A decade after the dot-com bust, eBay's brand is still a strong one, still associated with the romance of rags-to-riches, blockbusting online success. The idea of "getting rich on eBay" remains something of a cultural meme, despite the changes that both eBay and the wider ecommerce market have undergone in recent years.
In a sense, there's nothing wrong with that. There's still much to be gained by giving eBay selling a shot, going room-by-room through your house to get a start and build some feedback, then selecting a business model that works for you, finding product sourcing and doing market research on the eBay marketplace, and making the good old "college try" at eBay success.
But more and more, it's also true that if you're simply limiting yourself to eBay as a selling venue, you're probably leaving money on the table. It's also true that for some kinds of selling, eBay may no longer be the first choice that it once was, and this may have been the case for some time already.
Here are some eBay alternatives or supplements to think about, and reasons or situations in which to consider them:
- Amazon for mass-market consumer goods of all kinds. A lot has
been made of the battle for ecommerce supremacy that rages between
eBay and Amazon, and this is no accident. There are serious benefits to
selling on Amazon, amongst them a much less fiddly user interface and
selling platform, technology that attempt to reduce competition amongst
sellers so as not to drive margins down, a fulfillment program that gives
you access to price-agnostic "Prime" buyers and that reduces your load as a
seller, and better year-over-year same store sales growth for the last
several years. Many formerly exclusive eBay sellers are now selling on
Amazon as well, and a number have switched entirely after finding that for
their audience and product line, Amazon was a much better performer.
- Etsy for hand-made, locally produced, and craft goods. As eBay's
own marketplace grew out of control and became a place not just for small
sellers, but for mega-chain liquidation, import/export discounters, and all
kinds of other goods and sellers, often with rules, fees, and policy
adjustments to match, many of eBay's small, independent sellers moved to
platforms like Etsy that are exclusively for small sellers of hand-made,
locally produced, and craft goods, with a rapidly growing buying audience to
- Your own ecommerce website for eBay- or Amazon-unfriendly goods.
Setting up your own ecommerce website isn't as difficult as it once was,
with lots of providers out there to make it easy for you to get this done
(just search Google for "your own ecommerce website" or similar) and lots of
smaller web hosts that will provide assistance to small business sellers as
well. Selling through your own site rather than eBay or Amazon can open the
doors to a world of new wholesale sources and manufacturers that don't want
their goods being sold on these major platforms (that can, at times, tend to
drive prices down).
- Craigstlist for used, consignment, and other similar kinds of goods.
For some kinds of selling, eBay, Amazon, and other similar platforms are
just overkill. If you're not so much a small business as a "sometimes
seller" that tends to use selling for extra cash and to pay for
you may find that something simpler and more local like Craigslist or other
classified ads systems popular in your local area are a better fit for you.
- A local store or consignment shop for most anything. In this era
of ecommerce entrepreneurship, there's still something to be said for local
walk-in access. There are a lot of customers out there that will pay more
for the convenience of immediate, local access to goods and/or that are only
comfortable making purchases when they can meet someone face-to-face.
Depending on the kinds of goods you sell, you may find that competition is
less cutthroat on a local basis that it is when you share the stage with
every etailer around the world.
- eBay competitors around the web for anything you'd sell on eBay. Though it's still hard to imagine putting together an entire sustainable selling business exclusively through direct eBay competitors, many sellers today find that they can augment their eBay, Amazon, and/or other selling incomes by maintaining presences on platforms that compete directly with eBay in the online auction space.
Though not all of these alternatives will appeal to every seller, most sellers will find that adding one or more of them to their list of selling platforms will enhance their income and performance. eBay is still one of the best selling platforms around, but when you can do better with just a little more work, there's little reason to stick to eBay alone.