If you're thinking about selling online and don't know where to start, we can help: our eBay vs Etsy comparison will help you figure out which (if either!) platform suits your business.
Etsy is a lot smaller, at 45.7 million active buyers (according to Statista's Etsy report). However, while the number seems a lot smaller, it's a more focused niche, and you may face less competition from other sellers.
The bottom line is this: it depends on what your business is selling, but eBay is generally a safer bet for most niches.
We'll go into each one in much more depth, so keep reading to find out more.
Main Differences Between eBay and Etsy
Let's cut straight to the main differences:
- eBay suits a wide range of niches, whereas Etsy is more suited to smaller businesses, usually offering handmade or vintage items.
- eBay's fees can be more challenging to estimate, whereas Etsy's fees are pretty straightforward.
- eBay's platform can be harder to navigate, whereas Etsy's platform is very user-friendly.
- eBay's ad costs are more explicit upfront, whereas Etsy's ads can be a bit of a gamble.
The main thing to focus on here is the target audience: your niche and who you hope to sell to? eBay suits a wide range of niches, with technology and clothing performing exceptionally well, while Etsy suits smaller businesses selling unique, bespoke, or vintage items.
Let's now take a look at them both in more detail.
What is eBay?
I'm sure you're familiar with eBay at this point, but if you wanted a little background info: eBay was first launched in 1995 in San Jose, California. It's a hugely successful platform. According to eBay's Macro Trends page, it has a current net worth of $40.4 billion at the time of writing.
eBay gained popularity because it allows users to sell items as you would in an auction, which means buyers can try to outbid each other. You can also sell items using a set price.
What is Etsy?
Launched in 2005 in Brooklyn, New York, Etsy is an online selling platform known for focusing on handmade or vintage items. An ideal selling place for crafts, Etsy is a popular platform - at the time of writing, Etsy is worth $26.37 billion.
Etsy is more of a niche platform but can work well for some sellers.
eBay - Main Features and UX
Let's take a look at the main features of eBay!
Ease of Use
How easy is eBay to use for sellers?
First of all, it's easy to sign up for eBay as a seller. They have a Seller Hub, which is helpful. It gives you a walkthrough of how to get started, with some tips for sellers and some promotions that may be helpful (like free listings).
Once you're in, you'll be able to see an overview of your selling page, which will show you all the products you are currently selling:
What's great about eBay is that you can search for similar items and use those as a jumping-off point for your listing, which can save a lot of time entering details like size, color, etc.
You can also create your own listing templates. This will help save time if you have a lot of listings to get through.
The downside is that eBay isn't the most exciting platform to look at. Navigating it can be a little bit tricky, and it's not entirely clear where certain things (like the ability to create templates) are.
It can also be challenging to stand out on eBay. The best thing you can do is to focus all your efforts on customer experience.
As the better your ratings, Seller performance is crucial the quicker you will move up through seller ratings. Above Standard is a good level to reach, but you could hit Top Rated if you do well. You do have to jump through a lot of hoops to reach Top Rated (having an active eBay account for more than 90 days, have 100 transactions and $1,000 in sales over the past 12 months, and more).
This is worth doing because one of the benefits is increased visibility in searches. With such a massive volume of items for sale on eBay, this should help you stand out from the crowd.
What kind of people shop on eBay?
A quicker answer is this: everyone.
So many people use eBay - in 2018, it was the second-largest market in the United States, with electronics and accessories being the top-selling category. You can also find a lot of customers looking for clothes.
Having such a huge potential base of customers is both a blessing and a curse. While it means you have a wider pool of people who could potentially buy your products, you will also face a lot of competition from other sellers.
How about shipping?
eBay makes it as simple as possible for you when it comes to shipping. If you choose USPS, you can easily calculate shipping costs and print labels ready to go. There are other options, too, including FedEx and UPS.
The downside is that so many sellers offer free shipping, you may feel the pressure to compete. Free shipping is, of course, not free to you. So you'll have to factor that into your plans.
If you need to reduce your costs, you can read our guide on 6 Ways to Reduce Shipping Costs for some ideas.
