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