Guest Post from BigCommerce: How Selling on eBay Can Future Proof Your Ecommerce Business in 2018
My co-founder, Maxim Godin, and I launched our first ecommerce business back in 2008 –– on eBay.
In the past 8 years, from our first attempt at ecommerce to GripUp.com, we’ve seen it all. We have taken our business from suspended accounts to more than $100,000 in monthly sales, winning eBay awards for the highest conversion rates on the platform.
When figuring out how to sell on Ebay, people expect quick results. Our success on eBay wasn’t overnight. It never is. Success is for the stubborn and persistent. Those who will not take ‘No’ for an answer.
I think of our early days on eBay as a youth stage. We were in our nascent days, learning to walk and talk. It was in our teenage years –– so to speak –– that we got suspended for copyright infringement. We used stock images found on Google, which we quickly learned is a big no-no.
In those days, we were always moving two steps ahead only to take one back. It seemed we had to learn everything the hard way. It felt like natural selection. I saw businesses launch and grow relatively successful on eBay only to fall out of favor with buyers and lose it all. Some would never even get their feet under them.
We survived the early lessons –– and live to tell the tale to help others more quickly and readily succeed.
Soon, we were making real money on eBay, leading us to launch our second sales channel –– the aforementioned webstore GripUp.com, catering to filmmakers’ needs.
eBay, however, is a major pillar of our selling success –– and is the entire reason I am a successful entrepreneur to begin with.
What’s more is that I will never give up my eBay sales channel. Not because I’m a loyalist, but because I’ve seen how eBay can save a business from death.
My company’s own horror story proves why the eBay marketplace is a saving grace.
How do I open an eBay Store?
To open your eBay online store (and start selling) you must have an eBay seller account (with a credit card on file) and be PayPal Verified. To open a premium online eBay store, your seller performance cannot be below standard. Once these requirements are met, take the following steps:
- Name your eBay online store.
- Describe your store and what it sells.
- Choose a design for your eBay store.
- Ensure product listings include an enticing title, in-depth description and nice photos.
- Consider integrating with your online store for easy multi-channel inventory management.
The Unpredictability of Google Algorithms:
In 2012, our eBay business accounted for less than 30% of the business, with most revenue already being generated from our webstore.
Then, Google released the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.
We lost more than 60% of our webstore traffic almost overnight.
Google algorithm update
If it wasn’t for our eBay store, our entire business would have been dead in the water and I would have no further journey to share from this point. We would have gone bankrupt like thousands of businesses did in 2012 and 2013.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying eBay is a safe harbor. In fact, eBay itself was hit hard by Google’s algorithm change back in 2014 too.
An eBay business isn’t different from any other business. Don’t believe those self-proclaimed eBay experts who will teach you how to make a million dollars on eBay for a $500 course.
I did more than a million dollars in revenue on eBay, and let me tell you the secret: it’s the polar opposite of relaxing on the beach with your laptop as promised by the get-rich-quick crowd.
Diversifying your risk is critical in the ever-changing world of ecommerce. Without eBay, our business would have died years ago.
It takes a lot of heart, sweat and tears to build a successful business. And an eBay business is no different.
With that said, without eBay, our business would have died years ago.
It’s kind of funny if you think about it: we launched our webstore to diversify our risk. We took a “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” approach. We didn’t want our business to completely rely on eBay.
Then, fate kicked in.
It was eventually eBay that saved our company when things went south.
Diversifying your risk is critical in the ever changing world of ecommerce. That isn’t the only reason why I believe every webstore owner should sell on eBay.
Why Every Webstore Owner Should Sell on eBay:
The main benefits of selling on eBay included leveraging the site to drive additional traffic to our website, improved brand recognition and an additional revenue stream for our business. This is what we pay eBay for. We list a product today; we get customers tomorrow. We don’t need to worry about promotion, discovery and traffic. That is what eBay does best.
1. Ebay can be an additional revenue stream for your business.
This is what we pay eBay for. We list a product today; we get customers tomorrow.
