Small Business Owners to Participate in International Independent (R)Etailers Week
The goal of this promotion is to educate online shoppers about web retailers who offer quality products and services on websites that are easy to navigate and browse, but most importantly, sites that offer much higher levels of customer service and safety than eBay. Many "St. Elsewhere" stores (as they are sometimes referred to by former eBay store owners) were created because of fundamental flaws in the eBay Stores system. These flaws included poor exposure of listings, inaccurate search results, glitches in the infrastructure of eBay and eBay databases, high fees, poor customer service and rampant fraud that was beginning to give all sellers on eBay a bad reputation. Many St. Elsewhere store owners started making the move at the end of last summer when eBay raised store insertion fees from 2 cents to 10 cents per month for many items. Many St. Elsewhere owners realized that they could save thousands of dollars per month in fees by leaving eBay while not suffering much of a drop in traffic (even after the initial move). More importantly perhaps, these sellers found they could have complete control over their inventory, payment methods, design and customer service. One seller said, "I can now list cap guns without orange plugs and other eBay regulated items without risk of anyone removing my items. It may not seem like a big deal, but with thousands of items in inventory the lack of "Big Brother" trying to micromanage my sales saves me lots of time, effort and a lot of headaches."
Many sellers and buyers alike feel that the exodus away from eBay by some of the top sellers is starting to show, and the effects are not good for eBay, but are great for those sellers who have left. eBay listings in the US have once again fallen below the 11 million mark, which is the lowest pre-summer figure since 2003. eBay traffic this week hit a six year low, and eBay's rank has fallen to #19 on the list of most visited sites in the world (from a high of 5th in early 2006). While eBay is faltering in the amount of shoppers visiting the site and slowing in number of new users, other sites that showcase independent retailers items are gaining steam. One site, Bidhopper, that gathers inventory from sites based on an OSCommerce shell has seen a marked increase in number of items in their search inventory. Microsoft's Expo Live, a site that gets both feeds from independent sites as well as classified ads directly, is gaining in traffic and rank (as well as inventory) at a very brisk pace, and has passed eBay in both the amount of traffic it receives and the number of users visiting the site. Many sellers who want the ease and convenience of selling online without the work and maintenance of their own website have been choosing to list their items in free eCrater stores. eCrater has seen a very rapid growth in the past two years, due in large part to eBay management's stance of eBay Stores - a stance that many sellers believe involves the dissolution of Stores and at least the hiding of inventory in favor of other eBay products (namely eBay Express items).
For our part in this Independent Etailer Week, www.firemeg.com will continue to take submissions for our Off-eBay Success Stories page. And while you won't see any actual anecdotes on this page, you will see a list of many successful former eBay store owners' new independent web stores that are a success story in themselves. Please email Firemeg.com through our site to add your store to the list, and then we recommend visiting Pheebay to get a copy of the promotion banner to add to your site. If you are a buyer or a habitual eBay shopper, we encourage you to take a week or so at the end of June (or start now for that matter) and search some independent websites when shopping online. If you love eBay, you just might find that you love shopping outside of eBay as well, after all, many of the online stores on independent websites and online malls are filled with inventory from former eBay store owners.
For a list of some independent online retailers, visit our Off-eBay Success page as well as our homepage for links to numerous online shopping malls with multiple sellers.