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Ecommerce platform guide

Selling on eBay vs Amazon: Which Is Best for You?

Selling on eBay vs Amazon: Which Is Best for You?
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

18 min read

If you’re thinking of starting an online business or a side hustle, chances are you’ve asked yourself this question: ‘‘Which is better—Amazon or eBay?” Let’s take a look at the numbers. Both Amazon and eBay are leading online marketplaces, with 4.79B and 1.21B monthly visitors, respectively. In 2023, Amazon’s annual revenue was $554.02B, while eBay made a mere (in comparison) $10.06B.

Now, you may be thinking Amazon is the obvious winner since its marketplace is 55 times larger than eBay’s. But make sure you read until the end before jumping to conclusions.

To determine which platform suits your selling needs best, we’ll discuss multiple factors like seller fees, audience size, fulfillment methods, branding, product restrictions, and more. So, if you’re hesitating between selling on eBay vs Amazon, you’ve come to the right place.

Selling on eBay vs. Amazon at a glance

Amazon and eBay have different business models. Amazon uses fixed-price listings only, while eBay allows sellers to create auction-style listings or set a fixed price. This can be useful for new sellers opting for auction listings to generate quick sales.

Amazon’s fixed-price system is better suited for experienced sellers who have researched their niche and want to generate a certain amount of profit.

Amazon is more buyer-oriented, while eBay favors the seller. Amazon’s strong return policy allows customers to return a product whenever they’re unsatisfied. eBay sellers, on the other hand, even have the option to choose “No returns’’. 

But that doesn’t automatically make eBay the better platform for sellers. Think of it this way: who would you trust more? The platform that guarantees returns in case of any mishaps, or the one that’ll take your money and run?

Amazon’s A-to-Z guarantee, strict product requirements, and premium features have fostered an incredibly loyal customer base. 89% of Amazon customers shop solely on Amazon. In the US, people even use Amazon to find products more often than Google searches.

a white box with black text

Source: Amazon

What about possible revenue? Do you make more money selling on Amazon or eBay? If you do the math, the average annual revenue earned by an eBay seller is approximately $549. This is because the platform has 18.3M sellers, generating $10.06B in annual revenue.

In contrast, Amazon sellers have been doing much better. Most sellers make at least $1K per month in sales, and some super-sellers make more than $100K each month. That’s like hitting the jackpot!

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Who is eBay best for?

Established in 1995, eBay is and remains a free marketplace where anyone can sell virtually anything they want. Think of it as an online garage sale. It’s the best place to find antique vinyl records, for example.

a screenshot of a music store

Source: eBay

This means eBay is best suited for individual sellers, collectors, small businesses, and startups. Sellers offering vintage or rare items can benefit from eBay’s auction system, while entrepreneurs can test new products and gauge interest. eBay also allows for personalized interactions between buyers and sellers and provides greater control over pricing.

If you want to sell second-hand products, antiques, auctionable goods, or anything on Amazon’s list of restricted products, eBay is the way to go. eBay also has slightly lower fees than Amazon, meaning you could get a higher profit margin.

Check our step-by-step guide to selling on eBay and discover how to set up your store, as well as the best practices for making sales and finding success on the platform. Learn how to sell print-on-demand products on eBay and build a business without inventory.

Who is Amazon best for?

Amazon, also established in the mid-90s, is a highly versatile platform that can accommodate various business models. It offers diverse services to sellers and has a large customer base, making it an appealing option for businesses and retailers. The platform supports large inventories and helps third-party sellers scale without managing logistics (thanks to FBA—fulfillment by Amazon). In short, Amazon is more sophisticated and complex than eBay.

Amazon’s emphasis on Prime shipping makes it attractive for sellers who can meet quick and reliable shipping requirements. Plus, prime-eligible products get more visibility, which translates to more sales for Amazon’s top sellers.

a blue truck with white text on the side

Source: Flickr

One of the biggest advantages of Amazon is its emphasis on customer reviews. Its review system can be an advantage for sellers who thrive on positive reviews and customer feedback. With 84% of customers admitting they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, positive reviews are paramount.

