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Amazon or eBay or Craigslist : which is better to sell stuff?

Ebay_Amazon_craigslit_sell_betterI wanted an iPod touch. Actually I wanted an iPhone, but considering the high price of the data plan and the low rate I pay with T-mobile, I decided to buy an iPod touch. So I started saving to buy one early next year.  A couple of weeks ago my husband won an iPod nano at work. I don’t need one, so I decided to sell the iPod nano and use that money for my iPod touch. I have sold & bought furniture on Craigslist, I have auctioned stuff at eBay and used Amazon for selling/buying books and CDs. Every time I wanted to sell something, I have debated which the right place to sell stuff is. Should I sell on Amazon or eBay or Craigslist or may be all of them? Here is a list of 10 comparison points I made and my opinion on how Amazon, eBay and Craigslist stack up on each of these points.

Here is the summary of my preferences, detailed analysis presented after the table.

A=Amazon              C=Craigslist               e=eBay

Comparison point Preference 1 Preference 2 Preference 3
Listing method A for fixed price e for auction C for bulky items
Listing process A C or e
Time Required A C or e
Fees C A or e
Sale Price A C or e
Payment method C A e
Return policy C A e
Shipping C e A
Feedback system A C e
Taxes e A or C

1. Listing method

Amazon has a fixed price listing method, whereas eBay works as an auction platform. Craigslist is not an auction, but people rarely buy stuff for the price you ask for, so it is a negotiation platform. Each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages. If you have furniture or something that needs to be looked at, Craigslist is probably the only option. Antique jewelry or a collectible, eBay wins hands down. But for books or electronics for which I know exactly how much I want, I have had much better luck with Amazon.

Preference : Amazon marketplace for fixed price, eBay stores for auction items, Craigslist for large, used items.

2. Listing process

Listing on Amazon is extremely easy. All I had to do was search for the product using the model number. “Ipod A12345” brought the product page with the exact make, model and color. After clicking on the “Have one to sell” button and answering a couple of questions about the price and the condition, my iPod was listed. I didn’t have to take a photo with multiple angles, no detailed description, no legal mumbo jumbo like I have to do with eBay.

Preference : 1. A 2. C 3. e

3. Time required

Amazon has all the details the buyer would ever want. Amazon buyers also seem to believe Amazon more, which mean less questions for the seller to answer. The buyers and sellers interact very little. eBay buyers on the other hand had a lot of questions – what exactly is the condition (even though it has been listed with photos), if I had shipped, etc. eBay transactions are very interactive throughout; taking a lot of time. Craigslist buyers also take a lot of time and I have had bad experiences with flakes.

Preference : 1. A 2. C or e

4. Fees

Amazon has no initial listing fees, but their commissions are pretty steep. eBay charges a listing fee regardless of whether the item sells or not. If the item sells, there is a final value fee. I have to also consider all the optional fees, the time spent on relisting and dealing with unpaid items. As an example, for an item listed for $125 here are the breakdown of fees for both.

Fees Amazon eBay
Listing fee (-) $0 $1
Commission (-) $11.74 $11.25
Shipping Credit (+) $7.48 $0 (I will have to bill the buyer for shipping)
Price I asked $125 $125
Total $120.74 $112.75 (+ shipping charge)

Craigslist is free.

Preference : 1. C 2. A or e

5. Sale price

eBay is famous for bargain values and the eBay buyers are willing to wait for a long auction to save money. Amazon’s crowd on the other hand, seem to buy now and if the quality is good, they are willing to pay more for a similar item on eBay (just based on my personal experience). If you do have an unusual item or item that is not listed on Amazon the best bet is eBay. Craigslist, the price will be negotiated down, you don’t have to sell if you don’t like the price but it is still time consuming to get the price you want.

Preference : 1. Amazon marketplace 2. eBay stores or Craigslist

6. Payment method

Amazon sellers use Amazon payments to get the money. Amazon collects the payment and deposits it into my bank account. No extra fee for doing this. If the buyer doesn’t pay then there is no sale. I don’t have to invoice anyone, send payment reminders, track/report/hassle with unpaid items. eBay on the other hand accepts a variety of other payments like PayPal, money orders or cashier’s check. Oh and PayPal charges fees too. For my $125 items I would have paid ~$4 in PayPal fees (2.9% + 35c). EBay’s payment system costs more money and time. Craigslist, I always use only cash.

Preference : 1. C 2. A 3. e

7. Return policy

As a buyer, I love Amazon’s return policy and their A-Z guarantee. As a seller it is not to my advantage, but if I describe my condition exactly and nothing is wrong with the product, I am assuming people won’t randomly file a claim. So far I have sold only books and CDs, this is the first time I have sold an iPod, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. eBay takes a messier route. If the buyer wants the refund, he can get it, but the seller can fight it out with the buyer. eBay can also do a charge back to my PayPal account/credit card. So both of them side with the buyer, but just due to the extra hassle factor with eBay, Amazon wins. In Craigslist as the buyer already sees the item, there are not that many returns.

Preference : 1. C 2. A 3. e

8. Shipping

Amazon offered 2 types of shipping credit, standard and expedited. It is a fixed credit based on the item you are selling, so if you spend more to ship than the shipping credit, you have to pay from your pocket. eBay on the other hand lets you charge the buyer for shipping. Some sellers charge a higher shipping fee to cover the eBay/PayPal fees. To discourage this, eBay prefers sellers who offer free shipping. In any case, if you know exactly how much it will cost for shipping, you can get the full price with eBay. Craigslist deals locally so there are no worries about shipping.

Preference : 1. C 2. e 3. A

9. Feedback/promotion

New sellers are penalized on eBay. They do this for a reason as they rely on their feedback system, but it does make things difficult for the little guys like me. My listing doesn’t show up on the top even if I have a great price. Amazon shows all the prices from low to high along with the rating. And as the buyers in Amazon trust Amazon more, they tend to put less weight on the seller’s rating, unless it is horrible. So for me, Amazon offers a better system than eBay. If you are a power seller then eBay might be better. In craigslist, you just have to keep relisting to get on top, after that it is the price that matters for the searching/filtering.

Preference : 1. A 2. C 3. e

10. Taxes

I have put this last because, I am not sure if this affects casual, used item sellers like me (if it does please let me know). But if you are in the business of buying/selling stuff this will matter a lot. Amazon marketplace sellers have to take care of the taxes themselves. You could figure it out by yourself and add it to the sale price of the product, but I imagine it will be a pain. eBay has an option to collect the taxes from the buyer in addition to the sale price. I like this system better. Craigslist deals with mostly used stuff, cash only, so I didn’t have to think about taxes so far. If I run a business out of Craigslist I assume it will be a similar system to Amazon where I have to figure out the taxes.

Preference : 1. eBay stores 2. Amazon marketplace or Craigslist


If I have a bulky item like furniture or something that needs to be looked at, Craigslist is the best place to start. Even for books and electronics, Craigslist can be a decent market place but the best chance is with Amazon. If I have a rare collectible or an unusual item, eBay seems to do better. But for anything that is available in Amazon’s catalog, my personal preference is to sell it in Amazon – due to the time savings, fixed price and ease of using the system. I could always list in Amazon and Craigslist, if the item is appropriate for Amazon or eBay stores and Craigslist if the item is appropriate for eBay. What do you think? Have you used Amazon, Craigslist or eBay to sell items? Which one would you prefer? And why?

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