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 e-commerce 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.
eBay Alternatives to Consider
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 e-commerce supremacy that rages between eBay and Amazon, and this is no accident. There are serious benefits to selling on Amazon, among them a much less fiddly user interface and selling platform, technology that attempts to reduce competition among 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 handmade, 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 handmade, locally produced, and craft goods, with a rapidly growing buying audience to match.
- Your own e-commerce website for eBay- or Amazon-unfriendly goods. Setting up your own e-commerce 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 e-commerce 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).
- Craigslist 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 upgrades, you may find that something simpler and more local like Craigslist or other classified ads systems popular in your local area is a better fit for you.
- A local store or consignment shop for most anything. In this era of e-commerce 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 retailer 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.