Why I'll still be selling on eBay in 2009

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It’s a new year and the first day back to work for millions of workers in the UK. With much of the country looking at a fresh start it’s time to review my online selling options. Somewhat surprisingly with the maturity of the Internet they’re still limited when looking at time and cost investments against potential profits.


There’s no question about it, eBay is still the premier online shopping destination for millions of buyers in the UK and around the world and it’s simply too big not to embrace at least as a part of your online presence.

The other online options just don’t stack up to being viable alternatives. eBid just doesn’t produce the sales (I keep waiting in hope but I’m not investing huge amounts of time until they have some buyers).

Amazon is great and performing well…. so long as you sell media, consumer electronics, clothes, tools etc, preferably new. It’s not so great if you have small quantities of obscure second user computer equipment.

Bonanzle is looking hopeful for a start up, but they’re based in the US and quite frankly who’s heard of them (bar disgruntled eBay sellers)? They’re doing fantastically well for a start up, but until they have a large volume of regular buyers it’s not realistic to hope to generate a real income from the site.


I’ve been told countless times I should have my own website, and I largely agree. However selling second user products doesn’t lend itself to splitting merchandise across sites which is another reason for my not using alternative auction sites.

If I split the stock I’ve got to decide which products to have on eBay and which to have on my own website. For most of the lines I hold I only have one or two of each item and if it was listed on multiple sites I’d then have to delete products as they sold. It’s simply too much work for too little return and just doesn’t make sense for my main eBay ID.

Expansion on eBay

I’ve barely scratched the surface of selling on eBay and there are three main ways I could expand:

1) Expand the number of listings
Expanding listing numbers is easy, although eBay are about to limit sellers to a single fixed price listing per product they will still allow up to 14 concurrent auctions for each item. There’s a truism on eBay that the more listings you have the more you’ll sell and except under extreme circumstances when you flood a category that still holds true.

2) Expand onto new eBay sites
It always amazes me how many sellers expand off eBay without first expanding internationally. For UK sellers this is easy, eBay Ireland is just a stones throw across the Irish sea, eBay.com, Canada and Australia are all English speaking sites so there are no language barriers.

Currently I don’t even ship outside the UK. I could expand by shipping to the EU, ship to the rest of the world and then start listing on other eBay sites for an instant increase in sales. Not all of the products I sell are suitable for sale overseas, but for many it’s simply supply an alternative power cord and the product is good to go.

3) Expand into totally new products
This is pretty much the equivalent to starting over on eBay. Everything you’ve done for your existing eBay business you do again, but on a new product line and on a new User Id. Simply build a new business from scratch, you’ve done it once, why not do it again?

Although it might be tempting to simply open a new eBay ID and list the same or similar products (which is also a valid tactic, e.g, one ID with charged shipping, a competing ID with free shipping), a totally new product line from new suppliers will add a genuine new income stream.


eBay has changed massively over the last year, and will continue to do so in the future. We already know that new listing templates, new My eBay and new P&P policies are coming in the New Year. Trading on the site has become more complicated, but it’s also (with the last fee changes) become more cost effective too. For sellers who embraced the changes with 30 day multiple quantity listings, selling fees have invariably tumbled.

The site might change and the fees might go up or down a little but the opportunities for selling on eBay are almost limitless and there are still plenty of buyers. That’s why I’ll still be selling on eBay in 2009 and beyond.

21 Responses

  1. lets face it for many having your own web site ,is only possible, if used in tandem with ebay
    many suffer delusion as to a web sites use and profitability
    if your joe soap sticking your snout in the slop, with all the other little pigs ebays unbeatable

  2. I would have to disagree, if you want to drive sales on then a website is a MUST, plus its much more profitable than selling on a market place.

    Since being kicked off ebay last year I have learnt so much about the world outside of it and its a wonderful place. A good website won’t cost that much and there are lots of places you can have one set up within hours! Write some good text, keyword rich and also research your market and what customers are looking for and they will come and they will buy!

    Our profit since being kicked off has almost doubled! I am not saying don’t sell on ebay but you should have your own site it takes alot less work than ebay I can tell you!

