Disclaimer: I make the bulk of my money on one of these two sites, so obviously, I’m going lean towards the one that helps me make my full-time living working from home. If you’ve read other articles on the site, you’ll know right away which one I prefer. 🙂
Ah, the age old battle, Amazon vs. eBay, a battle which dates back…a few years. Okay, so it’s not really an age-old battle, but if you want to make your living selling products online the battle is just as important.
Why care about which is better? Wouldn’t it be best to sell in all marketplaces?
Yes and no. You’ll want to decide upfront based on the resources you have available.
If you have limited time, are you sure you want to learn every marketplace system all at once (Amazon, eBay, Overstock, Buy, Sears, etc.)?
As a general strategy, I’ve found it best to go with the #1 marketplace, and once I’ve got my systems in place, then branch out to the other selling marketplaces to provide extra income. However, one of them creates the lion’s share of profits for those who know how to do it right.
Aren’t all the online marketplaces generally the same anyway?
In a word, NO WAY (okay that’s too words, but you get the point). Each online marketplace is set up differently and attracts different customer behaviors.
When selling on eBay, you’ll notice a lot of questions regarding your items even if you’ve been careful to create a detailed product description. If you list the same item on Amazon.com, you’ll notice a lot fewer questions (this is just one difference of many).
Isn’t Amazon just for selling books?
I love this question.
Millions and millions and millions of dollars are made every year by people selling products other than books on Amazon.com.
In fact, it’s the marketplace with the most products out of any online marketplace.
What if my products are different?
Everyone’s products are different. As long as you’re not selling marketplace restricted items (check each site’s terms for the current list of restricted items), you’ll have a good shot at selling in any of the marketplaces.
There are a few caveats though. If you have only one unit of something, and there’s no ISBN or UPC bar code on it, eBay may be a good place for it.
But if the item does have a UPC or ISBN bar code on it, you’ll have a good chance selling it in the marketplace where I make my living.
If your products are homemade goods, you can try selling them on Etsy, but you could also look at getting your own UPC bar codes so you can sell your products in a marketplace with more customers that keep coming back every day to the world’s largest selection of products.
So which is better, Amazon or eBay?
All things being equal, here are the 7 reasons why one will make you tons more money than the other (take note if you see a pattern).
1. Trust is King
Compare two listings, a well composed eBay listing and a well composed Amazon.com listing. Which do you trust?
Unfortunately, eBay still maintains the garage sale feel in its listings. But hey, that can be fun right? When you stumble on an eBay product page with a pink background, yellow text, and animated gifs…
Design matters a great deal when it comes to trust. Another element of trust is the seller ratings.
Although both Amazon and eBay have a rating system, Amazon’s is far easier to see at a glance how many stars/feedback ratings the seller has and where the seller stands.
Sellers with good feedback and sales numbers on Amazon are promoted to “Featured Merchant” status which means that they have shown themselves as trustworthy.
Better trust means more sales. How many times have you not purchased something from a website because of poor design (in other words, a lack of trust)?
Amazon also protects purchases with an A to Z Guarantee. Buyers don’t have to worry about hassles on Amazon.
Winner: Amazon.com for creating a system where customers have better trust for sellers.
2. Simplicity Makes our Lives Better
Have you ever sat down and thought, “Gee, I’d like my life to be more complicated.”
Most of us are trying to find ways to make things easy–to simplify.
Do you want your customers to become frustrated because it’s hard to find your products?
Although eBay is trying to be better about this, when you search for a product on eBay, everybody’s listings come up.
Your potential customers will have to sort through page after page of listings for the same item! It’s crazy! It’s complicated! It’s silly!
When you shop on Amazon, it’s simple. It’s elegant.
Amazon has one single listing for each product.
If there are different sellers for the same item, the item listing is not reproduced over and over again in the search results.
The item appears once. When you click on the item, it’s easy to see who the featured merchant is and the new/used options available to you from other sellers.
A frustration free shopping experience means a better buying experience for your potential customers.
