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7-й Международный ПЛАС-Форум «Online & Offline Retail»
Рады сообщить о начале подготовки 7-го Международного ПЛАС-Форума «Online & Offline Retail 2020», который состоится в московском КВЦ «Сокольники» 07-08 октября 2020 года.
«Online & Offline Retail 2020» является признанной площадкой для всестороннего обсуждения участниками рынка реалий современного офлайн-ритейла и электронной коммерции, а также перспектив дальнейшей интеграции розничной индустрии со смежными отраслями.
На Форуме будут рассмотрены мировые тренды ритейла и ключевые аспекты госрегулирования и саморегулирования, ведущие эксперты-практики представят собственные кейсы реализации уникальных концепций и форматов розничной торговли в России и за рубежом, расскажут о новых сферах применения инновационных технологий, в т. ч. в логистике, инкассации, обслуживании покупателей, новых направлениях развития e-commerce, трансформации программ лояльности и новых возможностях формирования клиентского опыта, а также обсудят результаты запуска в эксплуатацию проекта Системы быстрых платежей, перспективы развития малого и среднего бизнеса и др.
В ходе Конференции апрельского ПЛАС-Форума будут обсуждаться следующие темы:
- Ритейл 2020. Тренды и перспективы
- Сетевой офлайн-ритейл
- Госрегулирование и саморегулирование
- Сети и поставщики
- Трансграничная онлайн-торговля
- Эквайринговые сервисы
- Технологии в ритейле
- Лояльность и маркетинг
- Банки и ритейл
- Фулфилмент и логистика
- Платежные инструменты в ритейле
- Безопасность торгового объекта
- Инкассация и самоинкассация
ПЛАС-Форум соберет на своей площадке больше 1300 профессионалов. Среди них:
– ведущие эксперты в области онлайн- и офлайн-ритейла;
– владельцы и топ-менеджеры торговых сетей, HoReCa и интернет-магазинов;
– топ-менеджеры и ведущие специалисты банковских структур;
– представители регуляторов рынка;
– руководство и эксперты вендоров программных решений и оборудования;
– представители иных структур.
Приглашаем спикеров и вендоров к участию в новом ПЛАС-мероприятии! Для этого напишите по адресу [email protected] или позвоните по телефону: +7 925 005 40 05 (зампредседателя Оргкомитета Константин Гризов).
Параллельно с Конференцией будет работать наиболее представительная выставка оборудования, технологий и бизнес-решений ведущих российских и зарубежных компаний. Здесь вы получите уникальную возможность оценить успешность каждого из решений на примере соответствующих бизнес-кейсов, узнаете о максимально успешной интеграции инноваций в свой бизнес.
О том, как проходила работа на 6-м ПЛАС-Форуме «Online & Offline Retail 2020», вы можете узнать из видеосюжета, а также из отзывов делегатов Форума.
Ознакомиться с итогами обсуждения перспектив развития розничной индустрии в России и мире вы также можете в наших итоговых материалах, фотографий и видеосюжетов.
Спешите зарегистрироваться для участия в апрельском ПЛАС-Форуме – число мест уже ограничено! Примите участие в ПЛАС-Форуме в качестве делегата. Спешите, количество мест ограничено!
Напоминаем, что участие бесплатно для сотрудников:
– торговых сетей,
– производителей товаров массового потребления,
– компаний АЗК,
Место проведения ПЛАС-Форума: Москва, Конгрессно-выставочный центр «Сокольники», павильон № 4.
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21 Alternative Search Engines to Use in 2020
When we talk about SEO and search engines, we instantly think of Google. But did you know there are lots of alternative search engines out there with just as much to offer?
Google is a globally recognized search engine and an industry giant, in fact, even the second biggest “search engine” is Google Images, according to this study:
Search engine market share
Even if it’s the biggest and most well known, it doesn’t mean it’s your only choice.
One of the main reasons that people choose to use an alternative search engine instead is for increased privacy, as Google is known to track user data both for its own and third-party use.
If you’ve only ever used Google, check out some of the other search engines and you might find something that you prefer.
Our Guide to Alternative Search Engines
Before we dive in and start thinking about alternative search engines, ask yourself some questions about what you actually want from a search engine:
- What is the best search engine other than Google?
- Which search engine is the safest?
- What is the best search engine for privacy?
- Which search engine is best?
Check out this curated search engine list, containing some you may have heard of and some that may be new to you:
Bing search engine
Microsoft’s Bing is the second largest search engine after Google.
It’s easy to use and provides a more visual experience with beautiful daily background photos. Bing is great for video searches, as it displays results as large thumbnails that can be previewed with sound by hovering over them.
Just like Google, Bing is full of internal features like currency conversion, translation, and flight tracking, making it a really versatile tool that holds its own in the global market. Make sure to read our in-depth guide on Bing Webmaster Tools.
While you’re likely familiar with Bing, you might not know that it offers a Rewards scheme. When you shop or search through Bing, you earn points that can be put towards purchasing apps and movies, which is pretty handy.
DuckDuckGo search engine
DuckDuckGo is a popular search engine for those who value their privacy and are put off by the thought of their every query being tracked and logged.
It has a very clean interface with minimal ads and infinite scrolling, so the user experience is nice and streamlined. There’s absolutely zero user tracking, and you can even add DuckDuckGo’s extension to your browser to keep your activity private.
The search engine has a really useful feature called bangs, which allows you to search directly within another website from DuckDuckGo by typing a prefix. For example, typing “!ebay magic the gathering” would take you directly to eBay’s search results for the query “magic the gathering”.
Yahoo search engine
Yahoo has been around for even longer than Google, and while some see it as outdated, it’s still the third most popular search engine worldwide. It’s even the default search engine for Firefox.
One of the great things about Yahoo is that it’s so much more than just a search engine. Yahoo’s web portal offers email, news, online shopping, games and more, giving a well-rounded user experience in one place.
Its integration with Flickr, Yahoo Answers, and Yahoo Finance mean that it offers better image results and huge amounts of information on various topics.
Ask search engine
Once known as Ask Jeeves, the simple question-and-answer format of Ask allows for natural-language searches. This makes it very user-friendly, especially for those who are less familiar with search engines such as older computer users.
The search results also display frequently asked questions that are related to your search term, which can provide handy resources and help you to further your search.
Baidu search engine
Baidu is the leading search engine in China, with a share of over 70% of China’s internet market. Although in Mandarin, it is strikingly similar to Google. It looks similar in terms of design, it is monetized through ads and it uses rich snippets in search results.
However, Baidu is heavily censored. Certain images and even pro-democracy websites are blocked on the search engine.
WolframAlpha search engine
WolframAlpha is a privately owned search engine that allows you to “compute expert-level answers using Wolfram’s breakthrough algorithms, knowledgebase, and AI technology.”
It’s designed to deliver expert knowledge and is categorized into Mathematics, Science & Technology, Society & Culture, and Everyday Life. Within these are various subcategories and useful tools that allow you to compute data, research statistics and find expert answers to your questions (you’ll see an example in a minute).
Along with being a hub of expert knowledge, WolframAlpha doesn’t track your searches, offering peace of mind when it comes to privacy.
Boardreader search engine
Boardreader is a search engine for forums and message boards. It allows you to search forums and then filter down results by date and language.
It’s a useful tool for doing content research as it makes it very easy to find content written by real users within the topic. If you aren’t familiar with the niche in order to know the best forum to visit, Boardreader can be a good place to start.
