After eBay announced pricing changes that translate into higher fees for items that sell but lower fees for those that don't, heavy users of the site quickly expressed their frustration.
"The [commission on sales] went up, way up. The five cents I will save on listing, which I pay whether the item sells or not, is not going to help at all," says Ann Harper, who sells 10 to 25 items per week from her home in Abbot Village, Maine. The changes also include getting rid of negative feedback for buyers, which sellers say creates an unfair, one-way relationship between buyers and sellers. Harper is participating in this week's boycott of the site, which sellers have organized to protest the changes.
But even those joining in the boycott need not lock up their (virtual) shops. "People are making sales on the alternative sites," says Bob Lee, founder of Power Sellers Unite. Here are three popular online alternatives and their fee structures:
1) Amazon Marketplace lets sellers list items that are already for sale through the website, such as books, DVDs, and household items. The fact that most items are already listed makes it easier for sellers, because they don't need to take their own photos or enter their own product descriptions. Amazon charges no fees unless products sell. Commission and closing fees vary by item. Books, for example, carry a 15 percent commission rate plus $2.35 in other fees.
Best for: casual sellers looking to unload old CD collections or slightly used books.
2) Bidville attracts all kinds of sellers, from those selling vintage Beanie Babies to cars to jewelry. It charges no listing fee for unsuccessful sales, and sellers pay 5 percent on items under $25 and between 1 and 2.5 percent on more expensive items, plus a low flat fee. Overstock Auctions offers a similar interface and fee structure.
Best for: sellers seeking an eBay-like experience.
3) Etsy.com features handmade products, including bath products, earrings, sweaters, and woodwork. Pomegranate soap goes for $4, and a pink and brown vintage apron for $24. Etsy.com charges 20 cents to list an item and a 3.5 percent flat sales fee, which means a $20 item will carry a 90 cent fee, excluding shipping costs.
Best for: crafty individuals looking to make money from their creations.