April 30, 2023

Etsy vs eBay: Which One is Better for eCommerce Sellers?

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min read

Deciding on a selling platform is by far the most important decision that ecommerce sellers will make about their business. The platform you choose will affect your day-to-day operations, what you can sell, and, of course, your bottom line. Every ecommerce business is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all marketplace for every business. If you’re here, you’ve probably already narrowed your many options down to Etsy and eBay. This article will take a look at each of these selling platforms from multiple perspectives and compare them on a variety of points to help you decide which one is the best choice for you and your ecommerce business.

Etsy vs eBay

Overview of Etsy and eBay

Both Etsy and eBay are popular and well-established online marketplaces, with millions of buyers flocking to each platform to buy anything from pet supplies to vintage clothes. That’s where their similarities end, however – Etsy and eBay are two distinct marketplaces that cater to different buyers, with each marketplace offering not only a different shopping experience, but oftentimes entirely different items. Here, we’ll briefly go over what each marketplace is, as well as review the differences between the two.

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an online marketplace created specifically for selling vintage goods, craft supplies, and handmade items. As such, it offers a more catered selection of items to its 40-million-strong buyer base when compared to larger ecommerce marketplaces. Etsy allows only fixed-price listings of items that meet the aforementioned criteria; that is, they must be handmade items, vintage goods, or craft supplies. Etsy itself does not sell anything, unlike platforms such as Amazon, meaning that all listings on the site are from other sellers.

What is eBay?

One of the first online marketplaces, eBay has certainly become a household name since its founding in 1995. Sellers on eBay can sell new and used goods in both auction and fixed-price listings. eBay permits the sale of all kinds of consumer goods, and even has a platform for selling secondhand cars known as eBay Motors, as well as a classified ads section. eBay itself does not sell any items, so just like on Etsy, your competition will come from other ecommerce sellers.

What are the Differences Between the Two?

When comparing Etsy vs eBay, the major difference is what you can sell on each platform. This makes the decision easy for many sellers who are trying to decide whether selling on Etsy vs eBay is the better option, since Etsy limits the types of items you can sell to vintage pieces, handmade goods, and craft supplies. eBay allows sellers to sell all of these things, as well as virtually any other type of goods, new or used.

The second major difference between Etsy and eBay is the buying format you can offer on your listings. Etsy allows only fixed-price listings, where you publish your listing with a set price for your item. eBay, on the other hand, allows its sellers much more flexibility. Sellers on eBay can publish fixed-price listings (known on the platform as “Buy It Now”), or auction-style listings that run for a predetermined length of time. Furthermore, eBay gives sellers the option of adding offers to both types of listings, allowing buyers and sellers to negotiate the price of an item with offers and counteroffers.

eBay vs Etsy

Compare Etsy vs eBay: What’s It Like for Sellers?

Both Etsy and eBay boast an impressive number of sellers on their platforms, with each marketplace offering its sellers a unique selling experience. But just like any other selling platform, both Etsy and eBay have their own set of seller requirements, fees, payment options, and promotional tools. This section will examine each platform from the perspectives that are most important to ecommerce sellers, and help you make a more informed decision when deciding on Etsy vs eBay for your ecommerce business.

Fees & Seller Requirements

Opening an Etsy shop is free, and you’ll only pay a fixed fee of 20 cents for each listing you publish on the platform, and every time you renew a listing. When you make a sale, you’ll pay a 6.5% transaction fee for the entire amount of the transaction, in addition to a payment processing fee. If you use Etsy Payments (which most Etsy sellers are required to use), the processing fee is location-based and determined by the country in which your bank account is located.

