Finding the most suitable platform for your business is a crucial step when selling products online. Marketplaces like Etsy and eBay are two popular choices for those who want to start their ecommerce journey.
To help you choose between these two options, we’ve covered and compared the key aspects of Etsy vs. eBay for your online business.
Let’s jump right in!
Etsy is a niche marketplace focusing on custom-made and vintage items with a creative twist. eBay, on the other hand, is a broader-scope platform. Instead of products like custom hoodies, eBay customers mostly search for mass-production items, both new and used.
But before jumping to any conclusions about whom Etsy and eBay are best for, let’s review five essential factors of each marketplace—from the customer base to customization opportunities.
Customer base is a necessary factor to consider when comparing Etsy vs. eBay. While Both Etsy and eBay attract mostly American customers, it’s essential to dig deeper and find out which marketplace has a larger customer base, what sets Etsy buyers apart from eBay buyers, and how customer behavior differentiates between marketplaces.
Etsy customer base
With over 1 million active shops selling unique, handmade products, Etsy’s popularity among sellers and buyers is rising yearly.
Still, Etsy is a niche marketplace and, therefore, has a smaller customer base than eBay. In 2023, Etsy had 96.2 million active buyers and 7.5 million active sellers, with a majority located in the US (only 34% of Etsy sales come from outside the US).
Source: Blogging Wizard
Here’s more to know about Etsy customer base statistics:
On average, people visit 6.59 pages per session
Most of the traffic (58.13%) comes from mobile
Direct search is the most popular search type (46.35%)
81% of purchases come from repeat buyers
15% of Etsy buyers are women under 25 years old
Etsy sellers are primarily artists, designers, and crafters. Most Etsy buyers look for goods in categories like handmade arts, crafts, jewelry, homeware, or custom clothing. Another popular niche is vintage items (aged 20 years and more).
eBay customer base
eBay is the second-largest market in the United States, with around 885K stores selling electronics, clothing, and accessories. It hosts 132 million active users and over 18.3 million sellers.
Other important facts about eBay customers:
eBay sellers (and buyers) mostly come from the United States and the United Kingdom
More than half (60%) of eBay’s traffic comes from mobile
61% of eBay’s audience is 35–64 years old
Over 60% of eBay users are male
eBay offers a variety of products, almost 80% of which are brand-new. Customers mostly search for electric goods (cell phones ranking number one in this category), clothing, and jewelry.
One of the main differences between Etsy vs. eBay lies in the product types sold on these platforms. Let’s look at top-selling and restricted products on Etsy and eBay to help you decide which marketplace is more suitable for you based on your product type.
Etsy product types
According to collected data, the wedding theme is one of the most popular trends on the platform. Other top searches include Christmas, anime, outdoor, handmade, custom, baby, video games, and vintage. The top searched product color is pink.
Regarding best-selling product categories and custom products on Etsy, handmade goods like accessories are in the first place. The top product in this category is beads ( bought by 8 million buyers), followed by pendants, charms, dangles, and drop earrings. Other popular product categories include clothing like dresses and custom t-shirts, as well as home decor—wall decor, paintings, and prints.
A dropshipping business model is allowed and highly encouraged on the marketplace.
Source: Blogging Wizard
However, some product categories are restricted on Etsy, such as:
Alcohol, tobacco, drugs
Animal products and human remains
Dangerous items like hazardous materials and weapons
Items that promote, support, or glorify hatred and violence
Items that promote illegal activity
Nudity and mature content
eBay product types
eBay sellers offer a great range of products—from antique coins to brand-new electronics and used accessories. By category type, the most popular products are electronics and accessories (16.4% of all sales), followed by clothing and accessories (13.8%).
Top-selling clothing and apparel on eBay include men’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. The best-selling items in this list are t-shirts, activewear, jackets, coats, and pants.
Women’s clothing is also popular on eBay. The majority of listings feature tops, blouses, dresses, and t-shirts. Like on Etsy, dropshipping is allowed on eBay, too.
Be careful, though, eBay restricts these categories:
Adult items and alcohol
Coupons and discounts
Credit cards, stocks
Drugs and firearms
Food and consumables
Tobacco and e-cigarettes
Both marketplaces charge seller fees. However, the prices and fee policies of Etsy vs. eBay differ. Without a closer look, eBay wins here as it offers free monthly listings. However, while Etsy doesn’t offer this, it has a simpler fee policy than eBay.
Listing fees on Etsy are $0.20. Once you make the listing, it’s valid for 4 months (the renewal fee is also $0.20 per listing).
Etsy sellers with the Etsy Pattern store won’t be charged the renewal and transaction fees. If you don’t have a Pattern, Etsy charges a 6.5% transaction fee on each item sold. Maintaining an Etsy Pattern store costs $15.00/month (including domain fee, if you buy it from them).
Also, you are required to pay a shipping fee (depending on the products’ information, destination, and carriers’ policies). Optional Etsy seller fees include the Etsy subscription fee ($10 a month), Etsy Payments (3% + $0.25 for each transaction), and Etsy ads.
eBay’s fee system is more complicated than Etsy’s. eBay sellers have 2 main fees: insertion fees (or listing fees) and final value fees (charged after your item sells). The amount of these charges depends on your item’s price, listing category, your performance as a seller, and listing upgrades (if you’ve made them).
