July 8, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 17 Comments

eBay VS Amazon – Which one is CHEAPER?

ebay-vs-amazonQuite often online you’ll see people saying how “it’s cheaper to sell on Amazon vs eBay”… but is this really true?

Well that’s what we’re going to find out today, to put this claim to rest one way or another!

But rather that just list all the fees for selling on eBay and Amazon in a boring table, instead we’re going to take a few examples and go through them one by one. That way we’ll get an easy to compare head to head battle between eBay and Amazon!

Before we get started with that, I also want to quickly go over the fee structure for selling on Amazon, as it differs slightly from eBay, and I know that this can sometimes cause confusion for new sellers.

So as most of you will already know, when selling on eBay you’ll pay the following fees:

Insertion Fee

This is the fee paid to start your listing. The exact amount depends on your shop subscription, how many listings you create each month, and whether it’s an auction or buy it now listing, but the most you’ll pay for an insertion fee is £0.26 per listing.

ebay-insertion-feesFinal Value Fee

This is the fee you pay when your item sells, calculated as a percentage of the total transaction amount (including shipping). Depending on the category, the final value fee ranges from 5% to 11%.

PayPal Fee

Lastly, there is the PayPal fee, which is 3.4% + £0.20 (again calculated on the total transaction amount, including shipping).

Now let’s take a look at Amazon’s fee structure and how it compares to eBay:

First things first – Amazon offer two different pricing plans, depending on your volume of sales – the Basic (sell a little) plan and the Pro (sell a lot) plan. As the Pro pricing plan is better value if you sell 34 or more items per month, that’s the one we’ll be using for our comparison today.

So with that in mind, these are the fees you’ll pay when selling on Amazon:

Monthly Subscription Fee

With the Pro selling plan you pay a monthly subscription fee of £25, rather than a Per-Item listing fee.

Referral Fee

Next is what Amazon call the “referral fee” and this is your main fee when selling on Amazon. Comparable to the final value fee on eBay, it is charged as a percentage of the total amount paid for an item. This ranges from 7% to 25%. There is actually one category on Amazon that generates a whopping 45% referral fee, but this is specifically for Amazon device accessories, so we’ll ignore that.

Variable Closing Fee

Lastly for Amazon we have the variable closing fee. This is a set amount, depending on where the item was sold to, BUT it only applies to Books, Music, Videos, and DVDs – so for the vast majority of items sold on Amazon this won’t be applicable. The variable closing fee ranges from £0.14 to £1.32.

amazon-pricingAlright, so now that’s out of the way and you know how the selling fees work on Amazon and eBay, let’s do our first comparison!

I’m going to start us off with a simple item, a Blu-ray movie.

We’ll be using a selling price of £7 (with free shipping).

eBay:

  • Insertion Fee – £0.26 (this is for a buy it now listing)
  • Final Value Fee – £0.56 (8% for DVD, Films& TV)
  • PayPal Fee – £0.44

Total Fees – £1.26 (18% of selling price)

Amazon:

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – £0.50 (£25 / 50 items sold per month)
  • Referral Fee – £1.05 (15% for Books, Music, Videos, DVDs)
  • Variable Closing Fee – £0.14 (for UK Standard Delivery)

Total Fees – £1.69 (24% of selling price)

Round 1 – Winner = EBAY!

So for our first comparison eBay is the winner, with total fees 25% less than selling on Amazon!

Our next comparison item will be a baby doll, selling for £35 (including shipping).

eBay:

  • Insertion Fee – £0.26
  • Final Value Fee – £3.15 (9% for Dolls & Bears)
  • PayPal Fee – £1.39

Total Fees – £4.80 (14% of selling price)

Amazon:

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – £0.50 (£25 / 50 items sold per month)
  • Referral Fee – £5.25 (15% for Everything Else)

Total Fees – £5.75 (16% of selling price)

Round 2 – Winner = EBAY!

Although there was no variable closing fee for selling on Amazon for item no. 2, eBay still came out on top with total fees roughly 17% less than Amazon.

So far eBay has won both rounds fairly comfortably… let’s see how round 3 goes.

For our third comparison, the item being sold is a desktop computer. We’ll use a selling price of £160.

eBay:

  • Insertion Fee – £0.26
  • Final Value Fee – £8 (5% for Computers, Tablets & Networking > Desktops & All in Ones)
  • PayPal Fee – £5.64

Total Fees – £13.90 (9% of selling price)

Amazon:

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – £0.50 (£25 / 50 items sold per month)
  • Referral Fee – £11.20 (7% for Computers)

Total Fees – £11.70 (7% of selling price)

Round 3 – Winner = AMAZON!

And Amazon takes round 3! This was mainly due to the lack of PayPal fees, which accounted for a large proportion of the eBay fees. Overall, Amazon was about 16% cheaper.

And for our final round, I want to use a jewellery set as our comparison item, with a selling price of £15.

eBay:

  • Insertion Fee – £0.26
  • Final Value Fee – £1.65 (11% for Jewellery and Watches)
  • PayPal Fee – £0.71

Total Fees – £2.62 (18% of selling price)

Amazon:

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – £0.50 (£25 / 50 items sold per month)
  • Referral Fee – £3.75 (25% for Jewellery)

Total Fees – £4.25 (28% of selling price)

Round 4 – Winner = EBAY!

And the final round is a clear win for eBay, with the total fees being 38% less than Amazon!

I actually chose jewellery for the last round on purpose, as I wanted to demonstrate how eBay is a lot more consistent with their fees compared to Amazon, which can have a very large variation depending on the product.

