EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 279 - January 23, 2011 - ISSN 1528-6703     9 of 18

Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: eBay

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2011, AuctionBytes surveyed almost 2,800 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 16 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

eBay
Year Established: 1995
Description: Auction format, fixed price, storefronts and general merchandise
More Info

Summary:
eBay came in fourteenth place with an overall rating of 4.2. It lowest rating was for Customer Service (3.44) and its highest was for Ease of Use (5.52). Despite complaints, many respondents commented positively on eBay's high traffic, though there were even more comments about high fees.

"Very expensive but does have a lot traffic," and "Ebay is still the #1 place to sell. They get the most traffic." Another wrote, "This is the only auction site that I know of that draws the buying public. Whether you sell on eBay or not, everyone seems to buy from there. The sellers pay high fees, but it is the only place to sell if you depend on this to supplement your income. You can sell just about anything on here."

However, they said they paid for that traffic with fees, and there were many reports that it was difficult for "small sellers" on eBay. "eBay made more money than I did, and I did all the work. Terrible customer support. I believe they want small sellers to leave."

Said another respondent, "Yes, eBay does take a lot of work and attention to detail. Yes, you have to watch your back. But as P.T. Barnum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute," and it seems they're all waiting, bless their hearts, to buy your old junk on eBay." Another wrote, "I like ebay but prices are really low and selling costs are high."

A number of respondents said eBay's feedback policy was unfair. "Their respect for sellers is next to zero. Sellers are not allowed to leave anything but positive feedback for buyers - even if they are rude, don't pay, or cause issues. Buyers can leave negative feedback for sellers though. Not fair. I sell the most on eBay, but I'd rather be selling somewhere else."

Respondents also talked about changing policies and usability issues. "eBay used to be THE PLACE to sell but in the last few years it is more trouble than it is worth. Constant changes and a less than fair playing field are my main complaints." Another respondents wrote, "The constant changes in the site are irritating and confusing. What was once a profitable and fun site is now very unpleasant to use."

Buyer fraud was also a problem for some respondents. "Buyers have returned EMPTY boxes to me after purchasing High Dollar items and eBay has simply Ripped the payment right out of my account leaving me with No Product and No payment - Repeatedly."

Several sellers of handmade goods said eBay is not a good venue for their items. "I have sold some of my crafts on eBay, but the fees are ridiculous, and no one seems to want to pay what the item is worth. eBay is fine for selling some things, but not necessarily for the things I create."

Another wrote, "My primary marketplace. Good for eyeballs on items and selling niche, non-commodity product. Customer service is a little spotty."

