blog / article

eBay Versus Amazon: Your Guide to eCommerce

by Leo Chan
8 Oct 2019

When you enter into the realm of eCommerce, it can be overwhelming and the amount of decisions to make are as confusing as they are frustrating. The most important decision a vendor can make is which eCommerce platform to use. Two major platforms are eBay and Amazon. A variety of factors come into play when deciding which one suits a seller’s needs.

How Do They Work?

Amazon offers two programs to vendors. Amazon Vendor Central is an invitation only program that let vendors and merchants sell their inventory to Amazon at wholesale and Amazon sells the inventory on their website for the price of their choosing. Amazon Seller Central keeps vendors as third-party sellers. You list your own inventory and choose your own shipping methods. Within Seller Central you can let Amazon store, pack and ship your own inventory for a monthly fee along with storage and packing fees. If you don’t want to pay the extra money and you don’t mind storing and shipping your inventory, you can choose your own fulfillment. It’s also important to mention Amazon vendors get paid every two weeks rather than per sale which can clog up some sellers’ finances. Exceptions are granted for Legacy account holders. Fees tend to vary based on what services you choose, what category the items are listed under. Fees can be higher or lower depending on the product.

eBay allows sellers to directly compete directly against each other. You list your own inventory, write your own descriptions and store and ship your own merchandise. Now they offer eBay branded shipping supplies to cut costs for vendors spending a pretty penny at the post office. In 2020, eBay will be launching a service using logistical partners to warehouse and ship inventory. Getting paid through eBay is rather fast in most situations. eBay allows payments through PayPal which allows buyers to instantly send money to a seller’s PayPal. Also, credit and debit card transactions are credited as soon as the buyer’s payment is received and processed. Basically, it’s a quick way to put some currency into your wallet. Although eBay charges an insertion fee, it’s free up to 50 plus listings.

How Simple is It to Sign Up?

Amazon has a rather complicated sign up system. Sellers are required to input personal, banking, and tax information. Banking and credit card information is required for monthly fees. Items have to be listed one at a time unless you have a Professional account. Also, you better have the GTINs for your inventory. If you don’t, you have to contact the manufacturer or apply to Amazon for a new one. Another complication sellers run into is how difficult it can be to get approval to list a product. A growing list of categories and restricted items have fees. Not to mention, preparing items for Amazon’s fulfillment centers is detailed and often confusing.

eBay has an easy sign up process. Sellers can sign up for a basic account with the choice to set up their own business account. Sellers can also use the quick listing tool to walk them through choosing a category, adding a description and photo, choosing auction, fixed price or buy it now. Vendors can choose optional upgrades that help sellers who want to offer bulk sales and variations.

How Stiff is the Competition?

Some sellers on Amazon have told horror stories and have complained about having to compete with Amazon, big name merchandisers as well as independent vendors. One of the main complaints is about Amazon’s habit of “guinea pigging” vendors’ inventory by identifying trends and niche markets to undercut and undersell the same products. Large manufacturers and established brands can get Amazon to restrict items and even suspend accounts. That means independent sellers are competing against industry juggernauts which doesn’t equate to an even playing field.

eBay evens out the competition by stepping away from issuing their own branded items so sellers aren’t having to wind their way around an industry titan to sell their items. Although sellers may have to compete against bigger and more popular 3rd party vendors, established brands aren’t constantly looking for ways to take down their smaller competitors. Repricing with tools like StreetPricer automatically seek out competition and reprice items according to a seller’s needs. Sellers who offer collectibles, used and vintage items tend to gravitate towards eBay. Amazon offers these listings but it’s easier to sell them on eBay without restrictions and it’s more accessible. The best thing about selling rare and used items on eBay is being able to use velocity pricing to increase or decrease prices depending on how well items are selling. DIY-ers and collectors can find a plethora of rare and collectible stock. Another important feature is the ability to report false and malicious feedback.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but eBay tends to be a better place for new vendors and people who want to sell their inventory in a more open market. Competing with a juggernaut can be stressful and frustrating even if they do offer storage and shipping. Keep your eyes open and make sure you know what you are getting into before you decide to enter into the brave new world of eCommerce.



Cardy Chung is the founder of StreetPricer. Read more articles by Cardy Chung.

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