eBay is twenty billion dollars worth of dot-com success story. It’s so successful, it even overrides the “capitalize at the start of a sentence” rule, and most of us have known that rule since grade school. Started in 1995, the auction site has grown larger than many countries’ armies and is much, much more welcome around the world. Last year they made over $600 per second because “take a percentage of everyone buying and selling everything” is a fantastic business plan if you can pull it off.
But, billion-dollar businesses are rarely as friendly or benevolent as we’d like them to be. eBay forces many customers to use Paypal for “security”, and the fact that they own Paypal (and therefore charge two percentages on every transaction) is supposedly a complete coincidence. Luckily, there are more online auction sites than just eBay. You wouldn’t sell your limited-edition Stratocaster in a supermarket, and you wouldn’t install Windows on a nuclear reactor just because it’s the most popular operating system. That’s why we’ve found 25 alternative selling sites.
Artfire isn’t a late addition to selling sites. They started in 2008, and they’ve had years to see what’s wrong with everyone else. If you’re selling your own creations, Artfire is one of the only shopping sites which won’t force people into their shop. They understand that the whole point of an online store is not forcing people to come to one specific place, so their RapidCart lets you install “Buy now!” links on your own site. They’re so confident in this process that your first dozen offerings are completely free — and if you sell those, you not only know that you’ve got something worth selling, but that you’ve found as site worth working with.
Atomic Mall is a rising star of online sales. They look at eBay’s auction model and think “That’s far too much hassle.” The Atomic Mall is everything a real mall should be — and you don’t have to walk all day. Items are listed (with no listing fee!) with fixed fees, though sellers can choose to accept “offers” below the listed price. Each individual store can be customized, and products can be sold from outside the Mall. And just because some people like hassle, they’re made noises about adding Atomic Auction in the future. It’s just like the fifties but without the fallout.
Auction Warehouse skips the international options to offer free selling in the US, making it very attractive for anyone looking to get rid of a few items instead of setting up a store. There are no flat fees, listing fees or percentages charged on any sales. Instead, they offer advertising options like featured or colored listings for a small charge, but you don’t have to spend a cent on your sales unless you’re in a hurry. A very useful site when it’s time to clean out that garage.
Blujay is bigger than you’d imagine at first sight, especially with how it says “Free” everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of items are available and everything hosted on the site is automatically cross-posted to Google Products. Banner advertising replaced service charges, meaning Blujay don’t take a cent from their users and are in no hurry to end sales. Sellers can create unlimited pages, with no time limit, the only restriction being a bandwidth-conserving four images per page. If you’re looking to move a lot of items quickly, without paying for the privilege, Blujay is perfect.
Bonanza isn’t copying eBay, it’s studying them for weakness. Their sellers fee system is the same but with smaller numbers all round, and their tagline “Find everything but the ordinary” speaks to those searching for rare objects. The ability to talk with buyers and sellers attracts collectors and spurs multiple purchases, while the ability to buy without a lengthy registration increases impulse sales (and the internet economy is almost completely built out of sudden impulses!)
eBid is everything you want in an alternative auction site — it’s almost as big as eBay, so it has all the same services, but not quite as big, so it’s still making the effort to win people over. With 60,000 visitors a day from over 100 countries there’s no shortage of market, and everything it does is “eBay without the monopoly.” It has a proprietary payment system, but lets you use other ones. You can post as many auctions as you like for free, or pay a one-time-ever fee for permanent premium features (with for 66% off the standard price if you’re convinced within a day or smart enough to use a ‘test account’ first.) It’s the number one eBay alternative with Webuser Magazine, and even though “Webuser magazine” is a ridiculous contradiction, they’re still right.
eCrater is far more successful than the antiquated “e-something” name would suggest. Growing since 2004, this eBay rival is creating and keeping customers with over two-thirds of all stores ever created on the service still in action. The fixed-price format avoids all the hassles of auction snipers and waiting around to see if you’ve been allowed to buy something — you search, you find, you buy, you’re done. It knows exactly who it’s targeting too, with an easy option to “import your eBay products” for people who’ve had enough and want to change services.
Etsy is the exemplar of the targeted marketplace. Listing craft items on eBay or Amazon is like selling your homemade cookies in Starbucks — yours might be much nicer, but to the masses milling through for fast corporate service will think you’re a crazy person. But, find the right site and you’ve got a ready-made audience: anyone browsing Etsy wants unique products, one of a kind purchases, and the character of the creator to shine through. If you’re selling anything old (over 20 years counts as a “vintage” auction, attracting even more attention), unique, or of your own creation, Etsy is the place to be.
ePier hybridizes eBay and Craigslist for those who want to auction things without the stress of shipping long distances. While you can still buy anything from anywhere, the regional information with each sale helps you stay local, while still getting the most (or paying the least) for your products. They charge less than eBay, because everyone competing with eBay does, but make money back on “boosters” for your sale. An extra dollar or two can promote your post to the top of a category or the front page of the site, meaning you can speed up your sale (if you think you’ll make enough to be worth it!)
