With eBay’s recent announcement that Half.com listings will some in eBay search results, Media sellers have a choice. They can list items either on eBay or Half.com and they will show in the same place.

But which place is the best place to list your item to save money? Look at this sentence from AuctionBytes:

eBay had a good news-bad news announcement today for sellers in the media category. The good news – eBay is extending the 5-cent listing promotion for fixed-price listings through the end of the year. The bad news – those sellers will have to compete with free listings from Half.com sellers.

That sentence implies that having Half.com items on eBay is a bad thing for eBay sellers because Half.com has no listing fees. But is it really cheaper to list your items on Half.com?

The first thing to consider is that there are no listing fees for Half.com. So, if you are listing an item that will not sell quickly and will be up for a while, that alone may give Half.com the edge as time and 30 day insertions fees rack up. But if you know your item will sell, you need to look at the whole picture.

Half.com gives you a set shipping credit that may be too much or too little to cover actual shipping depending on the item. You cannot pad this with a handling cost (like you can on eBay) so on many media items, you lose money on shipping on Half.com. However, for smaller, lighter items (like CDs, small books and DVDs) you can usually ship First Class for even cheaper than Media so sometimes you still come out ahead. Also, keep in mind that the credit that the seller (you) get for the item is less than the buyer is actually charged. Because of this the total price of the item is another thing to consider. If you set the item at the exact same price point on both sites, in many cases, the buyer is paying more on Half.com or eBay (depending on the item) because of shipping costs.

Obviously, this is not a one size fits all solution and the cheaper site might be different for you depending on what you are selling and how large it is. Let’s do an example or two, shall we?

I have a paperback book that weighs 10 ounces. My shipping cost on that item would be $2.23. I want to sell it for $5.

  • If I sell the item on Half.com, I get $4.25 out of my $5 price and an additional 41 cents because the shipping credit they give me is a little too high. I don’t have any flexibility so that is that.
  • On eBay, listing this item as a Fixed Price item of $5 exactly and only charging actual shipping with no handling fee, I would get $3.59. However, if I charge even a $1 handling fee, I get $4.56. Or, if I charge exactly the amount Half.com charges for shipping so the my item price is exactly the same as Half’s (Half.com charges the buyer $3.49 in shipping costs) I get $4.81. Because Half’s shipping is so high, even adding a $1 handling fee your shipping costs, your item would still be cheaper on eBay and you would make more.

Advantage eBay? That’s surprising. Even by only charging a $1 handling fee, my item would still be both cheaper (price + shipping) and I would make more money from it on eBay over Half. Here is one case where saving the insertion fee really doesn’t make a difference. For both the seller and buyer, they are better off buying the item on eBay for the biggest savings/profit respectively.

Next I want to sell a text book. It weighs 5 lbs so Media Mail shipping would be $3.63. I want to sell it for $25.

  • On Half.com, I would get $21.25 but their shipping credit isn’t enough to cover actual shipping so I would lose an additional 56 cents so I really get $20.69. But that is still slightly higher than eBay.
  • On eBay, charging only actual shipping and no handling fee, I would get $19.97 for my $25 sale price. If we charged exactly the same shipping cost as Half we would make $20.32 on eBay. If we charged a $1 handling fee, we would get $20.94

Half.com charges the buyer $3.99 for shipping on a hardcover which is more than we would be charging on eBay if we only charged actual shipping but less than we would be charging if we added a handling fee. So if you do not charge a handling fee, eBay would be the cheaper price for your buyers but you would make slightly less.

Obviously, there is no one size fits all solution. But the point of this post was to warn you not to fall into the trap of assuming it is cheaper to list on Half.com just because there is no listing fee.

I highly recommend consulting a good fee calculator such as Ryan Olbe’s eBay fee calculator and Half.com fee Calculator (Ryan’s Half.com calc doesn’t do the shipping so you have to do that manually) when deciding which site to list on. I think you will be surprised to find that the cheapest site for both you and your buyers varies from item to item and that, many times, saving the insertion fee doesn’t do you much good in the end.