Back at one of my old jobs we had a large inventory of books.
Huge, monstrous inventory that contained every word you could ever read about the printing industry. Books on typography, fonts, paper, CMYK, offset printing, and Benjamin Franklin. I was in charge of social media and online marketing and one of my pals at work—a guy who was in charge with shipping all these books—asked me why we don’t sell books on eBay.…
“…Huh? That’s for, like, a ton of used stuff you’d barter for at a flea market.”
Well, no. As it turns out that was what I used eBay for.
He told me how retailers across the globe sold on eBay. Toys “R” Us, for instance, sells brand new action figures on eBay. You can buy unopened video games, records, tools, and more on eBay.
While eBay started out as an online garage sale, it secretly closed the garage door and matured into a flourishing platform for retailers to hawk their wares.
You can buy anything on eBay. I just did a search for “Groucho Marx Postcards” and found 23 items—5 minutes ago I didn’t know these existed!
My favorite is of Groucho’s advertisement for Frosted Flakes. He’s glaring at Tony the Tiger saying “You bet your life they’re gr-r-eat!” Classic Groucho.
Down by the eBay, Where Retailers Grow
eBay is an institution of the internet. And to anyone searching on eBay it doesn’t matter where the item is coming from, as long as it will ship to their home.
Retailers large and small shouldn’t be afraid to leverage its incredible power. There’s one retailer in our Pittsburgh area, Dragonfly Castle Toys, that does just this.
They’re a newer business in a growing community of Pittsburgh that “sells toys for magical children.”
Nan Dowiak runs the store. She’s a savvy business owner who believes a retail business needs to have a physical shop and embrace the internet . She says, “I think retailers need three venues: brick and mortar, their own web presence and a third party channel. Although eBay is aggravating they are not evil. Small business can live happily within their ecosystem.”
eBay is a big thing for her. Big enough to warrant an article in a local Pittsburgh newspaper. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s basically a search engine for products that makes Dragonfly Castle Toys look like a Toys “R” Us.
“Because more is better than less and these are super major platforms,” Nan said. When she puts it so simply it’s hard to argue.
“This is especially true for small guys who can’t be spending all day massaging their Google AdWords and figuring out all them-thar SEO metrics. eBay already has hordes of people trampling through their site and it’s easy to get started. Also, I personally get satisfaction when rural folks can get a hold of nice, developmental toys that they will never see in the vast expanse of Walmart.”
When it comes to promoting your products and services online, don’t shy away from third party venues. These super niche search sites—whether it’s a site like product-focused site like eBay or a list of services on Angie’s List—can help move your products. Without you having to invest heavily into your own eCommerce solution.
This year, 40 percent of holiday spending will occur online, according to a survey by financial consulting firm Deloitte. If you don’t have an online store to showcase your products, maybe it’s time to look into that?
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