AmazonBlog

Selling on Amazon vs. eBay: An In-Depth Comparison

Amazon and eBay were launched just a year apart and have become two of the biggest e-commerce players. But as a business owner, which platform should you focus more of your energy on?

Which Is Bigger: eBay or Amazon?

The size of eBay’s marketplaces is a small fraction of what Amazon’s is. In 2021, eBay has 182 million users worldwide, while Amazon has over 200 million Prime members alone.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon has a much bigger overall revenue compared to eBay. For example, in the third quarter of 2021, Amazon fell short of the expected revenue while eBay did better than expected. However, Amazon’s revenue that period is $110.8 billion while eBay’s GMV is $19.5 billion.

eBay’s total revenue per year has been essentially flat for nearly five years since 2014 while Amazon’s has nearly tripled in this time. So all things equal, you should expect Amazon to bring in 10x more sales than eBay.

ebay revenues vs amazon revenues

 

When I started my boating brand, eBay was over 50% of our revenues. But when I sold the brand in 2016, eBay was well below 30% of our revenue. Two years later, in 2018, eBay was well under 10% of my new brand’s total revenues.

Back in 2019, eBay was doing better overall compared to other sites like Walmart. However, after the e-commerce boom during the pandemic, Walmart stepped up its game and has overtaken eBay in the second spot.

Statistic: Market share of leading retail e-commerce companies in the United States as of October 2021 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Advantage Amazon

Amazon Wins. There’s no competition here. Amazon is at least 10x bigger than eBay and is growing quicker.

Related Listening: Episode 156: Diversifying Your Brand Beyond Amazon U.S.

Which Has Less Seller Competition: eBay or Amazon?

Both eBay and Amazon are selective with what data they reveal about their sellers.

Amazon in 2019 revealed they had 200,000 sellers with revenue over $50,000 and 50,000 sellers with revenue over $500,000. In 2021, the company reported that 27,000 sellers in the US alone passed the $500 million revenue mark, while those who surpassed $1 million in sales grew by nearly 15%.

number of amazon sellers by revenue

Compared to eBay, Amazon has more serious and bigger sellers, so it’s more competitive. More importantly, as we’ll get to shortly, competition for advertising is also significantly less on eBay so it’s cheaper.

Advantage eBay

eBay is less Competitive than Amazon: There are certainly fewer eBay sellers than Amazon and more importantly, advertising costs are cheaper.

Which Is Easier to Ship Items with, eBay or Amazon?

Perhaps the biggest difference between eBay and Amazon is the fact that Amazon has its Fulfilled by Amazon program, more commonly known as FBA.

With Amazon FBA, sellers ship their items to Amazon and Amazon handles all fulfillment and shipping. This saves a lot of work.

Sellers are responsible for both inbound and outbound shipping. Sometimes, a Seattle seller will be sending their inventory all the way to Florida. If this sounds impractical and expensive, sometimes it is. Overall though, most sellers pay less for shipping because of Amazon’s significantly discounted rates.

With Amazon FBA, you will also be responsible for storage fees which are also expensive (up to $200 per month to store a pallet from October to December). These fees are increasing every year, alternating between significant and minimal changes.

One major downside to Amazon FBA is that it potentially creates sales tax nexus for sellers in dozens of states meaning they have to collect and remit sales tax in those states.

Advantage Amazon

Amazon is easier than eBay to fulfill and ship items with. Amazon FBA is a huge boon for most sellers as it removes the hassle of shipping. However, it means expensive storage fees and is not a good option for people wanting to fulfill items from a garage or basement. It may also create sales tax issues.

Which Is Easier to Manage: eBay or Amazon?

In terms of management, eBay is a victim of its past success when it used to rule the world of used products.

eBay has a terribly confusing decentralized product management system. There can be thousands of different listings for the same exact Instapot.

eBay allows HTML/CSS in its listings, which means sellers are constantly trying to edge one another in the sophistication and design of their listings.

amazon add a product

Contrary to eBay, Amazon has an extremely easy-to-use product management system. There is only one listing per unique UPC (the bar codes you see on products). Amazon essentially only allows photos and plain text product descriptions making listings much easier.

Advantage Amazon

Amazon by a long shot is easier to manage than eBay.This one isn’t even close. Amazon is as close to a “set it and forget it” marketplace as you can get.

eBay’s Shopify Integration

eBay and Shopify have partnered to allow all sellers to connect their eBay accounts to their Shopify accounts.

You can connect eBay with your online store by choosing an eCommerce platform with a strong integration that includes the ability to import your eBay items into your online store. 

Some advantages of connecting eBay with your Shopify account are the following:

  • From the product catalogue of your online store, you can create eBay ads directly.
  • In your online store and eBay, the available quantities of the products will be automatically synchronized.
  • When a sale is made on eBay, orders will be created in your online store.
  • The payment system will be PayPal and buyers will be able to buy your products through this payment gateway.