Anyone is eligible to sell on Etsy, provided that the items they list are vintage (20 years or older), handmade/custom made, or craft supplies. Etsy does not require its sellers to have a business license, but it requires all of its members to comply with any applicable local laws governing small/online businesses in their respective jurisdictions. When setting up your account, you’ll need to link your bank account, as well as set up two-factor authentication.

eBay works a little bit differently to Etsy, with a considerably more complex fee structure. For starters, all users can publish listings on eBay without necessarily having an eBay Store subscription. Without an eBay Store, you’ll be able to publish up to 250 listings for free each month, after which you can expect to pay listing fee (known on eBay as an insertion fee) that’s determined by the product’s category. For sellers who want to publish a large number of listings and want to have their own storefront on eBay, eBay offers a series of eBay Store subscription models (if you don’t have an eBay user, you can also read about them here). Choosing the best option for you will require a bit of thought and foresight, but keep in mind that you can always upgrade your subscription as your business grows.

In terms of requirements, eBay requires all its sellers to have a valid billing address and payment method on file. For business sellers, eBay requires registration as a business account, which requires inputting bank/credit card information, tax information, and a government-issued ID.

Eligible Product Categories

As mentioned earlier, Etsy permits its sellers to list a limited selection of items on the platform. Etsy permits the sale of handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. These divide into the following main product categories: Jewelry & Accessories, Clothing & Shoes, Home & Living, Wedding & Party, Toys & Entertainment, Art & Collectibles, Craft Supplies & Tools, and Vintage.

As opposed to Etsy, eBay has a much wider selection of eligible product categories that sellers can list on the platform. Sellers can list items in the Electronics, Collectibles, Home & Garden, Fashion, Toys, Sporting Goods, Business & Industrial, Jewelry & Watches, and Refurbished (which included home goods, electronics, and appliances) categories. Furthermore, eBay has a dedicated platform for selling used cars, called eBay Motors.

As opposed to Etsy, eBay has a much wider selection of eligible product categories that sellers can list on the platform. Sellers can list items in the Electronics, Collectibles, Home & Garden, Fashion, Toys, Sporting Goods, Business & Industrial, Jewelry & Watches, and Refurbished (which included home goods, electronics, and appliances) categories. Furthermore, eBay has a dedicated platform for selling used cars, called eBay Motors.

Shipping & Delivery

Sellers on Etsy can choose to ship out orders themselves, or take advantage of Etsy’s shipping partner program known as Etsy Shipping. This program brings sellers together with USPS, FedEx, and Canada Post to make shipping out orders simple. Sellers can generate labels directly through their Etsy account, and get access to competitive postage rates to over 150 countries that can add up to up to 30% savings on shipping costs. Etsy requires its sellers to input a processing time and transit time to calculate an estimated delivery date which you’ll need to meet when shipping items out to your buyers. Etsy does not require its sellers to include a tracking number with each order, but it’s highly recommended since without valid tracking on your orders you cannot become an Etsy Star Seller, and you’ll not be eligible for Etsy Purchase Protection on untraceable orders.

eBay offers its sellers access to a variety of shipping partnership programs to help them more easily fulfill orders. All of these are included in the eBay Labels program, which offers eBay sellers an easy way to generate and print shipping labels for both international and domestic US order fulfillment. The international shipping options are eBay International Standard Delivery and the more well-known Global Shipping Program. The eBay Labels Domestic Shipping Services enable US sellers to fulfill domestic orders with USPS, UPS, or FedEx.

Payment Options

As a seller on Etsy, you’ll be able to accept payment via credit and debit cards, Etsy Gift card and Etsy Credits, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Klarna, iDEAL, and Sofort. Read more about Etsy’s accepted payment methods here.

When you sell on eBay, you can accept payments via PayPal, PayPal Credit, credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, spendable funds from other eBay sellers, payment upon pickup, and eBay gift cards/eBay vouchers/eBay Bucks. For select product categories, sellers can accept wire transfers, checks, money orders, and some online payment services including Escrow.com, Allpay.net, CertaPay, Fiserv, Nochex.com, and XOOM. Read more about eBay’s payment policy here.

Customer Service Requirements

Etsy evaluates its sellers on three metrics: message response rate, 5-star review rate, and on-time tracked shipping. The evaluation measures your account activity from three months prior to determine if you qualify for a Star Seller ranking. Only sellers who score 95% or above on all three of these metrics in the previous three months will qualify for Star Seller ranking. Additionally, Etsy monitors seller accounts to ensure that they meet Etsy’s Service Level Standards, and may limit your selling privileges if your account does not meet them.

