If you want to make an income selling online you will be aware of the two main online selling marketplaces Amazon and eBay, both global sites with huge reputations and customer bases.
There are differences between the two sites, and too many rules and regulations to write here, but below you’ll find some of the main differences I find as a user of both sites, both buying and selling.
Amazon have systems in which you will need to give details that verify your identity, such as passport number, and you will require a credit card that remains on the system.
eBay do not at present require this information. It’s therefore easier to get started, but eBay do create restrictions on how may items you can list with quite strict limits.
Ease of use
Both sites are fairly easy to circumvent: on Amazon, in the main, most products are already set up on the system. You just have to ensure the item you are selling matches the item on the screen. Usually when selling books that’s quite easy because once you put the ISBN into the search box, the item appears and you just add your item to the system using a fairly simple process.
Over the years eBay have introduced systems that make it easier to list items such as books. They have improved the system with stock photographs and stock info that assist buyer searches.
Unfortunately their system is not as extensive as Amazon’s: this means you may need to create your own personal listing, which takes longer. You will need know or learn how to upload photos and research item specifics such the publishing year, publisher and writer.
However, if the item you want to list is on the system, then it’s not too arduous to use.
On eBay you have the ability to price your fixed priced products realistically to increase chances of increasing profit, and eBay allow you to ask realistic postage rates on products such as books.
Amazon limit postage charges to £2.80 on books: this in most cases will not cover the actual postage charge.
Unfortunately, both sites have a culture of pricing popular items ridiculously low and unless you are a massive seller with postage discounts, you may not be able to compete.
That’s said, eBay do not display products by price: buyers are likely to buy the first product in the list of items, and will not search down the page to see if there is a cheaper item. If your item is top of the list, you have a good chance of selling your item for a higher price than your competitors.
Amazon list items by price and although some buyers might search beyond the first selling page, usually they will buy the first item on the page with the lowest price. This means your price for your item depends on your competitors: you basically need to follow suit. This is often not a good idea if you want to make some money: costs will out do any profit.
However, if you have a rarer item, you will have an increased chance of selling for a higher price on Amazon than eBay: often several pounds more.
Buyers expect to receive items quickly as possible. eBay allow you choose when you are prepared to dispatch using a variety of couriers. The faster your delivery time the better. With Royal Mail second class, eBay allow 2–3 working days. Amazon will expect you do dispatch within two business days, and you are able to use a section on couriers. Amazon allow around 10 days for delivery, which is a little more realistic than eBay.
Amazon require buyers to use a credit/debit card to buy from their site. If a buyer has neither then it’s not possible to buy from the site (unless they have an Amazon gift card to use).
eBay prefer buyers to use PayPal. Buyers can open a PayPal account using an email address, and then they can upload funds from bank accounts and via credit cards and echeques.
On reflection I do prefer eBay’s system in regards to feedback. eBay will not allow sellers to leave adverse feedback for buyers, and importantly, they encourage buyers to contact sellers if there is an issue before leaving adverse feedback. They also do not count neutral feedback in seller ratings.
Amazon do count neutral feedback in seller ratings: if they used the same system as eBay, most Amazon feedback ratings would increase and sort out the wheat from the chaff, identifying good sellers from bad sellers more obviously. This is because many buyers are not using the feedback system appropriately, such as leaving bad comment ratings when they are happy with their product and service, placing product reviews on the feedback systems, and not contacting sellers to sort out issues.
So eBay or Amazon – which will you choose?
I use both sites: some items sell more effectively on eBay than Amazon. Popular low-value items will often sell for higher prices on eBay, and rarer items often fetch higher prices on Amazon.