Amazon vs. eBay: Pros and Cons for Sellers
SELL, SELL, SELL!
I like to sell everything of value in my possession not only because my family needs the money but also because it's FUN! There's nothing more thrilling than getting your hands on something for a low price and selling it high. I know I'm not the only one out there who get a high off of the sale.
The two best places to get the most money and exposure for your items are eBay and Amazon, by far. You'll be hard pressed to find sites that draw more potential buyers than these do. I've been selling on these sites for years so for all of you newbies, I'll break it all down for you.
What to sell
The question is not what to sell but what not to sell. I personally sell everything from books and clothes to video games, purses, and ipods. Name brands sell the best. Some items have a great resale value, yes I mean used. Some of my favorites for resale are Coach, Apple, and Nintendo.
Finding good, quality, affordable merchandise is the most difficult task for any seller. Being aware of the going rate BEFORE you buy any merchandise for resale is paramount. Selling fees may leave you with no profit and lots of headaches if you don't do your research.
From collectibles to fashion, cars to electronics, eBay has you covered. They offer sellers three ways to entice buyers with an auction style listing, a buy it now option, or a best offer combined with the buy it now.
Pros: Name recognition; large, international customer base; ability to advertise listing on Facebook and Pinterest; ease of use; customer service; consumer trust. eBay lets you sell used items that Amazon does not such as jewelry, shoes, clothes, and toys.
Another bonus is the auction ability of eBay. If you have a hot item that is in high demand, list it on eBay! I've seen limited edition shoes go for 10 times their original value!!
Cons: Now I'm just a recreational seller who has been on eBay for probably eight years or more. I tend to go through periods where I sell a couple of items and then don't touch the account for months. It takes a lot of patience to put together a listing, especially on eBay.
FEES, FEES, FEES-- increased cost of seller fees which include insertion, final value, shipping, Paypal; inability to control negative feedback from unreasonable customers
I sold a $75 item on eBay and paid about $10 in fees. I then sold an item on Amazon for about $75 and paid approximately $7 in fees.
But Amazon is not without it's issues...
Click to see how the USED option saves a bunch of $$ over the Amazon and list price
If you still think that Amazon is only a place to buy books, then you need to try out the website again! While I've purchased electronics and vacuum cleaner bags, I've also seen they offer clothes and groceries as well.
Pros: Ease of shopping with one-click payments and wish lists, making the experience easy for customers. Ease of listing items with a UPC or ISBN number or even just a description. Free insertion fees and low final value fees. Great customer service. Easy to judge your competition's price and become the "low price" seller. It also allows you to place item on "sale" for a certain time period.
Cons: Restrictions on selling certain items such as used shoes, clothing, jewelry, and toys. Only offers a buy it now option. Doesn't encourage feedback from sellers like eBay does. Few ways to draw attention to your listings.
Fees, Fees, and more Fees
Fees are how businesses stay afloat--I get it. But my goal is to pay as little fees as possible. Some fees you can't get away from, like final value fees, but other fees you can avoid. The biggest one for me right now is shipping.
Amazon is good about charging shipping for just about everything. Most of the time, it all is awash with the seller paying close to what I wind up paying. But recently I sold a gaming system. Amazon only charged the seller a whopping $3.99! It cost me twice that amount to ship it. Ridiculous!
Ebay is a bit sneaky in how they wriggle in on the shipping. Did you know that when you ship an item through Ebay, they charge a fee? That fee is waived if you offer free shipping, however. To get around this, I started going straight to the USPS website and buying that same shipping there. It's a bit of a pain since I have to type or copy the seller's address, but it's worth it to save money. A lot of times, I also copy the seller's email address and send them a message regarding their package's delivery. And most important, don't forget to copy and paste the tracking number into your My Ebay account for that item. It never fails, the one time you don't is the one time that package has a problem!
