Shopping Online with eBay Express, Amazon, Overstock and Google Checkout
In April, I wrote about my shopping experience on eBay Express and Amazon. The impetus for that article was the launch of eBay Express and how it stacked up with the grand-daddy of online retailers, Amazon.com. (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m04/i27/s03)
Well, the holiday shopping season has started (for me, anyway), and since I do almost all of my holiday gift shopping online, I thought this would be a good opportunity to take eBay Express for another test drive and this time, compare it with Amazon.com and a couple of other contenders. Since Google Checkout launched in April, I decided to add that to my choices, as well as Overstock.com, another site where I have frequently purchased items.
My goal during this shopping expedition - aside from getting a good price - was to find the fastest and easiest buying experience. Although I love perusing eBay for certain things, it's a more involved process if you are trying to fulfill a list of items, which presumably is why eBay Express was developed. My shopping list had 10 items - all CDs or DVDs - and my criteria for comparison was the following:
1) The venue had to have a shopping cart that allowed me to review, add or remove items quickly.
2) The site had to have a healthy stock of inventory, meaning that I could find all 10 of my items in one location.
3) The site had to accept either PayPal or Credit Card. Accepting both was preferable.
Here are the results of my comparison and some notes on each site:
Shipping Charge: $2.95
Grand Total: $236.36
Pros: Nice shopping cart. Good, relevant search results. Prices were the best. Shipping discount on multiple orders. I've shopped Overstock.com in the past and always received my items in a timely fashion.
Cons: Overstock - do you take PayPal or don't you? You list it on your site, but it's not an option when I checkout. When I searched help, I got this message: "The PayPal payment option is temporarily unavailable. Please check back with us as it will be restored soon. Thank you for your patience." Ordinarily, I'd let it pass as a glitch, but it was the same deal last time I went to purchase on your site several months ago. Fix it, or forget it.
Shipping & Handling: $18.29
Total Before Tax: $254.80
Pros: The best shopping cart. Good search results. Prices were competitive. When purchasing multiple items there is a shipping discount. In fact, if you purchase from Amazon directly, you'll probably get free shipping, which brings the total costs down considerably. Feel secure that you'll receive your item.
Cons: Amazon does not accept PayPal.
Items: US $195.53
Shipping: US $59.49
Applicable sales tax will be added to your total during Checkout.
Subtotal: US $255.02
Pros: Nice shopping cart. Good, relevant search results. Prices were the best - before shipping. PayPal is accepted
Cons: When will eBay get it that if I'm shopping a large list of items, there's a strong likelihood that I'll be purchasing from more than 5 different sellers. Unbelievably annoying to get a message at checkout that: We're sorry, but we currently cannot process orders from more than 5 different sellers. Please remove some items and try again. No, I'm not trying again.
Update, 9/21/06: Sometime in the 2-week period between the time I ran these comparisons and when this article was published, eBay increased the limit of unique sellers from 5 to 10. Much better! If this new limit had been in place, and the total cost of my purchase - after shipping - had been more competitive, I may have purchased from eBay Express.
I'm biased here, because of my background selling online, but I love seeing the choice of online stores that is beginning to emerge. The two DVD sites that I found using Google Checkout had exemplary sites - both had very nice search engines, shopping carts and full inventory. (One site was missing 1 out of the 10 DVDs that I was searching) Had the prices been a little more competitive, I would probably have purchased from either one of them.
Gcheckout is young, but has potential. I would like to see more of a global shopping cart, ala Amazon or eBay Express where I could fulfill my order using multiple vendors to get the best overall price.
(missing one item: $14.42)
Standard U.S. Shipping: $6.99Total: $276.93
I completed my transaction on Overstock.com. Aside from having the best price, Overstock.com allowed me to fill my order without having to leave the site. My order arrived about 5 days later, and I was very satisfied.
Each year seems to hold more choices for the online shopper. In fact, after I wrote this comparison, Google announced that it had just launched an easier way to find stores that accept Google Checkout via Froogle, their comparison shopping search engine (http://googlecheckout.blogspot.com/2006/09/checkout-froogle.html). While this makes it easier to find items from merchants that accept Google Checkout, I'd still like to see the ability to complete one Google Checkout transaction involving multiple stores.
A few more online shopping excursions, and I can avoid the mall altogether!
About the author:
David Steiner is President of Steiner Associates LLC, publisher of EcommerceBytes.com and the EveryPlaceISell.com merchant directory. David, a former television producer, handles business development and advertising for EcommerceBytes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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