Changes in 5 years of online trading

I have been trading on eBay now for over 5 years. Fundamentally, our service has essentially stayed the same. Yet, the list of items that we sell has changed. In the early days – certainly in the first couple of years – we would very rarely ever say ‘No’ to selling something. If we went to see a client and there were items there of a low value, we would find it hard to refuse them. Over time though, and with experience I guess, we know it is right not to take everything on that is offered up for sale.

A client will often say that they do not care what an item sells for but the two observations that I would make would be this – firstly, that item may not have a huge second hand value yet I do not want them to feel that we were unable to realise the item’s potential. And secondly, it is important to us to sell goods that have a value. Again, from experience, something may have a low sale price but if you are going to create a listing properly then we don’t put less effort into it just because it is only worth a small amount. It is better to say ‘No’ and nowadays we do! Any changes in over the last 5 years I would hope are for the best. And, we continuously strive to provide an improved service.

Interestingly, there have been changes in the market place over that time. eBay is no longer the only online outlet to sell your possessions. Amazon has fast become a successful competitor for a whole host of reasons. The site is used in the same way as eBay but it is all based on fixed prices so there are no auctions. Now, this is an avenue that we have talked about using but we have not yet explored it in detail. I suspect Amazon saw an influx of new sellers in the last 18 months. In particular eBay now charge 10% on whatever postage price is quoted which is in addition to them already charging a final value fee plus commission on every PayPal transaction! As you can appreciate the forums went mad, up in arms with many abandoning ship.  Etsy, is also another outlet but it focuses on selling more vintage pieces, again fixed price selling. I suspect that these are both places to consider for the future.

The rise of social media has also had an impact on our buying and selling habits and Facebook has proved enormously successful. There are hundreds of Facebook groups out there which provide an easy way of selling. It’s a simple quick process: take a picture, post it to a number of groups and if you are realistic about the price then you can be guaranteed to sell it. But, a word of caution: there is very little comeback and you can be continuously messed around. You also have to think about whether you are actually realising the true potential of the item being sold. Remember when you sell on eBay you receive the buyer’s contact information. With Facebook, there is no comeback or mechanism for reporting rogue buyers other than banning them from the group (if it is a closed one).

It’s been an interesting 5 years in terms of the changes that have taken place in online trading. The greatest challenge is keeping up with the pace especially in the world of social media and using the technology available to our benefit.

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