Monday, February 14, 2011

Selling Your Stuff: eBay vs. Amazon

If Rentalship is the new Ownership, then eBay and Amazon have really become rental marketplaces. You buy stuff, use it, and then sell it off again.  For things that you use only briefly, depreciation can be low and as good as traditional renting.  I've found both eBay and Amazon to be great ways to dispose of used electronics, as I tend to buy the newest items, try them out, get bored, and move on fairly quickly.


Well known as FeeBay for the endless surcharges imposed on everything, eBay is in terminal decline.  The marketplace is cluttered, con-artists abound, it's difficult to search, and quality varies enormously.  Despite these problems, eBay has a couple of advantages: volume and stupid buyers.

Economists have proven that auctions bring out the stupid in people.  They bid to win even if they end up paying more than they should.  I've found this to be true time again and have been frequently astounded at the prices I get for my products.  I sold my last iPhone for more than the regular retail price.    Of course, the extra benefits of this marketplace are taxed away by eBay's fee structure.


Amazon is a much cleaner, simpler and well structured marketplace.  Search is easy and set is great too. The downside: Amazon uses only fixed prices, has somewhat less volume (hard to say to how much less,  it's a qualitative guess) and much more transparency in the marketplace.

That said, it's fee structure is a bit lower, and they will help you move your merchandise in a way that's much easier and simpler: they can hold and fulfill it.  Fulfillment by Amazon is the single best feature of selling stuff on Amazon.  You can ship them your product and they will stock it and fulfill it as if it is their own.  It even becomes eligible for Amazon Prime, the free 2 day shipping offer.

You can even use Amazon's in-bound shipping rates, which are a fraction of what UPS will charge you if you just tried to ship something on your own.  While Amazon will charge holding and handling fees, making your product eligible for Amazon fulfillment will move that item very fast.  I've never had anything sit for more than a day or two when it's eligible for Prime, so holding charges are always small.

Amazon also handles all payments, eliminating the distressing number of con-artists that infest the eBay marketplace, trying to get you to ship items to Nigeria and sending you fake PayPal confirmation notices.

Cool photo by Sindy

And The Winner Is:

From a fee structure, not only is Amazon cheaper than eBay, it's much faster and more reliable and the company exudes a level of customer service and integrity that eBay can never hope to match.  I don't begrudge Amazon or Jeff Bezos one penny in their commissions and fees.   I can't say the same about eBay and eMeg.

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