EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 375 - February 08, 2015 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 14

Sellers Choice 2015 Marketplace Ratings: eBay

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2015, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 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 12 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
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Summary:
eBay came in fifth place this year in the Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces, down from third place last year. It scored highest in Ease of Use and Profitability.

There were many reports of a drop in traffic in 2014, not surprising since eBay had a tough year with a major, well publicized data security breach as well as a penalty in Google Search results, leading to an almost stagnant growth rate in the fourth quarter (with executives predicting things would get worse on eBay Marketplaces before they got better).

Sellers also blamed eBay's new Cassini search engine for poor traffic to their listings, and some said it was due to eBay catering to its largest sellers.

There were numerous complaints about eBay's new defect system, the impact of which was felt beginning in August. Unfortunately it's difficult to measure the impact of the new system on eBay's overall sales given the broader problems eBay experienced in Q4, noted above.

Despite the problems with traffic, eBay earned the highest score for Profitability of any marketplaces this year. Many sellers said eBay still had the best traffic and sales when compared to the other venues they'd tried. "Let's face it," one seller said. "eBay is the premiere online shopping experience. Nearly everyone has heard of eBay and many have shopped or sold on its platform before."

But it came at a cost - many complained about high fees, and some sellers said they only list on eBay when they could get free listings.

Some respondents objected to eBay's practice of taking a commission on shipping fees, and numerous respondents said it was tough to be profitable, especially in certain categories.

A number of respondents also said they found eBay changes the rules too frequently, making it difficult to keep track of and comply, and some objected to eBay's policies around seller feedback and ratings. "eBay has the traffic but a very punitive defect system, no room for mistakes, a lot of room for scamming buyers, and horrible, un- and mis-informed Customer Service reps," one seller wrote.

eBay received a 6.41 in Profitability; a 5.15 in Customer Service; a 5.48 in Communication; and a 6.6 in Ease of Use. It received a 5.49 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

eBay is simple and easy to use. Like Amazon, eBay forces shrinkage in inventory based on what customers say, with little or no proof. So in order to stay in good standing, you have to eat a lot of "lost in mail" product. But in the end that's just a tax write off anyway. But the exposure on eBay as far as number of people shopping and looking at product is only second to Amazon. Very happy with eBay over all.

eBay is my primary venue as a seller and their customer service has improved - the fees are still a detriment to profitability.

I've tried other sites since I started selling on eBay in 1997. I only sell antiques and collectables and there still is no site which has the buyers as eBay does. Yes eBay has changed but I've managed to change also and it is still profitable compared to having a brick & mortar antique shop or other websites. Yes eBay and PayPal is a pain for sellers and I complain daily but I still love it....

I enjoy selling on eBay; however, eBay caters more to buyers than sellers. They also override sellers return policies to cater to whining customers whom abuse the buyer protection program.

I feel I do well with my particular "niche market" and my profits are fairly good. It is much more expensive (fees) compared with some other sites, especially for "small sellers", but the cost is acceptable and relative to the "name recognition" and benefits including lots of free pictures. Years ago, much of my profits were eaten with picture fees. Selling online requires lots of pictures. I think that the "search" features could still be greatly improved. I would recommend eBay as a venue to others, however, I would strongly suggest they fully educate themselves with the site and requirements and ask lots of questions. I would also advise that expectations of "high profits" are unrealistic (as a "small seller") as fierce competition and low prices are much of the eBay business model.

Items can sell in 1-3 months at auction but rarely sell for retail price. eBay is relatively easy to use, although the promotional fee rules are hard to figure out. A good place to move inventory, but profit margins are not high. Customer service call-back feature works well, but that may change with announced staff reductions.

CEOs try to make eBay something it is not. I do all my buying on this site and most of my sales volume. I can describe an item as much as I like, which is great for sellers. CSR is easy to reach, but sometimes you have to realize the person in Philippines does not know much about eBay or the USA. Hang up and call again!

eBay is okay when you first get started. Policy changes can make maintaining your seller status difficult. Having to cancel orders can drastically effect your seller status or PayPal standing. Its difficult to build your feedback back up, takes time. eBay does not allow you to upload images on all browsers. eBay protects sellers but favors the buyers. The new return policy "hassle free" I'm not really liking. eBay can be very profitable but it takes time. eBay fees, insertion fees can get to be ridiculous and expensive, can also cut into your profits. People are familiar with eBay so it's a good place to start selling, I'd recommend to a friend.

