Ten years ago, we set out to help merchants share their experiences about what it was like to sell on various marketplaces by launching the Sellers Choice Awards. Each year since, readers have let colleagues and potential sellers know about the joys and pitfalls of the venues on which they sell, and it has become a potent force in letting the marketplaces themselves know how they are doing.
Over 13,000 online sellers participated in this year’s Sellers Choice Awards and rated the venues on which they sold. This year, we selected the top 11 nominated marketplaces since two sites were tied for 10th place.
EcommerceBytes readers rated the 11 venues in four key areas – profitability, customer service, communication and ease of use. Respondents were also asked how likely they were to recommend each marketplace as a selling venue to a friend or colleague.
Sellers also provided comments that shed light on the opportunities and challenges of each venue – the kind of inside information you won’t find anyplace else. This annual process gives both merchants and site owners alike an unfiltered glimpse into what each marketplace is doing right, and what they could be doing better.
Etsy took first place overall taking into account four key areas – profitability, customer service, communication and ease of use – followed by Ruby Lane and eBay. (The final question about willingness to recommend isn’t used to determine the overall ranking.)
For the first time, sellers gave Mercari and Poshmark enough nominations to make it into the finalists for Sellers Choice, and they came in fourth and fifth place, respectively. They also tied for the top spot for Ease of Use.
Rounding out the list were Bonanza, Amazon, eCrater, Craigslist, eBid, and Facebook.
eBay took the top spot for Profitability, and niche site Ruby Lane earned top spots for Customer Service and Communication.
This year saw quite a change with mobile apps Mercari and Poshmark beating out some regular favorites. The same five marketplaces – Amazon, Bonanza, eBay, Etsy, and Ruby Lane – had topped the list for the last 7 years (2012 – 2018), in varying order.
The message from sellers seems clear: mobile apps are resonating with buyers, and they want in on the action!
Mercari in particular seems to give sellers some of the things they wish for in Craigslist – a national audience, a simple listing process, and the ability to avoid no-shows (buyers who fail to show up), though many like Craigslist for various reasons, including for selling hard-to-ship goods.
As much as many sellers liked mobile apps, however, some sellers expressed dissatisfaction with trying to manage listings for the mobile apps on their desktops. We’re not sure how much age may have played a factor in sellers’ preferences in desktop vs mobile when it comes to the inventory-management and listing process. It may have had more to do with the fact that sellers are already managing listings for other marketplaces on their desktops and didn’t want to switch to mobile just for one or two marketplaces.
It’s also worth noting that the promise of social media has gone unfulfilled. We first added social networking sites to the nominations process for the 2014 awards, when Pinterest and Facebook (but not Twitter) received enough nominations from readers to make it into the final 16.
Here’s what we wrote about social sites when announcing the results of the 2014 awards:
“While not a marketplace, social networking site Pinterest is a channel on which sellers promote their product listings, and the company and third-party developers are exploring ways to monetize the site. Overall sellers seemed enthusiastic about the site and eager to learn how they could leverage Pinterest more directly as a sales driver.
“Various developers and merchants have built ecommerce tools and apps to create storefronts on Facebook, the majority of which send shoppers to another site to complete the transaction (Payvment, acquired by Ecwid, being a notable exception).
“Nevertheless, many respondents use Facebook as a marketing vehicle but have difficulty tracking the results of their efforts. And many sellers expressed frustration over the site’s push towards pay for exposure through advertising, seeing it as a roadblock rather than an opportunity.”
Fast forward to 2019, and only Facebook remains on the Sellers Choice Awards list of finalists – and it came in last place. That doesn’t mean online sellers aren’t using it, but it clearly hasn’t become a viable replacement for large or strong-niche marketplaces.
How It Breaks Down – Profitability
We asked sellers, “How would you rate your profitability as a seller on (marketplace name)?” eBay topped the list for Profitability, followed by Etsy, Mercari, Ruby Lane, and Amazon.
How It Breaks Down – Customer Service
We asked sellers, “How would you rate the customer service (marketplace name) provides to sellers?” Ruby Lane topped the list for Customer Service, followed by Bonanza, Etsy, eBay, and Mercari.
How It Breaks Down – Communication
We asked sellers, “How would you rate (marketplace name)’s communication with you as a seller?” Ruby Lane topped the list for Communication, followed by Bonanza, Etsy, Poshmark, and Mercari.
How It Breaks Down – Ease of Use
We asked sellers, “How would you rate (marketplace name)’s ease of use as a seller?” Mercari topped the list for Ease of Use, followed by Poshmark, Craigslist, Etsy and eBay.
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? Ruby Lane scored highest on Recommended Selling Venue, followed by Mercari, Poshmark, Bonanza, and Etsy.
Comments: Insider Information
Each year, sellers share comments about the marketplaces that provide a picture of what it’s like to sell on these online marketplaces. As we’ve noted before, comments reveal how many different kinds of sellers there are, and how different their experiences can be on various marketplaces.
Nowhere is that more striking than on Amazon, where sellers can list in many different categories, may sell new items versus used goods, fulfill orders themselves or use FBA, and so on. And that’s also what makes the comments section of each of the marketplaces so interesting.
In addition, some comments cut across multiple marketplaces, such as concerns over low-cost imports from countries like China.
With thousands of responses, it’s impossible to include every comment each marketplace received, but we include the most representative comments 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.
Comments are included on the individual marketplace rating pages.
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: Etsy
Page 2 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Ruby Lane
Page 3 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBay
Page 4 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Mercari
Page 5 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Poshmark
Page 6 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Bonanza
Page 7 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Amazon
Page 8 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eCrater
Page 9 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Craigslist
Page 10 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBid
Page 11 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Facebook
Leave Your Comments about the Sellers Choice Results
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.
Update 2/10/19: See the top-5 marketplaces for the past 10 years on today’s EcommerceBytes Blog.