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Fri Dec 10 2010 08:22:23

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

By: Ina Steiner

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Small marketplaces are experiencing a better holiday shopping season than last year. Startup Atomic Mall, which launched 2 years ago, experienced sales growth of 194% compared to last November, and Etsy just reported that in November, for the first time in its history, 2 million items were sold in one month. Etsy's November gross merchandise sales was valued at $37.3 million, 75% higher than a year ago.

Positive growth rates for smaller online marketplaces is coming from a variety of marketing efforts, including advertising, email marketing, search engine marketing and social networking marketing. In their favor is the fact that shoppers are looking for unique items and unique venues on which to shop this year.

Founder Mike Shannon attributed Atomic Mall's growth to a combination of factors, including the addition of datafeeds to Bing.com and a new streamlined checkout option called "Buy it Fast."

He also said there was an increase in the percentage of buyers looking for alternative marketplaces. Mike receives emails from shoppers and sellers who say they are thankful to have a viable alternative to the big players like eBay and Amazon. "Some have even told me that they are essentially in permanent "boycott" mode, and will not use these venues either for selling or buying," he said.

Artfire's emphasis on artisan offerings differentiates it and position the marketplace to take advantage of the handmade and small-business movements. It is also integrating a Shop Local feature to capitalize on a growing consumer preference to buy local. Artfire's Tony Ford attributes its especially strong growth in November to its early marketing push. "In the Holiday season, the earlier you can get the shoppers to spend with you, the larger part of their budget you can get overall."

Many small, longtime eBay sellers are reporting dismal sales that they blame on eBay's search algorithm and an unstable selling environment - and data confirms flat traffic. Yesterday Wall Street analyst Mark Mahaney of Citi cited ComScore data that showed while overall U.S. traffic to online retail sites in November was up 13% Y/Y, traffic increased only 6% Y/Y on Amazon.com and a mere 2% Y/Y on eBay.com.

But as much as smaller venues are growing, many sellers don't believe alternative marketplaces can make up the difference for the sales they generated on eBay, though some are having success on Amazon and others with their own websites.

Sellers I talk to who are working hard to establish their own online presence - even those who rely on eBay for a major portion of their revenue - express a great relief upon expanding beyond one marketplace. Their biggest challenge remains the same as the online marketplaces themselves - getting the attention of buyers who are inundated with shopping alternatives.

We're looking for positive stories of growth and proven marketing techniques and lessons learned - leave a comment or use the Contact Us button on the navigation bar above to send us your tips or success stories.




Comments (19) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: mclovebuddy
Web Site

Fri Dec 10 09:45:22 2010

eBay is more geared toward a commodity based auction market. I think Amazon offers some overlap with much less headache due to the more sophisticated interface and better branding. Whereas Etsy is really quite niche in that it brands itself as the artisan site. There is a push for sellers to differentiate and that is rewarded.  Nothing is mass market there and the production values are quite high. I really enjoy buying at Amazon and Etsy.  eBay is a necessary evil.  I also love selling vintage and handmade on Etsy, www.mclovebuddy.etsy.com. Customers there are usually quite nice.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: RAOTFLMAO

Fri Dec 10 09:52:42 2010

I like Etsy and Bonanza a lot, sellers are friendly and helpful and chatty and not much game playing, more a sense of community like the old ebay was.  I sell on my own website and on Bonanza and I still think listing on ebay is important to drive traffic to both of these sites.  I ALWAYS list 15% to 25% higher on ebay, the listings are free, visibility is high, I use the about me page and direct potential buyers to the other sites through the photo links...the name of the game is THIN

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: RAOTFLMAO

Fri Dec 10 09:54:28 2010

OOps cut myself short, the last thought was" The name of the game is THINK about how to use ebay, and not let ebay use you!!!"

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 10 10:41:08 2010

I'm having a fantastic holiday season on eCrater. It has far surpassed anything on eBay in all the years I was selling there. It statrted just before Thanksgiving and is in full swing. I have also had fantastic sales throughout the year. I am very happy with eCrater. It is simple, well run, and very straightforward. No games or weirdness, just a strong focus on sales. Works for me.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Smallvillenw

Fri Dec 10 12:09:27 2010

Junk in, junk out. It's what you sell, not where. It's an acquisition problem. Therein lies the rub.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: tex

Fri Dec 10 12:28:59 2010

hi Harriet-
Hooray for you. That's great that you are making those sales. Can I ask what you are selling?

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: feehike

Fri Dec 10 12:30:11 2010

I believe the smaller sites are now improving , now that some smaller sellers no longer find ebay viable, arenow looking elsewhere to sell.