On eBay, sellers are evaluated monthly on two types of metrics: Seller Standards and Service Metrics. In the former, eBay will measure you based on your transaction defect rate, rate of cases closed without seller resolution, and late shipment rate. Based on your performance in each of these metrics, your account will receive an account health rating of Below Standard, Above Standard, or Top Rated. If your account rating falls below Above Standard, eBay may restrict your selling activity. Read more about eBay’s Seller Standards Policy here.

The Service Metrics Policy compares the certain types of activity on your account (buyer reports of an item not arriving and return requests for an item not matching the description in the listing) to a group of your seller “peers” in order to gauge your performance relative to similar sellers. Read more about eBay’s Service Metrics Policy here.

Selling Tools & Features

All Etsy sellers have access to their own seller dashboard, an overview of your selling account that gives you access to important information and stats to manage your Etsy store. In the "Stats" tab, you'll be able to see stats about your conversion rate, stats regarding marketing campaigns, and more. You can access your Etsy seller dashboard by logging into your Etsy seller account and navigating to Shop Manager. In addition to a robust dashboard, Etsy also has a dedicated seller app, which enables you to do much of what you can do on your desktop on the go. For sellers looking for a more robust set of tools, Etsy offers a subscription package (priced at $10USD/mo) known as Etsy Plus. This monthly plan offers sellers perks such as advertising credits, enabling potential buyers to sign up for restock alerts, more shop customization, and shipping-related discounts.

Every seller on eBay – whether they're an eBay Store subscriber or not – has access to eBay's seller dashboard, known as the Seller Hub. Like the seller dashboard on Etsy, this dashboard will give you an overview of your store's performance, important stats, and account health, and even gives you the option of downloading reports. eBay also has a mobile app that enable sellers to do many things they would be able to do on desktop, though it is not a dedicated seller app. Sellers with an eBay Store subscription will also have access to the Promotions Manager, a marketing/store management tool that enables sellers to set up special offers on their eBay stores.

Branding & Promotion

Etsy offers its sellers a selection of simple promotional and branding tools to establish and grow their business. The first is Etsy Ads, a simple on-site CPC program that enables sellers to promote designated listings in certain search results. Etsy also automatically enrolls its sellers in its Offsite Ads program, where sellers only pay a commission on sales they've made through an offsite ad. Aside from ads, Etsy also enables sellers to run sales on their stores, create coupons to send directly to buyers, or send offers to buyers who've shown interest in your items. Additionally, Etsy sellers can link their social media accounts directly to their Etsy shop, allowing them to easily promote their shop on a variety of social media channels. Finally, Etsy offers a selection of Seller Programs, such as Etsy Market, which offer valuable opportunities for growing and promoting your Etsy business.

eBay has a robust set of programs to help sellers promote their eBay listings and store. For starters, eBay has two promoted listings programs for fixed-price listings: Promoted Listings Standard and Promoted Listings Advanced. The former is a commission-based model, in which sellers pay for the ad only when a sale is made, while the latter is a CPC model, in which sellers pay for a click on their ad. In addition to these ad-based promotions, eBay also gives its eBay Store subscribed sellers a slew of promotional tools known as Seller Hub Promotions. These can be activated directly from your eBay Seller Hub free of charge, and include:

  • Order size discounts, in which you incentivize buyers to purchase multiple items to receive a discount (i.e. buy 3 units of X for a 25% discount)
  • Markdown sale events, in which you discount an entire inventory group by a certain percentage (i.e. a 30% discount on all items in a certain category)
  • Shipping discounts, in which you offer discounted or free shipping on certain items or for transactions over a minimum amount (i.e. free shipping on orders over $60)
  • Coded coupons, in which you give your buyers a discount code they can input at checkout to receive a certain discount (i.e. input code DISCOUNT25 at checkout for 25% off)
  • Volume pricing, in which you incentivize buyers to purchase more than one of an item through volume discounts (i.e. buy 3 units and receive 10% off, buy 5 units and receive 15% off)
  • Offers to buyers, in which buyers can make an offer on items/you can make counteroffers

eBay also offers its store subscribers the ability to create a custom storefront, and gives all its sellers access to the Global Shipping Program to make international commerce simpler.

