Etsy vs eBay in 2024: An In-Depth Comparison for Online Sellers

As an ecommerce consultant who has helped launch over 100 online stores, one of the most common questions I get asked is: Should I sell on Etsy or eBay?

The answer greatly depends on your business model, target audience, ideal profit margins and other factors. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros, cons, fees structures, and key differences between Etsy and eBay in 2024 to help you decide.

Introduction to Etsy and eBay

Founded in 2005, Etsy is a vibrant handmade and vintage goods marketplace with over 4.2 million active sellers making over $5 billion in annual sales. The tight-knit community values unique, creative products and supporting small business owners.

eBay, which launched in 1995, is one of the world’s largest ecommerce platforms with over 159 million buyers. It’s known for discounted prices across an extremely diverse range of new and used inventory.

  Etsy eBay
Sellers 4.2 million 20+ million
Annual Sales $5 billion $85 billion
Website Traffic 96.3 million monthly visits 1.5 billion monthly visits
Buyer Demographics 85% women, 60% have college degree, high household income 60% women, price-conscious, lower average income

This table summarizes some of the key metrics around number of sellers, sales volume, website traffic and audience makeup for each marketplace. As you can see, they operate on vastly different scales in terms of size and reach.

Types of Inventory Allowed

The core difference between Etsy and eBay lies in the types of products you’re allowed to sell on each platform:

Etsy places strict requirements around only allowing handmade, crafting, and vintage items that align with its brand identity and audience preferences. Sellers must apply to open a shop.

eBay lets you list virtually any new or used products as long as they meet site guidelines. eBay leverages its massive buyer base that spans many interests and demographics.

In 2022, prohibited items on eBay included:

  • Alcohol & tobacco
  • Animals & wildlife products
  • Gift cards & codes
  • Healthcare items

Fee Structures Compared

When weighing Etsy vs eBay, one of the biggest considerations is the fee structure and associated selling costs on each platform.

Etsy Fees

Fee Type Amount
Listing Fee $0.20 per listing
Transaction Fee 5% of order total
Payment Processing + 3% + $0.25 per order

eBay Fees

eBay fees vary more widely based on factors like product category, sale price, shipping costs and others. On average, plan for 10-15% of the final selling value.

For example, the average fee breakdown for a $50 consumer electronics item sold on eBay is:

  • 10% final value fee: $5
  • $0.30 listing fee
  • 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee
  • Estimated total fees = 15%

As you can see, sellers on Etsy enjoy slightly lower commissions and fees compared to eBay. However, Etsy’s audience and product restrictions result in lower sales volume potential for many businesses.

Pros and Cons of Selling on Each Site

Etsy eBay
  • Specialized audience valuing handmade and vintage goods
  • Lower fees compared to eBay
  • Simpler onboarding and friendly community
  • Cons
  • Smaller audience limits earning potential
  • Only handmade and vintage items allowed
  • High competition with over 5 million shops
  • This comparison only highlights some of the many advantages and downsides sellers should factor into an Etsy vs eBay decision. We’ll explore this in more detail next.

    Key Decision Factors for Sellers

    With an understanding of Etsy and eBay’s core models and metrics, let’s explore the key factors sellers should consider when picking a platform:

    Target Audience

    Etsy buyers demand specialty, often higher-priced handmade goods while the eBay masses visit seeking deals on common products. Align with your ideal shopper.

    As a fresh homemade cosmetics startup, trendy Etsy shoppers better match my artisanal soaps versus eBay deal-seekers. But for a high-volume electronics reseller, eBay‘s broad reach offers more revenue potential.

    Product Types

    At a basic level, if you sell handmade or curated vintage, you must choose Etsy. Otherwise, eBay allows you to list almost any product—although competition in saturated categories is fierce.

    Sales Volume

    My jewelry shop generates around $5,000 in monthly sales. On Etsy, that earns me $750+ in income. But on eBay, fees would likely exceed $1,500.

    Carefully consider baseline earnings expectations when analyzing Etsy vs eBay, as you may sacrifice volume for profitability or vice versa.

    Level of Effort

    In my experience assisting new ecommerce sellers, eBay and Amazon involve steeper learning curves compared to Etsy’s simpler onboarding. But they also provide more advanced tools and customization for established businesses.

    Final Takeaway

    Weigh your product types, sales objectives, target shopper, desired effort level and other elements covered in this guide. For most handmade and vintage sellers, Etsy provides an easier entry point.

    eBay incentivizes high efficiency and tight margins, which lends itself better to high-volume liquidators. But it lacks the supportive community dynamic wherein Etsy thrives.

    There‘s no one-size-fits all answer—closely align your online shop‘s strengths with the platform that best supports its success. Let me know if you need any personalized guidance in making this big choice!