Selling on Amazon vs. eBay – Comparing Marketplaces for Online Sellers
To help you understand the similarities and differences between Amazon and eBay, we’ve broken down what you can expect from each platform across five categories, including:
- Competition & Sales
- Fees & Payment
- Customer Service
- Seller Support & Training
So whether you’re thinking about selling on eBay or want to tap into Amazon selling, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your business. After all, what works for one business on Amazon might not work on eBay and vice versa.
Inventory – New or Used Stuff?
Your first step in choosing between Amazon and eBay is to look at what you’re selling. For example, while each platform has its own restricted product categories, eBay selling is better suited for used products through auctions (top selling categories these days include collectibles, fashion and electronics), while Amazon is better for new (and requires fixed pricing and no bidding). Other differences to consider:
An Amazon seller has more inventory rules and restrictions to follow, particularly when it comes to proving product authenticity. As a result, Amazon requires UPC codes for every item sold. Additionally, sellers can list products for higher prices on Amazon than they can on eBay. And, the process of uploading a product is more seamless.
As an eBay seller, you have to take your own photos (at least four) for each product listing which — according to Irving Patz, Payability customer and owner of Habano757 on Amazon and eBay — means you may have to remove the item from its sealed box. Once an item is uploaded, eBay will recommend its selling price (fixed or auction) and shipping method. If you don’t want to handle the pricing, selling and shipping, however, you can opt for the eBay Valet service, where selling experts handle everything and you get paid up to 80% on all earnings.
According to Andrew Pasley, Payability customer and owner of Rustic Trends, a home improvement store on Amazon and eBay, “On Amazon, all you really have to do is scan an item’s barcode to get product photos and its Amazon selling rank. This allows you to see how well something sells before you even purchase it from your supplier. With eBay, you have a little more work to do. And, as long as you load up with inventory on Amazon, it’s going to sell — like pouring dirt in a never ending hole.”
Competition & Sales
Hundreds of millions of buyers spend on Amazon and eBay every year, but how do you make sure they’re buying your products and not someone else’s? The key strategy here is to optimize your product listings so they are among the first to appear in search results and have a lot of positive reviews. Here’s how to get there on Amazon and eBay:
Understanding Amazon SEO is key, as is winning the “Buy Box”. An Amazon seller that offers the most competitive prices and the best customer experience ultimately gets the Buy Box, while other factors include maintaining stock/inventory, offering multiple shipping options (including free shipping), and operating as a Professional Seller (not an Individual — more on that in the next section).
Similar to Amazon, eBay has its own SEO rules and rewards active, high performing sellers with a “Top Rated Plus” seal and higher ranking in search results. eBay considers the quantity and type of customer feedback you have, how long you’ve been a seller, how many listings you have and what your sell-through rate is.
Pro Tip: To increase your chances of getting this “Top Rated Plus” seal on eBay, make sure you also offer a 30-day return policy and next-business-day shipping (as in, you ship out items one day after receiving an order).
Fees & Payments
So what does it cost to be an Amazon seller vs. an eBay seller? And when will you actually get paid? Here’s how the pricing breaks down:
Amazon Selling Fees
Depending on the type of account you have on Amazon, you’ll either pay a $39.99 monthly subscription fee (Professional Accounts) or a $0.99 per sale fee (Individual Accounts). If you’re operating a smaller business and don’t expect to sell more than 40 items per month, the Individual Account makes more sense economically. On top of the account fees, you’ll pay selling fees associated with your particular product category. And when you’ve made a sale, Amazon waits at least two weeks to pay you for it.
With Payability’s daily instant access payments program, sellers don’t have to wait two weeks to get paid. Sellers can get next day access to Amazon sales.
eBay Selling Fees
Depending on how much business you plan to do on eBay, you can expect to pay subscription fees up to $350 per month (that is, if you’re listing up to 10,000 items). The Basic Store subscription, which includes 250 listings, is $25 per month or $240 annually. Selling without a subscription means no monthly fees, but a limit of 50 listings and a per-sale fee. Regardless of your subscription level, eBay charges a percentage of your total sales, ranging from 4-20% depending on the items and your seller status. And when you’ve made a sale, eBay pays you right away.
Overall, Amazon’s fees are slightly higher than eBay’s, but depending on your business, you can still make more money on Amazon. “As long as you turn a lot of volume, the Amazon fees are worth it. Amazon charges more but because of the volume and frequency of sales, it doesn’t compare to eBay. Just the cost of doing business,” says Andrew Pasley, Rustic Trends.
Customer service is a huge component to any retail business, and especially an e-commerce one. Both Amazon and eBay take customer service seriously and have programs in place to help you monitor your customer satisfaction scores.
If you are an FBA seller, Amazon will handle all customer service issues on your behalf, including inquiries, refunds and returns. In addition, Amazon sellers have access to a Customer Metrics page that calculates a customer satisfaction score based on order fulfillments (i.e. order defects, positive vs. negative reviews, etc.), your inventory levels, on-time shipments, return rate and more.
eBay sellers have access to a Seller Dashboard that measures their customer service and seller performance. In addition, eBay’s seller protection team works diligently to ensure buyers are not violating eBay’s buying practices or seller protection policies.
As Christina Caradonna, Payability customer and owner of Gimantic Warehouse Deals, points out, “eBay has more protections for sellers, while Amazon has more customer protections. For example, if I have an item showing delivery to a customer but the customer says the item did not arrive, eBay will side with me the seller while Amazon will side with the customer unless they signed for the item.”
Pro Tip: In some cases, Amazon sides with a customer, issues a refund and doesn’t require a product return so the seller is left with nothing. And, if you get too many negative reviews, your seller status will be at risk. Keep this in mind as you set up your Amazon business and customer service strategies.
Seller Support & Training
Regardless of which platform you use for your business, there is a lot to learn and you’ll likely encounter questions along the way. To help you scale the learning curve a bit more efficiently, both Amazon and eBay offer a plethora of tools and resources, including:
Amazon offers Seller University and a Selling Coach to help you get started. The University includes a series of instructional videos on everything from selling plans and fees to how FBA works. The Selling Coach is a virtual advisor that helps sellers maximize their accounts with tailored guidance and tips. On top of these tools are endless pages of information on Amazon.com.
eBay’s Seller Center includes webinars, local meetups and over 600 eBay Radio episodes chockful of selling tips. Plus, they offer a concierge program with US-based support agents available by phone.
All in all, selling on Amazon isn’t the same as selling on eBay and there are pros and cons to each. Generally speaking, Amazon is a great online retail platform for businesses with recurring, high-volume sales of new items, while eBay is a great marketplace for individuals or smaller businesses who specialize in collectibles, vintage and/or used items. If you are still not sure which platform is right for you, check out these similarities and differences between the two, get more tips on selling on eBay vs Amazon, or ask existing Amazon and eBay sellers in the Amazon Seller Forums or The eBay Community.