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Wed Feb 6 2008 15:34:27

eBay and Its Ecommerce Rivals

By: Ina Steiner

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There is no ecommerce site quite like eBay in terms of style, size and scope, but there are a number of smaller auction and ecommerce sites that compete successfully in a variety of categories and niches. (I'm referring to sites that allow third-party sales.) Fortune Small Business did a nice write-up on some of the alternative sites and what they are doing in light of recent seller unrest at eBay.

You can find a chart of online auction sites and storefronts on the AuctionBytes website that give you an idea of the fees at the various sites. What would be valuable is to hear from sellers themselves about their own experiences with eBay alternatives.

Having covered the dialog about this topic for years, I believe that a seller's success on a given marketplace depends on the type of items the sell and volume they do. I'd like to open this up to a discussion of which sites you've tried and the lessons you've learned. Please indicate what kinds of goods you sell since that is an important factor.

What might not be apparent to outsiders is also the challenge of juggling sales on multiple marketplaces. Is it worth the hassle to list on alternative sites? Experienced multi-channel sellers, let us know what you think.

PS: There is no St. Elsewhere on AuctionBytes, you can feel free to mention eBay competitors by name.

Comments (32) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: Sachin Agarwal

Wed Feb 6 17:50:25 2008

Ina, you forgot about us!  (

an online marketplace where buyers can name their own price for video games, systems, and accessories.  We charge no listing fees and 11.99% when an item sells.  11.99% includes all payment processing fees.  We charge a buyer's credit when a bid meets a seller's minimum and deposit the funds in the seller's checking account, so there are never unpaid item issues.

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by: Mark

Wed Feb 6 18:30:59 2008

I think this pic says it all - eBay is the New Coke

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by: Mack

Wed Feb 6 18:44:51 2008

For Australian ebay sellers, OZtion is your best alternative. OZtion is a fairly new aucton site (3 years old) is growing rapidly in the past 2 years. Join them and expand your business.

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by: Denise

Wed Feb 6 23:49:29 2008

My thanks to Ina & AuctionBytes for bravely stepping forward and offering both sides of this issue.  Considering the advertising dollars involved, it is journalism to be commended.

I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel in my search for a new ''home'' and the CNN/Fortune Small Business article you shared was the first glimmer of hope I've allowed myself to feel during this sad, sad week.  I will miss the old eBay but don't want anything at all to do with this ''new & improved'' monster.

One thing that would help the eBay homeless sellers would be to add the number of registered users on each site.  It was encouraging to see that several other auction sites are experiencing record registrations!

Thanks again & keep up the good work.

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by: Jamie

Thu Feb 7 01:02:10 2008

I sell an eclectic mix of merchandise, but most of my recent sales have been crystal and clothing.  

After years on eBay, and hundreds of positive feedbacks (no negative or neutral), I moved to  Here's why: No listing fees, no FVFs, just a low monthly fee ($8.00) for which I could list everything in my house.  This is a true auction format which means no sniping: A last minute bid can extend an auction for an answering bid so that everyone has an equal chance to win the item, and the seller gets the highest amount a buyer is willing to pay.  There are several different auction formats, including Penny Over and Dutch (where a seller can list hundreds of items at once). Because sales needn't be tracked for the purpose of charging a FVF, there are no restriction on seller/buyer communications. Sellers can link directly to their own site on their auction pages. A seller who joins at the Founding Member level gets a lot of free perks, including the guarantee that his or her membership rates will remain the same for life.  Sellers on OLA have a strong community and we feel we're working together to build a company that has our best interests at heart.

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by: Dan

Thu Feb 7 13:35:43 2008

Ina says ''I'd like to open this up to a discussion of which sites you've tried and the lessons you've learned. Please indicate what kinds of goods you sell since that is an important factor.''

I'd like to see this topic be the heart of an entirely new blog, or at least be perpetually visible and readily accessible on this blog.

It's absolutely a win-win to share information about getting going on non-eBay sites; the more merchandise and sellers on these sites, the better for everyone.

And as some comments in other threads indicate, new attitudes and approaches are needed to ''break out'' of the eBay habit. It helps to hear the mental gymnastics that others have gone through in transition, and the wrong turns and corrections are at least as valuable as the success stories!

Transitioning is going to be a long-term process, and there are sellers who will resist even trying (but will be forced to eventually). That's why I'd like to see a blog or discussion board devoted to this.

