Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Do Sellers Stay on eBay?

I am really curious to hear your opinions on why Sellers stay on eBay. There are certainly some obvious reasons, but if you are staying on eBay, please let me know why.

Obvious Reasons to Stay:
  • There is no other viable Auction marketplace.
  • You can't beat the traffic.
  • I can't get into Amazon.
  • It is a great liquidation channel.
  • It is just one marketing channel in my business plan.

Other reasons for staying:

  • I just figured out how to list on eBay and the other sites confuse me.
  • I don't have a clue how to advertise through Google or Yahoo.
  • I'm afraid to try something new.
  • I'm comfortable selling here and I have plenty of margin.
  • I'm a hobbyist and only sell occasionally.
  • I sell items to get money in my PayPal account so I can buy items on eBay without having to dip into my wallet.

This question is not meant to disparage eBay, I'm just trying to get a gauge on why sellers stay. So please use the comments section to tell me why you stay, or why you think others stay.

Update: This is an opportunity for Suzanne, Cliff, Gary and others to share why eBay is right for them.


Anonymous said...

all of the above

Randy Smythe said...

That was very helpful :)

Cliff said...

Hey Randy,

I was reading this saying to myself, well, he knows I'm going to chime in on this one, and then I get to the bottom and nod my head. Okay, here's why I'm sticking and why I'm adding listings.

My niches are magazine back issues and vintage movie collectibles -- nothing I've tried turns these items over with better return than eBay. There aren't any specialty niche sites that I'm aware of at this time. I gave abebooks and Amazon mini-tryouts with my magazines (after all, lots of fiction in them with many marketed that way) and I couldn't work well with either site--obviously these sites sell a lot of books. I figured someone searching say, Hemingway, could find one of my magazines with an original Hemingway story. But the way those sites worked I had to try to fit in with books. Couldn't do it, at least not easily enough on those first run-throughs.

...and yes, the eBay Media discount is hitting my magazine back issues, so that it a bigger plus.

I was running my own store for a couple of years off-eBay, basically settling stale eBay items and cost-prohibitive eBay items in it. It was slowly coming around, but after running it for a couple of years I was faced with paying maintenance fees between 100%-250% of what I paid for the software in the first place. So this store will be closed -- the magazines are moving back to eBay because 1) they'll sell there; and 2) that Media discount makes it look even better.

Movie items from that closing store are being moved to a new store attached directly to my main site. I have enough traffic to make this a valid option over eBay for these items. I will still use eBay for many movie items to both sell them and drive buyers to my own site.

From the reasons you give the top 2 obvious reasons to stay fit me. Selling somewhat unique, vintage, collectible items, most lower-priced, I need to either sell multiple items to customers or get action on my auctions--my items are unusual enough where I do usually get some decent bidder action on a few of them each week.

The current changes also work for me because I have a low sell-through rate. Items will always move, but they can be so niche that they often have to sit and wait for the right buyer to come along. So they either sell right away at auction because they're unusual, or they sit in the store waiting for that perfect buyer.

In recent months I've learned to leverage Fixed Price listings better so my sell-through rate on Auctions has improved. I'll continue with this strategy in coming months.

Still, with many unusual items waiting to find that perfect owner I'll be pushing my eBay store listings back up -- I used to have about 6,000 store items, I cut it to 750-900 during the peak store prices (I use gallery on everything in the eBay Store too). I've pushed it back up to over 1,500 as of today and am currently willing to go back up to 5,000-6,000 as time allows.

My items are great for niche keywords too, and I think that helps me stand out in more specific eBay searchs. With a high DSR I'm hoping Best Match only helps me as far as that goes.

Regarding your list of Other Reasons for staying, none of these really apply to me. Well, as you know, I had a hard time figuring out Amazon, but again that's something I expect to return to, hopefully when they have better help available.

The main reason I'm remaining on eBay is that it works for me and my business. Having a high DSR rating and being somebody who benefits from Gallery (yes, I would have used it on all of my listings in the past if not for the additional fee), I'm excited about the changes to eBay and expect things to get even better.

Okay, time to work on the listings, thanks for the post!


Melissa said...

I am actually quite happy with the changes eBay has made. We carry a fair amount of books and other media in our store and of course, much of it never sells (and is relisted) or sells on another venue.

