Yesterday, I told you about my little experiment. I had a single, one time item (an iPod) and I decided to list it at the exact same price on both Amazon and eBay to see two things. Firstly, to see where I would pay the least fees on it and secondly, to see where it would sell first.

So it just sold and the winning platform is…


Now, in the interest of fairness, I should tell you that I actually listed the item on Amazon a full day before I listed it on eBay because Turbo Lister was being a butt the day I tried to list it. I also sent out the link to the item on Amazon on Twitter but never sent out the link to eBay because I forgot. So the Amazon listing had two advantages the eBay listing didn’t. You’ll notice I also didn’t link to either listing in my blog post just to keep it all fair.

Why did it sell on eBay first? Was it just luck? I don’t think so.

Here is my logic:

  • Amazon is selling the item for $55 with free shipping. Selling mine at $49.99 with Amazon’s flat $4.99 shipping (which is out of my control) makes mine the same price. I know that if given the choice between buying from a third party seller or Amazon directly for the same price, I would always go with Amazon for that extra level of protection. I actually consider this a huge advantage to eBay as a platform. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all items but any item you sell on their platform that they also sell, you are competing with the platform itself. I hate that. So, from the start, on Amazon, I was competing with Amazon. On eBay, all I was competing with was other sellers.
  • The eBay listing has more international eyes on it. The item actually sold to someone in Brazil but even before that I had many questions and all of them were from buyers outside the US. My Amazon listing was available to international buyers but Amazon just doesn’t have the international reach that eBay does, preferring to redirect buyers to their local Amazon version.
  • I’m a bigger deal on eBay. I have more feedback (Amazon’s Marketplace has always been the worst for feedback in my personal experience. Buyers never leave it and when they do, its usually a review of the item because they were confused) and I’m Top Rated, both of which give my item that little extra omph that make people trust it a wee bit more. I don’t think we can count this out. 
  • Items always sell faster on eBay over Amazon.

Now this last conclusion would seem random for this one sale and it is. But from my long career selling on both platforms, I have very often listed items in both locations and, with one or two exceptions, it has always sold on eBay or first. I always list media and new items on Amazon whenever the chance comes around because, logically, it seems like they should sell on Amazon first but so far that is rarely the case in the 10+ years I’ve been selling on both platforms. Now your experiences with the platforms may be completely opposite but let me tell you my own private theory as to why that is.

When I use Amazon, it is to buy something specific. I don’t browse it. I need a specific movie/book etc for someone for a gift and I go to the site, buy and leave. So if I had wanted to buy an iPod, I would go to Amazon and buy the iPod. I might be willing to pay a little bit more to get it fast or get it new directly for Amazon and I need it for a gift right now so I’m not worried as much about shopping around for the best price. So in most cases, the buyer is going to go for the item that Amazon has listed. The third party seller’s item will still sell eventually, but it may be a while.

But eBay is a different sort of marketplace. On eBay, I’m usually watching and waiting. If I want an iPod on eBay, I maybe have a saved search for it or an alert whenever someone lists one. Even if I haven’t set this up, if I searched for iPods recently, eBay’s cross marketing is going to shove similar listings in my face. If I’m waiting around for a deal, I’ve more than likely shopped around and I know the best price so if a seller with good feedback who is also Top Rated lists one in my price range, I’m going to grab it.

So I think that the main reason eBay usually has speed of sale on its side is simple because there are more eyeballs looking for a deal who are ready to grab your item as soon as it is listed at a good price while the Amazon crowd is more likely to buy directly from Amazon and only order from 3rd party sellers if there is a massive difference in price or if Amazon is out of stock. I also think that the Amazon marketplace ebbs and flows more with much bigger spikes around holidays. So maybe timing was a factor here as well.

Anyway, that is just my own private theory on this subject. Why do you think it sold on eBay first?