Which is Better: eBay or Amazon?

In the Battle of Online Marketplaces, Which One Wins eBay or Amazon?

Back in 2009, The Wall Street Journal compared the major online retailers and declared Amazon the winner, saying they had the best overall shopping experience for consumers. eBay came in second place.

The Internet has changed a lot since then, so has the balance of power shifted between these major players? Which is better – ebay or Amazon? And if you’re a seller, should you choose one or both to market your product(s)? Learn more about eBay and Amazon below, see what others think, and cast your own vote.

Which is Better: ebay or amazon?

The big guys duke it out online

Asking online shoppers and sellers, “Which is better: amazon or eBay?” is like asking photographers, “Which is better: Canon or Nikon?” It’s likely to result in a long and passionate discussion that probably won’t change the opinion of the die hard fans on both sides. Each company has its pros and cons.

online marketplaces

amazon logos copyright respective owners

Both of these Internet giants started their reign around the same time – Amazon was founded in 1994 and eBay was founded a year later in 1995 – and both have expanded their focus significantly since their launch. eBay initially began as an auction site known as Auction Web. Amazon started as an online bookstore. Now both provide a place for buyers and sellers to find millions of products at prices that many retailers have a hard time matching.

Between the two, Amazon wins the crown for highest revenue. According to Wikipedia, Amazon collected $48.07 billion in revenue in 2011, compared to $11.65 billion for eBay. Amazon also wins when it comes to traffic. In January 2013, Quantcast reported 90 million monthly visitors for Amazon, compared to 47 million for eBay.

But Amazon loses when it comes to net income. The retailer sells and ships millions of products, requiring a huge workforce and relying on incredible volume to generate massive revenue on the slimmest of margins. eBay, on the other hand, acts as a matchmaker between sellers and buyers “connecting buyers and sellers globally” and doesn’t have to maintain inventory or actually sell anything. As a result, eBay has a smaller workforce and a much wider profit margin. In 2011, eBay chalked up 3.229 billion in net income, compared to $631 million in net income for Amazon.

ebay or amazon

eBay logos copyright respective owners

Both make it easy for both big and small retailers to sell through their platform. eBay has been aggressively wooing big names like Barnes & Noble, Toys R Us and Neiman Marcus to their platform, touting the fact that, unlike Amazon, they don’t carry inventory and aren’t in competition with their partners.

For online shoppers, both sites offer buyers the opportunity to find new, used, refurbished, vintage and collectible products offered by sellers around the world. For merchants, both sites offer individuals and companies the chance to find more customers through the massive popularity of the sites. So which one is better?

It depends on what you’re buying or selling. For unique, one-of-a-kind and collectible items, eBay offers the ability to get the best deal or the highest price (depending on whether you’re a buyer or seller) through their auction system. For mass market products, Amazon offers a quicker method for sellers to post items for sale, with no need for every merchant to take their own photos and write their own description.

The bottom line is that both have pros and cons. Which one do you think is better?

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Which is better: eBay or Amazon?

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