While eBay offers an excellent way to either declutter your home or run a simple online business, it has come under criticism in the last few years for its consistent rise in the fees and charges it applies to those selling their wares on the site. Even if you use an easy accounting software package, tracking these fees can be a headache. For small firms and online businesses cutting overhead is as big a priority as it is for larger firms and the cut taken by eBay is one overhead that many are keen to be rid of.

While eBay offers a quick, simple solution to selling online, with access to massive numbers of potential customers, the fees themselves do pose a problem. Add to those fees the fact that the simplest way to get paid is through PayPal, which involves further fees, and you have a recipe for depleted profit margins. There are some alternatives, thankfully, and many are growing very rapidly.

Online or On-a-Playing-Field?

Before we start on the virtual alternatives to eBay it’s worth remembering that there was life before the internet (honest). Old fashioned selling techniques such as car boot sales, markets and craft fairs still exist. In most cases there is a one-off fee to display your goods and you tend to take cash in hand on the day. For those able, willing and unafraid of meeting real people, these events still offer a viable alternative to any online auction site.

eBay, but with Boutique feel added

If you are something of a creative type, making unusual and niche craft or art type products, forget eBay. For a start you’ll struggle to find an appropriate category that truly matches your creations. The new kid on the auction house block is Etsy; the site features simple, easy to understand fee structures and these are delightfully low.

Etsy is the home of all things bespoke, creative and unique; from fashion to home and garden, you can sell your creations to a discerning public. The site is somehow friendlier in looks than eBay, with less of the classified ad pages feel, and more of a boutique shop front feel. The goods and products are excellent quality and the presentation of the site is attractive. There are fees for selling and processing fees may apply for payments if you use the ubiquitous PayPal, or Esty’s own payment system; there is of course the option to take personal checks, which cuts out these little extra commissions.

Retro Classic

If you’re a fan of all things retro then Craigslist may well be for you. The site doesn’t sell retro items particularly, but it certainly has that retro-feel. In fact, it looks positively archaic and may not have been subject to a great deal of development since its inception in 1995. Based on a long forgotten free-pages type idea, this early internet concept remains free to list and free to use.

Despite a substantial chunk being owned by eBay, the site remains determinedly free and simple to use. The listings are based on local areas and in general the idea is that you sell to people willing to pick up items and limit your business to your local area. While these limits may seem archaic in the days of the global market place, the site can still offer a simple way to connect with customers around the corner, rather than at the other side of the globe. The site is very popular in the United States, but currently has a good level of listings in major UK towns and cities. Although limited, mostly, to trading locally this does mean that the site can remain free to list and free of payment percentages.

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs on tips for QuickBooks Online accounting software, management and ecommerce. Whatever you sell, wherever you sell it, keeping hidden (and not so hidden costs) to a minimum is essential. In addition to experimenting on new sales platforms, easy accounting software helps you to track those unexpected added extras and manage your money more efficiently.

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