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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 279 - January 23, 2011 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 18

Sellers Choice 2011: Merchants Rate Ecommerce Marketplaces


By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com

January 23, 2011
 



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The results are in for AuctionBytes 2011 Sellers Choice Awards in which online merchants rate the online marketplaces on which they sell! The Sellers Choice Awards is the only mechanism for online sellers to rate marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon.com, Bonanza as well as niche marketplaces such as Etsy, RubyLane and Artfire. Last year's feature received enormous visibility and is still referenced by sellers, and this year we doubled the number of responses we received, from 1,400 to almost 2,800. Ratings were also quite close this year - only 1/10th of a point separated the top two overall choices, and the top four overall marketplaces scored within 1.2 points.

Last year, we selected 15 marketplaces and asked respondents to rate them. This year, we let readers tell us which venues to include in Sellers Choice by letting them nominate up to 5 marketplaces. We then took the 16 top-nominated marketplaces and asked sellers to rate the venues with which they had experience as a seller. As you read the reviews, keep in mind that the nomination ballot included nearly 50 marketplaces, as well as write-in candidates, so in a sense, all of these venues have accrued enough support to get on the final ballot, which is an impressive accomplishment in itself.

Marketplaces new to Sellers Choice this year are ArtFire, Oztion, Webstore and Zibbet, which replaced CQout, GoAntiques and OnlineAuction.com. Two of those upstarts beat out last year's winners - Artfire and Webstore both received across-the-board ratings of 8 or higher except in one category: Profitability.

Nearly 2,800 online sellers rated the marketplaces and judged them on profitability, customer service, communication and ease-of-use, and provided comments explaining their ratings and providing details about the rewards and challenges of selling on each. Respondents also indicated on a scale of 1-10 how likely they were to recommend the marketplace as a selling venue to a friend or colleague.

This year, eBay again got the most number of ratings - 80% - not surprising considering it is one of the largest C2C online marketplaces (it reported having over 94 million active users at the end of 2010). eBay was followed by Bonanza - previously called Bonanzle (43%); Craigslist (40%); Etsy (28%); Amazon (26%); Artfire (21%); eCrater (20%); Webstore.com and eBid.net, both with 16%; iOffer (13%); Rubylane (11%); Blujay (9%); Atomic Mall (8%); Zibbet.com (6%); OZtion (4%); and Tias.com (3%).

Note that this these numbers do not indicate the popularity or size of the marketplaces, it simply reflects where the AuctionBytes readers who took the survey sell or have sold online.

Ratings and Comments: Insider Information
The ratings are quantitative and can guide sellers on which aspects of a marketplace they should review most carefully. The respondents' comments give some background about what it's like to sell on each venue. For example, respondents who left comments about selling on one marketplace.com pointed out various concerns over its catalog. And in speaking about another marketplace, some respondents pointed out that it generates a lot of traffic, so they use it as a customer acquisition tool for their own websites.

The comments offer independent inside information about what it's like to sell on various venues that would be difficult to find anyplace else. It's important to keep in mind that these are not one-size-fits-all comments. It's likely that a seller of handmade goods will have a different experience than that of a seller of vintage goods on the same marketplace.

We did not include every comment, but we did select representative comments and those that described the marketplace as only an experienced seller could do.

The Results
What's perhaps most interesting about the Sellers Choice ratings is the big picture view - the results show how difficult it is for marketplace sellers. No marketplace received higher than an 8.72 on a scale of 1 to 10, and in profitability, no marketplace received higher than a 7.06. Many respondents commented about high fees and/or low sales on the marketplaces on which they sold, and many sellers reported poor customer service experiences.

The venues with the highest ratings are not the largest marketplaces - with growth comes the challenge of keeping things simple and easy to use - yet smaller marketplaces have difficulties attracting buyer traffic.

AuctionBytes 2011 Sellers Choice Ratings
(Alphabetical)

Marketplace Profitability Customer Service Communication Ease of Use Recommend Overall Rating

Amazon

5.48

6.29

6.16

6.51

5.96

6.1

Artfire

6.64

8.57

8.63

8.59

8.48

8.2

Atomic Mall

5.05

6.26

6.2

6.23

5.61

5.9

Blujay

3.48

3.37

3.13

5.37

3.68

3.8

Bonanza

5.64

7.48

7.48

7.60

6.88

7.0

Craigslist

5.62

4.04

4.00

6.89

5.94

5.3

eBay

4.58

3.44

3.81

5.52

3.57

4.2

eBid.net

5.80

7.16

7.11

7.29

6.50

6.8

eCrater

5.74

5.46

5.22

6.35

6.00

5.8

Etsy

5.25

5.08

5.12

6.34

5.44

5.4

iOffer

3.40

3.52

3.61

4.42

3.14

3.6

Oztion

5.24

6.32

6.32

6.54

6.26

6.1

Rubylane

6.63

7.30

7.55

7.99

7.38

7.4

Tias.com

4.18

4.84

4.98

5.16

4.84

4.8

Webstore.com

7.06

8.03

8.08

8.72

8.37

8.1

Zibbet.com

3.09

5.54

5.45

5.59

4.21

4.8



AuctionBytes 2011 Sellers Choice Ratings
(By Rank)