These fees also depend on whether you have an eBay store (available with monthly and annual subscriptions). Store subscription fee per month ranges from $7.95 to $2,999.95.
With an eBay store, you get more than 250 free listings a month. Without the store, you’re limited to 250 free listings. After you’ve used that, you’ll have to pay $0.35 per listing.
Advertising and promotion are great ways to drive visitors to your store and increase sales. Both Etsy and eBay offer various effective built-in marketing tools and useful resources for sellers, both free and paid.
Etsy marketing tools
Etsy promotes the importance of community among its sellers. Etsy encourages members to share their unique stories and help each other through free Etsy community forums, where everyone can ask for support, advice, or feedback.
Apart from forums, Etsy organizes free live webinars and offers a free Etsy Seller Handbook, packed with practical advice on key topics like photography, marketing, and more. If you’re interested in how to get sales on Etsy, there’s plenty of information available for free.
When it comes to advertising and promoting your Etsy store, Etsy has multiple options, including onsite and offsite Etsy ads. Etsy onsite ads target specific keywords and appear within Etsy’s search results and product listing page.
If you choose these ads, you’ll pay when someone clicks on them. Offsite ads are displayed outside Etsy—on social media channels, and other search engines (like Google). In this case, you’ll be charged an advertising fee if a visitor clicks on your offsite ad and orders within 30 days. However, ads aren’t the only tool to promote your shop on Etsy.
Here are 5 external tools for Etsy sellers:
eRank: for keyword analysis, listing optimization, and shop analysis
Marmalead: for Etsy SEO
Seller-Way: for listing and shop analysis, SEO, competitor’s shops and sales analysis, trends, and bestsellers, and listing design ideas
EtsyHunt (extension): for keyword performance overview, view of core product/shop information (weekly sales, total sales, favorites, date, shipping, etc.)
Ryviu: for managing and importing reviews from other sites like AliExpress, Amazon, Etsy, etc.
eBay marketing tools
eBay offers more built-in marketing tools than Etsy. These tools provide eBay sellers with tips for selling on eBay and help you create, manage, and promote your listings, whether you have an eBay shop or not.
eBay resources include:
Seller Hub: a free tool for smoother business operations
Selling Templates: free reusable templates for streamlined and creation of high-quality listings
Sales Reports (best for high-volume sellers): free reports to manage and analyze your eBay business
Promotions Manager (for eBay shop subscribers): a tool for planning and carrying out promotions
As to advertising, eBay offers two types of advertising. The first is brand advertisements—an ad banner you can buy to showcase your brand. The second is promoted listings—an option to feature your items on the top of the products list.
eBay advertising works on a pay-per-click model (and if a buyer purchases your products within 30 days). You can also use cross promotions and promotions for similar items.
Apart from advertising, there are more marketing tools available directly on the platform, like:
Seller top picks
There are also dozens of external eBay tools, apps, and extensions to help sellers succeed, for example:
Jazva: for managing multiple eBay stores in a single dashboard
ShelfTrend: for competitor research
Inkfrog: for easy creation of beautiful listings
KeySearch: for search terms discovery
A visually appealing shop is more likely to succeed. When choosing which marketplace to use for your online business, consider the customization options available to your online store on each platform. Both Etsy and eBay have some opportunities for customization, but the provided tools aren’t pervasive.
Etsy customization options
Etsy’s customization options are quite limited. Still, you can make a beautiful and clean shop appearance.
Etsy offers an opportunity to add your own branding materials like a logo, banner, your shop’s story (with an option to include a video), and the shop owner’s photo. In addition, the Etsy Plus subscription allows you to customize your featured area. All sellers can create their own shop policies. However, customization doesn’t go beyond that.
eBay customization options
Alternatively, eBay does offer a more powerful way for customization—HTML customization.
Apart from basic things like your shop name, the eBay store subscription allows you to upload your top banner, logo, description, featured categories, marketing banner, store video, and store policies.
So, while eBay offers some customization options, they’re pretty limited and require good technical knowledge (HTML customization).
Deciding between Etsy and eBay for your business comes down to your target audience, products, and business goals. Each platform is great for your online business, but depending on what you intend to sell and who your potential customers are, one platform will suit you better than the other.
Let’s summarize all of the above to make the final verdict.
Who is Etsy best for?
If you’re just starting selling custom products online or have a small business focusing on artistic, creative, handmade items, then Etsy’s the ideal choice for you. With its smaller customer base and appreciation towards craftsmanship, artistry, and individuality, Etsy’s well-suited for beginners (as it’s super easy to set up an Etsy seller account) and niche product sellers who value a close-knit community.
Who is eBay best for?
eBay’s a vast online marketplace that works best for a broader range of products and larger markets. It has an extensive reach and a diverse customer base, so it suits various niches and audiences. In addition, eBay offers flexible pricing through bidding, which makes it easy to set your price and adapt to market demands.
Both Etsy and eBay offer great opportunities for your online print-on-demand businesses. To choose between an eBay or Etsy store, evaluate the features and advantages of each marketplace, as well as your products, your target audience, and your specific business goals and needs.
What’s your top choice and why? Let us know in the comments.
A free-spirited creative with a psychology and marketing background, Paula spends her days creating stories for brands and individuals. Her heart belongs to writing, mental health advocacy, and beach volleyball.