The main downside to selling on Amazon is that they completely own the customer. This limits opportunities to establish your own brand and market outside of Amazon.

Find out more on how to sell on Amazon with Printful’s integration.

eBay vs. Amazon: an in-depth comparison

Now that you have a general idea of Amazon vs. eBay, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of it. After this read, you’ll know how to calculate final value fees, how to choose your fulfillment method options, how payment processing works, which products sell best on Amazon vs. eBay, and much more.

1. Amazon vs eBay: seller fees

When it comes to selling products, eBay’s seller fees are lower compared to Amazon’s fees. But Amazon offers other perks that may pay off in the long run. Let’s break it down.

eBay fees

Here are the fees you’ll need to pay as an eBay seller:

  • Insertion fees: When creating a listing, eBay charges sellers an insertion fee. However, eBay offers 250 free monthly listings and more for store owners.

  • Payment processing fees: Payment processing fees are included in the final value fee. Find out more about eBay’s managed payments.

  • Final value fees: eBay takes a percentage of the final sale price, including shipping and handling, but not sales tax.

  • Optional listing upgrade fees: Optional listing upgrades such as bold font, subtitles, and minimum/reserve price come with additional fees.

Note: Use eBay’s fee calculator to determine the total fees you’ll be required to pay before listing your product. Learn more about how eBay selling fees work.

a screenshot of a computer screen

Source: eBay fees calculator

Let’s say you order 100 humidifiers for $15 a piece and sell them for $37. Your shipping costs could be around $4 per item. eBay would charge you a total FVF (final value fee) of $490, an FVF rate of 13.25%, and a transaction fee of $30, totaling $520 in fees. That leaves you with $1280 in profit, amounting to a 34.59% profit margin.

Of course, eBay’s fees may vary depending on the selected shipping provider. We’ll talk more about shipping and fulfillment options in a bit.

Amazon fees

Selling on Amazon incurs fees that vary depending on the product and fulfillment method, either FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) or FBM (fulfillment by merchant). Let’s consider Bluetooth earbuds, selling at $23.98 per item. Here’s a breakdown of the fees and profit you’d get using Amazon FBA vs fulfilling on your own:

a screenshot of a computer screen

Source: Amazon Seller Central

It’s important to note that the total cost for “Your Fulfillment’’ (FBM) doesn’t include shipping. If you choose to only sell products via FBM, you’ll need to consider shipping expenses while calculating your profit margin.

Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll have to pay Selling on Amazon fees. These fees include several charges:

  • Amazon referral fee: Amazon charges a referral fee percentage on the total sales price for each product sold. This fee varies by product category, but on average, it’s around 15% per sale. Browse the list of Amazon’s referral fees by product category.

  • Fixed closing fee: This fee applies only to individual selling plans and not professional ones. If you are an individual seller, you’ll be charged an additional $0.99 per item sold.

  • Subscription fees or individual per-item fees: You can choose between two different seller accounts on Amazon—individual or professional. If you sell as an individual, you’ll have to pay a fee of $0.99 per unit sold. A professional seller subscription, on the other hand, costs $39.99/month.

  • Refund administration fees: Amazon charges you for processing customer refunds. The fee for this will either be $5.00 or 20% of the refunded charge, whichever is less. These fees will only come into play if a customer requests a refund. Find out more about Amazon’s return policy.

In addition to the regular selling fees, third-party sellers using Amazon FBA are required to pay two additional fees:

  • FBA fulfillment fees: Charged by Amazon to fulfill the order of your product. The cost of these fees is based on the weight and size of your items.

  • Monthly storage fees: Charged for the space your inventory occupies in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. These fees are calculated from your daily average volume in cubic feet.

If you sell a product on Amazon for $40.99 with Amazon FBA, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $11.42 in fees. In contrast, if you sell the same product at the same price as an FBM (fulfillment by merchant) seller, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $7.14 in fees before shipping costs.

