Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Apr 6 2015 22:12:14

Reasons Why eBay Sellers Expand to Amazon

By: Ina Steiner

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In Tuesday's Newsflash we report on the trend of eBay sellers expanding to Amazon, something that did not happen overnight. Take a look at tomorrow's article for some interesting data and read what Bloomberg has to say about it. (Now available.)

Beyond the numbers, we'd like to explore the reasons some sellers embrace multi-channel selling while others find that's not an option.

First, to show how dramatic the shift has been, here's a look at some survey data. In 2006, 28.2% of EcommerceBytes readers were selling on Amazon and 99.2% were selling on eBay. A survey conducted last year revealed that 47% of readers were selling on Amazon; 59% on eBay; 45% on Etsy; and 40% on their own website. 

Sellers have told us some of the reasons they can't sell on Amazon - items must be new, and many categories are restricted (like clothing), for example. Selling on more than one venue also adds complexity. Syncing inventory isn't necessarily easy and can result in sales of out-of-stock items.

Are those legitimate reasons? Defend your position for staying put.

On the other hand, many eBay sellers are successfully selling on both venues - what were the reasons for expanding to Amazon? And how do your strategies vary by marketplace? What would you tell your peers about making the leap to Amazon or other venues?

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Readers Comments

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by: Runs.With.Scissors This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 09:05:41 2015

I sell both places.

Amazon traffic is awesome. Just know and follow Amazon's rules, or you will get booted.

 To the eCrater naysayers:
eCrater is great, IF you follow Google rules so your items can be found in Google. (good photos; not alot of CAPS & hype in your listing; avoid stating ''Free Shipping''; use attributes (brand, MPN, color, etc., as may be applicable), UPC or EAN numbers .... etc, etc., and use of many good keywords.

My items on eCrater get lots of Google hits IF I'm following Google rules for inclusion from eCrater's uploads to Google.  I have both Google compliant and non-compliant listings.  The compliant ones commonly show up in Google searches ... the non-compliant ones, not so much. (Am in the process of updating).

Amazon items seem to rank very high in Google searches.
ebay items are showing up more in Google search lately, than they were after the ebay spamming fiasco last year.

Amazon has become my major selling venue.  ebay sales have declined significantly over the past year ... from lack of buyers.  It seems
like many have jumped to Amazon ... I always search my Amazon buyer's
shipping zip+4 number to see if they ever bought from me before.
Many are showing up as having formerly bought from me on ebay.

''Destructive Innovation'' has indeed been destructive to ebay.
Absolutely insane anti-business policies there. Mind-boggling stupidity!
Astounding, illogical business practices. Management incompetence.
The results speak for themselves!

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by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 09:15:36 2015

First and foremost ebay punishes it's customers who are the sellers we do not work for ebay.
Ebay's addiction to buyers are right sellers are wrong, ebay's feedback system. Ebay's defect system are operated in a buyer is always right mode and that is wrong. No viable customer service.
It is like ebay executives ignore fraud and theft by buyers,well they can because they are using sellers money to do so, and they charge you a final value fee on shipping and covered it up by forcing free shipping so your items would move up in the search.
Ebay now gives it's own bad bad executive leadership millions in bonus money they clearly do not deserve.
My family still has the items on ebay however the items have also moved to Etsy, Bonanza, and a website and have been doing quite well for a few years.
Those used to be ebay sales.
Obviously small shareholders have no say so in this company's terrible management but no doubt they have been cheated big time.
I began stating move your items elsewhere years ago on this blog, please still do so it will work for you.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Tue Apr 7 09:38:47 2015

I was an active buyer and occasional seller on eBay almost 20 years ago.  When PayPal became mandatory, I just about stopped.

Flash forward to five years ago.  I opened an Amazon seller account because it was the only real alternative to Paypal.  Sales were slow and fees were very high.  Lost money constantly because shipping was out of my control and locked out every Christmas too.

I finally caved in and signed up for Paypal.  In the last 2 years, I made more than double what I did in 5 years on Amazon.  And while eBay fees are high, I've never lost money because of them or shipping costs.  Late last year I opened an eBay store which I'm still evaluating.

I've left listings up on Amazon all along.  Sales have trickled in about once every other month.  I had an odd uptick this year as eBay sales dropped off though.  That's weird to me because my prices on eBay are significantly lower (20% or so), especially if the buyer is in the northeast.  Personally, I very rarely buy on Amazon because of what I've experienced as a 3rd party seller.

