It’s likely that you’ve heard of eBay, the well-known and well-established auction site that has been in business since 1995. With 20 years of experience, eBay has been a main player in transforming the way we shop.
A global company, it is based out of San Jose, California, and serves 157 million active buyers. Possibly even more impressive is the fact that 800 million items are listed every day on eBay.
There are two main players on eBay shopping: buyers and sellers. Sellers are charged a couple fees to list items that they’re trying to sell, and buyers of course purchase those items. Many of these items are auctioned off as buyers bid against each other to rival for a low price. There’s also the option to just buy an item right off the bat if it’s not up for auctioning.
What does that have to do with books? One category of eBay’s site is devoted to books. They sell printed books, audiobooks, and ebooks. With its fair share of pros and cons, eBay is a strong option for book lovers everywhere.
- Time in business
- Customer loyal program
- Search filters
One of the most obvious pros of working with eBay is the fact that it is an established company that has two decades of experience with online shopping. It also stands out from other online bookstores in that it's more than a site where buyers can just look up a book and click to buy. For the sake of a low price, buyers have the option to bid on books for sale. In this sense, eBay is not only experienced; it's innovative and has been a very valuable resource to both buyers and sellers alike.
Buyers in particular should appreciate the following features about eBay:
- Customer loyalty program. eBay has a program to reward their returning regular employees, and it's called eBay Bucks. Customers can sign up for this program at no cost and earn money back for sales they make on eBay. The money they earn goes directly toward future purchases on eBay. It's nice to have some way of rewarding customers
- Search filters. You'll likely love searching for books on eBay. They've got it set up to where you can filter your search by price, seller, subject, location, and condition of the book. You can also search according to delivery option (meaning you can look for only books that come with free shipping if you prefer!). This makes it easier for buyers to find the right book in all the right circumstances. The overall user experience on eBay is pretty convenient and intuitive. They also have flexible parameters for the types of books that can be sold through their site. With a wide variety of options, chances are good that you will find a book you like for a great price through eBay. And if you're looking to get rid of a few books, they offer a process for that too.
- Return policy
- Selling your own books
Despite the convenience of purchasing and selling through eBay, there are a few obvious limitations to using their site. Because their site relies on individual sellers for available retail items, they might not necessarily have every title in their collection at all times. For that reason, it might be hard for you to find a specific book. The fact that eBay's process revolves around individual sellers also (possibly negatively) affects the following aspects of the customer's experience:
Return policy. Rather than enforcing a constant return policy across the board, eBay leaves the terms of returns up to individual sellers. That means that every time you make a purchase, you'll need to check the seller's return policy to see how many days (if any) you have to return the item if needed. Some sellers will be flexible with this while others may be more strict, so there's a bit of a lack of consistency in that regard.
Selling your own books. Say you decide to become a seller on eBay to get rid of a few books you don't want anymore. Becoming a seller is not difficult, but your success will again depend on individual users on the site (this time the buyers). Hopefully the buyers' bids work to your advantage, giving you a high price for your books. But it's not a guarantee that you'll get a high price in the end. This just comes with the territory of auctioning books off. To the company's credit, they have been in business for two decades, they have a variety of users, and they function on a global scale. Surely among all of these factors, inconsistencies and negative side effects will occur. However, this may still be a deterrent for some customers who want to buy books. In some ways, it's nice to work with a smaller-scale company that has a cleaner slate, but that depends on the individual customer's preferences.
The Bottom Line
Overall, eBay has a strong reputation, a lot of experience, and a unique way of buying and selling books. As a customer, you could enjoy plenty of variety in their library and have a chance to get really low prices for books you love. This company would not be recommended, however, for customers who prefer to work with consistent return policies, prices, and customer service.
As the consumer, you decide how much of a risk you're up for as you buy and sell books. A nice feature of eBay's website is their customer reviews and editorial reviews. These can be helpful as you decide which sellers to interact with, what condition of books to purchase, and more. In this way and in many other ways, eBay does work hard to give options to their customers. They have been a successful company for years and have much to offer for the right customers.