Taking Your Listing to the Next Level
In case you didn't notice, both eBay and Amazon offer further ways for you to promote your listing in what I like to call cross pollination. It's through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter where you can actually post a picture and description of your item. Plus, the hottest site Pinterest lets you post the photo on your wall as well. These are free ways to let other potential buyers see your product. SCORE!
Attention Sellers: They don't have your back
I have recently become jaded when it comes to selling on both Ebay and Amazon because they have very little regard for you and me, the seller. Listing these items takes hard work. You do your best to make the descriptions accurate. Then there's the packing--where's a box? Shoot, I ran out of packing supplies! I work hard to keep a good seller record. Then some jerk accuses me of selling something faulty, sends negative feedback, and down goes all that hard work.
In the case with EBay, the item I sold the person DID WORK even though she claimed otherwise. She sent it back. I refunded her money plus shipping. EBay then refunded her MORE money! She totally scammed them! I went so far as to call EBay and tell them what happened. They didn't care!! The customer service person told me I did everything correctly and even did over and above. He then told me there was no way he could take the negative feedback off my account!! Ridiculous.
Then there's Amazon...I got an email with them recently saying that some of my feedback was not good, that the quality of some DVDs I sold was less than what I said. As a result, they were going to restrict my sales of DVDs. Did I get a message from buyer to allow me to make it right? I check every DVD to look for scratches and clean them before I send them off. Here again, I'm being punished without any way to defend myself.
Both companies are notorious for changing the analytics for how they list things on their website. This means you need to be diversified in what you sell, just in case what you sell can no longer be found by buyers. It's happened. I recently read a story by one of EBay's first power sellers who was pushed out of business due to this changing of their analytics.
Etsy is no better. I have a friend whose account was suspended because of ONE person. This person claims she never got a pattern that my friend emailed to her several times. This person complained to Etsy and my friend's account is suspended! My friend had had around 1000 transactions and because of 1 person, she is shut down!
We need to unite, online sellers!
I highly recommend signing up for Skip McGrath's free online newsletter for EBay sellers. You can do so at this link.
Thanks for reading!!
Update: Save Money on Shipping
Did you know that you can lose money from your bottom line because of shipping costs? In some cases, you can pad your bottom line and in other cases you're out of luck.
Amazon. When it comes to shipping heavy items, it's best to NOT sell them on Amazon. This goes for books as well as other items. Amazon charges buyers a flat $3.99 fee, regardless of the item's size or weight. This is great if you ship a small, light-weight item but bad if you sell a hardback book. For instance, I sold a Nintendo Wii console. On the upside, the price I got for the item was great. On the downside, I had to pay an extra $4 in shipping costs on top of what the seller paid! There is no way around this dilemma.
The good news for selling light-weight items like books or video games, shipping first-class mail is an option. This means you can bank a dollar or two extra because the seller pays more than it costs to ship!
Ebay. If you don't check your seller's account closely, you might have missed the fact that Ebay charges you a small percentage of your shipping costs. This is a hidden fee that you probably never noticed. While the amount is small, it's just another way that Ebay digs into your profit. There are two ways to avoid paying this fee: 1) offer free shipping, 2) ship directly through the shippers website like USPS.com.
If you ship the item with USPS and pay and print out the postage directly from the site, make sure you copy and paste the tracking number to your My Ebay page just in case. The items get confusing to keep straight if all you have to go on is the item number.
First class mail is no longer an option when shipping with either Ebay or the post office. In my opinion, this is a way to get more money. First class mail is a great option for shipping items weighing less than 12 ounces. By doing some searching I found that Paypal offers an option for first-class shipping! Here's the link: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now
Here's how I made extra money: there's an item that I sold on Ebay and charged the customer $5.95 for shipping. The item was light so I was able to ship it first-class mail for less than $2. Even with the Ebay value added shipping fee of $.40 I still come out ahead!
Ebay is now offering a "discount" on their shipping costs. These "discounts" are really no discounts at all because you can get the exact same price on the USPS site!
Bottom line, watch your costs because the little dings can add up quickly.
If you have any other wisdom to share, I'd love to hear from you!