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Pros and cons of selling on Amazon, eBay and Etsy

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Oct. 21, 2014
E-commerce business owners and digital marketing experts discuss the pros and cons of selling on Amazon, eBay and Etsy vs. selling on a standalone site -- and why it can pay to do both.

Global reach. "As a global seller, we appreciate how [easy it is to] set up [shop] on global eBay sites and reach international markets," says Jimmy Vosika , founder & CEO, ShopJimmy.com, which sells TV parts and lamps, TV stands, tech tools and electronics accessories.

Cons

Fees can add up.Fees on eBay can vary, depending on what you sell and how you sell it. That said, sellers typically pay 10 percent of the sale price, with a maximum fee of $250 -- though advanced listing upgrade fees add more to the cost.

You may not get paid. "Joy' bidders, aka nonpaying bidders/buyers, are a huge problem as many listing formats don't require a payment to make a purchase," says Applegath.

Favors buyers over sellers. "Over the years, eBay has made it increasingly difficult for sellers by tipping the scales of empowerment heavily in favor of buyers," he adds, citing eBay's new 180-day return policy and buyers' ability to leave negative feedback, even if the seller is not at fault.

Etsy
Pros
Large, targeted customer base. Etsy has over 40 million active members, who are specifically looking for hand-crafted, artisinal or vintage items, and sold over $1.35 billion in merchandise in 2013.

Easy to set up shop. "Etsy makes it easy to list and advertise," says Phallin Jennings, the owner of Four Sisters Farm Soap, which also has a standalone ecommerce site.

"A seller can quickly set up a storefront, payment options and generate shipping labels without any HTML or CSS stylesheet knowledge," explains Jennifer Colgan, owner, Jessie Girl Jewelry.

Powerful, supportive community. "Etsy has forums and teams [that create] a sense of family amongst sellers," says Jennings. "This brings in multiple sales as well, [as Etsy sellers] love to support one another."

Cons
Fees. "There are listing fees and final sale fees on Etsy as well as the PayPal processing fee," which can really add up if you list lots of items, says Nidhi Chanani, owner, Everyday Love Art, which has both a standalone site and a presence on Etsy.

Little or no ability to customize or personalize your shop. "There is a limit to how much personalization a customer can do through an Etsy listing," says Colgan. Whereas on "my own website, I can make the experience much better for my customers."

"All seller pages look the same, making it a little more difficult to distinguish yourself," says Ashley Rodgers, owner, Cult Paper.

Lots of competition. "Since Etsy's marketplace consists of very specific categories, there's a lot of competition within them," explains Eileen Chai, co-owner, Fleet Collection, which sells vintage clothing. "Recently we've noticed an influx of overseas sellers offering custom-made gowns for prices so enticing, I'm almost tempted to buy one," she says. "Since our dresses are locally made in Los Angeles, it's hard to compete with that, especially when search results render a side-by-side comparison."

 

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