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Sellers Choice 2018 Marketplace Ratings: eBay


2nd Place Finisher - EcommerceBytes 2018 Sellers ChoiceeBay came in 2nd place in this year’s Sellers Choice, up from 3rd place last year, and it picked up an award for Profitability for the 5th straight year. eBay’s ability to bring traffic was hard to ignore.

In January 2018, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 10,000 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 10 online marketplaces included in the survey.

eBay - EcommerceBytes 2018 Sellers Choice for Most Profitable



Customer Service:


Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Year Established: 1995
Description: Auction format, fixed price, storefronts and general merchandise
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eBay nudged up one position from last year’s Seller Choice Awards and finished in 2nd place in 2018. Overall, eBay has finished in the Top 3 the last three years, and has been voted “Most Profitable” marketplaces the past five years straight. One would think that profitability would be enough to make eBay an annual winner in this survey, however lower scores in Communication and Customer Service were enough to keep eBay back a spot.

Many sellers reported the same pros and cons of selling on eBay as in previous years, though a number of sellers reported that eBay is easier to use than it had been in the past and reported improvements in customer service. Among the areas of complaints: fees, search, and heavy-handed policies including ones that overwhelmingly favor buyers.

“eBay is a profitable site for me,” wrote one seller, “although sales have slowed in the past few years.”

“Audience size is the main attraction here,” wrote one seller, adding, “Fee structure is way too complicated (should do away with all insertion fees entirely).” Other sellers also complained about having to pay fees upfront even if listings resulted in no sales. Also hurting profitability for some: eBay reduced the Top Rated Seller discount from 20% to 10% last year. “This cost us a lot of money,” one seller noted.

“The granddaddy and still biggest marketplace – and my best venue for sales,” wrote one seller, though added, “But gee, eBay sure favors buyers over sellers.” The latter sentiment was repeated in other comments, with many reporting they had no leverage over bad buyers with whom eBay tended to side.

This year some sellers complained about eBay’s search engine – “It NEVER brings up what I put in search,” wrote one. ” I hate how they manipulate Search,” wrote another.

One seller said many categories had been taken over by “mega corporations” that made it difficult for small sellers to be found in search results. “This issue is further made difficult for small business sellers by eBay’s decisions to preference high volume sellers in searches, requiring small sellers who are trying to compete to take huge hits in profitability by offering free shipping, free automatic returns, etc that we – or at least I – don’t have a high enough margin to absorb.”

eBay made major changes to advertising on its site in 2017, leading one seller to write, “It seems that the search function is worse and internal and external advertising clutter the site.”

Some sellers also objected to eBay’s crackdown on buyer-seller communication. “Recent rule changes in regard to discouraging seller contact with customers makes no sense. Customer contact is most important,” wrote one seller. “Their insistence about not communicating easily with prospective buyers or buyers is so limiting and short-sighted,” wrote another.

Before the Sellers Choice voting had ended, eBay announced another major change to its site: it will become a payments intermediary, meaning that like Etsy, buyers will pay the marketplace (eBay) rather than the seller.

This excerpt from a seller comment describes one reaction to that news: “It scares me to death that eBay wants to take Seller money before it disburses it to the Seller. I would only trust PayPal with my money and never trust eBay to touch any of my money that I get from a sale.”

However, eBay has provided few details about how the new program will work, and it will not be able to fully implement the system until its operating agreement with PayPal expires in 2020.

This seller summed up the sentiments reflected in many comments:

“eBay is good at traffic; I’m thinking because the name is well known. They do charge quite a bit compared to others. But the traffic that you get from there are pretty good compared to others.”

eBay received a 6.51 in Profitability; a 5.84 in Customer Service; a 6.08 in Communication; and a 6.29 in Ease of Use. It received a 6.11 from sellers when asked, “How likely are you to Recommend eBay as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?”

Reader Comments:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I love eBay. Have been selling on there almost since its inception (I started July 1997). I have had no problems and enjoy their site to sell on.

Easy to use, listing is straight forward. Being ‘held to ransom’ by some buyers who try and scam can be a pain!

I love eBay. It’s my main source of income for a selling platform. They have great traffic but over the past year many changes have been made that have affected the consistency of my sales. They need to work on updating their smartphone apps.

Very competitive but a good standby for selling.

At the end of each day, most all sellers depend on eBay overall for a sale.

Most items I list sell. Most items appear in Google. I always can find my items high in search. I know it is hard to believe but every time I have called Support, I have reached a knowledgeable rep who has helped solve my issue. I have a store and sell vintage books and primitives. eBay still is the best site for vintage and antiquarian books in terms of viewers.

