If you’re like most online marketplace sellers, you probably initially dipped your big toe into the eBay pond and started your online adventure in selling from there. I know, because that is the same way I started. I felt it was fairly easy to learn the ropes at eBay, even with all the (sometimes) headaches, it still seemed like the best game in town. I have to confess, however, that every so often someone would mention Amazon FBA, and it would seem like something I should look into, but things were going so good with the one venue….I would think, “why bother with another,” and never would do anything else about it.
Well, that’s the way I used to look at it in the past, but as I mentioned in my “egg basket” articles, if you want to succeed, you really need multiple streams of income. I believe Amazon and its FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) program is a great way to do it. I haven’t really gotten everything underway there yet, but I thought today I would tell you some of the differences I have found between the two online marketplaces, so those of you who might be interested in expanding your streams of income would have an idea of how Amazon compares to eBay.
First, there are no online auctions in Amazon. You set the price and buyers pay a flat fee for the item, just as they would if they ordered something from an online clothing or electronic store. As a buyer, if you have a Prime membership through Amazon, you don’t have to pay shipping charges, and everything is sent out quickly, so it’s an added incentive for buyers to make their purchases through Amazon.
Second, your inventory is basically out of sight, and more importantly out of your house. I should mention that there are two ways you can sell on Amazon. The regular way, you have no membership fee, but you pay higher fees when you sell something, and you must fulfill the item yourself. The other way is Amazon FBA, which does involve a membership fee, plus some storage fees and other fees, but….and this is the part I like…you ship the items to Amazon, they store them in their warehouses, and ship them to your customers when they sell. No muss — no fuss. So it’s kind of an out-of-sight and out-of-mind thing, until you get the email that says you’ve sold something, and it’s on it’s way to the buyer.
The third big difference, however, is one that I have to give to eBay as the better venue. Amazon is very quirky about how you list items and how you interact with your customers. You can’t create a new listing if one already exists. Most of the common products are already in what Amazon calls their “catalog,” so you’re basically just filling in the blanks with your product, and there is very little way to make the seller/buyer experience personal. In fact, Amazon would rather have its customers think that they are buying directly from Amazon, than from a third-party. I really prefer eBay in this case, since you can market to your buyers and work towards getting them as a repeat customer, and Amazon doesn’t really want you to do this.
Finally, the last big difference between the two is how Amazon and eBay handle their return policies. eBay lets you set some limits on your own, while Amazon just has what you might call a blanket 30-day return policy. You may think the customer is always right at eBay, but at Amazon they believe the customer is king. On the positive side, there is also only one way for a customer to check out, so while there are no complaints about shipping from the buyer and less work for you (which is good), there are also limits to what you can charge for your shipping rates, and you have to strictly adhere to Amazon’s shipping time if you’re selling items outside of the FBA program.
I can’t really say which of these two venues I like best yet, but I’ll provide more information as my experience grows. For now, let me know which corner you’re in — are you Team Amazon or Team eBay? Leave me a comment below.
~ Until next time

    17 replies to "Let’s Compare Amazon & eBay, Shall We!"

    • Jonathan Hoke

      Thanks for the article. My wife Amber and I are all in with Team eBay and we have really enjoyed the experience. Every now and then we think about buying wholesale lots for amazon but come to realize with our own blogs and a couple of product launches we just don’t have the time to add the additional work. I’m sure it can be very profitable but I think only if you treat it like a full time job.

      • George Nieves

        Hi Jonathan,
        Thanks for stopping by! You hit the nail on the head with the “full time job” comment. I believe that’s the way to success for selling on either eBay or Amazon!

    • Trevor

      Hi George I think eBay is good if u have not got a lot of money but over here in uk eBay want 3shipping which is silly because there is no such thing someone has to pay and our post office don’t deliver free I no you can put it on item but should not have to but in amozon the post sometimes is to low eating away at your profits But I still prefer eBay amozon scars me some times when you hear of the stories people get shut down like for no real reason I seam to flow more with eBay there you go George hav a goof day

    • Andrew J Titcombe

      I support TEAM TITCOMBE, George – both eBay and Amazon are excellent ways to make a living if you apply the normal business rules & principles. Either of them can take drastic decisions which can affect your profitability. Be consistent! My advice is also to find streams of income OUTSIDE these two and keep looking for alternatives – the ecommerce climate changes constantly & you need to stay on top of your game Looking forward to reading more of your adventures on the two though George!