    Plus I’m not delusional I’m living it and I am not putting all my eggs in one place!!!!


  3. I think – as always – it depends what you sell. If it’s all one-offs and collectables – as it is for Norf and often for Chris – then a website is less obviously a solution if the eBay sales are there. If you have replicable stock, as Stuart does, as I do, as some of Chris’s stuff is, then having a website is a no-brainer.

    There’s also the repeat customer question. I’m certainly not going to put effort into bringing back customers to my eBay store when for the same effort I could save myself the 15% eBay fees and have them come back to my website.

    But I suspect that people who say they don’t *want* a website will never be convinced. Good luck to them.

  4. its not that I dont want a website! I want anything thats cost effective and profitable
    we are no strangers to web sites
    we have state of the art web sites for the things we dont ,or wont sell ,on ebay,
    its more we dont need a website! for what we sell on ebay,
    I would rather pay ebay ยฃ1000 And do ยฃ50.000 worth of Business
    as Have a web site for the same stock that cost little, but did little or nothing,

  5. I suppose its true Sue, however people have to start searching somewhere and its often google and if you are selling one off’s on ebay like collectables then these could be found on your website to…

    A possible idea is that I am guessing you don’t flood the market with your items so you could put it on your website first then onto ebay when your ready, you can then just copy and past the details over……

    Also it maybe worth just having a holding page for your company name, as people who see this on ebay will search on google for you as well. Then just have some bumf about you, maybe a newsletter sign up, then push people to your ebay store, plus if you use the affliate scheme earn some money to!

    But as you say Sue you wont change people who don’t want a website but all I can say is its amazing…………..get one! lol


  6. If I were Northy or Chris, I would have a website, extolling the virtues of what I do, how good I am, how experienced I am, what I sell, what I can get for you at the very best prices etcetc etc,

    Then a have a HUMUNGOUS ePN tracked link.or banner to my eBay auctions.

    If they cannot buy from the website (and I understand why with one-offs) why not generate some traffic, send them to ebay and get paid for it?

  7. websites are far more flexible to launch new products than ebay as it all gets lost in catergories with no way to highlight effectively and you are also less able to link products in an effective way and stay within the ebay selling rules.

    that said ebay is now as cheap / cheaper than google to list common product conversion costs wise since they saw the light and removed the high up front costs.
    from something we dropped a few months ago to something that look positively foward thinking now, we are planning to eBay for the foreseable future here.
    roll on free p+p and only 1 listing per item.

  8. great idea eddie
    but there is only so much time in the day, and so many balls you can keep up in the air at once,
    we have done it all in the past,

    full page adds in the yellow pages,, radio adverts, etc etc

    the tail starts to wag the dog, and you end up working for the business rather than the the other way on, if your not careful

  9. We are currently developing our website and will be selling EXACTLY the same inidividual items on there as on Ebay.

    So we will see how it goes.

    Whenever I hear, “that will not work”, I suspect an opportunity, as that means a lot of people will think the same way…


  10. A website is cheap and very easy. You can list on the big sites and let your buyers know you have your own website. You could sell on other sites like SeeAuctions.com for free

  11. #11 I have no doubt in my mind that it “can work”. My problem is that fast moving items sell on eBay so I need do nothing extra for those products. Slow moving items get exposure on eBay, every day some sell and a lot don’t. If I knew which ones would sell I’d be a genius but I’m not. Now on a website I’d constantly be deleting what sold today on eBay and vice versa. To be honest I’m unconvinced that the time element would make it a worthwhile exercise and besides…. I can sell more on eBay than I can list and pack ๐Ÿ˜€

    #12 eBay is cheap enough – 5p for 30 days, can’t beat it for the traffic it brings. Compare to Google adwords and it’s a bargain ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. #13 I sell more on eBay, but make more on website…Profit is the only factor that interests me.

    Turnover is just numbers, it maybe cheaper to list, but is it cheaper to sell? with your products I have no doubt you have the right formula, but with me I have unlimited supply of the same item so its a no brainer.