There’s no getting around the fee that Amazon charges, regardless of the volume or size of the products sold. As a result, before deciding on a selling strategy, third-party sellers must establish clear goals.

The advantage of signing up for an individual seller plan is the lack of monthly subscription fees, but you can only sell up to 40 items per month. The disadvantage is that you can’t sign up for Amazon Sponsored Ads, which would allow you to strategically position your offerings on different pages for increased visibility and sales. Although this feature is free (apart from the $39.99/month), the standard referral fee still applies.

Amazon’s core advantage: Amazon Prime

Now, despite the higher fees, Amazon has one core advantage—Amazon Prime. There are 200M Amazon Prime members worldwide. To have a Prime account, members pay a monthly fee of $14.99, which gives them access to free speedy shipping, exclusive deals, and more.

a box with a blue label

Source: Trusted Reviews

Why should you care about this info as a seller? Prime is the reason customers repeatedly buy on Amazon and are likely to do all their big holiday shopping there. That means Amazon sellers have higher chances of generating a steady income year-round. The extra fees are just a small price to pay.

2. Amazon vs. eBay: audience size

We’ve already learned that Amazon is 55 times larger than eBay based on market size, but what about audience size? As of 2023, Amazon boasts a customer base of 310M users and approximately 100K new monthly sign-ups. To say Amazon is growing would be an understatement.

eBay, on the other hand, had 142M active users as of 2022, which was less than the previous year. In general, it looks like the number of users is declining.

Does having fewer users on eBay mean less competition for sellers? Unfortunately, no.

Selling on Amazon is comparatively easier and less competitive than selling on eBay due to its smaller seller base and larger marketplace. As of 2023, Amazon has over 9.7M sellers across all its marketplaces, with 100K new users joining monthly. In contrast, eBay has over 18M sellers on its platform with over 1.7B live listings.

3. Amazon vs eBay: fulfillment methods

The biggest difference between Amazon vs eBay in terms of fulfillment methods is Amazon’s FBA. But what other options are there?

  • Fulfilling yourself: If you’re just starting out, you could cut fulfillment costs by doing it yourself. If you’re an Amazon seller who’s chosen FBM, check out their fulfillment by merchant guide. Find out more about eBay’s global shipping program here.

  • Third-party fulfillment services: Sellers on eBay and Amazon can integrate third-party services like Printful. These services can be leveraged just like Amazon FBA to make things easier for sellers.

With the print-on-demand business model, you can place your original designs on hundreds of high-quality products like custom t-shirts or custom hoodies. The best part? You pay for an item only when a customer places an order. Plus, you can easily connect your print-on-demand account to your Amazon or eBay store. To learn more about selling without inventory, check out our dropshipping guide.

a collage of a woman wearing a hoodie and a hat

Source: Printful

If you want to start dropshipping on Amazon, you’ll have to comply with tough regulations. So, choosing a print-on-demand partner that Amazon trusts, like Printful, makes life much easier. Plus, your customers will be coming back for more, thanks to your high-quality product listings.

Looking for ideas? Here are trending products to sell in 2024 for your print-on-demand dropshipping business.

More useful resources:

eBay SEO: optimize your listings

Amazon SEO: optimize your listings

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Wondering how to find products to sell on Amazon or what products are most popular on eBay? Amazon and eBay have distinct strengths and preferences among online shoppers regarding the most popular product categories.

a screenshot of a pillow case

Source: Amazon

Amazon is a one-stop shop for electronics and gadgets, offering a vast selection of smartphones, laptops, and accessories at competitive prices.

The platform’s roots in book retail have expanded to include various media products, making the Kindle ecosystem a leading platform for e-books, audiobooks, and digital content.

