A Guide to eCrater

dinosaurtoyvault

After building the internet’s greatest online toy dealer booth (aka Dinosaur Toy Vault) I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it. Well partners, instead of writing the same thing over and over again to people, I thought I’d share them here. If you have any interest in selling things and don’t want to go the eBay route, or get stabbed in the face from someone on Craig’s List… here you go! A rather info packed post on eCrater.

And keep in mind this isn’t the usual fun geek stuff or hey look at dem boobs post. It’s more of an informational thing if you’re interested in selling some of your junk. Think of it as a community service project. Yeah, I like to give back every once in awhile.

Why not use eBay?

The biggest reason for me wanting my own store was that the fees on eBay are insane, especially for a product that has a razor thin profit margin like toys.  First there’s the listing fee. Then you have the final value fee which is a percentage of your sale, which can usually be pretty high and a profit killer. Finally, eBay doesn’t allow you (or want to allow you) to use a service other than Paypal, so then there’s the paypal fee on top of everything else.

In order to cover the cost of these fees you would be tempted to include them in the cost of the product, but then your item will most likely start at a higher list price than everyone else. So then you’re forced to include the cost of fees in the shipping price. This doesn’t seem fair to the buyer, since most people believe the seller should pay for their own fees. The sad truth is that no business can stay in business absorbing cost like that. It’s the way it works. A seller on eBay more often is forced to pass the buck along due to eBay’s policies.

Not only are there extra fees on eBay, but a lot of the power was taken away from the seller when they removed negative feedback for the sellers. Now if you’re a bad buyer there’s no way you can have negative feedback, except in the background and another seller can’t see that, nor could another buyer see it if the one with the negative feedback decides to sell something. Furthermore, a bad buyer can leave negative feedback for a seller and the seller has no recourse. Is that fair? Not at all! I’m not saying a seller should “get back” at a buyer. I’m saying that if the buyer was misbehaving and came up with some fake bad feedback, there’s no way for the seller to combat that anymore.

Finally, there are a lot of items that you might want to sell that are going for almost nothing on eBay. If you’re willing to let these items sit around in storage for awhile while you have them in your inventory, then by all means ask what you hope to get for them. If someone doesn’t want to deal with eBay or those items suddenly disappear from the site, then you have a sale.

What About eCrater Fees?

There are none, technically. You can build your store for free and list whatever you want for free. The only time that there’s a fee is when people use Google Checkout or Paypal to check out for stuff. It’s a lot easier swallowing one fee over three of them per sale.

Looks Matter

One negative of eCrater is that it doesn’t look like a super pro store. Still, if you work at it, you can get it looking fairly decent and set yourself apart from a lot of half-assed jobs by people building their stores from scratch.

It doesn’t take very long to make a decent looking store, yet it’s hard to believe with so many ecrater stores following the same pattern how there’s so many stores that look like garbage. Take a look at a bunch of other eCrater stores and make a note of the terrible ones. The ones with bad pictures, no pictures, or no text on critical areas like the front page. The biggest question you have to ask yourself is, “Would I buy from this store?” If the answer is no, then do the opposite of what they’re doing.

Where do Customers Come From?

The first thing you should know about building your own store on eCrater is that that it takes awhile before you’ll get people looking at things. While all of your listings on eCrater can be seen on their home page, it’s nowhere near the amount of views you can get on eBay.

Your sales will also appear on Google Shopping, but since you’re a small fry you probably not appear at the top of it too often. It is nice when you have a rare item and you may very well be one of the only people listed on Google Shopping.

If you have a blog with a following or a Twitter feed with followers, you’ll have a little bit of a step ahead of those who don’t. If you want a lot of people to see your store, you have to promote. How do you do this? It’s one area where I’m not so good. I think having links on my own blog and doing the Twitter/Facebook thing has helped a lot, but I’m sure I could do a lot more.

What about Feedback?

While there is no leaving feedback for sellers, it makes more sense on eCrater where you have a store. Amazon doesn’t leave feedback on you when you buy something.

Now I’m a little hazy on where the feedback comes from, but it seems like there’s eCrater’s own feedback and feedback attached to Google Checkout. Currently my store (Dinosaur Toy Vault) is sitting at 5 stars with no negative feedback. One reason for this is I put a lot of effort into customer service. Another is that while I have gotten bogus negative feedback in the past, the eCrater team removed it for me. What’s bogus negative feedback? The best example I have is this: Customer buys item then immediately leaves negative feedback saying, “I don’t want the item.” That’s an invalid and bogus feedback and thankfully the team will take care of it.

