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eBay or Amazon Review: The Best Place to Sell Your Unwanted items

By David Bakke

In this day and age of trying to deal with the recent economic downturn, more and more people are looking to sell unwanted or unused items that they have in their homes. People that have never before even thought of selling these items on the internet are now exploring the possibility.

There are many options out there, but the two biggest players in the game are eBay and Amazon. For both places, you basically list the item at the price you want to sell it for, and then wait for someone to decide that they want to buy it at your price. However, both sites have their advantages and disadvantages and I want to go over the highlights of each.

Amazon

With Amazon, you basically just type in the model number of whatever you’re trying to sell (or the ISBN number if it’s a book), include a description, set the price you want to sell it for, and wait. Unlike eBay, there is not an auction-style option with Amazon. Also, you don’t have to take a picture of the item, and you don’t need much in the way of internet skills either. Just accurately describe your item, name your price, and watch and wait.

Cost

A basic membership is free, an upgrade costs $40 monthly. The upgrade will allow you to sell an item that isn’t already listed on the site. In most cases, this feature is irrelevant, as Amazon has just about everything for sale. But if you do have a rare item to sell, you may need to look into the upgrade option. One nice feature is that you only pay a listing fee when your item sells. If it doesn’t sell, you pay nothing. Amazon does take their cut as well; they have percentages set up depending on what category your item falls into.

Getting Paid

When an item does sell, you are alerted by email that it is time to ship it to your customer. You have to wait a little longer for your money than you do on eBay. Amazon usually institutes at least a two week hold for your money, so if you need the money fast, Amazon may not be the way to go.

Pricing

With Amazon, you can see what all other sellers have priced their items at, but you can’t see how many or how quickly their items selling. Even without these latter features, this can be extremely useful when deciding how much to price your item for.

Item Condition

Regarding the condition of your item, it seems to me that Amazon is better suited for items that are closer to “brand new” condition than eBay. I think the buying clientele is more prone to buy brand new or “like new” items there, rather than poring through multiple listings and willing to pay for “used” items.

eBay

Admittedly, my experience selling on eBay is not as vast as my experience with Amazon. However, before I made the decision which way to go, I did do a good bit of research. Here are some of the more important points that I think may be helpful to you:

The Process

With eBay, you pretty much need to take a picture of each item that you sell, upload it to the computer, and provide a brief narrative. For example, “Up for bidding today we have a 1997 Mark McGwire rookie card. It has…” And so on. You set your own pricing; you set your own shipping costs. You can even offer to ship the item for free. You also need to set up an account on PayPal in order to sell there. It is the preferred method of payment for eBay, so you’ll need that account to get your money from your buyers.

Cost

Unlike Amazon, there is a fee for listing each item on eBay, whether it sells or not. There is also the commission that eBay takes from each sale, which is based on the cost of the item. Finally, there is the percentage that PayPal takes as well. However, I will state this in no uncertain terms. After you add everything up, it basically costs the same selling on eBay as it does selling on Amazon. There may be a few differences or fluctuations here and there, but all in all, it is about the same.

Pricing

eBay offers the advantage of being able to tell how well a particular item is selling for, has been selling for, and at what price. Just type in a particular item, click on “completed listings,” and you’ll see a recent selling history. You do not have this capability with Amazon.

Listing

The tracking process is a little more involved with eBay than with Amazon. You have to log into your account to see what has sold and when. Of course, I am speaking from the perspective of an individual seller, not as a huge company selling there. I am sure that for them there is a more streamlined process.

My Choice

My personal choice is Amazon, although I think either is worth looking into. I think Amazon is easier to maintain and to keep track of, although you do have more information available through eBay as far as how well a particular item is selling. The cost of each site seems to be a wash to me. The safety of getting your money seems to be the same as well. With that said, I’ve generally had better payment experiences with Amazon (as a buyer and seller) in the past.

Have you had any experience selling on Amazon or eBay? I would love to hear your feedback.

