A long time ago, it would have been considered ludicrous to compete against such a giant like eBay. If you were selling vintage online, you would have been selling your treasures at flea markets on weekends, and eBay the rest of the time.
Things have changed drastically since then. Nowadays, the e-commerce business is booming and online flea markets are no exception. With rising demand by people looking to buy antiques and vintage online, new shops to sell vintage online (besides eBay) have opened up.
Alternatives to eBay are everything but rare nowadays. In fact, there are plenty of online antique auction sites other than eBay, but also platforms that allow to buy and sell vintage directly, similar to an online flea market. Selling vintage products online has become easier, particularly since it is even possible nowadays to have your antique items appraised online. But choosing the right platform to sell vintage products has become more complicated.
This guide reviews five of the best online shops for vintage and antiques globally which you should give consideration to before you put your vintage products for sale.
And do not forget: Nothing should prevent you from cross-listing vintage products on a number of sites; you don’t have to stick exclusively to one marketplace.
Ruby Lane: An insider tip among vintage vendors
Ruby Lane, founded in 1998, has been around much longer than many of its competitors. Despite being a small player in comparison to e-commerce giants like eBay and Etsy, we start out our review with Ruby Lane because it is an important niche platform, as it focuses exclusively on selling antiques, vintage and collectibles online, featuring over half a million vintage products. Moreover, Ruby Lane has consistently received excellent ratings from vendors. In the 2018 Seller’s Choice Awards, Ruby Lane was voted #1 for best customer service (for sellers) and also ranks as the #1 overall recommendation by sellers themselves.
Ruby Lane is the only platform entirely focusing on vintage and antiques in this list and among the market leaders in this niche. Ruby Lane follows a strict vetting process to ensure all shop owners live up to Ruby Lane’s quality standards. The online shop currently gathers over 2,000 vintage and antiques vendors on its platform, catering to over 2 million monthly visitors specifically looking for vintage, antiques, and collectibles online.
In the vintage category, Ruby Lane mainly focuses on vintage collectibles and vintage fashion. Most other items sold on Ruby Lane are antiques, such as furniture or lighting. Due to Ruby Lane’s strict vetting process, the vintage products sold online are of much higher quality than those found on less specialized websites, which makes for a pleasant and less time-consuming shopping experience on a clean interface. Ruby Lane’s vendors cater to a slightly more affluent audience than Etsy but still offer reasonable prices to online shoppers. Customers browsing Ruby Lane come primarily from the United States and Canada, but also from the UK, Australia and Germany.
Access to Ruby Lane‘s audience comes at a slightly higher fixed cost to the vendors compared to fees charged by other online vintage shops in this review, but there are no commissions on the selling price. Vendors on Ruby Lane pay a 100$ setup fee, which includes the first 10 listings for free, and then pay 19 cents per listing. After the first month, vendors pay a monthly fee that slightly varies according to the number of items listed. For the first 80 items, vendors pay 69$ per month. For vendors who list more than 80 items, the model is based on fees per listed item that decline progressively, depending on the number of listings. The fees range from 30 cents for up to 150 items to only 1 cent for more than 1001 items.
Ruby Lane is a good choice for seasoned sellers of vintage and antique merchandise who are certain that they want to take their business online. The fact that Ruby Lane does not charge commissions on the selling price is particularly interesting for sellers of valuable vintage collectibles. Private individuals, looking to make a little side-income, may be better off on other platforms.
Etsy: The biggest player in the field of handmade and vintage
If you are a crafter, Etsy should require no introduction. Etsy established itself quietly in 2005 and has carved off its very own small kingdom in the shape of an alternate market specifically devoted to the purchase of handmade and vintage products. Without all the riff-raff on giant sites like eBay, vendors have actually a better chance to be visible among the competition, and therefore ideally make more product sales.
While it’s rather big, Etsy’s 50 million product listings are still dwarfed by eBay’s entries, but Etsy’s strength lies in its focus on selling handmade and vintage products online. In the world of do-it-yourself, vintage and upcycling, Etsy has become a juggernaut in its own right and is attracting competition of its own. As of today, though, Etsy continues to be substantially bigger than all its major competitors (except eBay). DaWanda, one of Etsy’s major competitors in Europe, will abandon the fight against the giant on 30 August 2018 and DaWanda sellers will have the option to migrate their shops to Etsy.
Currently, more than 2 million merchants operate stores on Etsy and cater to an audience of 34.7 million buyers of vintage and handmade items worldwide. By integrating DaWanda’s 380,000 sellers, Etsy will be able to further strengthen its stand in the European market – in particular in Germany, where most of DaWanda’s sellers and customers are based.
Etsy products fall into three primary groups: handmade items, vintage products, and crafting materials that can be utilized to create items of the very first category. The main categories for vintage products on Etsy are home & living, clothing, jewelry, art and collectibles. Etsy attracts a young and hip demographic interested in unique vintage items, so those sellers who are looking to sell high-end antiques online might be better off elsewhere.
Browse Etsy, and you’ll find getting around is pretty simple. Curated products can be discovered in an ever-evolving grid on the category pages and all sellers have their own Etsy shops, featuring their offered items organised into categories as they please. Listings are clean and simple, and delivery expenses are clear and noticeable. A variety of checkout systems are supported, including Etsy’s homegrown repayment processing choice. And If you’d like to get mobile, Etsy features both an app (iOS and Android) and a web-optimized variation of its website.
Etsy charges small listing fees of 20 cents per product, but they aren’t significant unless you are offering extremely affordable products. As soon as the purchase is complete, Etsy gathers a transaction fee of 5 % (increased from 3.5% from 16 July 2018 onwards) and a payment processing fee (depending on your location 3-4% plus 25 cents flat rate).