Amazon also dominates the home and kitchen category, offering everything from kitchen appliances to home decor. The convenience of Prime shipping encourages buyers to explore and buy various household items.

a screenshot of a website

Source: eBay Sell Global

eBay is a convenient place to sell collectibles and vintage items. The auction-style listings and diverse seller base make it easier for buyers to find rare antiques and unique collectibles.

Need to clear out your wardrobe? eBay offers a wide selection of new and pre-owned clothing, shoes, and accessories. With both “Buy It Now’’ and auction formats, there’s something for every taste and budget.

eBay is also a popular platform for buying and selling automotive parts, accessories, and vehicles. With a strong presence in the automotive industry, buyers can find what they need while sellers can easily list their items.

More useful resources:

Dropshipping products with a high profit margin

Best-selling print-on-demand products

Print-on-demand shipping fees and speeds

5. Amazon vs eBay: product restrictions

Both Amazon and eBay have established strict policies to ensure that their customers receive only high-quality and safe products. However, each company approaches this task differently.

In Amazon’s case, they’ve set up rigorous requirements and restrictions for certain product categories in order to maintain an elite standard. While this can be challenging for new sellers, it also guarantees a certain level of customer trust. On the other hand, eBay has fewer limitations, allowing for a wider variety of products to be sold.

a screenshot of a document

Source: Amazon

Here are a few examples of what you can easily sell on eBay but not on Amazon.

  • Used items and collectibles: Since eBay is more like an auction site, it’s easy to run an online store on eBay to sell vintage goods and rare finds. On the other hand, Amazon favors the sale of new items.

  • Handmade or unique products: Although Amazon has a dedicated platform for handmade goods, its approval process is more selective than eBay’s. But, if you’re selling artsy crafts, you should consider Etsy since the platform is tailored to sellers offering handmade and creative goods.

  • Used clothing: If you’re not ready to start a clothing brand and just want to sell used clothing, eBay could be a better fit. It’s more used-clothing-friendly and has a dedicated marketplace for fashion items, including both new and second-hand items.

  • Recalled items: Finally, while eBay has specific criteria for the sale of recalled items, Amazon generally restricts the sale of such items.

Check out this list of Amazon’s prohibited products and services for more info. For eBay selling, check out their list of eBay’s restricted products.

6. Amazon vs eBay: payment processing

Online marketplaces rely heavily on efficient payment processing systems to keep buyers and sellers satisfied and safe.

Amazon has incorporated its own payment system, Amazon Pay, into the platform. Amazon Payments offers a seamless and highly secure checkout experience for customers, as they can use the payment information stored in their Amazon accounts.

eBay now allows sellers more flexibility in payment processing by moving away from its previous exclusive relationship with PayPal. eBay sellers have the option to select from a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and much more. Check out eBay’s payment methods here.

a close-up of several logos

Source: ecommercebytes

While eBay’s managed payments system gives sellers more control over their finances, it’s crucial to be aware of varying fees based on product category and listing upgrades.

7. Amazon vs eBay: support

Effective customer support is crucial for businesses to overcome challenges. Understanding this, Amazon has built a robust customer support system renowned for providing assistance to both buyers and sellers. Amazon Seller Central offers a wide array of resources and guidance to sellers, including detailed guides on how to set up and manage an Amazon store, optimize product listings, and navigate issues like shipping, returns, and refunds.

a screenshot of a phone

Source: Amazon

Amazon also has a dedicated team of customer support representatives available 24/7 to assist sellers and buyers with any issues they may face. This centralized approach to customer support ensures that users receive prompt and efficient assistance when needed.

eBay also has a support system in place, but it relies more on community forums and self-help resources. eBay’s community forums are a great place to connect with other sellers and share tips and advice on succeeding on the platform. You can also find plenty of support on the eBay seller hub. But, overall, the level of support provided by eBay may not be as extensive as Amazon’s.

8. Amazon vs eBay: establishing a brand

Brands play a crucial role for customers, providing them with a sense of security and familiarity. As an ecommerce store owner, creating a lasting impression on your customers is a surefire way to instill this feeling. Customers want to be assured that they’ll receive the same positive experience every time they choose your brand over others. This is particularly important for ecommerce businesses that aim to build a strong customer base.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of branding with Amazon vs eBay.

