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Etsy vs eBay: Which Platform is Better for Selling Online?

Introducing the Contenders

Etsy and eBay are two of the biggest marketplaces for buying and selling goods online. Founded in 2005, Etsy is targeted specifically at handmade, vintage, and craft products. The site has built itself as a tight-knit community focused on connecting artisans and small business owners with buyers who value unique, quality items.

eBay on the other hand, founded in 1995, offers a much wider range of new and used products across virtually every category imaginable. With 182 million active buyers globally, eBay dwarfs Etsy in terms of total users and variety of items available. However, it lacks some of the close community feel of Etsy.

So which platform should online sellers choose to set up their digital shopfront? This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between Etsy and eBay across critical factors like fees, tools, customization, and more.

Seller Community and Customization

A major difference between Etsy and eBay is the type of seller community and identity each platform fosters. Etsy is focused squarely on handmade, vintage, and craft products. As such, it attracts artisans, crafters, and small business owners who appreciate the tight-knit, supportive environment. Sellers connect with each other to exchange tips, product ideas, and experiences growing their shops.

Etsy also allows sellers to customize their online storefronts with banners, logos, and branding elements to effectively showcase their business. This helps sellers stand out and attract buyers who share their artistic vision.

Alternatively, eBay sellers run the gamut from small-time sellers cleaning out their garage to major retailers hawking overstock items in bulk. There is greater diversity and competition amongst sellers vying for buyer attention. Customization is also more limited on eBay, with sellers only able to enhance listing descriptions rather than the overall store layout and design.

Fees

When weighing Etsy versus eBay, one major consideration for sellers is fees. Etsy charges three main types of fees:

  • Listing fees to create a new product listing
  • Transaction fees on the final sale price of each order
  • Payment processing fees on orders paid electronically

In addition, Etsy charges variable offsite advertising fees if sellers choose to participate.

eBay’s fee structure consists of:

  • Insertion fees for product listings
  • Final value fees based on the total selling price
  • Miscellaneous fees such as optional promoted listing fees

While structures differ, both Etsy and eBay charge comparable fees amounting to roughly 12-15% of the final selling price. When selecting a platform, sellers should consider the impact of fees on razor-thin profit margins for handmade products versus higher-margin mass manufactured goods.

Tools and Resources

Etsy provides an impressive array of tools and resources aimed at empowering small-scale sellers. Their Seller Handbook offers step-by-step guidance on critical topics such as marketing, accounting, search optimization, photography, social media and more. Interactive webinars help new sellers get oriented while forums enable veterans to exchange ideas.

The Etsy Seller app allows store owners to manage listings, track orders, respond to buyers and analyze shop metrics on the go. Etsy even offers specialized accounting tools integrated with Quickbooks to streamline taxes.

While not as robust, eBay provides the Seller Hub which consolidates listings, orders, reports and customer service inquiries into one dashboard. For visibility, Promoted listings allow merchants to pay extra to bump products to the top of search results. Overall though, education and community-building are not eBay’s strong suits compared to Etsy.

Target Audience

With 182 million active buyers and over 1.7 billion live listings, eBay commands an expansive, diverse audience looking for great deals on secondhand products. Bargain hunters flock to eBay to score discounts on everything from refurbished electronics to collectible antiques and obscure oddities. However, the intense focus on price and profit can undermine brand loyalty.

Conversely, Etsy’s estimated 80 million shoppers are laser-focused on quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness when it comes to handmade and vintage collectibles. Etsy buyers gladly pay premium prices which translates into higher profit margin potential. More so than eBay, Etsy can foster a devoted, emotionally invested customer base.

Shipping and Payments

Etsy manages payments and shipping for sellers by default, creating simplified checkout using Etsy Payments. Buyers can pay with credit cards, Etsy gift cards and even Apple Pay. Discounted shipping rates are also available through USPS and FedEx. Alternatively, sellers can choose their own payment processors if they meet eligibility criteria.

eBay payments are powered primarily through PayPal with the option for merchants to integrate credit cards and other providers. eBay does offer discounted USPS Commercial Plus Pricing as well as partnerships with major carriers. However, shipping and payments are not unified by default like on Etsy, placing more work on sellers.

The Bottom Line

Determining whether to sell on Etsy vs eBay requires careful consideration of a seller’s business model, target market, product line and bandwidth.

Etsy shines when it comes to unique, specialized products with a higher price point to a loyal, community-driven audience. For mass-produced or manufactured goods, eBay‘s wider reach and aggressive promotions may prove more profitable.

Both platforms provide opportunities for success. Savvy sellers would be wise to thoroughly understand the differences highlighted above, and potentially leverage both sites in tandem to maximize reach.

There is no one-size fits all answer. But by weighing factors like fees, tools, branding potential and audience loyalty, merchants can tailor their online sales strategy using Etsy, eBay or both.