The Pro’s & Cons of Ebay

Running a marketplace isn’t easy… trust me.

I know first hand how difficult it is to run a marketplace. Not only do you need to attract the buyers, you also need to attract your sellers — without the sellers, you have no buyers and without the buyers you have no sellers! It’s safe to say, it isn't an easy job, and they certainly earn the 10–20% commissions they charge. But how do you know which marketplaces to choose when there’s so many out there? Which one is going to get you results? Which marketplace will suit your business best? How does the search engine work? All important questions, and ones which I will be answering for you in my next six articles. Each article will give an in depth review of one specific platform, the pros and cons, how easy/difficult it is to use, some handy tips, volume of sales, the features and the the do’s and don’ts of each platform.

How many is too many?

There’s no such thing as selling on too many websites as long as you can manage them. You need to think carefully about which selling platforms you choose and which will benefit your company the most as each one you join will take a time to upkeep and manage. Although each platform takes up some of your time, the more you sell on, the higher chance you have of selling your stock. Trade a couple of years ago was very different, you could sell on just Ebay and you’d be more than happy with the results, nowadays, its vital to sell on as many places you can physically manage as making the one sale has become increasingly harder.

Ebay — the marmite of the antique world?

We all know that Ebay has a bad name in the world of antiques; it’s user-face is horrible, it treats sellers unfairly, it has lots of hurdles to jump through before you can actually start selling and generally it’s quite hard to get your pieces seen. These are the main drawbacks and some sellers completely steer clear of Ebay because of them. Personally I think that’s madness — it’s such a huge marketplace with an absolutely enormous audience! Try not listen to this crazy talk, I’ve sold on Ebay for over 5 years and have never had too much of a problem plus the majority of sales for my business have come from here, much more than any other platform I sell on. The website may not be pretty and the customer service may not be great, but they sure can generate sales!

Who hasn't heard of Ebay?

If you have internet, then you’ll know who this marketplace giant is. In 2019 Ebay was reported to have 180 million active users — to put that into perspective the UK has a population of 66 million, so its safe to say that they won’t be beaten on traffic! Obviously not all Ebay traffic is looking for antique furniture, but even if 0.1% are on the look out, that’s still 180,000 potential customers, which is definitely more than the below marketplaces can offer.

Sales, sales and more sales…

We are antique dealers because we love antiques, we love the hunt, we love bringing our pieces back to life, we love the buying and selling and we love meeting other people in the trade, plus obviously, we want to be able to make some money out of our passion! So when you sign up for a new marketplace, what is the main thing you’re looking for? Is it a fancy dashboard? A nice userface? Some sweet looking homepage? Lots of sales reports? Probably not. Although these things are great, your main focus should always be sales. Without the sales you won’t be able to do the rest so although Ebay may be ugly to look at, it certainly gives you a very high chance of selling. I currently sell on six different platforms — Ebay, Pamono, Etsy, Vinterior, Selency and my own website (which is undergoing redevelopment as we speak!) and Ebay accounts (on average) over 55% of my sales.

Great place to start

If you are new to selling online then Ebay is a great place to start — it’s fairly straight forward to use, you can take offers on your items but most importantly, you get your money instantly. One of the biggest hurdles that any business faces, especially when it is just starting out is cashflow, and there’s only two platforms that give you the money immediately after the sale: Ebay and Etsy.

Paypal

When selling on Ebay, Paypal is essential. Buyers trust the payment provider and if you don’t offer it, you will reduce your chances of making a sale. You want to limit the hurdles a buyer faces when buying online and Paypal makes for a smooth and easy transaction which also covers both parties in cases of fraud, theft or damage to the item. I’d recommend taking a read of the Paypal seller protection policy which will help you understand what they do for both the seller and the buyer so that you can make sure you are aware of what you need to do as well as what you get out of it.

The App

The Ebay app is such a handy tool for sellers. You are constantly logged on so you don’t have to mess around logging in meaning keeping up to date with your inventory becomes an effortless task. You also get notifications on your phone when ever an action is taken on one of your items which makes your response time instant, leading to better customer satisfaction, which is always a positive😁👍. The app makes it both quick and easy to edit an existing listing, so altering the price, or changing the description takes a matter of seconds. The Ebay app does also allows you to list items, though this isn’t something I do very often at all due to my item templates — but if you are taking photos on your phone or aren’t using description templates, then listing on the app may be the best way forward for you.

