The old eBay vs. Amazon question is a hotly debated topic, and it seems it should be an easy thing to figure out. After all, it’s all about hard, cold numbers, right? But it really isn’t that simple. It is difficult to compare ‘apples to apples’ with eBay and Amazon because there are just so many differences. But I’m going to give it a shot!
The major equalizer is to remember that when you sell on eBay, it is not just eBay you are paying fees to. I would estimate that upwards of 98% of all eBay transactions are paid for through PayPal. With Amazon, your payment processing costs are included in your fees. So to be a fair comparison, in my opinion, you really have to compare Amazon fees to eBay PLUS PayPal fees and that is when it gets pretty interesting.
The first thing to consider when comparing fees, of course, is WHAT you sell. If your items aren’t selling on one marketplace or the other, your concern with which place is cheaper is misplaced. The first concern for any businesswoman (0kay, or man) is whether the items will sell on a particular platform. THEN you can consider the fee structure.
eBay Fees vs. Amazon Fees
So let’s talk fees. On eBay there is a listing fee, which can range from three cents (fixed price listing for an anchor store) to two dollars (auction starting at $200) or even a flat $50 to list an automobile on eBay Motors. Next for eBay is the Final Value Fee (FVF), which can range from 7.5% to 13% depending on category. There are also optional fees, such as buy-it-now fee, BOLD fee, and subtitle fee, listing designer, value pack fee and more. So as you can see, with eBay it is difficult to assign an overall percentage to your costs. There are too many ‘it depends’ to give a concrete answer. Much depends on whether your item sells the first time around or must be renewed (at least every 30 days) so you will pay the fees again for listing; it also depends on what the final price of an auction item is. For example, although the final value fee in Books is 13%, that only applies to the first $50 and then you are charged only 5% of anything over $50. For these reasons, I advise all eBay sellers to aim for an Average Selling Price (ASP) of at least $30. The fixed price costs to list on eBay make selling items under that threshold quite expensive, relatively speaking.
With all that I said above, I think you can safely assume that your fixed costs for listing and selling on eBay, depending on the store subscription level you choose, your ASP (average selling price) and the type of listings (auction or fixed price) you select, will cost at least 13% to 15%.
If you are a typical eBay seller, over 98% of your sales will be paid for with PayPal so let’s check those fees now. PayPal charges a fixed fee of $0.30 for each transaction and then a percentage of 2.9%. Again, the higher your ASP, the lower your overall % as $0.30 is a much higher percentage of $7 than it is of $70. So using a selling price of $20, your PayPal fees would be 4.5%.
EBay Example * $20 Sale – $0.20 (LF) – $2.05 (FVF) – $0.05 (Store Subscription %) – $0.88 (PP) = $16.82 profit (before Cost of Goods)
Total estimated eBay + PayPal fees = 16%.
Now let’s talk Amazon fees. Amazon handles the payment processing so it is just the Amazon fees to consider. There are no insertion fees on Amazon. However you will either pay a $0.99 fee per item or a monthly fee of $39.99 for a pro-merchant subscription. You will pay a percentage of the sale price as a ‘referral fee.’ This fee, as with eBay, differs per category from 6% to 15% (25% on Kindle accessories only). There is also a variable ‘closing fee,’ which is either $0.80 or $1.35 per item on books and media, or $0.45 plus $0.05 per pound in other categories.
Amazon Example * $20 sale -$ 2.10 (referral fee) – $0.05 (subscription fee %) – $0.70 (variable closing fee) = $17.15 profit (before cost of goods)
Total estimated Amazon fees = 14.5%
As you can see, although you can play with the numbers all day long based on sale price, category and item weight, when you compare apples to apples, the fees between the two marketplaces are very similar.
In my opinion, the deciding factor should be which marketplace has more of YOUR buyers. Where can you reach more buyers? And in most cases, your product should probably be available on both.
For more research, here are links to the official fee structures on both sites.
Rspected as a trusted eCommerce speaker, educator, and entrepreneur, Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Silver Level PowerSeller, who also maintains stores on Addoway, Bonanza, Buy.com, and iOffer. Currently Kat is the producer of popular weekly Amazon FBA Podcast FBA Radio with Chris Green of FBAPower.