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Grow Your Business Technology

Facebook Marketplace vs. the Competition for Business

Facebook Marketplace vs. the Competition for Business
Credit: William Potter/Shutterstock

When you're looking to sell off inventory online – old or new – what's the first place you think of to present it to the public?

Ding ding ding. Craigslist.

Or maybe not. If you have a Facebook account, you may rely on Facebook Marketplace to do the job and call it a day. But are those your only options? And shouldn't you simplify your life by sticking with just one listing service? It depends. Based on what you are selling, various outlets can help you unload your items faster and for the best price.

Marketplace was launched in 2016 as a way to bring all buyers and sellers together on the Facebook platform – though there are still numerous local buy-and-sell groups on the social network. Integrated with Facebook Messenger – through which you can discuss the product, haggle over price and arrange for pickup or delivery – Marketplace is a completely free one-stop shop very similar to Craigslist.

Each sale is connected to a Facebook account, giving you some background information on the person you are buying from or selling to. The transaction is not anonymous as it is with Craigslist, adding an extra layer of safety. Depending on how much information your business posts on the network, your buyer may know more about you than they would by using Craigslist, where your company email address is the only personal information you must reveal – and only after connecting with a potential buyer.

For those without a Facebook account, or for Facebook users who want to get their item in front of a larger audience, the following popular Marketplace competitors can augment your listing.

Newspaper classified ads were never the same after the arrival of Craigslist, the enormously popular private online marketplace. Craigslist has maintained its minimal, text-based, non-pretty web presence that makes it extremely easy to find exactly the item you want by searching through distinctly carved-out categories and geographical regions.

There are few barriers to entry and no fees at all for buying and selling. Just enter your information in the web form, upload photos of your item, and your item is in front of Craigslist's legions of eyeballs. You must actively manage your Craigslist post, because it expires automatically after seven days. At that time, if your item has not yet sold, you must edit the posting for it to run another seven days. Depending on how many times you repost your listing, you may be required to create an account with the service.

You can sell almost anything to anyone on Amazon – the range of merchandise on this worldwide platform is huge. You can sell as an individual (free) or as a professional ($39.99 per month). Generally, Amazon is best for selling larger quantities of merchandise; however, individual sellers can list products in 20 categories. If you sell up to 40 items per month, the fee is 99 cents per sale, plus additional referral and variable closing fees.

Generally, items like textbooks, kitchen products, used electronics, video games and brand-name clothing are most likely to move on Amazon. Once your items start to sell, Amazon makes a direct deposit into your provided bank account every two weeks, and also collects applicable fees.

You can also create your own business's hub through Amazon Storefronts. But for now, it's unclear how you can become a part of that program.

There's also Amazon Handmade for artisans looking to sell to a mass but specialized market. Listings are free, but membership will also cost you $39.99 per month, and Amazon takes a 12 percent cut of every sale.

Etsy started in 2005 as an online community for artists, crafters and vintage fans. It has evolved into a marketplace for quirky, handmade, original and artistic items for the home, clothing, jewelry, toys or the materials that make them. Depending on your item, Etsy is the place to reach a narrower but more targeted audience that seeks more unique items. You are charged 20 cents per listing. When you make a sale through Etsy.com or EtsyStudio.com, you will be charged a transaction fee totaling 5 percent of the price, including shipping.

eBay is famous for its auction system where the seller posts a starting price and due date and lets those who want the item bid for it. Bidding can raise the price of your item higher than you might have asked for elsewhere, though you can also buy and sell items for a set price (Buy It Now).

Like Amazon, eBay separates personal, occasional sellers from high-volume sellers. Also like Amazon, eBay reaches a worldwide audience of buyers. All you need to do is set up an account and then create a listing for the item you want to sell.

Unlike other services, eBay has a money-back guarantee, meaning that you are protected if an item you ordered didn't arrive, doesn't work or doesn't match the listing. Using PayPal for the transaction offers an extra layer of security. Items that sell well on eBay include clothes, shoes and books. All eBay sellers get 50 free listings per month – it costs 35 cents per listing beyond that. As a seller, you also pay a final value fee when your stuff sells. For most items, it is 10 percent, including shipping and handling. Note that eBay has announced a series of fee changes scheduled for this fall.

While all the marketplaces will gladly host your tech sales, if you intend to sell smartphones, tablets, laptops, video games or other tech products, consider the specialized marketplaces Glyde, Swappa and Gazelle, or similar stores like uSell and Decluttr.

With Glyde, your item lists for free and the service links you up with interested buyers. When your item sells, Glyde takes a 15 percent cut. When you list an item for sale, the amount quoted for "in your pocket" is the amount you will make on the sale. Depending on the item, a shipping kit will put you out $1 to $6.

Swappa is a community market that directly links buyers and sellers. It includes all of Glyde's categories, along with VR headsets, smartwatches and home tech. One major difference is that Swappa's fee is built into the price of the listing and paid by the buyer upon purchase, whereas Glyde or eBay transaction fees are paid by the seller. Swappa buyers and sellers use PayPal, which has protections for both parties.

Gazelle, which describes itself as a "reCommerce company," lets you trade in used electronics for cash. It purchases used smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, which it inspects, certifies and sells. Gazelle ecoATM kiosks, located in malls and retailers, are automated machines that let you sell unwanted tablets and smartphones and receive cash on the spot. Payment comes in the form of a check, as an Amazon gift card or via PayPal.

No single marketplace has a lock on your sale – legally or ethically. As an honest seller, you have a right to employ any venue you like until your item attracts a buyer. Hard-to-sell items benefit from multiple marketplaces, exposing them to multiple sets of eyeballs and people who are searching for your specific item on only a few marketplaces.

Try starting off with Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for local buyers. Then, depending on your item, branch out to worldwide venues like Amazon, Etsy and eBay – or, for electronics, specialists like Swappa, Glyde or Gazelle.

If you place an item up for auction on eBay, you are required to sell it to the highest bidder. Withdrawing the item from auction because you sold it elsewhere is considered rude, so if you're planning to list your item in multiple places, leave an eBay auction off the list, use it as a last resort, or clearly state that your item is listed elsewhere to warn that an auction could be canceled.

Finally, as you place your item up for sale, abide by the golden rule: As soon as your item sells, mark it as sold or remove it from the site.

 

Jackie Dove

Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac freelance tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, photo app fanatic, and VR/AR/3D aficionado, her specialties include cross-platform hardware and software, art, design, photography, video, and a wide range of creative and productivity apps and systems.