Etsy VS eBay: Which is the Best Online Marketplace?

Etsy VS eBay: Which is the Best Online Marketplace?

If you've got a Shopify store and are wondering whether to expand into other marketplaces, Etsy or eBay may be right for you. Read our guide to discover which one is the best fit for your business.

Written by Jason Stokes

5 min read

Do you have items to sell online? Maybe you already have a physical shop and want your brand to move into the digital world? You may even have a Shopify store, but you want to expand your audience by moving onto an onlike marketplace. If so, then you have probably looked into different online marketplaces to sell your goods. There are lots of options out there having your own website, using a standalone service such as Shopify or perhaps a marketplace such as Amazon.

However, if you are new to e-commerce then it can be tricky to know where to focus your energy and make your efforts profitable. Two of the largest services we often get clients comparing are Etsy and eBay. Here is a run down of what the two competing marketplaces (Etsy Vs eBay) offer and which one is the right one for your online business:

Etsy Vs eBay: What do they sell?

The biggest difference between Etsy and eBay is that they sell different types of products and therefore attract two different audiences. On eBay, it is an anything goes type of policy; you can find a huge range of products that are both new and second hand. This includes wholesale items, handmade items, vintage items, antiques and much more. If you have a range of items that fit into a diverse range of categories, then eBay is much more flexible and will keep all of your sales on the same site which is useful.

Etsy on the other hand, allows sellers to advertise handmade items or items over 20 years of age which gives Etsy a different, unique feel and thus attracts a specific audience. The website is generally more boutique and focuses on individualistic items rather than mass-produced ones. If your products fit in with the niche dynamic of Etsy, then you could find a distinct and relative audience on there which will be great for generating sales. Contrastingly, on eBay, you may find yourself competing against a lot of mass produced items where the audience is looking for the cheapest price rather than a unique and original product.

How to know whether Etsy or eBay is better for your business

As previously mentioned, it really depends on what you're selling as to whether Etsy or eBay is better for you. Whether a seller prefers Etsy or eBay often depends on the price of the item they want to sell, how niche the product is and how quickly a seller wants to make sales. Selling on eBay is generally quicker than Etsy, however, it tends to be more costly due to higher selling fees. So what are the pros and cons of both?

eBay Pros:

  • Easy to list products eBay makes it very simple and easy to list items. You can also duplicate product listings which is a convenient feature of the service. eBay's listing manager makes selling your items efficient and straightforward.
  • Huge potential eBay is a marketplace that gives sellers access to millions of potential customers. According to Statista, eBay recently reached 152.3 million active users in the third quarter of 2014, meaning that products can be viewed and purchased by a staggering number of consumers.
  • Sell globally eBay will display your listings to customers all over the world. This therefore makes eBay a great marketplace to sell products that may not be available in all countries as well as allowing you to expand your product popularity internationally.

eBay Cons:

  • Expensive fees can add up Fees on eBay can vary and depend heavily on what you sell. The start up costs are very low, with the average listing only costing 35p but the way eBay makes their money is through the final sale charge - 10% of whatever you sell is paid to the marketplace. Putting that into figures, if you sell expensive items, you're going to lose more money on eBay than you would if you were selling your products on your own e-commerce store.
  • Unreliable buyers A buyer purchasing something on eBay is not the final step in an eBay transaction. Although the buyer has committed to buy, they don't have to pay straight away which means that a buyer can commit to purchase something but fail to pay for it. This can be costly, time consuming and annoying for sellers if it happens repeatedly (which is not uncommon).
  • eBay Favours buyers over sellers There have been many complaints from sellers over the years that disputes over items normally result in favour of buyers rather than the sellers. eBay has recently tried to solve this issue by equalising sellers, allowing them to also leave feedback. This has amended one part of the issue, yet in disputes about postage and missing items, there is still a bias in favour of buyers.

Etsy Pros:

  • Large (yet targeted customer base) Etsy doesn't quite match up to eBay in audience size but still has 40 million active members who are specifically looking for unique handmade or vintage items. Customers shopping on Etsy don't tend to mind paying a little bit more for products whereas eBay shoppers are usually more thrifty and hunting for a bargain.
  • It has more of an e-commerce feel Sellers can quickly set up a brand, payment options and generate shipping labels for orders without knowing any HTML or CSS. It also has forums and easy customer service options which make selling on Etsy a breeze.


  • Fees are still high Much like eBay, there are listing and final sale fees on Etsy. Unfortunately, one may also have to contend with PayPal processing fees too which can start to make selling costly.
  • Copycats If you have a fantastic brand and product creation, there's a possibility that when you put it up on Etsy, you may start to see copycats replicating your work. Etsy is full of creative people and if you can be successful on there, chances are that they can too - this makes competition rife throughout the site. Some sellers are sneaky to the point where they even copy descriptions, titles and photos.
  • Customisation Despite the fact that Etsy is a very creative marketplace, the listings are relatively unimaginative. Every item listing looks the same apart from the photos and descriptions. This makes it a tough place to stand out without putting in work on the aesthetics of your brand such as photography and graphic design.

Why it's still important to have an online store

Although we love Etsy and eBay, we view them as a temporary way to get your products out into the online selling world before opening a standalone website on Shopify or other e-commerce platform. Etsy and eBay are a quick and easy way to get your products online, however the corporations profit from your hard work rather than all the money going into your pocket. Having a large customer base that specifically visits your website is the ultimate goal of e-commerce and this cannot necessarily be achieved on Etsy or eBay.

Advantages of a Shopify store

Total control over customisation of your store There is no other marketplace which allows you to express your brand like your own website does. You can choose exactly how your brand comes across and there's no limit to how many pages of content you're allowed either. Adding videos, 'meet the team' pages and your own blog can really solidify the style of your company and its branding. You can also split multiple products into collections and have a basket that is specifically for your store. Offers, discounts and shipping promotions On your own Shopify store, you have the ability to run promotions and offer discounts in order to increase conversions. You can also set different shipping rates and discounted or even free shipping. Future Marketing With your own Shopify store, you can allow customers to create accounts which is great for future marketing, customer loyalty and retargeting. You can also integrate email marketing apps into your design to capture visitors' details in exchange for discounts. Get your 14-day Shopify trial here today!

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