Is eBay the best platform for the modern entrepreneur?
eBay needs no introduction but we shall give it one nonetheless. Founded in 1995, eBay is one of the most significant success stories of the World Wide Web. The auction site is now a multi-billion dollar company with localised operations in over 30 countries.
It is a true rag to riches story and the platform has gone on to create many millionaires in its wake. For online retailers and entrepreneurs, it has become one of the most reliable platforms available for generating profit.
Critics argue that the trading platform has become saturated and that smaller retailers and start-ups have been squeezed out of the marketplace. So is eBay still a viable platform for the modern entrepreneur?
The answer is, it depends. eBay can be an expensive platform to trade on. The site takes roughly nine per cent of each transaction. Then there are the PayPal fees and if you use the auction facilities, rather than Buy It Now, profit margins can fluctuate.
It is also an incredibly competitive marketplace. With many eastern manufacturers producing products and selling them at unbelievably low prices, your items could get squeezed out of the spotlight, regardless of whether it is better or not.
As a seller, you also have to adhere to eBay's terms, rather than your own. With eBay being judge, jury and executioner, you may find that you are, on occasion, out of pocket, due to unreasonable customers. So those are the downsides; but what about the upsides?
eBay gives entrepreneurs access to millions of potential customers, with very little effort. It is akin to owning a shop on Oxford Street as opposed to owning the same shop on a backstreet with no foot traffic.
Even the most benign of items is likely to find a buyer on eBay. One of the very first objects sold on the platform was a broken laser pointer. When the owner of eBay (then AuctionWeb) emailed the buyer to ask him why he bought the item, the buyer replied: "I'm a collector of broken laser pointers."
It is this somewhat random, but equally beautiful ethos that fuels the eBay world. For the right price, there is always a sale to be made. Even in the age of social media, eBay is still the Rolls-Royce of sales platforms.
A multi-faceted approach
Of course, a wise entrepreneur would not rely wholly on one revenue stream, but instead would utilise all tools available to generate sales. However, there are very few out-of-the-box solutions that can begin delivering profit from day one, such as eBay.
It is worth considering utilising eBay advertising and social media to maximise reach, but if you are just starting out, this may not be feasible.
Make no mistake; there are many that have tried and many who have failed to conquer eBay. It requires the right product at the right price. It takes time, hard work and a persistent attitude to build up the reputation necessary to excel. Many would say it also takes a pinch of luck; but for the ones who do find their way to the promise land of eBay success, the rewards are plentiful.