In this digital era, consumers can compare thousands of products and buy what they need with just a few clicks. Online retailers often have better prices than physical stores, and some even offer exclusive discounts and all sorts of freebies. What's more, eCommerce platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon connect buyers and sellers from all around the world, featuring millions of items in one place.
Given these aspects, it's not surprising that more than 56% of Americans prefer to buy online rather than in-store, according to a 2022 Raydiant survey. The convenience of shopping 24/7 without the need to leave home or wait in line is fueling this trend. Also, let's not forget about Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day, Green Monday, and other online shopping events featuring massive discounts.
One of the biggest challenges for sellers is choosing a platform that resonates with their audience. Perhaps you're already using Poshmark, Depop, or RedBubble, but you're not seeing results. Or maybe you're paying too much in fees and commissions. In either case, it may be worth switching to a different platform, such as eBay or Amazon.
Both marketplaces have been around for over 25 years, offering a wide range of tools for building and growing your online business. Plus, they appeal to a global audience and have a solid reputation. With that in mind, here's what you should know about selling on eBay vs. Amazon, including the pros and cons, vendor fees, shipping options, and more.
Let's dive in!
Along with Microsoft, Apple, Meta, and Alphabet, Amazon is one of the five largest information technology companies in the U.S. Founded in 1994, the organization has dozens of subsidiaries, including Goodreads, Audible.com, Twitch, and Whole Foods Market. It also owns Amazon Marketplace, an online platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and other digital assets, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Studios, and the Amazon Appstore.
In 2019, Amazon was named the world's most valuable brand. The company's annual net revenue increased from $6.92 billion in 2004 to $469.82 billion in 2001, and most of its profit came from online sales. Today, the brand is worth $705.65 million.
Third-party sellers can register on Amazon Marketplace to connect with their target audience. The platform operates in nearly 20 countries, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and others. However, sellers have the option to ship their products to most countries. For example, Polish or Romanian customers may order from Amazon.com or Amazon.de and have the goods delivered within a week or two.
More than 1.9 million vendors use Amazon to promote and sell goods online. The products offered by small and medium-sized businesses account for 60% of sales. Amazon also estimates that SMBs sell over 4,000 items per minute, and some generate over $1 million in annual revenue.
Amazon, the brainchild of Jeff Bezos, started out as an online bookstore in 1994 and went public three years later. The company was initially operated from a garage and promoted under the name Cadabra. Today, it's the largest online marketplace in the world and has more than 300 million customers.
In 2020, the corporation launched over 250 tools and services for third-party vendors and hosted more than 1,000 workshops and other events to help SMBs grow their revenue. Plus, this business model is highly scalable and has low startup costs.
When you sell on Amazon, you can reach a global audience and build your brand without the need to set up an eCommerce site. If you already have a website or Shopify store, you may use Amazon to build new income streams and gain exposure. What's more, you can leverage Amazon's fulfillment service to save money on storage and shipping.
Amazon also makes it easier to start an eCommerce business. As a new seller, you may have a hard time promoting your website and building trust. If you decide to join Amazon, you'll benefit from its reputation and have access to a solid customer base. After USPS, Amazon is the second most trusted brand in America.
Last but not least, the platform has more than 200 million Prime members. Customers who choose this option receive all sorts of perks, such as free shipping and special discounts. In 2020, Amazon vendors generated a staggering $3.5 billion in sales on Prime Day. As a registered seller, your income potential is unlimited.
The tech giant has a market share of 41%, which places it above eBay (4.2%), Walmart (6.6%), Apple (4%), and The Home Depot (2.2%). Perhaps not surprisingly, more than 40% of consumers turn to Amazon when researching products.
As far as its target audience goes, Amazon appeals to middle- and upper-class married women aged 45 to 54 years, reports Epsilon. The majority of its customers make at least $100,000 per year, and about 50% have a net worth of $500,000 or higher. Most buyers prefer Amazon over other online marketplaces because of its shipping and return policies, increased convenience, and large product selection.
However, Amazon's target market is actually much larger than that if we look at the bigger picture. For example, about 81% of U.S. consumers aged 18 to 34 years, 68% of those aged 35 to 54, and 60% of buyers aged 55 or above had a Prime membership in 2020. Also, don't forget that Amazon operates in multiple countries — and each area has different demographics.
But how does Amazon compare to eBay? Most importantly, which platform is best for small businesses? Let's find out.
