even hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Nicholas said. “That’s why we have a dedicated team of people that manage the transfer between the two owners.”
Exchange has partnered with Escrow.com to ensure transactions are as low-risk as possible and guarantee sellers deliver what they promise. The service includes an inspection period, which means sellers won’t receive payment until buyers thoroughly vet the businesses.
To boost customer confidence, Exchange offers full transparency in terms of sales and traffic data. “Because data comes directly from Shopify, the listings are verified and cannot be edited or modified by the seller,” Nicholas said. “We put a lot of time into making sure the whole process is as secure as possible, from start up all the way to transferring your store,” Nicholas said.
One thing to note: Certain revenue sources aren’t included in Shopify’s database; for example, if the store has a wholesale channel or sells products through Amazon. “Keep in mind that, if there’s revenue from other sources besides the Shopify store, we’re not able to display it because we can’t verify it,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas told us the other benefit to using Exchange is that Shopify backs all transactions. “We’re not just here to flip the store and make a quick buck,” he said. “Exchange is a product of Shopify, which you’ll be using to run your new business. So we’re not just here with you for the sales process — we’re here for you when you’re growing the new business you’ve acquired.”
Sharpen Your eCommerce Skills with Free Educational Resources
Nicholas said Exchange’s goal is to provide the tools users need no matter what stage they’re at in their entrepreneurial journey — and that’s why the company offers a variety of free educational resources to help users on their way.
“Buying or selling a business is a huge life event for any entrepreneur — and it’s not one you should take lightly,” he said. “We expect you’ve been contemplating such a decision for a long time and have a lot of questions we want to help answer. With such a big decision, providing education and helping people wherever we can is essential.”
The company’s free eBook, “How to Buy an Ecommerce Business,” is a great first step. The guide includes information on the benefits of purchasing an existing business, how to find a business for sale, tips for evaluating eCommerce sites, lessons in website valuation, and how to transfer business ownership.
Entrepreneurs looking for additional information can turn to the company’s newly launched blog, which features articles on how to optimize traffic for a newly purchased store, questions to ask when considering buying an eCommerce venture, how to maximize listing views, and more.
“There are so many different moving parts and components involved in running a business, and I think that’s why it can be difficult for a lot of people to get started,” Nicholas said. “That’s also why there’s a lot of opportunity with Exchange if you don’t want to do 100% of it when you’re just getting started.”
The Story Behind the Stores: Owners Share Their Experiences
There’s Chelsea, the founder of Itsy-Bitsy, who sold her clothing store so she could handle the demands of single parenting. And Vincent, the entrepreneur behind Lensgrade.com, who struggles with online marketing and wants to sell his photo editing site to a buyer with SEO chops. Then there’s Jake, former owner of the Supreme Pride, who sold his up-and-coming apparel store so he could focus on another entrepreneurial effort.
Their stories are all featured on the Exchange Marketplace blog, which provides readers a window inside the minds of Shopify entrepreneurs.
“This goes back to identifying what you have in your skillset that another entrepreneur was missing, and adding fuel to the fire and that way,” Nicholas said. “Maybe the previous owner wasn’t great at operations, which caused a lot of problems for the business, but you are.”
In other cases, the site offers entrepreneurs in a no-win situation the opportunity to make the most of their hard work.
“There was an entrepreneur who said the reason he wasn’t successful was the bureaucracy in his country — it was too difficult to get licenses, ship products, and raise financing from the bank,” Nicholas said. “It was too bad, but because of Exchange, he sold the store instead of just shutting it down and wasting all the work he put into it.”
Nicholas said future goals for Exchange include videos documenting user experiences as well as product updates. Of course, that’s just the icing on the cake.