eBay is the wildly successful online auction website that allows you to buy everything from vintage farm equipment to a celebrity’s used tissue. Opening an eBay store or selling a few items via auction allows you to reach the thousands of eBay consumers, who feel safe shopping on the site because of eBay’s buyer protection services. eBay requires no technical know-how. Still, you may prefer the freedom to create exactly the website you envisioned without eBay’s limitations, especially if you’re comfortable with setting up scripts and Web design.
Registration for eBay is free; however, the website charges between 7% and 14% of the final price for every auction item you sell. Additional images and customization also costs more money, so while you can list items for free, you may have better luck attracting consumers if you pay for the extra options. A busy store can quickly incur hundreds of dollars in fees, but if you sell luxury items, you might consider this an acceptable loss.
The price for hosting your own website varies on your host, domain registrar, software you use and whether you hire professionals to design your website. For instance, you might spend as little as $5 per month for hosting or as much as $150. Domains are available starting around $10 per year. eCommerce software helps you create dynamic storefronts, accept payments and track stock. Some eCommerce tools are free, others have a flat up-front fee and some require you to pay a monthly bill. Your needs will dictate your bill.
Building Your Brand and Look
Owning your website gives you full control over the appearance, so you stand out from the crow. You can create custom landing pages for specific services, download plug-ins to help with SEO or automate other tasks and many solutions can export to other marketplaces or even eBay, so you can reach a wider audience.
In comparison, eBay stores are more limited. Your space always retains the overall feel of an eBay auction, even if you customize it with header or background images and text. Even when you have your own store, eBay can hurt branding. Plus, most users will find you via Google or eBay search, so you may have a more difficult time adapting to the lack of a landing page.
Making Sure You’re Found
Ebay items not only show up in Google results, but the massive auction site has an internal search feature, which gives consumers an even larger chance of finding your products and store. Search engine optimization is based on the keywords you use in product descriptions, and eBay even limits length for some fields, like title, which can actually be helpful because search engines only read a limited amount of text for titles.
When you own your website, there are many tools that you can use to keep an eye on search engine optimization and just as many locations–titles, links, descriptions, URLs–where you have sway over SEO. Many eCommerce tools have SEO add-ons or provide preset fields like eBay, which make SEO easier. However, a hand-coded website with HTML requires manual updating to remain relevant.
eBay and most eCommerce solutions offer RSS feeds that your customers can subscribe to and you can display to advertise new products on your social profiles. In fact, if you have an eBay store, you could use the RSS feed to show new products on your website or blog. Additionally, eBay allows users to set your store as a favorite and will email them to show the new items you’ve added. However, while you can load your self-hosted in an i-frame tab, or canvas, on Facebook, you cannot do the same with your eBay store.
Self hosted Ecommerce Platforms
Perhaps a significant hurdle in deciding whether to sell products through eBay, or via your own website is that there is a huge choice of self-hosted eCommerce platforms available. Indecisiveness will often default to keeping your eCommerce channel on eBay but here are the main platforms: Using an eCommerce oriented content management system, (that allows you to upload product) such as Magento eCommerce, WordPress or Joomla Hosted CMS with cart plugins are the main platforms people use to host their shopping platforms on. Joomla Hosting is often seen as best for for eCommerce. Magento is regarded as a scalable eCommerce platform. WordPress is a blogging platform which is often adapted to fit specialist eCommerce needs. Often business owners who have tried the eBay route will want to move to self-hosted once the fees outweigh the benefits of optimizing a self hosted website.
Many sellers have experienced success on eBay, despite their lack of technical expertise, while others swear by owning their own websites. Your experience, time and budget will all determine which solution is best for you.
Juliana – Best Hosting Advice
Juliana is a Content Manager for Los Angeles based InMotion Hosting, specialists in providing the Best Joomla Hosting for beginners. She advises webmasters to help them determine between Joomla or WordPress hosting depending on website purpose. You can reach out to her on Twitter @JulianaPayson and Google Plus for content based on Web 2.0 design and ‘Socialization’ of websites.