Link to 2010 results

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
Great place to buy and sell.
***
I really like eBay. For one thing, I have never paid for an insertion, since I list only during the "list free auctions at any price" periods. (When it's not free, I haul most of my inventory over to Amazon.com.) But the beauty of eBay is that you will find that one person out there, eventually, to buy your old dusty junk for more, even much more, than you expected. eBay works. It's THE global marketplace. eBay is superior in another important way to Amazon.com, even though Amazon.com has more upscale buyers, because Amazon.com demands you accept returns for 30 days with no questions asked, or even longer in some instances if there's a dispute. eBay is also better than Amazon.com in terms of shipping costs, because on eBay I can add electronic Delivery Confirmation for $0.19 and be protected as a seller with PayPal, while I have to go to the post office and buy Signature Confirmation at $2.35 for each Amazon.com package to be protected as a seller. Because of an ongoing computer glitch, I cannot print labels on Amazon.com, and even if I could, the electronic Signature Confirmation is $1.75 (vs. $0.19 for Delivery Confirmation). Of course, eBay is not perfect, and they would be very smart to bring back negative feedback for buyers. My main gripe with ebay buyers are, first of all, the ones who make an offer by e-mail lower than your auction's minimum bid, or make a lower offer and suggest you post a Buy It Now. My other gripe is with the buyers who bid the minimum, and then keep raising their maximum bid about every 60 seconds in the last 15 minutes of an auction. This creates another posted bid at the same price each time they do that, and I've had auctions with almost 10 bids at the same price from the same buyer near the end. Why do they do this? To intimidate and scare away other potential bidders before they've had a chance to look carefully at the bids. When the next buyer who arrives sees lots of bids there already, he may think the auction's going to be too expensive. Of course, this is a form of cheating. But these are not major problems. Yes, eBay does take a lot of work and attention to detail. Yes, you have to watch your back. But as P.T. Barnum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute," and it seems they're all waiting, bless their hearts, to buy your old junk on eBay.
***
There is simply nowhere else like eBay! It really works for us and our merchandise, and we love the community there. We found so many of our dearest friends on eBay, and it has given us a wonderful lifestyle that allows my husband and I to be together all day long. I also am a firm believer in eBay's Community Values; no other site has so firm a foundation, if they even have a foundation at all. The other sites are gadflies compared to the behemoth known as eBay. EBay brings us the world, both as sellers and as buyers! I purchase almost everything I need or want on eBay as well as being a seller with shooting star feedback in our own account, a Top Rated Silver PowerSeller for a client's account, and an eBay Education Specialist. You could say I am living the eBay life!
***
A new shopper will be a while discovering all of the sophisticated bells and whistles available to them, yet, as a new shopper, they can still easily use and therefore discover those intricacies over time. They continually work to protect buyer and seller, in ways that have flaws in terms of unintended consequences, but in ways that assure a shopper that fraudulent and larcenous sellers just can't last long. I know no other site that vets it's selling partners so thoroughly and demands such accountability.
***
I really like the 100 free 99 cent auctions per month. Those work well for me. Otherwise I find their listing fees are too high. I can't make any money when I have to pay a listing fee and the item doesn't sell. I started getting a lot less hits on my listings since they changed their policy to the Trusted Seller policy and give those listings more exposure since I am not a Trusted Seller. Thank goodness they had free listing fees the last couple of months, otherwise I would already experimenting with selling on other on-line venues more. I expect I may very soon have to look for other selling websites if they do not lower their listing fees to reasonable levels.
***
After being on eBay for 11 yrs & having a store since 2006, the only thing that makes it worth while to stay is the market volume that the site allows me to reach. There's nothing comparable especially for railway antiques & collectibles. Otherwise, the hassles of Feedback, automated software that targets sellers unfairly and the very pro-customer at the cost of the seller attitude is killing me. They are somewhat easy to approach & seem genuinely trying to help, but I have a lot of fighting with them to accomodate any concessions in my favor when something goes wrong with some exceptions. I'm so glad I don't sell in the music/dvd/electronics markets cuz I'd be out of biz in no time! Recent appeals with eBay hopefully will come back in my favor & my Powerseller & Top Rated rankings will be restored. If not I won't be able to continue on eBay. I'll have to switch to a stand alone website for my sales & pay for advertising what I was spending at eBay.
***
Ebay has high fees, but I get the highest volume of sales from ebay. They are all about the Buyer and have little protection for the Seller. Their customer service is good for easy questions but if a seller has a real problem with a transaction or a buyer - the customer service stinks! Ebay does communicate well with the sellers and lets us know well in advance of any changes. It has many user friendly features - especially for store owners. And I would recommend it simply because of how many people shop there and potentially a seller can make a lot of money.
