Selling on Ebay vs Amazon: Which is Better in 2021?

As someone who talks about reselling all the time, I often get the question “is Ebay or Amazon better?” Telling people if selling on eBay vs amazon isn’t an easy question to answer quickly, I hope that this post will help you decide which will work best for you.

Personally, I’ve been selling online on eBay for almost 20 years (Wow that makes me old. I started in high school.) and I also have spent some years selling on Amazon off and on. I know a bit about both selling on eBay and selling on Amazon, so I’ll break that down for you below.

First I wanted to share some interesting facts about Ebay and Amazon that you might find helpful while you’re deciding as well.

Who sells more: Ebay or Amazon?

In Quarter 3 of 2020, Ebay’s sales totaled $9.79 billion (up from $7.33 billion in Q3 of 2019)

In Quarter 3 of 2020, Amazon’s sales totaled $96.15 billion (up from $69.98 billion in Q3 of 2019)

Those are some massive differences, don’t you think? Now, while you think this might scream “sell on Amazon!” that’s not what I’m trying to do here. But it is important to consider that Amazon has quickly surpassed Ebay as far as sales.

Since I also have quite a following of other resellers on my @hustleandslow Instagram, I thought I’d ask them their opinions. Here’s what I found:

While more people (who follow me on Instagram) prefer to sell on eBay, most people prefer to shop on Amazon. I found this extremely interesting and is something you should consider too. While many people are likely trying to support the platform they sell on, they find a different platform more appealing.

Now let’s get started so you can decide… is ebay or amazon better?

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What can you sell on Ebay vs Amazon?

One of the most important factors you need to consider when deciding if you want to sell on Amazon or eBay is what you’re selling. Amazon is a pickier about what you can sell on their website and the condition of the items you’re selling. Ebay is much less restrictive.

The simplest way to put this is:

If you’re planning on selling a brand new item with a barcode you can probably sell it on Amazon.

If you’re planning on selling something used or that doesn’t have a barcode, you should probably go with Ebay. 

This obviously doesn’t work across the board, but it’s a pretty good place to start. 

On Ebay pretty much anything goes, unless it falls under their list of prohibited and restricted items. The list includes things like alcohol, used cosmetics, and a few dozen other items that either aren’t allowed or have certain restrictions. Many resellers sell used clothing that they source from thrift stores or yard sales which is fine on Ebay.

On Amazon, it’s a little more complicated. In general, brand new items with barcodes are good unless they’re on their restricted products list. This includes animals, explosives, etc. As far as used items go, Amazon allows many items that are used, but one thing to consider is that Amazon doesn’t allow used clothing.

However, things like used books, electronics, etc. in good condition are fine to sell on Amazon as long as they fit within Amazon’s condition standards. One other important thing to note is that there are many brands and categories that are “gated” on Amazon. This means that you’re restricted from selling in there unless you get a certain type of approval.

>> Want to sign up for my free Ebay training for complete beginners? Click here!

What are the fees for selling on Ebay vs Amazon?

The fees vary, so the best thing to do is to look at Ebay and Amazon’s fee structures to find the information you need. However, I will still outline the basics below so you can get an idea.

Ebay Fees

Insertion fee

This is the fee that you pay for listing your item on ebay, regardless of if it sells or not. As of the time of this post, Ebay provides sellers with 200 free insertion fees and then after that it’s .35 per listing. If you have an ebay subscription, you will likely get more with your account depending on the subscription level.

Final Value Fee

The Final Value Fee (FVF) is going the more significant fee because it’s based on a percentage of your sale. As stated by Ebay, it’s the “total amount of the sale is the entire amount the buyer pays, including any handling charges, the shipping service the buyer selects, sales tax, and any other applicable fees.”

For most people, the final value fee is 12.35%. However, there are certain categories with different fees. Also, you may also have reduced fees if you have an eBay store subscription depending on which level.

Store Subscription

When selling on ebay, you can just sell with a regular account. However, some people decide to upgrade to a store subscription for a few reasons. Some perks of having a store subscription are that your items are able to be seen and categorized in a store format. Without a store, people will just see a list of your items. Additionally, having a store subscription usually reduces your fees so it can be worth it in that sense. The store subscription fees range for $4.95 for a Starter store to $2,999.95 for an Enterprise subscription. Most people find that a Starter, Basic, or Premium store subscription works just fine.

Amazon Fees

Selling Plans

Amazon offers two selling plans that apply to each item you sell. On the individual plan, you pay .99/item sold. With their professional plan, you’re charged $39.99 per month for unlimited items. Which plan you should get really just depends on how many items per month you’re planning on selling. If you’re planning on selling under 40, stay on the individual plan. If you’re planning on selling more than 40, upgrade to the professional plan.