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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Comments

  • http://thecollegeinvestor.com Robert

    Amazon is definitely the way to go if you have books, CDs, movies, common electronic and household items, and other commodities. Amazon also has a very easy to use setup for quick listings.

    eBay definitely has an edge for collectibles though. If you have something that is rare or unique, eBay has a much bigger audience that could be looking for these items. Also, it lets you include as many pictures as you want (for a fee, of course), but that could enhance you ability to sell.

    • David

      Robert

      You are right on point. Amazon is much better for buying or selling books, CDs, etc.

      The collectibles do have to go to Ebay however, as you can pretty much list anything you want to there.

      Thanks for weighing in!

      • Dien3

        SO MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING OVER TO BONANZA BECAUSE IT’S A CHEAPER FRIENDLY SITE WITH NO TIME LIMIT.

      • David F.

        How would I determine how an item is selling well as opposed not on ebay?

  • Don Juan

    Yeah, but with Amazon, if your iten hasn’t already been listed by someone else, you pay the $40 fee for the pro upgrade and it rebills monthly. It’s not a one time fee. Do your homework.

    • Pitts

      This is right from David’s article:
      “A basic membership is free, an upgrade costs $40 monthly.”

      Maybe you should try to read an article before you act like a jerk ion the comments section.

  • David

    Don Juan

    I beleive I mention in my article that the $40 is a monthly fee. If that point wasn’t clear, then I certainly apologize.

    And I do appreciate you joioning the conversation

    Its a great point about things already being listed there, which is why I would suggest utlizing both sites depending on what you have to sell.

  • http://cheapscholar.org Doug @ CheapScholar.org

    Over the years I have experienced both Amazon and eBay as a seller. I gravitate toward Amazon because of the simplicity and it seems like the buyers are a little more experienced in the way of online purchasing. the only downside to Amazon is the commission structure that they have in place. If you are selling something that is flagged in a higher commission bracket you could be giving up far more fees than you ever would with eBay.

    That being said – I prefer higher fees and less hassle (Amazon) to lower fees and more steps involved and hassle (eBay).

    • David Bakke

      Doug

      Great commentary!

      I am with you on the simplicity thing–its why I have sided mroe with Amazon.

      And actually, in some instances, I have found the fees to even be a little less on Amazon depending on what category you’re in.

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • Calicovalleymusicfarm

      I am finally listing some of my items on Amazon, after years of eBaying. My first Amazon sale, I was charged a little over $2 in fees for selling a CD that cost my customer a little over $2, plus $2.98 shipping. They gave me the $2.98 shipping charge, which was about $2 more than eBay/Paypal would’ve taken. I lost money on that first Amazon sale, in the end, and realized that I could not sell common CDs on Amazon for profit, as I have done on eBay for years.

      Now, the only things I’ll list on Amazon are multiple-quanitity listings, as well as the most expensive CDs in my store. Right now, I’ve got about 125 Amazon listings, nearly all of them being rare CDs in Excellent condition, priced at $40 or more. Those CDs are the bread-and-butter of my eBay inventory, and I take at least 5 painstakingly up-close photos of them for my eBay customers. On Amazon, where no photos are available, nobody has yet to pay me $40 for a used CD. They probably figure it’s junk, like most of the other used CDs available on the internet, and there’s little I can do to dissuade them of that.

      In February 2013, eBay will be requiring REAL PHOTOGRAPHS of all Used items, doing away with the stock photographs for all but New items, which will make my job a bit more time-consuming that I care to admit. I will continue my trend towards more expensive items, and brace myself to take photographs of every stinking item I sell.

  • Greg

    thinking about selling sports cards on amazon….have sold on Ebay for about 12 years now…..just getting tired of the fees and their unfriendly seller policies. Does anyone have any feedback about selling cards on Amazon? Thanks?

    • David Bakke

      Greg

      In my opinion, I don’t know that Amazon is very conducive for collectibles. You’d probably have to list all your own stuff, which would require the $40 upgrade.

      I’d venture to say that you would get more for your collectibles on Ebay, as I think it has the reputation for the place to go for collectibles.

