The world of online commerce is bustling, with countless platforms vying for your attention. As an entrepreneur or aspiring seller, choosing the right platform to showcase your products can be a daunting task. Among the giants, two names stand out: Amazon and eBay. Both have carved their niches and built loyal customer bases, but the question remains—which platform is better for sellers?

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the intricacies of selling on Amazon vs. eBay, comparing and contrasting key aspects like target audience, product categories, fees, fulfillment options, and marketing strategies. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses, empowering you to make an informed decision as a seller.

Amazon vs. eBay: Platform Overview

Before getting into the specifics of selling on Amazon vs. eBay, it’s important to understand the basics of both platforms. While they’re often put up side-by-side as competitors, there are plenty of variables that make them unique. Understanding each platform can help you gain the edge as a seller, regardless of which site you choose to list on.

History and Background

Amazon: Founded in 1994 as an online bookstore, Amazon has transformed into a global e-commerce giant offering a vast array of products and services. Known for its customer-centric focus and innovative initiatives like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), it boasts millions of active sellers and loyal customers worldwide.

eBay: Launched in 1995, eBay quickly became a popular online marketplace for auctions and peer-to-peer selling. While still offering auction formats, it now includes fixed-price listings and caters to both individual sellers and larger businesses. Its wide product range and diverse seller base attract a global audience seeking unique and specialized items.

Target Audience and Demographics

Amazon: Amazon’s demographic encompasses a broad spectrum of online shoppers, with a slight skew towards millennials and Gen Z. Its diverse product selection attracts individuals and families seeking convenience, competitive prices, and reliable service. Prime membership further incentivizes frequent purchases and fosters brand loyalty.

eBay: eBay’s audience tends to be more price-conscious and bargain-oriented, often seeking specific items or niche products. Younger generations find its auction format and diverse selection appealing, while older demographics appreciate its accessibility and ease of use. Collectors and enthusiasts of unique items are also drawn to eBay’s marketplace.

Product Categories and Restrictions

Amazon: Amazon offers a vast selection of new and used products across various categories, including electronics, apparel, home goods, groceries, and even digital media. However, it maintains strict quality standards and restricts certain items like hazardous materials, firearms, and counterfeit goods. Sellers must adhere to specific guidelines and product categorization requirements.

eBay: eBay allows a wider range of products compared to Amazon, including used and vintage items, collectibles, and even handcrafted goods. Its auction format appeals to sellers of unique or niche products. However, certain categories like prescription drugs and live animals are prohibited. Specific regulations also apply to items like electronics and collectibles.

Selling Models

Amazon: Primarily employs a fixed-price selling model, with occasional offerings of flash sales and limited-time promotions. Sellers compete based on price, product quality, and brand reputation.

eBay: Offers both fixed-price and auction-based selling models, providing flexibility for sellers. Auctions can maximize potential profits but involve waiting for bids and managing buyer expectations.

Key Takeaway: Understand the Platform

While both platforms offer an avenue to customers, selling on Amazon vs. eBay can involve very different considerations. Are you selling mass-produced products to cost-conscious consumers? Amazon might be your platform. Interested in high-value or vintage reselling to collectors? eBay might be where you strike gold. Consider each platform’s history and background, demographics, restrictions, and selling models before you start listing your wares.

Comparing Key Selling Factors

As an entrepreneur, you know that margins matter and every dollar counts. When it comes time to pick a sales platform, your choice of marketplace needs to afford you the opportunity to turn a profit. Let’s break down the fee structures, fulfillment logistics, and other cost considerations of selling on Amazon vs. eBay.

Listing and Fulfillment

Amazon: Sellers can choose between Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). FBA provides convenience and efficiency, reaching a broader audience, but incurs additional fees. FBM demands more logistical control but may be cheaper for specific products or smaller businesses.

eBay: Sellers handle fulfillment independently (FBM), including packaging, shipping, and returns. Integration with third-party fulfillment services is possible. Enlisting third-party services for fulfillment requires more effort and management but allows greater control over costs and branding.

