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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 255 - January 24, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     9 of 17

Seller's Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBay

By Ina & David Steiner

January 24, 2010

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In January 2010, AuctionBytes surveyed over 1,400 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, with a link to the results of each of the 15 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Customer Service:


Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Year Established: 1995
Description: Auction Format. Fixed Price. Storefronts. General merchandise.
More Info

As the largest marketplace, eBay gets the most traffic and sales and had the highest number of respondents who had experience selling there yet only rated average on Profitability. Sellers commented that fees were eating into their margins, some to the point they could no longer list on the site. eBay received 800 comments in the survey, and it was difficult to find any that didn't include some anger or angst from sellers, even from those who said it was their primary source of revenue and ranked it highly on Profitability. Sellers cited too many changes, including those that made the site unwieldy and slow-to-load, and rated eBay the worst of all of the 15 sites on Customer Service and Communication, and average on Ease of Use. A number of respondents said they would have given eBay a rating of ten 3 to 5 years ago. eBay was rated twelfth out of fifteen as a recommended selling venue.

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
You can't beat e-bay for wide exposure for items. Can be a great venue for high value items.
Ebay is easy to use and I feel that you will get top dollar for your items sold. I get great exposure for my listings and have had no problems using the site.
This is absolutely the best site for the small to medium sized seller to start and operate a business. It is also the easiest and most profitable site if anyone is a casual seller.
Ebay has allowed me to continue my business after closing a B & M store. Of the 3 sites I have sold on, Ebay has been the most successful.
Ebay is a great place to sell because of the exposure but only if you are big and have a lot of merchandise. I did fairly well on there for the last year and a half. They actually helped me grow my business. Since they lowered PS requirements and I met the new ones, my sales increased tremendously. But they also eat a large chunk of my profits. This hurts a lot. If you are a small seller, it is hard to get those listing seen. Not a really good place to start now, but used to be.
I make the most money on eBay. I get much more exposure to Buyers than any other venue. People trust eBay. But there are lots and lots of rules and regulations. And the fees are high but the opportunity for profit is also high.
I have made a decent living on eBay for the past 10 years or so with very little problems from eBay management. Problems that were across the board were not always welcome but as an individual seller I have been satisfied.
Ebay is a significant portion of my business - sales are steady and growing. It is a much more difficult site to navigate and takes up more customer service time than other sites.
eBay plain and simple has the traffic. I love to find great prices and sales and I honestly want to pass along a great price to a buyer. I wish eBay felt the same way.
For the merchandize I sell, Ebay seems to be the best option. Have been selling on ebay for 10 years, and do have Power sellers rating. I have not experience any problems with ebay. I am still happy with the service, but concern about all the changes. Just hope is for good. Problem is ebays pool of buyers seems to be thinning.
I've had very good luck selling on eBay. It's fairly easy to get your stuff listed and to get a basic store up and running. They give you good exposure through the search engines and they certainly have the traffic to get you the page views that will get your items sold. However, I rated their customer service an 8 because although their customer reps are very friendly and helpful to me over the telephone, their help topics are very hard to maneuver through and it's difficult to find information on a topic you're looking for without some exasperating back-clicking of the browser and re-entering of key terms into the help menus until you get to the section that actually has the answers you're seeking. I don't know if eBay made it that way on purpose to discourage questions or not, but it's sure made the writers of all those eBay for Dummies and eBay Secrets of the Powersellers books very rich!
I started eBay as a part timer last year right before all the changes. I survived, and became a Top Rated Seller, and my sales are great. eBay drove me into becoming a full time seller, but is not my only income. After all the new changes, it would be very challenging for a new person to start out. I think JD maybe trying to get rid of the part time sellers.
Profits have been a roller-coaster this past 24 months as Ebay keeps changing rules and requirements. The worst is feedback and top-rated seller. I am in Canada so I am always getting lower scores on shipping costs and shipping times, even though I mail items within 48 hours. Americans cannot seem to understand that things take longer to get from here to there and no matter how many notices and notes you place in your listings and in the package you mail, they ignore it and punish you.
A little harder to figure out for beginners as far as trying to list an item. Super overly strict about everything! And, if you do get your item shut down, and tossed out, they don't give you an exact reason for it. For a newbie, that is very confusing. Over the top rules that make it very hard for new sellers to understand it all. And, we should not have to pay to list every cotton picken item that we list there!