Which Has Lower Selling Fees: eBay or Amazon?

Before you can list something on Amazon, you have to choose one of two seller plans: Individual (charges $0.99 per unit sold) and Professional ($39.99 per month regardless of the number of units sold).

With eBay, on the other hand, you’re given 250 free listings per month and are charged $0.35 per additional listing. It also has the following Store Subscription options:

Store Type Starter Basic Premium Anchor Enterprise
Monthly $7.95 $27.95 $74.95 $349.95 No available
Annual $4.95 $21.95 $59.95 $299.95 $2,999.95

In addition to the subscription fees, you should know that there are other 3 main costs to consider when selling on eBay:  insertion (listing) fees, final value fees, and PayPal transaction fees (if using it).

Some other optional extra fees such as fees for advanced listing upgrades, auction listing fees and classified advertising.

For most categories, eBay will charge 12.55% on the total amount of the sale up to $7,500 calculated per item and 2.35% on the portion of the sale over $7,500. Amazon typically charges a 15% commission, which includes payment processing fees.

However, Amazon will charge you inbound shipping fees if you use their FBA program and outbound shipping fees as well.

We used an example of a package selling for $49.99 and measuring 15″x12″x4″. The cost on eBay was $15.96 compared to $13.25 on Amazon. Amazon fees were 20% cheaper than eBay.

Box for shipping

Selling Fees – eBay vs Amazon
Fees eBay Amazon
Selling Price $49.99 $49.99
Selling Fees $4.99 $7.50
Payment Processing $1.45
Shipping Fees from Amazon FBA (2-Day) $9.52 $5.85
Total Fees $15.96 $13.35
Miscellaneous Fees
Advertising Fees Approximately 0-25%+ of  Sales
Monthly Fees $0/$24.95 Basic eBay Store $39.99 (Professional Selling Plan)

Advantage Amazon

Amazon has cheaper fees than eBay. When comparing two packages that are exactly the same, Amazon is roughly 20% cheaper, including shipping costs.

Which Pays You Quicker: eBay or Amazon?

Once you start selling products, you want to actually get paid for them!

In terms of payment time, this is one area where eBay is much better than Amazon. For eBay, you get paid the second a buyer purchases your item.

For Amazon, however, you do not get paid until after the buyer has purchased the item and Amazon has shipped the item to the buyer. Further, there’s a holding period of approximately two weeks on your funds.

Advantage eBay

eBay pays you Quicker Than Amazon If you want your money quickly, eBay is the clear winner.

Which Has Lower Advertising Fees: eBay or Amazon?

Both Amazon and eBay are increasingly becoming pay-to-play marketplaces. This means that often you need to pay to have your listings appear at the top of search results.

However, Amazon sellers rely on advertising far more than eBay sellers.

In 2018, we surveyed five high-volume sellers and found that these sellers had advertising account for 26.7%-60.6% of their sales.

average cost of advertising on Amazon vs eBay

Advertising costs on Amazon have significantly increased over the years, however, and it’s becoming one of the biggest threats to your Amazon business. A 2021 report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) reveals that Amazon is actually using sellers to fund its alleged monopoly, taking about two-thirds of seller’s revenues, a big part of which is spend on ads.

On the other hand, eBay has expanded what it calls promoted listings but most sellers use no advertising at all.

If you’re a typical seller on Amazon, with 25% of sales coming from advertising and pay approximately 30% for your Average Cost of Sale (ACoS), then this adds an extra 7.5% to your selling fees. Ouch.

Advantage eBay

eBay knocks out Amazon with lower advertising costs. This one isn’t even close. Most Amazon sellers pay a ridiculous amount of money on advertising while most eBay sellers pay none.

Which Is Better for Branding: eBay or Amazon?

The biggest disadvantage of Amazon though is the fact that Amazon owns the customer in every regard.

Amazon hides everything about the customer in great detail, most importantly their email address. They also severely limit how much branding of your products you can use by severely limiting HTML/CSS use.

While eBay does not want you directing customers off of eBay, you do have a lot more flexibility, including getting access to their email address and being able to somewhat brand your store and listings.

Previously, we used Mailchimp’s eBay integration to email customers after purchase if they’d like to signup for an extremely relevant ebook. Each month we would generate 100+ emails from this strategy. Our email list for this segment converted at around 1% with an average transaction value of $200. It was very valuable.

ebay ebook conversion rates
In my previous company, we gave away a free eBook to eBay customers to help generate an email list.

Advantage eBay

eBay offers far more branding opportunities than Amazon. Neither channel likes you steering customers away from their platform but eBay offers, at the very least, more flexibility for the branding of your items.