      I know the fees and whatnot on Ebay are a pain, but keep in mind that Amazon is kind of “quirky” with some of their policies as well.

      Thanks for joining in the conversation!

  • http://www.simplelifecorp.com Patti

    One other possibility to look at would be eBay’s half.com for selling books, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. It is as easy to list an item as Amazon – you simply key in the ISBN number and the image and description comes up. You can add a few lines of your own description.

    There is no fee to list with half.com, but there is a transaction fee if your item sells. I don’t know how this compares to Amazon’s fees, but I’m going to check now. We sell books now and then on half.com (and also on eBay) and my experience is that they sell faster and easier with half.com. The catch, in my opinion, is that the competition is pretty fierce on half.com and many items sell for ridiculously low prices. Nice for the buyers – I buy many of my books this way – but not so nice for the seller.

    I appreciate the info on Amazon and will be checking it out. I had previously been turned off by the monthly fee and did not realize there was a “free to list” option.

    • David Bakke

      Patti

      I’ve heard some about Half, but don’t know too much about it.

      Are there a lot of sellers there doing the “penny for a book” thing like you find on Amazon?

      I’d be interested to know.

      Thanks for commenting

      • http://www.simplelifecorp.com Patti

        David

        Half.com has set a minimum listing price of $.75 per item. It’s discouraging to have a like-new-condition book to sell, only to find that many other sellers are listing the book for less than a dollar. I personally don’t find it worth it to sell a book for much less than $5.00, given the fact that I carefully inspect the book, make sure the listing is accurate, and then carefully package and ship the book once it sells, all which take time. I instead donate the low dollar books to our local library or Goodwill store.

        That said, I often find a text book or a more-or-less rare book at a garage sale that I am able to list for $25.00 or more and it’s a thrill to not only to sell the book, but also to know that one more book has been saved from the landfill and is being shipped to someone who wants exactly that book. I consider that a win-win situation.

        • David Bakke

          Patti

          Thanks so much for the follow up!

          I actually checked out the site and signed up to sell there…

          The process takes a little getting used to, and I don’t even know that I have many books beyond the “run of the mill” ones, but at least now I have another resource.

          Thanks again!

  • kc

    I’m considering selling a few of my items, like car lights, clothes, memory etc, but cant choose which seller to go for. My mate says that ebay is better, just want it simple, dont want to pay high comission when an item is sold as i have been told that amazon has, and that ebay takes very low comission.
    Hope someone can advise. Thanks.

    • http://www.moneycrashers.com David/moneycrashers

      KC

      Experience has shown me that although they are calculated in different terms, the fees regarding Amazon and Ebay are pretty much the same. For the items you are speaking of, I would suggest Ebay, as there is more freedom there as to what you can list.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for commenting

  • William

    I have sold on both amazon and ebay and despite everything everyone has said, i think
    ebay is better than amazon. the reason for this is that i use paypal for everything and i don’t like using bank accounts, credit cards ect… ebay is very easy to use with paypal both paying and getting paid. but with amazon it is only possible to pay with paypal on amazon and thats only because you can use your paypal debit card. Also the most frustrating thing is not getting paid instantly, i need money to help cover the stuff i ship, and a week or whatever is not soon enough. when i sell on ebay i can use that money whenever and however i want. and amazon dos not even give you an option to get paid online at all! so i can deal with a little more hassle to get the money when and how i want it.

    • http://www.moneycrashers.com David/moneycrashers

      William

      Its always great to hear both sides of the equation…

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Theresa

      I’ve had paypal limit my account so I stopped using ebay because of one transaction I made on paypal. Now they won’t answer any of my emails or phone calls.

  • Diane

    I tried to sell one item on Ebay, but the seller wanted to know the shipping cost and I didn’t sign up for all the fancy bells and whistles like punching in a zip code to figure shipping, etc. So I never did sell anything on Ebay, even though I have bought many items there. Also, I thought the sign up process was somewhat confusing and involved.
    So I signed up an item with Amazon and it was so easy and seamless from listing to mailing to getting paid. Amazon walked me through the whole thing and kept me informed with emails every step of the way. Two things I really like about Amazon are that you don’t have to pay a seller’s fee if the item doesn’t sell, and Amazon sets the shipping price for the buyer so I don’t have to calculate it. I definitely will continue listing with Amazon.

