Online marketplaces may seem like a relatively new phenomena, but believe it or not, eBay celebrated its twentieth birthday this past September!
Ebay Before It Was Ebay
The granddaddy of selling sites entered the selling world as AuctionWeb on Labor Day, 1995 with, in the words of its founder Pierre Omidyar, a mission of “bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open marketplace.” Two years later AuctionWeb became eBay. That this happened to be the year of the great Beanie Babies invasion was a great stroke of luck since it put the newly named marketplace on the map. $500,000,000 worth of the cuddly creatures were sold on eBay, making up 6% of its volume.
Four years later, when the novelty of auctioning began to wear thin with buyers looking for fast transactions, eBay began offering an alternative fixed price “buy it now” option. Soon after, they launched eBay stores, where for a monthly fee, entrepreneurs and companies could set up digital shop. Ebay is now a global marketplace with a presence in 180 countries.
A Growing Market
But eBay is far from having a monopoly. Other marketplaces soon followed, each claiming its own niche cadre of sellers, ranging from free-for-all rough and tumble sites like Craigslist, to the genteel handcrafter’s paradise, Etsy to Amazon who started out appealing to book lovers but soon morphed to an if you want it, we have it website. In a slightly different category, Groupon a commodity/service hybrid appeals to brick and mortar businesses who seek to attract new customers to their brick and mortar locations. While it may seem like there is a glut of internet marketplaces, the reality is the demand keeps growing. According to the latest report from the U.S Census Bureau the third quarter of 2015 saw $87.5 billion dollars of retail sales take place on eCommerce sites.
Choosing the Right Marketplace
If you are just starting out in eCommerce, you may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of finding the marketplace that best fits your business. Finding the best selling platform depends on what you’re selling, and since there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all platform, you might want to display your goods on more than one.
In 2010, in an effort to help newcomers winnow down their choices, eCommercebytes.com launched Sellers Choice, giving established sellers the opportunity to rate the online marketplaces they use. This year, over 12,000 participants in Sellers Choice 2015 first narrowed the field down to twelve finalists, then rated them in four key areas, all areas new eCommerce entrepreneurs need to consider:
- customer service
- ease of use
Etsy came in first overall, placing first in both customer service and ease of use. Amazon was runner-up overall, with Bonanza, Ruby Lane, and eBay rounding out the top five overall places. The other seven finalists were Craigslist, eBid, 11Main.com, Pinterest, eCrater, Zibbet, and Facebook.
Choosing the Right Order Fulfillment Services
As the number of marketplace selling platforms has increased, so too have companies offering marketplace fulfillment services. These are the businesses whom you can hire to ship your products to customers who have purchased them from your chosen marketplaces. Fulfillment services can stock your inventory, and as soon as the marketplace transmits an order, pick, pack, and ship it.
Since they assume the responsibility of getting the right product to the right customer on time and undamaged, it is crucial that you choose one with quality control processes in place, properly trained employees, and up-to-date technology that addresses your particular shipping needs. Choosing the right marketplace fulfillment service can cement your favorable rating among your customers. Choosing the wrong one can result in your losing them.
If you’re ready to find the best fulfillment company for your business, contact us and take advantage of our ten years of research into the industry. We can make finding one easy.