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Selling Custom Lapel Pins: Choosing an Online Sales Channel

Like finding the perfect location for a brick and mortar shop, choosing the perfect sales channels...

Custom Pins

Like finding the perfect location for a brick and mortar shop, choosing the perfect sales channels for marketing custom lapel pins depends on many factors. Who's your target audience? Do just want to just get your custom pins out on the market or are you building your own brand? Which channel has the easiest interface?

While you're not paying rent, online shops have to also factor the cost to sell lapel pins on a platform based on listing fees and commissions. Choosing an online sales channel becomes a careful balancing act between finding a niche for your custom pins and accessing a big market.

The Big Fish: Selling Custom Pins on Amazon and eBay

Even a decade ago, Amazon and eBay were making big splashes in online retail. Now, they’re a household name synonymous with online shopping or world domination depending on who you ask. Both platforms give sellers access to millions of potential customers for your custom pins. But, your own brand might run the risk of getting overshadowed by these big names.

Amazon: The Worldwide Department Store

Where 55 percent of online shoppers start their search, Amazon is the world’s biggest online marketplace of anything you could ask for. Selling on Amazon instantly gets your custom pins in front of thousands of potential customers. Not to mention, fraud protection for both buyers and sellers protecting your business from fraud and boosting buyer confidence.

Order fulfillment by Amazon gives your pins access to the platform’s vaunted free two-day shipping and leaves the often messy task of shipping errors and returns to the Amazon platform. However, getting your brand or personal work to stand out is going to be a struggle. Amazon is one of the biggest online retailers and it’s easy for your personal brand to get subsumed by the platform’s effort to create a streamlined shopping experience. When customers buy something off of Amazon, they're probably going to say “I bought off Amazon,” rather than buying it from you.

eBay: The Internet’s Auction House

Once the biggest marketplace online, eBay has lost ground to Amazon and other specialized selling services but the auction-based website remains one of the internet’s biggest retail platforms with 177 million active users. Not to mention, eBay’s market platform has a reputation as the go-to place for rare vintage and custom collectible items with many more users looking for specialty items like custom pins.

For pin designers just getting started, eBay doesn’t charge a fee for your first 50 product listings every month (though they do take a commission on sales,) letting you test the market for your designs and build up a portfolio of products or keep your shop small if you want to selling custom pins as a side gig. While eBay is known for its auction-style listings, it has long adopted straight purchases of products on its platform as well.

While still providing a streamlined shopping experience, eBay’s online sales channel lets you customize and personalize your own shop to a much greater degree than Amazon. Unfortunately, just like Amazon, eBay puts its own branding first and foremost on its listings, with your shop information squeezed at the very bottom of your own listings.

Selling Custom Pins on Smaller Platforms

Once, eBay was the only major sales channel the average person could list off the top of their heads. However, today’s market is filled with dozens of smaller online sales channels catering to specific markets and interests.

Etsy: The Creative Boutique

A shopping platform reputed for crafty knickknacks and custom accessories, Etsy is a great place for new brands or designers to establish their personal niche. At 47 million visitors a month, Etsy’s platform is noticeably smaller than both eBay and Amazon but its customers are part of a creative crowd much more likely to be interested in custom lapel pins.

In fact, Etsy’s biggest selling point (pun intended) is the interests of the people who shop on Etsy. While customers on eBay or Amazon are on the lookout for a great deal, shoppers on Etsy are looking for unique customized items with creative designs. A well-designed pin collection can do very well for itself on this platform by targetting specific creative niches.

Compared to channel giants eBay and Amazon, Etsy is much more supportive of shops establishing their own brands by putting sellers at the forefront of their product pages and offering easy ways to personalize and manage a shop with minimal setup fees for sellers to get their shops off the ground. However, Etsy does charge a listing fee for each new product and takes a commission from each sale.

Social Media: Everyone’s Internet Channel

Chances are you’re already plugged into social media and use it as an elementary part of promoting your designs and letting people know about your custom pins. However, more than a few social media channels also allow users to sell directly on their platforms, and we’re not talking the yard-sale social media blasts your friends make whenever they move, but fully-functioning e-commerce platforms.

With just about everyone already logged in, selling custom pins on social media can simplify the startup process, especially if you or your brand already have a ton of followers. As pins are a highly visual product, we recommend using established social media channels with a strong emphasis on images and pictures like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. One big downside to selling on social media is that as big of an audience there might be, people simply don’t visit their Facebook pages specifically to shop or spend. You’ll need to work much harder to find actual customers unless you’ve got an established following or you’ve really put your A-game to promote and find a niche.

Making a Choice

Obviously, you want to choose a platform that’ll get you the most customers and the biggest profit margins, but each online sales channel caters to a different audience and a different selling mentality. If you’re simply looking for a place to get your pins on the market, then Amazon and eBay have the biggest audiences and streamlined shopping. However, if you’re looking to build your brand and create a market identity, then Etsy can be a great place to grow. It all comes down to identifying your selling needs and finding the right platform for your needs.

Just getting started with your custom pins? All About Pins can get you started. With over a decade of experience designing high-quality pins for artists, designers, and major brands, we're one of the leading manufacturers in the market.

Start a free quote today and get a full-color art proof of your custom pin design.

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