We're already seeing a noticable savings from the lower store insertion fees. I would MUCH rather pay more when the item actually sells, rather than upfront when I list the item. We currently only list less than half of our entire inventory on eBay because the fees were so high. I unlisted older items on a monthly basis to keep costs down.

We have around 12,000 items in our store and we've been unlisting several hundred older listings every month (all the while adding listings, of course), in order to attempt to keep some level of control over our fees. I think the insertion fee decreases will probably lessen the need to unlist, but I will stay on track with that, just to a lesser extent.

eBay is a significant part of our income. Amazon always beats eBay in terms of bookselling, but eBay is consistently second in a list of around 12 venues we list on. I don't think we could replace that traffic anywhere else.

As far as feedback goes, eBay really has over-inflated feedback and it can be quite inaccurate. I think the changes are good, even if my score goes down. Odds are, everyone else's will go down a bit also, to a more realistic level.

I'm kind of *selfishly* glad that so many people are closing their eBay business. It means more sales for me, LOL.

John said...


Having been an avid reader for months and have never posted previously. So I decided to come out of lurk mode to respond to this posting.

Like Cliff above, I sell in a niche market. I don't have a lot of competition, only three other sellers. And we all get along, as our starting bids are very close in range, as well as the shipping charges. Even our DSR's are very close from 4.7 to 4.85.

Right around 31% of my customers are repeat buyers. We do have an Ebay store, and that does extremely well. We do cross-promotion heavily and have customers win an auction, then turn around and buy 1 or more items from the store so that can save on s&h.

Over the past several weeks, I have been testing several other sites, such as Ecrater, Ioffer, Bidville, but sales have been a few here and few there, enough for a dinner for two and the movies once a month. Nothing there to convince me to downsize on Ebay. But I will move more of my items to these venues over the next year.

Ebay at this time is the right venue for selling my in niche market.

Number crunching I am not seeing a significant increase in my monthly fees. I liken it to having a brick and mortar store, and the building lease has just been increased. Since you cannot beat the traffic that comes through your store on a 24/7 basis, you take the increase fees as a way of doing business.

I did not post any auctions this week not in support of the Ebay Boycott, but because I have been down with the flu since Sunday. Today being the first day I have been able to sit for long periods in front of the computer. But I did have auctions closing this week, and there were no lack of buyers out there! My daily auction sales continue to remain steady. So at least my buyers did not know about the boycott, or they just turned a deaf ear to it.

I am not sure if my comments are useful or not. Thanks for letting me post. Have a great day!

Randy Smythe said...

Cliff, Melissa and John, thanks for your comments. I always enjoy hearing the positive stories.

Keep them comin folks.

Sue Bailey said...

Because I like blogging about it, and selling gives my blog authority :-D

And it's a GREAT customer acquisition tool. And "I'm comfortable selling here and I have plenty of margin."

Suzanne Wells - The eBay Coach said...

I have no reason to leave!

1) eBay provides a steady income for me. It works for me, my life, and my family.

2) I am a single, work at home mom, and I appreciate the flexibility of eBay selling. I am my own boss, create my own schedule, and choose what to sell. I am in control.

3) eBay spends millions on advertising and as you said, you can't beat the traffic.

4) I have been heavily involved in selling for over 5 years. I have written eBooks about eBay selling, do podcasts, and have a forum to help other sellers find success. I am one of eBay's biggest cheerleaders and enjoy helping others learn how to make eBay work for them. Some of eBay's biggest critics are people who quit too soon, or were given bad advice.

5) I provide eBay consulting services for companies who want to capture the eBay segment of the consumer market. Many large sellers have a presence on eBay only for lead generation and customer harvesting. I help them set up their stores and understand the do's and don't's of directing traffic to their websites - and post transactional marketing strategies.

6)I have no complaints about eBay and have no reason to leave. I love eBay selling, the thrill of the auction, meeting new people all around the world, and working with my customers.

Anonymous said...

This question is not meant to disparage eBay.

Really? I can give you a hand with it...

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that smart-ass answer...

"There is no other viable Auction marketplace"

[get me outa there!]

Randy Smythe said...

Smart-ass answers are fine with me. As long as they're funny.

"There is no other viable Auction marketplace"

Is maybe the biggest reason as far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

1) $$: As long as it's a profitable venue, why abandon it completely?
2) It is just one marketing channel in my business plan.

