EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 304 - February 05, 2012 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 18

Sellers Choice 2012 Marketplace Ratings: eBay

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2012, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 7,200 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 16 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

eBay
Year Established: 1995
Description: Auction format, fixed price, storefronts and general merchandise
More Info

Summary:
This is the first year eBay made it into the top-five list in overall rankings of the Sellers Choice Awards, improving from fourteenth place in 2011. eBay was listed by 71% of the respondents as a marketplace where they sell or have sold, down from 80% last year, so it could be that the merchants who are still transacting business have adapted to the changes on the site and are finding more success.

But of course that doesn't mean respondents had no complaints. Sellers stated they believed eBay's fees are too high, its policies unfriendly to sellers, and its feedback one-sided. But they also stated in their comments that eBay continues to vie with Amazon for bringing the most traffic and buyers to their listings.

This year, respondents said eBay's decision to charge fees on shipping & handling costs was a big negative - and those fees impacted auction sellers especially hard. Many also specifically called out PayPal fees, some calling it the hidden cost of selling on eBay. Many sellers also said they did not like the fact they were forced to accept PayPal only.

One-sided feedback was a bone of contention for many respondents, many of whom reported that low DSR ratings left for them anonymously had hurt their business. "I think Ebay should have a person look to see if the low 1-2 rating was "real,"" wrote one respondent. "It's my belief that other sellers leave the 1-2 stars just to knock other sellers out of the "top rated seller" category."

Scamming buyers were also a problem, as were non paying bidders (NPBs).

Some commentors noted eBay's change in strategy - wrote one, "Ebay is quickly moving away from small sellers, and I think within the next couple of years it will be prohibitive for us to list there," and advised, "Use it as a sales tool while you can!!!" Another wrote of eBay, "Caters to larger sellers - they threw away mom and pop things that made it what it is in its inception.

So why did it place fifth in this year's Sellers Choice Awards? One seller put it this way: "While I don't like the limitations eBay has due to it enormous size, you can't beat its presence as the biggest, most familiar selling site."

eBay received its highest marks in profitability (7.14), coming in second only to Amazon.com, which received a 7.72 in profitability and placed first overall. eBay received its lowest marks in "How likely are you to recommend EBAY as a SELLING venue to a friend or colleague?" (6.2).