Established in 1995, eBay started as an auction website and became the second largest online marketplace in the U.S. The company was founded by Pierre Omidyar, a software engineer and tech entrepreneur. Its initial name was Auction Web, but that changed in 1997 when Omidyar decided to turn his hobby into a full-time business and received $6.7 million in funding.
Over the next few years, eBay acquired PayPal, iBazar, Skype, StubHub, and other digital companies. In 2021, it had a total net revenue of $10.42 billion and 10,800 employees worldwide, reports the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Today, the company has more than 142 million active buyers and operates in 190 markets.
eBay features over 1.6 billion listings in every category you could think of, from clothing and electronics to artwork, collectibles, and home decor items. Customers can either place bids for the products they're interested in or pay a fixed price. From a seller's perspective, the platform is more basic and easier to use than Amazon, making it suitable for beginners.
Compared to Amazon, eBay offers slightly more flexibility in terms of what you can sell — plus the option to create auction-style listings. About 80% of the products featured on the platform are new, and nearly 90% can be purchased at a fixed price.
This eCommerce platform doesn't have the same bells and whistles as Amazon, but it offers several distinct advantages, including:
For example, Amazon is the go-to choice for top brands like Zappos, eSupplements, iHealthLabs, and Best Buy. eBay, on the other hand, is popular among small and medium-sized businesses, such as Joules, Probstein123, Movie Mars, and the Decluttr Store, so there's less competition.
Both platforms are trusted by customers and have a global reach, making it easier to build your own brand. This brings us to the next point...
eBay has only half the number of customers as Amazon, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Since the competition is less fierce, you may find it easier to set your business apart and reach the target audience.
About 61% of eBay's customers are 35 to 64 years old. More than one-third of buyers are 35 to 49 years old, and 29% are older than 50.
The company also seems to be more popular among men (compared to Amazon), which could be due to the types of products offered. In addition to clothing and other consumer goods, eBay features a large selection of auto parts, motorcycle accessories, woodworking supplies, and electrical products. Automobile parts are actually some of the bestselling items on the platform.
Both Amazon and eBay feature millions of products, from customer electronics and fashion accessories to video games. However, each platform has different rules and restrictions on what you can sell. For example, eBay allows vendors to sell used clothing and shoes, whereas Amazon doesn't.
Let's start with eBay. The platform allows the following product categories:
As you would expect, sellers cannot list certain items, including but not limited to:
Some products, such as alcoholic beverages and used clothing, can only be sold under certain conditions and may require prior approval.
For example, you may sell over-the-counter pulse oximeters, glucose monitors, and other medical devices. However, you cannot list any items that require a prescription. Your best bet is to check eBay's policy and contact customer support when in doubt.
The same goes for Amazon, which allows most types of products — but each category is subject to certain restrictions. Let's see a few examples:
Dietary supplements, for instance, can only be sold in their original packaging. The bottle must be sealed and have the manufacturer's identifying code listed on the label. Except for wine, all alcoholic beverages are prohibited. There are also restrictions on electronics, weapons, health products, and other goods.
When it comes to eBay vs. Amazon, you can use either platform to set up an online store and list your products. eBay, however, also allows sellers to create individual listings without the need to set up a storefront.
First, take these steps to get started.
eBay sellers can set up a personal or business account. With the first option, anyone can list individual products without having an actual store.
As a new seller, you could set up a personal eBay account to test the waters before committing to a premium plan. Simply enter the product's name in the designated field, fill out the listing form, and add up to 12 photos. Click List Item, and you're done!
A business account, on the other hand, allows you to start an online store and build your brand. But first, you'll need to decide on a membership plan.
eBay offers five different plans ranging in price from $4.95 to $2,999.95 per month for annual memberships. The Starter, Basic, and Premium plans are suitable for small- and medium-sized businesses, while the Anchor plan can be a good choice for high-volume sellers. The Enterprise plan appeals to established brands, corporations, and vendors with hundreds or thousands of products.
After you select a plan, choose a name for your store and then start adding product listings. You can also customize your storefront, offer multiple shipping options, and use the eBay Seller Hub to promote your business.
Note, though — you can't just post a bunch of photos and expect customers to buy your products. A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure you know how to take eBay photos that sell.
Also, take the time to optimize your listings for the search engines by adding relevant keywords. Use Google's Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, or other keyword research tools to identify the most relevant search terms. Include the targeted keywords in product descriptions, titles, and image ALT text so that customers can find your listings more easily.
Launching an Amazon store involves several steps and requires a little bit of research. Here's what you need to do:
Amazon sellers can register for a Professional or Individual merchant plan. If you think you'll sell fewer than 40 units per month, it's best to opt for an Individual plan. In this case, you'll pay $0.99 per product sold — plus additional fees.
