The two most popular places to sell your goods: Amazon and eBay. These household names collectively made billions of dollars. And for seasoned sellers who want a cut of the pie, they’re the go-to online marketplaces for novice and seasoned sellers. But which should you be selling on: Amazon or eBay?
We put them head-to-head in multiple categories to see which one fared better. Let’s see how selling on Amazon vs. eBay compares.
Both Amazon and eBay each have a massive reach. However, they’re not equal in all respects. Knowing your buyer personas can be helpful in determining if your audience already shops in these marketplaces.
While eBay and Amazon are both household names, Amazon is undeniably the ecommerce giant. More than 197 million people worldwide visit Amazon.com each month. Amazon is responsible for 5% of all U.S. retail spend. And while online shoppers will price check various sites before purchasing a product, 44% of them begin their product searches on Amazon.
Amazon has an international presence with 14 marketplaces worldwide where third-party sellers can list their products, and it has customers in more than 180 countries. However, only 33% of sales are from outside the United States.
In terms of demographics, U.S. Amazon shoppers tend to be wealthier and more educated than the general U.S. population. The average Amazon shopper is 45-54 years old and married, more than half have children, and nearly half have a college education.
eBay may not be able to compete with Amazon’s massive amounts of organic traffic, but it has an active audience all its own.
Its 182 million users hail from across the globe, and it has 23 international websites, reaching consumers from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In fact, more than half of eBay’s annual sales revenue comes from its 60 million buyers outside the United States, setting it apart from Amazon in global reach.
As for its American shoppers, 57% of them are male, 32% of all shoppers are between the ages of 35 and 49, and the next largest age group is 50-64-year-olds at 29%.
One thing that sets eBay and its audience apart from Amazon is eBay’s buyer-feedback system. eBay’s users are savvy, and most will buy only from sellers with a feedback score of 100 or higher.
With billions of different products for sale, you can find a variety of items available on Amazon and eBay — both new and used — but the sites have varying rules for what can be sold and who can sell them.
With more than 119 million products listed on its site — of which 4,000 are sold per minute — it seems like you can find virtually anything on Amazon these days. And third-party sellers are eligible to sell items that fall into most Amazon product categories, from clothing and accessories to toys and games, without requesting approval.
However, some items for sale on Amazon fall into what are called gated categories, which are typically expensive, sensitive in nature, safety-related, rare, or collectible. These products include items like sports memorabilia, fine art, collectibles, industrial and scientific equipment, and food and groceries.
There are also restricted items, which may require you to provide additional information to Amazon or proof that you meet certain regulations. And some items simply aren’t permitted to be listed on Amazon at all, such as magazine subscriptions, lock-picking devices, and cigarettes.
While most items listed on Amazon are new, used and refurbished ones are also available through third-party sellers, but there are restrictions in some product categories, as you’ll see in the chart below.
As for the most popular product categories on Amazon, electronics take the top slot, with 44% of U.S. shoppers having purchased them from Amazon, followed by clothing, shoes and jewelry (43%), and home and kitchen products (39%).
Just like Amazon, eBay has an extensive list of products that can be sold. However, this ecommerce platform is unique because it emphasizes its sale of rare and collectible items. In fact, 432,000 collectible items are sold on the website daily.
Because of its focus on these specific products, eBay doesn’t require sellers to get special permission to sell within certain categories, like coins and jewelry. It does maintain an extensive list of prohibited and restricted items, covering such categories as food, alcohol, and event tickets, though.
eBay’s top-selling product categories are actually fairly similar to Amazon’s, beginning with electronics and accessories at 16.4% and closely followed by clothing and accessories at 13.8%. However, eBay sets itself apart with its third most popular product: automotive at 10.5%. In fact, 360 cars and trucks are purchased via mobile devices on eBay every day.
eBay is well known for its auction-style selling model, but you can also sell items on eBay at a fixed price just like you can on Amazon. Here’s what to consider when determining which sales model will work best for you in terms of selling on Amazon vs. eBay.
Regardless of whether you’re buying a brand-new product or a used item, on Amazon, there’s a fixed price that consumers must pay.
However, on eBay, while sellers can set a price for an item with a fixed-price listing or Buy It Now listing, this ecommerce platform is best known for its auction-style listings, like the one in the screenshot below.
eBay shoppers expect a deal, so auction listings are popular choices. They allow buyers to bid on items until the end date you set. However, sellers can also include an “accept best offer” option with auction-style listings, which allows buyers to make an offer for an item that the seller can choose whether to accept.
It’s typically best for sellers to use the auction method in circumstances when you’re unsure of the item’s value, when you want to sell an item quickly, or when your item is rare or unique. Fixed-price listings, where you set the price for an item, are best to use when you know the price you want to get for an item, when you have a lot of inventory, or when you want your listing to appear in search results for more than 10 days.
To list products on eBay or Amazon, you’ll have to pay seller fees, and the variety of fees on each site can certainly add up. Some users have even taken to calling eBay “feeBay,” claiming its fees are excessive. However, Amazon has its share of seller fees as well, and depending on what exactly you’re selling, you may keep more money in your pocket selling on eBay vs. Amazon.
Let’s take a look at how the fees break down when it comes to selling on Amazon vs. eBay.
Amazon offers two selling plans: Individual or Professional. The one you select depends on your selected sales volume.
