Selling online relies on an audience. When it’s your own website, your challenge is to build the audience through marketing and SEO. But on third party sites like eBay and Amazon, you can access new audiences for your products, to benefit from another string of revenue to your ecommerce bow.
Taking advantage of the in-built audience can come at a price. But how do the main alternatives stack up, and is it worth your while considering selling exclusively or additionally on some 3rd party site?
Selling on eBay
Everyone knows eBay, and most web users have bought something from eBay at some stage. It’s huge, and there are plenty of buyers looking for a never-ending number of products. If you have a product that sells, you’ll sell it on eBay, thanks to the audience that exists on the site. However, for professional sellers, it’s often a question of the costs of selling on eBay, and whether there is sufficient margin in the sale after eBay and often Paypal fees have been deducted.
eBay charges fees for listing products (£0.35), and a 10% final value fee on the sale price. Paypal charge £0.20 per transaction, plus 3.4%, or £0.20 plus 2.9% for amounts over £1,500. So you need to factor in these deductions when selling anything through eBay, so you can set a competitive price and still secure your margin.
What makes eBay sometimes challenging is competition, and often low-cost competition from other suppliers, including offshore sellers. Look at the average market price – you can still sell your products at a higher price if you need to, but this will affect your sales volumes relative to the other sellers within your eBay product category.
Once you’ve found your price, and you’ve calculated how much it’s going to cost you to sell on eBay, it’s time to think about your ads. Presenting your eBay listings in the right format is key to selling, and it’s a similar art to creating effective product pages on your website. Combined with a great title to lure in eBay searchers, and you’re on to a winning listing.
Writing eBay Ads
The trick to selling on eBay lies primarily in the ad you are using to showcase your product. Writing good eBay ads applies similar principles to creating any good order page, and your images and descriptions should be created in similar ways to increase your chances of finding buyers.
- Title: The title is your first chance to grab attention, and you need to make the most of it if you want your listing to be discovered by searching on eBay, and to stand out from the crowd of others no doubt selling the same product. Descriptive terms and adjectives are essential, as are the keywords and essential information people need to know to look at what you’re selling.
- A captivating title will make sure your listing is seen by more people. Provided the listing checks out from there, and you’re offering a good price for what you are selling, you can expect that this will lead to sales.
You’re not just listing ‘Blue Widgets for Sale’ – you’re offering ‘BRAND NEW Quality Blue Plastic Widgets – Made From 100% Recycled Materials’. Get as much detail in as possible, and try and sell your product through the title – it might be the only chance you get to present to the would-be eBay buyer.
The next most important part of your listing is the images. This will dictate the thumbnail image you are able to use for your eBay listing, as well as providing the visual basis on which people can make judgements about whether to buy or move on. Whenever you are taking photos for ecommerce, it’s best to go for high resolution images from a variety of angles, so buyers can truly build up a 3D picture. Be wary of exotic backgrounds – the plainer and whiter the background, the better you will be able to showcase your product.
Include as many images as you can of your product, and make sure the resolution is good enough that they stand the zoom test. This will give buyers the confidence that you have the product to sell, and that they are buying the right thing.
Formatting Your Listing
Your listing description is the chance to show off in long-form the information buyers need to know about your products, and also about your ecommerce operation. You can opt for a text based description if you want, or with a bit of extra effort you can upgrade to an HTML designed listing, complete with your own ecommerce store branding and contact details. This can be useful as a convincer, but also in terms of attracting eBay visitors to your own, privately controlled store, where your margins will be greater and competition more than just a listing away.
Build your listing description around key product features, and take care to list all the salient points above the fold. The same principles as regular ecommerce design and information placement apply – keep plenty of white space between chunks of information, and use well-positioned bullet points to communicate the most important information.
Selling on eBay stands or falls on the basis of your feedback and reputation on the site. If you want longevity, you need to treat every customer as King, and despatch the right products promptly on receipt of payment. If there are any disputes, be as friendly and as reasonable as possible – even a single bad review can be enough to put future buyers off. As you sell in more volume you will inevitably encounter some customers who are unhappy with you for whatever reason. Your job is to keep these to a minimum, and to respond to any negative feedback as quickly as possible so you can try to mitigate its influence on your reputation.
A low feedback score can prevent your listings from selling, no matter how good your ad. As a result, eBay sellers aim to robustly protect their feedback records, in recognition of how important this is to their bottom line.
Selling on Amazon
Amazon is the undisputed king of the ecommerce retailers, and they are getting stronger by the day. Independent sellers are able to leverage their huge customer base, selling all manner of products directly to customers. Like eBay, creating the most informative listing and choosing the right title can work wonders in attracting attention and closing the sale.
Your listing will be formatted like all other Amazon products, creating a homogeny that is beneficial for you when it comes to selling. While buyers may be aware they are buying from you directly rather than buying from Amazon directly, you get the credibility benefit of selling through the Amazon platform, combined with access to the in-built audience of visitors who are primed and ready to buy.
If you are selling fewer than 35 items every month, your costs are a flat £0.75 per sold item, with a variable percentage depending on the classification of the product. For those selling over 35 items a month, the costs is a flat £25 per month, plus the same variable percentage based on the type of products you are selling.
There are people doing ecommerce solely on 3rd party websites, making money from selling exclusively on eBay and Amazon without their own store. There are plenty others who are using a combination of these 3rd party selling channels on their own site, and many who are able to find new customers for their own store by selling through these routes to market.
Provided you can become familiar with the ins and outs of each different platform, and you can withstand the seller’s fees and payment processing costs, selling on Amazon and eBay can be a great way to shift more product and turnover your stock at a faster rate.
Resources / Further Reading
For those selling fashion, ASOS Marketplace is one particularly effective route for getting your product and your brand to a broader market. The leading name in fashion commerce, the association with ASOS is beneficial for your brand, beyond the sheer volume that can come with this type of exposure.
You pay a 20% commission for every sale through the ASOS Marketplace, and you need to adhere to the terms of the programme, including the quantity and variance of stock you hold and the photography you use. However, as a means of selling fashion across the globe, you can dramatically expand your reach through the ASOS Marketplace.
An alternative channel you can consider for gifts, home, garden, jewellery, fashion and a whole host of other categories is Notonthehighstreet. Designed to be a source for products that are a bit different, some retailers find it beneficial to be exposed to greater volume from listing in their marketplace. If you are accepted into the programme, you can get serious momentum from the 2 million+ monthly visitors channelling through the site, specifically looking to make purchases of products like yours.
There is a joining fee of £199 plus VAT, and a 25% commission on every product you sell. And there’s a chance you might not be accepted to the programme, depending on your product type and photography quality. However, some retailers report significant uplift in volume through selling in the Notonthehighstreet marketplace.
Not suitable for every retailer, Etsy has a strong emphasis on handmade and craft products. If this fits with your ecommerce aspirations, you can sell to buyers on Etsy for 20p plus 3.5% on every sale. Etsy stores benefit from the existing traffic to the site, which is widely known as a destination for products in this particular niche. If you’re a fit, there’s a good chance you could make more sales by being exposed to the Etsy marketplace.