eBay or Amazon, Can You Use Both…YES YOU CAN

Most frequently asked questions

If not then definitely one of the most frequent questions I get asked is

“Which should I use, eBay or Amazon?”

My answer is very often the same,

“Why Dont You Use both?”

As far as I see it, the two largest online sales channels are Amazon and eBay, the last time I checked Amazon had the edge in market share but never the less why would you choose to ignore such a large chunk of the online audience?

ebay vs amazonNow I understand some people may find it harder to sell on one rather than the other and yes you will probably always have one channel which works better than the other, but the majority of e-commerce retail businesses will have products which will fit right in on both platforms.The truth is neither eBay nor Amazon can claim to be the best across the board and there are pros and cons to each channel.

Many eBay sellers have wondered if it’s really worth selling on Amazon, and vice versa, some feel there are too many rules and it wouldn’t be worth the effort. So what I have done is split selling on these channels into 8 points (There was actually seven but I though of another area 😉 you lucky devils) and I will compare the two, hopefully to make them a little clearer.

1. Fees
2. Format (Auction vs. Fixed-price)
3. Community
4. Feedback
5. Branding
6. Photos
7. Average Sale Price
8. Return Policy

1. Fees

Most sellers agree that fees between the two sites are almost identical. Especially when you consider that you pay for every item to be listed on eBay whether it sells or not. When you consider unsold items, time spent relisting items, and time spent dealing with unpaid items, my opinion is Amazon comes out ahead…just, but I know some others would disagree.

Amazon collects the payment for the seller, and deposits the funds into your checking account. There are no fees for this, while PayPal fees are substantial. If eBay moves to a PayPal only model in they can increase fees for collecting payment at will. Not forgetting most eBay sellers only allow PayPal payments. (More on this later)

Advantage: Tie

2. Format (Auction vs. Fixed-price)

eBay popularized the auction format listing. Amazon failed at auctions and only offers fixed-price listings. Which is best? That depends on what you sell.

For collectibles, auctions are the best way to get market value. eBay is better if you are running an antique store online and want the best prices, and shoppers looking for unique items. Theres a reason these types of items sell well in real life auction houses.

Most businesses however, do not deal in collectibles, they sell “practicals” commodity items that people want to buy and get on with their day. Buyers can readily find these items, and buy online for convenience. It’s easy to set a fixed-price for these items. With the use of m-commerce (Buying from your mobile) this is becoming more so the case.

While Amazon is the fixed-price king, eBay is moving in that direction by downplaying auctions and encouraging fixed-price listings. The presence of eBay Outlets and the new eBay catalogue listing style are putting a much larger focus on ‘New’ and ‘Buy It Now’ listings. The advantage is in the buyers. The Amazon buyer is more affluent, and pays a higher average price for products.

Advantage: Auctions: eBay

Advantage: Fixed-price: Amazon

3. Community

eBay sellers are very involved with eBay buyers. The transactions can be extremely interactive. Amazon buyers and sellers rarely interact. The Amazon buyer tends to expect high customer service and they don’t expect to have to ask if an item has shipped.

In my experience with multi-channel online sales the difference between an Amazon customer and an eBay customer, is massive. To the stage if someone read me a question or comment left by an online customer 9 times out of 10 I’d be able to tell you which platform they purchased or were going to purchase the product from.

In short, eBay customers are scared. In the early days of eBay buyers didn’t always know what they were going to get quality wise, didn’t know what there rights were, and had heard plenty of stories of ‘Scammers’ taking everybody’s money. Times have changed and this is no longer a worry with eBay thanks to the huge level of ‘Buyer Protection’ But the level of paranoia is still felt amongst eBayers.

Because of the higher interaction with customers, eBay sellers have to spend more time per transaction. Amazon transactions generally take less time.

Advantage: Amazon


4. Feedback

Both eBay and Amazon have a feedback system allowing buyers and sellers to record their impression of a transaction. Both sites allow buyers to leave negative comments for sellers. Both sites allow sellers to leave only positive comments for buyers.

The eBay culture has given much more weight to feedback than they do over at Amazon. Amazon buyers can see the seller’s feedback score, but tend to overlook it more readily than eBay buyers. Amazon’s A-Z Guarantee may have a bearing on this by making the buyer feel more protected when purchasing an item. These days however with eBay’s Buyer Protection policies, neither have much to worry about.