Sell on Etsy

How to Sell on Etsy

Setting up shop and selling on Etsy a is a pretty simple process. As long as what you're selling complies with Etsy's policies – that is, it's either handmade, vintage, or falls into the category of craft supplies – you can go ahead and open an Etsy Shop free of charge. This section will go over how to sell on Etsy, what you need to set up your shop, how to create Etsy listings for your products, and explain how to manage and fulfilling your orders.

Setting Up Your Shop

Before you begin setting up your Etsy shop, take a moment to consider whether you want to be a Standard Etsy seller, or if you'd like to purchase an Etsy Plus subscription. Etsy Plus is Etsy's only shop subscription service, and, for a monthly fee of $10 USD, gives you access to a selection of perks and tools to help you grow your business. Since you can always upgrade from Etsy Standard to Etsy Plus, we recommend holding off on the subscription unless there is a particular feature you think would be pivotal to your sales strategy.

Regardless of which subscription plan you choose, the process of setting up your Etsy shop will include opening an Etsy account, answering (or skipping) a few introductory questions, selecting your shop's country, language, and currency, and giving your shop a name. You'll then need to link your bank account, and input a credit or debit card as a payment method for paying your Etsy fees. Next, you'll be required to set up two-factor authentication. Then, you'll want to set up your storefront by uploading a banner and logo, uploading your first shop announcement, writing your story in the "about" section, and adding members of your team. Finally, you will need to upload your shop's policies, and create your shop's shipping profiles.

Creating Your Listings

To list your items through Etsy, you'll need to create listings one by one. Etsy does not have a bulk listing feature; it only allows you to copy an existing listing, and make changes to that listing in order to create a new listing. Once you've created a listing for a given product, you'll be able to save it as a draft, and only once you publish the listing will you be charged a $0.20 listing fee.

This listing process is obviously quite tedious, and creates a situation in which all your product information is stored in your Etsy listings, and in which these listings can only be managed directly on Etsy. For this reason, many sellers who wish to expand their store beyond Etsy choose to employ the services of third-party apps like ExportYourStore.

Managing Your Orders

Sellers on Etsy can view their orders in the "Orders & Shipping" section of Shop Manager. You'll be able to see all your orders, and filter and sort them by ship-by date, destination, and newest/oldest. The order management view also has a search function, that allows sellers to search for orders using a variety of order attributes, including SKU, shipping name and address, transaction ID, and more.

Fulfilling Your Orders

When you sell on Etsy, you'll be required to dispatch your orders within a preset handline time you've determined for each item, and, in order to be eligible for Etsy Star Seller status, will need to provide tracking information for at least 95% of all shipped orders. Etsy offers its sellers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia the option of purchasing shipping labels directly through Etsy. Etsy Labels come with a variety of perks, including protection against items lost or damaged in transit, automatic tracking upload, and better chances of achieving Star Seller status.

Sell on eBay

How to Sell on eBay

The basics of selling on eBay are also very straightforward; you don't even have to have an eBay store subscription in order to start selling. That said, sellers who sell more than a few used items from their garage will need to either subscribe to some level of eBay Store, and possibly even open an eBay Business Account. This section will go over how to set up your eBay selling account, how to create eBay listings for your items, and how to manage and fulfill your orders.

Setting Up Your Shop

In order to sell on eBay, you'll need to open a selling account. This simply means your eBay account will need to have a bank account linked in order to receive payments, in addition to a payment method on file. Selling without a Store subscription is suitable for hobby sellers, while selling with an eBay Store subscription is geared towards more serious ecommerce sellers. A Store subscription gives you your own storefront, as well as a variety of listing benefits based on the subscription you choose. eBay has a handy guide to help sellers coming to the platform choose the best Store subscription for their needs, and we encourage sellers just starting out to follow this guide when choosing their subscription. You can always change your subscription, and can of course cancel it at any time.

