eBay Tips 2008: Other Marketplaces and Channels

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It’s totally right and natural for any eBay seller to want to find profits and growth in other marketplaces. However, it’s at that point that many draw a blank. There has been a tendency for new sites to seek to become the ‘eBay killer’ with a strategy fuelled by antipathy or anger resulting from site changes or fee increases. That’s never going to be a recipe for success. You just can’t out-eBay eBay. Those that are trying aren’t getting cut-through or delivering results for sellers, as far as I can see.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places online to do business. Moreover, I think in 2008 we’ll start seeing very credible challenges to eBay’s hegemony. Google will doubtless become more important in the future as an ecommerce driver but whilst some sellers do report good sales from feeding their inventory in, it’s not moving the dial for many. Yet.

The surprise success and challenge is coming from Amazon. In recent months I’ve heard some very positive stories from sellers , especially stateside, who have had a stellar Christmas thanks to Amazon. There are grumbles too, of course: fixed, dictate postage costs and it seems to be a very price sensitive market. But all that said, if you sell relevant goods, think Amazon if you want an additional outlet.

But for my money, looking ahead and Google aside (and I’m still sceptical they equal to the task), the bigger opportunity for eBay sellers will be with small niche marketplaces. It’s always seemed to me that eBay’s ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t give anyone a snug fit. Tailored, specific channels honed for specialisms and built by experts could see strong growth in 2008 and beyond. As an example, check out etsy.com. It’s a really interesting, innovative market for crafts. It’s easy to imagine a site like this (and a thousand others)finding traction, attracting a dedicated following and delivering sales.

3 Responses

  1. I know that when I decided to sell online back in 2002, I looked at all the sites that were then available, and the ONLY one that had any buyers at all was eBay.

    Amazon is now creeping into the frame, although it is still not suitable for every category, but apart from them, my view is still as it was 6 years ago.

    Ebay is still streets ahead of anything else.

    Etsy does look good, and has a good USP. Other auction sites have tried to niche other categories, but with limited success at present. Other than viral marketing (as this for Etsy) how can they afford to market themselves sufficiently to catch up on the big players?

    Very chicken and egg imho.

  2. Aha, you are right Dan, I certainly didn’t spot this before in amongst the welter of other announcements!

    I agree that Amazon has been quietly sneaking up on the outside over the last year, many ebay sellers seem to have established a presence there.

    I’m all for not keeping my eggs in one basket, but one of the issues (particularly as a sole trader) is the time needed to invest in and maintain a new channel, including getting familiar with the listing / administrative processes, and probably the most challenging is stock management (talking myself into a Channel Advisor subscription here 😆 ).

    However, I think you could well be right about the importance in future of smaller niche sites, and maybe I need to make the time to investigate more. I have heard of etsy – there is also a very much smaller and less established auction site called craftjumble in my field too.

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