At first glance, comparing eBay vs Etsy seems like a comparison between apples and oranges; one has a firmly-established reputation as the internet's yard sale, while the other is associated with custom handmade pieces. Unfortunately, these preconceived notions about eBay and Etsy oftentimes lead to sellers automatically discounting one in favor of the other without giving it much thought, which could lead them to make the wrong choice for their ecommerce business. Both eBay and Etsy are wonderful platforms for online sellers, but the choice to list on one over the other depends on a variety of factors: what you're selling, what kind of selling experience you're looking for, and what kind of buyers are you looking to attract, among others. In this guide, we'll go over the differences between eBay and Etsy, discuss the factors you should consider when deciding on a platform, and compare Etsy and eBay point-by-point to make it easier for you to choose the one that best fits your selling needs.
Understanding the Differences Between eBay & Etsy
While the practical differences between eBay and Etsy seem relatively minor at first glance, they can have a significant impact on your day-to-day business management and on the success of your online business as a whole. Aside from the technical differences that affect what and how you sell on each marketplace, some things simply sell better when listed on Etsy vs eBay, and vice versa. This is because each platform has cemented its reputation with buyers, and established itself in different niches. Many buyers will go to eBay to look for vintage décor, but overlook Etsy, or log onto Etsy to find a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry without giving eBay any consideration. Here, we'll take a look at what sells best on eBay vs what sells best on Etsy, and analyze the key differences between eBay and Etsy that are behind these discrepancies.
What Sells Best on eBay?
Looking at general trends on eBay in the past few years, one thing becomes clear: a large portion of the best-selling items on eBay are items that have a high turnover rate, like self-care products, vitamins, socks, and printer ink, for example. Some other items that sell well on eBay include clothing and accessories, jewelry and watches, cables for electronics, automotive parts and accessories, craft supplies, collectibles, pet supplies, and small kitchen appliances, among others.
What Sells Best on Etsy?
As a more niche-oriented platform, Etsy's best-selling items are more in the realm of craft supplies and handmade pieces, with some non-handmade and non-craft-related vintage items scattered in between. In fact, the top five best-sellers on the platform are beads, pendants, pins, and stickers, with books coming in at number five. Some other top selling items include paintings and prints, earrings, wall décor, t-shirts, charms, and gifts.
Key Differences Between eBay & Etsy
While there is no shortage of technical differences in selling on eBay vs Etsy, the key differences lie in the way that each platform is perceived by buyers. Buyers often come to eBay to search for good deals on anything from fashion to electronics to car parts, often without expectations of finding brand new items in their original packaging. Put simply, eBay is where buyers go to hunt for deals.
Etsy, on the other hand, only allows for the sale of handmade goods, craft supplies, and vintage items, making it a far more niche-oriented marketplace. As such, it attracts an entirely different type of buyer; Etsy shoppers are on the hunt for a unique, one-of-a-kind piece, whether it be home décor or a rare piece of vintage jewelry. This also means that shoppers on the platform will have different expectations of their buying experience – they'll want their items to be unique, new, and attractively packaged, with an emphasis on aesthetics and customer experience.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Platform
Now that you have a basic understanding of eBay and Etsy, we'll assess the various factors that may affect your selling experience and success on each platform. We'll compare eBay and Etsy on fees, shipping and returns, available seller tools, payment processing, promotional tools, and general seller experience, so you can get a sense of what listing and selling on each platform could look like for you.
1. Fees & Charges
By far the most important factor to consider when selling on any platform is its fee structure. This helps you understand how much it will actually cost you to sell on a given platform, and have an effect on anything from your pricing strategy to your shipping methods. Here, we'll take a look at the fees and charges you can expect as an eBay seller, as well as the fees and charges you can expect as an Etsy seller. Remember that this is not an exhaustive list of all the fees you may be charged on each platform, but rather a general overview of the common selling fees charged by each respective marketplace.
eBay Fees & Charges
In general, eBay charges its sellers two types of fees: a fee to list items, known as an insertion fee, and a percentage of the profit when the item sells, known as a final value fee.
The insertion fee is a flat rate based on which category (and how many categories) you list your item in, and will depend on how many listings you've created and whether or not you have an eBay Store subscription. If you list less than 250 items a month and have no eBay Store subscription, you won't pay any insertion fees to list on eBay; this is known as zero insertion fee listings. If you go over that limit, you'll pay an insertion fee of $0.35 per listing per category. You can get more zero insertion fee listings (among many other perks) by purchasing an eBay Store subscription.