Listings are semi-easy to setup in the selling tool menu. Whenever you have a problem eBay handles it quite well whether you’re a buyer or seller.

Just recently I started selling again on eBay after lots of previous bad experiences. The newer platform is easier to use – super easy. In fact, almost too easy! I still think the fees are high, but I also got really good prices for my items in an auction-style format.

I’ve been with them since the beginning … and have been successful as long as they don’t change the site to “improve” it. Wish they’d go back to earlier times and try to keep it simpler! It still has potential, but they seem bent on throwing it away.

Ease of use: eBay has really slimmed down the process of listing. It is a lot easier to list compared to say 3 years ago. Profitable: As long as I have good descriptions, fair pricing and a product people are looking for, then my profit margin is good. I do not have to pay to advertise in order to get more than a few sales.

The granddaddy and still biggest marketplace – and my best venue for sales. But gee, eBay sure favors buyers over sellers. I’d like to be able to leave feedback when a buyer cancels or doesn’t pay. Other sellers should be warned! Fees keep going up too.

Because we have an Anchor store with eBay we have a dedicated line with Customer Service that gives us STELLAR service. Questions are always answered, Agents are knowledgeable and easy to understand. Always hang up satisfied.

I have been selling on eBay now for 20 years (1998-2018). It has been known as the “flea market of the Internet” and have had my best success at resale items here with its high recognition. Things I cannot sell in my own garage sale or Craigslist, I can always sell on eBay. It always surprises me the things that people want to buy on eBay. The negatives to eBay is the high fees and up to 10% commission, extremely poor customer service on the phone and long wait times, marketing as of late that markets more toward tech and fashion, and what I feel to be little recognition to the small business seller.

eBay has been very good to me. They have perks like free shipping materials each quarter. Customer Service is phone service only but they have always helped me out and have yet to disappoint. Fees are a bit high which keeps the profits down. Great place to sell just about anything with no restrictions.

Started with eBay on 2005 and the profits aspects has been modest. The only issue is the high fees associated with eBay as it costs 0.30 per listing and depending how many listings of items you put on eBay it can become costly. Otherwise eBay is alright.

As a small seller, eBay remains my best and most profitable option. Non-store fees have been relatively stable and reasonable. Fee-free insertions have been more stable this year. It seems that the search function is worse and internal and external advertising clutter the site.

Audience size is the main attraction here. Fee structure is way too complicated (should do away with all insertion fees entirely).

Overall, eBay is very easy to sell, this is most preferable online market to buy and sell. the only thing is they have overprotective buyer protection policy which sometimes unfair to us as seller. And sometimes they limited my account without prior notification.

The listing process on eBay is relatively simple, and the seller is given some room to differentiate the offering (photos, listing titles and descriptions, item specifics) so that it is not all about price and ratings. The seller can thus take some ownership over their catalog on the site. Payment can be received immediately and there is an ability to take ownership of one’s customer base as well (eBay enables following sellers, newsletters, etc). Feedback shown on listings creates seller-specific reviews which can be an advantage over the typical aggregated product reviews, particularly if there are other sellers that don’t do a good job. Disadvantages are that it can be tough to compete with sellers offering very low prices, and that there is a cost associated with listing even without a sale.

Customer service getting better, however eBay is always changing rules without telling sellers and making sellers change things

We’ve been on eBay for 18 years and seen a lot of changes. I don’t know how eBay is for a new seller just starting out. It’s nice to see eBay advertising more. What we don’t like is the addition of UPC’s for new products, that makes it just like Amazon.

eBay has been around for a very long time, and it has been fairly profitable to me, although I feel that with all the hard work I do, I should be making a LOT more money on there!! Their customer service is EXCELLENT, and it’s so nice that they have a PHONE NUMBER so that we sellers can actually speak to a real person!!

As with any site, it took a while to find information. It helps to know other eBayers so I’m not calling customer service constantly. There is a lot of helpful info available for the seller on the free +fees side of eBay which helps grow my business. Navigation of the site on my laptop is easy but the mobile app still needs some help. I have yet to figure out how to revise items on the app (android version).

eBay still has the highest exposure for sales. There are many technical issues that need to be fixed, that they don’t care about fixing because they profit from it. For example, Sellers must phone CS to get a partial refund on fees when a buyer is refunded for overpayment. In some situations after a buyer is fully refunded, getting a reversal on the seller fees must also be requested by phone. While they’re trying to improve “customer experience” for the buyer, they often forget to improve the other customer experience: their sellers who feed and pay for the site.