I have been a long time eBay seller and while I love the upgraded functions, the fees are painful, the requirement to ship within one day in order keep Top Rate Seller discount and status is almost impossible. They do however have the most eyeballs undeniably.

Love selling on eBay, gets more traffic than other platforms. Need some improvement on customer service and more protection for the sellers.

I have had good experiences selling on eBay. I like the free listings provided, but don't like paying 10% fees on shipping fees. Really like the many additional promotions offered to sellers almost every month. Don't like the seller evaluation system.

eBay is a great place for a beginner seller especially with the 50 free listings per month. I recommend eBay to other indie sellers quite often.

eBay was our first site, and is still by far our most profitable site for our business model. They offer great discounts on shipping, and are able to drive high volumes of customers to our listings resulting in high sales.

I love eBay very easy platform to sell on. You can call and speak to someone most are very knowledgeable and very helpful.

eBay, despite all the troubles they place on us sellers has still provided us with our only source of income for over 13 years. If they ever get it all correct, and quit pandering toward the buyers, we will be better off.

Easy to use. I like the extra free listings. They actually listen to you if you have a problem with buyer. The three things I would like to see changed: asking a seller where an item is shouldn't automatically open a case, I'd like to be able to email or chat, and I don't like that for returns your only choice is a full return or ask eBay to step in (on other sites you can take a restocking fee).

I have been with eBay for many years and they have encouraged the growth of my business. They are very supportive to me as a seller and also as a buyer.

Listing has become very easy, Turbo Lister makes listings easier to manage. Communication is lacking in that there is no way to contact except for by phone. Needs an email option!

eBay charges more then I like, but they almost always provide better service compared to the other selling sites (being long established helps them) I am happy with my 1st choice for online selling (it is not always my first buying choice)

While eBay is a good option for selling both used and new items, sales have been extremely slow this past year. The site has been flooded by knockoffs from countries outside of the US and cheap products that have made it more difficult for buyers to find quality items.

Our only negative experience has been with one item line that is reported as counterfeit/ intellectual property violation. Unfortunately there is no recourse for the Seller that is tagged in this manner by the IP holder. We are simply held guilty and the strikes add up. It makes looking into certain product lines not worthwhile since the accusation, not the actuality, can result in our loss of all selling privileges. Also, at one time we had a roommate/ housemate that ran afoul of an eBay policy and they were suspended (rightfully so). However since we shared a street address our account came under examination as well. The call we made to clear things up went unanswered.

I've used eBay for many years; it is great for supplemental income but it's not profitable enough to serve as our primary venue. I am also unable to get the best prices for my products (jewelry) on eBay.

Have been an eBay seller for 15 years but the fees on postage and expensive listing fees mean I now only use it for the 20 free listings

I have had good business with eBay 9% selling fee. Basic store under $20, top seller status nets me a 20% credit on my monthly invoice. However, eBay gives more credit to the buyers and demands the sellers ship within 24 hours to maintain the discount. They demand a lot from me but I average about 10 sales a day.

eBay fees are quite high but they have the traffic and I get results. They are the only ones, so far, that have the traffic and I actually sell items. I am a Top Rated Plus and Powerseller and have been regularly selling there since 2007. eBay has a little bit too much control over sellers. For example, asking us to re-word our listings. I am not perfect but I think I know how to write a title. They ask for variations of my title that make no sense to me. They have been criticized in the past for preferring buyers over sellers but this last holiday season they seem to treat us much better. I wish eBay had a major competitor that would give them a challenge but I don't see anything close to that in the near future.

I feel it is sometimes hard for an item you listed to sell to be really seen by all interested buyers. It seems so many items do not sell or go for the lowest price, no bidding interest to raise the price.

The bad thing about eBay is, out of all the selling venues, it takes a lot of sales commission, meaning it's expensive to sell here, but it provides protection for both sellers and buyers, so that's good.

eBay offers the high traffic needed to run a successful retail business. Their policies and practices for sellers are cumbersome and seem designed to keep more money in eBay's pockets than the sellers. I am also concerned they are catering more towards the larger retailers. It seems to have gotten worse every year.

1) I'm a seller from Germany, I sell on Ebay.com and .uk and some on .de If I have problems, I must customer service in USA or UK calls. eBay advertise in Germany to Sell Worldwide. Customer service Germany can not decide for another country website. 2) Tracking for shipping no.works not in worldwide shipping. Only for country. 3) Seller will ship within 24 hours, to be top sellers. There is no accounting, have the other days in other countries Holidays. Therefore, merchants from other countries, not to be top seller in another country.

eBay is very high in fees but there's no denying the traffic they get. It's worth paying the fees for because it's one of the only places I can actually move product. Other sites just don't have the exposure to buyers.