Startpage search engine
A bit like DuckDuckGo, StartPage was founded with strict user privacy at its core. It doesn’t track or store any of your data. It also doesn’t target ads based on your browsing behaviors.
Startpage claims to be “The world’s most private search engine”. You’ll be able to get similar results to those you’d see from a completely private Google search.
As well as being a search engine, Startpage offers a proxy service that allows you to browse websites anonymously for improved online safety. They even have a custom URL generator that means you can browse without the need to set cookies.
All of this is presented in a smart, clean interface that can be set to various themes, including Night Mode, providing a super-functional user interface.
Ecosia search engine
Heavy search engine usage does have an environmental impact on CO2 emissions. That’s where Ecosia comes in: the CO2 neutral alternative search engine.
For every search made (powered by Bing), the revenue generated goes towards its tree-planting scheme. On average, roughly 45 searches are needed to make a single tree.
Qwant search engine
Based in France, Qwant is a privacy-based search engine that won’t record your searches or use your personal details for advertising.
The user-friendly interface categorizes your search results into web, news and social, and there’s even a dedicated music section that uses AI to help you search for lyrics and discover new music.
It uses a quick-search function where you can enter “&” in front of the name of a website (or a dedicated shortcode) to see external search results instantly. For example, “&w” or “&wikipedia” allows you to immediately access results from Wikipedia directly from Qwant.
11. Search Encrypt
Search encrypt search engine
Another privacy-based search engine is Search Encrypt, which uses local encryption to ensure that users’ identifiable information cannot be tracked.
As a metasearch engine, Search Encrypt gets its results from a network of search partners, providing well-rounded results that aren’t personalized to your history.
A really interesting feature of this search engine is that it automatically erases your local browsing history after 15 minutes of inactivity. This means that you never have to worry about your privacy, even if someone else has access to your computer.
SearX search engine
Offering unbiased results from several sources, SearX is a metasearch engine that aims to present a free, decentralized view of the internet.
It’s an open source search engine that is available to everyone for a source code review, as well as contributions on GitHub. There’s even the option to customize it and host it on your server as your own search engine.
SearX offers many preferences and settings that can’t be found on other search engines, giving great usability and fast, precise results.
Yandex search engine
As the fifth most popular search engine worldwide, Yandex is used extensively in its native Russia, where it holds around 60% of the search engine market share.
It provides a very similar service to Google, and you can search websites, images, videos, and news in a user-friendly layout. With additional features including mobile apps, maps, translation, cloud storage and more, Yandex offers just as much functionality but with a cleaner interface.
Gibiru search engine
Gibiru’s tagline is “Unfiltered private search” and that’s exactly what it offers.
By downloading its AnonymoX Firefox add-on, all of your searches are sent through a proxy IP address. This provides you with private and unbiased search results and ensures that other computer users won’t be able to track your history.
Search queries aren’t saved on Gibiru’s servers and the records are erased within seconds of the search being performed.
15. Disconnect Search
Disconnect search search engine
Disconnect allows you to conduct anonymous searches through a search engine of your choice.
When you enter a search term, your query is rerouted and anonymized through Disconnect’s servers before being passed on to the search engine you selected. This allows you to use your favorite search engine without any privacy issues.
Disconnect also offers browser extensions and apps that allow you to block tracking sites, load pages faster, view advertising requests and many more privacy-based functions.
Yippy search engine
Yippy is another great choice for privacy, as it doesn’t track your searches or show customized adverts. It allows you to search different types of content including websites, images, news, jobs, blogs, and government data.
While it doesn’t give you a huge amount of results for your query, Yippy also allows you to filter the results using a variety of categories such as source, time, or topics to give you the most relevant websites.
Swisscows search engine
Swisscows provides fully encrypted searches to protect your privacy and security. It doesn’t store personal data, IP addresses or search queries, and its servers are based in Switzerland, which has some of the world’s strictest privacy policies.
It’s particularly popular with parents who want to give their children a safe search experience, as its built-in filter for pornography and violence can’t be overridden.
It uses semantic information recognition to offer intuitive answers to search queries, and data pools to generate answers quickly and efficiently. The innovative semantic map shows other relevant or popular queries, helping to give you even more information.
Lukol search engine
Lukol is an anonymous search engine that serves results from Google but maintains your privacy by removing any traceable elements.
This means that you can still benefit from Google’s search power without worrying about being tracked. Lukol ensures the full anonymity of your searches and helps to keep you safe by protecting you from misleading or inappropriate sites.
In terms of functionality, it’s quite a simple search engine. You can choose from web, images, news, and videos for your search, but there aren’t any options to filter results.
MetaGer search engine
MetaGer offers “Privacy Protected Search & Find” through its anonymized search. They are a nonprofit organization, so they have nothing to gain by tracking your searches, and they only use green energy, adding to the sense of trust.
MetaGer is a metasearch engine that queries up to 50 external search engines, giving variety and depth to its results. It does not take clickthrough rate into account when it processes a query, so results are unfiltered and unbiased. They even offer maps and route-planning without tracking your location.
You can also download a plugin that sets MetaGer as your default search engine and start page to ensure your searches always remain private.
Gigablast search engine
Gigablast is a private search engine that indexes millions of websites and servers real-time information without tracking your data, keeping you hidden from marketers and spammers.
It’s not the most attractive search engine out there, but it offers a variety of options for filtering or personalizing your query, including searching by language, exact phrase, and file type. Along with web, news, and images, Gigablast also offers a directory and a comprehensive advanced search function.
Oscobo search engine
Oscobo is a search engine that protects your privacy while you search the web. By not using any third-party tools or scripts, your data is protected from hacking and misuse.
By encrypting all traffic, it delivers anonymous search results without any form of tracking, including IP addresses and cookies. Oscobo won’t send the search term to the site that you click on or share your personal data or search history.
You can search by web, images, videos, and maps for great usability. There is also a Chrome extension that allows you to search privately from the Chrome bar for easy access to secure queries.
What Is the Best Search Engine Other Than Google?
There is zero doubt that Google is the biggest and arguably the best search engine out there, thanks to its powerful algorithms and AI.
So, choosing to browse the internet without using Google may seem like an odd thing to try. But being the best search engine comes at a cost.
It is well-known that Google personalizes your browsing experience at the cost of sharing your personal data and by allowing Google to track you across the internet. For some, this personalization may become annoying at least.
What’s more, many of these alternatives have different features and approaches to privacy to offer you. So go ahead and give one a try, you might even end up with better search results.
Here are some ways you can use these alternative search engines:
Perform a Bang Search on DuckDuckGo
A DuckDuckGo bang is a shortcut that quickly takes you to search results on other sites.
For example, when you want to search on another site (like Wikipedia, Amazon, GitHub, Stack Overflow ect) just add a ! to the search bar:
Bang search with DuckDuckGo
You’ll be able to select from a large list of target sites and perform a search. The bang will then take you directly to the search results page on the website you just defined. Useful for when you know you want to search on another site.
Check if Websites are Down on DuckDuckGo
Another one from DuckDuckGo here. You can quickly and easily check whether a website is down by searching: “is X down”:
Website status DuckDuckGo
Preview Images in the Results on Bing
Just hover over an image in the search results to get a preview of the image:
Preview images with Bing
If you hover over thumbnail images in Bing Video Search, you’ll also get a short preview of the video. This helps you to quickly check whether a clip is relevant without visiting the website.