Final value fees are charged for all sold items on eBay, and for most categories, are calculated as 13.25% of the item's sale price plus $0.30. Find the final value fees for each product category on eBay to see how much you can expect to pay for the items you sell.
Etsy Fees & Charges
Etsy's fee breakdown is slightly different to eBay's, and consists of listing fees, transaction fees, and payment processing fees.
Listing fees are a flat fee charged by Etsy to list an item on the platform. Listing fees are consistent across all product categories, and amount to $2.00 per listing. For listings with a quantity over 1 and for automatically renewing listings, you'll pay a $0.20 fee every time a buyer places an order or the listing renews.
Transaction fees are charged as a percentage of the entire transaction amount once an item sells. Transaction fees are calculated as 6.5% of the total transaction amount, including shipping and additional gift-wrapping fees.
Payment processing fees are charged by Etsy only when you use Etsy Payments. They are charged as a percentage plus a flat fee, which vary buy country. If you use another method to accept payments, such as PayPal, you'll pay that platform's fees instead of Etsy's payment processing fees.
2. Shipping & Returns Policies
While not a fee charged by the platform, shipping requirements and return policies have a huge impact on how your business will look. They're sometimes overlooked by first-time sellers, but order fulfillment, shipping, and returns will amount to a significant portion of your day-to-day selling costs. Understanding what is required from you as a seller on eBay or Etsy will make it easier for you to gauge what these costs could look like for your online business, and help you make a better decision regarding which platform is more suitable for you and for the type of items you sell.
eBay Shipping & Returns Policies
Sellers on eBay have free reign to create their own shipping policies for their eBay Store or listings, but there are some guidelines you must follow when creating your shipping policy and shipping out orders. Firstly, you must ship every order in accordance with the shipping service the buyer paid for and within the specified handling time for the order. While you can upgrade the buyer to a faster shipping service, you can't cut corners or costs by downgrading the buyer's shipment to a slower or cheaper service. Secondly, you may only charge the buyer shipping based on how much it actually costs you to ship their order. If postage costs you $15, you can charge slightly more to cover packing material costs, but you cannot charge $50 for shipping to make an extra profit from shipping charges. Finally, you'll have to mark the order as shipped with a tracking number only when it is actually handed to the shipping carrier, and must post the item from the item location stated in the listing.
eBay does not require its sellers to accept returns, except in specific circumstances. You must accept an item back (or choose to issue a refund without a return) for an item if it arrived damaged, was not as described in the listing, or the buyer received a different item than the one they ordered. In cases like these, you'll also have to provide your buyer with a prepaid shipping label, pay for a prepaid return label through eBay, or reimburse them for return shipping costs.
Etsy Shipping & Returns Policies
Etsy also allows sellers on the platform to create their own shipping policies, and has very similar guidelines to eBay. You must ship items from the location specified on the listing, within the timeframe specified on the listing, and using the service the buyer paid for. If you need more time to ship, you must get your buyer's consent to ship at a later date. Furthermore, you may only charge shipping costs that reflect the costs you've actually incurred to ship the item, and must either provide a tracking number and confirm on-time shipment or ship with an Etsy Shipping label.
Etsy does not require its sellers to accept returns, but it does require sellers to comply with their local consumer protection laws. For this reason, sellers based in the EU will be required to accept returns. Sellers outside the EU must specify their return policy in their listings, even if they have a "no returns" policy. Etsy also offers its sellers a return policy template known as the "Simple Return Policy," which stipulates that buyers have 30 days to return an item, are responsible for return postage, and responsible for any loss in value. Implement this policy in your listings by checking the "Apply simple policy" option on the listing editor.
3. Seller Tools
Seller tools is a broad category that encompasses many things, and refers to the selection of tools that a marketplace offers its sellers to help them manage their listings, orders, and products. Unfortunately, no marketplace will have all the selling tools you need, whether they be a simple bulk product management tool or an efficient customer service helpdesk. That said, both eBay and Etsy have an array of selling tools designed to help you sell better on each respective platform. In this section, we'll take a look at the tools you'll have at your disposal as a seller on each marketplace to help you better understand what your day-to-day selling experience will look like.
eBay Selling Tools
eBay offers its sellers a wealth of selling tools to help them better manage their sales and listings on the platform. The main selling tools that eBay offers are the Seller Hub and Selling Templates.