There are some more features too, including:
- Mobile app - the app is available for Android and iOS and allows you to buy and sell products. You can create listings on the go using your phone, and it's simple to use
- Advertising - you can choose to advertise your eBay products. These ads have a fixed price so that you won't have any surprise fees at any point
- File Exchange - this allows sellers to list items using an Excel spreadsheet or other inventory software
eBay offers sales reports for sellers so that you can gain data on a few key areas, including:
- Recently ended listings
- Successful listings
- Average sales price
- eBay and PayPal fees
Etsy - Main Features and UX
Now, let's see how Etsy compares.
Ease of Use
It's pretty simple to sign up for an Etsy seller's account. You have to input your store name and upload some products to start with - they suggest 10 as a good number, but you can just start with a couple.
Creating a new listing is very simple to do but detailed. Etsy walks you through everything you should include in your listing:
You can then set up billing and payment options for your customers.
Etsy sellers are part of a supportive community, and it feels a bit more relaxed and casual than eBay. You can join the forums, which will help you to connect with other users. You can access their Seller Handbook, which is a hugely helpful and detailed guide for beginners.
Generally, Etsy feels a bit easier to navigate than eBay, a little nicer to look at, and a bit more user-friendly.
Like eBay, there are ways you can 'level up' to attract more customers. Etsy Plus allows sellers with an excellent reputation to gain extra benefits, like free listing credits, Etsy Ad credits, custom web address discounts, and more advanced shop customization. This costs $10 per month and is automatically deducted from your seller's balance.
What kind of people shop on Etsy?
While it has grown over the years, it still has a smaller customer base than eBay. They attracted 45.7 million customers in 2019, which is a good number. If you're targeting a specific niche, you may have better luck standing out on Etsy than you would on eBay.
Customers on Etsy tend to be looking for handmade goods or goods from small businesses - something unique that they won't get anywhere else. If that's what you're offering, Etsy could suit you.
How does Etsy's shipping work?
Like eBay, they try to make it as easy as possible. You can ship orders using USPS, FedEx, or Canada Post, using the Etsy platform. You can then print labels, attach them to your package, and you're ready for posting. It's easy to do. You will face less pressure to offer free shipping than you would with eBay because many successful sellers don't provide free shipping to their customers and still make a lot of sales.
There are some extra features to talk about, too:
- Mobile app - like eBay, Etsy has a mobile app that is ideal for buying and selling on the go. It is available on Android and iOS.
- Ads - you can also run ads on Etsy. These are a little riskier than eBay's ads, and they work a lot like Facebook ads. You can set a daily budget (starting at $1.00) with sellers charged for ads clicked. This means you'll be paying without any guarantee of success. You can also use Offsite Ads, which have fees of 12% of sales resulting from ad click-throughs. You can use these ads to promote your store on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing.
Etsy offers Etsy Shop Stats, which allows you to track how well your store is performing and where the traffic to your store is coming from. You can view:
- Conversion rate
You can also link up to Google Analytics if you want more in-depth reporting.
OUR VERDICT- Main Features and UX: eBay
eBay vs Etsy - Fees
The allure of selling on eBay is for new sellers is the fact that they offer 50 free listings per month. This makes it an attractive option for smaller businesses selling a few products at a time.
However, there are fees involved - monthly and annual fees, depending on how much you have sold. These can vary, so it's difficult to pin down the exact amount that the fees will cost you. You may need to make a few sales before you can start to estimate how much future fees will be. The difference between fees for casual/occasional sellers and full-time sellers is pretty significant because the latter will require you to have an eBay store.
An eBay store comes with the following costs:
Basic - 250 free auction listings, 250 free fixed-price listings
- $19.95 (if paid monthly)
- $24.95 (if paid annually)
Premium - 500 free auction listings, 500 free fixed-price listings
- $59.95 (if paid monthly)
- $74.95 (if paid annually)
Anchor - 1,000 free auction listings, 1,000 free fixed-price listings
- $299.95 (if paid monthly)
- $349.95 (if paid annually)
As you can see, you can make some pretty big savings if you decide to pay annually as opposed to monthly. Each plan will give you access to a certain amount of free listings.
You will also have to pay a listing cost if you go over the number of free listings offered by your plan (known as Insertion Fees), and a Final Value Fee (which is the percentage of your final sale).
Fees can mount up quickly, and it can be tough to keep on top of everything - you can use our eCommerce Business Plan to help keep track of these details. You can also use our guide on Dropshipping Startup Costs (this is helpful if you're a drop shipper but also has helpful information for all eCommerce business owners).