Amazon offers an exclusive service called the Amazon Brand Registry. This program enables sellers to safeguard their brand and intellectual property rights, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Once registered, Amazon provides tools and resources for brand-building, including brand analytics, a storefront design tool, and sponsored brand ads.

The downside? Amazon sellers don’t have access to any customer data—all interaction with the customer goes through Amazon. This type of data can be useful when creating marketing strategies like targeted ads. What’s more, even if Amazon does display your brand, the text font is so tiny that customers may not even notice your brand while shopping. Plus, they’re not buying directly from you as the brand but rather from Amazon.

a screenshot of a product page

Source: Amazon

When starting your ecommerce business on eBay, you gain valuable customer information and engage directly with buyers, which is a significant advantage. Unlike Amazon, customers can buy products directly from brands. eBay allows sellers to create a store and promote their brand, but it’s up to the seller to develop their brand and protect their intellectual property.

a screenshot of a product

Source: eBay

The downside is that eBay provides limited resources and tools for brand building, making it relatively more challenging for sellers to establish their brand on eBay’s platform. So, it’s more suited for professional sellers who have already established a brand presence and want to expand their reach to a broader audience.

9. Amazon vs eBay: user-friendliness

User-friendliness is a vital factor when choosing a platform for your ecommerce business. You want an interface that’s easy to maneuver for you and your customers.

a man holding a piece of paper with a few faces on it

Source: Pixhere

Amazon has a fairly intuitive interface that makes it easy to navigate for both buyers and sellers. The Amazon Seller Central dashboard on the backend provides sellers with comprehensive tools and analytics to manage their inventory, monitor sales, and optimize their listings. The A-to-Z Guarantee ensures a smooth buying experience for customers.

In recent years, eBay has significantly improved its user interface. However, the customizable listing process means there might be a steeper learning curve. Buyers can bid on items in eBay’s auction-style listings, which provide a different selling dynamic. This can be advantageous for certain products, but sellers must be familiar with the auction process.

a map of the world with blue circles

Source: Shopify

What about the global ecommerce retail market reach? Overall, it’s easier to sell internationally on eBay vs Amazon. All you need to sell worldwide on eBay is an account with good standing, at least 10 feedback points as a seller, and to have made your first successful sale more than 90 days ago. eBay International Shipping helps you reach buyers in over 200 countries without the need to manage overseas shipping, customs, returns, or refunds.

Selling internationally with Amazon is a bit more complicated. Amazon currently services 21 global marketplaces in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East. On eBay, you simply register once to start selling worldwide. Amazon, on the other hand, requires creating separate accounts for every marketplace sellers wish to reach. This means managing feedback and listings is separate for every market as well.

That being said, Amazon can be easier to manage because of FBA. And, if you choose a third-party fulfillment service like Printful, they’ll handle all the logistics for you. Using a trusted third-party fulfillment service can boost customer satisfaction and give you more time to spend on other areas of your business.

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Ready to get serious about starting an online business?

When it comes to choosing between Amazon and eBay, the decision should be based on your business model, inventory, and target audience. If you’re looking for a vast retail empire, Amazon is the winner. But if you prefer the varied and eclectic nature of an online auction house, eBay might be a better fit.

Alternatively, you could leverage the strengths of both platforms. Test products on eBay to see how popular they are amongst customers before listing them in bulk on Amazon. You can also use eBay to sell outdated collections and odd items that don’t match your Amazon storefront.

Regardless of the path you choose, remember to stay up to date with your platform’s regulations. Only have a small budget? No worries. With innovative business models like print-on-demand, you don’t even need to invest large amounts of capital to run a successful ecommerce business. Starting an online store has never been easier!

Read next: Etsy vs. eBay: Which One is Best for Your Online Business?

author

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on Jan 16, 2024

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.