Only thing I see wrong with eBay is charging a final value fee on shipping I only charge what it costs to ship and ends up cutting into profits that have already been taking out of before. Doesn't seem quite right.

eBay disputes are very unfair to sellers and we lose nearly 100% of the time even when doing everything right according to their rules. There's too much conflict of interest between eBay and PayPal. The two companies need to be independent of one another so they cannot work to collude against sellers and buyers alike.

I have been selling on eBay for years, and actually referred many to sell there. But it is way too hard now, with selling limits for the newbie to do this. Extremely disappointed in the Cassini search. I am paying eBay, and they are throttling my listings. Not to mention, I can not compete with China sellers 99 cent free ship items! My sales are down 2/3!

eBay is my main selling venue, however it's still a horrible venue to sell on. The fees are high, the visibility is disappearing, and the customer service is deplorable. Sellers keep getting protections either lowered or removed. I would NEVER recommend selling on eBay to someone who has little to no e-commerce experience. It's too much of a risk.

The Auction listing format doesn't seem to do very well these days, so I almost always run my listings as Fixed Price. If there was another venue that had a similar layout and got the customer traffic that eBay used to get, I'd move my listings there in a heartbeat.

eBay has made changes making it very difficult for sellers to maintain the high standard they demand. They micro-manage the site and interfere in transactions when they are only supposed to be a venue on which to sell. Large retailers are given preferential treatment and it is no longer an equal playing field. Sales are not nearly as good because it is hard to get good visibility. New policies make sellers an easy mark for scammers. I cannot recommend it for new users unless they have thousands of items to list. Defects can knock new sellers out of the ballpark in only a few transactions.

eBay is a very competitive site. It has become more like a large flea market where a lot of foreign sellers have a distinct advantage over U.S. sellers in terms of cheap merchandise and subsidized shipping.

eBay works well for what I sell. They seem to be very search engine friendly and have excellent inventory and tracking tools. The "defect" rating system is arbitrary and punitive, but I guess I can live with that.

EBay is our primary platform. Customer service is extremely spotty; I'll often have to wait on hold forever to have CS solve a problem that should have been able to be handled with software. The amount of time spent on hold with eBay is ridiculous, but once I get through, the communication is usually excellent. However, I am fortunate enough to qualify for Top Customer Care now; before I received TCC, I would have rated communication much lower.

Like Amazon, eBay is profitable, but they play so unfair with sellers. Someone raises an Item Not Received claim when tracking proves otherwise, and eBay leaves that defect the buyer left on the seller's account. I even got a defect caused by their "Global Shipping Program" which they were supposed to be responsible for and they never removed it. It's a nightmare to get in touch with them because you can't email or chat and phone takes forever at times. Their reps are so unprofessional and inconsiderate when you try to claim your case using all the logic in your power. PayPal may be better at protecting the seller than Amazon, but eBay put a lot of defects on a seller's account and leaves unjustified feedback when the seller is not at fault. Very ungrateful to the seller, as Amazon, and they abuse their power.

I've sold a lot but the fees eat up the profit. The site is easy to use, but there's too much competition so it's hard to sell at much of a profit. The customer service was very nice and informative. They have that going for them.

Love selling on eBay but some stuff is still so hard as a seller to figure out. They like to "qualify" you and most times incorrect but have to wait for their next 3 month review and hope/wish it gets better for them to help advertise your items.

When customer's return items, eBay does not allow partial refunds,...

eBay brings the most customers for me, so it is where I sell the most. I'm not thrilled with their Customer Service, which is mainly handled overseas and not in the US and I don't like the regulations they place on smaller sellers like myself.

eBay has a lot of traffic and might be good for small sellers. However, there has been a lot of changes going on with their website. It's hard to keep up with some of the changes. Also, I don't like how they now require the seller to pay return shipping cost for returns. They have also really started micro managing sellers with the use of defect rates when determining evaluations.

eBay has become everything Pierre Omidyar wished that it wouldn't become. It isn't a friendly place anymore. Sellers are guilty for any ill that the buyer has. International sellers are using multiple accounts for the same item and diluting the search. USPS didn't help things out by offering ePacket shipping from China. ePacket makes it cheaper to ship stuff to the USA (6000 miles), that it does for me to ship it across town. That is a problem.

