As the owner of a small business, your worst nightmare is likely to be receiving a notice that it will cost more to keep your doors open. Running an online store is no exception, and I was certainly among those alarmed by what recent fee increases for eBay Stores would mean for me, especially since I have a hard time turning a profit under the best of circumstances. But bad news is often the kick in the pants that leads to a good change. In this case, you can turn a negative into an opportunity by doing something that you should be doing anyway: diversifying and exploring new ways to sell beyond eBay.
PriceGrabber (http://www.pricegrabber.com) is a "comparison shopping" site. It aggregates merchandise from many different online stores and presents products in a single easy-to-use interface. Click the "Sell Yours" link at the top of the PriceGrabber home page, which takes you to a page that explains a feature called PriceGrabber Storefronts.
PriceGrabber is what I call an "add-on" marketplace. It allows individuals or businesses to offer their products for sale alongside those already being offered in PriceGrabber's marketplace. If you have something to sell that you don't see on the site, you can ask permission to sell it by sending a message to email@example.com (there is a $10 fee each new item approved).
When considering additional (or alternative) marketplaces on which to sell, eBay Storeowners must ask themselves three questions:
- Is this channel going to bring me as many potential customers as eBay?
- Does it cost less than eBay?
- Is it better than other, similar marketplaces or channels?
Selling on PriceGrabber
Here's a quick rundown on how PriceGrabber stacks up:
- Fees. PriceGrabber doesn't charge any listing or setup fees. When you sell something, you pay $1 plus 5.75 percent of the purchase price. "The Purchase Price is the price for which you sell the item, including shipping and handling charges. Sales tax will not be considered as part of the Purchase Price when calculating the Transaction Fees."
- Range of products. You can only sell items that fall into the following ten categories: Computers, Photography, Software, Electronics, Video Games, Movies, Music, Books, Toys and Office.
PriceGrabber versus Amazon Marketplace
The "big dog" among online marketplaces is Amazon.com. Amazon, too, allows individual sellers to add their products onto existing descriptions (called Amazon Marketplace, not to be confused with Amazon zShops). But Amazon.com does present sellers with some limitations:
- Fees. Once you sell an item Amazon.com deducts a $.99 transaction fee and a closing fee that depends on the type of item sold and the shipping method used. Amazon also charges from 6 to 15 percent of the sale price, depending on the type of item sold. (If you sell in volume, you can become an Amazon Pro Merchant.) http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161240
- Range of products. You can only sell items that fall into 16 categories, including books, music, videos, sports and outdoors equipment, and others.
On the up side, Amazon.com is one of the best-known marketplaces in the world. In the comScore Media Metrix list of Top 50 Properties released in July, eBay ranked number 5 with more than 75 million unique visitors, while Amazon placed eighth with more than 46 million. I didn't see PriceGrabber on that list. (I did see another shopping site, Shopzilla.com, which placed 31st.)
Selling on PriceGrabber
It's quite easy to list an item: you can use a stock photo provided by PriceGrabber; you set your price; you describe the condition; your listing is online in a matter of minutes.
It's worth noting, though, that PriceGrabber doesn't give you a "storefront" in the sense that eBay does. An online storefront is supposed to have a front door, a name, and an identity. You get the ability to create all of those things with eBay Stores, but not with PriceGrabber. It's the proverbial tradeoff.
Personally, I'm not ready to give up on my eBay Store. I'm going to be more selective about my listings, and I'm going to diversify into other venues. If you've got the right merchandise to sell, PriceGrabber is definitely worth exploring.