Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Casual reCommerce Series: eBay Mini-Review

Welcome to Casual reCommerce, a series of posts on selling your stuff online. I've previously posted an Introduction to Selling your Stuff Online and each day this week, I'll cover each method in a little more detail.

eBay.com is usually the number one site that comes to mind when you think of selling your things online. Primarily known for online auctions, eBay also offers fixed price and "Best Offer" pricing formats. You create a listing for each item you want to sell and choose a format. With auctions, you set a an opening bid and bidders compete and at the end of the auction the highest bidder wins. With "Buy it Now" you set a fixed price for your item and you can add a "Best Offer" option which allows you to accept offers lower than your set price.

Below are details on my opinion of how eBay stacks up on Fees, Complexity, Reliability, and Shipping ease.  I've included pros and cons of using eBay and what I think they're best at:

Fees/Cost: High

  • Required tiered Listing Fee
  • Tiered Final Value Fee (aka commission)
  • Payment processing fee
  • Optional micro "upgrade" fees to enhance your listing. 
  • Shipping cost

Complexity: High

  • Complex listing form
  • Picture taking (highly recommended)
  • Shipping research (highly recommended)
  • Item & pricing research (highly recommended)

Reliability/Feedback: Medium

  • Buyers *and* Sellers leave feedback
  • Feedback system and electronic payments result in high rate of successful transactions (though sometimes payments take a few days or buyers don't pay)

Shipping: Easy

  • USPS and UPS shipping options well integrated when using PayPal
  • Easy to price options, print shipping labels, and pay online.


  • High traffic
  • Find buyers for harder to sell and non-working items
  • Mutual feedback system results in highly reliable transactions
  • "Best Offer" format allows price flexibility


  • Cost
  • Time consuming compared to other methods
  • Complex form to get your item listed
  • PowerSellers drive down prices on common items.

Best for...

  • Niche selling
  • Taking the time to sell anything collectible of reasonable value
  • If you have the time and need the cash it's also great for selling electronics that no longer work or parts (ex. iPods and computers).

See how eBay stacks up to my other favorite methods in the Introduction.

    What do you think?  Have you used eBay?  What do you think they are "best at"?

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