We have sold on eBay for years. Over that time, it seems to have gotten more buyer friendly than seller friendly. I believe it should be a friendly atmosphere for both buyers and sellers. I recommend eBay to others, but I am concerned that sellers are no longer treated well with eBay. Without good sellers, you don't get good buyers.

I have been selling on eBay for 10 years. Very easy to use. Make changes all the time that are a pain sometimes. They definitely are on the buyer's side in almost every situation... making it hard for sellers. They have often times agreed that I should return something outside of my return policy but eBay made it clear that should I receive a bad feedback for saying "no returns after 14 return day"... I am stuck with it... so sellers are always in a position of refunding money.

I feel it has become easier to use but don't really care for the suggestions to make selling more profitable-they didn't work (such as more international listings, free shipping offers, .99 auction starts). I did much better setting my own rules.

Selling fees are too high. This site is seller unfriendly and sellers are forced to only accept PayPal. Customer service has left me on hold for over 4 hours on three occasions, to the point where I just have to hang up because their representatives intentionally ignore to address any issues that I may have as a seller. This site also charges sellers 10% of the price we charge for shipping. This is unethical behavior. eBay has been going downhill since 2008. Listing items is too time consuming due to adding item specifics to listings.

I sell antiques and there are too many fees eBay charges which make selling on it unprofitable or very close to it. I do not like that they also charge a fee on the shipping cost as well. I make it a company policy not to charge the customer more than what it actually costs us to ship the item so with the eBay commission fee including the shipping cost, this is actually eating into the profit, making this venue truly unappealing. eBay contacted me claiming they were going to give me recommendations for helping increase sales but instead it was really a way for them to try and essentially sell me on more of their programs (which have monthly fees). The consultant did not gear any of her recommendations towards the type of merchandise I was selling (antiques) and clearly was not listening to a word I was saying but following a preconceived sales pitch.

Fees are too high. Listing is easy, lots of good features even for small sellers like me. Not nearly as much traffic and views as in the past; dropped off considerably since winter 2014. I don't know why. Taking away my Top Seller status due to me not selling 100 or more items per year was unfair. Lots of things are designed for big sellers on eBay but very few for occasional or small sellers. But the biggest problem is fees are too high. Cost to sell on eBay is the highest of all selling venues I use. Changes that hurt small sellers are biggest reasons I only sell on eBay once in a while now.

Good traffic and steady sales. Very difficult to navigate rules, policies and buyer fraud is eminent. Not a good place to sell high-value items.

eBay policies regarding selling in certain categories as it relates to listing is confusing and results in charges being accumulated. Additionally I swear that the database adds listing upgrades to trick the user. Seller fees are too high. Activity notifications are annoying and I cannot opt out.

Antiques & Vintage are loaded with new merchandise. Architectural hardware is often new. Very tough to compete, when brand new merchandise is filling up a category. eBay has always been poor regarding removing offenders. Only Etsy is worse. Too many links taking buyers away. Too many competitors on your screen. Treatment of small sellers is still the worst of any of the sites. Etsy in a close second place.

eBay's defect system needs to go, but in spite of the ridiculous changes they keep making, it still remains a "go to" site for buyers, so I'm forced to either conform to their ideas for MY business or fold shop and leave. I don't like that at all and don't like how they are continually putting the squeeze on us. Other than that, I love eBay.

I am a full time seller on eBay. It is easy to navigate and sell on, but sales for most sellers have dropped since they started used Cassini. You have to work twice as hard to sell the same amount. I have had nothing but good experiences when dealing with their CS.

Return policy invites fraud. No ability to give a negative feedback rating for Crazy buyers, reporting them does no good,...

As in the past, eBay is the biggest and so they do have the largest user base. With that said they charge the most in seller fees and every time you turn around they are coming up with new schemes on ways of getting more fees out of their sellers. I really liked eBay before they were sold into the corrupt "corporate world" where money rules. I am continually looking for other sites that provide the experience that eBay use to offer. Have not found it yet.

I was once a Gold power seller with 6 full time employees. Now I am bankrupt and ruined because eBay has refused for 2.5 years to show my listing in eBay search. 100% of my online sales were on eBay. I hate eBay forever and will never like the brand name.

Great customer service, made a lot of sales. Had a few issues with buyer's open up cases in the past without merit. Buyers should be required to contact you before they can be able to open a case against you.