After you've set up your seller account, you'll want to check your current selling limits by navigating to the Overview tab in your Seller Hub, and scrolling down to the Monthly Limits section. Here you can see how many items you're currently able to list, because eBay places limits on how many listings you can have at a given time based on their assessment of your account. When you need to list more, you can request to increase your selling limits.

Creating Your Listings

To create your first listing on eBay, navigate to the Listings tab in your Seller Hub, then click "Create Listing." This will open up a step-by-step wizard for creating a listing for the item you wish to sell. You can also create up to 2,000 listings in bulk using the current Bulk Listing tool, with a planned release of the new Bulk Listing tool that will also allow sellers to create listings in bulk coming soon. When creating your listing, make sure to provide as much information as possible about your item, and to present it in a way that is both SEO- and buyer-friendly.

Managing Your Orders

You can view and manage your orders directly through the Orders tab in your Seller Hub. You'll be able to filter and sort orders by date, search for orders using a variety of fields, and even print shipping labels directly from here. eBay also gives sellers the option of downloading a more detailed CSV orders report to help you get a better view of the big picture.

Fulfilling Your Orders

Per eBay's shipping policy, you must ship out the item to the buyer within the handling time frame you defined for the item. While you're not required to provide tracking for your items, it's highly recommended to use a tracked service and upload tracking for two reasons: (1) you'll be covered in the event of an "Item Not Received" claim and (2) you'll be eligible to become a Top Rated Seller.

eBay also offers its sellers a wide range of logistics programs to help sellers more easily fulfill their orders. These include eBay's Domestic Shipping Services, for helping sellers in the US fulfill their domestic orders, as well as eBay's International Standard and Global Shipping Programs, for helping sellers fulfill international orders.

Pros and cons selling on Etsy vs eBay

Pros & Cons of Selling on Etsy vs eBay

Every selling platform has its pros and cons, and that's no different when deciding on whether you should sell on Etsy or eBay. Weighing the pros and cons of each marketplace will depend heavily on the specifics of your business – what you're selling, how much you plan to sell, where you would like to sell, and more. This section will go over the pros and cons of each marketplace in a general sense to try and help you decide which one is best for you.

Ultimately, however, many sellers will opt to have their cake and eat it too by listing both on eBay and on Etsy using a multichannel listing tool like ExportYourStore to easily cross-list, manage, and optimize their listings for multiple marketplaces at once.

Pros of Selling on Etsy

As a platform, Etsy's main selling point is its insistence on sticking to its niche. This translates to a unique feel and community on the platform, with buyers who know exactly the type of product and experience they're after when they browse the site. Many sellers find they have repeat customers, as buyers are more interested in purchasing a quality handmade good, genuine vintage item, or specialized craft material than they are at getting the best possible deal. The emphasis on a solid buyer experience, as well as on quality items, is perfect for sellers looking to sell their own handmade items or other items that fit Etsy's specialized niche.  

Cons of Selling on Etsy

On the flipside, Etsy's limitations on what you can sell on the platform can be a downside to some. If you're not planning to exclusively sell vintage, handmade, or crafting items, you won't be able to sell on Etsy at all. Due to these limitations, many sellers choose to forgo Etsy altogether for more inclusive marketplaces, though you don't necessarily have to – tools like ExportYourStore are great for listing on multiple marketplaces, as well as choosing exactly what you want to list on each one.

Pros of Selling on eBay

Unlike Etsy, eBay is a much more inclusive marketplace in terms of what can be sold on the platform. No matter what you're selling, chances are you'll be able to sell it on eBay. Plus, with its varied selection of store subscriptions and logistics solutions tailored to fit practically every type of ecommerce business under the sun, many sellers find eBay to be a great platform for their ecommerce business.  