Which Is More Friendly Towards Sellers: eBay or Amazon?

Both eBay and Amazon are buyer-centric. However, Amazon tends to be more ruthless. After all, customers are  at the heart of its Flywheel Strategy.

Amazon has a terrible reputation for suspending buyers, often with little cause or warning. In fact, an entire cottage industry of account suspension “specialists” has popped up to help sellers get unsuspended. When an Amazon account suspension occurs they immediately freeze your funds and give you little feedback.

Related Reading: The Reason Behind the Mass Suspension of Chinese Amazon Sellers

Amazon account health
Despite Amazon having a very intensive account health dashboard, it often has very little correlation to account suspensions.

Advantage eBay

eBay is fairer to sellers than Amazon. Let’s be clear—both eBay and Amazon have reputations for poor service for sellers, but Amazon is the hands-down winner for the level of poorness.

Which Has More Good Product Categories to Sell in: eBay or Amazon?

What Product Categories Do Amazon and eBay Excel At?
eBay Amazon
Good Categories
  • Used products
  • Collectibles
  • eBay Motors
  • Customized/Unique products
  • Electronics Parts/Accessories
  • Most categories except Used, Customized, and Impulse Buy items
Bad Categories
  • Commodity items
  • Customized items
  • Grocery
  • Discovery/impulse products
  • Customized items
  • Unique one-off products
  • Used products

Amazon is dominant in nearly all product categories where there is existing customer demand and the products are not found through discovery and/or purchased on impulse.

eBay is still competitive with eBay motors (automotive/boating/etc.) and electronics, specifically electronics parts and accessories. Also, it still dominates used items, collectibles, and other unique items.

eBay and Amazon are generally not good for customized products such as engraved products. While both do offer some level of customized support for customized products, none have the level of support for customization that your own website can provide.

Advantage Amazon

Amazon excels in most product categories but eBay still dominates others. Generally, if you’re selling a new, commodity item, Amazon is your place to be. If it’s used, then look to eBay.

Summary: Pros and Cons of Selling on eBay and Amazon

Overall, eBay allows you the opportunity to brand your products and store more and with more forgiveness for mistakes and/or poor-quality products. The cost is a significantly smaller audience and no in-house fulfillment.

Selling on Amazon Pros

  • Much larger audience than eBay (10x+)
  • Amazon FBA means Amazon handles all shipping and most customer service
  • Easier to manage
  • Can use paid advertising to have your items instantly rank for keywords

Selling on Amazon Cons

  • Amazon “owns” the customer entirely
  • Much more competition than eBay
  • Paid advertising is critical and drives up selling costs
  • Ruthless suspensions and bad seller support
  • Higher return rates

The biggest advantage of Amazon is the sheer size of the marketplace. The Amazon FBA program is a close second. The cost is that Amazon is a cutthroat marketplace where you will have constant schizophrenia in fear of other sellers sabotaging you and/or Amazon suspending you.

Other Channels Outside of eBay & Amazon

There are other channels to sell your products on. You can see our full summary of other sales channels here. The best channels to consider are:

  • Walmart.com
  • Shopify/Your own website
  • Houzz
  • Etsy

Once you’ve maxed out eBay and Amazon’s potential, the next logical channel is to start selling on your own website (and most people will do this through Shopify). In fact, your own website will support your sales on eBay and Amazon so it’s best to launch your website concurrently with selling on eBay and Amazon.

If you’re selling any home-related products, Houzz can be an amazing channel. It’s not uncommon for a seller in a niche like home decor to get 25 to 50% of their sales through Houzz. If you’re not selling a home-related product though, Houzz will be of little use to you. Etsy is similar to Houzz if you’re selling anything homemade or craft-related.

Finally, Walmart has been improving its e-commerce strategies over the past years. It has even started allowing non-US sellers into its platform. It definitely has a stronger online presence now and with millions of dollars invested in improving its logistics, it may even become a bigger threat to Amazon than eBay is.

Conclusion- Which is Better Overall: eBay or Amazon?

summary eBay vs Amazon

Amazon Wins!

On paper, it would appear as though Amazon vs eBay is a close race. The reality is that Amazon is almost always the better platform for sellers to start selling on.

eBay does have a place in e-commerce and many sellers will find value in it. It just shouldn’t be the first thing you focus on.

While Amazon does have higher selling fees, especially if you consider advertising fees, it makes up for this by having a much larger customer base, easier fulfillment, and being easier to manage. If you’re just getting started selling on Amazon and looking for more information, check out our article How to Get Started Selling on Amazon.

Do you think Amazon is the best sales channel for sellers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Dave Bryant

Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He's also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.

9 Comments

  1. Great article! The information was very helpful. I am new to selling, however have sold a few pieces here and there at eBay over the years, but would like to begin selling on a higher level. So I am researching all that I can about the process of both companies. Your article was very informative.