Winner: Amazon.com for having only one listing per product.
3. Elegance in Design Matters
Both eBay and Amazon put a lot of information on one page, but when you look at a product for sale on both sites, there are major differences.
Amazon creates a uniform listing and thus a uniform shopping experience. With eBay you never know what colors, fonts, etc. that you’ll come across in a listing.
Apart from the Trust factor mentioned earlier, the consistency in design on Amazon creates a different buying experience and elicits different shopping behavior from potential buyers.
It’s like a garage sale compared to an upscale store.
Even for the same products, you’ll be able to command a higher price in the upscale store. Buyers appreciate the consistency and feel of a uniform shopping experience.
Amazon.com lets sellers post multiple images of products for free. Those images appear in the same spot on each listing. It’s easy, it’s simple. It’s good for the customer.
Better design means a better price for you, and a better buying experience for the customer.
Winner: Amazon.com for a consistent design that helps customers feel better about buying.
4. It’s all in the Customer Buying Experience
Have you ever bought something from eBay?
It’s a mess.
You not only have to wait for the auction to complete (if it’s an auction not a fixed listing). But once it does, you have to go to a different website (PayPal) to pay for your order.
Could your customers become confused? How do customers contact the seller, through eBay or PayPal? What if they want to cancel an order, make a return, etc.? Where do they go?
Do you want your potential customers getting frustrated when they try to purchase something?
Amazon.com on the other hand has a 1-Click checkout option. Amazon seeks for ways to make things simple.
You click “Buy” on Amazon, and you’ve bought it. Returns and refunds are also easy to request and process.
Customers can select those options from the orders page or visit the returns center. They can even return products shipped to them as gifts.
Winner: Amazon.com for making it fast and easy to purchase and be done.
5. Sales and Promotions are Good for the Customer and Good for Sellers
Try to find how to run a sale or promotion on a basic run-of-the-mill eBay listing.
It’s not that easy. You can buy 3rd party tools that can help you create coupon codes for your customers, but why? Shouldn’t that be included or at least easy to find?
Customers like to find deals and use coupon codes for super steals. Amazon makes it really easy to create custom coupon codes and promotions.
You can have promotions that make it so if they buy 3, they get 1 free. You can create coupon codes that are applied automatically, or that have to be entered manually. All sorts of options are available.
A customer is more likely to come back and buy from you again if you can offer them a discount or coupon code, and Amazon makes this really easy to do.
Winner: Amazon.com for giving you the chance to earn repeat business and more business by creating sales, promotions, and coupon codes.
6. Prime Makes a Difference – A BIG Difference
Amazon sells and ships items as well as 3rd party sellers.
eBay has only 3rd-party sellers. The benefit of having Amazon sell products is that Amazon can offer programs like Amazon Prime (which is fully awesome).
For a yearly fee, customers get Free, 2-day shipping on items shipped by Amazon. It’s pretty cool when a lawn mower gets delivered to your door with free shipping in two days!
What does this mean for you as a seller?
You can provide that same value on Amazon to your customers and knock out the eBay competition (especially at Christmas time when customers want their orders fast). More on that further below…
Winner: Amazon for making it super easy to receive products fast with free shipping.
7. One Will Do the Work for You Getting Your Products to Your Customers Faster and Cheaper
Remember Amazon Prime mentioned above?
How would you like your products to qualify for free 2-day shipping to millions of potential customers?
But wouldn’t offering free, 2-day shipping break the bank?
It might if you have to ship each order that way, but not if you’re using the right fulfillment system that ships your products for you even when you’re asleep!
You don’t have to go crazy during the Christmas selling season shipping onesie-twosie orders.
Does eBay have this? Nope.
Winner: Amazon for making your products more readily available to customers with fast, free shipping.
So what do these points have in common?
These 7 points are better for the customer, and what’s better for the customer will be better for you as a seller.
The more all of us can think about ways to make things better for the customer, the better we’ll do selling products online. Customers will return again and again to purchase and new customers will feel at ease making a first-time purchase.