Compare Websites in WolframAlpha
Using WolframAlpha, you can do a quick website comparison of any web address.
Website comparison with WolframAlpha
Data is pulled from right from Alexa’s database to give you a quick high-level view of two websites.
What Is the Best Search Engine for Privacy?
So you want to search the web without compromising your privacy? Then you better use a private search engine.
But What Is a Private Search Engine?
A private search engine is a search engine that does not track its users’ data and delivers search results with additional protection and levels of data privacy.
The best search engines for privacy are:
Let’s look at them a little closer in terms of protecting your privacy:
Best Private Search Engine #1: DuckDuckGo
Best Private Search Engine #2: StartPage
This is just a snapshot of the world of alternative search engines and what they can offer.
Whether you’re looking for more privacy, improved usability, or unbiased results, there are plenty of options out there to choose from. Try a few out and see how you get on. You never know, you might find a new favorite. Or a Google’s sidekick, at least.
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Sick of eBay? Try the best alternative places to sell in 2020 .
So you’re in a funk with eBay, or maybe you’re just looking out into the big wide world of selling platforms to see what opportunities lay yonder. Either way, you’ve ended up here, and you wonder about the top alternatives to eBay and which ones will suit you most.
No one can deny the power of eBay: Since 1995, eBay has held its place as one of the largest marketplaces in the world. It has turned thousands of hobbyists into PowerSellers and allowed thousands more to run profitable, at-home businesses. However, the eBay marketplace has evolved significantly in recent years, and various policy changes have prompted an exodus from eBay, as sellers look for other, more lucrative online marketplaces.
Where there’s a will there’s a way, and this rise in need for other platforms has produced more options than you can shake the proverbial stick at. So what are these eBay alternatives?
Below you’ll find a description of each site, some information about who that marketplace is best suited to and a direct comparison to eBay.
Top alternatives include:
Amazon: A Major Marketplace like eBay, but Cheaper
It’s almost hard to believe that once upon a time Amazon was simply an online bookstore that dropshipped much of its inventory. The world’s largest online book store, sure, but it only sold books. It has since exploded into one of the world’s most visited websites, which offers millions of products across a range of product categories.
Amazon is similar to eBay in that you’re opting into a very large marketplace that a lot of buyers trust, but the massive customer base comes at the price of higher fees and more competition.
In saying that, the large number of people looking to buy is a definite plus. With larger platforms like these, you need to think of it as getting a smaller slice of a larger pie. The slice may be a smaller in proportion to the whole pie, but the size of the pie means that you’re still getting a decent amount. This huge traffic volume is probably the main reason that Amazon’s Sellers Choice profitability rating was similar to eBay’s.
Amazon also uses a built-in algorithm that will recommend your products to people who might be interested in them based on their search histories. The vast majority of purchases are made through the Amazon buy box.
How Amazon Compares Directly to eBay
Want to know exactly what you’ll get with Amazon that you haven’t had with eBay? Here’s the list:
- Amazon is similar to eBay in that they’re both large networks with a very large range of product categories.
- eBay is essentially an auction house, so unless you choose to list your item as “Buy It Now” people will bid to buy and it might take a week to sell an item. Amazon is a traditional retail setup, and sales are instant with a fixed price.
- eBay charges sellers for listing on the site, regardless of success, as well as taking a commission when a sale is made. You can list on Amazon for free, which is safer (you have nothing to lose if a listing is unsuccessful), but you’ll pay $0.99 per item sold on top of the commission for the sale if you have a basic, free seller’s account.
- eBay isn’t great about providing extra services to buyers, as it doesn’t actually sell anything itself. It’s up to the sellers to make good on customer service. Amazon, by comparison, offers numerous perks for those who’ve paid for the Prime membership (including 2-day shipping on all qualified orders), and all around-great customer service, which act as incentives to draw in more repeat buyers.
Who is Amazon Best Suited To?
Almost anyone, selling almost anything, will be able to run a business on Amazon. The sheer diversity of prospects is a powerful enticement. You just have to make sure that your prices are competitive enough to be a contender without sacrificing too much of your profit margins. If you’re a small seller, this can be a bit more of a challenge, as there will be others selling in large quantities making pricing very competitive. That’s where you need to make sure you’re selling the right products.
How to Succeed on Amazon
One of the best ways to get ahead in a competitive space like this is to do a little market research into what you want to sell before you commit time, energy, and capital to actually selling it.
You can get an idea of how well a product will perform with the SaleHoo Labs. You can simply select a category (or select “all” categories), filter your products to see the ones with the highest success rate for the lowest competition, and you’ll see some top options for you.
This way, you’ll be able to sniff out some great product options for you to sell. You’ll also get a smattering of additional information, like the average sale price or how many listings there are for that product. It’s well worth checking out, especially if you plan to sell on Amazon.
If you’d like to see the most recent market research that we’re done for you, you can always see our Market of the Week posts here. Some example ones you could look at are:
These are just a few options that we’ve already looked into. Whatever you’d like to sell on Amazon, you can research it easily for yourself in the lab.
Etsy (as well as Ruby Lane): The Artsy-Crafty Platforms
Etsy is doing very well as an online selling platform. It started in 2005 as an online community for crafters, artists and vintage enthusiasts, based in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Now it has 1.6 million active sellers, and 26.1 million active buyers. Not bad! It came out on top as the Sellers’ Choice for ease of use, and it was the top pick for profitability after giants Amazon and eBay.
Etsy specializes in handmade and vintage goods, as well as craft supplies. Yes, this does limit what you can list on the network, and you might find that this rather niche-specific market isn’t for you.
If, however, you make geeky things, costumes, jewelry, fashion accessories, home decor, cool gifts, and any number of other crafty items (or you know how to source quality vintage items or wholesale craft supplies), this is definitely the place to sell it all.
How Etsy Compares Directly to eBay
Want to know exactly what you’ll get with Etsy that you haven’t had with eBay? Here’s the list:
- You can sell pretty much anything on eBay (and yes, Amazon, too), whereas Etsy caters to the handmade/vintage/boutique niche.
- eBay has mass-sold items and big brands, while Etsy’s buyers enjoy the unique nature of the products they’re getting.
- Etsy is similar to eBay in that they both charge a listing fee, however:
- eBay listings are up to 10 days, or 30 days for fixed price, while Etsy’s listings last 4 months. This means your listings will last 4 times as long on Etsy before you’ll have to renew them.
- Etsy is cheaper charging only $0.20USD listing fee per item, and a fixed 3.5% commission. This fixed pricing model is much simpler than Amazon and eBay!
- eBay is an auction site, whereas Etsy is for direct sales.
- eBay gets more traffic than Etsy with its larger market and audience.
- Etsy has better support, coming out several places higher than eBay on their Sellers Choice communication rating.
Who is Etsy Best Suited To?
Etsy is clearly best suited to any merchants with handmade items, vintage items, or craft-related resources. If you are an online seller who either produces your own unique product, or you source items that suit this market, then this selling platform is exactly what you’re looking for.
How to Succeed on Etsy
If you create your own products, then by all means go ahead and list them and see how you go. If you’d rather give Etsy a go with some wholesale products, you have to be careful what you sell. You should read Etsy’s Seller Guidelines before selling on this network.
Basically, Etsy is a place for unique goods or the supplies for making them. So if you’re not making your own unique goods, stock up on the supplies instead by searching in the SaleHoo directory for “craft supplies,” or search for specific types of supplies such as “fabrics” or “beads” or “clasps.”