Ebay’s not just for selling

So not only is Ebay a pretty good place to sell, it’s also a pretty good place to buy! I’ve had some absolute gems from Ebay — some of which have been listed by private sellers as an auction style listing, no postage option, have a vague title and terrible photos so it’ definitely worth having a good scroll every so often. Generally if a listing looks a bit rubbish, it will put the general public off buying the items and leaves a great buying platform for dealers, especially if you are looking for a particular item. You can filter the items you search for by distance, by price and by auction only, so your search is narrowed to the most relevant items.

Search engine

Ever wondered why people list their items with titles like “Vintage Retro Mid Century Danish Style Teak Sideboard”? The reason is to do with the way the Ebay search engine works. It pulls keywords from the title and this is how your results are shown, for example if a buyer searches: Retro sideboard, then your item will pop up as it matches two words in your title. Try and include as many words in there that you think people would use to find the item — without making the title look too messy!

Stats

We’re all guilty of overlooking the numbers that are right in-front of us. Luckily for me, my business partner Haydn loves numbers and made me realise the importance of analysing the data you have. So although stats may not be your thing, you need the stats to see how your business is performing and growing. Ebay have worked extremely hard to offer a dashboard which gives you an insight into all your previous sales, what your sales are compared to the previous year or month, traffic reports, conversion rates etc. These are all really accessible stats which are easily digestible and easy to understand, so try your best to keep and eye on them to help grow your Ebay business.

Different ways of listing

Ebay have three different ways you can list an item for sale — fixed price, best offer or an auction style listing. There’s no right or wrong answer with how you should list your items as each seller is different. Personally I use fixed price listings, but a friend of mine lists all his items as an auction at a £0.99p starting price. If you are a furniture seller I would recommend steering away from the auction listings as from experience, furniture rarely sells well on auctions unless it is something pretty special.

Ebay shop

An Ebay shop is only worth it for some sellers as it currently costs £30.00 a month for a basic shop which has no benefits other than no listing fees and a link to your shop. So if you are listing more than 100 listings per month a shop may be worth it, if not, then personally I wouldn’t bother. Here’s a helpful article if you want to see if its financially worth it for you to have an ebay shop.

Watch out, the Ebay police are about!

Ebay takes customer satisfaction very seriously and if they believe you are under performing, they will either increase your selling fees (usually between 4-5%), put a hold on your account, restrict how many items you can list or even ban you from using their site. They have different seller levels depending on your performance, you will receive lots of benefits if you work hard to offer an excellent customer service, but believe me if you go below satisfactory, then you will pay the price!
A few months ago, my seller rating dipped below standard for the first time, I was juggling several different projects, 2 businesses, a part time job auctioneering & attempting to keep an active social life and happy girlfriend so time wasn't really on my side! I let my customer service level slip and they put my seller level below standard without any warning. I only found out about the 5% increase because I regularly look at my invoices and when you’re selling quite a few things, 5% soon mounts up! The things that affect your seller rating are your defect rate, late delivery, negative feedback, communication and your item description.

People want a bargain

At the end of the day, Ebay is an auction website. This means that the majority of people who buy on there are always after a bit of a bargain. This means you are more likely to sell your item if you offer the item on an auction style listing or a best offer listing. The problem I found with the best offer option is the offers you receive can be insultingly low and auction listings are very hit and miss. This is why I now list all my items at a buy it now but try to be as competitively priced as possible. I also offer free delivery on every listing as I’ve found its one less hurdle for a buyer to got through when purchasing online and they also don’t have to mess around with giving the courier cash either.

Price wars

If for example, you type in G-plan Fresco sideboard on Ebay, you will see about 75 listings. That means a buyer has 75 options of where they can buy their sideboard from and there’s only two ways you can make your listings stand out: good photography and a good price. Photography is important to show that you are a professional seller but the main thing that will make your listing more desirable to the consumer is the price. This often ends in there being a price war between sellers and is one of the biggest issues with any marketplace, especially Ebay.

Rating

. User friendliness — 3⭐

. Features — 4.5⭐

. Stats — 4.5⭐

. Mobile app — 5⭐

. Website — 2.5⭐

. Sales —4⭐

. Overall — 4⭐

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