    The main thing is we are all happy! I am happy with my channels, you are happy with yours, who has the right to say we are wrong!

  13. Like Chris I often sell second hand one-offs (CDs) so a website isn’t really viable for that. Unfortunately at the level I can manage (along with a well paid full time job) it costs me 10p for 30 days for media and 20p for 30 days for jewellery. Which isn’t that cheap really, when it used to be 3p for 30 days for me. I’m now in the process of reducing the jewellery listings as the best time for jewellery is in the run up to Christmas. When a 30 day lising ends (I’m not using GTC any more at that price) if nothing sold in the last 30 days I’m not renewing the listing. If it didn’t sell before Christmas it’s unlikely to sell now.

    I do keep a much bigger range of stuff on ebid but sales are rubbish. Only 8 items sold there this year! 3 in September made me think it was picking up but then nothing until December (and then only 1). On the other hand when people enquire about whether I can do things that I don’t have on ebay eg a matching bracelet or something in another colour, I direct them to ebid and several times they have come back with a list of things they want to buy – they don’t buy on ebid (presumably because they don’t have an account) they just ask me for a price inc postage and buy directly from me. So I think in that way it works almost like a website for the jewellery. (I do have a website but I just use it to direct people to ebay).

    I’m thinking of trying Etsy for the expensive labour intensive beadwork I do that I have nbo chance of selling on ebay – Etsy seems like it might be a much better bet for stuff like that now that I don’t do many craft fairs. And I’ve been told about Folksy.com – seems to be a new site, a sort of UK version of Etsy – anyone tried either of these?

    But despite my whingeing I’m still here and still selling on ebay so something must be working somehow. I’ll keep listing and hoping until the stuff stops selling.

  14. Kate, I think your jewellery would do very well on Etsy. Handmade isn’t competing with mass-manufactured on there, so things tend (as far as a I can see) to sell for prices that take their labour-intensive creation into account.

  15. We sell all one-off items (vintage clothing) and we put all our inventory on eBay and our own website, concurrently. 18 months ago 100% of our takings were on eBay, now it’s 60% eBay and 40% website (including about 10% over the phone). Our business has doubled in that time (certainly not all due to the website – we also invested in a Frooition design for the eBay shop and sourced better quality items – but it’s certainly bought in cuustomers who tell us that they never use eBay). We’re happy to let customers decide ‘where’ they want to buy from. As an incentive to switch from eBay we offer free UK delivery if purchasing through the website – effectively passing on the fee savings.

    It’s important to understand, as Chris says, the extra work involved in doing this. We prepare the ebay listing first, submit it and then ‘paste’ into our website. It adds 3 minutes to each listing. Remembering to delete sold stock from the ‘other channel’ is the hardest part, and we have been caught out a couple of times, so we’re lucky to have such friendly and understanding customers.

    To us, it’s worth the extra work for two reasons:

    1. Having your own website and maintaining it properly with stock and fresh content establishes you as a serious operation and builds your own brand seperate from eBay.
    2. We decided that having our entire business at the mercy of eBay policy changes was a risk that’s just not sustainable – financially or emotionally.

    There’s certainly a gap in the software market for a system that automates stock control between auction sites and own website(s). Also, the hardest part of running your own website is marketing – small sellers should form alliances to drive business at manageable cost.

  16. we dont list anything on ebay unless we think it will sell

    so listing it in 2 places would be barmy

  17. There is more than one flag flying from the roof tops of Castle Northumbrian, rumour has it his sporan is adorned with the eBay crest?

    I imagine it would be easier to convince Norf to move to London rather than get a website ๐Ÿ˜†

  18. I want to have a website but what is the most cost effective way of doing it if you dont have any HTML knowledge and you want to make sure the site keeps running without having any technical skill.

    I have spoken to Channel Advisor but they want ยฃ300 pm + a percentage of sales and this wont work for me.

    I sell consumable goods and can direct cutomers from ebay to my website for future purchases.

    I see that Auctivia will be doing one soon which seems good

    I look forward to hearing your advice!



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