  2. Thank you. Very well written.

    Ive been buying and selling on Ebay for years but have never used Amazon at all. Every time I was looking for something Amazon was always a lot more expensive and I couldnt understand why anyone would buy there. I still dont. Not once was something cheaper on Amazon. I dont get why they are so popular. I guess people are just stupid.

    I have recently started selling on Ebay again and was thinking of trying Amazon but you convinced me not to.

    It sounds like the same difference between selling on Craigslist compared to selling on Facebook. Morals and integrity compared to a complete lack of them.

    I sell a lot of stuff locally on Craigslist but rarely use Facebook even though there are a lot more customers on Facebook. Because the Craigslist customers are way less annoying. Facebook customers have no problem with wasting all day asking 20 questions, getting directions and your address, telling you they want it and will be there to buy it- then never show up or talk to you again and when you ask if they are coming you get a rude “Im no longer interested”. ( I dont care that I wasted your whole day and that you told other buyers it was pending sold and they bought from someone else).
    Common on Facebook, rare on Craigslist. It takes about 3-5 days longer to sell on Craigslist but it’s worth it.

    Sounds like Amazon, like Facebook, you get a younger crowd that has little to no empathy for the seller or other people in general. I have worked with several Milinnials and they were nice but had the worst character. They thought everything should be free and thought nothing of buying something they needed, using it then returning it for a refund when they no longer needed it. They didnt understand at all why I said they were stealing.
    You said Amazon has a much higher rate of returns..Ive NEVER had any of my 1005 sales returned on Ebay and have 100% customer satisfaction. I had ONE guy who complained on Ebay that I overcharged him $2 for shipping. I sent him $2 and he bought from me again! I imagine it wouldnt have been so easy on Amazon.
    Ill stick with Ebay. Thank you for saving me the time and frustration of trying Amazon blindly.

  3. I gotta say im not sure about the more ruthless of the two, id say they are even or maybe eBay being a little more cutthroat. I sold on both platforms starting in 2018 when i officially started my business in TX. I had much more experience on ebay since i started selling there almost from when they started but just a few items a year. when i started moving items is when i noticed the bad side, ebay has made me eat losses even when fraud is clear and proof is provided, they don’t look at evidence and don’t care, they say its part of business. i sold a 50in and about an hour after delivery i am notified they want to return it, red flag, I already knew i was screwed. I had the tv sent to me instead of the supplier who sent it, sure enough, i received a different tv, different upc different everything. it was close but nope, upc and serial numbers don’t lie. sent ebay the proof and was told too bad, part of doing business. If you ever met a seller who seems like a hardass, this is why.

    No Amazon, i got everything in order to do things right, started my business and went smoothly they do and will suspend sellers, or so i hear but the strange thing is i never was, i got sick in the early part of 2019 so i sent them an email asking to suspend my account and stop charging me the monthly fee. i dont remember what it did but i know fees were less by opting in this program. they stopped the fees but left my lisings up, and too this day they are still up i think. But for over a year people would buy stuff from me, wait for item, never received item, have their money refunded. i would get they email is how i knew, and they never suspended the account. I would laugh but never tried to correct it since i had proof that sent them an email suspending my account. i may go back someday to ecommerce so its good to know my account is already to go if i do.

  4. Thank you for sharing this valuable information. Your blog content is amazing.

  5. Ebay backs sellers more especially when you have Top rated or very good customer service. Amazon offshore reps treat you with top service the same way as crummy sellers with 60% feedback. They could care less. Although I did beat a few customers on return fraud on Amazon. Ebay customers return less. By a long shot. Usually, if something doesn’t fit they will return. Amazon customers. overbuy and return massive amounts of goods. I don’t have all my numbers yet for 2021 but Amazon customers definitely return more.
    Also, the eBay customer is easier to deal with. You can get a nasty customer anywhere, but you are far more likely to get that bitter difficult customer on Amazon. An Amazon customer can get a refund, a product for free and then they will go out to leave a bad product review or seller review. They are a bitter nasty bunch. The worst Amazon buyers are the ones who buy the most, and the ones who buy only on Christmas (the least) The ones who buy the most will tell you how only your transaction has gone bad in some way. Only an Amazon customer would buy a 10.00 item and 5 years later update a review to state the item she bought 5 years ago broke. That right. It should last 20-30 years of constant use at $10.00. I say this with top ratings on both platforms and we do plenty of MFN on Amazon as well as FBA. Ebay customers can be repeat buyers. The downside is that platform is not growing. But this Christmas I was surprised to move many items merely sitting in my warehouse and not selling. Ebay ppc ads are much better because they only charge you when the item ends up being sold. Far better than Amazon clickers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button