Just about everybody in the developed world has at least heard of eBay. As I’m updating this article in March 2016, it ranks as the 23rd most popular website in the world and the 7th in the United States.
There’s no question that it’s an extremely popular marketplace. But is it really the best place for you to start selling online? Just what are the advantages of eBay?
While not everybody trusts eBay, the vast majority of its shoppers do. It has a high customer satisfaction rating: 75% as of the end of 2015. That’s better than the 74.8% average for the retail industry—quite an achievement for an ecommerce business!
Customers buying on eBay have protection against scams and bad service. Having eBay act as a third-party arbitrator means customers feel much safer going out on a limb and buying from you, even if they’ve never heard of your company before. That translates into you having to work much less for each sale.
eBay first became famous for its auctions and has remained the top auction marketplace on the Web ever since. This gives you much more flexibility as a seller—you can put items up for auction to get a higher price. The option to set a reserve price ensures that you won’t sell something for a fraction of what it’s worth.
For everything that doesn’t auction well (such as the majority of in-production items), you can use eBay’s fixed-price listings.
Although eBay is not quite the equal of Amazon on Google, it has great search engine optimization. Search for something like car parts or, perhaps most famously, PEZ dispensers, and you’ll find eBay before long. That means high chances of people searching on Google and winding up on your product’s listing, without you ever building a website.
While Amazon typically charges about 15% plus other fees per sale, eBay only charges 10% before its fixed-price fees. The fees can quickly add up on either website, but the lower percentage on eBay means you will generally make a bigger profit per sale there.
One of the best benefits of selling on eBay is that sellers get access to remarkable savings on shipping with the U.S. Postal Service, sometimes ranging to over 30%. The lower shipping costs will make your items more attractive to buyers. They also give you a competitive edge over marketplaces that don’t offer a discount like that.
In addition, their Global Shipping Program makes it easy for U.S. sellers to ship to anywhere in the world. This can be an enormous timesaver.
eBay currently has 162 million active users. While that leaves it a distant second to Amazon, it’s still the equivalent of more than half the US population. That’s an incredible level of exposure for your product listings and means that your potential for sales is almost limitless.
Every selling platform is designed to make money for the platform owner first and users like you second. As a result, you’ll face a few challenges beyond just paying the fees:
eBay has an edge over Amazon with its lower fees (in most cases) and shipping discounts, and has far more buyers than any of the other online marketplaces. Most sellers will find that it’s one of the best places for them to do business online.
On the fence? Try selling a handful of things from around your house and see if you like how it goes. Find out how to get started with our beginner's guide to selling on eBay and eBay's own instructions.