Let’s be clear. You are free to list your motorcycles wherever you see fit. It may even be true that listing your motorcycle in as many places as possible will give you a better shot to sell.
But, do you really have the time to do that? In some cases, the pitfalls of many online marketplaces can cost you time and money.
Non-Motorcycle-Specific Online Marketplaces
The internet is an amazing tool to connect with buyers you may have never encountered before. As a numbers game, it’s very effective at getting real, interested buyers to your dealership to make a purchase.
But online marketplaces and listing services that don’t specialize in motorcycles can be risky for both sellers and buyers.
At the top of our “do not list” list is Craigslist. The originator of free online listings, Craigslist has been a great way to connect buyers and sellers anywhere. But over time, some people with not-so-good intentions have started to take advantage of the platform.
Scammers and con artists alike use many different techniques to steal your money. Since the Craigslist platform is free to use, there are a lot of scams out there. These can vary from buyers scamming sellers out of money to sellers creating fake listings for items they don’t own. Usually, the scam is accompanied by a sob story meant to appeal to your emotions.
The Widow Scam
One common scam used specifically for motorcycles is the widow scam. In this case, the seller is the one scamming the buyer. But it could go both ways.
The seller lists their motorcycle on Craigslist at an unbelievably good price. As soon as someone bites, the seller sends a message saying how their husband has just passed away. They are trying to get rid of the motorcycle as soon as possible because it’s too emotional of a reminder.
They also mention that they have recently sold their house and moved to a different state than where the bike is being listed. The seller stresses that the shipping is already paid for and that they just need the buyer’s personal information in order to send it to them.
In some cases, scammers will ask for your bank information as well. But having your name, address, phone number, etc. is enough to use against you in multiple ways. They can sell that information to other scammers. In fact, since they know you fell for the first scam, they’ll be inclined to scam you in other ways.
The red flags to look for in scams include sellers or buyers who don’t want to meet in person or who have recently moved to a different location, some form of a sob story meant to confuse you and justify their actions, and shipping or payment methods that are unusual. Also, if the transaction seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The Trust Factor
The widow scam is just one example of a common Craigslist scam which leaves a very bitter taste in the buyer’s mouth. For this reason, sellers and buyers have less trust in Craigslist transactions. And in order to sell something, there first needs to be a basis of trust established between the two parties.
As a dealer, you should keep in mind that because Craigslist is a free platform to use, it is littered with scammers and con artists looking to take advantage of anyone.
This creates an untrustworthy marketplace, where buyer hesitations and bad experiences decrease your chances of selling your bikes.
In the end, if you don’t get baited into a scam, the only thing you would have wasted is your time — which, of course, is very valuable to your business. Time is money.
A more secure online marketplace for transactions is eBay. The eBay marketplace is one of the largest in the country. But it has much stricter guidelines to follow when it comes to listing and selling motorcycles and other products.
The pitfalls of eBay affect both sellers and buyers. One pitfall is eBay’s buyer protection scheme. It’s a process where the buyer is entitled to a refund for the cost of the item, if it does not arrive as described. If a buyer decides this to be true, the money will be refunded and deducted from the seller’s account.
While this makes eBay a safer place for buyers, it leaves sellers vulnerable to nit-picky disputes.
A motorcycle is a large purchase and it’s difficult to completely describe with pictures and words. The possibility of a buyer turning around and saying to eBay that it’s not what was described is more likely.
If you go through the effort of listing, selling and shipping your bikes just to have them returned and refunded, you’re wasting time and losing money. This is not to say that the bike in question is not a great bike. But eBay will always take the buyer’s side and sometimes buyers can abuse this process.
The customer service provided by eBay and other online marketplaces is not outstanding. This means if you ever encounter a conflict with a buyer, it will cost you a lot of time and frustration reaching out to eBay’s customer support team.
Remember when we said it was one of the largest online marketplaces in the country? This means they’re dealing with everyone’s problems (not just motorcycle dealerships). They simply can’t handle or support your needs as a serious seller, unless you’re willing to wait longer for them to respond.
Finally, while it’s free to list up to four bikes on eBay, if you make a sale then eBay gets a nice chunk of it. If you want to sell five or more motorcycles within a 12-month period, you will be charged a listing fee as well as commission on the sale. They take their piece of the pie, which is fair. But if you’re trying to run a business, there are much better options out there for listing and selling your motorcycles online.
The Trust Factor
Another pitfall, just like with Craigslist, is the number of fake listings eBay has. While much safer than Craigslist, the customer experience is still not great.
People still don’t trust everything they see on eBay and are very wary when it comes to making large purchases, such as a motorcycle. This inevitably makes it more difficult for dealerships to utilize the eBay marketplace as a productive selling tool.
Other Sites that No One Visits
If you’re searching the web for motorcycle-specific online marketplaces you will find a lot of results. There are many websites out there that cater to a niche. However, not all of them will be worth your while. Traffic, or the number of people visiting the site, will have a huge impact on your ability to sell your motorcycles.
Let’s say you find a nice website that specializes in selling motorcycles called SellYourMotorcycleSuperFastHere.com. You are impressed with the website and happy because it is free to list your bike. You decide to check them out on social media and find that they either don’t exist or only have a few followers. This is a bad sign.
Their online presence is not strong, which means fewer people are visiting their site. This means fewer people are seeing your motorcycle listing. Just because it’s up on the internet, doesn’t mean interested buyers will find it.
A good online marketplace knows how to drive traffic to their website to increase your chances of making a sale. So the next time you find a good deal on a motorcycle listing website, review their online presence to see if they can actually provide the traffic that you need to sell your bike.
Listing Bikes Individually Costs You Time
Another downfall of these general online marketplaces is the amount of work you have to do as a seller. As a dealer, you’re trying to sell more than just one bike. You have many bikes and are hopefully looking to sell them all.
The problem is that listing all your bikes is very time-consuming. However, there are merchant integration platforms you can use to streamline this process. You will have to set these up yourself. Or you can use a third-party that specializes in importing and managing products for you, such as ChannelAdvisor. They make it a lot easier, but it won’t be free.
However, there are online marketplaces that only focus on motorcycles, such as ChopperExchange. Their listing process is as smooth as butter. They have many years of experience in helping dealers sell bikes. In most cases, they list the bikes for the dealer and make it super easy to respond to buyer inquiries. The dealer only needs to focus on selling bikes.
Disclaimer: We have a financial interest in ChopperExchange.
Where Not to List Your Motorcycle for Sale
As a business owner, you make the decisions. When deciding where to list your dealership’s motorcycles, it’s important to understand the pitfalls of non-motorcycle-specific online marketplaces:
They may seem appealing. It could definitely be beneficial if you’re selling a couple of bikes, or just starting to explore your dealership’s e-commerce potential. But as a long-term strategy, using these marketplaces is not efficient.
It will be harder to reach your specific audience of motorcycle riders. And if you do, they will be less inclined to commit to a purchase.
The lack of trust and the negative customer experiences attached to these marketplaces will decrease your chances of being successful with each sale.
The financial risk that these marketplaces pose to your pocket could leave you at a loss.
The lack of specificity and sheer volume of buyers and sellers will make you feel like a drop of water in the ocean, especially when it comes to customer support.
Above all else, the time you spend listing each bike will be wasted, unless you’re lucky enough to find a trustworthy buyer.
Tell us about your experiences using these online marketplaces. Have you ever used these marketplaces to sell your bikes? If so, how did the transactions go? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!