Buyers will go wherever they can find the items they wish to purchase, my sales on ebid Net are improving as more & more sellers move away from ebay to sell on ebid Net instead.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Stefano Neis
Web Site

Fri Dec 10 12:33:48 2010

I] ''positive stories of growth''

I went from earning 100% of my income on ebay to support my family & 6 employees to leaving Ebay entirely as their #1 seller in postcards for over 7 years in a row. Now I sell ''0'' items there and I am now making more $ net than I ever did on ebay  [We sell on Delcampe.com & Bidstart.com].

This year I used the skills I learned when I first moved off of Ebay to Delcampe.com and have started selling in addition on another large venue with great success.

If I can do it..anyone can

II] '' and proven marketing techniques ''

I use direct Email contact one on one with my top 100 customers on a monthly basis.

I talk to my top 10 customers on the ''phone'' once a month.

I cross advertise all my selling points.

I have a central URL web address that directs traffic to all my online selling points. That is the URL I advertise.

I send out a Newsletter weekly (60,000 names & growing) and offer sales, valid value added content and other Internet news info to my customers in the newsletters.

I offer free shipping at a set point of items or Gross sales.


III] ''and lessons learned - ''

Only you can market yourself. Never and I do mean NEVER let a selling point be responsible for driving customers [traffic] to your online items.

Pass on your cost savings [overhead] by not being on Ebay onto your customers..it'll greatly increase sales.

Never stop looking for the next great thing/site to sell with online. Try all the websites that you can sell on and DO NOT TAKE anybody's else s word for which sites work and do not work.

Do not be afraid to try anything to sell online. The only real failure is not trying at all.

MY ONLINE STORY

My name is Stefano and I am the owner of SCVIEW Antique Images & Postcards [SCARTISTS.com]. I buy & sell under the ID ''SCVIEW'' online.

In 2005 I started to get a bad ''vib'' from my online selling efforts on Ebay.com. My wife & I had previously been ''special'' guests of Ebay at their first ''conference'' of sellers in LA , CA [All expenses Paid for by Ebay].

At that conference I got to meet Meg Whitman in person and I also got to meet a bunch of upstarts across the street from the Ebay conference for a company called Paypal.

The conference left me with a hollow feeling. The Ebay management I talked to had wildly different ideas and agendas. Mrs Whitman would not look one in the face when asked about where She saw Ebay heading....

Later , When Ebay rolled out their stores..I started one and at one point has 65,000 items online...sales were good and steady.

Ebay brought in ~$22,000+ a month with a peak month of $39,000. My fees ran in the thousands per month.

Then Ebay changed [See all the previous comments & talk throughout the forum history of Auctionbytes for details].

Ebay lost it's ''mojo'' and it's focus. Get an Ebay store, do fixed price, go back to auction ''core'' get rid of stores..all while steadily increasing their fees & while calling the fee increases ''decreases''...

In the midst of this I started looking for other online venues to sell on. I tried many...and I found three that worked for a time for me and one in particular that worked really well [Delcampe.com].

I slowly shut down my Ebay store and transferred my listings to those three sites.[It took me 6 months]

Then one day...I turned ebay off.

My first full year off of Ebay..I made $50,000 less Gross than on Ebay [$300,000 to $250,000] BUT I had 57,000 less in fees which meant my net cash flow was $7,000 a year better..at that point I knew that I did the right thing and I have never looked back.

Now SCVIEW is the largest seller on Delcampe overall and our gross sales there exceed our very best Ebay years...even in the midst of this recession.

This year I refined my selling points online and I dropped two under performing ones and started another one on Bidstart.com.

To my surprise...the methods I had to learn while selling on Delcampe [See above] actually proved to be invaluable in jump starting my Bidstart sales point.

In less than 7 months I have another great selling point besides just Delcampe.com[Still my main selling point] that I have already made close to $100,000 USD net in just 7 months on.

My projections for Bidstart show that it will be just as successful as my Delcampe selling point.

So what do I do now with one great selling point [Delcampe.com] & a second up & coming selling point?[Bidstart.com]

I do what I do best, I am on the lookout for another valid selling point.

And when I find it...I will sell there as well.


Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: buck efay

Fri Dec 10 13:00:35 2010

Same as everyone else, I was exclusively an Ebay seller until Dunderho screwed the pooch. Luckily I have always been an early adapter & started moving away from Ebay 2 years ago. Am now making the same as before, way less stress & not giving ebay 1/3 of my profits anymore. I used to live or die by Ebay not anymore! I now only USE ebay for the hundred free auctions to get a few extra bucks & redirect customers. My sell thru has held steady at 9% in 2009, which is a joke, I used to do 60-70% STR, and ebay made $25K as year off me. For a crummy 9% STR, I can't pay anything but fvf. The alternatives will continue to grow, as more sellers leave Ebay after christmas. And I see big sellers fleeing shortly too after their contracts end. How can it even be worth the time to put all those listings on Ebay when the Doggy Diamonds can't even manage 10% STR? Someone has to be working full time on listing & it ain't evben worth it to pay their salary for what Ebay produces. OH PS, a pleasant surprise has been Google Checkout, they are driving me sales & for no extra work & less $$$ for Ebaypal, LOL!!!

