It’s totally right and natural for any eBay seller to want to find profits and growth in other marketplaces. However, it’s at that point that many draw a blank. There has been a tendency for new sites to seek to become the ‘eBay killer’ with a strategy fuelled by antipathy or anger resulting from site changes or fee increases. That’s never going to be a recipe for success. You just can’t out-eBay eBay. Those that are trying aren’t getting cut-through or delivering results for sellers, as far as I can see.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places online to do business. Moreover, I think in 2008 we’ll start seeing very credible challenges to eBay’s hegemony. Google will doubtless become more important in the future as an ecommerce driver but whilst some sellers do report good sales from feeding their inventory in, it’s not moving the dial for many. Yet.
The surprise success and challenge is coming from Amazon. In recent months I’ve heard some very positive stories from sellers , especially stateside, who have had a stellar Christmas thanks to Amazon. There are grumbles too, of course: fixed, dictated postage costs and it seems to be a very price sensitive market. But all that said, if you sell relevant goods, think Amazon if you want an additional outlet.
But for my money, looking ahead and Google aside (and I’m still sceptical they equal to the task), the bigger opportunity for eBay sellers will be with small niche marketplaces. It’s always seemed to me that eBay’s ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t give anyone a snug fit. Tailored, specific channels honed for specialisms and built by experts could see strong growth in 2008 and beyond. As an example, check out etsy.com. It’s a really interesting, innovative market for crafts. It’s easy to imagine a site like this (and a thousand others) finding traction, attracting a dedicated following and delivering sales.