We don’t need to worry about promotion, discovery and traffic. That is what eBay does best.
eBay has 165 million buyers worldwide. By listing on eBay, we instantly tap into this high-volume, highly relevant traffic source of potential customers.
eBay earns a fee per sale. It’s in their best interest to generate high quality leads that convert to orders. For that reason, the new eBay management team is heavily investing in SEO, TV advertising and attracting new generations of customers to the marketplace.
With our webstore, it took half a year just to get it off the ground. We paid $3,000 a month to top SEO agencies hoping they could deliver.
Then, when we finally got some steady traffic, Google updated their algorithm and we were back to square one.
With eBay, the stream of traffic and orders is almost immediate.
2. eBay can be used to drive more website traffic.
eBay can be an underutilized strategy to increase referral traffic to your online store. This tactic can help improve customer loyalty and result in additional customers that buy directly from your website (rather than on eBay). Learn how you can drive more ecommerce traffic to your store with 30 actionable tactics to put in place today.
3. eBay can be used to build your brand.
One of the unique things about doing business on eBay versus other marketplaces is that they enable you to market your store and your business in much the same way you would your own webstore. We’ve taken advantage of this over the years by applying some simple marketing tactics:
Consistent design and experience on the webstore and eBay, in line with the omni-channel trend across retail. This way, customers who visit our eBay listings remember our brand colors, logos, layout and feel confident shopping when finding GripUp on Google. Note: Some companies prefer to sell on eBay under a different brand for reasons such as supplier agreements and MSRP.
Promoted our brand via eBay customer support. Signing every message with “Oliver G., GripUp Customer Support” will resonate with your audience by personalizing your communication. Folks will search Google for you if they’re happy with their eBay transaction.
Replied to all feedback on eBay, mentioning our brand for the same reason as above.
Ready to get started on eBay and increase your sales? Use BigCommerce’s Channel Manager and eBay integration now.
4. Customers trust eBay.
eBay takes responsibility for transactions on the marketplace, and has a well-developed trust infrastructure. For 20 years, eBay has worked to build trust between buyers and sellers and remediate issues through programs like Money-Back Guarantee and eBay Buyer-Protection.
Consumers simply trust eBay and know that, in any case of problem, they are covered.
eBay Buyer Protection
For this reason, there is a significant segment of eBay shoppers who won’t look elsewhere. These shoppers have learned to trust eBay. They only feel confident doing their online shopping on this marketplace.
If you don’t sell on eBay, you miss these customers entirely.
The Importance of Trust
Learn all about the science of emotional buying and what you can do about it.
5. eBay is leading the mobile shopping age.
With mobile commerce projected to see an 18% increase by 2020, it’s important for any brand to partner with a mobile-friendly marketplace.
With nearly 340 million downloads, eBay’s mobile app is a leading mobile shopping app. In Q3 2016, eBay recently reported more than 58% of transactions on the marketplace are already being influenced by mobile.
eBay mobile commerce
For millions of shoppers, eBay’s mobile app is the first destination for learning about the category of their desired item, understanding the important parameters and discovering the available buying options.
By listing on eBay, you increase your brand’s exposure, and the chance for mobile shoppers to find and choose you.
The Mobile Future
Mobile friendliness is as important on your own website as it is on marketplaces. Checkout BigCommerce’s 67 responsive themes and update your mobile UX today.
How can you apply this to your business?
You should look at selling on eBay as a strategy to grow and promote your brand and webstore with immediate results.
I call eBay the sandbox for ecommerce businesses. With the almost instant flow of traffic and orders, it’s a great way to get started. As our business matured, we’ve also found that it’s the perfect place to test out new product offerings, expand into international markets through programs like their Global Shipping Program and get in front of customers searching on mobile devices.
The real challenge is in continuing to build your own brand and webstore. In our case, eBay played a major role in our success and continues to as we sell on eBay through BigCommerce. It can do the same for you.