***
I consistently sell things on ebay. Not so with almost all of the other selling sites I've tried. As far as making a profit, I have a lot to learn. Customer service to a buyer is great on ebay. Not so much as a seller. Probably because I still have a lot to learn. The site is fairly easy to use, though with my old, slow computer a lot of the links don't work. The only reason I would recommend ebay is because I actually have sold things, even if at a loss. Although the leaving of the feedback, even though mine is all good at this time is a real pain in the neck. I must say I've had a lot of fun buying and selling on ebay
***
Ebay is great. There are so many users that you can make a profit. Their customer service is ok, but they tend to screw over sellers in favor of buyers. They should provide customer service equally to both buyers and sellers. Their fees are high and they force you to use PayPal whose fees are also high.
***
Ebay is my primary selling outlet and where I make the most sales. The seller support is kinda lacking if you try to contact a rep or send an email. You just get sent on the endless link to automatic help pages. Cost for selling on ebay is really too high.
***
Have used eBay to sell off my mother's antiques & collectibles for the last 5 yrs - went from a regular marketplace to one clearly working in favor of the buyer, no matter how larcenous they may be. Buyer's remorse backed by eBay / Paypal is the new name of the game. Crooked buyers flock to eBay, since they will be welcomed with open arms. It is no longer attracting the type of buyer interested in paying a fair price for antiques: their fees are out of control and their customer base is dwindling. Not a happy experience for anyone I know. not profitable since every stolen/ unjustly refunded item eats away at any profitability. Have to do the work to set up in another marketplace - just don't have the time.
***
Ebay is extremely congested with sellers/products making it much more difficult to sell your product. As a seller, it's hard to get buyers to leave you feedback. I sold 6 items in the month of December and only received 1 feedback and that's only because I sent a email out as a curtesy customer service asking for response. Being new on Ebay with no feedback I believe makes it harder to sell. I would most likely send my friends to a less congested site so they are not sitting there searching and searching, page after page. Ebay does have great customer service for their sellers, step by step instructions as to what steps you need to take after a sale etc.
***
Ebay has plenty of traffic and is profitable, but trying to keep up with the constant changes has been a nightmare. With fees steadily rising and seller benefits decreasing it is not worth the time it takes to comply with every new whim they come up with. I would recommend it for occasional sellers, but for someone trying to maintain an online store.
***
eBay's Customer Service has gone dramatically downhill this past year. As a Silver Level Powerseller, I find this completely unacceptable. While the site is fairly easy to use, I do occasionally want to speak with someone in Customer Service and eBay has made it very difficult to actually connect with someone. Telephone wait times are excessive and unmanageable for me. E-mail communication is often completely unavailable. Live Chat doesn't work properly for me (or wait times are unmanageable). Also, I find eBay's Top Rated Seller program and DSR metrics to be poorly thought out and implemented - something that alienates many sellers. I resent what feels like an extortion racket to get me as a seller to offer free shipping and jump through other hoops. I am completely at the mercy of a tiny minority of buyers whose ratings may be very subjective - not only can those buyers then trump otherwise high DSR ratings across the board, but lack of accompanying explanations or information can make it impossible to understand why a low rating may have been left. eBay's attitude is that the seller's performance is always the issue and that is NOT the case. Overall, eBay demonstrates a fairly poor attitude toward its sellers. I can still make money there so I do - but I've turned a lot of my business to other venues with good results.
***
It has the most traffic for our items but they took away account managers for platinum power sellers and hired a new group of CSRs that know less about ebay than we do and speak in platitudes like Paypal used to...the automotons all giving different answers without thinking it through ( I guess that is the ebay culture lately). They have made some improvement like buyers can't leave negative if they never pay (what a concept) and other seller friendly tweaks but although this was not our best year on ebay (probably because we use other venues) it always has the most traffic for our products and the customers are mostly very nice - really and experienced and thrilled to get a deal.
***
Ebay is still a fairly good site for me; I may be in the minority I guess. It is definitely not as good as formerly. The emphasis on cheap items and free shipping makes it harder for a serious seller to compete. But I have some repeat customers, collectors who come back over and over, and they understand what they are buying and what they are paying for. I think Ebay is declining and I am starting to promote my other site more. For the fees they charge, they should be doing more to help us sellers.
***
The cost of selling on eBay is so high now. The cost of the store front, the cost of listings, the cost of commission, then Paypal, then your responsible for insurance. But they are the best place if selling antiques or collectables. Personally I buy nothing new there anymore, I'm a member of Amazon Prime Club for the free shipping. So I don't buy anything new there either from the independent sellers. Most of my sales are now fixed price when before it use to be auctions. 75+% of my auction listings go unsold.
***
Ebay is no longer the site for small to medium sellers it used to be. Ebay now favours the big retailers while using the smaller sellers to keep counts & monies up. Small to medium sellers get a second rate service with higher fees to pay, numerous relist fees due to lower visibility placement, while the Big Retailers get better search placement due to the manipulated Best Match search past sales criteria, gain more sales due higher search placement & pay lower fees.. Retailers get More advertising, promotion.
