The results are in!
Over 7,200 online sellers participated in the 2012 EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice survey, dwarfing the 2,800 responses we received last year. Survey participants judged the 16 marketplace finalists on profitability, customer service, communication, ease-of-use, and indicated on a scale of 1-10 how likely they were to recommend each marketplace as a selling venue to a friend or colleague. Respondents also provided details about the rewards and challenges of selling on each marketplace on which they had experience selling.
EcommerceBytes readers chose the final 16 marketplaces included in this year's Sellers Choice Awards by nominating their top 5 marketplaces (out of a total of 52) as well as write-in candidates, so all of these venues have accrued enough support to get on the final ballot, an impressive accomplishment in itself.
The overall winner? For the first time, Amazon.com was rated highest overall in a very close contest. Amazon.com was the only marketplace to receive scores above 7 in all five areas of our survey, but it was clearly profitability that put Amazon over the top.
eBay received the most total votes of all 16 marketplaces, with 71% of respondents submitting a rating for eBay. Number two was Craigslist (48%), followed by Bonanza (40%), Amazon (29%) and Etsy (28%). Note that these numbers simply reflect whether survey respondents had experience selling on a particular marketplace.
In terms of overall ratings, Amazon place first, Ruby Lane second, Etsy third, Bonanza fourth, and eBay fifth. While last year, no marketplace received higher than an 8.72 on a scale of 1 to 10, this year, the highest rating was 7.4 overall and 7.72 in profitability, both earned by Amazon.
Amazon placed first overall with a rating of 7.4, up from 6th place and a rating of 6.1 last year. It also came in first in terms of Profitability, and came in first for the question of how likely respondents were to recommend the marketplace as a selling venue to a friend or colleague.
Ruby Lane placed first in Customer Service and Communication.
And Bonanza placed first in Ease of Use.
eBay, which came in 14th place overall last year with a rating of 4.2, improved nine places to finish 5th this year with a rating of 6.5.
New to the list this year was Addoway, Boocoo Half.com and YardSellr, replacing Blujay, iOffer, OZtion and Zibbett.
How It Breaks Down - Profitability
We asked sellers, "How would you rate your profitability as a seller on (marketplace name)?" Amazon scored highest on profitability, followed by eBay and Ruby Lane.
How It Breaks Down - Customer Service
We asked sellers, "How would you rate the customer service (marketplace name) provides to sellers?" Ruby Lane scored highest on Customer Service, followed by Amazon.com and Addoway.
How It Breaks Down - Communication
We asked sellers, "How would you rate (marketplace name)'s communication with you as a seller?" Ruby Lane scored highest on Communication, followed by Amazon and Boocoo Auctions.
How It Breaks Down - Ease of Use
We asked sellers, "How would you rate (marketplace name)'s ease of use as a seller?" Bonanza scored highest on Ease of Use, followed by Craigslist and Etsy.
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?" Amazon scored highest on Recommended Selling Venue, followed by Bonanza and Ruby Lane.
Comments: Insider Information
Each year, we're delighted with the level of detail included in the comments that provide a picture of what it's like to sell online. With thousands of responses, it's impossible to include every comment each marketplace received, but we include the ones most representative and the ones most interesting or useful to readers. Note that the number of comments left for a marketplace doesn't necessarily indicate its placement in the rankings.
As we noted last year, 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.
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.
Four of the top five marketplaces in this year's Sellers Choice Awards received positive comments about traffic and sales, especially compared to smaller and newer marketplaces where low traffic and sales were commonly cited problems. But Bonanza, whose traffic is nowhere near eBay's, had enough goodwill to put it over its bigger rival in overall ratings.
One of the most surprising movements in this year's Sellers Choice Awards was ArtFire's plummet from first place overall in 2011, with a rating of 8.2, to last place this year, with a rating of 5.2. Webstore.com also dropped from second place overall in 2011 to 10th place in 2012, and eBid.net went from 5th place to 14th place, proving that a lot can happen in a year.
In ArtFire's case, a change in its fee structure caused much disruption and dissatisfaction. ArtFire eliminated free Basic accounts over the summer, and more recently told sellers - even those locked in to a fixed fee - that they would have to pay a new $1/month fee for an "assurance" program designed to increase trust on the site.
The results demonstrate that traffic and sales along with fees are top of mind among online sellers. In reading every single comment, it became clear that sellers wished their favorite marketplaces would do more advertising in order to help generate traffic and sales.
Many of the caveats discussed in previous years apply to this year's Sellers Choice Awards. 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.
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: Ruby Lane
Page 3 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Etsy
Page 4 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Bonanza
Page 5 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBay
Page 6 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Boocoo Auctions
Page 7 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: YardsellR
Page 8 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: TIAS.com
Page 9 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Addoway
Page 10 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Webstore.com
Page 11 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Atomic Mall
Page 12 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Craigslist
Page 13 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Half.com
Page 14 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBid.net
Page 15 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eCrater
Page 16 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: ArtFire
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 EcommerceBytes Blog.