Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ebay vs. Etsy for Vintage, a review, Part I

Vintage Red Kitchen Canisters
Etsy vs. Ebay, where is the best place to sell and buy vintage?  I buy and sell on both, here's my review of the two sites.  This will be in more than one part, to do it justice!

Some of you know I sell vintage online as well as portraits and art.  I find it a nice social balance, I get "out and about" at auctions and estate sales.  Working all day, every day in the studio is confining for me, I'm very outgoing.

I've sold art on ebay, but when I started with the vintage, all I heard were horror stories about crazy listing fees, buyer feedback abuse, cheapie Chinese imitation junk, site-controlled checkouts, unfair search results, an impersonal environment and a non-responsive-to-sellers management.  So I tried Etsy.

So I tried Etsy.  Reasonable listing fees, a final value fee of less than half of ebay, and an online "community" full of hipsters just waiting to buy vintage.

Etsy has been very good to me.  I would prefer to sell there.  But in the past two years since I've sold there, there seems to be less and less of a difference between Ebay and Etsy.  So I have been listing and selling more and more on Ebay.   I only list auctions.  And at the price I would list it on Etsy plus 5% to cover the extra fees.

The biggest difference is that Ebay has huge traffic from every demographic and around the world.  And my vintage sells quickly there for the price I want.  I now wait a week before moving my newly-listed Ebay vintage to storage.  I rarely sell that quickly on Etsy, although it's happened.  It's even happened with items I had on ebay that never sold, listed on Etsy and SNAP, it's gone!  There's a bit of rhyme and reason to it, things that appeal to collectors of very specific things, like political memorabilia, military items, "name brand" figurines and collectibles do great on Ebay. Items like the canister set above, do better on Etsy, where buyers are more apt to browse for "something" for their kitchen, rather than a razor-sharp search.

Crazy listing fees on Ebay are gone. I can take a chance on an expensive item and not worry that I'll have huge listing fees if it doesn't sell! It's now cheaper for me to list on Ebay at 50 free listings a month than Etsy for 20 cents. That in itself is worth a second look at Ebay.  

Buyer feedback abuse? Both drastically favor the buyer.  Not when I started, you could see the feedback from the seller as well as the buyer and so could see the "other side" of any negative feedback and make an intelligent decision on whether to buy or not.  But Etsy has since hidden feedback left on a bad buyer...or any buyer...thus, making it one-sided and scary. They both have mechanisms in place to settle disputes. But Ebay wins this one, too, sheerly by the embarrassingly cutesy name Etsy gives the process: "Kiss and Make Up".

I know that those who have been in this business a while feel that Ebay really hurt them in many ways, changed things that have hurt them, and that is a reality. I am not unaware of this, but I just have no personal knowledge. I'd love to hear from you if you do.  Next, I'm going to compare the flooding of the market and search issues.  Hey, thanks for stopping by!  Robin


Unknown said...

Very interesting! Thank you for the information... I had an ebay store a few years back & was doing OK - but a hacker got into my account trying to funnel payments to their account - since the email address was different the payment went nowhere - in limbo forever. Last time I checked the hacker's info was still in there. I tried for days but could get no help from ebay or paypal. I quit ebay & switched to Etsy... not sure it is worth the grief to check out ebay again.

Robin said...

Yep, this is the type of thing I hear from ex-ebayers. It seems that it was so awful that people who were burned will never go back, ever, never, no matter what changes.

Of course, there are etsy haters, too. But it seems to me that the majority of the ebay haters were successful sellers who had their legs cut out from under them. Same vehemance as Artfire haters, who were enjoying some success and pouring a lot of time and effort into it, only to have "enhancements" hurt us while admin kept insisting it was for our own good (have you seen the stats for poor Artfire lately?)

The majority of etsy haters I see tend to be those who never really had success there. There is a nice community feel to it, too. The stress of a site isn't worth it to a lot of us!

Karen Beth said...

I am an Etsy seller and do fairly well there. However, I'm recently out of my day job and really need to "up" my sales so I've been wondering about eBay. I've sold there in the past but really only dabbled. I would love to move things more quickly and that is why I thought of eBay. Just not sure... I don't like the idea of listing one thing in two places either.