So eBay’s in trouble, and whether or not the auction format was indeed a fad, you may feel the inclination to find a new place to sell your stuff. Online sellers are increasingly finding the web to be a more competitive market, and with management and rules changes at eBay, many are in search of a new home as well. Where are they going? And where can you go as a buyer to find alternatives to the online auction format that has been so dominant the past ten years? Below are six options.
Fixed Price Marketplaces
One thing many sellers are doing, is sticking with eBay. Rather than change horses mid-stream, some sellers are transitioning their auction businesses to the fixed-price model that is now favored by the ecommerce giant. Others are listing their wares at eBay’s cross-town (on the web, anyway) rival Amazon.
Online Craft Fairs
New York based Etsy is part of a new breed of online marketplace startups targeted specifically at the needs of independent artists and crafts makers. With more and more people pledging to buy handmade goods, marketplaces like Etsy are taking center stage and becoming important hubs for small merchants. We’ve even wondered if Etsy might be the next eBay. Be sure to check our lists of Etsy alternatives here and here, as well.
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Craigslist has been accused by some of single handedly sinking the entire newspaper business by doing for classifieds what eBay did for auctions in the 90s — putting them online and making them dead simple and accessible. Craigslist started as a local events email list for San Francisco in 1995 and has grown to an online classifieds powerhouse serving more than 500 cities in over 50 countries across the world. 40 million people visit Craigslist each month, generating more than 10 billion page views, according to the company. It’s no wonder that an ad on Craigslist is an extremely effective way to generate sales, especially in large local markets.
If you’re like me — and that would be a bummer for you — you’re often awake at 4am. If you happen to flick on the TV, you’ll quickly notice that in the wee hours of morning, the airwaves are dominated by a certain variety of program: infomercials. Most of the time, it’s hard to wonder how anyone could be suckered into ordering stuff peddled by late night hucksters. But infomercials have inundated the television airwaves since the 1970s, so they must work. Could they also work on the Internet? One company thinks so. Talk Market lets anyone host their own video sales channel on the web. Amazon thinks enough of the idea to have invested in it.
Yes, it doesn’t seem that any of the big social networks have yet figured out how to monetize all that traffic. Facebook gave up on Beacon, and MySpace isn’t living up to Google’s expectations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to sell to your friends, family, and fans via social networks. Buy.com thinks they have the best way, with their Garage Sale application for Facebook. The best part of this option, though, may be the irony of their intro video which calls eBay a “thing of the past” — apparently Buy.com’s top brass didn’t get the memo… they closed a huge product listing deal with eBay last month.
Your Own Storefront
Sellers with an adventurous spirit may opt to set up their own storefront. There are a number of free or open source projects, such as osCommerce, that can be used to power an online shop. There are also all inclusive small business hosting solutions, such as Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, that can get sellers up and running with their own stores with a lot less headache. We like Shopify, an all in one hosted ecommerce suite that has become one of the showcase apps for Ruby on Rails (don’t worry — we’ve never heard of anyone having trouble scaling their store on the service).
How else do you sell online? Let us know in the comments.