It might take awhile even after you start selling to get feedback, but if you nicely ask enough customers, eventually one will leave some for you.

Google Checkout is Nice

While I’ve never run into any problems using Paypal, Google Checkout is a really nice option. Buyers don’t have to have a Google Checkout account in order to use it. Even better, Google Checkout will verify if a seller’s credit card is valid for you. This is really nice for small time sellers that don’t want the hassel of setting up their own credit card acceptance method. I’ve had at least two transactions canceled due to Google Checkout turning down the credit card.

I could be wrong about this, but I do believe that the fee for Google Checkout is smaller than Paypal as well. At least it seems that way.

Well lads and lasses, I really hope I helped some of you out. Remember though, if you try to compete in the realm of toy selling, you’ll be unmercifully crushed by me. You’ve been warned.

  • I’ve been a member of eBay for the last ten years or so. For the first five or six I could probably count on one hand how many things I bought, then all of a sudden I got a credit card and I *NEEDED* to have that “Snack Time” Alarm clock cookie jar. Hundreds of dollars in eBay debt later here I sit typing. I was always very reluctant to sell on eBay, but once I started I found it really wasn’t all that much harder than buying.

    The fees are definitely a drawback, but I guess I just shrug and say “what else can I do”. I looked into the possibility of opening an eCrater store after seeing yours, but I still don’t know if it’s for me.

    All of my transactions on eBay have been fairly smooth. I’ve hit a speed bump every now & then, but overall I’ve been satisfied. I tend to sell in spurts (usually prompted by the need for money) and only have a few things at a time I’ll list.

    I haven’t sold an item for nearly nine months since my very last experience. I was selling a McDonalds Lego Batman toy, I listed it for $.99 and had shipping & handling for $6, which maybe was a few dollars more than it needed but I guess I rationalized that it would be absorbing fees. Plus if someone doesn’t like what I’m charging for S&H they can feel free to move on to the next item.

    People seem to only concentrate on shipping, but they always forget the HANDLING… aka the time it takes me to box the item up, go down to the local PO, wait in line for the angry Chinese lady to scream about stamps or what have you. So this guy was a real jerk, he had asked me about combining shipping with another item, so I told him it would be $8 total. He said it was a lot but still bid anyways. Then ten days went by with no communication and I even offered him a refund. He finally paid and I spent the entire $6 plus a penny to ship that motherf***** over to him priority. Then after all that he still left me a negative review.

    That’s my biggest problem with the Bay. I can live with the fees and all that stuff, but they really cut off the collective balls of every seller with their new policy.

  • Splitty

    What perfect psychic timing! I was just starting up an eCrater store myself because I was getting tired of the ebay tornado, mad burst of packing and posting frenzy and constant changes, so this is very handy! Plus I REALLY needed someplace to use as a trade page, and my media trades are private so I can’t always send action figure trades there.
    I’m a little frustrated with the lack of design control and shipping rates, but crimeny, it’s FREE. FREEEEEEEE. And very clean looking. [:>

    And update for ebay sellers who have been away for awhile: The good – you CAN easily contest negative feedback now by submitting a form for the buyer to pull the feedback, stating why it was left inappropriately, and I suspect ebay workers rule on that as I had two where the buyers insisted they meant to leave that feedback, but it mysteriously disappeared anyway, so I’m still squeaky clean. [:>
    You can also set your auctions to refuse bidders with unpaid strikes within recent days, so avoid bad bidders.

    The BAAAADD!!! – ebay has finally decided to stick it to those jerks who charge .99 for item and like $50 shipping, but of course us innocent small time sellers are paying dearly. Now they have free listings and buy-it-nows, but take final value of the SHIPPING as well as end price, which is WAY more than a dinky insertion fee. So if you have a $4 item with $30 shipping, ebay AND Paypal take a bit of that shipping, leaving you very little if any. There’s really no win. So between ebay and Paypal, they’re now taking closer to a 22% chunk instead of the 15% like before (from a few tests, I haven’t done enough to be sure on the amount).
    I suspect places like eCrater are going to be getting more and more traffic in the future.