      • George Nieves

        Hi Andrew,
        Thanks for the comment. I do plan to expand beyond those two marketplaces. I am doing things a bit differently this time around, however, and taking things one at a time instead of trying to go off in a 100 different directions all at once (which is what I would have done in the past!).

    • Patricia

      Great article that causes you to stop and think!

      I want option C, Team Sell.

      Sell my item on eBay, Amazon, Sears, Rakuten, Craigslist, garage sell, flea-market.

      If I have a little everywhere, I feel I’m in control.

      • George Nieves

        Hi Patricia,
        As you know, I’m a big believer in multiple streams of income, so kudos for thinking big! Are you actively selling on Rakuten right now? I’ve heard mixed reviews about it (mostly slow sales…).

    • Bonnie Gean

      I cannot really speak about Ebay selling as I’ve never listed an item on their platform. For that matter, I’ve never done it from Amazon either.

      But, being in business, I have always believed the “customer is always right” policy even if they’re wrong. It’s the only way to keep the customer happy and on the side of the fence that they’ll continue doing business with you.

      I am from the mind that if you’re selling through third party websites, you need to adhere to their rules. If you don’t like the rules, you always have the freedom to start your own storefront. 🙂

      Good luck in whatever venue you choose. I’ll be watching for updates!

      • George Nieves

        Hi Bonnie,
        Thanks for stopping by. I agree with you about needing to follow the rules if you’re selling on a third-party website. There have been a few times, however, where I’ve just about had to break my fingers to keep myself from responding to a buyer when they are clearly in the wrong. Just the cost of doing business on eBay I guess.

        • Bonnie Gean

          LOL – actually, it’s the cost of doing business anywhere. 🙂

          You’ll find that there are some pretty sassy customers, regardless of where you’re hanging a hat to conduct business. It’s part of the territory. 🙂 Rights of passing, maybe? hehe

        • George Nieves

          “Rights of passing.” I like that! 🙂

    • Torsten Müller

      Hi George,

      I know both marketplaces only as being an affiliate, so I can’t say anything about advantages or disadvantages of one or another platform.

      However, I have a friend who is selling items on Amazon and looking to expand his business. I suggested him to look into ebay as well.

      I will send him the link to your post so that he can follow you and learn from your experience, as he had some questions I really couldn’t answer.

      I remember that he was asking about how to get a ‘buy box’ on Amazon, but my research showed me that it is not such an easy task. Maybe you have some ideas on it?


      • George Nieves

        Hi Torsten,
        I have been meaning to look for a link to an article that I read a while back that really explained the Buy Box well. Basically, the seller with the lowest price gets the Buy Box, but…of course…as you said, there’s a lot more that goes into it. I’ll post the link when I find it!

    • To be honest, although I sell on both platforms, if I had to choose, I would probably choose Amazon FBA. I can never get motivated enough to list items on eBay. Many times the process is too cumbersome and the sales are much slower (depending on the category) than what I have experienced through Amazon FBA.

      The plus side to eBay though is the fact that you can sell almost anything there whereas you’re limited on Amazon.com.

      • George Nieves

        Hi Yolanda, I’m wondering how Amazon’s changes (about who can sell in certain categories) will affect things. I do think that Amazon has great potential, but they seem to be making it hard on the smaller sellers.

    • Bob Willey

      George, it is great to see you post comparing the two. I used to be heavy eBay, and am not almost exclusively Amazon (a little eBay, but not compared to where I used to be…)

      Both definitely have their place, and some products are suited to one more so than the other..
      Find the right marketplace, and make the most amount of money possible, with the least amount of work..

      Good Luck!!

      • George Nieves

        Hi Bob,
        Thanks for stopping by! I like the way you think. “Make the most amount of money possible, with the least amount of work.” Something for all of us to strive for!

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