Some examples of items (and links to trusted supplier pages) that could provide what you need are:
There are many others you could look into, the above are just a few of the trusted suppliers available to you in the SaleHoo directory.
Selling Platforms Similar to Etsy
I thought it worth mentioning that there are a few other sites like this one now, claiming to have more unique goods than websites like eBay and Amazon. Two in particular are doing very well. If you are interested in tapping into this market, then it could be worth trying your luck with:
- Bonanza: This platform’s slogan is “Find everything but the ordinary”: Any quirky or unique-style items are great here. You’re allowed to sell a wider variety of wholesale goods here, and it’s becoming a very popular network. We’ll talk more about Bonanza in the next section.
- Ruby Lane: With a claim like “The world’s largest curated marketplace for vintage & antiques,” you’re better off selling vintage-style goods and actual antiques here. Ruby Lane’s strength is customer service, as reflected in their Sellers Choice customer service rating.
Look around these marketplaces to get an idea of the types of products people are selling, and then find suppliers for those types of items to start selling on these networks.
Bonanza: A Fast-Growing Online Marketplace
Bonanza is headquartered in Seattle and, though it’s relatively new to the e-commerce scene, it’s doing incredibly well. The Bonanza marketplace encompasses more than 22 million items ranging from Godzilla garden gnomes to taxidermy alligators.
A lot of sellers are making good money on Bonanza. The site has merchants and shoppers in nearly every country around the world. More than 40,000 sellers have already created businesses here.
Bonanza is one of the easiest selling platforms to use, and its popularity is on the rise amongst sellers. In the Sellers’ Choice awards, Bonanza has taken out the top rating for communication again, and were voted the most recommended selling venue. They were also recognised in Entrepreneur’s 360 best companies list.
How Bonanza Compares Directly to eBay
Want to know exactly what you’ll get with Bonanza that you haven’t had with eBay? Here’s the list:
- Bonanza is similar to eBay in that a huge range of different products are being sold on both, so the sky’s the limit for what you can sell.
- Unlike eBay, however, many items on Bonanza are quirky and unique – extraordinary items do well here.
- Because Bonanza doesn’t make money until its sellers do, you’ll see much higher profit margins. It is absolutely free to list an item on Bonanza, and the average fee per sale can be as little as 3.5%, which is considerably less than eBay.
- Bonanza is a fixed-price marketplace, meaning that buyers pay the listed price, as opposed to bidding against other buyers like in eBay’s auction-style listings.
- Bonanza sends every item listing to Google and Bing, and sellers have the option to get more exposure by advertising their listings in other channels such as Pricegrabber, Nextag, and Bonanza’s affiliate advertising program.
- Many online sellers like to list their items on multiple platforms, which is why Bonanza has easy-to-use import features for listings on eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.
- Although Bonanza’s monthly traffic is lower than eBay’s, the ratio of shoppers to sellers on Bonanza is much higher: 1,300 to 1 on Bonanza vs. less than 10 to 1 on eBay. That means far less competition between sellers, and far more chances for buyers to see your products.
Who is Bonanza Best Suited To?
Bonanza is best suited to any merchants who have something to sell online. Although Bonanza specializes in unique items and one-of-a-kind finds, it is not without its Justin Bieber perfume or Michael Kors handbags.
How to Succeed with Bonanza
Bonanza actually provides a really helpful guide for making sales on its platform, so that’s definitely worth checking out. You could make a profit in any of its categories, but some of the top-selling ones currently include:
These are all categories in the SaleHoo directory, so you’ll find a wide variety of trusted wholesale suppliers there for sourcing these types of products.
Over the years, Bonanza has put emphasis on building platform-specific tools to make selling online much easier for entrepreneurs. They offer automatic eBay, Amazon, and Shopify importing, multi-item editing, and a marketing tool that allows sellers to provide targeted discounts to their buyers. You can learn more about these tools here, and use them to boost your profits on Bonanza.
Craigslist: The World’s Largest Online Classified Website
You can sell almost anything on Craigslist (including yourself, in the “personals” section). It’s very “no-frills” in that there are no listing fees or selling fees, but it’s super basic both in design and automation of the selling process.
It is, after all, just a forum. This means that you’re pretty much on your own as far as selling and disputes go.
How Craigslist Directly Compares to eBay
Want to know exactly what you’ll get with Craigslist that you haven’t had with eBay? Here’s the list:
- eBay charges to list and sell items; Craigslist only charges for a small handful of post types, like job listings or vehicles. Products are free to list.
- eBay will get involved in disputes if necessary, while you’re on your own with Craigslist. So there’s higher risk there.
- Craigslist requires you to sell locally, and often you arrange for pick-up or drop-off of items. This limits your market compared to eBay, which usually involves shipping to a much wider area.
- Unlike eBay, Craigslist has a “free” section where people aren’t looking to make money, they’re just trying to get rid of things they don’t want. A lot of this will be junk, but you can keep an eye out for anything you could get and resell for a decent profit, especially if you’re skilled at fixing things up.
Who is Craigslist Suited To?
Craigslist is best suited to sellers who are selling locally, and prefer to manage their transactions personally. It can be a good option for selling items that are perhaps too big or expensive to ship, such as furniture.
Some people like it because they can meet the people they’re selling to, so there’s a small social element. You can get cash-in-hand and you don’t have to pay a network or shipping fees. In saying that, if you’re paranoid about getting scammed or don’t want to be personally involved with the transaction, then Craigslist might not be for you.
How to Succeed with Craigslist
Be careful with how you sell, as online transactions can be a little dodgy here, and if you get handed fake money, then it’s basically your loss. Accepting payments in person can be good, but be careful (and safe!) when deciding where and how you meet people.
If you’re good at spotting items that are worth a lot more than they’re being sold for, or you have the skills to do up items that are a little lacklustre, you could make a neat profit here. For example, you might have an eye for valuable antiques, or you might know how to restore old wooden furniture. Or maybe you know how to sew something back to life. Pick up some workable free items or low cost items from craigslist (or browse local garage sales), work your magic, and sell the items for a higher price on Craigslist or other selling platforms. This can be a hit-and-miss strategy, so be sure to only select items that you’re confident you could sell for a profit. And if items need work, make sure you have the time to do it, otherwise you may end up with a garage full of items you can’t flip.
The downside of that strategy is it involves time, energy, and often a bit of luck to work. If you’re a hobbyist it could be an enjoyable and profitable process, but if that’s not your cup of tea, consider buying wholesale goods. List items that will sell well locally, save on listing and shipping fees, and you could make a hefty profit margin without the effort.
Some examples of items you could sell on Craigslist include:
You can find other wholesale suppliers in the SaleHoo directory. Just search for the types of products you’d like to sell and browse the trusted suppliers available to you.
eBid: Another “Sell Anything” Marketplace
eBid is another marketplace similar to eBay and Amazon in that it is a platform for selling almost anything. Still, it’s not as well known, so you’d be selling to a smaller pool of buyers.
It’s definitely a lower-cost option than eBay or Amazon, but the profitability rating is also lower. The absence of listing fees and low 3 percent commission charged per sale does make this a low-risk market to test out, so if you’re looking for a change, you’ve got little to nothing to lose here.
If you’d like a thorough run-down of eBid as an alternative to eBay, check out this post: Is eBid a Viable Alternative to eBay?
How eBid Directly Compares to eBay
Want to know exactly what you’ll get with eBid that you haven’t had with eBay? Here’s the list:
- eBid is similar to eBay in that they both have an auction-style format for product listings
- eBay is a larger platform than eBid, and receives more traffic.
