February 13, 2008

Ebay - to leave or not?

You may or may not have heard about the eBay strike taking place Feb 18-25th. Ebay lowered some of their posting fees, a much needed change. In consequence they are raising the final value fees significantly. The official eBay emails really downplayed the rise in FVF's. Maybe they thought their sellers were stupid, I don't know. Since I use PayPal to process my eBay sales, the total eBay commission runs up to 15% of the sale price. This means that I would likely lose money on lower priced auctions.

Yes, I have been putting a few toes into eBay. The primary purpose was to advertise, drive traffic to my website, and liquidate slow moving stock. Unlike other product categories, children's "boutique" clothing does get top dollar on eBay once established. There are lots of eBay boutique sellers who are very creative and seem to be bringing in top dollar for their creations. Some of them have gone on to start their own wholesale clothing lines (Lisa is an example with her boy's line). I have been watching these designers for about 5 years.

I did things backwards, in some ways. I started a regular e-commerce site, then branded it, and then launched a preview line (still working towards a full blown line). I only started getting serious about using eBay to try and tap into that particular customer base the last few months. I was slow to start with it because there are several drawbacks, mostly time. Each item (regardless of your inventory counts), must be listed separately. Each sales transaction takes a long time to close. And then you have to wait for feedback - you are almost hostage to it. Don't get me wrong, there are people who make their living off their eBay sales. I just never saw it as efficient or cost effective. Did I mention that boutique designers dress up their auctions with lots of photography and fancy layouts?

So now I face a quandary of sorts. eBay has every right to price their listing fees where they want. The strike may or may not work - I have my doubts. For all practical purposes I can't continue with eBay and yet the exodus of established designers opens up possibilities for newbies. I have to find some other way to liquidate old product. I signed up with eCrater, but it lacks the user base. I have to redo my Etsy shop, which has issues as well. I still want to tap into the right customer base. Grrr.

You can read more about the strike from other eBay boutique designers:

Gock's Frocks
Boutique Cafe

For what's worth, I will "strike" too. I will evaluate the results and whether it is worth continuing in a couple of weeks. In any event, most of my product is in my own shop anyway.

So what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Esther...I think the haydays of Ebay are long over. There was a time when selling children's boutique clothing on ebay was profitable. However, due to the ever increasing fees, shipping costs, fabric/supplies, auction templates and photography--ebay is not so appealing if you are trying to sell your goods via auctions. Not to mention, the shill bidding, unscrupulous sellers and possible negative feedback.

    That said, if you are looking to advertise your line and draw ebay customers to your website, it is worth it. Consider ebay a great marketing tool as the exposure is great.

    Be sure to have an updated ME page with a link to your website. Mention free shipping on your ME page for all purchases made through your website. You need something to draw the customers over to your website. Add promotions from time to time.


    With friendship,