The eBay Seller Hub is essentially your selling dashboard, where you'll view everything from open return requests to your eBay Store subscription details, analytics to active orders. Seller Hub is your operations center for everything you need to do or know about your eBay Store, and will be the first place you'll likely visit when you log into your eBay account.
Sellers on eBay can also create and save up to 50 Selling Templates, which are templates for eBay listings. Templates help you create listings faster and more easily, and are nice to have when you're just starting out on eBay.
Etsy Selling Tools
Etsy's version of Seller Hub is known as Shop Manager, and it offers no shortage of selling tools and key information. You'll be able to access various analytics, such as your Etsy Ads performance and a breakdown of your listings' organic performance over time, take a look at your third-party integrations, get customized growth tips based on your goals and current store status, and much more.
Etsy sellers can also purchase their own domain name through Hover at a discount. This will enable you to build a site that directs buyers to your Etsy Shop. Note that this is different from having a webstore, which is your own website with an independent store run on platforms like WooCommerce or Shopify. If you think selling both on Etsy and on your own webstore may be a good choice for your ecommerce business, EasyChannel makes it super simple to link and manage multiple sales channels simultaneously.
4. Payment Processing
Payment processing is often overlooked as a given, but it's an incredibly important comparison point, especially when comparing eBay vs Etsy fees. Payment processing will take a sizable bite out of your profits, and is an important factor when deciding on selling on eBay vs Etsy. In this section, we'll take a look at your payment processing options on each platform, understand what their associated fees are, and help you get a better understanding of each platform's approach to buyer-seller transactions.
eBay Payment Processing
eBay is moving towards payment processing exclusively on Payoneer, and has taken a pared-down approach to payment processing fees. In fact, now that eBay no longer works exclusively with PayPal, transaction fees are bundled into the Final Value fees charged when you make a sale. Final Value fees have category-specific exceptions, but for most categories, the Final Value fee is calculated as 13.25% of the entire transaction amount (or 2.35% for transactions over $7,500), plus $0.30. This gives you one less fee to calculate, but also limits you when it comes to payment processing options.
Etsy Payment Processing
Etsy sellers have two possible payment processing avenues: Etsy Payments or PayPal (referred to as Standalone PayPal on Etsy, to differentiate it from PayPal integrated into Etsy Payments). Etsy is moving towards the former, but some sellers may still be grandfathered into standalone PayPal, or may be able to choose it if Etsy Payments is not available in their region.
If you're a US seller whose payments are process through Etsy Payments, the payment processing fee is calculated as 3% of the transaction total plus $0.25. If you're based outside of the US, you can find the payment processing rate for your country on the Etsy Payments policy page. PayPal fees are more complicated, and depend on the currency used by the buyer, the buyer's location, and how the transaction was conducted, among a variety of other transaction factors.
5. Target Audience
Etsy and eBay are distinct marketplaces, and each one attracts a different type of buyer. This does not mean that a person won't shop on Etsy and on eBay; it simply means that they'll typically look to different marketplaces for different things. Whether it's a certain kind of buying experience or a particular type of item, both eBay and Etsy have firmly established their reputations in the eyes of online shoppers. This section will take a look at the type of buyer each platform typically attracts, and help you better understand how they fit with your target audience.
eBay has been around practically since the internet became ubiquitous in private homes, and as such has solidified its reputation as the internet's garage sale. While that's far from being accurate across the board today, eBay has not been able to shake that reputation, and as such attracts an average buyer who's looking for a particular shopping experience. eBay shoppers are used to communicating with sellers, haggling prices, and engaging in bidding wars to snag the best deal. eBay also reinforces this type of buyer-seller interaction by offering varied listing formats other than "Buy It Now" listings, implementing an offer and counter-offer system to facilitate price negotiation, and even enabling the posting of classified ads.
In short, the type of buyer you can expect on eBay won't necessarily be looking for a brand-new item, and may also be looking for things that fall outside of Etsy's handmade, craft supplies, and vintage range. Their expectation of a more involved pre-sale shopping experience will in turn affect your selling experience, making it more hands-on in comparison with other ecommerce marketplaces.