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
I love eBay..I have been there since 2001... I have very few problems.
***
Awesome organization for selling AnyThing to a Vast Global Audience. I'm a raving fan.
***
Ebay is the leader and it still works though it appears it has been better in the past, but in actuality it's about the same for us. We're not growing on Ebay, too many hurdles for increased growth. We have had to make so many changes over and over again which have hurt our business growth, but it still works, could be a lot better though. For example, Ebay should determine what is an acceptable picture for a new pre-packaged retail item and not selectively delete sellers listings due to copyrighted pictures which are prolific throughout ebay and the internet. In other words if a picture of our item is on Ebay and all over the internet, including our suppliers website, we should be able to use it, if not, Ebay should tell us before we list the item and give us an alternate approved picture.
***
If eBay did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it. So effective is eBay, which is truly the world's marketplace, that I haven't listed anything for sale on Amazon.com in 9 months. There is simply no better place to quickly unload your old stuff than eBay, and often for more than you expected. eBay works. Even I'm surprised at the positive feedback and near-perfect DSR's (detailed seller ratings) I get just for cleaning out all the debris in the big hallway closet. With eBay, you will find somebody out there, eventually, who wants to buy your dusty old junk. I've seen my eBay positive feedback surge 8 times higher than it was a year ago, and that's selling feedback only. eBay's decision to give away 50 auction listings a month, plus virtually unlimited auction listings on one or two days a month, was a brilliant move. You will find that you try to obtain more inventory to sell and to create as many listings as you can - and sell it all on eBay. Not on Amazon.com, or on Craigslist, but on eBay. This persuades sellers to consider eBay first as their selling platform, and when those sellers prep 200 auction listings a month, they get a lot of practice and get better at selling.
***
The communication very good. The various helpful tips, selling records and seller status is very motivating to the seller. Messages are posted that enhance the sellers potential in sales and ways to get the item out in front of the buyer.
***
Profitability depends on what you are selling. If you have something rare, it's good. For ordinary items, I find I get more money on other sites.
***
EBay is still King of the Hill of all the venues, at least where selling vintage and collectibles is concerned. It still offers the most traffic and sell-through of all the sites I use. With TurboLister, posting listings is easy and relatively fast. There have been more and more poor-quality and scamming buyers, so I no longer risk selling anything of high-value on eBay. If they would offer sellers some better protections, it would be a much less stressful platform on which to sell. It's also become less profitable, due to fee increases, but it's not really out of line with other venues like Amazon. More free listings would be nice, too.
***
I know that a lot of sellers are "ebay bashers", but I am very happy with them. I am a top rated seller, and by following their advice and a lot of hard work on my part, I have doubled my sales each month from prior year. There are some occasional things I don't particularly like, but all in all, it's been a good experience and has helped me to earn extra money during a very difficult time for me, personally.
***
Been using eBay for 14 years. Have sold a lot of stuff and have had great experiences there. Having an eBay store is a positive, being able to add high quality photos, and having the ability to write any length ad you want is good. Fees are high. eBay has changed a lot of things that are disadvantageous to the seller, such as their feedback system. Customers used to bid on auction products right away, now they wait till the last minute, regardless of the length of time of the auction. But, customers are MUCH smarter than on AMAZON, at least a 20 point average IQ difference.
***
I have had great experience with ebay sales and purchases. I don't like the cost of all the fees and the seller being responsible for packages arriving late to buyer when it is the fault of the post, but I have had excellent profit in sales off ebay. I continue using ebay for quick fast sales on items I want moved out of stock.
***
I like the flexibility they provide for shipping options & that they integrate with USPS and UPS (wish they would also do FedEx). PayPal is great. The biggest problem is many people still think eBay is just an auction site - I appreciate that they have invested a lot in advertising to change that.
***
Sell thru is great! Happy all around with the service they provide. No complaints.
***
I have a store on ebay, and have been with them since May 2005. Love eBay! The fees are a little high, but sales are here, and I love the communication I have with customers from all the states and Canada. Other than the fees, I love eBay!
***
Ebay is by far my most profitable selling venue! I ship 100-150 packages a month all over the world. Ebay's exposure for a seller cannot be beat! I only wish I had more time to list all the items I have to sell, as I know my sales and profits would increase. As a top rated 5-star seller, my only limitations are my time since I also work a full time job. Although seller fee's are pricey, I would still highly recommend Ebay. The world-wide exposure is amazing!
***
This is my most used venue. I recently opened a Store. I currently have about 83 items. The disadvantage of eBay is their FEES. They fee you on eBay. They fee you on their sister company PayPal. It's ridiculous. The advantage is the exposure because this is where most people go to find things. I sell a lot of plush animals that people collect and have gotten some good results. The buyers can be a little ridiculous though. I've had 4 non-paying bidders in the past month. Not happy with that. However, I have gotten my fees returned. For the most part, it's a good experience that I enjoy!
