One is a vendor marketplace with fixed prices; the other is more like an online flea market. But is that really true anymore? Here are the real differences in Amazon vs eBay for sellers.
The conventional wisdom about eBay’s auction-style selling model is that it is much less reliable, and is more for people selling one-off items around the house. But that hasn’t been true for a long time, as the pie charts below clearly illustrate. With the gradual introduction of, first, the “Buy It Now” feature and followed by its Fixed Price and eBay Store formats, professional sellers have lots of options for skipping the whole auction process entirely.
Who sells on each platform?
The differences in seller types are illustrated in the chart above. The largest group of sellers on Amazon are those whose annual sales volumes range from $100K – $1M, followed by smaller sellers in the $10K – $100K range. About the same percentage in that range comprise the largest group of sellers on eBay. And while eBay does have a significant number of sellers in the larger-volume category, an even higher percentage are those who sell < $10K worth of products each year. If your annual volume is in the $10K – $100K range, you’re in the sweet spot for both.
Another interesting trend regarding sellers on Amazon is the gradual rise in market share for third-party sellers. Between 2007 and 2018, their share of paid units sold on the platform essentially doubled.
This means that competition from direct brand sellers and Amazon itself is less of a concern now than simply standing out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Amazon fees vs eBay fees: which is the best value?
One of the first things most sellers comparing eBay with Amazon will look at is the cost of listings. Amazon and eBay both charge transaction fees each time you sell something, but the cost of listing your products does differ between the two platforms.
Here’s the full explanation of eBay fees.
On eBay, you can list your first 50 items for free each month. After that, you’re charged $0.35 per listing. eBay charges a 10% final value fee for most items, but there are exceptions depending on the product type. For example, the fee for selling a guitar would be only 3.5%.
Amazon’s fees are higher than eBay’s. As a professional seller, you pay a monthly subscription fee of USD $39.99. There’s no listing fee, but Amazon charges a referral fee on every transaction. In most cases, the referral fee is 15% but again, it can vary depending on the type of product you sell. Media items, such as books, music, video games etc, are charged a flat fee of $1.80 per item.
If you decide to use Amazon’s FBA service where Amazon maintains the inventory and does the drop shipping, there are additional fees to cover the storage, handling, packaging and shipping of your products. However, that is offset by the big marketing advantage of your products’ automatic inclusion in the Prime program.
Which platform offers the best seller tools?
Both platforms offer a range of helpful tools for sellers. However, the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) service is the major difference between the two.
What is Amazon FBA and How Does it Work?
FBA is Amazon’s warehouse fulfillment service. Basically, they will store all of your goods in their warehouse, and even ship them out for you, for a price.
You may want to pick Amazon specifically for this reason, because storing your own inventory can be a huge hassle. For more information on FBA, check out Amazon’s help center.
Other Amazon Seller Tools
Amazon also provides sellers with a suite of tools that you can use within the platform such as business reports, which provide insights into your overall sales, traffic, conversions etc, and pre-designed promotions for pushing out old inventory or offering seasonal or holiday sales.
eBay Seller Tools
eBay has a range of tools to help you create, manage, and promote your listings. Their Seller Hub helps you create listings faster with a streamlined tool, quickly process orders, and view your daily sales trends to identify your top performers. Insights show how buyers are finding your products. Competitive insights help you optimize your listings. And there’s a variety of marketing and promotion tools available to eBay Stores subscribers.
Which platform has more shoppers and market share?
Amazon was recently pronounced by Forbes to be the world’s largest retailer, accounting for about half of all eCommerce sales in the United States and boasting 310 million active users.
eBay estimates it has 180 million active users, but the platform accounts for less than 10 percent of eCommerce sales in the United States. Obviously, Amazon is still the much bigger player in the ecommerce space, but eBay still has a significant customer base.
When it comes to sellers, those proportions are reversed. Based on the estimated figures for active sellers, eBay appears to be 10X times more competitive than Amazon (25M vs 2.5M). However, it’s not that simple.
It’s impossible to tell how many sellers on eBay are just individuals who occasionally auction off household items, and how many are established retail businesses. On Amazon, for the most part you’re competing with highly successful companies, including Amazon itself, since the company owns more than 80 private label brands.
Competition is about more than just the number of sellers on each platform. You need to do your own market research to see how many sellers are active in your niche. While Amazon seems to have the edge here, it’s still possible that your business may be even better suited to eBay.
Amazon Customers vs eBay Customers: Different strokes for different folks
All customers aren’t created equal.
Due to the original auction-style nature of eBay, many shoppers there are more price-conscious. They expect to find bargains, and you might find they’re unwilling to pay any kind of premium. If you can access wholesale products at crazy low prices through retail arbitrage, eBay might be the perfect platform.
Amazon customers, on the other hand, are less likely to be in the bargain-hunting mentality. They’re usually more willing to pay a premium based on trust of the platform. Plus, those enrolled in Amazon Prime already are psychologically more committed to Amazon.
Internationality – Amazon vs eBay
Which marketplace has more international exposure? The answer may be surprising: it’s eBay.
- Has 12 website domains in countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia
- Has customers in over 180 countries
- Reported 33% of sales outside the USA in 2016
- Has 25 website domains globally in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
- In 2017, roughly 57% of eBay’s sales were from countries outside the USA
If you are looking to expand internationally with a more diverse customer base, eBay may help you do that faster.
Seller restrictions on each platform
eBay’s seller limits
eBay has seller limits that are designed to stop illegitimate sellers from taking advantage of the platform. It doesn’t publicly release its seller limits, but new sellers are generally capped at 10 items and $500 of sales per month.
As you prove yourself a trustworthy seller able to meet buyer demand, eBay will increase your limit. Even if this initial throttling chafes somewhat, bear in mind the restriction is there to keep dodgy sellers out and reinforce better trust of the platform overall.
eBay also has controls in place for prohibited and restricted items, so make sure your products aren’t on this list before you get started.
There are also listing policies around images, text, links, and accuracy that you need to comply with in order to sell products on eBay.
Amazon also has extensive listing restrictions, which basically require that the claims you make be accurate and compliant with all relevant trade regulations. You can’t sell goods that claim to cure or treat diseases, or make false claims about the environmental benefits of your products. It’s all about being both honest and thorough.
There are also restrictions on the types of products you can sell, such as alcohol, dietary supplements, weapons, and even electronics. That’s why it’s essential to check for any restrictions on the products you intend to sell on Amazon, prior to striking a deal with your supplier.
There isn’t a clear winner in the eBay vs. Amazon debate. Professional sellers, especially those doing volumes of $10K – $100K and up, would be wise to enroll with both.
Amazon is an online retail powerhouse that can’t be passed over lightly. Bear in mind, though, that their main goal is to appease the customer, and sometimes they’ll roll out massive changes that can wipe you out if you’re not already using professional best practices.
While eBay’s customers and revenue are only about half of Amazon’s, there are still massive opportunities for sellers on the platform–particularly those who are offering vintage or kitschy products that don’t fit neatly into an Amazon category. Many eBay sellers don’t limit themselves to one platform.
However, as every multichannel retailer will tell you, there are challenges to selling products across multiple platforms. Each one has different listing requirements, for one thing. Fulfillment requirements also vary. But using a product syndication service can overcome those barriers, making it simple to sell on multiple platforms without the need for manual data entry.
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