Once you have an item to sell, the next question is should I sell on Amazon or eBay? Or even possibly Etsy?
Every site has its pros and cons. And some products may even sell better on one site over another. Today, we have several expert sellers stopping by to share their thoughts on the subject and a few of the best buys and pro tips as well.
Meet Sean Carabine Allan: Sean is the internet marketing manager at shop.siammandalay.com.
Meet Marty Babayov: Marty is the founder of thesuitdepot.com.
Are you a specialized seller or do you resell anything with profit potential?
Sean: I sell anything that is not being sold by others, or is a variation on a popular product. Instead of selling things I think are great – I use google keywords tools to decide what is popular, I then try and find a variant of a product that is not been pushed out by a ton of people.
This mainly revolves around clothes, bags and jewelry. As they are light, easy to ship, easy to get hold of, easy to modify and you can make a lot of money at scale.
Marty: While I started out selling anything I could turn with a profit, I eventually re-branded as The Suit Depot and focused solely on better menswear.
Do you have a preferred selling platform (Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.)?
Sean: Etsy offers a price premium, so that is my favorite, however they have stringent guidelines on handmade policy and not everyone can sell there – and they shut stores without warning. eBay offers pretty much unrestricted selling – for someone starting up wanting to make a bit extra I recommend eBay – it’s hard to make living on just one platform.
- You don’t need to limit yourself to one platform. There is lots of software that allows you to sync your inventory across platforms.
- Fee Structure- Amazon has an average fee structure of 15% while eBay combined with PayPal is closer to 12%. Get an estimate on PayPal fees here.
- Returns- amazon buyers are much more likely to return products, and because amazon is buyer centric they make the seller pay return shipping in many cases, this brings the effective fee structure to 25%.
- Shopping experience- while amazon has much better customer service and a quicker and smoother checkout, eBay allows the buyers to filter their products much better than amazon.
- Price- we tend to get higher prices on amazon then we do on eBay, this offsets the higher fees.
The verdict: Learn how to sell things on Amazon if you’ve got a lot of private label inventory which you will control the buy box on. If you are selling a product line like clothing, it tends to do better on eBay because of the better size filters, unless you have all sizes in stock, in which case amazon will do better.
If you have the patience to delve into the technology, there is no reason you can’t do both. A great resource for setting this up is a site called understandingE.com.
Sean: The most important things are to consider above all are 1. How much traffic will a site get for this type of product – consider, electrical for amazon, handmade decor for Etsy and clothes, bags and jewelry for eBay. 2. How many other people are selling my item or something similar? If you are the only person selling your product it doesn’t rise in value, but if you and someone else are selling the same product then your profit will be getting cut considerably.
The type of product: For example if it’s handmade – I would sell it on Etsy, as I can charge a price premium. If it’s not handmade I would choose eBay, but only if very few people are selling – amazon is my last choice.
Expected sale value/popularity: If you are selling an in-season designer item, that you feel will be popular –eBay is the way to go – you can set up an auction and make a lot of money. This is all dependent on a group of people really liking the product. Trying to put your handmade goods into auction will result in low prices.
Marty: While many sellers focus on fee structure, I wouldn’t get caught up on it. I’d test out both platforms and see on which your product performs best and which has the highest margins. The difference in 3% in fees should not be the determining factor in where you decide to sell. If you can, you should list your products on all platforms. This can be done yourself using Magento as explained on understandingE.com
Have you found some items sell better on one site over another?
- Electronics – Amazon
- Handmade goods – Etsy
- Clothes, bags and jewelry – eBay
This comes down to the nature of the buyers – this is something you need to think about. “If I wanted to buy my product, where would I look?”
Marty: Most definitely! Used items do a lot better on eBay than on Amazon. Unique products will do better on eBay where people are looking for them. In the apparel department, if you only have limited sizes available, due to eBay having better filtering, it is the better platform. Amazon really shines when it comes to basic products without too many variations. If it is apparel, make sure to have most sizes in stock. If an item goes well on Amazon, you can generally charge more for it and with less competition from small time seller, unlike eBay.
Sean: I live in Thailand, so I shop at markets – I sell a fair amount of t-shirts on about 8-10x mark up. But I also use iOffer and other wholesale locations.
Marty: We’re constantly sourcing from different places but when I first started out discount store were my favorite; store like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Century 21 Department Stores, etc. Their base prices are usually the going rates online so when they have their sales where items are 50-75% off of the original store price (90% off of retail) that’s a great mark-up and the experience is so much fun.
Tell us about your best buy ever.
Sean: My best buy? My best buy – to sell, in terms of ‘intuition’ and ROI it would be a pair of Dolce Gabbana factory second jeans – I bought for about $10 at a market and sold for $150 at auction. But I make a fair bit on t-shirts and items of clothing, consistently.
Marty: The best buys are the ones you aren’t expecting. I once found a seller on eBay selling these amazing quality coats. They were an upscale department store private label and were made using an extremely high-end designer fabric. He was putting these up for bid on a weekly basis trying to clear them out. After winning over 20 on bid so I could re-sell them on eBay as a “buy it now” with better mark-ups, I realized he probably had many more in stock. I got in contact with him and found out he had over 600 in stock. We worked out a deal on those and I was able sell at a 250% markup over the next two years.
Any must-have tools of the trade you can recommend to new sellers?
Sean: Google Keywords Tools & eBay, Amazon & Etsy Search.
Let the numbers do the talking. Find out what people want and how many people are selling it – these are the most important elements. If you find a popular product that nobody is selling – you’re running all the way to the bank.
Marty: UnderstandingE.com is a great resource for multi-channel selling. In addition, I suggest investing in proper photography equipment and doing a little research online on how to get good quality studio photography. This can be done from home but you will notice a big improvement in sales with quality images.
Are you a reseller? Do you prefer Amazon, eBay, Etsy or a combination of all three?