Why look for an eBay alternative?
Since the beginning, eBay has pretty much always dominated as the web’s leading consumer-to-consumer eCommerce company. Chances are, when you think of selling stuff online, you think of eBay. However, like any industry leader, they’ve developed quite the polarizing reputation. Some people love eBay, and some people absolutely hate it. If you’re part of the latter, I’ve put together a list of some of the best eBay alternatives for you to take a look at.
I think it’s worth noting that none of the items on this list completely replace eBay. Some of them come close, but for the most part, they’re solutions for individuals in more specific situations. Only on eBay can you buy and sell pretty much anything that you want. However, these alternatives look to alleviate some of the biggest issues that people usually have with eBay.
For selling second-hand retail items: Amazon
Amazon and eBay are arch-rivals when it comes to the eCommerce game. Amazon’s selling program is a solid alternative to some eBay sellers, but it’s unfortunately bogged down by Amazon’s own selling format. It’s not for everyone, but it’s still an excellent solution for merchants who sell their supported products.
First, let’s discuss the advantages of Amazon over eBay. Amazon is well-known for having great customer service, which is something that eBay can’t really say. Amazon’s selling fees are much more reasonable, only taking $0.99 per sale and a referral fee based on what kind of item was sold. Sometimes this percentage is higher than eBay’s 10%, sometimes it’s lower. It varies. I like how the percentages generally vary based on the value of the item. For instance, the referral fee for a game console is lower than the referral fee for a video game. This makes Amazon more appealing when you’re selling big-ticket items, since they’ll generally charge a much smaller fee than eBay would.
However, there are a few drawbacks. To begin with, you’re not able to sell anything unique or large on Amazon. Unlike eBay, you can’t go around selling furniture or antiques. There are certainly a few collectors items that you’re able to sell, but odds are, if there isn’t already a listing on Amazon for it, you can’t sell it. That’s how Amazon has always been. People don’t really use Amazon to find autographed film memorabilia or a gently used bedroom set. Also, Amazon doesn’t accept PayPal as a payment option. They accept their version of PayPal, Amazon Payments. I went over the advantages and disadvantages of Amazon Payments over PayPal in this piece about the top 5 best PayPal alternatives. The gist, though, is that Amazon Payments isn’t nearly as popular as PayPal. This reduces your potential customer base by a little bit. However, keep in mind that Amazon and eBay’s amount of actual users are roughly comparable.
Update 3/10/16: It’s come to my attention that Amazon actually does have an outlet for selling unique goods: Handmade at Amazon. Handmade launched this last October, and it is growing pretty rapidly. However, I think that the fact that I hadn’t heard of Handmade at the time that I wrote this article is very telling. It’s not nearly as popular yet as some other online handmade selling platforms. Although it’s definitely an option for someone who is looking to be a part of something as it grows into something larger, and Amazon has a great track record for being a website that is both buyer and seller friendly, I think that if you want to quickly gain visibility and push product, you may be better off checking out more well-known handmade marketplaces.
For selling in person: Craigslist
eBay does offer local selling options, but they’re nowhere near as popular as their regular selling format. One of the larger issues that someone may have with eBay would be shipping expenses. Shipping a lot more expensive than you may think that it is. Not to mention, it’s really stressful. Packages can get lost, packages can be sent to the wrong address, packages can be damaged, and so on. Although eBay allows you to sell to people all around the world, Craigslist takes selling and makes it a feel a little safer.
Craigslist is a really popular website that allows people to post local job listings or item listings. Item listings are sorted in a variety of different categories, and each category gets a significant amount of traffic. Unless you live in a really small town, you don’t have to worry about no one seeing your listing. Craigslist is much less strict than eBay is, allowing users to barter with one another. Craigslist is entirely free, and it’s mostly unmoderated. This means that if you sell $100 of good, you get to keep $100. No percentages, no listing fees. What you see is what you get.