- eBid is much cheaper than eBay, a lower-risk option.
- They’re both trusted marketplaces with a wide variety of product categories.
Who is eBid Most Suited To?
eBid is for you if you don’t want to pay to list your items (as you have to on eBay), or if you’d just like to try your luck on an alternative (but similar) network. There’s extra potential here if you know a thing or two about generating your own traffic.
How to Succeed with eBid
Basically, the lower level of traffic circulating on eBid (compared to eBay) is the only major downside. So if you promote your listings effectively elsewhere, such as social media or forums, you can enjoy your traffic as well as lower traffic.
Some examples of items you could sell on eBid are:
There’s definitely potential here, but also more work required to get your shop off the ground.
Rakuten: The “Amazon of Japan”
Rakuten (formerly buy.com) is considered the “Amazon of Japan”. Now, Japan’s not the first company that comes to mind when you think of eCommerce, but get this: Japan’s population is more than 126 million and more than 90% of Japan’s internet users are registered on Rakuten. That’s a big market.
One benefit of Rakuten is that you’re not competing with the website itself. Unlike Amazon, which sells dozens of its own brands on its website, Rakuten does not compete with its sellers. You also have more power to customise your store within the platform – something that other major eCommerce websites don’t allow.
There are already some big name brands like Dell, Lenovo, Office Depot, Airweave, and Dyason that use Rakuten.
How Rakuten compares directly to eBay
- Rakuten is more like Amazon than eBay – it’s a more traditional online retail website, not an auction platform.
- Rakuten gives merchants much more flexibility to build their own brand within the platform. You can design your own store, products, and even blog/content within the Rakuten marketplace.
- Rakuten also allows more flexibility in terms of how you interact with your customers, including pricing, marketing, and promotions. They encourage customization.
- Rakuten has expanded to at least 29 countries, including the US, and is planning to serve more countries in the coming years.
- The fees are a bit higher than eBay. You pay a $33 monthly seller fee, a product category fee of between 8% and 15%, and a $0.99 fee per item sold.
- It has excellent seller tools and support.
Who is Rakuten best suited to?
Rakuten is a popular, highly versatile online marketplace. It’s best suited to people who are sick of the intense competition on eBay and Amazon and are looking for a different entry point to the world of eCommerce. It’s especially good for people with experience doing business in Japan, or anyone who’s wanting to break into the Eastern market. While it is now an international marketplace, it hasn’t quite got the same reach and impact as other major marketplaces just yet.
How to succeed on Rakuten
The same principles that apply to succeeding on other eCommerce platforms also apply to Rakuten. You need to choose a niche product with sufficient demand and not too much competition.
You can utilize 20,000 characters to write high-converting product descriptions, so make the most of the opportunity to be creative with your copy and highlight the unique benefits of your products.
You can add up to 20 shipping options on Rakuten. The more flexible you are with shipping, the more likely you are to make sales. Just make sure you can fulfill those shipping options before ticking all the boxes.
Newegg: A leading tech e-retailer
Newegg is an online marketplace that claims to be the “#1 marketplace for everything tech”. That means electronics, computers and parts, entertainment, smart home and gaming products. Sellers can list products on the marketplace, which reaches up to 36 million customers. Newegg is based in California and has distribution facilities across North America and Canada. It has global reach into more than 50 countries.
How Newegg compares directly to eBay
- You’re much more restricted in terms of what products you can sell. Newegg is solely for tech products.
- The flipside of that is, visitors to Newegg are solely looking for tech products so you have a more clearly defined audience and potential customer-base.
- Newegg offers a fulfillment service – Shipped By Newegg (SBN) – similar to Amazon’s FBA. eBay doesn’t do fulfillment.
- Newegg provides account managers who can help you set up your business and guide you along the journey.
- Newegg offers tiered membership options: Free, $29.95 a month, and $99.95 a month. The more you pay, the more support, tools, flexibility and listings you get.
- They also take a commission rate of between 8% and 15%.
Who is Newegg best suited to?
Newegg is clearly best for anyone who’s selling tech products, particularly those operating mostly in the US and Canada markets. Newegg’s audience is mainly men aged from 18 to 30 and 35, so if that’s your target market, Newegg might be a good option for you.
How to succeed on Newegg
Simply listing your items and crossing your fingers isn’t going to cut it on Newegg. You need to follow Newegg’s SEO guide to drive more traffic to your listings.
Newegg also recommends taking advantage of its merchandising vehicles, such as a daily deal emails, as well as its various seller programs.
Other than that, just make sure you’re not listing any prohibited items and providing excellent customer service.
eCrater: The “100% free” online marketplace
The main appeal of eCrater is that it’s free to set up a store and it even has templates you can use to easily create an attractive store. It’s said to be easy to import your listings from eBay, which is good if you’re looking to transition entirely. There’s not a lot of information on eCrater online, but there’s said to be at least 65,000 active stores on the site. The number of customers and the amount of traffic pales in comparison to the larger eCommerce platforms, so it’s probably best used as a complementary marketplace, rather than one that you solely rely on to run your business.
How eCrater compares directly to eBay
- It’s 100% free to open and run a store on eCrater. However, if eCrater brings you a sale, it takes 2.9% of the total. You keep 100% of the sales that you bring to your store through your own SEO and marketing efforts.
- While there’s no recent data available, the number of users and visitors to eCrater will be much fewer than eBay’s numbers.
- eCrater provides online store templates that help you to get set up quickly.
- You can customize your store to include your branding.
Who is eCrater best suited to?
eCrater is a good option for someone who’s totally over eBay, but it looking at using another marketplace, such as Amazon or Etsy, as their main platform. In our opinion, eCrater doesn’t quite have the numbers to be viable as your sole marketplace, but it could make for an excellent, low-risk and low-cost complementary option.
How to succeed on eCrater
The key to making sales on eCrater is investing heavily in your store’s SEO and marketing. It’s up to you to drive traffic to your store, almost as though it’s your very own site.
9. Ruby Lane
The marketplace for “collecting enthusiasts”
Ruby Lane is a legitimate alternative to selling on eBay. It’s been designed to bring buyers and sellers of antiques, art, vintage collectibles and jewelry together – similar to marketplaces like Etsy and Bonanza. Ruby Lane has 1.1 million unique visitors per month, which is impressive for a niche marketplace. A majority of users are located in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and Germany, but it has global reach. 85% of users are women aged over 40 and almost all describe themselves as a “collecting enthusiast”, so if that’s your target market Ruby Lane might be a great option. It seems to attract more purposeful, educated buyers who might be willing to spend more money than those who are scouring eBay for bargains.
How Ruby Lane compares directly with eBay
- Ruby Lane is a fixed-price marketplace and does not provide for auctions.
- It’s much more niche than eBay, focussing only on antiques, art, collectibles and jewelry. That means visitors to your store are more highly targeted.
- It might cost you more. While there’s no commission, Ruby Lane charges $0.19 per listing and a tiered “maintenance” fee that ranges from $69 a month for small sellers, to $0.01 per item for major sellers. There’s also a one-off $100 set-up cost.
- There’s greater quality control on Ruby Lane and sellers are vetted.
Who is Ruby Lane best suited to?
Ruby Lane is best for savvy sellers in the antique, collectibles, art and jewelry markets, especially if your target audience is women over 40.