Labor-intensive listing / management process. Too skewed toward buyer and often unfair to sellers. Still far and away the biggest venue/volume.

eBay is easy to use and some of the clerks are helpful when you call in. I used to run 4 stores there and made a good living from my eBay sales. Long wait times are bad and the put too many Paypal holds on your funds after youve already sold and mailed your expensive merchandise. 21 day holds in some cases. Plus I hate that you have 20 item limit 500 sales limit for new accounts.

I have been disappointed with EBay overall. As a top rated seller with very well researched merchandise, I honestly thought I would be selling more than I am. At least for me, working harder (listing more items) does not translate into more sales. This was confirmed for me when I started listing the exact same items on other platforms and they would sell everywhere but on EBay. It’s easy to use but not easy to sell on. Most of the time I have good experiences with EBay’s customer service. I would only recommend selling on EBay as a part time venture.

I sell the most on eBay. However fees are so HIGH on eBay. Profit is lower due to high fees. I hate the forced returns policy. I hate how they always place blame on the sellers and not bad buyers. There are so many tech glitches all the time. Wish they would finally get a handle on that and hire competent tech support. I hate the search engine. It NEVER brings up what I put in search. I don’t like listing directly through eBay so I use Auctiva which is very easy and user friendly. I do NOT like the switch eBay is going to make with payments and our accounts. They are going to make millions in interest on OUR money and with all the glitches they have I can see our money getting lost. And I find it very hard to believe that switch will lower our selling costs. Customer service has been relatively good, faster response times. However the last time I used CS they never called me back as promised, nor did they resolve my issue.

I like EBay for unique and/or collectible items, but the other categories have been so taken over by mega corporations that its hard to even find a good deal, much less get found as a seller. This issue is further made difficult for small business sellers by EBay’s decisions to preference high volume sellers in searches, requiring small sellers who are trying to compete to take huge hits in profitability by offering free shipping, free automatic returns, etc that we — or at least I — don’t have a high enough margin to absorb.

It’s not easy to be an eBay seller at all and the fees are very high. It is profitable if you are focus and you know what you are doing, but I can’t imagine how the casual seller survives on eBay anymore. Lots of cheap china junk on there that hides what buyers are really looking for and they have no way to control it. Also, images are stolen by other dealers and big companies. There is no way to protect copyright of an individual or small business.

If you are going to sell online, eBay needs to be part of an overall marketing plan But not the entire plan. Depending solely on eBay is not a good idea. They change their policies far too often and the changes are often very dramatic. Our overall profit at eBay has been declining over the last several years. Most changes eBay implements requires weeks to make changes to listings and business plan to keep in compliance. eBay is not our first choice in selling any more. and if we could get by without eBay as a piece of our overall market plan we would.

As far as profitability goes, it’s the most profitable for a vintage seller like me, but sales have been significantly worse since the PayPal split. As much as 25% lower than 2017. The customer service is a pain in the neck since you can only call a rep located in another country, and you have no proof of what they said to you. eBay needs both email and chat options for contacting customer service. eBay needs to improve the returns process for items damaged in shipment by requiring buyers to upload photos of the damaged item and packaging. eBay’s ease of use still needs improvement. The selling tools on a paid eBay store are still behind the times compare to say, Etsy. The app lacks some functionality such as bulk photo uploading and ability to add custom item attributes. Also, paradoxically, the app creates listings that are not responsive / mobile friendly. I’d still recommend eBay as a selling venue with caveats.

eBay is the only venue where I can make money. Not that I’m getting rich but they are the best. Recent rule changes in regard to discouraging seller contact with customers makes no sense. Customer contact is most important. Too many stupid rules…too much seller control….not like the old eBay. Sellers are not enemy…they are what made eBay great.Too much emphasis on big business. Small sellers are being discouraged. Seems like making money (for them) is the only importance to eBay.

eBay could be more “listing friendly” and should follow suit of not charging for listings, only charging for final value fees based on actual sales. I have many items that could be listed but refuse to pay listing fees and will only list items that are free during promotions periods. We all lose by them being greedy for listing fees. If I don’t sell something, I don’t want to pay to list it and why can’t they just leave all my items up until they sell instead of having to relist them after 30 days? I have no problem with them making money when I make money, but think it’s greedy for them to want money over and over again for an item that may take a while to sell.

eBay keeps changing making it harder and harder on the small sellers, I have a 100% feedback but can never get my rating as a top seller. eBay allows scammers to flourish because you can’t give them negative feedback.

eBay’s inventory limitation, and listing fee’s in conjunction to anchor store fee’s make it cost prohibitive as a selling venue for sellers with a large number of SKU’s.