Amazon does not “disadvantage” sellers, as eBay does, by moving them down in the results when shoppers perform a search. eBay does this by considering the seller’s feedback score and making them less visible to shoppers, rather than letting buyers make the choice themselves.

Advantage: Amazon if average feedback, eBay if Very Good Feedback

5. Branding

Amazon restricts sellers from reaching out to buyers and marketing to them. Traditionally, this has been an advantage to eBay since eBay allowed sellers to link to a site off eBay from the seller’s About Me page.

Recent changes at eBay have virtually eliminated the ability to use eBay as a lead generating tool for off-eBay business. eBay has all but forbidden any outside links from any eBay pages including custom store pages. The only place a link may appear is on your eBay About Me page. This has effectively neutralized eBay as a “branding tool.”

Nothing really to separate the two here.

Advantage: Tie

6. Photos

eBay sellers have always struggled with photos. How to take good photos, how to get the photos to show up on eBay, how many photos. Each item, no matter if it’s exactly the same as another, gets its own photo on eBay. (Except in catalogue listings)

Amazon is different. An individual product gets one photo, and one description page, and all sellers use the same page.

Generally, the first photo posted on a given product, is the photo everyone will use. Some sellers don’t like the idea of other sellers using their photo. But if “one photo fits all” for a particular product, it’s pretty likely that product is a commodity product. Not many photos are needed.

As an Amazon seller, I absolutely love the fact that I can list 20 items without shooting a single photo. It saves a ton of time.

Amazon buyers will buy an item without a photo. They know that the image they see is generally just representative anyway.

Advantage: Amazon (Although eBay are becoming more and more this way, watch this space)

Advantage: eBay

7. Average Sale Price

Amazon buyers have been shown to be more affluent, and more willing to spend more on similar items. eBay buyers tend to look for bargains, and are willing to wait through a seven-day auction to save a buck.

As a seller, I’ll pick the buyer that is willing to spend more. I have actually used eBay to source products at rock-bottom prices, then sold for good profit on Amazon. Amazon buyers often don’t even look on eBay, and they ultimately pay more.

As a rule, eBay are bargain hunters, Amazoners want a product and want it quickly and efficiently. If you have a great product at a low low price, eBay may have the target market, if you have a higher priced ticket item then Amazon may have the answer. <–very general rule right there, but seems to be what I have found to be accurate.

Advantage: Amazon

8. Return Policy

Some eBay sellers fear Amazon because of their obligatory return policy, called the A-Z Guarantee. This guarantee allows the buyer to receive a full refund if the item is “materially different” from that described, for up to 90 days. Amazon will usually side with the buyer. Sounds pretty tough.

The eBay seller is free to fight it out with buyers with a dispute resolution. This could ultimately result in negative feedback for the seller. They are not required to offer a refund. If eBay forces sellers to use PayPal for payments though, your funds could be held or you may even receive a charge-back against your account. It’s basically the same difference, but the eBay / PayPal route is a lot messier and time-consuming. If you have a buyer that is determined to get a refund, they’ll generally figure a way to get it.

Both are incredibly buyer orientated and it is pointless trying to fight either.

Advantage: Tie


The above is purely my outlook on the Amazon, eBay question. As you can see the verdicts are incredibly close, I think Amazon just edged it by 1. However this could change dependent on what and how you sell online.

There is no question eBay is best for some items, while Amazon is best for others. But the overlap is incredibly large. The vast majority of items that sell on Amazon will also sell well on eBay, and visa versa.

The important thing to remember is the shoppers are different. While you and I may shop on several sites, many Amazon shoppers are very loyal to Amazon and won’t even visit eBay (My mum is a prime example of this). Some eBayers feel it would be a sin to shop on Amazon. By selling on both sites, you are potentially getting millions of additional eyeballs on your products.

If you are avoiding Amazon because you think there are too many rules – take a look at eBay’s User Agreement. eBay is moving closer to Amazon’s model, in many ways. Like it or not, this is the wave of the future. Will you be ahead of the game, or will you be playing catchup? I really do not recommend the latter, you want to ride the wave, not chase after it. The reality is, eBay may seem like the first choice for selling online, and perhaps rightly so. Do not overlook however, that Amazon is the largest, and fastest growing sales channel currently in the UK.

GA, GE and GN



About Dave Furness

I am a fun loving guy who enjoys his job and is driven to succeed. I currently manage a couple of blogs, one for electrical-deals and another personal one documenting my advice, tips, tricks and pitfalls of web design and e-commerce.
This entry was posted in Amazon, E-Commerce, eBay and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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