If you’re new to ecommerce and unsure how much you expect to sell, it’s a good idea to start with the Individual plan, which allows you to sell up to 40 items per month for no monthly fee and just costs 99 cents per item sold. If you plan to sell more than 40 items on a monthly basis, opt for the Professional plan, which allows for unlimited sales and costs $ 39.99 per month.
In addition to the fees you pay based on your Amazon seller’s plan, there are also referral fees that are paid on every item you sell. The percentage you pay depends on the product category and ranges from 6% to 9% of the sale price.
Finally, if you opt to enroll in Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which allows sellers to store their products in Amazon warehouses and lets Amazon handle the packing and shipping of those products, you’ll encounter several other fees, which are detailed here.
eBay’s subscription plans are similar to Amazon’s selling plans, and there are several to choose from, as illustrated below. However, you don’t have to subscribe to a store in order to sell on eBay.
Regardless of whether you opt for an eBay subscription plan though, you will have to pay both insertion fees and final value fees.
Insertion fees are essentially the fees you pay for listing an item for sale on eBay. Sellers get up to 50 free listings per month. After that, you’ll have to pay a fee of 35 cents per listing and per each product category you list your item in. These fees aren’t refunded if your item doesn’t sell, and you’ll be charged the insertion fee each time you relist your item.
Final value fees are charged after an item sells, and they’re a percentage of the item’s purchase price, plus shipping and handling costs. The percentage you pay depends on your type of eBay account. For example, sellers with a regular eBay account will pay a 10% final value fee for most items. Sellers with a store subscription are charged lower final value fees depending on their subscription model.
Refunds and Returns
While eBay permits sellers to opt out of returns, Amazon provides a higher level of protection for users who purchase items from third-party sellers, which can inspire more trust in buyers.
As noted earlier, consumers may have a higher level of trust when making Amazon purchases because of the policies the ecommerce giant has in place.
Amazon’s A-Z Guarantee protects buyers who purchase from third-party sellers, allowing them to easily request refunds and returns in a variety of situations. The guarantee covers both the timely delivery of items as well as the item’s condition. If the buyer is unsatisfied with either and doesn’t resolve the issue with the seller, they can then file a claim with Amazon.
eBay, on the other hand, can present additional challenges when it comes to refunds and returns.
Sellers can choose to opt out of returns when listing an item, so once the purchase is made, the seller can’t return the item for a refund except in specific circumstances.
However, eBay does have a Money Back Guarantee policy that covers buyers when they don’t receive an item, receive an item that doesn’t match the listing, or receive a broken or faulty item.
Shipping and Fulfillment
Another big way that Amazon and eBay differ is how they handle shipping and fulfillment. They both offer different options for sellers, so here’s what you need to consider about selling on Amazon vs. eBay.
One of the greatest benefits for third-party Amazon sellers is the option to enroll in FBA.
Letting Amazon store your products and fulfill your orders simplifies things for sellers, and FBA also provides customer service for retailers as well as certain marketing advantages, such as being eligible for Super Saver Shipping and Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime members — of which there are 105 million subscribers in the U.S— receive free two-day shipping, which can entice shoppers to click “buy.”
Overall, FBA’s benefits have been found to give Amazon retailers a 30% to 50% increase in sales.
However, you don’t have to participate in FBA. Third-party sellers have the option of packaging and shipping orders to customers when items sell.
While eBay doesn’t currently have a program similar to FBA, it has announced plans to launch Managed Delivery, an initiative that enables sellers who sell a lot of inventory to more easily and quickly fulfill orders, in 2020.
Because eBay makes international sales so easy, it also offers a Global Shipping Program, which enables sellers to ship purchased items to eBay’s global shipping center in Kentucky. From there, eBay handles any customs paperwork and ships the products to buyers across the globe. Because eBay is taking care of the shipping, eBay will be accountable for any delivery mishaps that may occur.
Also, while eBay doesn’t offer a program similar to Amazon Prime, it’s important to note that free, fast shipping can make your listings more appealing. With the popularity of Prime, online shoppers have come to expect convenient and affordable shipping options. In fact, 71% of eBay purchases are shipped for free.
Selling on Amazon vs. eBay: The Breakdown
While there’s not a definitive answer of whether it’s better to sell on Amazon or eBay, here are the highlights to help you decide which marketplace is right for you.
Sell on Amazon if…
- You sell new items.
- You plan to sell larger quantities of items.
- You don’t want to handle inventory management and fulfillment.
- You’re primarily targeting American consumers.
Sell on eBay if…
- You’re primarily selling used items or collectibles.
- You want the lowest fees.
- You plan to handle inventory management and fulfillment.
- You want to sell to an international customer base.
Don’t Limit Yourself
However, just because Amazon is a better fit for your or your products, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t also sell on eBay.
Numerous sellers list their products across various marketplaces, including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Jet, and Walmart, just to name a few. In fact, 80% of Amazon sellers also sell on other platforms, and Sellbrite’s multi-channel listing software makes it easy to sell on multiple marketplaces and manage your inventory from one central catalog.
Plus, diversifying your ecommerce presence is a great way to grow your business and your profits. In fact, Sellbrite has found that merchants who sell on three or more channels sell 156% more, and Sellbrite merchants are seeing more than 300% growth after one year.