eBay is the elephant in the room in any e-commerce conversation. The beauty of eBay has long been the fact that anyone can sign up and start selling without any experience or complicated storefront set-up. Sellers of every level, even brand new members or those without stores, get anywhere from 50 to 2,500 free listings a month under the newest fee structure. This a la carte selling has attracted many smaller scale sellers over the years but rising fees and increasing feedback and customer service requirements have alienated many.
But eBay has remained a powerful force for several big reasons and it’s important to remember what you’d be opting out of.
Advantages of selling on eBay
- eBay’s built in buyers make for less marketing. One of the best things about eBay is that you can list a popular item and, as long as your keywords are solid, price is fair, and your listing clear, it will sell even if you do literally nothing else to market it. eBay has its fans and regular buyers who watch categories and keywords and, for many items, this means a sale with no additional work. This applies especially to items like collectibles or anything with a pop culture or known brand connection. As we look at the other marketplaces, you’ll find this is the biggest thing you’ll miss about eBay.
- eBay’s auctions are still the best place to sell rare items or items for which you aren’t sure of the value. While a majority of items sold on eBay these days go via Fixed Price or Best Offer, they are still the best auction option around. Let’s say you find a collectible item that no one in the fan community has ever seen before. People want to get their hands on this thing and interest is high. You could just name a price but how can you know if you’re selling yourself short on value? An auction would let all the interested parties bid it up to make sure you get the maximum price for it. In the same way, if you have something of uncertain value, say a large lot, an auction lets the market determine its value. Sure, there are other auction platforms but because eBay is already a destination for the unusual and has the built in buyers I mentioned above it’s always going to net you the highest price. (This is me speaking from personal experience having wasted a lot of time and money with other auction platforms.)
- eBay has brand recognition and built in trust. Obviously, when you buy something from eBay, you aren’t really buying it from eBay. You’re buying it from an individual seller. But many buyers don’t think of it that way and, however subliminally, they feel more comfortable buying from a company they are familiar with (in this case, eBay) then a company they’ve never heard of (you). EBay also has buyer protections in place to give more confidence to every transaction. This gives you an extra edge in making the sale because they are more likely to purchase through eBay than if they saw the item elsewhere. eBay also has their own brand loyalty program, eBay Bucks, that your items will benefit from without your needing to do anything.
- eBay lets you brand… a little. While eBay does limit sellers in many ways, they do allow for more branding than the majority of the Amazon services. Regular sellers are limited to customizing their listings, username, About Me and My World pages but sellers who upgrade to an eBay store have greater flexibility. Store owners get custom pages, a custom listing header, the ability to cross promote store items and custom item categories. Services like these let sellers push their company name and design making buyers more likely to remember and identify with your brand even outside the eBay platform.
- Advanced selling tools. Sellers of any level can print shipping labels from home and high volume sellers are eligible for postage rate discounts and complimentary insurance coverage on some items. Automation tools like the ability to leave feedback in bulk and the unpaid item assistant can be time savers, while eBay’s roster of 3rd party applications can offer sellers benefits from advanced financial reports to discounted insurance costs. eBay Store owners also get access to a host of other tools such as email marketing (including the ability to create multiple customer mailing lists and schedule auto-generating email blasts), a markdown manager for running sales and promotions, and cross promotional tools. While each of these services has their limits, all of these features come as part of your selling account eliminating the need to pay for an additional service unless you want to.
- eBay stores can serve as a standalone webstore. In addition to the tools mentioned above, upgrading to an eBay Store can give a seller their own branded storefront that serves as a standalone webstore while their items simultaneously still display on the main eBay platform. While there’s a monthly fee to upgrade to a store, owning a store can actually mean a fee savings depending on how many items a month you list. But whether store ownership is an extra expense or a savings, it provides you with a customizable location to direct buyers to only your items while still benefiting from placement in the main marketplace.
- There is seller and buyer protection. This goes both ways. Protection for the seller and mediation through eBay is a big plus for you as it offers some safety in the event of a problem buyer, but it’s also a selling point on the other end. Buyers are more likely to purchase if there is less of a risk of their being cheated, scammed or otherwise left without money or item.
- Community tools increase item exposure. eBay, like Amazon, has reviews and guides as well as customizable pages such as About Me and My World that let you connect with potential buyers on a more personal level. Unlike Amazon, however, eBay’s reviews and guides benefit the seller by highlighting the items you’re selling alongside any community content you create. While creating guides and writing reviews take time, it’s a nice free marketing tool at your disposal.
Of course, it’s not a perfect marketplace. You can check out my list of the disadvantages of selling eBay here.