As I said in a previous thread, most of the other alternatives are too broken to seriously consider and I don't yet have the customer base to support a standalone site.  I keep working toward independence by establishing a presence at local conventions which are usually a real shot in the arm compared to e-commerce.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 09:38:50 2015

ALL sellers, should be on every possible site that is open to sell their kind of merchandise.

Tying ones self to ANY one site is "stupid".

There is no site that is really "seller friendly". Sellers are the bait used by sites to build traffic so that THEY can make money.

Thats eBay, Amazon and now Etsy as well. They all "allow" you to sell on "their" site - as long as you dont cause them a headache and they can empty your wallet into their bank account.

Each marketplace has its own merits as mentioned by many in the posts above. DONT lock yourself into any one place - that place will eventually come to "eat you alive".

Invest in a feed (spreadsheet containing items in the format that uploadable to marketplaces) - its the best money spent.

Im currenty "feed shopping" - Id suggest to Ina that maybe its a feature she would do a piece on in the future.

Once you initially enter in the products all you need to do is add the new goods you get in and the program does the rest.

I hear that Seller Cloud does a great job - still checking into it.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Apr 7 09:43:12 2015

Pretty much since I have been selling on line Amazon has been part of it to different extents. In the last 7 years, I have sold one thing on ebay and that through an auction. Since their glitch where they were hacked, I haven't been able to get my new password and can't sign on with my old one. I finally gave up, but I'm sure that ebay is still counting me as a seller and I didn't have any idea about 6 months to close an account--but as I said I can't get in to close it. Ebay seems to juggle numbers to suit whatever current lie that they are trying to sell and numbers of people selling just another number to them. Amazon's CSR can be aggravating simply because most of them seem to be located in India and while their native language may be English, it isn't English like we speak here in the US. It usually takes at least 3 emails to sort anything out. Currently Amazon counts for a lot of my sales with eCRATER picking up the rest and NO CSR problems there at all! :) I do all my promoting for my eCRATER account and all my Pinterest links of invenotry that I post points back to eCRATER since there are essentially no fees, easy to list, and is a simple site that was a dream come true for me when I left ebay. Everyone has to decide what is best for themselves and what they sell so I know that eCRATER isn't the best sor some sorts or inventory, neither is Amazon or even ebay. Sometimes it might take your very own website.

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by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 09:53:31 2015

I do sell on amazon as well but I no longer buy there due to all the fooling around that goes on with the listings. This is not only allowed on amazon it seems to be encouraged for the very large chinese sellers that people complain about on ebay. They are also allowed to threaten you off their listings, buy your merchandise and make A-Z claims against you and the fact that they are a competitor is okay with amazon they think that is a legitimate reason to disrupt your business.  The customer service is just as bad, knowledge wise, although you can get in touch with someone.
I invested in UPC's for my items to list them, only to have the chinese have them switched constantly to clothing in which they still after about 10 years will not let me sell due to my photos, which they don't seem to have a problem letting others use them in clothing, just not me. Then I have to argue to get my listings back, which this does not just happen with clothing items, it is a way for a person who can sell in clothing to eliminate a lot of the competition.
A seller, not even the original lister, can just change anything about your listing, weight, the complete wording, title, photo, anything. Often when the item is sold out for them, they will just change it to something else! Amazon does not care about this.
Many amazon competitors will just make up a "tradename" (does not have to be  theirs, they just find one, name their item and then proceed to contact amazon trademark security to get you off their listings. Notify amazon  trademark is not for this or for that company, proof, etc.. nothing can get this changed. They seem to think ability to get a UPC or find an old trademark name means you are legit.
The minimum fee is 1.00.
Upside is the customers seem to pay any crazy price for shipping (as you have no real control over this) but it can help you get some money back for stuff that has to be priced way low.
Also good is that you can decline the return without problem unless they make a claim but I would not sell anything too valuable because they can just decide to give the customer your money and tell them to return it which they never do.
Although the only time I lost my case was one of the above described seller problems, where I did send the wrong "pictured" item (although it was the right item I though I sold) The picture was changed AFTER the item was mailed, and the customer I guess saw an opportunity to get a free item and they did!
Oh, and you as a seller can just let amazon know you are having trouble mailing and they will just change your customers estimated delivery time! This explains a lot about why I would receive items  way later than I thought when I purchased but then when I went back and looked it was on time.



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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Tue Apr 7 09:54:26 2015

@pace306

Being cynical does have an advantage in retail selling. It keeps you honest in your realizations that only you can look out for number one. The tooth fairy does not exist.

