Mercari vs eBay: An In-Depth Comparison for Online Sellers

As an entrepreneurship consultant who has helped over 100 small businesses maximize their ecommerce sales, I‘m often asked – should you sell on Mercari or eBay? Which platform is better?

The answer isn‘t straightforward. Mercari and eBay each offer unique benefits that can prove advantageous depending on your business‘s specific needs and selling style. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll compare the two marketplaces across key factors to provide the info you need to decide.

A Brief History

First, let‘s look at how each company has evolved over time.

eBay was founded in 1995 during the early days of the consumer internet as a peer-to-peer auction site for collectors. It quickly exploded in popularity and became one of the biggest ecommerce companies. Today, eBay has 159 million active buyers globally.

Mercari debuted in 2013 as a mobile-focused marketplace designed to make selling dead simple. It appealed to younger smartphone-savvy sellers through its app. Mercari now has over 20 million U.S. users, building a niche as a destination for fashion and lifestyle goods.

Selling Fees: Pay Less with Mercari on Small Items

Sellers care deeply about bottom line profit, so marketplace fees are crucial to evaluate. Here‘s how Mercari and eBay compare:

  • Mercari: Charges a flat 10% selling fee and nothing else.
  • eBay: Charges insertion fees + final value fees. Final value fees range from 10-15% based on product category.

For example, if you sell a $15 item on Mercari, you pay $1.50 in fees. On eBay, you‘d pay a $0.35 insertion fee plus 10% final value fee ($1.50), totaling $1.85.

For items under $100, Mercari‘s simple 10% is typically cheapest. But eBay can be more cost-effective for pricier items since fees are a percentage. If you sell a $2000 camera, Mercari would take $200, while eBay fees may be only 12% or $240.

My advice: If selling mostly lower-priced goods under $50, lean towards Mercari for the fee savings. For higher-ticket items, run the numbers – eBay may be cheaper.

Seller Protection: eBay Offers More Security

I‘ve seen sellers encounter issues like fraudulent buyers, scams, and unauthorized returns. Strong seller protection programs are essential to limit financial risk.

Mercari offers the basics – funds aren‘t released to buyers until 3 days after confirmed delivery. This prevents non-payment and fake buyer claims.

However, eBay provides much more robust seller protections. Their eBay Money Back Guarantee covers items that were misrepresented or not as described. eBay automatically refunds the buyer and seller keeps the profits.

eBay also protects sellers from unauthorized credit card chargebacks. If a buyer gets a refund through their credit card company, eBay covers those costs – sellers keep their earnings.

For high-value or risky item categories like jewelry, electronics, and collectibles, eBay‘s protections provide invaluable peace of mind.

Reach More Buyers with eBay‘s Scale

When selling online, you want exposure to as many potential buyers as possible. With over 159 million active buyers globally, eBay dwarfs Mercari‘s audience.

According to Statista, Mercari had just 5.7 million monthly active U.S. users in 2021. Their focus on a younger demographic can help for trendy fashion and accessories. But for most items, eBay provides exponentially more selling exposure.

Mercari is Easier for Beginners, eBay Provides More Customization

As a consultant who assists ecommerce newcomers, I appreciate Mercari‘s simplicity. To start selling, you just download the app, take photos of your item, enter a description and price, and list it. The process takes under 5 minutes.

eBay has a more complex setup. You must create preferences for things like returns, payments, shipping options, etc. Listing an item requires more steps and time. This allows customization but can overwhelm beginners.

My recommendation: First-time sellers should start with Mercari to get the hang of online selling with minimal friction. But eBay offers features that help you scale, so explore eventually.

Shipping and Returns: Mercari Makes it Simple

Shipping logistics and return requests can quickly become a nightmare for online sellers. Mercari simplifies the entire process.

When an item sells, Mercari emails you a prepaid shipping label. They provide the packaging materials too. All you do is box up the item, attach the label, and hand it off to the mail carrier.

Mercari also has a no-return policy outside of damaged items reported within 3 days. You don‘t have to deal with the hassle of managing returns.

eBay offers more flexibility – you can choose your carrier, set your own rates, etc. But this means more work calculating shipping costs, buying postage, and trekking to the post office. eBay requires returns be accepted for 30 days in many categories too.

For casual sellers: Mercari‘s shipping and returns process is a godsend.

For larger sellers: eBay gives you added control, which could optimize profitability if you sell in high volumes.

eBay Customer Service Response is Faster

Inevitably, questions and issues arise when selling online. How do Mercari and eBay compare when you need support?

Mercari offers customer service by email ticket submission only. In my experience, it typically takes 1-2 days to get a response from a Mercari support rep. This isn‘t ideal for urgent issues.

eBay provides much more support options – phone, email, chat, and message center are available. They also have a callback request feature for phone support. Overall, eBay‘s response time is under 2-4 hours during business hours in my experience.

Faster responses from eBay customer service teams give sellers more peace of mind. Mercari‘s support gets the job done but has room for improvement in this area.

Conclusion: Weigh Your Needs

So should you sell on Mercari or eBay? Here are my top tips:

  • For low cost and simplicity, Mercari is hard to beat. The easy mobile listings and frictionless shipping/returns make it perfect for casual sellers.
  • For large inventories or high-priced items, eBay‘s added exposure, seller protections, and support resources make it an excellent fit at scale.
  • If selling trendy fashion and accessories, target Mercari‘s younger audience. For rare collectibles or specialty items, eBay‘s diverse buyer base has an edge.

My overall advice is to start on Mercari, as it‘s the easiest way to begin selling online. But consider expanding to eBay as your business grows. Leveraging both marketplaces can help maximize your reach and revenue.

I hope this detailed side-by-side comparison helps you evaluate Mercari vs eBay and decide the best approach for your business! Let me know if you have any other questions.