Which is best, eBay or an online shop?
The answer depends on many factors including your business, products, budget and market. Both eBay and eCommerce websites have advantages and this article will outline a few of them.
eBay stores have the two main advantages:
1. The initial costs are low and they are relatively easy to set up. This means that almost anyone can have an eBay store online in a couple of hours, a great way to see if a business is going to work.
2. A captive audience; Having an eBay store is a bit like having a shop in a busy shopping centre in that people will be walking past your window and seeing your products all day. There is no worry of having a shop full of items with no one to see them.
As well as this eBay stores can be customised with pages of information about your business, a header image containing your logo and branding and it has full integration with PayPal, so there is no need for merchant bank accounts and credit card security.
eBay can be very good for selling certain types of product, for example those that are second hand, or perhaps those that are dependent on price rather than quality.
A good example may be a laptop battery. I bought one from eBay the other day, I wasn't that bothered about the manufacturer or follow up customer support, I just wanted a cheap battery for my laptop without the hassle hunting around the Internet. eBay was perfect, it listed all of the compatible batteries, their capacity and price.
Online shops/& eCommerce websites
They are generally more expensive than eBay to set up, typical costs would be from perhaps £5,000; but with a successful online shop these costs will be recouped in the long term. This is because, for example, PayPal charge high transaction fees (typically 10%) and the customers of eBay are typically after the cheapest supplier.
With a custom online shop you are able to market products based on their quality rather than cost, and of course have no immediate competition once people are on your website.
As the online shop is custom made, it can have a more professional look, and be far more flexible with features and pricing. It can be built pretty much to any specification and can accommodate even the most complicated of products or pricing and postage structures.
Online shops can fit in with any bank, any payment gateway, and can be integrated with any online marketing campaign.
Apart from the high initial investment (and it is an investment, not an expense) the main drawback is that online shops needs to be promoted. Unlike eBay, there is no captive audience and offline and/or online marketing will need to be done in order to generate visitors. Search engine optimisation can be part of this strategy.
Before committing to a custom built online shop, it would be wise to create a business plan (things to consider when setting up an online shop) or to consult an eCommerce expert such as us who can help.
Other online shops
For some neither an eBay store or a custom online shop would be the best solution, and quite often we suggest a solution in between, either by using a pre-built eCommerce system, PayPal buttons, or some custom code that can be embedded into a website.
So which eCommerce solution is best?
There are no hard and fast rules as to which eCommerce solution will work the best for a particular business. Sometimes it will be eBay, other times it will be a custom built online shop.
Our main piece of advice would be to contact a trusted web developer to discuss all of the options available.
We have had clients contact us for an online shop, and subsequently advised them that it may not generate a return and to use an eBay store. On the other hand, we have upsold a full eCommerce system to a client who had a turnover in excess of £10,000 during his first month of trading.
Webbed Feet UK have knowledge on the whole of market, and can therefore provide advice as to the best solution and allow our clients to compare and make the final decision.
If you would like to discuss anything within this article, please contact our web development team.