If eBay is seen as the internet's garage sale, Etsy is its craft fair. The Etsy marketplace itself imposes strict guidelines on what types of items can be listed: craft supplies, handmade items, and vintage goods; you won't find the previous generation iPhone for sale, as you would on eBay. Shoppers on Etsy are on the hunt for something one-of-a-kind, and they're willing to pay a premium for it. There are no auctions on Etsy or a price negotiating system in place – Etsy allows only fixed-price listings.
Etsy attracts a particular type of buyer, one that's on the hunt for a unique or custom piece. This comes with an expectation of stellar after-sale support and one-on-one attention, which means you'll have a more involved post-sale experience.
6. Sponsored Products & Promotions
Often overlooked by first-time sellers when choosing a marketplace to set up their store, a marketplace's promotional tools can be instrumental to your store's success. Each marketplace's promotions warrants a guide in itself, but this section will give you a general overview of the types of promotions and marketing tools you'll have available on each platform.
eBay Sponsored Products and Promotions
eBay has three distinct listing promotion tools, each suitable for a different type of listing or promotion method. They are:
Promoted Listings Express, for promoting auction-style listings. Priced as a flat fee based on the duration of your auction and product category.
Promoted Listings Standard, for promoting fixed-price listings. Priced as a percentage of the sale price.
Promoted Listings Advanced, for promoting fixed-price listings. Priced on a cost-per-click (CPC) model.
These listing promotions place your promoted listings across the eBay Ad Network, which includes offsite ads, priority placement in buyer searches, and native display ads.
Furthermore, eBay offers its eBay Store subscribers an array of promotional tools known as Seller Hub Promotions. They include:
Order size discounts – offer buyers a discount when they buy a certain number of items or spend a certain amount of money. Example: Get a 15% discount when you spend $125.
Markdown sale events – discount select items or categories by a percentage. Example: 25% off all leather wallets.
Shipping discounts – offer free shipping over a certain order amount or on certain items. Example: Free domestic shipping on orders over $50.
Coded coupons – create custom coupon codes that buyers can apply at checkout. Example: Buyers input coupon code "GET15" to get 15% off their order.
Volume pricing – set up tiered discounts based on number of units purchased. Example: Save 10% when you purchase 5 units or more, save 15% when you purchase 10 units or more, save 20% when you purchase 20 units or more.
Offers to Buyers & Best Offer – Send offers directly to certain buyers and negotiate a selling price through Best Offer. Example: sent a discounted offer price to your last 10 watchers.
Etsy Sponsored Products and Promotions
Etsy has a considerably more minimal approach to promotions when compared to eBay. There are two types of Etsy Ads to promote your Etsy listings:
Onsite Etsy Ads – a cost-per-click (CPC) model of individual listing promotion, which places your Etsy listings in optimal slots in buyer searches, as well as in ad placement across Etsy.
Offsite Etsy Ads – automatically active for all sellers, and work on a commission-based model priced at either 15% or 12% of the transaction (depending on your Etsy Shop's revenue in the preceding 365 days) and capped at $100 per sale.
You'll also be able to run sales, create coupons, and send offers to interested shoppers through Shop Manager.
7. Seller Experience
We briefly touched on seller experience above when we discussed the type of buyer that each marketplace attracts, but seller experience is affected by much more than the type of buyer who frequents the platform. Every marketplace takes a slightly different approach to its sellers, with eBay taking one of the more laissez-faire approaches in the ecommerce world, and Etsy taking a relatively balanced stance. In this section, we'll give you a general overview of the things that may affect your selling experience, and discuss the general approach each marketplace takes to the sellers on its platform.
Seller Experience on eBay
While significantly less liberal than it was in its early days, eBay largely lets its sellers manage their listings and customer service as they see fit. eBay also has a uniquely customizable listing structure, with full support for HTML templates that enable you to create unique and interactive listings. In terms of store policies, you more or less have free reign to decide how you ship, when you ship, and whether or not you accept returns. There are of course guidelines that sellers must follow, but you'll be relatively free to list and sell practically anything you want to sell.
Despite this, there are some limitations on how you sell on eBay. By far the most important one is the fact that sellers are required to set up and link a Payoneer account in order to receive payouts from eBay. You will also be required to accept returns in certain circumstances, and follow certain shipping guidelines in order to be covered by eBay seller protections should an issue arise between you and the buyer.
