I’ve spoken to a few people recently who’ve had something like this to say: “I’m a tiny eBay merchant. I can’t keep up with the requirements of TRS and Best Match, never mind meet the criteria I need to win on eBay these days. It’s no fun anymore. But I like running my little online shop. I’m not big enough to justify a great big website (I only sell a couple of things a week). What can I do?” One new possibility is Shoply.
Shoply is designed to offer small merchants the chance to have an online presence with absolutely no technical expertise required. You can have an online store open in literally less than a minute. A basic shop, allowing you to list up to ten items, is free; paid-for versions with higher stock levels are “coming soon”. There’s integration with Twitter and Facebook allowing you to promote what you’re selling to your networks, and more basic bookmarking integration with a whole host of other social media sites. You can create custom pages within your shop for T&Cs and other extra content. PayPal payments are integrated.
It’s neat, it’s quick, it’s very, very easy. But I’m not convinced it’s a solution. Shoply is incredibly expensive. The shop may be free to open, but it takes a 6% cut of your sale price – and while that’s still cheaper than eBay, add on a £1.29 “basket fee” for every transaction, and the cheaper end of the market suddenly looks like a better deal back on the ‘Bay. Though an upgraded price plan (100 listings: £12.99 per month + 69p basket fee + 3% FVFs) might be a better option for those who are serious about their hobby-selling, compared with say Ebid’s “lifetime fee” of £49.49 and nothing else to pay, it’s still expensive.
It’s early days for Shoply though: lots of their features – e.g. traffic stats – are “coming soon”, so they may well offer something new and exciting further down the line. For now, I think they need to decide who they’re targeting and who they’re competing with. Their “about us” page says:
You could always opt for ebay, but just like us, you know that ebay sucks ass big-time. It’s slow, bloated, kinda ugly, expensive and a real pain to use.
but in a comment on TechCrunch, founder Liad Shababo writes:
Shoply was built as a new market and low-end disruptive innovation and we are going after a market who have either never sold online in their own shops before or who are over-served by their current solutions. I don’t believe we share a market and are not looking to compete with amazon or ebay.
The latter seems like a more realistic goal. The clue is really in Shoply’s unbearably cutesy copy: they’re all about “empowering” people “through the marketplace that is the internet“. (Shoply guys, please hire a decent writer. “Servers are yucky”? Are you serious?!) This is a site for people playing at shops. People selling their own second hand goods might just accept higher prices to do it easily, because they have no alternative except to give it away: Shoply makes it easy to tell your Facebook friends “I’m selling my shoe collection”.