Though it's now been well over a decade since eBay became the most popular trading platform on earth, and though lots of other ecommerce platforms and marketplaces have come, gone, and arisen in the interim, a lot of people still simply think "eBay" when they think "deals." The "I found it on eBay" meme remains one of the most popular about ecommerce and online shopping culture in general.
But for almost every kind of buyer out there, today it's true that there are alternatives to eBay that ought to be considered as you shop, even if eBay remains one of your go-to sources for goods or deals of various kinds. Believe it or not, today eBay isn't the only alternative to brick-and-mortar retail stores, even if you're looking for used, consignment, one-of-a-kind, or craft goods.
Here are some alternatives to eBay, who ought to consider them, and when:
- Amazon for new and used mass-market consumer goods. For a long
time, eBay was a great source for new consumer goods and the best source,
bar none, for used, refurbished, liquidation, and off-lease goods of all
kinds. No longer. Today the
battle between eBay and Amazon is a fierce one, with Amazon often coming
out ahead in terms of pricing, stock, and customer buying experience. If
you're shopping for mass-market goods, be sure to hit Amazon.com and check
their prices, particularly if you're looking to save money by buying used or
- Google Products for the price-conscious shopper. Shopping Google
products isn't really shopping any one particular site, but is rather a way
of "shopping" a lot of sites out there at the same time, amongst them eBay,
since many sellers' eBay auctions are fed into the Google Products system.
Sure, search eBay for the lowest Buy It Now and auction prices, but then
visit Amazon and after that Google to see if there are other places that
have it for less.
- Major national chain and big-box retailer websites for consumer
goods. Back when eBay first reached the top of the ecommerce heap, most
major national chains and big-box stores didn't yet have working websites
with complete product lines for you to shop. There was a clear divide
between "ecommerce" and "retail," with eBay being the former and the latter
being almost entirely local affairs requiring you to drive and park. This is
no longer true; most of the major national retailers in every category now
have large online shopping portals with complete product lines that carry
items not even found in their stores. Many also allow for online ordering at
discounted prices with local in-store pickup. Don't make a purchase on eBay
before checking these sites as well.
- Craigslist for used, local, and craft goods of all kinds. eBay is
a great way to shop auctions nationally and internationally, but the thing
about eBay is that with such a large buying audience, goods are nearly
always going to go for something approaching market value, barring the
hidden deals that result from seller mistakes. Not true on classifieds
sites like Craigslist, where it isn't uncommon to see people in the local
area that really just want to get things gone from their garage listing
items for a fraction of what they're worth on the open market, and without
the need to have them shipped, either! Of course eBay also has
its own classifieds system, but to date it doesn't have the depth,
breadth, or reach that Craigslist seems to have.
- Local consignment, thrift, and recycling chains. Most regions and
locales have stores or even chains that specialize in buying and selling
particular kinds of goods, that may even do so on a thrift or consignment
basis. Classic examples are chains like KidtoKid (for childrens' toys,
apparel, and furnishings) and Savers (for general donation-based thrift
goods). These are often great places to shop and find deals on particular
kinds of goods that you may be enthusiastic about. Collectors and hobbyists
in particular tend to be well-served by finding a local store that caters to
their interests, since most local retailers of this kind sell new, used, and
consignment, often with unique deals and excellent prices.
- Redlaser for online/offline comparison shopping. These days even if you're a hardcore deal finder, limiting yourself to searching a few websites like eBay.com and Amazon.com is unlikely to get you the best deals in the most convenient ways possible. Instead, consider using locationally-aware mobile apps that integrate with the ecommerce world, like eBay's RedLaser app, which enables you to scan the barcode on any product you're interested in, then comparison shop for that product both online across dozens of etailers and offline, with details about stock, availability, and pricing at your local big-box and chain retailers.
This is only a smattering of alternatives and options, but you get the ideathe era of eBay as the 800 pound gorilla of online marketplaces is over. These days, the smart shoppers and the deal finders know that it's important to look beyond eBay in almost every case. Sometimes eBay ends up coming out ahead anyway, but when it doesn't, you want to be where the deals are.