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Consumers are increasingly feeling more comfortable in buying products through the Internet. According to a report released recently by the Department of Commerce first-quarter retail sales rose 23.8 percent to US$ 19.8 billion in the United States from US$ 16 billion a year ago. E-commerce sales during the first quarter of 2005 rose 6.4 percent from the fourth quarter of last year. Forrester Research estimated that 2005 online retail sales will increase at a pace of 22 percent. Today, a third of all households in US make at least one purchase online within a year, a figure which will grow to almost 40 percent by 2009, predicts Forrester. As a seller, this strong growth of online sales means that you have to put considerable stress on your Internet sales endeavor if you are not doing this as yet.
According to statistics compiled for the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide, the top retailers in 2004 garnered combined online sales of more than US$ 51 billion, which accounts for 58.3 percent of all US Internet sales. The growth in online sales is quite impressive for large retailers. J.C. Penny Co. Inc., for example, reported a 35 percent year-over-year rise of online sales in May, 2005. Can new online ventures boast same type of significant growth? Unfortunately, not!
Each day, there are thousands of new companies are setting up shops on the Internet trying to sell every conceivable type of products and services. Most of these websites do not attract enough visitors to make them profitable. Competition on the Internet is fierce! Internet marketing campaigns are becoming increasing expensive. Many small companies can't afford to spend money required to promote their sites. So, what are the options available for a small company with modest product range to thrive on the Internet? One of the best sales channels, in my opinion, on the Internet by far is auction marketplaces. Of course, no matter what, you will still need to promote your website with all the methods you can master. However, selling your products and services through established auction marketplaces has its own advantage.
With 63.8 million unique visitors hitting the auction site only in April of this year, eBay has established itself as the largest marketplace on earth. In 2004 alone US$ 34.2 billion worth of merchandize exchange hands on eBay. Presently, the site has around 135 million registered users in 32 markets worldwide.
With such a vast community of buyers and sellers, eBay should be your number one choice for selling your products or services online. On the eBay you can sell any kind of item. The varieties of stuffs people are selling through eBay are mind boggling! At any given time there are over 29 million items displayed on eBay. The number of new items added each day exceeds 3.5 million. However, still many offline sellers perceive eBay as an auction site for mainly collectible items. They can't be more wrong! The largest selling category on the eBay is, believe it or not, automobile and accessories, which comprises of almost 22 percent of all sales. I have, personally, bought three luxury cars over the course of last two years through eBay and I have nothing to complain about.
As a seller on the eBay, the biggest advantage that you gain is the possibility of becoming from a local merchant to an international player over night. If you are already selling merchandize to consumers online or offline, eBay gives you an additional sales channel without any extra cost. If you are planning to begin selling goods or services through the Internet, eBay allows you to start your business online quickly and with minimum expenses.
You may have difficulty in imagining the biggest portal on our planet as a marketplace, in some countries, like Japan and Canada, Yahoo auction is, actually, doing better than eBay. In the US market Yahoo has just announced its intention to eliminate fees charged for using its auction site. This is a good news for even many eBay power sellers. Some of them will definitely move to Yahoo in a bid to save on high fees charged by eBay. The good thing about Yahoo is slowly it is becoming a major hub for many small business web stores. As a matter of fact, according to Yahoo, every eighth online store is now hosted by Yahoo.
Amazon, may be is not as popular as eBay or Yahoo as far as auction marketplace is concerned, however, many auctioneers claim that some of the products sell better on Amazon than any other auction marketplace.
Why should you consider selling through auction marketplaces?
Here are some reasons, why auction marketplaces are viable sales channel for businesses:
? The auction marketplaces are very popular and each of them has huge community of buyers and sellers.
? There is virtually no start-up cost involved.
? No extra overhead is required.
? You really don't have to set up a website to start selling.
? Easy to learn.
While determining what to sell through auction marketplaces, choose your products very carefully. Don't try to sell products like DVD, cellular phones and similar common items. There are way too many people are trying to sell those products. Do your research before jumping into online auctions. Go through the categories of your choice. See how your competitors are doing. Check out the listings of sold items. For how much the products you intend to list are getting sold for? What keywords your prospective competitors are using to market these products? On which auction site these products are selling better?
Go with the trend! Travel, cosmetics and jewelry sales are expected to do better than other categories of e-commerce in coming years. In every category of goods and services you will find a niche, which is doing fairly well. All you have to do is find that niche by making extensive and thorough research!
Selling through auction marketplaces like any other business process requires sound judgment and careful planning. Be sure to use them before starting your online sales.
Nowshade Kabir, is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of Rusbiz.com - a Global B2B Exchange with solutions to create e-catalog, Web store, business process management and other features to run a business online. You can read various articles written by Nowshade Kabir at http://ezine.rusbiz.com.