Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ebay vs Bonanzle: Smack Down!

Ebay vs Bonanzle: Smack Down!

Well, not really a smack down, but it sounds cool doesn't it? For today’s web site review article, I have decided to try and tackle the issue of Bonanzle versus eBay. Many Bonanzle sellers have openly expressed hostility toward eBay in many venues across the internet. Are their claims true, or are they simply a bit over zealous in their passion for Bonanzle? Hopefully, this article will address these issues. Now I admit that I am somewhat biased toward Bonanzle, as I do sell there, and in fact I have two booths on Bonanzle. However, I also sell on eBay, both in auctions and I have an eBay store as well, so hopefully, I can remain at least somewhat unbiased in this comparison. First lets take a look at the pros and cons of Bonanzle.

1. Listing / Buying / Selling

One of the first things I liked about Bonanzle was the simplicity of listing. Granted, eBay as well would be much easier if I kept my listings simple and used their TurboLister thusly. However, with the ability to use extensive HTML in my eBay listings, I alone have made listing on eBay, for me, much more difficult than it has to be. Bonanzle also has the ability to accept some basic HTML in the listing process, and I have to admit that although it is limited in its scope, I do like the Bonanzle listing process better than eBay’s. Plus with Bonanzle, you have the ability to customize your item categories within your booth, and you are not limited to only certain categories as you are with eBay.

Another benefit of listing on Bonanzle is the importing of listings from both eBay and CraigsList. You can also import your eBay feedback, and by doing so, if you have good feedback on eBay it gives you a certain trust factor with Bonanzle buyers right from the get go.

Both eBay and Bonanzle offer a local pick up option to buyers. However, Bonanzle takes it a step further by giving its sellers the opportunity to arrange for a pick up time and date.

Unlike eBay, Bonanzle offers the ability to run sales (known as “Bonanza’s”), offer customized discounts, and free items as well, all making for a more user friendly environment for both buying and selling.

I would have to say that as far as basic listing, buying and selling, Bonanza is far better then eBay.

2. Fees

There are no listing fees. This is a big plus for me. Ebay’s fee structure can be so complicated with various percentages in listing fees, final value fees, fees for extras, and so on. With Bonanzle the final value fees are very simple. If your item(s) sell for $10 or less, the final value fee is only .50 cents. If the item(s) sell for $10 - $50, the final value fee is only $1. Item(s) selling for between $50 - $99, the final value fee is $3. Items selling for between $100 - $1000 have a final value fee of $5, and those selling for over $1000 have a final value fee of only $10. With eBay, fees could reach into the hundreds of dollars. Plus, with Bonanzle, their fees are guaranteed not to increase through 2010.

As far as fees go, Bonanzle is the winner hands down.

3. Payments

Ebay currently only allows payments to be made through PayPal, which is an eBay company. One of the main drawbacks to me, at least on principle, is that this ensures that eBay gets more of your profits than it would if they allowed its sellers to accept checks, money orders, or other non-PayPal payment methods. Ebay, through PayPal, also has now instituted a new rule, which they claim helps bolster buyer confidence, is to withhold payment for certain randomly picked items for a specified of time up to 21 days. Not really a good thing for sellers who are depending on those payments to pay their own bills. I addressed this particular issue in an earlier blog article.

In the area of payments, Bonanzle has a far better, user friendly policy than does eBay.

4. Shipping

Ebay, on the plus side, does have a handle on shipping options. Ebay sellers have the ability to choose any form of USPS shipping, UPS, or FedEx. Bonanzle does not. Both venues give the seller the option to use calculated shipping, but with Bonanzle this is a limited feature that can be cumbersome. Plus sellers cannot add handling fees. With Bonanzle, these fees must be added to the item price, which gives the outward appearance of higher prices. Although this is not an issue for sellers who do not charge handling fees, it can be an issue for those who do. This does create a little more work for the Bonanzle seller. I have found that when I list on Bonanzle, I always use the “Fixed Shipping” option. I then set the shipping price based on shipping calculations that I have already figured out in advance. Unfortunately, this does always give me 100% accurate shipping price. Sometimes it is right on, sometimes I have to take a hit on shipping, and sometimes I overcharge by a few dollars. I suppose it all works out in the end, but I would like to see Bonanzle offer a better range of shipping options, so as to ensure more accurate shipping prices.

There is also the question of international shipping. With Bonanzle there is no differentiation between the two. If you charge $5.00 for fixed shipping, then you are charging that amount for both domestic and international shipping. If you use the calculated shipping, then you are limiting yourself as to the method of shipping as no real options are given. It makes for some seller difficulties that I hope Bonanzle can overcome.

As for now, however, eBay has the better shipping options.

5. Communication with Buyers

Actually, there is no comparison is this category. With eBay, there is only limited communication between the buy and the seller, and that only through eBay monitored messages. With Bonanzle, not only can buyers send messages to the buyers, but Bonanzle has a unique feature that eBay cannot compare with. The live booth chat. With this wonderful feature, Bonanzle sellers and buyers can literally communicate with each other in real time, and the possibilities are fantastic. With this feature, Bonanzle sellers can actually hold real time auctions right in their booth. They can deal with buyers, socialize with booth visitors, promote their items, and more, all in real time.

There is no question that in so far as communication with buyers, Bonanzle has cornered the market with the live chat feature.