All this results in a seller experience that can best be described as involved and individual. You'll likely find yourself in constant pre- and post-sale communication with buyers, which can be difficult to manage if you don't have a good customer service helpdesk. You'll have a significant amount of legwork to do in order to create listings that rank and convert, and have to put thought into creating your eBay Store's policies. That said, eBay does offer structure for sellers who need it through things like eBay Labels to help you ship more easily, automated campaigns for hands-off listing promotion, and even basic listing templates to help you create more professional-looking listings.
Seller Experience on Etsy
Etsy's selling experience is a bit more structured and rather more limited than eBay's. Firstly, Etsy limits what you can even list on the platform to three broad categories: handmade items, craft supplies, and vintage goods. You won't have to accept returns except in specific cases of damaged or incorrect items, and will be able to implement your own shipping policies with relative flexibility.
Etsy also offers several programs to help sellers in various aspects of running and growing their Etsy Shops. These include automated discount offers, Etsy Shipping labels at discounted prices and with bundled shipping metric perks, and automatic enrollment in offsite listing promotions. Ultimately, your seller experience on Etsy can be as structured as you need it to be thanks to Etsy's many seller programs. Furthermore, your experience with shoppers on the platform will be focused more on after-sale service instead of pre-sale negotiations.
Why Choose When You Can Sell on Both eBay & Etsy
If you've made it this far and both eBay and Etsy seem like they could be a good fit for your ecommerce business, you may want to consider selling on both marketplaces simultaneously. There are many benefits to multichannel selling, and it's now accessible to all sellers thanks to EasyChannel. Below, we'll take a look at the benefits of selling on both eBay and Etsy, and discuss how EasyChannel can help you sell on both marketplaces with minimal hassle.
Understanding the Benefits of Using Both Platforms
As discussed above, both eBay and Etsy have their own established buyer base, and some buyers who default to one platform may not think to look to the other, and vice versa. In cases like these, listing your items on both platforms can be the difference that makes a sale. In other words, listing on both platforms multiplies your pool of potential buyers, and helps you sell more.
Furthermore, there may be items that you cannot list on Etsy, but are allowed for sale on eBay. These can be secondhand items that don't meet Etsy's standard for vintage items, for example, or handmade items that were not necessarily made by you. In these cases, listing these items on eBay, along with the rest of your items which are listed on both Etsy and eBay, is a good way to sell them without foregoing Etsy's customer base.
Finally, as the old adage goes, it's never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. The reality of selling on online marketplaces like eBay or Etsy is that you're at the mercy of giant companies who'll happily suspend your business indefinitely (or permanently) should they suspect any wrongdoing on your part. Having your income depend on a single platform's whims can be risky, and the risk of account suspension for entirely arbitrary reasons can never be fully mitigated. For this reason, many online sellers, whether they started selling on eBay, Etsy, or any other online marketplace, opt to expand their business to a multichannel model sooner rather than later.
How can EasyChannel Help You Sell on Both Platforms?
EasyChannel is a simple platform designed to enable ecommerce sellers to simultaneously sell their products on multiple channels. EasyChannel helps you not only cross-list products to multiple sales channels, but also to customize them and optimize them for each marketplace and selling platform. EasyChannel works by enabling sellers to manage the entirety of their ecommerce operations – from inventory and product management to customer service and listing optimization – directly from EasyChannel. With a central catalog and endless optimization potential through custom rules, EasyChannel makes multichannel eBay and Etsy selling even simpler than selling on only one marketplace.
Final Thoughts & Key Takeaways: eBay vs Etsy
Deciding on selling on eBay vs Etsy is not always straightforward. Some sellers find one more suitable for their products and selling needs than the other, but for many, the choice is not clear-cut. Etsy may be more limiting in what you can sell, but it offers a pool of purchase-oriented shoppers who are often willing to pay top dollar for the perfect unique piece; eBay may have a more involved listing process, but it brings to the table the ability to list practically anything that can be sold online.
With so many factors to consider, many sellers opt to list their items on multiple channels using third-party tools like EasyChannel. Multichannel selling helps you expand your buyer base, mitigate your selling risks, and establish your brand reputation across more corners of the internet.
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