The Professional plan is designed for vendors selling more than 40 units per month. With this option, you'll pay a flat monthly fee of $39.99 plus other fees. After you register as a professional seller, you can take advantage of Amazon's reporting tools and other helpful resources. This plan also allows you to do the following:
Amazon professional sellers may also become eligible for the Buy Box. Sometimes, the same item is offered by several merchants, but only one will have the Buy Box displayed on the product page. This allows customers to add the product to their shopping cart with one click without having to check each listing and choose a seller.
Vendors who "win" the Buy Box get more exposure, which can lead to increased sales.
Now that you know how to get started with Amazon vs. eBay, you may wonder which platform has the lowest fees. With either option, what you'll pay depends largely on the membership plan and services used.
As mentioned earlier, eBay has a more basic fee structure than Amazon. Vendors who upload more than 250 products per month are subject to a $0.35 insertion fee per item listed.
Once a product is sold, you'll pay a final value fee of around 12.9% of the sale price (depending on the product category), plus an additional $0.30 per order.
For example, vendors who sell sneakers on eBay must pay the following:
eBay fees may also vary based on the membership plan selected. Premium sellers, for instance, can create up to 1,000 listings per month without paying an insertion fee. Once they have reached the limit, they'll pay only $0.10 per order, plus final value fees.
The type of listing — fixed price vs. auction-style — comes into play, too. Vendors who choose to promote their listings via classified ads are subject to additional fees.
Amazon's fee structure is a lot more complex, which can be a turn-off for new sellers. The company charges multiple fees per sale, plus additional fees for advertising, fulfillment, high-volume listings, and so on.
Vendors pay referral fees of 8% to 45% per item sold, depending on the product category. For example, the referral fee is 15% for books, home products, and office supplies, 17% for clothing and accessories, 8% for personal computers, and 5-20% for artworks (based on the sales price). Individual sellers are subject to an additional $0.99 fee per product sold.
Other charges may include:
At the very least, you can expect to pay referral and closing fees. If you want to have your products stored and shipped by Amazon, you'll be charged additional selling fees.
Amazon may charge higher fees than eBay, but it also has distinct advantages, such as its order fulfillment service.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) ensures a hassle-free experience for buyers and sellers alike, making it easier to manage the orders received. In some cases, it can reduce your shipping costs and eliminate the need to rent a warehouse. What's more, Amazon will handle any returns on your behalf.
With this service, you'll ship your inventory to an Amazon warehouse, or fulfillment center. When a customer places an order, the products will be packed and shipped by FBA. Sellers enrolled in the program also receive the Prime badge, which can be a game-changer.
FBA isn't cheap, but it may be worth the price — especially for high-volume sellers and those targeting a global audience. For example, international shipping via FBA may cost less than what you would pay if you handled the process yourself. The fees depend on the product category and size.
Amazon's fulfillment service is optional, though. Sellers who prefer to handle things themselves have several options, including:
The last two options are only available to a small number of sellers. FBA Onsite, for instance, enables vendors to integrate Amazon’s software into their warehouses instead of using the company's fulfillment centers.
With eBay, you can either ship the products yourself or enroll in the company's Global Shipping Program (GSP). Alternatively, you may use third-party fulfillment services like Rakuten Super Logistics or ShipBob.
eBay supports all the major shipping carriers, including the United States Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, DHL, UPS, and others. Sellers also have the option to offer local pickup.
The eBay Global Shipping Program can be a good choice for international vendors. This service is similar to FBA — you'll send your inventory to the nearest eBay shipping center and let them handle the logistics. GSP is only available to Above Standard and Top Rated Sellers.
Whether you sell on eBay or Amazon, you want to make sure you'll get paid on time and avoid additional fees.
In either case, you should receive the funds within a few days.
Also, note that eBay customers can pay by debit or credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. Depending on the country, buyers may also pay by check or money order. Amazon customers, on the other hand, can only use credit, debit, and prepaid cards.
Both Amazon and eBay provide sellers with marketing, advertising, and branding tools.
If you decide to use eBay, head over to the Seller Hub to get detailed reports and other insights. From here, you can track sales, manage your listings, customize your storefront, and more.
Vendors who opt for a business account can host sales events, offer discounts, and create promotions, among other perks. There's also the option to promote your listings for an additional fee.
