I had one for my previous business, but it doesn't really fit my current business. The prices on eBay are low and the fees are high. So if your margins aren't decent/high, it's probably not worth it.
Customers on there typically more high-maintenance too compared to the typical buyer that buys from an ecommerce site. Wouldn't hurt to test it out and see for yourself though.
I think that ebay is a great place to sell, providing your margins are high, and/or - you are buying at very favourable terms.
The cost of selling something on ebay is at least 15% of the total sale value. Therefore, you must compare adwords and organic sales costs to draw any conclusion.
One thing I noticed with ebay is - a lot more people claim that their item never arrived. This means factoring recorded delivery costs in to the mix. If you sell larger products, then - next day signed for would be standard and this wouldn't be an issue.
Basically you are paying for people to see your product without any other marketing costs. If you can discount your merchandise, pay the 15% fee, absorb the higher than normal cost (in my experience) of missing parcels and still make a profit - it's a win win marketplace :)
Its terrible the number of sellers who report that ebay is a way for people to rip them off.
Ebay should be bought before some higher authority for encouraging and allowing it.
Digmen1 - Thats my experience too sadly, hence my reluctance to become involved with the site.
PayPal can so easily be abused. You can open a dispute to chargeback based on any reasons you want really. To PayPal, the customer is almost always right.
If you currently market your product through CSE's then you can probably make a go of it on Ebay. All things considered it's a good but not great channel for us. The downside is dealing with the Ebay checkout and listing requirements. There are 3rd party tools available to make it easier.
We *just* opened our eBay store last month, after running a successful eCommerce store for seven years. So far, we're very pleased with the results. (We're in the US).
Our initial impressions:
- Our order volume quickly doubled.
- eBayers like to ask *lots* of questions, which is fine.
- Our international orders have increased; probably 3X.
- It's important to learn the File Management CSV format for ADD, REVISE, and END. It's a bit of hit-and-miss to get everything correct.
We have an Ebay store. It barely pays for itself. The worst part is this:
|eBayers like to ask *lots* of questions, |
Yep, and they always want a deal. They rarely want to pay the listed price. The questions they ask are almost always provided on the page. Its like they can't read the details of the product. Its bizarre that we all have this experience on Ebay. I have no idea what it is about ebay that causes these headaches.
The questions they ask are almost always provided on the page - yes I know what you mean to this end ive I regrouped information in to three line paragraphs all information is interrelated. Im hoping this will cut the need for emails going back and forth.
I think its the users demographic I suspect many users(questioners) are older 55+ and not overly sure/trusting of ecommerce hence would like to make sure about x point, it would be interesting to see what kind of a response youd get if a phone number could be listed on the page.
I sell on ebay, amazon and my own site. I've experienced idiots and gems on all three. But I've had more buyers who border on scammers/criminals on eBay. Right now it's easy for buyers to game the system to get free merchandise. Just had this happen *today* for a $600 item. Currently working it with eBay CS.
I really wish I could do without eBay and Amazon in favor of my own site, but they outcompete on SERPs, SEM bids and customer base.
I would agree with the other comments already made. I would like to ad that ebay is a bad marketplace for heavy and hard to ship items. The customers will never take responsibility if they ordered the wrong product and you are faced with the choice of eating the cost of shipping and returning, or getting negative feedback and being killed in the "best match" search algorithm. Also, your DSRs will be a big headache. No matter how many things you sell, you are only allowed so many 1s or 2s in your ranking before you get demoted for those.
I am selling items that are very use specific and heavy. Many of my buyers are computer illiterate enough that they don't even have their own email. Things would be different if I was selling IPhone cases - the customer base is more tech literate, and there are fewer ways to get the order wrong.
|They rarely want to pay the listed price. |
That is why most people go to eBay. If you're selling to that market--if you've got product to dump, for example--it's great. Otherwise, see above.
My recommendation: look to other auction sites that do auctions only such as Bonanza.com (highly praised by media recently, no I'm not affiliated to them). Until eBay returns to it's strength, low cost auctions, that won't change.
It is worth testing because it does work for many sellers. However, I was a Power Seller for years and my experience was identical to directwheels.
|It is worth testing because it does work for many sellers. |
Bored housewives cleaning out their closets?
Dumb merchants who know nothing of inventory control?
Unemployed people who would rather tell their friends they went into online commerce?
Firms going out of business?
Retired old geezers who are content to add $5k a year to their social security income?
People who want a hobby sideline business?
We've tested eBay a few times since about 1999 and found no merit in selling on it. Far too much work for the pennies we'd get. So what do we do with our worst buying mistakes? We take 'em out to the dumpster or donate them to charity.
jsinger, although eBay isn't generally worth it for a lot of businesses, I wouldn't rule it out completely without testing. My previous business netted 6 figures from eBay alone back in 2004 as well as 2005. The products I was selling were extremely unique, had really high margins, and almost zero competition. eBay was a great way to promote my company and products to a massive audience base.
I also received a lot of customers who bought from my site directly after seeing my eBay listings. Again, my products had almost zero competition and this made eBay work in my case. I wouldn't tell people to not test eBay. But then again, I don't think people should rule out testing anything, because you just never know until you try.