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by: RatherRuss

Thu Feb 7 20:01:06 2008

Hello fellow sellers, I sell Vinyl and CDS, a decent amount 13,000 and growing listed on ebay over 4 years of sales (and non sales).  I have a spread sheet of those years that tells me (and now you) that Sales on eBay over the last year have risen $200 per month with all the work involved.  My cost of listing has risen near $400 and postage has gone up, too....My visits (as given to me by Omniture a service of Ebay) show a monthly dip of nearly 2,000 each month as opposed to last year 2006 in this case.  So, my landlord mr. ebay has raised rents continually without supplying anything new to me that I did not have...but you know that story.   Now let me tell you some others, tried Amazon and if you think the Feedback on Ebay is going to be a problem, try being a seller on me it is death, get one negative with the paucity of sales there and you are a dead dog, get two and well you know the drill...Did sales grow, no, after a decent first month, sales went done each month...(same buyers?  need new items?). for music sellers is even worse...sales went down steadily for three years despite my constant adding of new items??  It's tough when you have 1 buyer and 10,000 vendors selling the same thing...what makes you different?  Alibris book seller is fine if you sell books as a hobby or a side to vinyl and CDS, but sales went nowhere.  Not sure if iOffer is still around, but their buyers never paid?? Ever!  So latest is Ebid, which goes all over Europe and has a horrid upload system if you don't do one at a time listing.  I have spent 5 days trying to upload a database of 8k items, and their support tries, but they want to cover everybase known to man, and so I just quit trying....Lastly, I have had a partially functioning website that has in 2 years had several million hits and 40 sales...part my fault, part my webmasters and part the 7 second attention span of the average internet user.   So I have tried almost everything.  Ebay brings sales albeit diminishing, but the cost of business outrises those sales, ending in a net to the next big thing...Rather Russ

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by: Kevin

Fri Feb 8 00:00:58 2008

A site well worth trying is  It costs nothing to set up a store and your listings on eCrater are automatically listed in Google base.  Have found that newer collectibles and brand name clothing/shoes sell best there.

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by: Jusr a seller

Fri Feb 8 00:06:32 2008

Please note: I am not a native English speaker. Please excuse my mistakes.

The main thing about selling out of ebay is a change in strategy. As RatherRuss commented sales in other auction sites are considerably slower than on ebay. It's a given fact. Still it doesn't mean these sites are bad. I sell stamps and I use both (which has categories for all sorts of collectibles) and The latter is a small small site but has a great atmosphere, which resembles the one that used to be when ebay just started. It is free all round.
The strategy change I am talking about concerns the realization no other site will sell our items as fast and as efficiently as ebay. But it's OK with me. I am sure the power shift is not going to be dramatic as other sellers on AB blogs are suggesting. My 2007 sales on the two alternative site I  use did not pass 7% of what I sold on ebay. BUT, it's building up slowly. I expect to increase sales with time on those sites. The feedback is building up slowly and more newcomers are joining in. Not by the thousands, but in a moderate fashion.
At the moment I do not decrease nor increase my ebay activity (Although I hate the fact they are in a constant chase after my profit margin).

Let us all start the slow shift into the smaller sites. It won't happen over night but I am sure some of these sites will grow up to be viable alternatives in the next few years.

We'll see ebay then, crawling on their knees asking us to come back.

But without patience and good will we will never make it out of the vicious ebay circle. And by good will I mean listing on sites which sell very sloooooowly and increasing their appeal only by us being there and without profiting too musc at the moment.

It's a sad thing after all. We would all want to commerce in ONE site that will treat us nicely and have all the buyers coming in. But that won't happen in the near future as ebay's changes are always for the worse. Those days are GONE and adopting the new strategy (list more and sell less, but do it elsewhere) is not easy. But it will pay off in the long run.

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by: Cruetsonly

Fri Feb 8 01:44:27 2008

I sell textbooks mostly and occasionally odds and ends from around the house.  I am going to put more effort into eCrater and BluJay.  Both are FREE.  I have had only one sale on BluJay, but I only had 7 items listed.  I am just beginning to populate my eCrater stores, but I hear good things about them.  

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by: jsicolts

Fri Feb 8 03:11:48 2008

buying & seling books, DVD, videos and C D's these sites can't be beat :, and

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by: Bill Vincent

Fri Feb 8 03:14:32 2008

Hello All,

    I am the owner of Northwest Blvd Auctions. I am a former Seller on ebay and a Silver level Power Seller. As this whole ebay thing with the fees and the feedback and other detrimental policies have come into light, it saddens me to no end. I did have a feeling things would start going south on ebay. I built an auction site not so much to compete with ebay at first but to host Niche like Auctions. I soon found that the program I was using was far more powerful that first thought. I opened it to the public on August 20, 2007 for public listing. At first things were slow but have been steadily increasing in its traffic. This is a site run by an ebay seller and has some idea what other sellers will want in an Auction venue. Though this is not ebay it is an auction site that will build respect with buyer and seller. Sure I want to get a mass of dealers on the Site and Buyers, but also feel that what people are doing now is shopping for the best place with the best opportunity for growth. I believe sellers should sign up to several and find the one that best suites there needs. Northwest Blvd Auctions wants to hear from our clients and wants to form the site to their needs and suggestions. No matter the outcome from the ebay blowout, we are here to serve our clients, not a board laced with corporate invester greed. We Thank you for allowing us to post to this forum.

Bill Vincent
Northwest Blvd Auctions Team

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by: Jamie

Fri Feb 8 14:54:11 2008

CNN (Fortune Small Business) has a nice bit entitled, "EBay rivals circle vulnerable auctions kingpin":

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by: Laura

Fri Feb 8 16:33:20 2008

I hope Auctiva does something. There were hints of this today.