Referral Fees

These fees are based on different categories and are the fees you pay based on the price of the items you sell. Most of them seem to range in the 8% to 15% range, but it greatly varies based on the category. Some popular categories include:

  • Books: 15% + $1.80 closing fee
  • Clothing & Accessories: 17%
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food: 8% for products with a sales price of $15 or less, 15% for products with a sales price of over $15
  • Health & Personal Care: Grocery & Gourmet Food: 8% for products with a sales price of $10 or less, 15% for products with a sales price of over $10
  • Toys & Games: 15%

FBA Fees

One of the best things about selling on Amazon is that you can sell your items via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). This means that you ship all of your items to an Amazon warehouse where they store the item until it’s sold and then ship it for you.

However, as I’m sure you expected, there are additional fees that go along with it. When selling your items via Amazon FBA, you’ll have to pay fulfillment fees which cover picking and packing your orders, shipping, customer service, and product returns. These fees are based on the weight and dimension of your product. This means smaller, lighter products will have lower fees and bigger, heavier products will have higher fees.

Storage Fees

The last of the Amazon fees is the FBA storage fee. This is charged on a monthly basis and is based on the average volume of space your inventory occupies at the Amazon fulfillment centers. For example, for standard sized items between January and September, you’ll pay $0.75 per cubic foot, but that raises to $2.40 per cubic foot in October through December when the holiday rush is in full swing and space in the fulfillment centers is more limited.

Is it easier to sell on Amazon or Ebay?

When you sell on ebay, you source items, take photos, create the listings, and then ship out the items when they sell. The whole process is in your hands. In my opinion, what makes ebay easy is that it’s all in your hands and no one else is involved. Plus, I think it’s easier to source items for Ebay.

>> Want to sign up for my free Ebay training for complete beginners? Click here!

When you sell on Amazon, you source items, list your items on Amazon’s existing listings (no photos needed) and then ship items when they sell OR ship items to FBA if that’s the route you want to take. What makes Amazon easy is that sourcing can consist of scanning items when you’re in the store to see what they’re selling for on Amazon. You don’t have to take photos or fill in that much info when you list the item because Amazon generally already has a listing up that you just add your item to.

What’s “easy” will depend on your situation and what you think is easier for you.

Is it easier to ship on Ebay or Amazon?

When selling on Amazon, you have two different ways that you can sell. If you decide to sell via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), you will ship the items to Amazon to hold and ship to your customer when it sells. So you will have to pack up all of your inventory and ship it to Amazon all at once, rather than having to ship items individually to customers. Many sellers like FBA for this reason. They don’t have to store inventory or spend a lot of time shipping dozens of packages.

Alternatively, if you do merchant fulfilled (MF), you can list items on Amazon and send order to customers yourself. Amazon makes this relatively easy because when you list the item it will allow you to select the shipping methods you want to offer along with what they will be charging the customer. Once an item sells, you can just go into Amazon to print shipping. Or if you’d prefer to go with your own shipping methods, you can simply input the tracking number.

Shipping on Ebay is up to you, there is no way to ship items for Ebay to fulfill for you. When you set up your listings, you can choose to either charge flat rate shipping (you decide the price regardless of weight/size/etc) or calculated shipping which is where you provide the weight and size of the item along with the shipping methods you want to offer and Ebay will calculate a shipping price for your customers. Once the item sells, your customer will select a shipping method and it’s up to you to ship it using the method your customer selected. This can be done directly in the Ebay website or you can do it on your own and just enter tracking information to confirm the item has been shipped.

Ultimately, neither Ebay or Amazon is really “easier” unless you consider shipping all of your items to Amazon FBA easier because you’ll have to ship less packages out. When it comes to fulfilling orders yourself, Amazon may be a bit easier because you don’t have as many options to sort through but it’s really not that big of a difference.

Pros and Cons of Ebay vs Amazon

Amazon Pros

  • More convenient for shoppers (people prefer to shop on Amazon)
  • Time efficient because you don’t need to take photos or make a brand new listing
  • If you use FBA, you don’t have to ship the items out individually yourself

Amazon Cons

  • Fees are generally higher (especially with FBA)
  • Harder to stand out – whoever has the cheapest price get the “buy box”
  • You’re competing with bigger companies (like Amazon themselves)
  • Can be harder to find items to sell on Amazon

Ebay Pros

  • Less restrictive
  • In more control of your own account/business
  • Easier to find stuff to sell
  • Lower fees

Ebay Cons

  • It’s more time consuming to make listings on Ebay
  • You have to take your own photos
  • Less shoppers than on Amazon

My personal opinion

If you want to buy items from thrift stores and yard sales and be more in control of your business stick with Ebay. It’s a great side hustle that you can do in your spare time and even grow to a full time business if you do it well.

If you want to source brand new items to send to Amazon for them to ship for you, go with Amazon. Amazon is also the “easier” one to scale to a million dollars if that’s something you’re going for.

BUT I think you should try both! I always say that everyone should have multiple streams of income in case one disappears. Start with one, get it going strong, and then try the other.

Read next: How to start a reselling business

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