If you take a look at eBay’s final value fees, you can see that the majority of items fall between 8% and 11%, with a few specific sub-categories being slightly less at 5% – 6%:

final-value-fee

final-value-fee-2Compare that to Amazon where the range is from 7% all the way up to 25% (once again, ignoring Amazon Device Accessories):

amazon-referral-feesWhat this means is that, while with eBay it’s okay to use a general figure when doing initial product research, with Amazon you really need to know exactly what the selling fees are before you start looking at specific products.

Overall, eBay won 3 out of 4 rounds, which means that we can safely say that the “Amazon is cheaper myth” is generally untrue.

But of course it’s not a case of one or the other!

Quite the opposite in fact – I talk often about how you need to expand to multiple selling channels, not only to further your potential customer base, but also to mitigate the risk of being fully dependant on a single selling channel (especially when it’s a third party platform!).

You can read more about my thoughts on this topic here: eBay vs Amazon vs Ecommerce Store.

That’s about it for today’s article. I hope you found it interesting and it gave you something to think about if you only sell on eBay or Amazon.

If there are any other common myths or sayings that you often hear spouted by the “online gurus” then let me know about it in the comments section below and I might do a future post exploring and testing the idea – to see if there’s any truth to it or it’s just the usual misinformation.

It could even become a new post series for this blog – a mythbusters for online selling! 😉

Until next time!

All the best,
Andrew

17 Comments
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  1. Hi there,

    I was just wondering – don’t the Paypal fees decrease once you sell over a certain threshold per month?

    Many thanks!
    Joe

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joe,

      Yes, they do change based on your monthly sales volume:

      https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  2. Hi andrew,
    I opened ebay account 3 months back and it is going quite well. Everyday I get few orders. 3 weeks ago i also opened account on amazon and listed all my products but i receive orders very ocassionally, 2/3 in a week. Like in ebay I have done everything, optimizing title, description and uploading quality pictures. Is amazon really hard to sell products? What your experience says?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sophie,

      Well done on making progress so fast!

      On Amazon it takes more time to get your items ranked, usually several months before you see true potential.

      So just be more patient with Amazon.

      Andrew

  3. Is this still the case as Amazon are no longer using pay pal?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      sorry, what you mean?

      I don’t remember Amazon EVER using PayPal.

  4. As I would fall under the threshold for no membership charges from Ebay, I am not sure how this comparison fits with Amazon. Amazon seem to be really bad at actually bothering to pay you, never mind their exorbitant charges. I was charged £23.42 on an item selling for £120.00, plus an allowance of £5.00 for postage (I was unaware that they charged you commission on the postage, sometimes it doesn’t even cover the postage as they have a flat fee of £2.80 for many items even heavy books). It looks like the item would come under the 15% bracket yet whether you calculate it with the postage or not, it’s still above 15%. Thieving bastards. I am still awaiting my payment. It would be useful to know how snappy Ebay are at payment.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      eBay does not pay you, like Amazon does.

      With eBay, money goes straight to your PayPal account.

      Andrew

  5. […] We saw this in our recent eBay vs Amazon Fees competition (check it out here if you missed that: eBay vs Amazon – Which Is Cheaper?). […]

  6. Hi Andrew,

    Another good article.

    I think the Amazon fees are ex VAT so they will be even higher than your article suggests, making Amazon look worse in comparison!

    However, I still love selling on Amazon, in particular FBA. As Vasyl commented (and you acknowledge is the case for some categories), I manage to sell about 20% higher price on Amazon, and probably get 2x the sales. That’s with 4 sellers competing too.

    Even better when you take into account that it costs me £2.38 to post a sale on Ebay, yet with FBA, Amazon will pick, pack and send it for me for around £1.80!

    But as you’ve all said, it’s best to sell on both, might as well try to take on both market places.

    Paul

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Great to hear that Paul! 🙂

  7. Just discovered you and some great articles.

    One thing for ANYONE starting their venture into Ecommerce on ebay or amazon is that they will charge those fees on your postage too.
    For some, that won’t make too much difference, BUT as I sell in Jewellery, if a customer selects Expedited (Special Delivery)on amazon, 25% of the delivery cost is REALLY something to watch out for.
    It has an even bigger sting when you look at international postage costs.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment Simon!

  8. Well, interesting. Also, lets keep in mind 3 facts as well – 1) Amazon is significantly bigger than Ebay. You can sell more on Amazon, rather than eBay. Plus, looks like these two platforms have different buyers. Which means they do not compete much. 2) Selling Prices on Amazon are higher (on average) than on eBay. This means, your selling price on Amazon can be 20-50% higher (average) vs eBay. 3) Shipping costs – Amazon shipping costs are much lower than if you do it yourself. If to compare with fulfilment centres – depends, but something is telling me that Amazon have OK prices for sellers there.

    Saying that, do you think we should choose between the platforms OR use both of them?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Vasyl,

      Amazon is bigger for specific groups of products, eBay – for others so it’s not like Amazon generates more sales than eBay across all product categories. Prices on Amazon are going down, as more and more people sell there. But yes, with some products you can get higher prices than on eBay.

      There are many things to consider – the purpose of this test was simply to compare fees on both platforms.

      No, you don’t have to choose from them – you can and should sell on both. And your own online shop too! 🙂

      Andrew

      1. Amazon is safer yes but going by the replys if sellere are generating higher profit margins then its not always good for sellers

        Exampke two identical items on both item A on ebay £65 itemB on Amozon £245 how on earth can that be justified? Concidering item B was the so called last one for 6 months …item A sold 30+ units @ £65 (mrrp is £69.99)

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Chances are that seller simply raised the price for that last item to £245 so listing stays “in stock” status until he gets new stock in.

          Same thing many eBay sellers are doing.

          Andrew

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