Your shopping cart is empty!
So have you contemplated starting your own in-home business? Perhaps, then, you have thought about selling items on eBay.
Ebay has its 20th birthday this year (2015) and in those 20 years, its business model, along with its main target market, have shifted variably - sometimes following current trends and sometimes not. No matter how it was in the past or what ebay will become in the futre, the hard truth is that selling on ebay can be a VERY SHARP double-edged sword.
This is not a tutorial on HOW TO SELL on ebay. There are plenty of articles regarding that topic. We're writing this to tell you from FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE, the pros and cons of ebay selling.
Marketplace Infrastructure - no need for your own website
Ebay is an online marketplace which connects sellers and buyers. However, unlike other sites like Craigslist which only inroduces the buyer to the seller, ebay goes a step further and makes it possible for buyers to actually purchase items from the seller. This leads to the second pro...
Third party escrow service
Although technically not an escrow service in the truest form of the word, ebay does act as as a third party middle-man who, until recently, had control of the funds until both parties were satisfied with the delivery of the product. This, of course, is more of a buyer pro than a seller pro, but sellers do definitley reap the benefits from selling on a more trusted and secure markeplace.
If you have ever opened up an e-commerce website, you'd know that the absolute toughest hurdle is to gain enough exposure for customers to actually find you. This is so much easier said than done due to the sheer saturation of the current internet market. Chances are, unless you are selling something that is so cusomized that you have a practical monopoly, there will be competitors who have websites that are better designed and filled with great relevant content than yours.
Lack of (minimal) control of business
In an unregulated market, you have total and complete control of how you set up your business, what to sell, who to sell to, and what degree of customer service you provide. Much to our dismay (or not), eBay nowadays is a very strictly regulated business. Here are some examples of how eBay limits your selling potential:
Buyer favored market
eBay favors their buyers 99 times out of a 100. PayPal favors their buyers 99 times out a 100. It's a good business strategy for eBay (and any online marketplace) to do so, as a market full of sellers but no customer is a useless market.
But what does this mean? There are countless measure for buyer protection on eBay. Unless sellers specifically display the exact condition of an item with explicitly written NO REFUNDS - AS IS policy, the buyers have a major advantage to receive the package and also have their money refunded.
Dispute resolutions are mostly sided with the buyer. eBay treats their customer base as a sweet newborn baby and their sellers as a street-toughened war veteran. Sellers are expected to know everything regarding all applicable laws (and eBay regulations) pertaining to the sale of their item and are expected to face the consequences. The buyers are usually given the benefit of the doubt. As is the case, most disputes are sided with the buyer.
eBay seller reviews... TOTALLY UNFAIR
Let me tell you a story. Before starting this website, I sold stickers on eBay. In one particular case, a customer purchased a door sign that read "Please use other door". Because I was a new seller and my selling limits were so atrociously low, I could not list all the variations possible (colors, sizes, etc).
So in the listing, I cleary wrote the size and the default color.
A few days after the item was shipped out, I check my account and see that this customer left a negative review. Again, as I was a new seller with not a lot of reviews, one negative review had significantly lowered my overall rating. So in order to rectify the situation, I contacted the buyer to see what was wrong. He told me that he wanted an orange sticker and wrote in the comment section that he wanted orange. I asked him if I could send him TWO orange stickers, if he would be willing to revise his review. He agreed.
I called eBay to ask why the request for orange did not show up on my seller dashboard. eBay told me that the buyer never left such a comment.
Fast forward another month, the SAME CUSTOMER purchased two items (not in one cart but in two separate transactions) and left TWO negative reviews.
This time, I was fuming with anger and called eBay. I told them the background story and was told that the it is the customer's right to leave negative reviews and unless the customer mentions items that are against eBay policy (like swearing, adult language, hate speech etc), eBay will NOT remove the comment or the rating.
So in the end, I've had to contact the customer again and beg him for mercy. Wound up refunding everything and send more stickers... just for reviews.