Is Half.com an Alternative to eBay Stores for Media Sellers

Can I make money selling media on half.com?

After I wrote the article in The eBay Seller’s News last week about eBay Stores fee increases I was wondering if eBay might revive half.com for media sellers. 

One of the reasons eBay stated for the store fee increase was that media sellers (books, movies, music, etc) were driving up hosting costs and skewing eBay margins by listing thousands of items that took up space on the site and only a small percentage of them sold.  When I read about the fee increase, I totally missed the mention of Half.com by Bill Cobb (thanks Anna).

"I recognize that sellers in the Books, Movies, Music and Video Games categories will have unique challenges with the changes we’re making. As many of our media sellers have requested, starting in late August we’ll again provide visibility for Half.com listings in core search results, by bringing back the Half.com listings merchandising feature we used previously. We’re also exploring additional ways to promote Half.com listings in search results on both eBay.com and eBay Express."

I primarily sell on eBay. I hadn’t used half.com in a couple of years, so I went there and found a book I was looking for and purchased it.  The first thing that hit me was that I couldn’t use PayPal. I thought that was really odd for an eBay owned site. 

Since I often sell books on eBay, I decided to look around the sell side of half.com to reacquaint myself with the process.  It took me about 10 minutes of searching to find the fee schedule.  Half.com charges fees on a sliding scale based on the price of the item but there are no listing fees.

Under $50 15%
$50.01 – $100.00 12.5%
$100.01 – $250.00 10%
$250.01 – $500.00 7.5%
Over $500.00 5.0%

Half.com does not charge a listing fee –and they don’t take PayPal.  They only charge you if an item sells, but the rates are pretty high as you can see from the table.

So let’s compare the cost to sell a $25 item.  On half.com it will cost 15% or $3.75.  If you sell the same item from your eBay store, it will cost $0.10 listing fee, $2.50 final value fee and $0.97 for PayPal –a total of $3.57.  This is $0.18 less than half.com.  However, into this you have to factor the fact that you are paying for listings that don’t sell.  If this item took 3 months to sell from your eBay store it would have cost you $3.77 to sell which is 3-cents more.

So what is the incentive for store sellers to move to half.com?  The only advantage I see is the free listing cost, but this is offset by the fact that half.com gets a lot less traffic.  If eBay actually starts serving up search results for half.com alongside auction listings that would increase the visibility –but as an auction seller paying listing fees, that would bother me as I am competing with people who can park thousands of items for free.  It has been several years since I sold anything on half.com and I don’t really know much about the site.  But I do think there are some things eBay could do to revive half.com and make it more appealing to sellers.

The most important step is to promote half.com independently of eBay in print, internet and TV advertising. I would also allow buyers to pay with PayPal and sellers to elect to have their monies deposited into their PayPal account instead of their bank account (without incurring a PayPal fee).  Another idea is to reward sellers with a high STR (sell through rate) by giving them a fee discount or rebate.  It would also help if eBay instituted a program at half.com similar to the store referral credits.  They have an affiliate program, but I couldn’t tell if they would pay you credits on your own sales.

If you are a store owner and
sell in one of the popular media categories, you might want to give half.com a try.  If nothing else, park your slow moving merchandise there instead of on eBay.  Then when you sell something on eBay you might be able to use your half.com shop as a venue to garner upsells.

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