Selling online

Alternatives to eBay for businesses

If you’ve taken the leap and transformed your hobby into a fully-fledged eCommerce business, you’ll know that success doesn’t come without some seriously hard graft. Once you’ve got your products, you need to take them to the people and sell, sell, sell and neither of those things can happen without the right online marketplace.

eBay might seem like the natural domain to sell, thanks to its huge customer base and status as a household name, but there are many other marketplaces for businesses to choose from – some established, some still growing. Why not see if one of the below better fits your needs before you set up that eBay shop?

Shopify

Shopify now boasts a roster of 500,000 businesses across 175 countries, making it one of the most popular eCommerce options on the market. The site offers a clean, user-friendly interface which is fully responsive on mobile and desktop. Plus there’s a ton of support in terms of video guides and 24/7 customer support.

All this does come at a cost, however. Basic Shopify accounts start at a monthly subscription fee of around £21, and this will increase if you want to access more features. You’ll also need to pay a transaction fee on credit cards and third party payment gateways, such as PayPal. But with its one million plus active users you might decide it’s a small price to pay.

Did you know you can integrate your Shopify account for shipping your orders with Parcelforce Worldwide for speedy parcel bookings? Find out more here.

OnBuy

While OnBuy is quite new to the industry and undergoing regular changes, this also means the marketplace is open-minded about its current structure and willing to work with sellers to help them get the very best out of it. Selling fees are some of the lowest you’ll find – just 3% for consumer electronics, large appliances and computing products and 6% for everything else.

Businesses can choose from two subscription options, one at £19 a month and one at £89, with the more expensive of the two giving you access to things such as account management tools and prominent placement. Weigh up your needs and choose accordingly – whatever your decision, this newcomer looks set to offer a huge amount of value.

Magneto

Rather than an eCommerce site like eBay, Magneto is software which you download and integrate on your site – meaning that it might not be for the faint-hearted or casual computer user. That said, the basic software is free and its user interface is fairly simple to use. There are a huge amount of themes and features (from discount functionality to order status modules) but you’ll have to be more than computer literate to get them all set up and working correctly.

Take the time to set it up and it might pay off, as it seems to have done for the 250,000 eCommerce sites that use it. Magneto Community Edition charges no transaction fees or subscriptions, but you’ll be bearing the costs of creating and hosting your own page.

Parcelforce Worldwide offers bulk parcel delivery solutions. Find out how to integrate your Magento account here.

Depop

Great for targeting the app-happy younger generation, this fashion-focused mobile platform has been downloaded more than 6 million times, welcoming between 350,000 and 400,000 active users a day. It’s free to list products – just take a photo, upload it and share how you please – but 10% is taken from every sale, and you’ll also need to pay PayPal and transaction fees.

Its focus on local sales makes it a little less accessible to companies wanting to expand their operations. However you do have the chance to sell through a shiny, Instagram-style interface that also allows you to get feedback on your products through ‘like’ and ‘comment’ functions.

Etsy

If your products are handmade, vintage and offer personalisation, Etsy should be high on your list of places to sell, as this is what visitors actively seek out. A targeted market means you have immediate access to your desired audience and your goods have more credibility. Plus, you don’t need knowledge of HTML to set up a store or create shipping labels.

A disadvantage is that it can be tricky to stand out from the many other boutique brands fighting to sell their wares, particularly when all shopfronts look the same. For running a retail only shop on the platform, you will pay a $0.20 listing fee and when the item sells, a 3.5% transaction fee.

If you’re looking to do bigger business, you may want to consider the Etsy Wholesale option, which charges a 3.5% transaction fee (shipping and tax will need to be paid on top). There is no monthly fee for selling on Etsy – but you will incur fees if you add or renew listings, use Promoted Listings or Pattern by Etsy, make a sale or purchase shipping labels on the platform. There is also a set of criteria you’ll need to fulfil to qualify.