New policies continue to reduce this venue's value. Many other sites offer a more "seller friendly" environment. E-bay has made selling there a very abrasive experience. They have ruined what was once a great market place by bringing in mega distributors / warehouses, a bad move for buyer and seller. I'm afraid corporate greed is to blame. It's sad to see ebay treat their beloved sellers this way, we no longer work for ourselves, now we are micro managed by e-bay policy.
Too complicated listing process with far too many rules/regs to keep track of, which makes it more likely not to qualify for any discounts due to malicious or ignorant buyers leaving poor feedback & sellers are then penalised by Ebay for alleged poor performance. This site no longer offers any real protection for sellers once items are sold & sellers can no longer leave appropriate feedback for poor buyers to alert others of poor transaction experiences with them. The Best Match function is anything but, meaning sellers' auction listings are buried in searches & potential buyers are not encouraged to search further for items of interest.
To clarify my rating of "ease of use", I include having too few characters for SEO-optimized titles and descriptions. There's just no transparency as to what eBay's search engine decides to present to potential customers. Too much tweaking of listings with hit or miss (mostly miss) results takes too much time -- and time is money. Also the constant relisting over and over and over, ad nauseum, is VERY costly and eats into profits to the point that many sellers end up so deep in the red, it's impossible to claw their way out. eBay is downright unnerving to sell on. And trying to find what your searching for on that site, no matter what search parameters you use, is simply an effort in futility!
I find that I have to use a 3rd party lister to manage my auctions because eBay SYI form is so basic. Also, eBay's frequent changes are disturbing to my business. I feel that eBay is trying to control my business and it's starting to feel more like I am working for them. I miss the simple site that it used to be!
E-bay have constant rule changes. Over priced. But more importantly the site seems in perpetual chaos - ebay rules are broken by other sellers and nothing is done about it when reporting. The book section is a good example - the free p&p rule is fine, but when you have half of other book sellers using the courier/freight charges for one paperback to get around it then it just makes a mockery of the whole rule.
Been selling there for 12 years and my loss of loyalty would have me quit tomorrow for a better site. Change change yet can they can not get Large Flat Rate Box shipping to work or ability to close store completely for a real vacation. Ebay knows when I ship (print and pay postage on Paypal), they know what I charge for shipping is Post Office cost (use Ebays shipping table with no service charge), they know and control all the communications I send through Ebay and Paypal yet the buyer can and do rate me poorly because Post Office is expensive and slow. DSR's are just way to have me jump through hops. Only thing that should count was the items as described. Let them play with stores some more and I'll just close things up.
I'm a TRS and get zero response to questions sent to the powerseller support line. I write guides that do not show up (I'm in the top 300 reviewers so I know how to write a guide, they just don't get saved.) The "click here" button to send an email to support does not work. I get nothing but canned answers to detailed, specific questions -remember I'm a TRS and supposedly get better service - they want to monkey around with my customer commuications. The fees are high relative to what I get. There are fewer buyers and sellers in my antiques niche. I must insure everything - which is fine - but buyers see my $2 handling fee and freak out. eBay trained its buyers to look for deals and bargains, not for top quality sellers with first rate service. They taught customers not to value this better service. My customers value it, but so many go for the cheapest item listed because eBay tells them to and because that's who eBay attracts. It's getting to the point where eBay attracts fewer of my target market and more and more bottom feeders. Those are not my customers. Plus the site is a pain in the neck to use. And yes, I'm tired of the constant changes, I mostly follow best practices and ignore eBays noise.
The combined fees of Ebay and Paypal are the worst part of selling on Ebay. Close behind are the wholesale changes made now twice a year, which show a complete lack of confidence by Ebay management of their basic business model. Making changes and forcing sellers to revise 1,000's of items in a store which are in full compliance before changes; is a nightmare. And these kinds of mass changes mean that at any given time; a change can be made which can completely destroy a seller's business. I sell music and with the threat of 3 cents a store items suddenly ending and becoming maybe 10-15 cents an item; would mean an end to my business; so I've now signed up fior 2 music specific music sites(Gemm and Music Stack) and I'm trying to understand spreadsheets. And seller with thousands of low priced items will have to end their business if the 3 cents a month deal is ended. The silly feedback changes add to a neurotic atmosphere, but for me it's the fees and the wholesale changes which have ruined my seller experience
CS is pathetic! Best Match killed my sales, Ebay/Paypal policies fuel more buyer fraud, T&S does very little to rid the site of blatant criminal activity despited reported countless times, TRS balloon and other search tactics ebay uses to funnel traffic to certain sellers is highly unethical, constant policy changes result in constant, time consuming work modifying listings, Policies seem to only apply to some and not to others, Ebay offers little to no real transparency which makes doing business overly challenging, and I've simply lost all trust and respect for Ebay Corp since Donahoe took over as CEO. I certainly would not recommend Ebay to friends and colleages as long as Donahoe remains CEO.


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

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