How to succeed on Ruby Lane
Writing high-converting, accurate descriptions, quality photography, excellent customer service, and strategic marketing all help a lot on Ruby Lane. You need to know your audience is going to be more educated than most, so choose your products carefully and be honest in your product descriptions. Make sure your products meet all of Ruby Lane’s guidelines as they will be vetted. Ruby Lane provides a great guide to selling successfully on its website.
It’s not widely known that Walmart, one of the largest retail corporations on the planet, has entered into the eCommerce marketplace world. Walmart Marketplace is a platform where select sellers can list and sell products. It’s very similar to Amazon in that you could be competing with Walmart itself, but it’s definitely worth considering as an alternative to selling on eBay. You get to take advantage of Walmart’s massive reach and customer base and it’s free and easy to get set up. Walmart seems to be taking the eCommerce space more seriously so it’s likely to be investing heavily in this area over the coming years. Who knows, maybe in five years everyone will be saying they wish they were on Walmart from the start?
How Walmart Marketplace compares directly with eBay
- There are no set-up or maintenance fees. Merchants just pay a referral fee of between 8% and 20% for successful sales.
- There’s no auction option, it’s just fixed-price listings.
- Depending on your product and niche, you could be be competing against some Walmart-owned brands, which may be given priority on the platform.
- Walmart’s online sales are lagging behind eBay (and Amazon), but it’s still early days.
- Expect lower margins. Walmart prioritizes competitively-price products, which means you might get caught in a race to the bottom.
Who is Walmart best suited to?
Established businesses with solid brands stand to do well on the Walmart Marketplace. If you’ve always dreamed of getting your product in Walmart stores, this might be a good way to make an impression. It could also be a good option for new sellers looking to build brand awareness and credibility from the outset, but you’d want to have a clear strategy for how you’re going to make the most of it.
How to succeed on Walmart
Be in a position where you can still make good profit margins with competitive pricing. Make sure you provide great customer service and fast shipping, and then chase those customer reviews. They can make a big difference on this platform.
11. Your Online Store
Your Online Store: The No-Competition Option
Selling on your very own website really is the ultimate option if you want to increase your profits and build a business that will become a long-term asset. If this appeals to you but you have no idea how to get started, don’t worry. There’s an easy way, which I’ll mention a bit further down.
When selling from your own online store, you have to establish your own traffic, which can make it a little slower to get started than selling in a bigger marketplace. But once you’re up and running, you don’t have to compete with anyone else and your sales are all your own.
With this option, you can build up your own brand, rather than eBay’s or Amazon’s. When you sell on those platforms, who’s really making the sale? They’re spreading their brand, not yours. People say “I got it on eBay,” or “I got it on Amazon,” with no mention of the seller’s name! It’s ultimately you contributing to their marketplaces and their sales. Why not put that effort into yourself instead?
How Selling on Your Own Site Directly Compares to eBay
Here are the benefits of running your own online store, rather than selling on eBay:
- You’re building your own brand.
- You can choose things like which payment forms to accept or tweak the design of your store to suit your preferences (and your branding).
- You’re not competing with any other sellers on the same platform.
- This means you don’t lose sales to others. It also means you don’t have to use such competitive pricing. This makes way for larger profit margins.
Who is Best Suited to Owning Their Own Store?
Honestly? Pretty much anyone can get their own website and make a profit. Setting up your own store isn’t nearly as hard as it used to be, and with a little time and effort, you can sell exactly what you want to, and how you want to.
You can learn about the pros and cons of owning your own website here, and decide for yourself if it’s something you’d like to pursue.
How to Succeed with Your Online Store
Selling on your own website used to be expensive and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be!
You just have to get traffic to your site to encourage sales. There are a couple of great lessons readily available to help you with this, including “Get Buyers to Your Store” and “4 Ways to Advertise Your Store.” There’s also a community forum where you can ask questions and get advice.
12. Niche-Specific Sites
Niche-Specific Sites: Smaller Markets but Highly Targeted
Niche-specific websites are marketplaces where people only sell one type of product. So rather than the larger category-based marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, these sites hone in on one of those options and specialize in only that.
For example, if you were specifically interested in selling clothing, you might consider selling on a site like Poshmark. Or if you wanted to sell gear for the outdoors, you might try selling on GearTrade. Heck, if you were in the car market, why not try Cardaddy?
How Niche-Specific Sites Directly Compare to eBay
- Much smaller networks with less traffic than eBay.
- Highly targeted to buyers of that niche.
- You don’t have to compete with other categories for attention.
- These sites are less obvious options, so some of your competition won’t be here.
Who is Best Suited to Selling on Niche-Specific Sites?
If you’re passionate about a specific niche of products, or you tend to bulk-order a small range of items, then niche-specific websites could be a great platform for you.
This will allow you to really focus on one market, and get to know the selling techniques that work best with that niche’s buyer-audience.
How to Succeed with Niche-Specific Sites
If you haven’t already, you need to really zero in on the type of product you’d like to sell and determine how much demand there is. A quick way to get a rough comparison of popularity is to do a keyword search. You can use a tool like the Keyword Research Module in AffiloTools.
Simply type in the name of the product or niche that you’re interested in selling, and look at the monthly search volumes. This will show you how many people are searching for words or phrases to do with that topic, which is a strong indication of how much interest there is. If you’re tossing up a few options, then try each one out to see which ones generally have more searches.
Once you’ve got a strong idea of what you’d like to sell, try searching in Google for “Places to sell [product type].” Look for marketplaces that cater to selling in your specific niche, like the examples we’ve already mentioned. Be sure to read about other people’s experiences selling on them first. If these sites come across as genuine and promising, give them a go!
Finally, you need to find trusted suppliers with the best products to sell on these networks. For example, if you were looking for clothes to sell, you could try any of these:
These are just some examples of the trusted suppliers you can access in the SaleHoo directory. If you’ve got a niche that you’d like to sell to, then type it into the search box there and find the best suppliers.
13. Your Suggestions
Have we missed a marketplace that you’d like to see here? If so, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it to this list. Stand-outs will be researched and added in our next update.
Current suggestions from the comments on this post include:
- The Early Years Boutique: Gifts and products revolving around children and babies.
- Swappa: “Gently used” mobile phones and tablets.
- Neat Stacks: Mostly clothes and shoes, but also toys, electronics, and accessories such as phone cases.
- MikList: Pinterest-style marketplace, strongly visual layout for selling.
- BriskSale: Broad-category marketplace for sellers in the USA. There are no fees, but there’s an optional commission option if you want others to find buyers for your products.
How do the eBay alternatives compare?
As you can see, there are a lot of online selling sites like eBay, but which one is best for you? This comparison table gives you a quick overview of all the best eBay alternatives so you can make an informed decision.
|Marketplace||Operates in||Product categories||Seller fees|
|Amazon||Worldwide||All||From $39.99 a month + referral fees of between 8% and 15% per item|
|Etsy||Worldwide||Arts, crafts, jewelry, collectibles||$0.20 USD listing fee and 3.5% commission|
|Bonanza||Worldwide||All||3.5% Final Offer Value fee|
|eBid||Worldwide||All||3% Final Value Fee, or subscriptions from $1.99 to $99.98|
|Rakuten||Japan-based, worldwide users||All||$33 a month, 8% to 15% category fee, and $0.99 per item sold|
|Newegg||Worldwide (mostly US and Canada)||Tech and electronics||Free up to $99.95 a month and 8% to 15% commission|
|eCrater||Worldwide||All||Mostly free, but they take 2.9% of sales that they bring to you|
|Ruby Lane||Worldwide||Arts, antiques, collectibles, jewelry||$100 set-up cost, plans from $69 a month, $0.19 listing fee|
|Walmart||Worldwide (mostly United States)||All||Free to join, 8% to 20% referral fee|
So Where Do I Sell?