Consider: Product size, weight, profit margins, and available resources. FBA suits high-volume sellers seeking wider reach and convenience, while FBM may be better for lower-volume, niche products or sellers with existing fulfillment infrastructure.

Fees and Costs

Amazon: Fees vary depending on fulfillment method (FBA or FBM), product category, and individual vs. professional seller plan. Expect referral fees (15% on average), closing fees (for individual sellers), and fulfillment fees (FBA) based on product size and weight. Additional costs include storage fees, advertising fees, and optional listing upgrades.

eBay: Generally, eBay has lower upfront fees compared to Amazon. Insertion fees apply to most listings, with final value fees based on the selling price. Optional listing upgrades incur additional charges. Managed payments add a processing fee. While eBay may seem cheaper initially, FBM factors like efficiency and reach can influence profitability.

Consider: Selling a $20 phone case on Amazon FBA incurs ~$4.50 in referral fees, $0.99 closing fee (individual seller), ~$2.50 FBA fees, and potential storage fees. On eBay, listing fees could be $0.50, final value fee at 10% – $2, and $0.30 processing fee, with shipping costs to consider.

Returns and Customer Service

Amazon: Known for its customer-centric approach with a generous return policy (often 30 days or more), Amazon facilitates returns and handles customer inquiries. This fosters buyer trust but can add costs and complexities.

eBay: Return policies vary by seller, offering more flexibility. Sellers manage returns directly, which can influence customer satisfaction and brand perception. Requires proactive communication and clear return policies to build trust.

Consider: Excellent customer service and a seamless return experience on Amazon can boost sales but requires adherence to strict policies. eBay offers more control over returns but necessitates clear communication and proactive customer service to manage buyer expectations.

Marketing and Promotions

Amazon: This platform offers various marketing tools like sponsored ads, product promotions, and brand stores. Amazon leverages its vast customer base and targeted advertising options to reach specific audiences but requires strategic campaign management and budget allocation.

eBay: eBay provides basic listing enhancements and promotional tools. Sellers can leverage social media and external marketing channels to drive traffic. The platform has tools that encourage cross-promotion and create AI-generated descriptions to attract buyers.

Consider: Amazon’s reach and targeting capabilities are powerful, but competition is high. eBay demands more effort in driving traffic but allows for creative marketing strategies and niche targeting. The best approach often combines both platforms’ tools and marketing efforts.

Key Takeaway: Leverage Selling Tools

Ultimately, both platforms have resources available to help sellers become profitable; however, those tools come at a cost. Taking the time to learn the ins and outs of the platform and the resources available to you (free and paid) can significantly impact your profitability when selling on Amazon vs. eBay. 

The Impact of Amazon Prime

Ignoring the influence of Amazon Prime would be remiss when comparing Amazon vs. eBay as selling platforms. While both giants cater to online shoppers, Prime’s massive subscriber base adds another dimension to consider for sellers. With over 200 million subscribers globally, Prime members enjoy numerous benefits, most notably:

  • Free two-day shipping: This incentivizes frequent purchases on Amazon, making Prime members a highly sought-after customer segment.
  • Exclusive deals and discounts: Prime members have access to flash sales, lightning deals, and other promotions, driving traffic and increasing purchase potential.
  • Streaming services: Prime Video and Music further engage Prime members within the Amazon ecosystem, potentially influencing their shopping behavior.

These buyer benefits add up to major opportunities for sellers. Becoming part of the Amazon Prime ecosystem opens the door to benefits that include:

  • Increased visibility: Prime-eligible products receive a badge and preferential placement in search results, boosting their visibility to a valuable customer segment.
  • Higher conversion rates: The convenience of free two-day shipping and trust associated with Prime membership can encourage purchases, leading to higher conversion rates for Prime-eligible products.
  • Brand loyalty: By fulfilling the promise of speedy delivery and offering exclusive benefits, Prime fosters brand loyalty among members, potentially benefiting sellers who consistently meet Prime standards.

