Moving Inventory Quickly: Ebay or Craigslist?

I got my first electric guitar when I was 16 years old. Bought it at a merchant store in Cebu’s downtown area where you see a lot of mom and pop stores and old Chinese owned stores that look like they had been in business for decades; and from the dust and cobwebs that gather on a lot of their items on sale, you could not help but think that some of these items might be as old as the store. But I guess I exaggerate a bit, but with purpose. I bought it for P1,200 which was a fairly huge amount back in the 80s. It was a Gibson copy.

There is one thing I notice about some stores or retailers… they hardly ever do big sales with big price cuts in order to get rid of merchandise.

Let us fast forward to the present day. About a week or two ago, I had a chance to talk to a boutique owner in the Bay Area who wanted to move inventory fast.

Store owners may be able to relate to this, getting stuck with items that simply do not sell, and realize that they just got to get rid of their stocks fast to make room for newer stuff that would be higher in demand and easier to sell; and move the old stuff at cost or maybe even at a small loss, but make that up from the profits you make off the newer items that you sell… that you are able to buy in the first place when you recoup that money by selling off non moving inventory. That was a mouthful wasn’t it?

The question I was asked was would Ebay be a great way to quickly move inventory. My answer, no.. at least not if you want to just quickly dump merchandise that is not selling in your store.

Ebay is a great way to sell stuff, it is a high traffic site with people visiting it with one purpose, find and buy something specific.  But here are some things to consider if you are in the situation I just described.

Fees. Yes Ebay has a few fees that you need to meet, placement fees, Payal fees and added fees that are optional if you wish to upgrade your placements on Ebay and give it better exposure. Plus if you opt to offer free shipping, that means you are paying for shipping out of your pocket. Shipping costs influence Ebay buyers.

System. Sellers have two selling options; sell by auction or by fixed rate/buy now.

When you sell by auction buyers compete amongst each other to get the item, and the problem arises when bidders do not reach the reserve price you set for the item being auctioned. Made worse if there are other sellers on Ebay who are also selling the same item you have in stock and sell at lower prices and might offer better value such as free shipping, longer money back or return policies, etc. Of course if your item is somehow unique and you have less competition on Ebay, this might be to your advantage.

Then there is the buy now option; again if you have competing sellers who have the same merchandise and are selling for less and offering additional value, they will likely get the sale and not you.

Yes Ebay is a good yet competitive platform to sell on.

One more thing about their system, it unfortunately favors sellers who have amassed a certain number of transactions and positive reviews, many of which have achieved PowerSeller status. These Powersellers are able to get more exposure of their items than the new Ebay seller, especially when Ebay’s internal search engine is used.

So what then is a better alternative to Ebay if you simply want to dispose of items quickly and without any additional costs? You have two options. First is through social networking on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Multiply and even YouTube, where you are able to push these items upon people on your network and are subscribed to your updates and get your messages. Second option is Craig’s List.

Both methods do not involve any fees and it is likely that people who are interested in the product might be local to your area and can simply drive over to where you are check out the product, pay in person and take it with them.

Again I am not saying Ebay does not work, it probably won’t work for someone who just wants to get rid of inventory quickly and recoup the money that went into it, so that you could buy newer inventory that sells better, even more critical if you are looking at very small margins or none at all.


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