There are a lot of options for you to choose from, so it depends on which of these following elements appeal to you most.
If you’re looking for sites similar to eBay but cheaper, Amazon, Bonanza and eBid are the closest relatives.
Amazon is the only other network that’s similar to eBay in size, with a giant range of products and massive customer base. So if that’s a benefit of eBay you don’t want to lose, this is an alternative to try.
Bonanza is similar to eBay in that the range of products you can sell isn’t limited like it is on sites like Etsy, and they have a fantastic relationship with sellers, so it’s worth trying.
Finally, if the auction-style is what you like about eBay, then eBid is the closest relative, although there’s much less traffic circulating there so you’ll have to do a lot more promotion to get your store off the ground.
If you have anything crafty or unique, you should definitely try the likes of Etsy or Ruby Lane.
These creative-style networks are really taking off, with Etsy coming in highest after eBay in overall Sellers Choice ratings. These networks might be totally wrong for the type of product that you’re looking to sell, but if you’re not tied down already, then these networks are worth the time to try out.
If you don’t want to pay to list items until you’ve actually made a sale, try Bonanza.
This network is certainly on the rise as a strong alternative to eBay. The site has fantastic communication, and your listings will only cost you if they’re successful, in which case it’ll be a non-issue.
Amazon is also free to list items on, but it charges higher commissions. The high volume of traffic on Amazon may make up for that though, depending on how much competition you’re facing and how much demand there is for what you’re selling. You can always try listing on both and seeing which gives you the best returns. After all, neither will cost you anything until your items sell so you’ve got nothing to lose.
If you do decide to give it a go, remember to check out this guide to selling on Bonanza.
If you want to sell locally at no cost, try Craigslist (or even local markets).
This is a sort of cheap-and-nasty option where you’re left to your own devices and often end up trading in person, but if you don’t mind selling locally and being a little more hands-on in the selling process, then this is an option to consider.
If you like to sell locally consider other outlets such as local markets, especially if you enjoy this social element to selling. These environments are full of buyers and can give you an extra chance to show off your wares and add to your sales.
If you want to dodge the competition altogether, you should build your own online store.
If you want to avoid competition, listing fees and paying commissions, then consider running your own online store. It’s a little more work to get set up and to promote, but in the bigger picture it can be a hugely profitable option.
While at that, if you’re looking for more profitable products to sell, you can learn more about Salehoo about how we can help you source profitable products from low cost suppliers. Be sure to also check these Salehoo reviews by our customers before you decide.
If you’re really focused on one type of product, try niche-specific sites.
Finally, if you’re an enthusiast for selling one type of product but you don’t want to build your own site, it’s worth looking into niche-specific marketplaces. Just do a quick Google search to see if you can find any in your area of interest.
If you’re still unsure, you could look into any of the suggestions from the comments.
We haven’t looked into all of your suggestions yet (unlike like the other options here), but they’re suggestions made by other sellers and could be worth looking into.
Have we missed one that you’d like to see here? If so, let us know in the comments below and we’ll do the research and add it to the list.
9 Best Forum Software Picks to Build an Online Community in 2020
Forums are a staple of the internet. In fact, you could say they’re the precursors to social media platforms such as Facebook. Today, it’s easier than ever to set up forum software and enable your users to interact with each other. The question is, what is the best forum software for your particular needs?
In this article, we’re going to look at nine of the best forum software options, as well as:
P.S. If you’ve been eager to start an online community, all of these forum scripts can be installed with just a single click of your mouse on our forum hosting plans!
But before that, however, let’s talk about what functionality your chosen forum software needs to offer.
What Features Should the Best Forum Software Include?
Most online forums are fairly straightforward. They enable you to register an account, create threads, and post in response to other users’ messages. In most cases, forums also include user role systems, so you can have admins and moderators at the top managing the site, while regular users retain minimal permissions.
Aside from that basic functionality, there are a few other features you’ll want to keep an eye out for in the best web forum software if you want to offer a rich experience:
- Profile customization. Enabling users to customize their profiles can increase engagement since it makes them feel more at home and in control.
- A powerful text editor. Forums are almost 100% text-based, so you’ll want to offer your users a robust editor to create and customize their posts.
- Private messaging. Many forums are all about public discussion, but enabling private messaging is a smart way to foster interpersonal relationships.
- Comment signatures. Just like profile customization, this option can help you increase engagement and gives users the chance to have a little fun.
- Achievement systems. A lot of forums set up user ‘levels’ that can be unlocked after a certain level of activity or amount of time. It rewards users for participating in your forum frequently.
Whichever forum software you choose doesn’t need to offer all of these features. What you need mostly depends on the kind of experience you want to provide. For example, if you just want to set up a forum that lets users submit support queries, it can be overkill to enable signatures and achievements.
However, most forums can benefit from as many modern features as possible. In fact, it’s smart to provide an experience that’s as close as possible to a social media platform, so users feel compelled to keep coming back. For that reason, you’ll want to look for the best forum software that offers as many of the above features as possible, even if you don’t intend to use them right away.
9 Best Forum Software Picks Compared
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to explore some of the best community forum software options. What follows isn’t an exhaustive list. Instead, it’s a curated collection of the nine best forum software tools we most recommend for those wanting to create their own forums.
Here is a list of the best forum software, based on popularity and functionality:
phpBB is a flexible forum platform that enables you to create boards where registered users can post messages. Once you have a forum set up, you can create as many internal message boards as you want. In fact, this tool can handle thousands of users, especially if you’re using a top-notch hosting service.
Along with some basic functionality, phpBB also enables you to use extensions to add new options to your forum. There are hundreds of free extensions you can use, which enable you to add almost any forum-related feature you might want.
phpBB also includes a theme system, which you can use to change your forum’s look. Plus, your users will get plenty of options for customizing their profiles and posts. Finally, this is open-source software and benefits from the backing of an active community.
- Provides powerful forum software with multiple hierarchy options.
- Enables users to customize their posts and profiles.
- Offers access to plenty of moderation options.
- Lets you set up extensions and themes to customize your forum.
- Is very responsive out-of-the-box.
- Most phpBB themes look a bit outdated by 2020 standards.
Overall, phpBB is a simple recommendation if you’re looking for the most customizable forum software you can find. With extensions, you get access to all the features you might need.
By now, it should be clear that there is some functionality that you can expect to find among all of the best forum software options. That includes the ability to set up message boards, enable user registration, and perform moderation.
Instead of rehashing the same points, we’re going to focus on what each of the remaining platforms does differently. MyBB, for example, shares a lot of features with phpBB. It offers robust plugin and theme systems, has an active community, and is easy to use.
The difference, in this case, is that MyBB doesn’t offer as many extensions. However, it has a leg up on phpBB when it comes to style. MyBB forums tend to look a lot more modern, and your users should feel right at home when using them.
- Provides access to an easy-to-use open-source forum platform, with all the basic features you’ll need.
- Lets you set up plugins and themes to customize your forum.
- Includes user reputation systems out of the box.
- Makes it easy to use calendars to schedule events.
- It’s not as powerful as tools like phpBB.