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by: charles june

Sun Feb 10 13:17:50 2008

dont understand why ebay is picking a fight with the spoon that feeds them. How stupid! there is no question ebay is panicking at the rise of amazon. instaed of picking on sellers, make sellers feel more comfortable. if sellers are happy there will be more sales, and they will want to deliver a a+ product backed with excellent customer service. an ebayer power seller once told me ebay treats us like crap so why should we go the extra mile...i think thats says it in a nutshel.

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by: cipherman

Sun Feb 10 14:19:17 2008

We offer good until sold auctions for a 10 cents. Selling aids such as pictures, counters are also 10 cents each. Maximum Auction charge is $1.50. Unbiased feedback system.

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by: Jeremy

Fri Feb 15 09:51:04 2008

At Ebay, we have the very best exposure for sellers to achieve volume.  Other sites are half baked.  The sellers that seem upset by the new policies should focus on staying on the ball rather than fulminating on some form of protest.  All this boycott is Machts Nicht.  They will all be back once they understand the futility of these stupid posturings.

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Fri Feb 15 23:54:28 2008

Small Business E-commerce Technology Company Introduces Features Designed To Reach Markets Beyond eBay
New Web 2.0 e-commerce technology company announces the introduction of Google Products as a part of a larger strategy of giving on-line businesses access to a growing number of new marketplaces beyond eBay. While eBay offers small business entrepreneurs access to an immense market for on-line sales, it also presents continual challenges to small companies running on razor-thin margins. Recent changes in policy at the on-line auction site highlight the risks of running an on-line business with only one marketplace strategy.

San Mateo, CA (PRWEB) February 16, 2008 -- New Web 2.0 technologies offer access to a growing number of marketplaces for those on-line sellers who have traditionally relied on one large marketplace vendor to drive sales. For, the introduction of Google Products is just the first step in powering merchant access to these new and growing opportunities.

eBay has proved to be a large marketplace for selling on-line, but it continues to present challenges, even disruptions, to the small business entrepreneur looking to succeed in on-line sales. There are upfront fees for listing products, an expense regardless of whether the item is sold. eBay sellers also go up against a large number of direct competitors, which drives down profit margins for the majority of sales. Low margins compete with incremental expenses and changes in policy to make it more difficult for many small companies to build a profitable on-line business.

Moreover, eBay is only one marketplace at a time when the number of successful market venues continues to proliferate. The introduction of Google Products as well as Google Check-out highlights the need for moving beyond a single market strategy for increasing sales. The challenge and the opportunity for on-line sellers is to have access to an inexpensive single-system e-commerce application that can power both market reach and on-line sales.

E-commerce technologies that are market neutral enable the small business entrepreneur to compete in an array of marketing venues. automatically publishes its merchants' product catalogs to Google products. Or again, offers both Google Check-out and PayPal. With on-line merchants are not fettered by the strategy of a dominant industry player.

For example, David Pogue of the New York Times, in a review of Microsoft's revamped Office Live, points out that its integrated ad-word campaign tool is limited to only two search engines. As he writes, "You can place ads on Microsoft's search sites and, which together represent less than 8 percent of search engine popularity. If you are going to advertise, you'd almost certainly prefer the exposure of the Big Two- Yahoo and Google- but they are not available through Office Live."

Small business entrepreneurs need access to inexpensive, single-system ecommerce applications that are easy and quick to set up, easy to use, and which let their users grow their business without growing their costs. For a low fixed monthly fee, allows a merchant to sell 2,000 product without transaction or user fees: small business entrepreneurs can grow their business at a fixed price with no hidden or incremental charges.

Finally, new Web 2.0 e-commerce technologies like offer an array of features that can power the whole of their on-line business. Gone are the days when a simple, cheap "shopping cart" can take small businesses to the next level. According to CEO Charles Han, today's small business e-commerce applications have to encompass all aspects of running a business, including detailed reports and analytics, order and customer management systems, and more. As he states, "It has to be enterprise in scope but with a small business price."

No less important, Han argues, "Today's small business e-commerce systems must also power the merchant's marketing. It is publish or perish, to search engines, shopping comparison sites, or retail search sites. On-line sellers do not have the skills or the time to do this themselves. They have to have an enterprise platform that connects all the dots for them."

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by: wanda

Tue Feb 19 01:23:56 2008

To:  Jeremy

You are free to stay with ebay.  For myself, for the majority of posts that I've read, I don't think that many find the option of returning palatable.  Ebay is arrogant, greedy, deceptive, and last, but certainly not least... not to be trusted.  If you can cite one instance for me where ebay has championed an underdog or gone to bat for one of its sellers, then I will, frankly, be surprised.  Once ebay was a thriving, exciting place to trade.  It is now and literally a "virtual" prison.  I will not pay money to someone, whom I employ as a service provider, who will criminalize me and lessen my chances for success.

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by: borgie

Thu Feb 21 04:30:37 2008

A highly recommended site is for online auctions.  They are the new ebay.  Many smaller sites like this offer buyers far better deals than ebay ever could.  Buyser also save a ton because this site charges little or nothing depending on the day. One more reaso I like is because they don't take a part of the sale at all.  No commissions or final value fees. A+++

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