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Scott

Fri Dec 10 13:18:26 2010

I think that the small sites will continue to grow. There are many customer that want to use other places than eBay.

I also think that the increase in views on eBay are inflated. Have anyone else notice that many of the site ''improvements'' require extra clicks? I have an extra click to re-list. It is several clicks to end an item. There is also an extra message that I have to go through when I log-on.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 10 15:31:32 2010

@ tex

I sell collectibles from modern to vintage to antique.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Digby
Web Site

Fri Dec 10 15:49:36 2010

I have noticed a marked increase in the number of new members signing up on ebid and Bonanza.

This must be a good sign for the alts.

Yet some ebay sellers seems to be doing very well in the UK

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: ebay dead

Fri Dec 10 17:16:38 2010

"Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?"

What sales?

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Fri Dec 10 18:03:06 2010

I think one key for growth in the smaller venues is that more people are starting their shopping on search engines and comparison shopping sites. They're not going to eBay, then to Amazon, then to Buy, etc.. to find what they want. The smaller venues seem to have been especially good about feeding these search engines and shopping sites, so they're pulling in more buyers. I also think the growing interest in buying local and supporting small businesses has been good for these venues.

Amazon pulls in buyers because it is Amazon. eBay used to have that same cache, but they've lost it somewhere along the way.

I still make more sales on eBay than anywhere else, but my sales on other venues have been steadily growing. Interestingly, my items get more views on other sites than on eBay, but fewer buyers (for now).

@Lawrence has a lot of good points. eBay has changed. If you want to sell successfully there, you have to change along with it. Even then, the changes may not be compatible with your business. If that happens, then you have no choice but to go elsewhere. Look at what Stefano Neis has shared about his business. He found that eBay didn't work for him anymore and he's had success elsewhere.

I think an important factor is that we all sell different items and what makes sense for my business might not work for you and the items you sell. There's no one best solution. You just have to try out different selling venues and see what works. It's a lot of work, but it's definitely a more positive approach than sitting around and hoping the venue you're using will change its ways. They always say not to marry someone with the expectation that you'll be able to change them. I think the same goes for the venue you use as your "partner" in your online sales :-)

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: TheUglySweaterShop
Web Site

Fri Dec 10 21:50:07 2010

I've sold clothing on eBay for 10 years.

I've had stores on ecrater for 2 years.

This month,  this ecrater store has garnered 40,000+ page views, while my eBay items sit stagnant with an average of 17 views per item.

I am selling out and scrambling for inventory on ecrater. My only interaction with ebay this holiday season has been filing NPBs (every single seasonal item "sold" on eBay was never paid for) and ending listings when they sell out elsewhere.

I really don't understand the people who say what I'm doing can't be done.  

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Sat Dec 11 02:45:21 2010

I hear you on the NPBs, @TheUglySweaterShop. I've had more of them in the last three months than in my entire 8 years on eBay prior to this. And it's mostly on seasonal items, too. So nice of these bidders tying up my holiday items right in the middle of the holiday selling season. And they're not even all newbies, either. It's really annoying.  

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Sat Dec 11 12:14:33 2010

Times are definitely changing.

On my website I have gone from 4-5 sales a month when I started 6 years ago, to 4-5 sales per day this holiday season.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 11 22:40:31 2010

On eCrater, if the buyer doesn't pay, it never becomes an order, so you have no stock tied up waiting for payment. If they dawdle in paying, they risk losing the item they wanted. So most pay right away, and if they don't, I don't worry, because someone else will come along and buy it.

I have been perusing eBay and searching there has become a nightmare. You search for an item, it takes forever, then when you want to look more closely at something, you click on it, and then you only get partial information. You get the picture and a couple of lines of information, if that, plus a whole lot of stuff from other vendors that you don't care about. If you want to see the full description, you have to click on the item once again and wait for that to load. It's just horrible and slows down the shopping process to a dead crawl. I used to be able to flip through a whole page of items including all the descriptions very fast, no more.

That in itself is a sales killer. No one shopping online wants to have slow loading pages and continual clicking to get the necessary information.

The site is ruined from beginning to end.

Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?   Can Growing Marketplaces Take the Place of eBay Sales?

by: Marcus

Tue Dec 14 22:05:42 2010

EBay used to offer the best selection of unique goods you couldn't find anywhere else. They also had the most buyers and a pretty safe place to do this stuff. Now they no longer offer any of the three. Have they moved their headquarters to Nigeria yet? If not that's probably next.



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