eCommerce website builders vs. eBay

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"Is it better to build your own eCommerce website in order to create a sustainable company, or sell products directly through eBay?"

While eBay allows retailers to start selling any type of product quickly and efficiently, it may be doing small business more harm than good - in the long term.

One of the main advantages of eBay, for sellers, is that it makes it very easy to begin selling stuff online. Domains, Web hosting, eCommerce Web development, and a host of other startup problems are non-existent for pure eBay retailers.

But if eBay makes it so easy to sell stuff online, why should anyone build their own eCommerce site using shopping cart software?

"See a comparison of the top eCommerce website builders."

This article compares eBay to some of the leading shopping cart software solutions, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Selling stuff with eBay

eBay excels at getting products onto the Internet, and making it easy to fulfill orders by accepting payments and handling shipping.

Getting started is a case of listing one or more items (i.e. writing up a description, taking a few photos, setting pricing, shipping, etc).

With one or more products listed, you can then start receiving bids or purchases that are managed through the seller interface.

There are also plenty of unique options for determining which customers wins an auction, like adding Buy now, or Best offer buttons.

The problem is that eBay is a competitive marketplace. The chances are there are more established sellers, offering the same, or similar products at low prices, with efficient and cheap shipping options.

Selling on eBay requires plenty of competitive drive, and lots of work establishing trust and visibility.

Selling stuff with an eCommerce store

eCommerce stores take a bit more work to set up than selling on eBay - but not much.

Fortunately, with today's modern eCommerce website builders, developing an online shopping cart is quick, cheap, and easy - no programming or Web development experience is required.

Top shopping carts (check out Top shopping cart software, 2013 for a complete list of the best shopping cart solutions on the market today) also offer hosted eCommerce solutions that handle domains, Web servers, bandwidth, development, and everything else you need - in the same way that an eBay store does.

But, selling products online via an eCommerce website also requires plenty of consistent and persistent effort.

Instead of competing with other people in a marketplace (like eBay), you are competing for quality organic search traffic from the search engines.

eCommerce websites vs. eBay

So both eBay and eCommerce website builders make it easy to start selling online. Although, in the short term, getting your first product online and ready to sell is quicker via eBay.

However, the initial speed and ease of eBay is soon eclipsed by the long term value of managing your own eCommerce store. This is because it is better to promote your own business than it is to promote eBay.

Whenever you work to drive Web traffic through to an eBay listing, an appreciable fraction of that work directly benefits eBay - in other words, you aren't only working for yourself.

All the work you put into growing your eCommerce site (whether it is creating content, advertising, press releases, etc) benefits your own brand, business and site.

It is far more valuable to add a blog post to your own eCommerce store, than it is to publish one to a third party site, that links through to an eBay product listing.

Building up your own body of content will drive more traffic and sales to your online store with time. Even if your product goes out of stock, you can redirect visitors to other products in your own store. On eBay, you may simply lose that visitor to another eBay seller.

eCommerce & eBay

Just because you decide to use your own eCommerce platform doesn't mean you can't also sell via eBay.

Using a high quality shopping cart solution like Bigcommerce allows for quick and easy integration with eBay. In other words, eBay can still be used as a sales channel for your online store.

If you're interested in trying out some of the leading shopping cart solutions for free, check out Top shopping cart software, 2013 - each service has a free trial option for new sellers.

Do you sell stuff via eBay? What would you say are the biggest pros and cons of using this platform? Alternatively, do you use both an eCommerce store and eBay together? How has this affected sales?

Share your eCommerce and eBay tips and experiences in the comments.