The bottom line: Etsy is clean and simple to make use of, and it is obviously beloved by both shoppers and vendors. It may not be the cheapest option anymore, but if you sell your flea market finds online, then Etsy is still a good choice. The only regrettable side-effect of its popularity is the fact that listings in the “vintage” category are sometimes just cheap, industrial knock-offs of authentic vintage flea market finds, sold by people who seek to take advantage of the trend.
Bonanza: An eBay alternative for second-hand merchandise
Greatly concentrated on newer second-hand items and fashion, U.S.-based Bonanza features 50,000 registered sellers and 23 million listed products. Unfortunately for those looking to sell vintage and antiques online, Bonanza may not be the best choice. Their vintage shop is not very prominent, as it is not a standalone category but has been integrated into other product categories, which include fashion, home, beauty and more. The collectibles category is the easiest place to spot vintage products on Bonanza, although you can also find vintage fashion in the fashion category.
On the plus side, Bonanza is an online flea market known for its excellent customer service for its sellers. Bonanza supports extensive checkout choices and does not include listing charges, but it does charge a 3.5 % closing fee (0.50$ minimum fee for small amounts and additional fees for items over 500$ value).
Another feature that sets Bonanza apart from the competition is the extensive import tool that allows to easily add existing shop listings from other sources, such as eBay, Etsy or Shopify. Bonanza also offers advertising options beyond featured listings, using platforms such as Google Shopping. There is no Bonanza app, but customers on smartphones can use the mobile-optimised version of the website. Bonanza’s website appears user-friendly, albeit a little less visually appealing than Etsy. Every Bonanza shop features a built-in chat system, supplied for free by the website, and the site is rather straightforward to use.
Zibbet: A beautiful low-cost solution for small vendors
Although Zibbet has been around for a while, it remained tiny in contrast to its competition. While the company is based in Australia, the majority of vendors, nevertheless, appear to be based in the United States, and most products are sold in U.S. dollars. Just as Etsy, Zibbet focuses on handmade and vintage items, with an interface similar to Etsy, but slightly more minimalist, which makes for a pleasant user experience.
Vintage products are one of Zibbet’s main categories, with a strong focus on smaller items, such as vintage accessories and vintage jewelry, as opposed to bulky furniture. If your merchandise leans more towards the antiques category, you may be surprised to find antiques listed as a sub-category of “vintage merchandise” – two categories that seem rather blurred on Zibbet.
So why should you consider using Zibbet instead of another online flea market for vintage?
Primarily for its charge framework: If you are a tiny vendor, Zibbet is entirely free! In the free plan, shop owners may sell up to 10 items a month but will be limited in terms of features. In addition, unlike other online shops, Zibbet does not charge separate listing fees and commissions. Zibbet works with a simple flat-rate subscription model, ranging from 5$ to 20$ a month, depending on the number of items you sell and the features you would like to take advantage off.
Another feature that sets Zibbet apart from the competition is the option to create a standalone website in addition to your Zibbet shop. This may be an interesting choice for vendors who are not particularly technology-oriented but would still like to customize their own web-space, in order to promote it among clients without passing through the main platform. Vendors who are interested in giving their product sales pages the optimum amount of creative effect should take a lengthy glance at Zibbet.
Selency (Brocante Lab): Unique furniture and vintage home decor
The brainchild of two passionate fans of vintage furniture and home decor, Selency was created in September 2014. Originally launched under the name Brocante Lab, its is one of the first European online community platform and marketplace specialized in pre-owned furniture, vintage, Scandinavian mid-century modern, and interior design accessories.
The main strength of Selency lies behind the fact that every single item sold on the marketplace has been hand-picked by Selency’s team of professionals shoppers and vintage connoisseurs. The seller, the origin of the product and its genuineness are always verified in order to ensure that the platform’s listings are not crippled by knock-off merchandises or of dubious origin – and the products stock is replenished every single day.
In total, there are over 100 000 items curated by Selency’s moderators. And since Selency focuses on quality only, shoppers can rest assured that they will find unique pieces of furniture and inspiration to decorate their home. Last but not least, Selency is a secure online shopping platform. The company’s online payment system facilitates transactions: vendors are paid directly by Selency via a transfer to their account, and buyers can pay via their PayPal account or with a credit card with complete peace of mind. The icing on the cake: Selency offers shoppers reliable door-to-door delivery solutions
All in all, Selency offers vintage lovers the joy of browsing online from the comfort of their own couch, with the added value of trustworthiness and simplicity.
Where to sell vintage online?
There are many things to consider when choosing an online shop to sell vintage merchandise. Above all, vendors have to know their own target group and where to find them online. In addition, they need to have a good idea of how many items they expect to sell (and how many they would like to list) in order to know which platform’s pricing model is the most attractive.
Of course, there are more than just four eBay alternatives for those who sell vintage online. In addition to the global e-commerce platforms reviewed in this article, there are plenty of local websites that may be worth checking out, or platforms focused on selling particular types of vintage items (such selling French antiques online). Moreover, smaller vendors and private individuals looking to clean out their attics might find apps to be a good choice – there are apps to buy and sell vintage via in the US or apps to buy and sell vintage in Europe. While this article was focused on websites to sell vintage items, there is also a huge online market for antiques and high-end vintage products with a handful of competing online platforms, such as 1stDibs. Even selling vintage and antiques directly on social media platforms also is a trend that has proven successful for some. There are plenty of ways out there to sell your vintage items, so don’t be afraid to try more than just one.
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