I’ve been selling online for 17 years and only in the past 5 years have I been concentrating on clothing. I’ve found it to be a good gig all in all. There are several websites and apps that I’ve tried over the years and each have pros and cons.
Even though Ebay was the first site I sold on, I don’t recommend it. You can likely sell whatever you’re listing on Craigslist & save about 13% in selling fees. Over the years, my target audience has drastically declined on Ebay. On no other selling platform can a customer purchase an item and then not pay for it for an extended period of time. The only way to get your money immediately on Ebay is by posting items under a “Buy It Now” listing. If you accept “Best Offers”, your customer isn’t required to pay immediately! Same goes for auctions. I’ve had people win an auction and inform me that they will pay at some future date. Nope! Sorry, you don’t walk into a store and say, “Oh, I’ll get you when I get paid next Friday.” Yet this is the norm for Ebay.
The other big thing is people who don’t read the listing terms and assume that they can return perfectly good items for no reason. I have a no returns policy because I accurately describe & photograph my items and I’m not Walmart. I’m just one lady selling some cool things online.
So Ebay, stay the heck away from it if you can. There are *much* better options out there which I’ll outline below.
Etsy: For Vintage & Handmade
- Etsy’s marketplace may bring more customers to your shop than if you start up a standalone website.
- Since Etsy concentrates on vintage(pre-1997) & handmade items, if you sell these items you may find your target audience faster than on your own.
- Stores are FREE. Anyone can open a store at no additional cost.
- Listings are only 20¢ & last for 4 months. Fees are 3.5% of the selling price, which doesn’t include shipping or tax you might charge.
- You can sign up for a free credit card reader. Along with their app, this allows you to sell items in your shop remotely.
- Your items may get lost in the marketplace unless you properly label & use keywords.
- Listings are 20¢ upfront
- You can only list vintage, handmade items, or crafting supplies on Etsy.
Aside from Ebay, I’ve been using Etsy the longest of any other selling platform. Not too much has changed in the 5 years I’ve been a seller. That’s good and bad. They have made major improvements to their visual interface & even introduced an app to get into mobile sales. That being said, I have seen a definite decline in the amount of sales on Etsy over the years and now use it much less than my other apps.
Since I used to sell only vintage, it was a great site for that. There are no fees to open a store. Customers can pay through Paypal or with Etsy’s Direct Checkout. Direct Checkout is nice from a store owner’s perspective because you don’t have to deal with Paypal policies. I love Etsy because it has the lowest fees of any selling platform I use.
On the other hand, Etsy needs to be more innovative. Their Listings Manager is cumbersome, although an improvement over the previous version. Only 5 photos are allowed, which is not nearly enough for many items, especially when trying to show details or flaws. Photo thumbnails can be adjusted, but I still haven’t quite figured out how to make photos look uniform in my shop: 100×100 pixel photos nor 4:3 style photos seem to have any impact on image centering. Having to manually adjust the centering on each thumbnail is time consuming.
Etsy offers 2 apps: the Etsy app and Sell on Etsy. These apps should be combined with an easy interface to switch between buying and selling. You can’t edit items on the go from the Sell on Etsy app, only Copy, Deactivate, or Renew your items. While I love the fact that I can list items on a computer, I’d like to ability to edit items on the go.
Etsy recently unveiled Pattern, their version of a standalone e-commerce site. You still maintain a presence in the Etsy Marketplace in addition to your separate site that you have more control over. It’s $15/month after a 30 day trial, which is competitive with the likes of Shopify or Squarespace.
Overall, Etsy is a great site for those just getting started selling vintage or handmade items online while you build your audience. Its credit card reader & app are best suited to those selling remotely and their new Pattern stores may be a more cost-effective platform to sell your items.
This has gotten super long already! Check back tomorrow when I cover Vinted, the popular clothing app for young (mostly female) adults.