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General News    H4'ed 1/17/11

Selling on Ebay versus selling on Amazon

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Ebay and Amazon are the two leading online retailers, selling everything from books to DVDs, technology, household goods and furniture. You can furnish every room in your home using just these two sites, without ever having to leave the comfort of your chair.

Buyers and sellers alike flock to both sites. But are they equal, or is one better than the other?

From the buyer point of view, Amazon seems to posses the greater buyer confidence, due to ease of purchase, quick delivery times and less likelihood of meeting scammers on the site. A non-delivered item needs only be followed by a claim, whereupon Amazon investigates and the buyer gets a refund.

Ebay has a record of buyers being scammed and never being able to recoup their funds when sellers (scammers) failed to deliver items. Having said that, Ebay and PayPal have now teamed up to ensure that any payment transferred from buyer to seller's PayPal account is not released for twenty one days, giving the buyer this length of time to raise the alarm if an item has failed to arrive.

However, what is the experience of the two sites from the seller's point of view? Both sites have pros and cons, and in the end it is most likely up to the seller to decide which better suits their personality. Below are some of the main advantages of each site over the other:

Pros of Ebay over Amazon

1) Ebay offers two ways to sell, auctioning and a one off price. Amazon allows you to sell only at a single price. The upside of the auctioning option is that you may list your item at a low price that will entice buyers to place a bid. Bidding begets bidding and before you know it you may end up with a sell at or above your desired price for the item. Even if you end up selling for lower than you'd hoped, at least you'll have sold the item in that one listing and won't have to relist at a lower price, incurring fees for a second listing.

2) Ebay's fees are much kinder than Amazon's. Ebay asks a listing fee of $0.75 to $1.50 per listing depending on how many of the listing features you use (such as additional photos), plus a final value fee that is about 9 percent of the sale price.

Amazon deducts a fee of 6 to 25 percent of the sale price, a variable closing fee, and a per-item fee of $0.99. This is fine when you sell higher priced items, but you might pay as much a $2.94 to $3.20 for a second hand book that you sold for just a few cents.

3) Ebay allows you to track progress, whereas Amazon is an all or nothing experience. To elaborate, because of Ebay's auctioning feature, not only do you get to see who is bidding on your item, but you also get to see who is watching your item. Frequently buyers on Ebay will bid during the very last few minutes of your listing. However, in the days leading up to the end of your listing, instead of leaving you with the discouraging impression that nothing's happening, being privy to a watch list lets you know that there is interest in your item and that it may sell.

With Amazon on the other hand, you experience long days, weeks even, of nothing, with no indication as to whether your item has aroused any interest. Until one day, out of the blue, you get that hallelujah message in your inbox telling you that your item has sold. Certainly the duration of the Amazon listings are longer (60 days), than the Ebay listings (3 to 10 days), but 60 days is a long time to wait on the edge of your seat with not the slightest hint as to whether or not anything will happen.

4) On Amazon everyone is permanently undercutting one another, creating an atmosphere of frustration and anger. Let's say you list your DVD for $6.99, the next day you check your inventory only to find that someone else has listed theirs for $6.98. So you change your listing to $6.97, and a few hours later they've changed theirs to $6.96 etc.

With Ebay there is no such negative experience. Once your item is live, the site draws your focus to the bids and who is watching you. Everyone's listings start off cheap, and once the bidding starts it's no longer up to you, the seller, to dictate the price. Therefore, what others are doing with their identical item becomes irrelevant.

5) You can sell ANYTHING on Ebay. On Amazon you may only sell what is listed in Amazon's database. This is made more frustrating when you attempt to list that gorgeous six piece tea set, only to find that Amazon has a record of the four piece and the eight piece versions of the same set, but not the six piece. The only way you'd be able to list your item would be to first become a ProMerchant seller at Amazon, which includes a subscription fee of $39.99.

On Ebay however, if it isn't already in their database, then you are welcome to put it there right away, at no extra cost or delay.

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I am a research scientist and a writer, with a PhD in neuroscience from University College London. I recently published the novel, A Life Lived Ridiculously, about a girl with obsessive compulsive disorder who makes the horrible mistake of (more...)
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Selling on Ebay versus selling on Amazon

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