Should I Shop eBay or Amazon?

There's a time and place for each major online marketplace

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Once upon a time, eBay was the 800-pound gorilla of e-commerce. But it's not the only game on the internet anymore, and in some ways has been overshadowed by competitor Amazon

eBay Versus Amazon 

One way to decide whether to buy on one platform or on the other is simply by looking at price, but is there more to the picture than that? After all, the prices between the two often vary by just a few dollars; if there's a significant advantage to shopping one marketplace over the other, maybe price shouldn't be the final deciding factor.

The answer to this question is a matter of personal choice, but here are some common ways to make the decision.

When to Shop Amazon

Amazon offers advantages to shoppers making frequent purchases of common items, or of items that must be returned. Comparison shopping on Amazon is much easier, because it has a much cleaner, easier to use interface than eBay. This makes brand-vs-brand or product-vs-related-product comparison shopping on Amazon much easier. Throw in Amazon.com reviews and if you're shopping in product areas where the price differences are minimal, Amazon is a no-brainer.

If you're buying commodity goods, Amazon also comes out ahead. With services like Amazon Prime (which offers free second-day shipping on many of Amazon's products, Amazon subscriptions, and other similar perks), Amazon is a good place to go if you're basically looking to replace a trip to your local department store with a trip to an online store.

The future perks of Amazon look like they'll include things like drone shipments, which are not widely available yet, but are on the company's to-do list. The company's focus on getting purchases to its members quickly and its focus on innovation shouldn't be overlooked. 

When to Shop eBay

Even though Amazon may be much larger at this point than eBay, there are still times when eBay may be a better option.

For instance,  when buying  imported goods, eBay might give more seller choices.  It's also where seekers of one-of-a-kind, boutique, and craft goods may have more luck. 

eBay is also still the leader for online auctions, and if you're looking to auction goods or participate in an auction, it's probably your best bet. 

For this reason, antiques, collectibles, and vintage items are probably more up eBay's alley. The eBay marketplace continues to reign supreme for memorabilia and collectibles of all kinds. 

Plenty of Reasons to Shop Both

At the end of the day, eBay and Amazon don't have to be mutually exclusive options. In most cases, they're actually complementary. Amazon is a great choice for diapers, coffee, batteries, and new products that you might otherwise find in a retail store. For these kinds of goods, Amazon can save you both legwork and money.

eBay, on the other hand, is still unmatched for providing access to goods and deals that can't be had anywhere else—a full selection of products from around the world, unique or vintage goods, used items at a significant discount over new, and so on.

Most of the savviest shoppers use both, and know when to choose each one. 

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