Now, while Prime can be a powerful ally for Amazon sellers, it can be difficult to get buy-in. Here are some of the obstacles sellers need to overcome:

  • Meeting Prime requirements: Fulfilling orders through FBA is often necessary to achieve Prime eligibility, impacting fulfillment costs and logistics.
  • Competitive landscape: Prime attracts numerous sellers, making it crucial to optimize listings, offer competitive prices, and prioritize customer service to stand out.
  • Fees and profitability: Factor in FBA fees and potential discounts offered to Prime members when calculating profit margins.

Ultimately, Amazon Prime has the potential to catapult sellers into a lucrative position; however, it could come at a cost. If you’re trying to get traction for your new product or want to create recurring purchases, Prime is a great jumping off point.

Which Platform is Right for You?

Selling on Amazon vs. eBay comes down to careful consideration of the factors we’ve discussed so far. As you weigh the pros and cons of each platform, stack them up against these key variables:

  • Product type: Consider size, weight, price point, and target audience. FBA might be advantageous for standard, lightweight items on Amazon, while niche or bulky items might fare better on eBay with FBM.
  • Target audience: Amazon attracts a broader audience, but eBay excels at specific niches. Research where your ideal buyers are most likely to shop and list your products where they’re more likely to be seen (and appreciated). 
  • Budget: Analyze fees, marketing costs, and fulfillment expenses for each platform. Consider Amazon’s FBA efficiency versus potential cost savings of FBM on eBay. Calculate your margins using fee information from both platforms. 
  • Business goals: Prioritize wider reach and convenience (Amazon) or flexibility and control (eBay) based on your long-term objectives. Are you building a following of consistent consumers or establishing your reputation among a niche group?
  • Selling on both: Consider leveraging both platforms to maximize reach and cater to different buyer segments. Keep in mind that this requires careful inventory management and marketing strategies.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Evaluate your specific needs and experiment to find the optimal platform (or both) for your success. Follow your successes to find traction on the selling platform that gives you the most runway for success. 

How to Start Selling on Amazon vs. eBay

Excited to launch your e-commerce journey? Regardless of the platform you choose to sell on, both Amazon and eBay offer relatively straightforward processes to get you started. Here’s a quick guide to navigating the initial steps:

Amazon Sellers

  1. Create an Amazon Seller Central account: Visit and click “Create a new Amazon Seller Central account.” Choose an individual or professional selling plan based on your expected sales volume. Provide your business information and complete the verification process.
  2. List your products: Once your account is active, research and select the appropriate product categories for your offerings. Accurately fill out product details, including high-quality images, descriptions, and competitive pricing. Consider FBA or FBM fulfillment options based on your needs and resources.
  3. Understand fees and policies: Familiarize yourself with Amazon’s seller fees, fulfillment costs, and return policies. Ensure your listings and practices comply with Amazon’s guidelines to avoid issues.

eBay Sellers

  1. Register as an eBay seller: Go to and choose between individual or store subscriptions based on your anticipated sales volume. Fill out the registration form and complete the verification process.
  2. Create listings: Select the appropriate category for your product and use clear titles, detailed descriptions, and high-quality pictures to attract buyers. Decide on fixed-price or auction format, set pricing competitively, and factor in shipping costs.
  3. Learn the rules and fees: Review eBay’s seller policies, fees, and payment processing terms. Understand return policies and communication protocol to maintain a good seller reputation.

Make the Most of Selling on Amazon vs. eBay With NorthOne

Navigating the e-commerce landscape can be challenging, but understanding the unique advantages and limitations of Amazon and eBay empowers informed decisions. Consider the factors outlined above to chart your selling journey.

Remember, success starts with high-quality products, competitive pricing, excellent customer service, and effective marketing. Research thoroughly, adapt your approach to each platform, and embrace the opportunities both Amazon and eBay offer. By leveraging their strengths and aligning your strategy with your business goals, you can unlock your full potential and thrive in the dynamic world of online selling.

And, whether you sell on Amazon or eBay, you can count on NorthOne to help you manage your cash flows effectively. Apply for an account, connect your business, and check out analytics on your Revenue Dashboard to watch your e-commerce sales grow in real-time!