MyBB is the obvious choice if you like what phpBB has to offer, but you want something that looks more stylish. In our experience, phpBB offers more advanced features, but MyBB is still robust enough to handle most popular forums.
From this point onward, we’re going to look beyond forum-specific software and cover some multi-purpose platforms. You’ve probably heard of WordPress before since it’s the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world. What you may not know is that this platform enables you to create anything from a simple blog to an online store, thanks to its massive collection of plugins.
Some of your best options to set up a forum using WordPress include Asgaros Forum, wpForo Forum, and bbPress. Any of those plugins provides you with all the basic forum features you need, plus plenty of useful extras.
It might seem counterproductive to use a multi-purpose platform to power your online community. However, a CMS such as WordPress is the best forum software if you want to set up a regular website and a forum side by side.
- Provides access to the largest collection of themes and plugins on the web.
- Is incredibly easy to use.
- Lets you set up both regular websites and message boards.
- Makes it easy to choose from a wide variety of forum plugins, for a highly personalized experience.
- The platform wasn’t built with forums in mind, so it requires a little work to get one up and running.
If you’re a WordPress user, it makes sense to use the platform to set up your new forum as well. Even if you’ve never used the CMS before, however, it’s pretty easy to pick up. What’s more, knowing how to use WordPress can open a lot of doors.
Joomla! is another CMS that enables you to build almost any type of website you can imagine, including online forums. Just like WordPress, it also features powerful plugin and theme systems, so it’s incredibly customizable.
The difference between WordPress and Joomla! is that the latter provides you with more control over your projects out-of-the-box. It’s aimed at users with some experience in web development, however, so it’s not as hands-off as WordPress.
If you’re looking to use this robust CMS to power your forum, you’ll need to choose the right plugin to do it. Some of our top picks include Kunena, ChronoForums, and EasyDiscuss (although that last one is a premium option).
- Offers more control over your website out of the box.
- Lets you choose from multiple plugin options to set up your online forum.
- Provides powerful built-in security and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features.
- Getting started with Joomla! is a bit more difficult than with other platforms we’ve checked out so far.
- Your choices for forum plugins are more limited than with WordPress.
There’s a lot of debate around whether it’s better to use WordPress or Joomla! In our opinion, there’s a place for both platforms. The former is much easier for beginners to get started with, whereas Joomla! requires a bit of web development experience to get the most out of it.
Drupal is the final entry in our list of the best forum software tools. This is another popular CMS, which sits a step above both WordPress and Joomla! in terms of default features.
When it comes to functionality, Drupal is one of the most powerful CMSs you can find. However, those added features also mean there’s a steep learning curve. In fact, trying to use Drupal without any development experience can be a bit frustrating.
That being said, the platform also offers a solid collection of modules and themes to further customize your experience. However, you don’t need to use any extensions to set up a forum with Drupal, since the platform includes that functionality among its core features. Of course, there are some modules that enable you to extend the default options, such as Advanced Forum.
- Provides a ton of customization options.
- Offers built-in forum functionality.
- Provides access to modules and themes you can use to improve your forum.
- It can be hard to get started with Drupal if you don’t have experience in web development.
Overall, Drupal is a strong choice if you’re looking for enterprise-level features and scalability. Especially if you’re a developer, you shouldn’t have any problem launching your first forum with this platform.
So far, we’ve only talked about open-source forum software. Vanilla, on the other hand, offers both open-source and premium versions.
The premium version of the forum software starts at an eye-watering $599, and is meant for enterprise-level customers. However, Vanilla’s free version offers more than enough features for regular forums.
Overall, this platform stands out from other options due to its high level of polish. The message boards you can create out of the box look fantastic, and you also get access to theme and plugin systems. However, there aren’t a lot of free plugin options, so you’re mostly stuck with the default features.
However, those features including everything you’ll need to set up a modern forum. Along with basic forum functionality, you’ll also get access to “Best Of” sections, an advanced text editor, post auto-saving, and more.
- Lets you set up stunning forums using basic theme and plugin systems.
- Enables your users to use an advanced text editor, with plenty of options.
- Auto-saves content as you write it.
- Includes the option to create private groups for your users.
- The collection of free plugins and themes is not as extensive as you might expect.
Vanilla spotlights its premium software on its homepage. However, its free version is one of the best forum software options so far. It features an impressive level of polish, and if it weren’t for the small collection of free plugins, it might be our top pick.
7. Simple Machines Forum
If you’re looking for a quick comparison, Simple Machines Forum is most similar to phpBB. What sets this forum software apart is the sheer flexibility of its module and theme systems.
Simple Machines Forum uses a package manager that makes installing and updating modules a walk in the park. Plus, it offers the most extensive collection of plugins and themes you can find for open-source forum software. What’s more, it even supports paid subscriptions for your forum members, as well as all the other features you’d expect to see from any solid forum tool.
- Provides access to the broadest collection of modules and themes when it comes to forum software.
- Lets you switch between multiple languages with a single click.
- Simplifies setting up premium subscription options for your users.
- Most of its themes look quite outdated.
- The platform doesn’t offer a lot of profile customization options.
In summary, Simple Machine Forum is an excellent option if you want to have access to as many modules and themes as possible. This wealth of options enables you to implement nearly any feature you want on your forums. Plus, it’s useful to have an option to offer paid subscriptions. That being said, this is probably not the forum software for you if you want something that looks stylish.
So far, all of the best forum software we’ve looked at so far have one thing in common – they all try to outdo each other in terms of features. That’s to be expected, since many users will want to use the most powerful tool they can find.
However, sometimes you don’t need to use a platform that offers hundreds of features when only a handful will do. In that vein, FluxBB focuses on providing a performance-oriented light alternative to other forum software.
In practice, that doesn’t mean FluxBB lacks in features. It offers all the basics you need to set up messaging boards, along with plenty of moderation options. There are even theme and plugin systems included, although there aren’t that many options available for either. Overall, FluxBB offers a fantastic experience if you want to use a simple platform without many frills.
- Offers top-notch performance out of the box.
- Enables you to set up themes and plugins.
- Includes advanced profile customization options and a user ranking system.
- Its plugin and theme collection is rather lackluster.
Despite its lack of advanced features, FluxBB manages to offer everything you need to set up a robust forum that looks reasonably modern. It’s a perfect alternative if you don’t want to deal with complex software, and you’d like to get something up and running fast.
Codoforum is essentially a free forum software built with PHP and MySQL. The creators state that user experience one of the main keystones of the script. Hence it offers beauty, simplicity, and key features to make a thriving online community. More about Codoforum is nicely wrapped up in their introductory article.
One of the biggest perks of this script is that you can install it on any server that supports PHP and MySQL. While everything you need to go from zero to hero is located in a clean and user-friendly documentation.
- Offers a free license
- In-depth documentation
- Easy to install
- Clean and simple
- Paid plans are quite pricey.
- Free version includes a “powered by” watermark.
Overtime Codoforum received several updates and stands as a good pick to launch a successful online board.
Setting up an online forum is much like creating any other type of website. You need a reliable forum host, and tools that provide all the functionality you’ll need. Our own go-to forum software is phpBB or WordPress, due to their wealth of features. As we’ve seen, however, they are hardly the only strong competitors for the title of ‘best forum software’.
Do you have any questions about how to choose the best forum software? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Will Morris is a staff writer at WordCandy. When he’s not writing about WordPress, he likes to gig his stand-up comedy routine on the local circuit.
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