6. Customer / Seller Support

With both Ebay and Bonanzle, there is the “community” that one can turn to for help for just about any issue or problem, and good solid advice is sure to follow any request for help that is given. But it is here that the similarities end. When communicating with eBay itself, users are sure to experience a level of frustration that can barely be coped with. I know because I have experienced it myself (as mentioned in a previous blog article). In a word, eBay is inaccessible. Unless you are a Power Seller (who due to their high volume selling and the resulting more money that they make for eBay), you are sure to be relegated to either an automated computer program that will attempt to answer your questions with canned answers that are rarely sufficient, or you will be forced to communicate via email with uncaring and non-understanding customer service agents.

Not so with Bonanzle. On Bonanzle, users not only have their questions and concerns answered by actual people, but even the owners will answer your questions. The owners also put out a monthly newsletter and a regular blog, all designed to keep users updated on upcoming changes and new features. They are also interested in user opinions and they are open to user suggestions for improving the site.

Without a doubt, Bonanzle received the highest of marks in this category.

7. Dispute Resolution

Although eBay does have a dispute resolution section, it does not always find in favor of the person who is in the right. Ebay has a tendency to find in favor of the buyer, presumably in an effort to protect its buyer base, and thus ensure future income. With Bonanzle, the simply transparency found in the booth setups tends to create a refreshing open faced honesty among the sellers, and thus reducing even the possibility of disputes. Although this may change as Bonanzle grows, it is very much within the realm of possibility that Bonanzle will meet any potential problems that may arise.

I have to give Bonanzle the highest marks in this category as well.

8. Promotion

With eBay, item or store promotion is going to cost you extra, above and beyond (sometimes well beyond) your initial selling fees. Ebay offers subtitles, bold print, borders, highlighting, “Featured Plus” packages, “Pro Pack” and “Value Pack” listing upgrades, and designer upgrades. None of these have ever really been shown to improve sales, but eBay does promote their use, and each of them does cost the seller more money.

Bonanzle does things a bit different. Not only does Bonanzle give sellers the option to sign up with Google Base (which allows sellers to have their items come up in Google searches), but Bonanzle also encourages, and offers tips on, self promotion. A tactic that is far better and user oriented than eBay’s method. On Bonanzle sellers also have the ability to hold sales known as Bonanza’s, which are 1-3 hour discount sales. These Bonanza’s are extremely popular among Bonanzle users.

Bonanzle also allows its users to offer free items. This is an excellent promotional tool that almost all Bonanzle users have taken advantage of. Let’s face it, everyone loves to get something for nothing.

Once again, a plus for Bonanzle over eBay.

9. Other Things to Consider

There are some other things that must be considered when comparing Bonanzle with eBay. Even though Bonanzle has been receiving accolades across the internet and throughout the ecommerce world, and although Bonanzle has clearly won this little contest, eBay still has some advantages over Bonanzle that only time can overcome. Among them, is the simple fact that eBay is still the biggest ecommerce site on the web today, and it is where the buyers are. It has the name recognition and familiarity with the general public that is needed to generate the high degree of sales that it has.

In plain terms, everyone knows about or has heard of eBay. It has become a household word much like Jell-O or Kleenex. Even computer spell check programs recognize the name, and parody singer “Weird” Al Yankovic has recorded a song, “I Sold It On Ebay!” The same cannot be said about Bonanzle. At least so far. With the exuberant and zealous Bonanzle community, this could conceivably change in the not too distant future. Again, only time will tell.

Because of this, many sellers are reluctant to leave eBay altogether. Myself included. I still have my eBay store, and I still run auctions on eBay, simply because I make money there. More than I do on Bonanzle. However, I am optimistic that Bonanzle can and will eventually eclipse eBay as the premiere ecommerce site, as long as Bonanzle continues to hold to its core values and goals, and as long as eBay continues to alienate the smaller volume sellers as it is currently doing.

Although I am a big fan of Bonanzle, and although I have no intention of ever leaving Bonanzle, this little “One-on-One” contest should encourage other online sellers to examine which of the two sites best addresses their needs as sellers. Perhaps it will be one or the other, or both. Sellers should examine which of these sites offers the best in customer service and the best in solutions to technical problems, and which is the most user friendly.

If I were to offer a prediction, I believe that eBay will continue to alienate its smaller volume sellers and increasingly cater to the larger volume sellers (i.e. Power Sellers), or those who ultimately make more money for them. I see Bonanzle as growing to be as large, if not larger then eBay, especially in providing a place for those smaller, lower volume sellers that are becoming increasingly disenfranchised with eBay. I believe that a clear line will be drawn as Bonanzle continues to be an ever increasing home for small business operators, and eBay continues to be an ever increasing home to larger retail businesses.

In closing, I would encourage everyone reading this article to give Bonanzle a try, I think you’ll be pleased. I hope you’ve found this article to be helpful, and I hope unbiased. If you enjoy these articles, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to and following this blog, and please don’t hesitate to leave your comments, they are always welcome and encouraged. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time,


Whiskey Jack

Today’s word of wisdom: “Don't go sellin’ your mule to buy a plough.”


Daniel said...

I found this to be a very well thought out and interesting article. You're so right about ebay alienating the small seller. I recently got a threatening email that I might be suspended because of my DSRs. I'm a power seller with a 99.8% feedback rating. I have 7 slow shippings for this last period. That amounts to a 1.45 % complaint rate. I'm making money with ebay but am feeling threatened and that wil make me go elsewhere. Thanks, Jack.

Whiskey Jack said...

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the comments, I appreciate them, and I agree with them. Ebay is doing its best to alienate the small seller. The reason for this is, that we just don't generate the revenue of the large sellers, and as you know, with ebay, its all about how much money can you make them.