How does it compare to eBay in terms of fees?
The benefit of using Etsy is that the fees are pretty consistent and easier to figure out. Listing (and renewals of listings) always cost $0.20 per item, with listings expiring after four months. There are also transaction fees deducted from the seller's balance, at 5% per sale plus delivery and gift-wrapping).
There are payment processing fees if you choose to use Etsy Payments (this is Etsy's payment system, which allows you to offer multiple payments to customers).
OUR VERDICT- Fees: Etsy
eBay vs Etsy - Customer Support
Let's take a quick look at the support offered by eBay and Etsy. If something goes wrong, you'll want to fix it as soon as possible, which relies on the platform itself having good customer service.
eBay has a mixed reputation when it comes to customer service for sellers. On the plus side, there are multiple ways of contacting them, but you may have to answer many questions on their website to get to the point where you can speak to someone. The downside is that it can be confusing, and it may take a long time to resolve a dispute with a customer.
Etsy also has mixed reviews when it comes to customer support. You have to use a ticketing system to request help, and sometimes it can take days to respond to your ticket. This can cause a real problem if you need urgent help. On the plus side, the customer service team is friendly and helpful to talk to.
OUR VERDICT- Customer Support: Etsy
eBay vs Etsy - Pros and Cons
Let's sum up the best and worst bits of both:
eBay vs Etsy - Alternatives to Try
If you don't want to go with eBay or Etsy, there are some alternatives out there to try instead:
- Amazon Seller - Amazon is the most well-known of all the platforms on this list, with over 2.5 million active sellers. You'll face a lot of competition, but you'll also have a huge number of potential customers, and they can take advantage of the numerous benefits Amazon has to offer for its' customers, including next-day delivery on Prime.
- Bonanza - Bonanza was launched in 2008. While not as popular as eBay or Amazon, it still has over 50,000 merchants. It has fairly low listing fees, which is a great focus. Unusual or quirky items sell really well here.
- Newegg - Newegg is a selling platform focused on tech products. So if you're within this niche, you'll gain access to a customer base looking specifically for the products you're selling. It's not as well-known as Amazon or eBay, so you won't have such a huge range of potential customers, but it's worth looking into if technology is your chosen niche.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we answer the ultimate question of which platform is better, let's look at some of the most commonly asked questions about both.
Will I get scammed using eBay or Etsy?
This is a really tough question to answer. Unfortunately, scammers can target anyone at any time, and despite security measures, it's difficult for large platforms to be able to prevent this completely.
You may occasionally encounter a seller who tries to get a refund dishonestly, which is a real shame. There is always the risk that the platform itself will favor the buyer over the seller in these sorts of disputes. That can't be prevented completely, but hopefully, it will be a rare occurrence for you!
Which niches do well on eBay and Etsy?
Some popular categories on eBay include:
- Cell phone accessories
- Auto parts
- Household goods
- Video Games
- Toys and Games
That's a pretty varied list, which means you can probably find a niche that suits you!
On Etsy, popular items include:
- Home Decor
Etsy leans more towards individual, handmade, crafty kind of products, so if that's your niche, you could do well on Etsy.
Can I do dropshipping on eBay or Etsy?
Yes, you can go for Etsy or eBay if you're a drop shipper! If you're new to dropshipping, you might find our guide to finding Dropshipping Suppliers helpful, as well as our guide on the 10 Best (and Worst) Countries to Dropship To useful.
To Sum Up … Which Platform is Better for Selling?
So here's our final verdict:
Etsy is a great platform for smaller businesses. If you offer bespoke, handmade items, it's a no-brainer: Etsy is designed to work well for you, and you will enjoy tons of benefits from selling there, including access to their supportive community of users.
You can also enjoy clear, upfront fees, an attractive, user-friendly platform, and less competition, given the smaller number of sellers. All of which are bonuses.
However, we think that most niches will be more suited to eBay. Yes, the platform can be a bit difficult to navigate depending on what you're looking for, and frankly, both the customer support teams for Etsy and eBay can be a little hit-and-miss. But there is so much support and information out there for eBay sellers, and with such a huge base of active customers, you can reach a lot of people if you play your cards right.
Hopefully, this has helped you on your journey in eCommerce.
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