Dealing with the constant changes, the site’s unreliability and the lack of visibility has left me no alternative than to find somewhere else to invest my time and attention.

eBay is extremely expensive with all their fees, yet it is hard to sell your products at a high enough price to make it worthwhile. I am currently winding down my listings and will only occasionally list items I just want to purge.

I’d recommend with caveats: the 10% fee is exorbitant and takes a healthy chunk of change out of sales. Selling and paying for postage is the easiest and best out of all of them. Customer service is clearly angled toward favoring the buyer, and the requirements for sellers keep getting stricter with less and less in return (a 10% fee reduction instead of 20% for being a Top-Rated seller and putting up with their bullshit? No thanks). It’s fun for people like me who just use it as a way to gain some extra income, but I couldn’t stand it as a full-time necessity.

Profits have decreased on eBay for me the last 2 years. I have a premium store with a 1 year contract to save $10 a month. I would not recommend eBay to a friend simply because it is up to them to decide if the site is worth it to them or not. If I recommend they may very well be disappointed. My items seem to rank behind sellers with no stores in the search unless it is an item that I just listed within 24 hours.

We’ve been selling on eBay for about 12 years. At one point we had a store, but the expense was not justified by sales. Now, we just list however many items we get free listings for each month. Sometimes one or two sell. Last month, out of a couple hundred items listed, we grossed $53.99 in sales. Out of that will come our fees. Will continue to list as long as it is free to.

eBay has made every listing, that isn’t a common commodity (and even then), an exhausting convoluted ordeal. Actually every aspect of their site is so full of do’s & don’ts sellers find themselves in a catch-22. To top it off, your items may not even be seen, which could be a blessing, since each and every sale could lead to another bag of worms. eBay has become too much work with lower and lower profitability.

eBay takes money from sellers to pay for dishonest buyers remorse purchases. eBay always sides with the buyer even with direct proof that buyer is a scammer. Also sellers pay eBay for stores, and eBay will not display items unless Sellers also pay for “Promotion”. eBay is taking 2 bites of the apple. This is not an honest eCommerce business because it costs sellers thousands of dollars in not displaying listings honestly, in returning monies to bad eBay buyers and for being so misinformed about eBay in the Customer Service Department. It scares me to death that eBay wants to take Seller money before it disburses it to the Seller. I would only trust PayPal with my money and never trust eBay to touch any of my money that I get from a sale.

As an antique & vintage item seller, eBay is no longer that profitable. It’s time consuming for the amount of sales that I make. I’ve moved most of my sale off eBay. I don’t think my items are seen. Most of my sales are on the West Coast even though I’m on the East Coast which makes me wonder if my items are seen on the east coast. If eBay is going to do black outs, at least do it near my postal zone. I only sold 20% of the item that I listed this year. Not a good use of time. Even shopping on eBay has become labor intensive. I use Amazon more often. I seriously doubt I will be selling on eBay within the next year or two.

They’ve pretty much been my sole source of income for the past 18 years; I have a love/hate rapport with them. They are SO out of touch, I hate how they manipulate Search, and charging fees on shipping is ridiculous. Their site is like an old jalopy…fixed with duct tape here and there; it just rumbles along. Their customer service sucks, their feedback system sucks, their insistence about not communicating easily with prospective buyers or buyers is so limiting and short-sighted. Basically I love my regular customers and the income I receive from them, and enjoy the platform as a way to buy things I want. The management and workforce is far gone…it starts at the top, and I’m sure those folks simply respond to the small information they get as well as do things to keep the quarterly reports positive. They really don’t care enough about the small to medium niche sellers (though they say they do) to implement change which would help them and the bottom line

Communication needs to improve. Making changes to the site and they are usually a surprise. Doesn’t seem to generate the traffic it did in the past. Sales were awful this holiday season.

eBay’s platform has changed a lot since I started using the site in 1999. One thing a lot of sellers do not like it the final value fee eBay charges on shipping. This is a fee that should not exist. eBay’s customer service could also use some work as most of the CSR people you get when calling about a problem seem to only be reading from a script and do not actually know anything about the site. If the call center was in the USA for all calls I think it would be better. Also when there is a problem eBay tends to ignore the sellers remarks and side with the buyer.