***
Theres no such thing as Worldwide visibility as ebay used to proudly advertise. In fact some sellers do not experience Countrywide visibility, Geographic sales, server blackouts. No I would not recommend to anyone that they sell on ebay.
***
Too heavily weighted towards the buyers/bidders but it's still the best place to make consistent sales. The rating system is a joke and completely in the control of the buyers who can destroy a seller's reputation on a whim. Seller fees need to be lowered, at least during this tough economy when we sellers are taking hits on final auction prices realized. Seller customer service is frustrating and for the most part useless.
***
Too buyer oriented, too much canned messages, more and more expensive. I've been using since 2004, but getting out slowly but surely after 50000 sales on ebay
***
I've used ebay for 12 years now. Profitability was very good 1999-2004. After that it's been steadily decreasing. Customer service is not very good and the environment that was initially friendly and fun is now lacking. It's turned into a big reseller venue.
***
As a seller on eBay since 1997, I must say that the sell-through rates for high-end vintage collectibles have become so abysmal I have decided that I will NEVER AGAIN pay for listing fees on eBay. If they have free listings I will list 50k or 100k worth of merchandise and sell a few things. Without free listings any profit goes to the listing fees for all of the items that didn't sell. Stores into core has been a disaster, making it much harder for buyers to find quality auction items. I am much more active as a buyer on eBay these days than as a seller. I am selling much more on my own web site than on eBay. Lately I've had a number of expensive items sell from my web site that got no interest from buyers on eBay after many tries on eBay over many years. This year I'm going to put more effort into selling on my web site and less effort into creating eBay auctions. eBay & PayPal fees are way too high for the diminishing pool of serious buyers eBay provides.
***
Little response from eBay when needed. Overload of sellers from China/HongHong have ruined the CD/DVD selling. Sellers who list books or less than $1 (many that cost $25-$45 originally) have ruined the market for those who want to offer a fair price ($5-15) for books that are like new.
***
Auctions are an important part the types of merchandise I sell and eBay is still the best venue for auctions. So, I still use them for auctions and enclose a flier with coupon to advertise my online store. But the prices they charge are insane, especially for Fixed Price and Store items. Especially considering the lack of service they provide to the smaller seller.
***
Ebay in its new incarnation is a terrible place to sell. Very hostile environment and has its beleaguered sellers forced to beg on their listings for good ratings so they can afford the fees. I walked away from a power seller status and a preferred seller ribbon because I couldn't stand the rules and regs, the attitude, and the "best match" algorithm that killed my sales.
***
eBay has gotten more difficult to use and much more expensive. I'm a TRS and until early summer my stuff showed up well, first page, in my category. Since they best match algorithm change I had no items in the first 1000 listings for my category until I revised them, lots of extra work. They added so many features that their listing tools have gotten cumbersome. I love the fact I can put photos on eBay for free - big time and $$ saver - that was a very good change. I do not like how they separated shipping costs into a separate tab. I sold about twice as much on eBay as my other site in 2010 but my costs were much much higher. TIAS fees are 10% but eBays average 21% for me - very high, and that's before PayPal. I would not sell on eBay if it were not for the fact that they still get customers. I do a ton of marketing myself, including google ppc and blogging and social media and newsletters and my single biggest gripe about eBay is that their marketing message (It's cheap on eBay) conflicts with my core message. Since when did everyone decide that eBay is supposed to be bargain basement? I can go to walmart if I want imported chinese junk.
***
I have been a member of Ebay since 1998. I have done a lot of buying on Ebay, but some selling as well. My items used to get a lot of views and bids. Now they do not. I am afraid of being scammed by the buyer because so many people have been. The listing process is difficult, and expensive. The seller cannot leave honest feedback for the buyer, so the playing field is uneven.
***
Used to enjoy all aspects and would recommend. Now find it so full of rules, I'd only recommend to a patient and experienced seller. Not much fun anymore.
***
Store fees still too high.
***
Ebay nickles and dimes you to death. Their customer service is horrible. It is not a seller friendly venue.
***
eBay has gotten too complicated and too suspicious of its own sellers.
***
Way too expensive to sell. Rules keep changing. Can't accept check or money order for sales.
***
eBay has become a dumping ground for big box retailers and Chinese merchants who sell poorly made knock-offs. The eBay search algorithm essentially ignores small sellers and eBay does NOTHING to help small sellers. For a small 9 year Power seller with over 3000 positive only feedbacks eBay has become a grueling exercise in futility and excessive fees and . It no longer is my primary selling venue and I use it mostly - with email's, to my customers promoting my own and other web based selling sites. In the end Whitman and Donahue will have lots of money and eBay will be but a sad memory.
***
Ebay has gotten too involved with the big boys, and that leaves us mom and pops out in the cold. Found other venues, but must admit am looking again at Ebay this year to sell vintage books... we'll see how it goes... not very hopeful.

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.

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About the author:

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


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