Comparison of online auction websites, with details for both buyers and sellers.
Internet auction websites offer an excellent method for buying and selling a wide variety of items, because they make products available to a much larger market than local classifieds or yard sales, increasing the chance that interested buyers will find and purchase them. Each online auction website has different benefits for buyers and sellers. Here are some details on each of the major auction websites…
eBay: The most well-known online auction website, eBay.com is very popular, with a massive selection of items available. Sellers must pay a fee to list their items, as well as an additional small percentage of the sale price. More fees apply to auction promotional features, like placing a subtitle under the auction title on search result pages. There is a sophisticated feedback system which helps buyers and sellers determine who they want to have transactions with. In addition to auctions, other sales formats include buy-it-now (fixed price), store inventory (requires an eBay Stores membership), classified ad, and real estate. Buy-it-now listings have a “Best Offer” option, which lets buyers submit an offer on an item. Depending upon the seller, payment methods which may or may not be accepted for items include money orders, personal checks, cashier’s checks, and PayPal payments.
Amazon: auctions.amazon.com makes available a fairly good variety of items, and allows members to both buy and sell items with a free membership. The feedback system is somewhat like that employed by eBay, but with more emphasis upon star-based ratings. Fees for sellers include a 6-15% commission on the sales price (depending upon the category), a “variable closing fee” (based on category and shipping type/destination), and a $0.99 “per-transaction fee.” A Pro Merchant membership is available for $40 per month, which eliminates per-transaction fees and provides some other benefits. Payments from buyers can be deposited into a bank account or used for an Amazon.com gift certificate.
uBid: The online auction website ubid.com offers a wide variety of products, including electronics, computers, jewelry, and other items. Members can only buy items, not sell them, and items must be delivered to an address in the United States. According to the Help section of their website, third-party merchants who sell products on uBid are established businesses which have completed an application process. Some products are sold directly by uBid rather than a third-party merchant. uBid’s registration form has fields for credit card information, and states that a credit card is “optional to join, but required to bid.” It has a fairly large selection of items, although there are not as many as eBay offers, and the vast majority of the items are new.
Auction: Members of Auction.com can both buy and sell items, but there is a $39.95 quarterly fee to sell them (rather than insertion and sales percentage fees). Additional fees apply to auction promotional features, like bold titles and showcased listings. There is a good selection of items to bid on, more than some of the other smaller auction sites have to offer. Unlike at eBay, sellers cannot change the starting price, title, or description of their items after listing them, although information can be added to the end of the description. The feedback system is similar to that which eBay had before it added star-based seller ratings; it is entirely based upon positive/negative/neutral ratings and comments. Acceptable payment methods depend upon the particular seller you are buying from.
Overstock: auctions.overstock.com offers a fairly extensive variety of items, some used but more of them new. Members can sell items, but insertion and sales price percentage fees apply. The insertion fees are lower than those of eBay, starting at only $0.10 for items with a starting bid of under $1. Different fees apply to real estate listings and auctions with a reserve price. Different from other auction websites, the feedback system is based on “bad, poor, normal, good, and excellent” ratings, as well as comments. Bidding on or selling items appears to require a credit card, and fees are directly charged to it.
Others: Yahoo! Auctions has a notice on their U.S. auction website indicating that it will no longer be accepting new listings after June 3rd, 2007. This also applies to their Canada auction site, but their auction websites for Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan will continue to operate. Dell Auction (dellauction.com) offers Dell computer equipment for bidding; a credit card is required. BidOnUSA (bidonusa.com) lets members buy and sell items with no insertion or sale price percentage fees. Fees do apply to auction promotional features, and two membership levels are available (one free, the other $10 every three months). As of May 2007, the selection of items at BidOnUSA looked to be minimal in most categories.
Overall, the best auction website to use depends upon how rare the item you are looking for is, how small a market of people who desire the item you want to sell is, how much you are willing to pay in fees, and whether or not you have a credit card.
All fees and auction website details current as of 05/24/07.