------------------------------

Ina - perhaps the Bloomberg report that you refer to is a product of the analyst/author's world view, i.e. big business. That that person can't think past the big business/B&M store model was responsible for the apparent exodus to Amazon from eBay. That parallels JD (the almost former CEO of eBay/PayPal and newly minted philanthropist perhaps?) statement on the "noise" of the small seller.
It would be interesting to see the mix of large to small volume sellers, the percentage each contributes to the gross. That would be the only way to see howmany feet went stamping off eBay to Amazon. Perhaps JD is right on his "noise" prognostication - that small low volume sellers do no contribute to the bottom line significantly.

As far as the destructive innovation, again JD missed the point - eBay IS the destructive innovator, along with Amazon. It changed how retail shopping is done. But to make eBay a destructive innovator internally is moronic.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Apr 7 10:08:42 2015

After taking about a month break from selling - am finding it difficult to find the motivation to sell anywhere!  Stuff to list, just hard to find incentive.


Amazon - does not fit my category. Use Amazon as a buyer only. If it had fit my category, I would have given it a try.  

Etsy - I've had a positive experience with vintage, seems to only be getting views upon re-activation, tho.

eBay - the seller update does not seem to affect me in a huge way. Still, the incentive to list is dampened by last years sales drop.   Even so, for my categories eBay still provides 90% of sales compared with other venues. It may be a zombie, but it is still up and staggering.

ecrater - I actually closed my account completely, but I do have a fondness for ecrater and may start over from scratch with selected items at some point.  At least I've had some sales there!

There is a new Craigslist-like venue called OfferUp. Looks like a Craigslist-Pinterest offspring.  My kids out in CA are using it and recommending it.


As always, each category is different and best suited to some venues over others. Not a one size fits all - the only venue that ever came close to that was OLD eBay.



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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 10:22:25 2015

Feeds...

Whenever I see that, I just think of sellers with a bunch of new, generic items that are out on a bunch of sites at the same price.

I sell one off, used items. The same item on ebay may sell for $22, while on Amazon, sell for $38. I'm not going to sell items on several venues, even now with almost 1,300 items listed, I have less than 10 crossovers, and those are only there because I have a bunch of them in stock.

I tend to sell $80,000 to $110,000 worth of items a year that I pay about $15,000 to $20,000 for. Sure I get them cheap, but I take the risk of them being incomplete, defective or need to be cleaned. But hey, I would rather clean/test an item I paid $20 for and sell for $100 than ship out 30 new items I only make $2 each on.

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 10:26:42 2015

And craigslist.... unless you are selling ATVs/Boats/Cars it seems to be a waste of time. Lets say you have a computer worth $100. You get 10 emails, 5 of them want you to ship it to Nigeria, 4 of them pester you about specs and if it works perfectly (it does and its 4GB/250GB/C2D 3.0Ghz....etc)

last one sends about 3 emails and then says they will show up at 6. They show up at 6:20. They look at it and offer you $40, you tell them nothing less than $80. They tell you $50. You decline and send them away. You get tired of this and list it on ebay for $140 shipped. It sells 4 days later.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Apr 7 10:40:38 2015

and some thoughts from BUYING perspective...


- eBay is not always the best source to find things.  I don't know if items are hidden, search broken,  sellers left, or all of the above -  but more than ever I'm having searches turn up ''0''.


- pre-owned items. Many times I specifically look for pre-owned, used items. Not much used on Amazon.

I have always liked it when a venue lets you filter ''used'' away from new. Has anyone noticed eBay's NEW app does not let you do this? Your choices are ''new only'' or everything.
ecrater does the same thing on their venue.  Kudos to Bonanza for letting people filter for 'used' only.
   

- for NEW items, many times I start searching on eBay and bookmark an item, but then I hit Google and find a significantly better deal through a company's own site.  eBay-Amazon used to consistently provide the best deals. Not lately. Retailers and private business are catching up.


- Sigh...  I have given eCrater and Bonanza a shot at our recent purchase needs.  95% of the time they have ''0'' results!  When the item IS there, it has been priced higher than the other sites. Example: a search for a certain brand full-size sheets  brings only (1) result on ecrater, (4) on Bonz but (769) on eBay.
 

- Amazon.  I look at their reviews but lately Amazon has not been the best price so I move on.  For example, I am interested in some hard-to-find grocery items and thought Amazon would come out ahead, but no - it was a localized New England site that had the best prices.  Recently bought a new quilt/sham set and ended up buying from a private business' niche website.    


