If you've been with eBay since its early days (those would be the "olden days" of 1995), you'll agree the site and its situation has undergone change. Some have bemoaned that eBay changed so much since the days when founder Pierre Omidyar was running the show that it's barely a shadow of its former fun and fortune-bearing self. Sure, eBay has endured some dramatic changes since its halcyon days of the 1990s, but if you think the site has grown away from you—or you've outgrown it—think again.
The fact is, eBay has shown remarkable staying power. It survived the tumultuous "dot-com bust" of the previous millennium and, while it has certainly changed its means and methods, it's still in business—and so are you!
If you think you're ready to wash your hands of the grand auction site, the former land of hopes and dreams, dare to dream just a bit longer. eBay still has plenty to offer to you and your business—you just need to refine your view of its potential. Here's a peek into what eBay can still deliver and how it can still make a difference to your business' bottom line.
A source of marketplace research
eBay was founded upon the principles of supply and demand. It was Omidyar's driving motivation when he created the site (originally named "AuctionWeb") to develop the perfect market where buyers and sellers could meet to establish real-time market value for goods. eBay has been that and more, serving for nearly two decades as a place where buyers and sellers could meet to collaboratively determine acceptable prices for goods and services.
As a business owner, no matter how large or small your business might be, eBay provides you a global view of the market, the goods and the prevailing price trends. On any given day, you can gauge what's hot, what's not and what sorts of prices are being paid for goods. By watching current bid and sales activity, you can quickly identify market trends, market opportunities and methods to stay in front of both.
eBay provides an up-to-the-minute pulse of what's happening in the goods and services markets, helping you determine if your business is on the mark or in need of some course correction. For this purpose alone, eBay has plenty to keep you interested and actively engaged.
eBay isn't the magic pill to riches, but it's definitely not a venue to be discarded from your portfolio
A venue to test new products
As you identify market trends and opportunities, you are in the best position to determine if there's an unfulfilled demand for new products—perhaps the ones you're developing now. When you study the "live" data that's at your fingertips at eBay, you can assess how product demand is shaping up, how it's lagging, and how you might adjust your designs and approaches to seize the opportunity. The answers are there for you if you're paying attention and are able to adapt to the trends.
You needn't only chase trends, though, as you're testing new products. The greatest value of the eBay marketplace is the low cost to launch a new product in front of millions upon millions of potential global customers. Whether you choose to list in auction, fixed-price, or store settings, eBay provides you a low-cost method to present a new product to a worldwide audience with the additional benefit to adjust your product and promotional methods according to the near-immediate response you'll receive. If ever you wanted to do business at the speed of business, eBay is still a top venue to test products and ideas.
A place to liquidate old products
No matter how well tuned your business might be, it's inevitable that you'll tend to a certain amount of "remainder inventory." Whether it's seasonal goods that didn't completely sell out or new items that aren't exactly flying off the shelves as you originally anticipated, you will have products that need quick disposition. The good news is that eBay is practically the de facto destination for those looking for closeouts and liquidation sales. If you have goods that you need to move quickly, move them to eBay and let the bidders and buyers do what they do best—snap up bargains!
Be sure to offer your remainder inventory in "lots," or groupings, to better ensure you don't wind up with certain items that simply won't sell. Combine goods at closeout prices so buyers can take advantage of a bulk purchase (and delivery) to help them, while you help yourself unload your flagging inventories.
A place to reach new customers
In all of this, recognize that each of the preceding benefits of marketing through eBay helps you continually reach new customers. No matter if they're around the corner or across the globe, when you harness eBay to serve your needs, you enable your business to be seen by more customers. Shoppers are drawn to eBay for a variety of needs and goals and, if you will utilize the site in the variety of methods just described, you'll be certain to reach each segment of the buying populace.
Of course, you shouldn't put all of your business eggs into one basket. eBay is just one venue to utilize as you work your business. Your direct customer sales (be they online or via a brick-and-mortar establishment), plus a well-designed Web site, are paramount to grow your business to its fullest potential. eBay isn't the magic pill to riches, but it's definitely not a venue to be discarded from your portfolio.
Yes, eBay has been around for some time now and, no, it's not the same place as it was back at its beginning. Even so, just because its novelty has worn off, that doesn't mean its value to you has worn away.
On the contrary, good business is where you find it and, if you're clear about what you're looking for, you'll likely find some of it at eBay.