I finally quit after nearly 15 years as a 100% feedback, Top 2%, (according to their CS agents), TRS with 5 stars in all categories. The stress from squeezing small sellers and continual micromanaging was insane. I was petrified every time a member I didn't know bought something. eBay has become a hostile environment. I rarely ever buy there anymore, either. They can't see that the very sellers they are driving away are also their most avid buyers. Target won't be buying anything. It's pathetic.

eBay is easy enough to learn how to use and is still one of the main selling platforms on the internet. eBay could use some help in the communication department when it comes to informing sellers of outages and disruptions of service etc. Also they once again need to revamp their seller rating system for defects, etc.

A truly international site, modified for each country. However, as they have been doing for years, they keep tweaking it to the detriment of the small seller, making it less and less profitable. But it's still the best place to sell because it's the best known.

eBay is my biggest platform as far as sales. However, the fact that they consistently change rules and side with buyers in disputes makes it a difficult place to count on as far as trying to grow a business.

Fees for everything, including shipping. Everytime I turn around there is another FEE!

I am slowly shying away from eBay. The fees have gotten out of control and reputable sellers aren't protected like they used to be. There are too many buyers out there who "scam" the system and give negative ratings to respectable sellers and eBay will almost always side with the buyer. I'm no longer faithful to eBay.

eBay has a large audience but there is a lot of competition selling the same items at prices that are impossible to match for the small seller also the high fees mean that unless you are selling very unusual, high ticket items most of the profit is swallowed up with fees.

I've been selling on eBay since 2001. I now work harder, jump through hoops to comply with eBay's micromanaging, and make a fraction of the money that I used to. My profits have eroded to approximately 70% of what they should be. Example: I would normally sell about 30 items per week during the month of December. This year, I had a total of 30 sales for the entire month despite working harder than ever. eBay's visibility is a crap shoot and their continuous changes are mind boggling. By the way, I have always had TRS status with 100% positive feedback. However, most of my listings are relegated to the end of the search list. Calls to eBay customer service are a waste of time. They are ill equipped to answer any common question. When asked why my listings are showing up last in Best Match (remember, I have TRS status) I was told that even new sellers need a fair chance. It's blatantly obvious that eBay no longer wants to retain small sellers. They are Amazon wannabes, which will never happen. However, they (eBay) are what I consider an "also ran." That is, they will not be the winner of the selling race, but can simply say they also ran without ever being the winner. My goal for 2015 is to start selling on other venues and eventually say good riddance to eBay.

We have been selling on eBay since 2005 and earned TRS rating without interruption from the beginning of the program. However our traffic has declined more than 70% and sales declined more than 50% year over year for the last 3 years. We are actively beginning to diversify so that we can leave eBay in the rear view mirror. The risk is too great and the reward too little to recommend selling on eBay to anyone.

The open-ended return policy is simply a wide open invitation to scammers. eBay is easy to search but it is my understanding that all search items are not displayed in a search and that certain eBay stores and sellers are given a priority in search. When I am shopping I want to see everything. When I am selling I want my item to be seen...right alongside the items of the big boys.

Had a return issue and the CS insisted that after the package had been scanned the first time at the USPS that I must have picked it off the counter and taken it back home.

eBay is and has been my main channel for the last 14 years. It used to be immensely profitable. I have about 1000 items listed right now and I will be lucky to make enough to cover my fees this month. Somebody turned off the switch. I did receive 3 or 4 defects for items not received (all lost by the post office over the holidays). I refunded for each one but I think that has seriously impacted my visibility and thus my sales.

Great traffic but having to constantly deal with policy changes which are very one-sided is time consuming. I wish some policies would be enforced instead of just adding new ones to the list. I do not like that off-eBay sites are advertised within listings by eBay. Let's keep customers on eBay not direct them elsewhere to shop. Some CS reps really have no clue about the site's policies.

Myriad changing policies and sales schemes; too hard to keep up with the latest requirements. Last year's changes especially - complex restrictions on what constitutes a free listing and overly punitive "defect system" coupled with diminishing customer service makes one wonder why one still uses the site. Search engine is ineffective - either cannot find listings using near exact title words or find so much totally unrelated that search becomes unwieldy. Sellers see fewer and fewer views on items. Final Value Fees on shipping still painful. All that said, still among the best value for FVF and sell through.

Sellers Choice Awards:
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 EcommerceBytes Blog.


About the author:

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


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