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When I was in college over twenty years ago, Ebay was just starting to be a thing. I remember my classmates skirting the pricey campus bookstore and getting their required texts on the up-and-coming auction site. Ebay has changed tremendously over the years, and both buyers and sellers haven’t always been thrilled with the adjustments, but I remain a big fan even now.
It’s more private and respects your freedom. Amazon has been in the news a lot for privacy violations against its customers and is currently embattled by lawsuits. Ebay is much less invasive. Amazon gained further notoriety this year by using its power to squelch free speech, guaranteed by the Constitution. My family just ended its Prime membership. I’m glad that Ebay is much freer marketplace of goods and ideas. (Walmart.com is another alternative, and offers a much better free shipping deal than Amazon Prime anyway.)
There are items you can’t find anywhere else. Not everyone has an Etsy shop. And your local Craigslist is a hit or miss proposition. Amazon’s third party sellers are good, but selection is very limited, and it can be harder to make direct contact and resolve differences. Time and time again, I find myself shopping on Ebay when there’s a certain item that I need. It could be anything from a Lego Knights set or a Hannah Anderson dress for my daughter that’s no longer made or sold in stores.
You save big buying used. I mentioned Lego sets above. You can get used or like new stuff on Ebay for a fraction of what it costs new on Amazon and other retail giants. It’s easy to find free shipping, too, because Ebay incentivizes sellers to offer this option.
There’s a bigger selection and better descriptions. Let’s say I’m shopping for the Hobson’s Choice DVD (an obscure classic gem with Charles Laughton as an insufferable tyrant of a father who is hesitant to lose his three daughters to marriage…go rent it!). On Amazon, I have about 15 offers, with very little variance in shipping costs, and very little in the way of item descriptions). On Ebay, there are over 40 for sale, with more detailed descriptions and a wide variety of shipping costs and options.
You can use Paypal. Although Ebay was criticized in the past for eliminating payment options like check, cash and money order, I do like that they accept Paypal (as opposed to Amazon).
Bidding can save you money. If no one else wants the vintage embroidered hand towel you are bidding on, hooray! You can save a lot of money with auction-style listings vs. having to pay set prices on Etsy and Amazon. And if you don’t win this auction, no worries. Ebay has such a wide reach that chances are great another seller will be listing the same or a similar item within a week.
You can buy in lots. This one of Ebay’s best features, both for buyers and sellers. Bidding on “lots” of items saves you time and money and is LOTS of fun. You can get a box full of 3T clothes, an assortment of medium maternity tops, a rainbow of diaper covers, or a grab bag of baseball cards. The sky’s the limit.
The messaging system is easy. It’s easy to ask questions and connect with sellers on Ebay if you have questions about an item. Ebay’s messaging system also allows you to easily send photos back and forth.
You can earn money from Ebay. You may not know it, but Ebay has an affiliate network you can join.
Ebay is great for checking values. You can search sold listings on Ebay to find out what your stuff is worth, even if you’re not planning to sell it on Ebay.
Ebay feedback gives credibility. If you’re buying or selling on other sites, the feedback that you’ve built up on Ebay can be useful in establishing your credibility. Let’s say you are selling some bumGenius pockets on the Diaper Swappers site but you’re a brand new member. Being able to say “I have 100% feedback on Ebay as user zephyrhillblog” can help get you more customers.
Ebay is big. Yes, there are “alternative” auction sites out there, but they just don’t get the same juice as eBay. That means a lot less selection if you’re the buyer, and a lot less exposure if you’re the seller. An example: Google “vintage linen tablecloth” and Ebay comes up in the top 3 results.
What are your thoughts on Ebay? Do you buy or sell there?