Chris said...

Randy I only sell on

I make a comfortable living out of it and only ship within the UK. When it stops generating enough income I'll consider shipping to Europe and the rest of the world. When I need to I'll start listing on other eBay sites like, or When I need more I'll look at non-English speaking eBay sites...

When I run out of ways to generate my income on eBay I'll look at alternatives, but quite honestly why bother when I've hardly touched the top of the barrel let alone scraped the bottom?

eBay is a gold mine, and you don't have to dig that deep to hit the motherlode :-)

Gary said...

I stay on eBay because it has proven to be the best venue for the kind of merchandise I sell, and for the business model I use.

The majority of what I sell is high-end antique toys, pottery, and advertising which I've dealt in for between 20 and 25 years. Fist on a part-time basis, and then full-time when I started selling them on eBay.

During that time I've set up at large specialty shows around the country, rented mall space in both general-line and specialty malls around the country, run phone auctions, used major auction houses, tried my own web site, used online malls such as TIAS, and eBay.

My business philosophy is to turn each piece of inventory as quickly as possible, for the maximum return possible. My experience, while it may be different from others, has been that the best way to accomplish both of those is via the on-line auction format. None of the other things I've tried accomplish both.

Some offer fast turnover, but prices are reduced. With others I am able to attain slightly higher prices, but I may have to wait 6 months, a year, or longer before an item sells.

While there are other auction sites available on the Net, for what I sell, none of them even comes close to attracting the interested buyers and final prices eBay does.

eBay has been good to me because it simply works the better than any other options for how I do business.

Additionally, I don't see any of the new policies having any real affect on my business.

While their seemingly annual fee increases do bite into my profits, I don't pay much attention to them because my profit margins are high enough that a few dollars more in fees isn't that big a deal. Because I drive thousands of miles a year to buy inventory, I'm 100 times more concerned about the price of gas than I am eBay's fees.

Even if my DSRs were low enough to affect how my items will appear it wouldn't have much affect because when someone does a search for the kind of things I sell there is very rarely more than one page of results. Whether I'm at the top of the page, or the bottom, I'm going to be seen.

I'm not concerned about the my inability to leave negative feedback because in a round-about way I will be able to. The majority of the buyers I deal with, for several reasons, specifically request that no feedback be left by either party. In many cases they demand it before they will bid. If I wanted to leave them 'negative' feedback, all I'd need to do is leave them 'positive' feedback. That would piss them off just as much.

Overall, from the standpoint of my business, eBay is the best option available and none of the changes they are implementing will have any affect on that.

Gary N said...

I sell on eBay because it pays the bills, fair and simple. There is no other venue like it in the world!! My margins are healthy and the traffic several times what I get on my own website. In fact, in 2008 I plan to shut down my own website and move entirely to eBay. The economics of my own website simply don't work (for me at least).

Michael W. Mills said...

Hi Randy,

I'm new to your blog but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in. I can't give you a unique reason for staying on eBay, but I can say that several of the ones you listed already apply to me.

- You really can't beat the traffic that eBay provides. Even if only a people a day find my items, the fact that there are potentially over 50 million customers daily looking for items on eBay is reason enough to stay.

- I have not tried any of the other auction sites but from what I have seen none even come close to being as viable as eBay.

- I am comfortable on eBay. I can easily sell to anyone in the world. I am not afraid to sell internationally and that usually drives my auction prices higher. Since January of 2007 roughly 1/6 of my sales are international.

- As far as the recent changes go, I am pretty happy. My fees should go down based on my calculations and as I make some minor changes my DSR's should go up, taking me from the 5% to the 15% discount.

Hope this helps answer your question.

Have fun!

Michael W. Mills

Randy Smythe said...

Thanks for commenting! Please encourage other eBay sellers you know to add their 2 cents here also. These comments will become a great collection of reasons to sell on eBay.

Keep em' comin'

Tony P. said...

I sell antiques and collectibles. If I could hijack everyone's browser's homepage, to My Website, I wouldn't need ebay. But as it is, well, you get the drift.

(ah, serious and smart-assed, rolled into one. sweet.)

Anonymous said...


And the more they've got, the more abuse they've taken; ironically, the more they want to try to stay to make it work.

Google. For God's sake. Migrate Ebay feedback to Checkout, you will make BILLIONS!!!!

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