Cons of Selling on eBay

Unfortunately, the flipside to this ever-growing variety of solutions and subscriptions for eBay sellers is just how complicated things can get. From choosing the right store subscription to periodically requesting higher selling limits to enable your business to grow, eBay generally requires quite a bit of hands-on work for to manage and grow your business.

selling on Etsy vs eBay

Final Thoughts

Both eBay and Etsy have a lot to offer sellers on their respective platforms, with millions of buyers flocking to each one every month to make their next purchase. For many ecommerce sellers, the choice between Etsy vs eBay is a difficult one to make, precisely because of each platform's benefits and distinct market shares. That's why many sellers choose to sell with ExportYourStore, so they don't have to choose between one marketplace or another. Whether you already have an eBay or Etsy store and want to expand to a new marketplace, or you're looking to start a new ecommerce business but can't decide on the perfect platform for you, ExportYourStore can help you get the best of both worlds with simple and easy multichannel commerce.

FAQs for Selling on Etsy and eBay

This section brings together a few of the commonly asked questions sellers have when they are deliberating between Etsy vs eBay. Browse through and see if they answer your questions about selling on Etsy, on eBay, or both!

Q:  What are the differences between selling on Etsy and eBay?

There are many differences between selling on Etsy vs eBay, but the biggest one is what you can sell on each of these marketplaces. Etsy is a niche-oriented marketplace, one that's specifically intended for selling vintage items, handmade goods, and craft supplies, which means that it's simply not an option for all ecommerce sellers. eBay, on the other hand, is much more inclusive in terms of what can be sold on the platform, making it a good option for ecommerce sellers selling all kinds of things.

Furthermore, eBay is a larger marketplace, with more choice for sellers in every facet of online selling – from logistics to marketing, brand-building to selling methods. Etsy tends to offer more simple, one-size-fits-most solutions to its sellers, which can be limiting on the one hand, but certainly simplifies many important decisions you'll face when running your ecommerce business.

Q:  What are the fees for selling on Etsy and eBay?

Selling on Etsy vs eBay will incur different selling fees, with each marketplace having its own fee structure and policies. In general, eBay selling fees include listing fees (known as insertion fees), store subscription fees (for eBay Store subscribers), and final value fees (eBay's commission any time you make a sale). Seller fees on eBay are highly dependent on what you sell, where you're selling from, and what payment methods you accept. Read more about eBay selling fees here. For Etsy sellers, selling fees include listing fees for every listing you publish, transaction fees for every sale you make, payment processing fees, and an optional $10/mo Etsy Plus subscription fee. Read more about the different types of Etsy selling fees here.

Q:  What payment options are available on Etsy and eBay?

When you sell on eBay, you'll be able to accept payment from your buyers through a variety of methods. eBay payment methods include: PayPal, credit and debit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay, eBay Spendable Funds/Gift Cards/Vouchers/Bucks, and payment on pickup. For some product categories, you'll be able to accept bank wires, checks, money orders, and some additional online payment services.

On Etsy, your options will be slightly more limited. Etsy sellers can accept payment via credit and debit, Etsy Credit and gift cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, iDEAL, Klarna, and Sofort.

Q:  What are the customer service options for Etsy and eBay?

As a seller on Etsy, your support options include chat, email, or phone. Find the best way to contact Etsy with your question here.

On eBay, you'll also be able to speak with customer support via chat, through email, or on the phone, depending on your particular question. You can try to find an answer on the eBay help forum, or reach out to customer service with your question here.

Q:  What are the best items for selling on Etsy and eBay?

Buyers flock to eBay to purchase anything and everything under the sun, which is why it's oftentimes difficult to figure out what to sell on eBay. Some of the best-selling items on eBay include: cell phones and accessories, video games and consoles, health and beauty supplies, fashion, and tech. For Etsy, the choices are narrowed down significantly by the marketplace's policies. Best selling items on Etsy include jewelry, leather goods, home décor and gifts, and stickers.

Last updated on:
September 3, 2023
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