Marketplace Profitability Customer Service Communication Ease of Use Recommend Overall Rating

Artfire

6.64

8.57

8.63

8.59

8.48

8.2

Webstore.com

7.06

8.03

8.08

8.72

8.37

8.1

Rubylane

6.63

7.30

7.55

7.99

7.38

7.4

Bonanza

5.64

7.48

7.48

7.60

6.88

7.0

eBid.net

5.80

7.16

7.11

7.29

6.50

6.8

Amazon

5.48

6.29

6.16

6.51

5.96

6.1

Oztion

5.24

6.32

6.32

6.54

6.26

6.1

Atomic Mall

5.05

6.26

6.2

6.23

5.61

5.9

eCrater

5.74

5.46

5.22

6.35

6.00

5.8

Etsy

5.25

5.08

5.12

6.34

5.44

5.4

Craigslist

5.62

4.04

4.00

6.89

5.94

5.3

Tias.com

4.18

4.84

4.98

5.16

4.84

4.8

Zibbet.com

3.09

5.54

5.45

5.59

4.21

4.8

eBay

4.58

3.44

3.81

5.52

3.57

4.2

Blujay

3.48

3.37

3.13

5.37

3.68

3.8

iOffer

3.40

3.52

3.61

4.42

3.14

3.6

How It Breaks Down - Profitability
We asked sellers, "How would you rate your profitability as a seller on (marketplace name)?" Webstore.com scored highest on profitability, followed by ArtFire and RubyLane.

How It Breaks Down - Customer Service
We asked sellers, "How would you rate the customer service (marketplace name) provides to sellers?" ArtFire scored highest on Customer Service, followed by Webstore.com, Bonanza, RubyLane and eBid.net.

How It Breaks Down - Communication
We asked sellers, "How would you rate (marketplace name)'s communication with you as a seller?" ArtFire scored highest on Communication, followed by Webstore.com, RubyLane, Bonanza and eBid.net.

How It Breaks Down - Ease of Use
We asked sellers, "How would you rate (marketplace name)'s ease of use as a seller?" Webstore.com scored highest on Ease of Use, followed by ArtFire, RubyLane, Bonanza, eBid.net and Craigslist.

How It Breaks Down - Recommended Selling Venue
We asked sellers, "How likely are you to recommend (marketplace name) as a Selling venue to a friend or colleague?" ArtFire and WebStore.com scored highest on Recommended Selling Venue, followed by RubyLane.

Summary
Online sellers looking to diversify should not select a marketplace based purely on the highest ratings, since each marketplace is unique. A marketplace may be particularly strong in one area - stamps and coins, for example - so sellers should take this into account when evaluating each marketplace.

Marketplaces can also be classified into a number of categories: auction, fixed-price, classifieds or storefronts, and some offer a mix of formats. Some focus on a particular niche. Some marketplaces have been around for a decade or more, others are relatively new.

In addition to the overall rating, two of the most useful features of this survey are the last question - "How likely are you to recommend (marketplace name) as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?" (Artfire, Webstore and RubyLane scored highest on this) and comments from sellers.

Respondents took the time to share their thoughts about the venues on which they have had experience selling, and those comments are extremely helpful not only to other sellers, but to the marketplaces themselves. Representative comments are included on the individual marketplace rating pages.

The marketplace with the most improvement from last year's Sellers Choice Awards was eBid.net, climbing from 6.35 to 6.8. eBay and Bonanza also saw miniscule improvements.

Almost every single marketplace saw their highest rating in "Ease of Use." The majority saw their lowest marks in profitability. Most marketplaces have a long way to go to improve their seller ratings above average. Bringing more buyers to their sites and improving communication and customer service would go a long way.

Individual Online Marketplace Ratings
You can find each marketplace with the results of the Sellers Choice survey on the following pages.

Page 1 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Amazon
Page 2 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Artfire
Page 3 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Atomic Mall
Page 4 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Bluejay
Page 5 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Bonanza
Page 6 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Craigslist
Page 7 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBay
Page 8 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBid.net
Page 9 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eCrater
Page 10 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Etsy
Page 11 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: iOffer
Page 12 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: OZtion
Page 13 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: RubyLane
Page 14 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Tias.com
Page 15 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Webstore.com
Page 16 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Zibbet.com

Sellers Choice
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the AuctionBytes Blog.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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