***
Have been a seller on eBay for 10 years & still the best selling venue for me.
***
EBay is still no. 1 in traffic. Selling fees are steep, and ebay tends to favor buyers, not allowing sellers to rate buyers and punishing sellers for buyers feedback without considering the sellers point of view. Some buyers are unreasonable and give negative feedback which ebay uses to increase the sellers' fees, making seller less profitable.
***
Although ebay dictates how you run your business, sides with Buyers, has too many invasive rules, it's got the market, fees are high, but so are sales. Profits are there. Follow the rules and they will let you alone. I have had no big problems with ebay for almost seven years, sales and profits constantly increasing in my case. I look at fees as if they are advertising expenses. If you were selling print ads you would pay for that, it's cheaper than a brick and motar store, It has a lot of plans you can choose from and you can use which ever best fits your needs. You can grow here. There are buyers here and ebay has a reputation that draws people from all over the planet. It's absolutely the best venue for a dedicated Seller to use, while growing and gaining experience to run your own web site.
***
Ebay is the most profitable sales channel as buyers are serious, they do not go on Ebay to browse but actually to buy. My ebay sales makes up 95% of my total profits. I do feel that the fees could be very unreasonable. With paypal taking 4% and Ebay taking 10%, and to include listing fees, I will need to mark up my items by a hefty 15% to cover operating costs. Ebay also limits the number of listings that a seller could post on the site for reasons I do not agree with. On an account with 100% feedback, I do not understand why I cannot post more than 20 listings at a go. I got around the problem by posting on Ebay Canada instead. It is also a hassle to cancel transactions for deals that fell through. I do not see why we need approval from buyers to cancel a transaction, or why selling fees cannot be refunded after 2 months when a full refund has been made to the buyer. I think it is an unethical way for Ebay to earn fees for sellers that way. I would recommend Ebay because of the sales, but caution sellers against their policies and fee structure.
***
eBay is the first choice for selling because of the number of customers on their site. The down side is the lack of true customer service for sellers and the way they have treated long time sellers on their site by raising rates, changing the rules and most of all reducing the profitability of listing on their site.
***
Best site for one offs, which really are the only thing that does not work on Amazon well. We are large enough to have a manged account and are lucky enough to have a great account manager.
***
Ebay has the traffic. It's where my buyers are and that is why I continue to offer my products there. Fees are not great but it's their playground and that's where the buyers hangout. Support is minimal at best and they are insane about their crazy rules.
***
Ebay's tendency to play with fee rates is a problem. Also Ebay's decision to start taking a fee from shipping payments is a serious problem. I would have cut back on my Ebay selling quite a bit when they began taking a fee from shipping if there had been any possible alternative site. Ebay communicates with sellers a good amount; however the tone of these communications is often condescending and poorly informed about real seller concerns. I sell on Ebay due to lack of viable alternatives, not due to my satisfaction with the company.
***
Good exposure, but eBay fees are outrageous. They even charge commission on shipping costs. Garage-sale type atmosphere. Customers expect to pay flea market prices for fine items. Customers (and probably shop keepers) also tend to behave badly on eBay. Everything is about feedback; nothing is about quality or service.
***
Fees are way too high and it almost seems like they have hidden fees with paypal, fees on shipping, listing fees, picture fees, etc
***
Ebay is my main source of income. I like ebay because they drive the customers in and I don't have to do the marketing. The fees are high and the policies are not seller friendly. They force you into doing things their way even if it is not the best thing for your business. It is getting harder and harder for individuals to set up a small business with ebay.
***
I've sold on eBay for 15 years until there big changes a few years back. If you can maintain PS status things are good, but if you're a smaller vendor you get no help, support, discounts. They are hard to work with, but I still make a little money.
***
Plenty of sales, but fees too high. One-way feedback means buyers can take advantage of sellers. Virtually no recourse if buyers make fraudulent claims.
***
Overall, the usability of the site has improved and minor nuisances have been fixed since I started. It's still very expensive to sell there and there's the ongoing threat of unfriendly price and policy changes that they have made in the past and may do again. Also, the lack of options for payment is a big negative. It's either PayPal or a handful of also-rans that nobody's heard of or has an account with.
***
Ebay's new fee structure for final transaction fees based the sale total including shipping charges is very unfair to sellers who charge actual shipping costs for the items they sell. I feel if eBay expects their sellers to be fair with fees they charge, the same should apply to the fees eBay charges.
***
Ebay remains a clear winner for many types of sales, simply because it is the most familiar to the most potential customers. Having said that, however, I find myself less and less impressed with my seller experience with each passing year - especially since the site no longer allows sellers to leave anything but positive feedback (or none at all) for a buyer, regardless of how bad an experience with that buyer might have been. I fully understand the need to protect buyers from unscrupulous sellers, but it is equally important to protect sellers from unscrupulous buyers.
