Remember when eBay first started gaining momentum in the mid 90’s, at the height of the dot-com boom, and people flocked by the hundreds to the site to place bids on obscure, niche, and sometimes downright weird items––like jesus-imprinted toast?
With its wild popularity, eBay quickly became the go-to source for online sellers looking to make profit without the overhead costs that come with a physical storefront. The site moved from selling rare or unusual items to everyday staples such as brand name clothing, sporting event tickets, and movie fan paraphernalia. With its original auction function, eBay meant scoring major discounts and deals for consumers, pulling in bargain hunters in droves.
But with rising fees, competition, and better options for ecommerce platforms, eBay, as it stands today, just isn’t the best option for online stores anymore. Here are 3 reasons why eBay is no longer the best solution for ecommerce and startup entrepreneurs.
1. Marketplace Fees
The fees eBay charges sellers recently changed, stirring up a wave of heated emotions from long-time eBay users; online stores that have built up their business over the last decade solely on eBay––auctioning off thousands upon thousands of products––are now pulling out. Once prosperous online stores are shutting down their pages and closing up shops because eBay just isn’t working for them anymore. Sellers are now charged a listing fee once an item is placed for sale on eBay, and then they are charged a Final Value Fee once that item is sold. This fee is a percentage calculated from the total amount paid to the seller for the item––including shipping. On top of all this, there are also additional fees, including, but not limited to Advanced Listing Upgrade Fees to increase visibility of your products and Supplemental Service Fees.
With these increased and numerous fees, your profits are reduced. And assessing whether that margin is worth it in the end is essential when deciding if eBay really is your best bet for your online store. It seems many have recently decided it is not.
2. Does Nothing for Your Branding
The original appeal of a mass marketplace like eBay is that it provides smaller stores with an infrastructure. Systems are already in place, as is an audience. eBay draws customers to the smaller online stores with its own name, and while that was the original selling point, as those smaller businesses grew, it quickly became clear that eBay only brands itself and does nothing for your company’s branding (your logo would always be in direct competition with eBay’s, for instance, and likely be overshadowed given its relative size).
Bottom line: eBay’s focus is on products that bring people to the site, and not on sellers.
Online stores eventually outgrow the customer base that eBay brings in, and because of the infrastructures in place, they aren’t really able to make a name for themselves or to reach out to new customers.
3. You Don’t have Complete Control
eBay’s set systems and infrastructure has limits beyond branding as well. If you build your store within an existing entity such as eBay, you won’t have complete control of your space. This goes for branding––logos, aesthetic, name, presence––products, inventory, visibility, and communication as well.
For products, should eBay decide it wanted to get in on the latest purple wrist watch trend, perhaps something your store started, it has the ability to stock the items itself and outsell you via a larger visibility and presence.
Then there’s also the matter of limiting what it is you can sell. In an age where almost everything can be bought, streamed, and used online––E-books, entire CDs, and services––eBay comes up short handed and outdated for not being able to process the sale of digital, non-tangible items.
eBay also has no means of keeping track of inventory for sellers, so it becomes a responsibility and burden of your own. Other platforms, such as Amazon offer to house your product in bulk and fill your orders. And as for shopping carts, eBay uses PayPal exclusively. It doesn’t allow you to add additional shopping carts from other popular plugins such as Shopify.
In terms of visibility, it is up to eBay what stores are featured and how searchable you and your products are; your communication lines with potential customers are up to the corporate giant as well––and can change at any minute, just like the marketplace fees.
With so many new or better ecommerce platforms out there, why limit your company to eBay? Don’t let its big name and past successes fool you. With technology, everything changes quickly and what was once on top may not be the best tomorrow.
If you are considering eBay your ecommerce store or are a ecommerce startup entrepreneur, be sure to check out other alternatives like Shopify and Amazon before falling into the allure of eBay.
Keep in mind the 3 reasons discussed in this blog post––fees, branding, and control––and on top of that, consider all the junk consumers have to wade through to find your product. This deterrent is likely a major reason eBay garners less traffic now with specific and pointed ecommerce stores––such as ticketmaster.com for Broadway tickets, for example––popping up as competitors, and only serves as yet another reason why eBay is no longer the best place for an online store.