IMO  private smaller websites CAN compete with the Amazon - eBay big names as long as they get visibility! I may not have come across these if they had not been on Google's first screen, but it sure seems they are making progress in competing with large retail and other venues.

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 10:48:04 2015

>I have always liked it when a venue lets you filter ''used'' away from new. Has anyone noticed eBay's NEW app does not let you do this? Your choices are ''new only'' or everything.


Lets say you are looking for a power adapter for an HP laptop. Most likely, all the "new" ones are knockoffs. You want an OEM one. I specifically say "used" because I want an OEM one. All that cheap chinese carp is making finding the real ones harder

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Apr 7 10:54:56 2015

@bobman - I agree on craigslist -  Craigs is best suited for what you mention, boats, cars, also trailers, furniture, large items, etc...

I have not had your bad experiences with Craigslist, but have sold furniture & speakers there without problem. The CA kids are buying large items like furniture & car stuff.  

My categories would NOT be a good fit for the Craigslist type venue. I do wonder if collectibles might work in a photo driven venue like OfferUp. I think I would want to do business by online pay and mail shipment, tho.  

Local pickup is getting too scary - some Tampa Bay FL areas are allowing police stations to be meet-up points for Craigslist!  

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by: funkygrrl This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 11:06:37 2015

Has anyone any experience selling vintage collectibles on Amazon?  Is that even possible?  The only thing I have ever sold there are comics and vintage board games.

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by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 11:23:12 2015

I agree with thebobman.  lol.  You couldn't have described it better.  I have listed 4 things on Craigslist over the years and didn't get even one interested buyer for 3 of them.

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by: cellular-seller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 11:50:14 2015

I had been an Ebay seller for many years.  EBay has continually "tweaked" their feedback and seller performance metrics to discriminate against sellers of items that historically have consumer issues.  Frequently buyers will mete out a "not as described" complain due to sheer ignorance.  As a conscientious seller we reach out to buyers and invariable come out with a better result due to listening to our customer's needs. Unfortunately EBay finds this to be a "defective" transaction. The only thing that counts is whether the buyer would continue purchasing on eBay after the transaction, all other information is pure bunk.

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by: quirkyantiques This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 12:02:51 2015

I sell antiques. When Paypal became mandatory in 2008 I opened a Ruby Lane Store. It has gone from strength to strength there for me. A better class of customer-no Paypal scammers and after sales emails do not provoke the ''Oh no...what NOW?'' ulcer reaction-they are emails THANKING you. I still list SOME things on Ebay-Chinese items, some cut glass and broken stuff to get rid of. I would say 95% to 98% of my business is now done on Ruby lane and I couldn't be happier. It's business like it SHOULD be. No overt interference from management, no arbitrary and unfair feedback system, no horrendous commissions on sales, the ability to take customers checks-the list is endless. I despise selling on Ebay-its a stressful experience in a VERY toxic environment  

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by: Frank F This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 12:21:14 2015

ebays numbers are grossly inflated. Just about everyone has more than one account, and the Chinese sellers of fake goods have gobs of accounts. I know in some of the categories I sell in, the same items are sold by 50 different Chinese ids and they all have the same pictures, desc, etc.. They must do it to take advantage of the free listings, as do many people.. Its another hoop ebay caused that Amazon doesn't have....

And you also should factor in NARUed or VEROed accounts, as I imagine that they are counted as new ids even if they are no longer used. I have seen the Chinese sellers create ids just to advertise their website and direct people there.. Ebay NARUs it, but they are relentless and they create new ones every day.. 1000s of accounts are created like this daily... Its surprising that ebay is in cahoots with China given all this mess as they would never allow this to happen with a US seller..

And if sales, views and # of listings are any indication, ebay has lost a ton of sellers, and given how horrible sales have been lately, their are MANY more crickets around then buyers as that is all I have been hearing lately on ebay;)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Apr 7 12:43:10 2015

ecrater naysayers?  Perish the thought.  I LOVE eCrater!!!!!

It's working for us and I am grateful.

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by: ebayclosed2016 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 7 12:47:04 2015

Last week I told a person on our ebay account team that we are no longer listing on ebay and have not since the beginning of the year. Their response was that perhaps if I would have better descriptions, our defect rate would be better (2.75%). The response was we don't care about defects, we don't care about feedback and we definitely don't care about ebay any longer. I got the usual responses.. Changes are coming.. When? The spring update?  We have had enough carrots dangled from ebay to feed a rabbit farm in the last 5 years. I also go a new one... "Sorry our partnership is not working out." Since when is ebay my partner? Since they took over all operation and aspects of our business?

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