'Online marketplaces aren't what they used to be'

Our anonymous columnist talks about the state of Amazon and eBay
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This month, our mystery independent retailer asks how the likes of Amazon and eBay expect British businesses to compete with the flood of cheaper products from overseas.

I must use this opportunity to rant about the state of both popular online marketplaces we all must use in this industry: Amazon and eBay.

For example, a customer walks into my shop and asks if we have a charger for a HP laptop. After working out which type of charger he requires, I tell him it’s £20 for a brand new unit with a power cable including a year’s warranty.

He ponders for a minute, and then says: “I’ll leave it. I can get one online for £6.” Now I know he therefore heads off to eBay or Amazon, but does he not realize something? One – he is supporting a local economy which in turn makes jobs and livelihoods etc, and two, in my opinion if he has a local place of contact, should anything go wrong, (for example if he buys the wrong one, or his laptop actually has a fault), he can go back to that local place.

Instead, he faces the stress of emails to and from sellers, plus postage fees as well as transit times.

When I search on eBay and Amazon for many computer components or spares, it is overwhelmed by Chinese, American and Taiwanese sellers. You have to spend more of your time refining the search to find anything like you were after or something that’s UK-based.

You must also be careful with those claiming to be UK-based, then when you order and wait far too long for your delivery, you realise your mistake. How is it fair that the marketplaces named above allow these overseas sellers to bombard the UK marketplace?

How do they expect British businesses to compete for sales alongside super-cheap Chinese dealers?

Also, the quality of the products on offer tend to match their prices, but sometimes does that not come at a risk?

In my opinion, it’s time for these marketplaces to stick to their original values and allow only UK residents to sell their products. Leave other marketplaces like Alibaba to help the Chinese export products.

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