Selling on Ebay versus selling on Amazon

Ebay and Amazon are the two leading online retailers, selling everything from books to DVDs, technology, household goods and furniture. You can furnish every room in your home using just these two sites, without ever having to leave the comfort of your chair. 

Buyers and sellers alike flock to both sites. But are they equal, or is one better than the other?

From the buyer point of view, Amazon seems to posses the greater buyer confidence, due to ease of purchase, quick delivery times and less likelihood of meeting scammers on the site. A non-delivered item needs only be followed by a claim, whereupon Amazon investigates and the buyer gets a refund. 

Ebay had a record of buyers being scammed and never being able to recoup their funds when sellers (scammers) failed to deliver items. As such Ebay and PayPal teamed up to ensure that any payment transferred from buyer to seller’s PayPal account is not released for twenty one days, giving the buyer this length of time to raise the alarm if an item has failed to arrive.

But how do the Ebay and Amazon compare to one another from the seller’s point of view? Both sites have pros and cons that may or may not suit a seller. Below are some of the main advantages of each site over the other:

Pros of Ebay over Amazon
 Ebay offers two ways to sell, auctioning and a one off price. Amazon allows you to sell only at a single price. The upside of the auctioning option is that you may list your item at a low price that will entice buyers to place a bid. Bidding begets bidding and before you know it you may end up with a sell at or above your desired price for the item. Even if you end up selling for lower than you’d hoped, at least you’ll have sold the item in that one listing and won’t have to relist at a lower price, incurring fees for a second listing.

 Ebay’s fees are much kinder than Amazon’s. Ebay asks a listing fee of $0.75 to $1.50 per listing depending on how many of the listing features you use (such as additional photos), plus a final value fee that is about 9 percent of the sale price. 

Amazon deducts a fee of 6 to 25 percent of the sale price, a variable closing fee, and a per-item fee of $0.99. This is fine when you sell higher priced items, but you might pay as much a $2.94 to $3.20 for a second hand book that you sold for just a few cents. 

 Ebay allows you to track progress, whereas Amazon is an all or nothing experience. To elaborate, because of Ebay’s auctioning feature, not only do you get to see who is bidding on your item, but you also get to see who is watching your item. Frequently buyers on Ebay will bid during the very last few minutes of your listing. However, in the days leading up to the end of your listing, instead of leaving you with the discouraging impression that nothing’s happening, being privy to a watch list lets you know that there is interest in your item and that it may sell. 

With Amazon on the other hand, you experience long days, weeks even, of nothing, with no indication as to whether your item has aroused any interest. Until one day, out of the blue, you get that hallelujah message in your inbox telling you that your item has sold. Certainly the duration of the Amazon listings are longer (60 days), than the Ebay listings (3 to 10 days), but 60 days is a long time to wait on the edge of your seat with not the slightest hint as to whether or not anything will happen. 

 On Amazon everyone is permanently undercutting one another, creating an atmosphere of frustration and anger. Let’s say you list your DVD for $6.99, the next day you check your inventory only to find that someone else has listed theirs for $6.98. So you change your listing to $6.97, and a few hours later they’ve changed theirs to $6.96 etc.

With Ebay there is no such negative experience. Once your item is live, the site draws your focus to the bids and who is watching you. Everyone’s listings start off cheap, and once the bidding starts it’s no longer up to you, the seller, to dictate the price. Therefore, what others are doing with their identical item becomes irrelevant.

 You can sell ANYTHING on Ebay. On Amazon you may only sell what is listed in Amazon’s database. This is made more frustrating when you attempt to list that gorgeous six piece tea set, only to find that Amazon has a record of the four piece and the eight piece versions of the same set, but not the six piece. The only way you’d be able to list your item would be to first become a ProMerchant seller at Amazon, which includes a subscription fee of $39.99. 

On Ebay however, if it isn’t already in their database, then you are welcome to put it there right away, at no extra cost or delay.

Pros of Amazon over Ebay
 Amazon tells you how much you’ll be paid for shipping, whereas Ebay makes you do the calculations yourself. This is time consuming and complex and involves you having to weigh and measure the items at home. By the time you get to the post office to mail the items, you’ll most likely find that you either over or underestimated the delivery costs.

 With Amazon, ‘sold’ means ‘sold’. Once your item is declared sold, it means that the buyer has transferred the funds and payment has been processed. 

With Ebay, a winning bidder does not necessarily translate into a paying customer. ‘Sold’ on Ebay means that someone has offered you a price for your item. But then you have to request payment and wait until the bidder actually pays you. This makes room for changes of heart, thereby wasting you an entire listing, fees and all. So whilst Ebay and Paypal have worked hard to win buyer confidence, they urgently need to take steps to win seller confidence too.

Both websites have pros and cons, and, as a seller your personal preferences will draw you to one site over the other. 

Although Ebay has a longer list of pros, their great shortcoming is that they are still lacking in seller confidence. Buyers may bid all they want, but have no incentive to follow through with payment once they win. The seller may contact the buyer to seek payment, but waiting for the buyer to respond can be as frustrating as waiting for your stuff to ever sell on Amazon. 

Having said that, your smartest option may be to list your items on both sites, so as to expose yourself to the greatest number of people, and benefit from all the pros, whilst taking the sting out of the cons.

Over all though, the two sites have worked over the years to iron out the kinks and flush out the scammers. Today both Ebay and Amazon are reliable platforms for selling goods and have enough customers and products worldwide as a testament to their success.