Can You Make Money with Online Stores?

When the COVID-19 scare hit, just about every business was affected. Travel bans and lockdowns cancelled the demand for luxury brands, while the world needed food and essentials more than ever. But while many brands were hurt, some thrived in this changing environment. One such business is L’Oreal, whose sales increased by 23% in the UK alone thanks to better online shopping and home delivery.

A business that has long been associated with making your face more youthful is also flourishing. Based on a 2019 YouGov BrandIndex study, 63% of the respondents said they used Dior’s Clarins products, and 20% used Lancôme’s La Nuit. Interestingly, both brands are owned by L’Oreal.

Although many traditional retailers closed down their stores and switched to online businesses, some thrive in this new world. Here are some of the best ways you can make money online.

E-commerce – Overall Market Share

According to a Statista research report, as of June 2021 online sales in the UK reached £126.8 billion, an increase of 17.2% compared to April 2021. E-commerce as a whole now accounts for 11.9% of total retail sales in the country. What are the biggest e-commerce players in the UK?

Amazon is far and away the largest player in the UK e-commerce market, representing 23.1% of market share as of June 2021. The next biggest is ASOS, an online fashion retailer, with a 10.2% share. The market leader in the UK in terms of orders placed was Marks & Spencer, and it still dominates online grocery, at least according to Google searches. In 2019, Marks & Spencer had a 29% share of the grocery e-commerce market in the UK, according to a Google search analysis by Neustart Media.

Market Share by Product Category

Looking at product category market share can give you a good idea of what is trending and where consumers are spending their money online. Below you’ll find a chart showing the share of each category as well as the total market share for each retailer.

To follow suit, you can compare the shares of the products you sell to those of your competitors to identify under-performing product categories. If you notice that a particular product line isn’t performing as well as you’d like, you can decide whether or not to drop it from your website. If not, you can try and develop new products to make up for it. 

A search for ‘bath products’ on Amazon UK as of June 2021 returns 41 results, of which 13 are from Marks & Spencer, nine from Next, eight from WHSmith and three from eBay. Despite the fact that these are all online stores for selling products related to baths and showers, you’d never guess it from looking at the results. 

A quick look at eBay shows that of the three brands there, only one—New York & Company—specialises in luxury bath products. The other two, however, have a wide range of affordable products as well as some luxury ones. 

It’s important to point out that eBay isn’t just about selling products related to baths and showers, it’s a general online store that has grown considerably over the years. As such, its product range is incredibly broad and could easily fit into any category. This being said, items related to baths and showers have become increasingly popular, so much so that they now account for 15.6% of total product sales on the platform.


One of the biggest perks of running an e-commerce store is that you can set your own prices. If you want to, you can keep all of the money you earn from selling products on your website. If you decide to work with a payment processor such as Stripe or PayPal, you will not have to pay any fees. This makes online stores a lot more affordable than traditional ones that have to deal with financial transactions through third parties such as credit cards or PayPal. 

Depending on how much you sell, you may earn a respectable sum of money with little effort. In the UK, a Forbes survey in 2019 revealed that the average small business earns around £250 per month, with 47% of respondents reporting to earn more than £500 per month. Only 16% report to earn less than £250 per month.

No Need For A Physical Store

One of the major downsides of running a retail store is that you need to have a physical location. If you decide to keep your store online, you will not have to worry about space, as you can set up shop anywhere you like. In addition, you will not have to pay rent either, so you can save a significant amount of money. 

This is a massive drawcard for many entrepreneurs, and with good reason. According to the UK government, small businesses that operate online can set their own hours and can be more flexible with their working pattern. In terms of employee benefits, companies can provide holiday pay, sick pay and pension contributions. In short, you won’t have to worry about anything other than selling your products.

Even better is that you can conduct all of your business online, meaning you no longer have to go through meaningless meetings with buyers that aren’t worth your time. Instead, you can work remotely and be a lot more productive. 

The Growth Of Online Shopping

Thanks to the pandemic, it’s become abundantly clear that customers prefer to shop online. After the initial rush for essentials, many people are now motivated to try out different online stores that offer stylish products that they might not have seen before if they’d restricted themselves to one shop.

In the UK, as of June 2021, there were 9.6 million online shoppers and 4.6 million regular mobile shoppers. That’s a combined 16.2 million people who now have access to online stores, with 11.9 million of those people using online stores specifically for shopping. Why? Well, it’s a lot easier to do your research online rather than trawl through multiple websites to gather the information you need.

If you’re looking to enter the world of online stores, there are plenty of options where you can start.