Auction houses are imperious affairs, with stressed customers scrabbling to get what they want while an utterly impersonal arbitrator decides who gets what and when that happens. You’d have a better chance negotiating with a Terminator. iOffer realizes that real people don’t pop down to Sotheby’s to find bargains, instead cruising yard sales to find great deals. iOffer’s negotiated commerce model makes talking part of the transaction, for those who want more human interaction than “typing in a credit card number.” But you’ll have to remember that can go two ways — iOffer has no buyer or seller protection, so be cautious with your new friends.
A fast, frill-free auction site with a focus on military collectibles. The first time we fired up the page we found World War 2 flying gauntlets, a Vietnam mess kit, and a letter opener for use in the trenches (and possibly enemies by the look of it.) The militaria angle means it won’t be for everyone, but it will be absolutely priceless for a specific (and presumably heavily-armed) group. It’s also an excellent place to lose an hour just browsing, and a few dollars when you decide that USMC Canteen and holder would be kickass for your next camping trip (and you’d be right.)
Nothing drops an item’s price more than when its previous owner just leaves it somewhere. Surplus inventory doesn’t make managers see dollar signs, it makes them say “Get that stuff out of here!” Which is where where Liquidation.com steps in. You can buy literally truckloads of surplus gear, making it well worth scanning through every time you’ve got a bulk purchase on the horizon.
Listia isn’t just an online auction site, it’s a genuine attempt to create utopia. And it’s working. Buyers and sellers work with virtual credits which never leave the system. You earn credits by signing up and selling items, and you can then use those credits to make purchases. It’s an electronic system whereby you can swap your belongings for things you want, and your stuff went to those who needed it as well. As a reward for redistributing everything to where it’s wanted, funding company “Y Combinator” even sweeten the pot with extra gadgets. You can also buy credit directly, but an auction site where “actually pay money” is an option instead of a requirement is incredibly interesting.
Online Auction boasts half billion dollars worth of active reserves, and that’s a hard number to argue with. They can list eight digits of dollars because they’re aimed at higher-volume sellers. Instead of charging a percentage of every sale, there’s an $8/month flat fee and nothing else. If you sell a few hundred dollars worth of merchandise a month it’s a smart choice, especially since it’s still free to buy — they have to make sure there are customers for all these paying sellers!
If you want to move some jewelry in a hurry, talk to Tony “Two Eyes” Timocelli down at the Hairy Dog. Say “Bozo” sent you. Unless it’s legal, in which case Ruby Lane is a much easier option with 100% less standing up (never mind risk of machetes). Targeted to the finer things in life, Ruby Lane is a perfect place to search for thoughtful gifts — or sell less-than-thoughtful ones. Fine art, silver, gems and collectibles, this is where you go when discounted plastic plates are the very last thing you want to find.
Salvage Sale is a heavy-duty sale site, shifting huge lots of metal, machinery, and anything else a company might leave lying around when it goes bankrupt. Corporate surplus and otherwise overstocked or salvaged goods get sold at ridiculously low prices. There are only a few dozen items on sale at any time, but you will never find them so cheap anywhere ever again — they’re just huge, and their current owner is more interested in getting rid of them than a high price. Be sure to check before any big purchase or construction project!
Many don’t use eBay for everyday purchase, but enjoy the thrill of hunting rare items and bargain collectibles. The problem is everyone else does too, meaning they’re even rarer but rarely a bargain. So why not hunt somewhere designed to have what you’re looking for? Specialist Auctions is stuffed with unique collectibles, from video games to comics, used police gear to pagan souvenirs. A great place to find unique gifts!
StuffBuff is online auctions plus social media, because of course it had to happen and now you’re kicking yourself for not inventing it first. As well as a “Stuffit” button which can be used on your own sites to sell items instantly, unique auction alternatives distinguish this from the crowd. “LiveHaggle” opens a public chat window between the seller and all interested buyers, allowing you to find out more about the product (or encourage purchases when you’re selling!) The “Blink!” option is perfect for the fast sale when you need to shift something. A starting price continually falls, accelerating as more people join the auction, and the first person to press “Buy” gets it. A guaranteed sale!
uBid is extremely serious about trust, and it’s working. uBid only allows verified merchants to sell on the site, and uBid does all the verifying. They also administer all transactions, meaning your credit card is never fired off through third parties. This security is essential because otherwise it would look like it’s full of scams: brand-name consumer electronics with no reserves, ridiculously low starting prices, and frequent sales and slashed prices. It’s an absolute must for the gadget hunter.
Webstore does exactly what it says in the name. And it’s free. We’re only sorry our alphabetical listing put it so late in the list. They offer everything from antiques to pet toys, though they can’t help with explaining to “Mr. Snookums” that the former is not the latter. They were voted the Easiest to Use auction site by Auctionbytes in 2011, and in customer service they came second only to Artfire. And, like we say, it’s free. “Verifying” your account costs $10 and is completely optional, and free users have no problem buying or selling. Benefits of verification include looking legitimate in the eyes of potential buyers, and that’s nothing to do with Webstore – that’s human psychology.
The best things in life aren’t free. But that’s no reason to be stupid about it. WineCommune isn’t just an alcohol auction site, it’s your one-stop-shop for a tour of world flavors. Wine appreciation is one of the few hobbies guaranteed to make you feel smarter and better. With auction and search tools, you can work your way up the ranks of the grape’s gift, finding rare bottles and wonderful vintages without breaking the bank. Or even standing up.
Image credit: DSGpro / iStockphoto