  • http://www.moneycrashers.com David/moneycrashers

    Diane

    The reasons you outlined are basically exactly why I favor Amazon over Ebay.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Cherie

    I’ve sold plenty of books on eBay, Amazon, and Half.com. For used books I prefer Half.com. The fees are much lower. For the higher end new books I used Amazon. For collectibles I tend to check each site to compare how that particular book is listed & for how much. Used clothing I use eBay, no contest!

  • Adeleceleste

    I am new to online selling and I had been thinking that e-bay was the way to go until I tried to list an item the other day. First there was the picture, then your gallery fee, then the description, then do you want to donate part of your money to charity( If your item does not sell you still have to pay at least a dollar to the charity). Then I had to wade through a site to see if the little stuffed animal I was trying to list had been recalled. All that had taken about two hours and then they said oh we have to have an automated machine call you and give you a pin number that you will have to type in before we can list the item. At that point I thought “this is an INSANE amount of trouble to go to for a single listing so forget it!” Also by the time you pay all the fees you will be losing money!

    I started looking into Amazon and it looks MUCH SIMPLER so I will probably try that next. If I try to sell on e-bay again it will be through a dropshipper. Maybe it will be easier to list things that way, at least I hope so.

    Best of luck to all of you in your sales endeavors! :-)

    • Davidbakke

      Adele

      You are correct on all points. Just remember though, that in order to list an item on Amazon that is not currently for sale there, that you’ll have to upgrade your account, which comes with a monthly fee. Thanks for commenting

  • Mmaraj40

    In order to get your items sold on ebay it has to be really, really cheap making your profit margins really really small. In Amazon you generally can sell your items for a little more.

    • Davidbakke

      I agree with you 100%! Thanks for commenting…

  • Info

    Amazon holds a lot of money, and trickles the payments in. I have heard a lot of horror stories in regards to Amazon, and hope I don’t experience the same problems I have heard. I just don’t like the amount of money they hold. Easy yes, but discomforting.

    • Davidbakke

      It’s been my experience that after you’re up and running and have steady sales that deposits are made regularly every two weeks.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Dien3

    I just started selling books on amazon and am wondering about printing my own shipping labels. It seems that doing it through paypal is cheaper, but does amazon allow this? I know they promote their own method. I’m old and need help. lol NOT!

    • Davidbakke

      Yes you can. Just click on the Buy Postage button on your Orders page. However, it costs seven additional cents for each label. I print my labels from the USPS website, where they’re free. Hope that helps…

  • Dien3

    THANKS DAVID FOR THE INFO., BUT I DIDN’T SEE OTHER OPTIONS ON THE AMAZON SHIPPING PAGE. SHOULD I GO DIRECTLY TO USPS SITE AND TYPE IN BUYERS INFO? CAN I PRINT ON PLAIN PC PAPER?

    • Davidbakke

      Yes you can. Just click on the Buy Postage button on your Orders page. However, it costs seven additional cents for each label. I print my labels from the USPS website, where they’re free. Hope that helps…

  • Dan

    Amazon is horrible to sell on.. The day before they were supposed to send me $800, after 22/22 perfect orders, they decided to conduct a review of my account and keep my money in reserve, which they tell me could take 30+ days.. I filed appeals online, no response. I asked for an update, they said they can’t give me one. Of course, the department which handles reviews cannot be contacted by phone, only e-mail. I decided to do some research, some people are saying Amazon actually stole their money, which I’m starting to believe. If you don’t believe me, Google it.

    • David Bakke

      Dan

      I’m in the midst of one of their “reviews” as well–we’ll see how it turns out. Thanks for commenting!

