Off-eBay sales to eBay buyers – would you?

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. If you don’t have PowerSeller Board access, here’s the jist of the story:

Buyer buys an item, buyer asks seller to add other items to order, seller says “go click BIN in my shop”, buyer doesn’t pay, seller files UID, buyer pays for original item but then leaves neutral feedback complaining that seller wouldn’t add items to order. Seller thinks, “I played by eBay’s rules, why should I get bad feedback for it?”

Now I’m not an eBay seller any more, I can say this in public: I would have done the off-eBay sale every single time. Indeed, I built most of my business doing such deals: “have you got a whatever?” “Not right now, but I’ll get you a whatever from my supplier next week and send you an invoice when I’ve got it.” Not one buyer ever asked me to put it on eBay for them first.

Saying “go and buy it in my shop” when the buyer clearly can’t be bothered to, looks like bad customer service to me. Just like Sainsbury’s staff take you to the right aisle and find the item for you, making it easy for buyers should surely be what it’s all about. And if that means just sending them a PayPal invoice – well, just send them an invoice. You know you’re not going to rip them off, don’t you?

The way I look at it is this: eBay is a customer acquisition tool. It’s a way for buyers to “trial” merchants, to make sure they’re trustworthy (and to have comeback if they’re not) – and if they’re happy, to move on to buying direct. Of course, there’s always the odd buyer who prefers to stick with eBay: I’ll never forget the lady who spent a couple of hundred quid in my eBay Store every month, but who said of my website, “if I can’t neg you, how do I know you’ll send it?” Some people trust no one.

But the seller in the PSB thread feels very differently. She writes:

I use ebay as an honest selling platform, I can hardly moan at ebay for not playing by the rules if i’m not either. I’m honest like that, plus also I believe in educating sellers so other sellers do not have to endure so many newbie buyers getting it wrong time after time, as a seller of low cost items, we get alot of newbies who feel if they are going to get ripped off by the perceived thieves & rogue traders on ebay then it is better for their pocket with such a small amount, consequentgly we have to guide & walkthrough ALOT of first time / low feedback newbie buyers.

So what about you – what would you do? Am I a dishonest rip-off merchant, or just a seller trying to make a buck or two? Be anonymous in our poll, or leave us a comment.

[poll id=”8″]

22 Responses

  1. Sometimes draging ebay buyers away from the eBay comfort zone is like extracting blood from a stone, even with people who have bought from you many times and where it’s cheaper on your web site.

  2. As much as I love website buyers we always encourage eBay sales due to the effect on best match. Sales of an item appears to me to be one of the greatest points scores in the BM game.

  3. Its easier now with the way ebay treat you, Does not make you feel so guilty.

    Also ebay have made it easy (not their doing)by having business sellers phone numbers and email address on all listings

    I have had a few people phone me on an expensive item asking for a non ebay price as they know what final value etc costs and are looking to split the difference.

    reason i say does not make you feel so quilty is for example if you post a box set of DVD,s you are allowed to charge £1 (costs more than that so in effect ebay are making you lose money.
    What goes around comes around etc

  4. I have to say I would rather them buy on ebay, our own website is more expensive and offers top brand goods which we dont sell on ebay due to the fact the ebay users tend to like own brand goods and cheap prices or top brand at cheap prices (we cant do that)

    the way we look at it is ebay customers are like aldi customers and our own website is like waitrose customers.

  5. Most of my regulars know they can get a better deal buying from me direct. So they check out my eBay listings, email me (not via eBay messages) to let me know which items they want, and I email them back a total. I get the same net amount regardless, my customers save 10-15%, a win-win! (Except for eBay of course …)

  6. Ebay to gain customers, website to retain them… That is why we all put flyers in our ebay packages isn’t it?

    We all do that, right?

    Although I do also occasionally request that a purchase is made via eBay, especially for multiple order items, just to get the best match boost.

  7. If we get enquiries for trade or larger quantities, then it’s off ebay.
    We can give better prices & still come out on top.

    Ebays’ display of contact details has pushed our trade business up by over 45% in the last year alone. Those contacts are invaulable & most of the time, there is repeat business time & time again.

    We recently sold 75 of a rack we sell on ebay, ‘privately’, that led onto a very nice string of orders from just about every school in that district. Yes, we sell at a lower price than on ebay, the buyers are happy & we make a better margin.

    As others have said above, after what ebay have done to so many sellers. their lack of support for sellers, I have not 1 shed of guilt within me, whatsoever.

    And our bank balance is looking better all the time….!!

  8. When I originally set up AuctionPax all those years ago – it was designed specifically to capture buyers and make them my own !

    The automated invoice sent was more like a part completed shopping cart – eBay buyers could change quantity, add/remove items etc, then make a payment for the revised total, it worked well until on of my competitors (at the time) made a BIG noise about it, so the the ‘system’ had to be changed

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