Why not link your Etsy shop with the Parcelforce Bulk Shipping tool to ensure your parcels are sent quickly and securely.  Find out more here.

Folksy

Folksy is another marketplace geared around quirky, handmade products, making it great for emerging businesses and designers. A Basic account allows you to pay as you go, with a 15p listing fee and 6% commission on every sale. At £45 per year, the Folksy Plus account allows you to dispense with listing fees and simply pay the 6% commission, so is more suited to those who list frequently or stock a larger number of items. A major bonus is that you won’t have to pay any start-up or admin fees, and every seller receives three free listings to get them going. Other unique selling points include the fact you can personalise your online store and retain your customer data.

However there are some restrictions – for instance, vintage items are strictly forbidden. The platform is also pretty small compared to its main competitor, Etsy. Consequently, you may need to work harder to advertise your products on social media or elsewhere.

Not On The High Street

Officially the UK’s ‘number one curated marketplace’, what’s great about Not On The High Street is that it is hugely invested in its reputation, with regular TV and marketing campaigns giving authority to all products sold through the platform and therefore you as the seller. Perhaps because of this, it’s more expensive than its competitors – it costs £199 to get set up and 25% is taken off each sale. There’s also no guarantee your application to sell will be successful – especially if similar/identical products are already offered on the site.

Its 39 million unique visitors a year give it incredible reach but Not On The High Street is pretty strict about who it allows to sell. For example, it only accepts applications with a UK or Ireland business address, and is particular over photography. Once you’re in, though, you’ll receive access to loads of helpful advice.

Amazon Marketplace

Currently as much as 50% of products sold through Amazon Marketplace are from third-party retailers, so it’s certainly one to consider. It’s also a go-to for consumers, so visibility will be high and it’ll look good having your products there. Then there’s the fact it’s easy to get started – just register and start selling – and businesses can get set up on their own professional plan.

However, competition is fierce on Amazon, and many visitors to the marketplace will be there to buy with Amazon only. You may also find that your products have already been listed by another seller, highlighting how important it is to make your products stand out. That said, a great benefit of Amazon is the chargeback protection on offer against fraud-related credit card chargebacks.

The Amazon Bulk Shipping tool from Parcelforce Worldwide is quick and easy to use, find out how to integrate your account here.

Ebid

If you’re a fan of eBay’s auction model, Ebid is a great alternative for your business. Sign up to a standard Seller account and you can list items for free, with 3% taken off each sold product. The Seller+ account allows you to list on multiple auctions and carries a number of additional features, for example integrated an PayPal checkout for your buyers and BuyNow functionality. The account must be paid for in advance and offers some flexibility in terms of final value fee. If you want any extras, such as featured items, there’ll be additional costs.

Ebid offers a wide variety of selling options, so you can join for a week, a month, a year – whatever you require. But this flexibility is countered by the fact that you can’t view any analytics for your store, so you’re unable to identify any improvements needed. It’s also not as visually appealing as some of the other options, which could put customers off and prevent them from finding your page.

New Egg

Specialising in computer hardware and consumer electronics, this California-based online retailer is great for businesses hoping to break into the US market. The dedicated seller portal features a huge bank of helpful content for businesses, including case studies, webinars and eBooks. It’s also got its own B2B marketplace, New Egg Business.

New Egg claims to be obsessed with customer satisfaction, which is great for keeping you in line – but it does mean abiding by a set of rules. For example, all orders must be shipped within 48 hours, and all enquiries responded to within 24 hours. The marketplace is also starting to expand its categories to include things such as jewellery and home goods. Commission, which varies depending on product category, is typically high.

There are many factors which you will need to consider when choosing the right marketplace for your business, but if you use more than one eCommerce platform our Bulk Parcel Delivery solution provides a central booking hub by consolidating all your sales in one place. Hopefully we have given you some food for thought. We wish you every luck as your business develops. Don’t forget to take advantage of Parcelforce’s trustworthy courier service as you start to send.

All information correct at time of writing.