  • Jwake1967

    Been hearing a lot about Amazon being the place to sell. Well, after 7 years of selling on ebay, I’ve dived in. I’ve listed 20 or so items in the last two weeks. So much easier to list. 2 minutes compared to 12. But only one sale. Doesn’t seem like as much traffic. Yes, it is nice to be the low price leader at a pretty good price (which I am on most of my items) but if it doesn’t sell, I don’t make any money. I’ll keep trying but ebay seems to be the best place for traffic.

  • Roco

    Dave, thanks for the article. One thing you didn’t mention about ebay is the seller feedback and the fact that right now only buyers can leave negative feedback. I’ve had experiences where an item was shipped new and a buyer changed their mind and through the dispute process they were able to exort me, change their mind, threaten to leave negative feedback and almost end my business. Ebay doesn’t like disputes and when they mount they’ve admittedly sided with buyers because ebay is a “community program.” There are times when I’ve had items returned that were sent in mint, new condition. But some buyers have what they call buyer’s remorse or claim that they didn’t actually bid on the item but their child did. The dispute resolution aspect is what’s killing ebay.

    Also, I’ve learned that over time when you are doing extremely well with selling something ebay will often ask you where did you get the item. If you are unable to provide sufficient documentation they will remove you from selling. Does anyone actually have receipts for every sneaker and video game that they sell? Not really, and that’s most likely where your days as a seller will end. I will look into amazon on this but ebay’s rules no longer make things great for a seller. As a buyer you are totally in control. A negative feedback for a seller can effect their seller dashboard rating and ruin their business even if it’s 3 buyers out of 50. That’s enough to end your selling career on ebay.

    • David Bakke

      Roco

      Thanks for your insightful comments. Just to let you know, Amazon typically will side with the buyer as well, so you really have to tread lightly.

    • Constance Victoria Lane

      Yep there are predators out there. I had a guy do that to me on a pair of jeans. He told eBay that “They just don’t fit right” and left a negative for me, kept the jeans and got his money back.

  • Shahid Ahmed

    From my experience if you want your money straight away use ebay, you’ll receive the money as soon as the buyer pays which goes directly to your paypal account. Wheras Amazon holds onto your money for 2/3 weeks before the money goes into your bank account. I sold a handheld console last week through Amazon, the buyer has even received it but i’ll be getting my money in 3 weeks according to Amazon rules. This week i sold a computer ram for £19 on Amazon and again i’ll be getting this money in 3 weeks, which sucks. I wished i had just sold it on ebay. The only advantage of using Amazon is that it is quick to list your item where the listings are already made and you simply just add on yours onto the listing, compared to ebay where you have to describe your item from scratch.

  • DaltonOriginal

    After many years using Ebay.. I agree the rules are changing. Buyers should be mandated to leave feedback someway. Perhaps prohibit the ability to make another purchase until they do leave feedback for the last item. A seller can never “establish” a history without feedback. After all these years still dealing with a monthly “limit” because 50% of my items sold are missing feedback! It has become much less attractive to me and I am now looking into Amazon.

    • Constance Victoria Lane

      No feedback beats negative on eBay……………….

  • buick322

    Amazon and Ebay are both quite similar as well as very different. I use both and have faired pretty darn well. Amazon is easily more user friendly, especially as far as managing your account goes. I only had to change my Visa card’s expiration date. It took 4 clicks and about 30 seconds on Amazon. BUT on Ebay, let the nightmare begin! Click on “open and edit credit card information” and in one minute they had made my primary become my secondary and my backup had totally disappeared. After an hour of trying to fix this, I decided to totally close my sellers account. And I have never re-opened it. I’m a 98% buyer and 2% seller anyway. So, Ebay needs to do some extreme streamlining of their account handling procedures.
    T’care,
    M

  • Mr Emporium

    I have tried both sites you mention and find e-bay the best of the two. But I have also been working over at egate market if you have not tried them you should. I am sure you will like what they offer.

  • Constance Victoria Lane

    I sold on both for years, they are pretty much fruitless now-a-days. Ebay practically forces you to ship for free and you don’t get enough out of the items to make it worth your while. Amazon is flooded and you items are hard to sell as their is someone always undercutting you.

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