Sunday, May 8, 2016

Closing a Door and Opening Another One

Having a booth on Bonanza has felt pointless for around two years.  The site appears to have little internal traffic.  I was extremely successful on Bonanza for several years.  I was successful when many other sellers were not getting traffic or sales.  This blog has a lot of traffic, and I had links to Bonanza.  I also was spared 90% of the glitches that drove other sellers away.  I do know that there was a lingering checkout glitch that affected international users, and that glitch surfaced every few months during the years that I had good sales.  I had international buyers angry with me, thinking it was my fault.  I know of a few lost sales.  There must have been others.

For the last two years, my Bonanza sales were very low regardless of how I advertised here and on Facebook.  I had a link at the top of my website from 2009 until yesterday.  That link no longer brought any traffic to Bonanza!  Why was that?

I assume that there was still a checkout glitch and that I lost many sales from it.  If I tried to buy from someone on a site previously unknown to me and had a glitch, I'd abandon the purchase and not tell the seller.  I suspect that might be a factor.

However, the bottom line is that some people just don't want to buy outside eBay.  I've mentioned this before.  It's not something I understand, but I have a group of repeat buyers on eBay going back 15 years who never interact with me outside eBay.  They don't join the Facebook groups.  They don't follow this blog.  They don't buy from me outside eBay.  They don't communicate other than on eBay.  This was verified again this weekend, but that comes later in this post.

I am placing a record of my Bonanza fees paid each month here since this gives an idea of how good my sales once were and how much worse they were the last couple of years.  A $3.00 fee means that I sold around $85 in books, and a $60 fee means that I sold around $1,700 in books.  December 2015 and July 2015 are exceptions to that because I was trying out a higher fee rate to see if I would get more sales.  It helped slightly but was not worth it.

I remember some important events in the chronology.  2009 does not have particularly high sales, but Bonanza had outstanding Google placement.  Whenever I listed a hard to find book, it sold quickly.  From 2010 on, I was always disappointed that I didn't have the Google placement I had at the beginning.

Bonanzle changed its name to Bonanza in September 2010.  This was a big mistake, at least for the small sellers.  Bonanzle was a unique name and was great for marketing.  The reason the name changed is because Bonanza was the name the owners originally wanted, but David Dortort owned the domain.  He died, freeing up the name.  The name change might have been good for the site's revenue, but it was not for mine.

In early 2013, Bonanza placed the Amazon links all over the site, further decreasing sales.  That's why I opened my store on eBay in July 2013.

I have known for two years that I would eventually close my Bonanza booth.  I kept my booth open as long as I did for two reasons.  First, it wasn't hurting anything.  Second, I have a few money order buyers and others who don't use eBay.  Just as some people only use eBay, other people refuse to use eBay.  I wanted to keep the booth open for those few buyers who won't use eBay or can't because they can't use money orders on eBay.

I had decided sometime in the last year that I had no emotional connection left to Bonanza and that it was a complete waste of time.  I decided that I would close the booth this year whenever I felt like getting around to it. 

Last week, my credit card had expired and was declined when Bonanza tried to bill me for my April fees.  I paid my fees through PayPal, and Bonanza tried to get me to enter a new card number since all sellers are required to have a valid credit card on file.

Hmm.  I realized that I had a golden opportunity that could not be passed up.  What better time to close my booth than at the time I had no credit card on file and owed no fees to Bonanza?  Friday evening, I finished setting up my Etsy store, which I had actually started setting up in December 2014.  I just never felt motivated to follow through. 

Early Friday evening, I began moving my Bonanza items to Etsy and eBay.  One item had been on Bonanza for many months.  I raised the price on eBay, and it sold to a repeat eBay buyer in less than one hour.  This is someone who does not interact with me outside eBay.  That's what I mean about people who will not go outside eBay for any reason.

It took 24 hours for me to move every Bonanza listing either to eBay or to Etsy.  I had to do every listing manually since I wasn't going to pay Bonanza to export the listings to eBay.  I around half the listings to eBay since I had enough free listings and had not replaced books that had sold in the last two months.  The books that would have duplicated existing eBay listings went to Etsy.

I had to pay $0.20 for each Etsy listing, and each listing is good for four months.  If I sell enough items to justify what I have incurred in fees, I will keep the shop open.  If not, I will close the Etsy shop in four months and sell only on eBay.

Saturday evening, I finished copying the last listings to Etsy and put my Bonanza booth on vacation.  I sold books on Bonanza for exactly seven years, four months, and one week.   The first five years were great, and I loved selling on Bonanza during that time.

I do like Etsy's interface, but the sales will be the sole deciding factor on whether I keep listings there.  That aside, Etsy's interface is as easy as Bonanza's was in 2009.  Bonanza's listing form had some glitches that developed after 2009 and was never as easy to use as it was in 2009.  Etsy's listing form is as easy as Bonanza's original listing form.

Since sellers do have to pay fees to list, Etsy has Google Analytics available and nice site stats for sellers who don't use Google Analytics.  So far, I like Etsy, but the final verdict will be determined by the sales.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

In around three weeks when my summer break starts, I'll get caught up listing new books.  I do have some nice new acquisitions that are extras.  I have been busy and exhausted and completely unmotivated to list anything.  The only reason I spent this weekend closing the Bonanza booth is because the credit card situation lit a fire under me.

In closing, I have some advice.  Unless you have a large following, be careful about listing items on a marginally known site that has perpetual free listings.  It most likely won't be worth it, and you'll not do well.  Stick with sites that charge a fee, or else just use eBay.  Etsy is a site that charges fees, but I can't say right now if it is a good place to sell vintage books.  I will just have to wait and see.

1 comment:

A Candle to Read By said...

I hope this change is a good one for you. The market is so different. Our family has loved over the years to shop at used book stores. Two that we liked in particular have closed--they had the best ND collections and Landmark histories which we were using in our homeschooling at the time. The prices for the books were much higher than on ebay, and I think that probably limited their sales. Both closed their "brick and mortar" to begin selling on ebay. Anyway, wishing you the best with this step. We all appreciate all your hard work both as a "merchant" and "expert" of these great series.