Changes happen monthly on this venue – and not only the ones they tell you about – you always have to read up on what glitches “occur” so surprise fees don’t “happen” that you are not aware of – I believe EBay is AWARE of all the sneaky default “x”s they mark in so newbie sellers contribute more to their fees then they should have – bad practices to con money from new sellers. Sellers seem to not have protections from repeat fraud buyers – although it brings in more revenue with the nice buyers – the balance is not quite there.

Sales are 43% down from last year. Constant changes to the seller agreement cause a great deal of stress and hours to correct. ie: Removing all watermarks on photos (over two thousand in total) only to have eBay reverse the decision AFTER I had edited all my photos! Refunds should be at the discretion of the seller, too many times I have received my item(s) back minus the price/red return tag and clearly showing signs of wear/use.

Generates lots of sales, but disagree with how they rate you on shipping, USPS does not always scan in packages and I get punished for it

This is where we sell most of our items, but I really wish that they would stop changing so much for the sellers twice a year. It does make it hard to keep up with all of the changes. We sold a lot of more items a few years ago, but are barely seeing the rate we did back then. We barely sell enough to pay the store fees and internet service costs. Also, they need to do more to combat the issue of problematic buyers abusing the returns. I have ran into several times where the buyer would try to get more items for free. When you sell on eBay, you really have to pray for a miracle to happen, in order to stay successful.

eBay has too many fees and search issues. I used to get great sales for my unique items but this year the number of views, watchers, and sales has been way down and I have a store, run sales, etc. I feel there is tampering with the search results if you are a small seller with a Basic store. eBay favors the very large and International sellers or so it seems.

You can’t list many items unless you pay a monthly fee. If you didn’t sold enough items you didn’t have gain because of the deductions like membership, high selling fees.

eBay’s policies are a deterrent for sellers. Their policies and fees are a hard ball to swallow. They continuously make it more difficult for sellers of low cost/high volume items. It appears that eBay concentrates more on big store sellers than the private seller wanting to make a small profit.

eBay gets more eyeballs than anyone else and does more business than the rest of them put together. That said, their policies are arrogant and if I had an alternative that could provide me with the same sales I would use it in a heartbeat. I HATE the pay to list model and therefore wish them only sorrow and pain.

They would have 10’s if they hadn’t changed the top seller final fee discount from 20 to 10 % Cost us a lot of money! That said, they have the traffic so we have the sales. Fees astronomical but price advertising own site…. it’s comparable.

Lots of traffic brings lots of sales. Disappointed with eBay’s metrics (i.e. eBay expects you to send coupons with tracking. There is no tracking with First-Class #10 envelopes. eBay counts items shipped without tracking as “shipped late.

High fees, and especially egregious is the fee on the cost of shipping. Customer service is completely untrustworthy – they say one thing and then something else happens. They don’t communicate important things, and what few comms I get are full of doublespeak and spin. It’s easy for me to use, but have been doing it since early days.

eBay continues to try to be all things to all sellers and suffers across the board as a result. I still shop there myself but only because the types of books and items I collect are mostly listed there because eBay long ago established itself as the online marketplace for niche interest items and sellers can’t escape that fact. The items I sell regularly (hand crafted cookie cutters) do not do well on eBay because there is little possibility that they are distinguished from of all the trash mass manufactured cookie cutters to flood the site and make customer search laborious and time consuming.

I generally like eBay. I don’t think, though, that they care about resolving disputes fairly. Only one person has disputed a sale, but it was almost automatically in favor of the buyer.

In 19 years selling on eBay, I’ve NOT ONCE been successful when calling or emailing customer service. EVERY TIME is a complete waste of my time, always ending up back at square one. I mean, I only call if/when there’s a real problem, and they only tell me what I already know!

Sellers Choice Awards:
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the Sellers Choice Awards, please feel free to post them below.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “Sellers Choice 2018 Marketplace Ratings: eBay”

  1. I too have a love/hate relationship with eBay – but mostly Hate.
    If they had to abide to the same standards as sellers, they would have shut themselves down years ago.
    I repeatedly report listings by sellers (my competitors) that are duplicate listings as well as Keyword Spamming. The listings stay up as eBay looks the other way. I need to behave the same way my competitors do in order to compete with them, but I feel as soon as I start Duplicate Listings or do Keyword Spamming I will be shut down. Does anyone know how to make eBay pull these listings that clearly violate eBay’s policies. It’s very frustrating!!

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