***
I used to sell designer handbags on eBay. Enough said, I think. But I will add that when eBay took away the trusted reporter program for handbags and disallowed discussion on the purse board about whether items were real or fake, it became a boon for the sellers of fake handbags. It is a bigger problem than ever and I doubt I would ever go back to selling on eBay.
***
Even though it has helped with ebay making listing free - their fees are still very high and now they have also started charging a percentage on S&H. I use them, but it's my least favorite place to sell, as it costs the most and my items sell for the least compared to the other sites I use.
***
I have been selling on ebay for over a year and am disappointed. A buyer can leave you negative feedback without even contacting you with what the issue was and you can only leave them positive feedback. I went from being a top rated seller and power seller to them holding my money when an item was bought, because of only 3 people having problems over a stretch of a year and 2 months of being a member. I think both of those are unfair. The feedback is not set up fairly and their rules and customer service are horrible.
***
Sold on eBay for 5+ years as a gold/platinum powerseller. The FVF on shipping ended it. I sold unique and used items on auction. There is no place for auctions anymore - not when you lose money on shipping. 50% of the buyers are looking to defraud the seller and eBay encourages the fraud. Then there is Paypal....
***
Ebay's fee structure has increased tremendously over the last few years causing us to raise prices to try to cover the expenses. Sometimes this has an adverse effect on the sales. At least in my case. For someone with a large store, they can offset the costs of inexpensive items by the bigger ticket items they sell. For someone like me who only lists a few items a week, the competition gets to be a driving force in what you can charge versus what you need to charge to come out ahead.
***
eBay has changed so much and seems to be cultivating partnerships with drop shippers and warehousers rather than smaller independent sellers. In the vintage, antiques and collectibles world, we have unique items, not mass produced stuff from China. eBay has just flat out made us feel unwelcome.
***
I've sold on ebay for 12 years. It's profitable, but getting out of hand. Fees too high. Don't like the way they charge for shipping, paypal. Don't like the control they have over my money in paypal. Don't like the way they are always for the buyer and do nothing for the seller. Getting way too strict on the feedback ratings. I've sold for twelve years, been a power seller, top rated, but got a few disgruntled buyers and they were dishonest, yet ebay automatically sides with buyer. It doesn't matter if they are dishonest or wrong. Fed up!
***
Ebay's system only works if you are selling the same item over and over again. These are the only items that receive higher visibility. Ebay also takes 30% of your profit before it is said and done. We quit selling on eBay because we are lucky to break even once we pay all of the fees. The fact that they charge you to list an item that does not receive visibility is robbery.
***
Very expensive to sell. Lots of rules and restrictions. Very difficult to navigate all the rules and restrictions. eBay is a very picky site and it must be navigated carefully. One mistake can get you kicked off the site. Less profitable than it used to be. Especially with free shipping or having to pay ebay a commission on shipping too. What a scam. That has to be illegal.
***
If you are selling 1 item or 2 it is great but, if you are a power seller selling thousands of items, it can be a nightmare. Their csv bulk upload is slow and rejects the entire upload over any small mistake. Their TurboLister is useful but crashes a lot and really is very slow at handling a large number of listings. I have made a lot of money there, more than on any other site. Even with all their silly rules and high costs I still make more sales and more profit than anywhere else.
***
I started out placing products on Ebay but am not satisfied with results. I actually use a ProStores platform that syncs with Ebay and using this feature has been a nightmare. I would not recommend it. ProStores also makes changes to pricing too often and the upgrades are not automatically reflected in site. You have to go to each product to activate the update. This requires too much of my time as well.
***
I was a seller there for over 10 years, and in the beginning it was profitable. My opinion is the company's attitude turned to only caring for large selling accounts. The final value fees become intolerably high, they began controlling too closely what form of payment was acceptable.
***
EBay tends to have technical issues that have kept me from listing items on numerous occasion; while these issue are always fixed, there seems to be a lack of an proactive or preventative effort.
***
I have been selling on eBay for 6 years - and between the charges for listing/selling and PayPal, my profitability has gone down year after year, to the point I no longer make any money, unless I sell something very expensive. They've taken away the ability to leave bad reviews for bad buyers (which, IMO, is insane), and keep adding more and more charges (including now adding in the postage you charge for shipping as part of how they charge you your fee per item). They give you free listing upfront, but hit you with a higher percentage charge per item.
***
They micro manage sellers. They actively mislead and omit important information. They do not value their customers (sellers). Often times CSRs are rude and unhelpful. Many times they will just hang up on you. HUMM, what do you think would happen to a seller that did that very often to their customers (buyers)? Ebay holds sellers to standards in which Ebay itself can not even get close to.

Sellers Choice Awards
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.


About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of EcommerceBytes.com and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.


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