There are some slight disadvantages to this model, however. As a seller, you’re sometimes putting yourself out there to be heavily spammed by people who aren’t even interested in your product. Since there’s not really a user sign-in system, anyone with an internet connection can look at your listing. As a buyer, you’re at a greater risk of buying goods that may be stolen or fraudulent. If you meet up with someone locally and buy an iPhone that they “decided they didn’t need” and it turned out to be stolen, there’s no one you could go to to get your money back. Craigslist offers a very traditional buying-and-selling experience. In some ways this is good, but in other ways, it leaves you much more vulnerable than other online options.
For selling handmade goods: Etsy
Remember when I talked about not being able to sell unique goods on Amazon? Hopefully, you kept reading past that point, because Etsy is the perfect merchant for that particular market. Etsy is a marketplace dedicated to helping individuals who sell unique, hand-made, or vintage items. In my opinion, handmade items don’t sell all that well on eBay to begin with, so this is pretty much the only website you should be using if you sell those kinds of goods. If you’re an eBay user selling unique goods, and you’re not selling very well, I implore you to give this place a shot.
Etsy supports a wide range of custom items, from t-shirts to coffee mugs.Etsy’s fees are also really low compared to competition. They take 20 cents for each listing, and 3.5% of the item’s value once it has sold. This is a great bargain, especially when you consider how popular Etsy has become over the years. You’re not paying all that much to have your item broadcast to millions of potential customers. Not to mention, the website offers you, the seller, a tremendous amount of freedom. You’re allowed to draft your own rules on shipping, payment, and returns. (eBay lets you do this to a certain extent, but it’s not nearly as seller-friendly.)
Obviously, though, Etsy only serves a more niche market. The majority of eBay’s business does NOT come from people who are selling handmade charms and custom keychains. However, if you do happen to fit into that category, Etsy is pretty much the perfect fit.
For the closest substitute: Bonanza
I know what you might be thinking. “Wow, none of these are like eBay. Some of them are kind of like eBay, but none are really identical. Is there really no true alternative?” To be fair, I answered that question before I even started the list. eBay is just too well-known and too popular to have been completely overtaken by a clone company. However, if there is any website that has come even close, that honor would probably go to Bonanza.
Bonanza is a website that started out kind of like Etsy. Even now, they still sort of specialize in unique items and clothing. However, they have expanded their business since, to include items like electronics, DVDs and video games, and so on. They’re becoming more like eBay every day. All of the items sold on Bonanza are user-created listings, and although it isn’t super easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, it offers an experience most similar to eBay’s.
Bonanza’s selling fees are much more reasonable than eBay’s, in my opinion. You pay either 3.5% of your final value, or $0.50. Whichever ends up being higher. Granted, the amount of users on eBay far exceeds the amount of users on Bonanza. It’s still an alternative worth checking out.
For something new: Newegg
I’m cheating a little bit by talking about this one. eBay is a fully developed marketplace, and Newegg’s selling system is still in its infancy. Although it is still really raw, I think it has potential to join Amazon’s online selling system in terms of ease of use and popularity. Newegg, for the most part, is known for selling electronics, computer components, and other forms of electronic hardware. However, they’ve recently been trying to expand their business (Bonanza style) to sell home goods, apparel, and toys. Unlike Bonanza, Newegg is already pretty popular. They’ve seen a lot of success selling electronics, and it’s very possible that their already-large customer base could start dipping into their other offerings.
Newegg also has commission fees that they advertise as being “the lowest out there”. They don’t have many sellers right now, and at this point, they’re definitely making an effort to make selling on Newegg as easy and as inexpensive as possible. If you sell electronics or games, I think that you should start researching a Newegg seller account immediately. If you sell other things, like cookware, watches, or anything else that can’t be defined as a “gadget”, I would at least look into it. This particular aspect of their business could see a lot of success, and it would be interesting to experience that process as it happens.
Newegg is young, even if you just look at their sales of hardware and software. They were only founded in 2010. It’s the youngest item on this list by a few years, and they’ve seen a lot of growth over the course of these last 6 years. They’ve gone from an obscure hardware merchant to one of the most well-known and reputable online electronics merchants around. As other brick-and-mortar hardware stores like TigerDirect phase out their physical locations, they quickly realize how much Newegg has dominated their own market. I don’t think it’s outside of the realm of possibility to think that they’ll continue to grow, and that their seller program will grow along with it.