Remember all those We-Sell-Your-Stuff-On-eBay stores (often franchises) that sprang up briefly about six years ago?
One was featured in Steve Carell's "40 Year Old Virgin" film.
Are ANY left in business?
Yes, everyone should test ebay. Agree that even if you make little money you may be able to steer a bit of useful traffic to your regular site.
|Its terrible the number of sellers who report that ebay is a way for people to rip them off. |
Same with any ecommerce store, not just eBay.
If you can't sniff out a fake sale, you won't last long selling online.
One simple quick check, which sadly fails on mobile devices, is to get the location of the IP that posted the order, when possible, and see if it's near the shipping address.
|PayPal can so easily be abused. You can open a dispute to chargeback based on any reasons you want really. To PayPal, the customer is almost always right. |
That's pretty much the same with all credit cards today.
You as a merchant have no protection, protection is always for the consumer, hardly ever the merchant, not from the CC company, the shipping company, nobody.
When you open your store - are you not faced with exactly the same problem as an ecommerce site owner - traffic?
That is a question BTW.
MrFewkes; in our case, no. We opened an eCommerce store 7 years ago, and have worked hard to build traffic ofer those years. The lack of traffic the first year was brutal, but it steadily increased.
We recently opened our first eBay store (3 months ago), and new sales were instantaneous. Generating traffic on eBay was no work at all.
The challenges that eBay presents are quite different: lots of (mostly) meaningless questions, several claims of "broken" items that were "so broken we can't return it", endless offers of lowball deals... the kind of mickey-mouse stuff we rarely (if ever) saw in 7 years of running our own eCommerce site.
@MrFewkes, the whole point with eBay is that you don't have to worry about traffic. They do all the marketing and have their affiliate program that drives traffic to eBay to search for whatever people want to buy. When you first start, the only hurdle you need to get over is to build up your reputation/feedbacks, since no one would typically buy from a seller with just a few feedbacks.
directwheels, I appreciate your post about your experience selling unique, high-end items on ebay. This is just what I have thought about using it for, but people have discouraged me from trying it because they say ebay takes too much of a cut. I think on a real auction, I could get much higher prices for my unique, zero-competition items than I can dare to ask on my site. Your post implies that's the case, no?
@HRoth: They take a big cut, but if your margins are insanely high, who cares? If you have little or no competition, just make sure you don't let your prices fall too low if you are doing auctions on eBay because that would really kill your market.
I had 2 strategies for different types of products. One way is the traditional way to just list the items on eBay and let them sell. The more interesting way is to take advantage of eBay's massive audience base and try to get people to my site directly to avoid their fees.
Because I knew I had pretty high demand for my items, I would start my auctions at $0.01. Most of the times, the price would end up very close to the price I have on my ecommerce site, maybe even higher.
I would make these auctions last for 7 days and list 1x of each item to let people bid the price up. Because the price goes up slowly, it will look like a bargain and attract a bit of attention from potential buyers. You will notice a lot of people don't want to mess around waiting for the auctions to end and just buy from your site directly.
After listing the same products on there for a while, the auction prices may drop. At that point, switch over to Buy It Now listings or use a reserve. Try listing it for MORE than the prices on your ecommerce site. People aren't dumb, so there's a good chance they will find your site and buy directly from there if it's cheaper.
To make sure people find your site, make sure your username is the same as your ecommerce store name. Watermark your images with your site name. Finally, put the email address from your eommerce site (ex. firstname.lastname@example.org) on the listing. People will see the domain in your email and go straight to your site.
This method doesn't work for all businesses, so take it for what it is.
Watermark your pictures with your site URL! Agreed, I did that by accident and that drives traffic to my site.
To put the following in context, I sell only five or so high margin items on Ebay, it is not a main source of income but gives me a profit enough to make a difference.
The problem I had was the competition from Amazon not from other E-bayers. As far as I can tell Amazon tracks prices on Ebay (maybe I was being paranoic) and they adjust prices to be lower than Ebay ones. This seemed to happen more than once a day. I guess it must be an automated process.
On one item, over a three month period, I checked my price on Ebay against the Amazon price and lowered mine to always be slightly lower than the one on Amazon. On occasions I was selling at a loss. But bang, one day Amazon gave up selling the item at a silly low price and raised it to a price where I could sell lower than them but still make a good profit.
The other factor which made the whole exercise more profitable was becoming a Power Seller. That little badge against the sale item made a great difference.
I never send items registered mail, it is too expensive. I live near a Post Office and daily (sometimes more) I would take the items down there and ask for proof of postage. It is a free service and when an item is "lost" in the post I just send the proof of postage to the purchaser and ask them to claim back the cost of the lost item from the Post office. Just asking people if they want me to send them the proof of posting makes many of the claims evaporate into thin air.
"Watermark your pictures with your site URL!"
Great tip. Last time we sold on ebay, several years ago, they wouldn't allow including ones main site in listings. Only very limited workarounds were possible.
What do you use for watermarking? Does it have to be a subtle background watermark or can the product photo clearly show the site?
I just did mine by hand using Photoshop. My product photos clearly showed the site URL.
directwheels, thanks for your great advice!
@HRoth, you are welcome. Great transaction, will do business with again. A+++++++++++
All good ideas... Use a unique toll free number in your listing and track those calls.
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