Well, I don’t sell on Amazon (not yet anyway) for one very big reason: I actually like eBay more than any other marketplace I’ve tried so far (and I’ve tried an awful lot of markets, from boot sales to flea markets, collectors’ fairs to antiques shops, websites to selling by mail order and direct mail.)
However, I sell mainly antiques and collectibles and my choice of products are not as suitable for selling on Amazon, purely because, for most antiques and collectibles, it’s best to let the market determine the value of your items, and auction is almost always the best way to achieve that objective.
However, I know plenty of people who do sell on Amazon and who swear they enjoy benefits that elude eBay sellers. Some of those people happily trade on both sites, selling some items at auction on eBay and others at fixed prices on Amazon.
Having spoken to those people extensively this week, I’m convinced that savvy marketers should sell on both sites. This is because each company offers distinct benefits for sellers, and each has its own share of disadvantages (though, thankfully, these are nothing much to worry about).
My friends selling both on Amazon and eBay helped me create the following pointers to help you decide which site to use:
» Amazon does not charge listing fees, while eBay does. And that means if your items don’t sell, you still have to pay fees to eBay, but not to Amazon. So you can list to your heart’s content on Amazon and only hand over a share of your profits when something actually finds a new owner.
When your item does sell, Amazon charges sellers a proportion of their final selling price, just as eBay does. But Amazon’s percentage is higher than eBay’s, so you must weigh up the pros and cons of listing unlimited items on Amazon without paying listing fees against paying a listing fee and a final selling fee to eBay.
I personally do not appreciate being able to list items free of charge, for one reason; that being, potentially thousands of people listing all day long on Amazon without having to pay will create a massive glut of similar product listings and make for heavy competition among sellers.
On eBay, however, where you pay for every item you list (unless you have an Anchor shop costing £349.99 each month, where every item is listed free of charge) you’ll find people more discerning about what products they do list and which they don’t, and that usually results in competition being lower on eBay than on Amazon. Additionally, any eBay seller worth their salt should only be listing items that are guaranteed to sell, and at a profit, so the chance of wasting a listing fee on eBay should be low to non-existent. The reason is, with so many research tools available on eBay – such as eBay Pulse and the Advanced search facility for past completed sales – a seller should always have a rough idea of how much his item might fetch and how best to list it to attract maximum bidders and an almost guaranteed sale.
» Amazon doesn’t have an auction option and some things just happen to sell better by asking potential buyers how much they are prepared to pay and accepting the highest offer. Additionally, if your item is rare, or unique, there’s no yardstick against which to measure the potential value of your item, on Amazon or eBay, and by listing it with a fixed price on either site you risk it selling below market value. So if it’s rare or unique, listing it in auction format on eBay is the best way to sell it.
» Several of my contacts suggest they achieve higher prices for most items offered with a fixed price option on Amazon than similar products listed Buy It Now on eBay. The reason, they say, has to do with many people viewing eBay as a place to get bargains and expecting to find mainly second-hand and inferior quality goods, while Amazon seems to attract people prepared to pay top whack for what they expect to be high quality products.
Tip: There’s an arbitrage opportunity staring you in the face here: buy a product on eBay and sell it for a higher price on Amazon. Just make sure Amazon’s higher final selling fees don’t eat too heavily into your profits.
» Sellers rarely have to upload their own images to Amazon, compared to sellers on eBay who have to photograph or scan their products and convert the images to digital format before uploading them to the site. When you’re listing on Amazon, you key information about your product into Amazon’s site and you’re provided with a generic picture of the product. The exception is for unique products, and others not currently listed at the site where you have to provide your own illustration. Amazon’s product image is always the best available and sellers have to use that image even if whatever they are selling is in poor or less than perfect condition. Sellers assess the condition of their own product in a special location during the listing process, but unless buyers pay attention to your wording they may expect to receive something identical to the item shown in Amazon’s bog standard illustration.
For me, and with prior apologies to Amazon, I think the image shown for a product should match the item the buyer actually receives, and anything less is misrepresentation. On eBay, however, you get to use your own illustrations, so problems of the sort just explained for an Amazon bought product should never affect sellers on eBay.
But a major benefit of having no images to upload to Amazon is the chance to list many more products in a given time than someone selling similar items on eBay where images can take several minutes to upload. In my case, without full-strength broadband, one image takes between three and five minutes to upload to eBay, sometimes longer if my Internet connection dies during the process! FYI: my Internet connection often dies while I am listing items on eBay, and I can often end up spending 15 minutes or more uploading a single picture to an eBay listing!
» On eBay, the rules for selling at the site are subject to fast and frequent change and can cause sellers to become confused and make mistakes that earn them a warning or even expulsion from eBay. Trading terms and conditions on Amazon are subject to much less frequent change.
According to some research companies, constant changes to rules and regulations remains a major reason for sellers deciding to leave eBay and head over to Amazon instead.
» On Amazon the company takes all payments and does not charge sellers a processing fee when passing on a share of the payment for products sold at their site. eBay does charge for payment sent from buyers to sellers’ PayPal accounts. On eBay, it’s the seller who chases late payment and pays a hefty fee for cheques that bounce. Also, if a sale falls through on Amazon, your product is relisted by the company, compared to where your eBay sale fails and you have to locate the original listing and relist it manually.
» People with experience of selling on Amazon and eBay suggest that eBay is more sympathetic to problems experienced by sellers than Amazon, and eBay will usually leave sellers to negotiate with buyers and will sometimes side with the seller. Amazon, they say, takes the buyers’ side every time.
» Amazon chooses the most appropriate selling category, as well as the image and basic description for product listings. On eBay, sellers are responsible for every feature of their listing, from choosing a product category to uploading their listing to the site. eBay sellers create their own titles and descriptions and provide their own images. This means sellers on Amazon have two major benefits over people selling on eBay, one being the fact it takes much less time to list a product on Amazon than on eBay. The other benefit of listing on Amazon is there is less chance of making mistakes in a listing that will reduce the chance of it selling. So on eBay, for example, the seller might choose an inappropriate category, or upload a poor image, or misspell the name of his product and omit his listing from search returns.
Now you know how and where the two companies differ, it’s up to you to determine which marketplace best suits you at any point in time. Sometimes a product is more likely to sell at a high price on eBay, sometimes you’ll save time by listing your products on Amazon, sometimes you can list your product on both sites and target many more potential buyers and enjoy much higher profits than sticking to one marketplace.