New Amazon sellers can receive $200 in free ad credit and other bonuses, such as 5% back on their first $1 million in branded sales. These perks are available to those enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry. The platform also offers quite a few advertising options, including:
Amazon's analytics tools enable sellers to track their ad campaigns, business performance, and sales. What's more, vendors have access to live webinars and other educational resources, including how-to videos and guides on how to get started with dropshipping, how to build a successful Amazon business, and more.
Both platforms offer the tools you need to build and grow your online business. Amazon is more complex and technology-driven, while eBay works more like a peer-to-peer marketplace with strict standards for shipping, customer service, and product listings.
The question is, should you be selling on Amazon or eBay? The answer depends on several factors, including your budget, product selection, brand strategy, and target audience. But you don't have to decide right away. First, read on to learn more about the pros and cons of selling on eBay vs. Amazon.
eBay is no longer just an auction site. The platform brings together sellers and buyers from all around the world, offering cutting-edge tools for listing, promoting, and managing your inventory.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of selling on eBay is that you'll get up to 100,000 free listings per month, depending on the membership plan. Plus, you'll have more control over your listings compared to Amazon.
That said, let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of using eBay to sell products online:
The tech giant has a larger audience than eBay and provides the tools needed to expand your reach. Plus, it offers more shipping options and branding opportunities. Plus, its fulfillment service ensures quick delivery and can significantly lower your operational costs.
But despite these perks, Amazon is far from perfect and may not be suitable for every seller or niche.
An aspect to consider is that you'll be competing against Amazon itself. The company has its own line of products — and they're often cheaper than those sold by most vendors.
What's more, Amazon owns the customer data, so there's no way to reconnect with your customers if you ever switch to a different platform. Additionally, the company may limit its warehouse space during the holiday season and other peak times, making it difficult for FBA sellers to fulfill orders.
As you can see, both platforms have advantages and drawbacks. Amazon may be a better option than eBay for vendors with adequate profit margins, but it also charges higher fees. However, you may benefit from its reputation, which can result in lower marketing costs. eBay, on the other hand, gives you more control over your brand and can be a good choice for new sellers.
Our recommendation is to consider the following factors before you make a choice:
Alternatively, you may use both platforms for a couple of months and then choose one that best suits your needs. For example, you could start with a personal eBay account and an individual Amazon seller plan. Your success ultimately depends on how much work you put into your business.
On either platform, it's crucial to set your brand apart and think outside the box. Just because you have some great products doesn't mean you'll achieve success. It's how you market your business that matters most.
For starters, take high-quality photos that make your products stand out. After all, that's the first thing customers will see when checking your listings.
Professional product photography can increase the perceived value of your product or service, leading to higher revenue. At the same time, it gets more eyes on your listings, which in turn may increase sales. Moreover, product listings with quality images can help you build trust with potential buyers and result in lower return rates.
More than 65% of people are visual learners. Photos, videos, and other types of visual content spark interest and evoke emotions. Think about popular brands like Dropbox, Coca-Cola, Glossier, or Peloton — they all leverage the power of visual content as part of their branding strategy.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't need professional equipment to take amazing shots. A phone camera, a lightbox, a tripod, and other basic accessories will do the trick.
Having the right photo editing software is just as important. For example, Pixelcut makes it easy to add a background to any photo, edit in batches, and resize or crop images for each marketplace.
Take Amazon, for instance. Sellers are required to use clear product photos of at least 200 x 200 pixels, but not larger than 2,000 x 2,000 pixels. Ideally, opt for a pure white background and take photos from different angles. With Pixelcut, you can remove the background from any image within seconds or even replace the original background.
eBay and Amazon sellers may also use photo editing software to create infographics, size charts, graphs, and other visuals. This type of content allows you to highlight the key features of a product and help buyers make the right choice.
For instance, if you sell resistance bands, you can add images that show customers how to use your products, what accessories are included, or what muscles are being worked.
Go one step further and experiment with different props, photography styles, and special effects. Use Pixelcut to enhance the color, adjust the brightness, and create collages with just a few clicks. Also, let your creative juices flow and take lifestyle shots, group shots, packaging shots, and so on. See these product photography ideas for inspiration!
Now that you know more about selling on eBay vs. Amazon, it's important to think long-term and get your priorities straight. Define your target audience, create a brand strategy, and focus on building a strong online presence. Either platform can be a good choice — it all comes down to how you plan to use it.
Last but not least, make an effort to create product listings that convert. Use Pixelcut to edit your photos and give them a professional feel. Choose a background that reflects your brand, take multiple pictures, and optimize your images for the platform you sell on.