Buying and Selling an Ecommerce Business

Feb 1, 2014

ecommerce businessIf you own a brick-and-mortar business, it’s easy to advertise that it is for sale. You can display a “For Sale” sign in the window, list it in a local business directory, or advertise in the Business Opportunities section of your local newspaper. Chances are, word will get around and you will soon be speaking with a number of qualified prospects. But most of these techniques will not work when you are selling an online business.

Ecommerce businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of the market for business investors. They are often much easier to manage from a home office and their overhead expenses are low. As a result, investors and entrepreneurs are always looking for that established internet retailer, but where to they go to find out about opportunities? Well, not surprisingly, the best place to start looking for an Internet business is on the Internet. Online business directories will often allow you to search their listings by industry, and while these directories often focus on franchises and brick-and-mortar stores, they often include quite a few ecommerce websites.

Buyers can learn about sellers’ companies

If you are looking to invest in or own an ecommerce business, start with an online business directory like Here, you can search directly on the site by location, price range and industry. Ecommerce companies don’t have to be retail establishments; they might also include niche contractors, software companies, insurance brokerages, Amazon and eBay businesses, SEO companies and web developers. You might also look into non-traditional online businesses like Daily Deals sites, distributorships, wholesalers, fulfillment centers and more.

Online business brokers are online businesses themselves, so they understand the importance of learning search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and other digital marketing techniques. In fact, if you want to find out whether an online business is doing a good job with marketing; simply google a few of the keywords on their website and see how well they rank for these keywords. Ideally, a business with a significant presence on the web will show up near the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Also, remember to search out the company on major social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Look for frequent updates, as well as plenty of “likes” and “followers.”

Sellers get access to qualified buyers

When it comes time to sell your ecommerce business, it’s important to know where the buyers are shopping. A lot of this will depend on the type of business you are selling. Local businesses can often be seen on and other localized listings, but most online businesses are focused on a much wider audience. As a result, the best prospects for your business will be looking at a reputable business broker’s directory.

If you are listing your business on a directory, remember you will want to entice them to call you directly. It may be tempting to include all the pertinent information about the business, but the listing should serve as a “teaser.” In other words, tell them just enough about your company to get them interested, but plan to do the “selling” over the phone or in person. Remember, business directories are often hosted by business brokers, so you don’t have to sell the business on your own. Business brokers offer a deep understanding of business valuation, legal issues and financing, ultimately helping you get the best possible price for your company.

A business broker will be familiar with the small business lending system, which can help you prepare your business for review by potential banks and other lenders. It helps to work with someone who has an understanding of SBA loans and the underwriting process. In addition to helping with financing they also know how to value a business, how to market it, and how to attract the right buyers.

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles /