Kathy Terrill is a top-rated eBay seller with a 15-year retail experience. She has worked as a TV presenter for six years and is currently helping e-commerce entrepreneurs get their products sold on online marketplaces. What you will read next is a simple eBay VS Amazon debate.
In this interview, we discussed what it’s like to be an eBay seller, and whether Amazon FBA entrepreneurs should diversify there soon.
Join us and thank you for reading.
- Most multiple six-figure sellers are multi-channel sellers. They are present on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and have a Shopify store.
- Unlike Amazon, eBay actually welcomes dialogue with customers through a format called Best Offer Also through eBay’s messaging system.
- You have a much greater diversity of things that you can sell on eBay than on Amazon. But like with anything, you’ve got to test and see.
- If you’re just starting out, focus on one marketplace platform – unless you have a large team. If you have a partner, have them focus on one platform (e.g., eBay), while you take the other.
Kathy, welcome to the show. Before we start, could you briefly describe what is it that you do?
Sure. So I’m Kathy Terrill. Um, I’m a top-rated seller on eBay, selling for over 15 years. I also have an extensive retail background. I also used to be what was called a “product presenter” on QVC for over six years.
There is no major difference when it comes to eBay VS Amazon. You can have the best inventory in the world, but you want that “buy box”, right? And there are things that you can do to optimize your listings on Amazon. Well, it’s the same on eBay.
It’s not just a matter of listing on eBay. eBay has an ad program too, but you’re not going to have a chance to serve your customer if they cannot find you. So I really work with sellers. I’m actually working with somebody right now with a great product and getting their items optimized for eBay search, and that’s what I do.
I work with sellers of all sizes. I do manage some very large seller accounts, some big Amazon sellers.
We’re more focused on the Amazon FBA space, but it’s always amazing to hear perspectives of people from different verticals and niches and how we can apply that experience to the Amazon space. So – why should an average Amazon seller be interested in diversifying into eBay, if at all [eBay VS Amazon]?
I know a few sellers that are multiple six-figure sellers just on Amazon, but I would say the vast majority of Amazon sellers that I know (and I know a lot of Amazon sellers that are multiple six figures), are multichannel sellers. They are on eBay, on Amazon and often on Walmart too. They often have their own Shopify store. So I think like anything is, you never want to put all your eggs in one basket.
And a lot of the FBA sellers are running into issues because there are different inventory issues going on with Amazon. Having a multiple streams of revenue is a godsend because you literally don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
Let’s say that 80% of your revenue was coming from Amazon, and 20% is coming from other sites. Why not get that 20%? Why not have more sales for yourself? It keeps your Amazon business healthy. It keeps your employees and your warehouses very happy. At the end of the day, we all need cash flow.
When it comes to eBay VS Amazon, is it fair to say that we see a big inflow of sellers going into eBay because Amazon is so saturated with new sellers nowadays?
I would say it’s a mix. One is it’s the people are ready to scale.
You know, they might be starting on eBay and then they go to Amazon. They might be starting on Walmart. Then they go to eBay. I mean, everybody starts somewhere and then they expand. So one is you have people expanding, they’re on Amazon, they’ve been on Amazon solely, and now they’re looking to go to other platforms.
eBay has changed quite a bit in the past few years and now it’s much easier to work with a product catalog. There’s a lot of ways to import listings that were not there a couple of years ago. So a lot of Amazon sellers are finding it easier to come to eBay. The other thing is eBay is a very seller-friendly platform. This gives eBay an edge on eBay VS Amazon debate.
You dialogue with people. Oftentimes when you pick up the phone, you get somebody in the United States. eBay is very seller-friendly, very many works with sellers, and that can be enticing to Amazon sellers that at times feel like they’re hitting a brick wall, that it’s very hard to communicate. It’s very hard to reach people.
Sellers find eBay a much friendlier platform for that reason. So there’s a lot of different reasons. And also could be the inventory. You might be switching inventory and the thing that you’re selling is something that you’ve discovered. It just sells much better on eBay. So there are a lot of reasons for that.
Are there any categories that are selling better on eBay than on Amazon?
Honestly, I don’t know. The clients that I’ve worked with are under nondisclosure, so I can’t speak to what their numbers are on eBay VS Amazon. You have a much greater diversity of things that you can sell on eBay than you can on Amazon. I think depending on what niche you are in or how you’re selling is that eBay could be a place that works for you.
I’m thinking it would be unusual for Amazon, but for instance, if you’re an antique collectible seller, if you’re a vintage seller, I think you’re going to find it easy on eBay. You’re going to find in your customers more on eBay than you wouldn’t necessarily on Amazon. But like anything is you got a test and you got to see, cause even within a niche, like something like women’s clothing, you might find that a certain line sells much better on eBay VS Amazon or vice versa.
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In my experience – which shouldn’t be trusted because I am not a seller on eBay – it’s mostly for secondhand and craft products.
It’s actually 80% new. So that’s a real misnomer. That’s from when it started. It was actually auction-wide when it started a long, long time ago with a pure OMA door. But for years now, 80% of eBay is new.
What kind of promotion tools can sellers on eBay work with? And mainly how’s it different from Amazon?
I would say for most Amazon sellers, you would want a store and that comes with a whole array of promotional tools and you need to take a look at it. It’s also selling formats [that are different]. eBay has a format called Best Offer, which Amazon does not have. Either sellers are going to find it wonderful or not because it is more labor-intensive.
Like I’d look at your beautiful red microphone coming in and you’re saying, “Okay, Kathy, you know, I’ll sell you this microphone for a hundred and you have the best offer on it so I can message you and I can offer you 80-85-90”
So that is good because what it does is it creates a dialogue with your customer. eBay actually welcomes dialogue with customers. I know Amazon does not welcome dialogue with them.
Well, what’s great is, so you have it listed for a hundred. And you’re fine with your margins to take a price of 90 you can actually set up an auto-accept, and then you don’t have to dialogue, it will automatically accept the offer for you. But it’s a great way to drive sales. It’s extremely popular.
Shoppers and sellers get a lot of sales that way. Ebay reports a lot of sales. eBay also has an offer called Seller Initiated Offer (SIO) where you don’t even need to have the Best Offer on the item. So what it is is you’ll have a watcher and eBay will note that the item is being watched, like with Amazon, is they’ve put it in their shopping cart and maybe saved it for later, is that the eBay system will know that somebody’s watching an item or that they’ve put it in their shopping cart five days or more, but they haven’t done anything with it.
So it’s not the promotion tools, but more the technique that’s different, right?
You do have selling tools. There are discount tools you can use. I know Amazon has coupons, eBay has coupons. You also have the thing with eBay, it’s through a promotions manager, which you only get with a store where you can set up a discount. So again, if I’m buying the microphone with the headset. I can give you 10% off, which on Amazon, you can do it with coding, but it can get a little tricky.
On eBay, I set up a discount offer where if you buy my microphone and my headset. I’ll give you 10% off both. So eBay gives the seller a lot more control over discount programs. You can offer coupons, you can offer the Seller Initiated Offer, where eBay will let me know and I don’t have to do anything, but eBay will let me know if you want.
The seller can send an offer to the shoppers. You can either send it or not, it’s solely up to you. You don’t have to send it. And they do have a very robust advertising program with promoted listings where with or without an eBay store, you can promote your items, and you give eBay fees for that.
It’s called Promoted Listings, similar to Amazon’s advertising program.
One thing that I particularly love about Amazon is that they have a lot of branding opportunities. For example, I can enhance branded content, A-plus content. Is there anything similar on eBay to that?
With Amazon, depending on the seller and what people are doing, there are various things offered. But with eBay you can get a store for as little as $15 or now it may be $10. And that is your brand. So when people land on the item, they will see it’s from Sergei’s store or Kathy’s store.
And then within that, I offer promotions or discounts. And there are ways to build out. You can keep it very simple and just open the store, you know, offer various promotions. But there are header areas, there are places you can put graphics, logos. It just depends on how much you want to build it out and put the effort in.
Does it even make sense to promote your own brand and start a Shopify store when you have all of these platforms available?
Some people are heavily invested in their brand. So it’s really a matter of what works for you. What is your budget, what are your margins? The seller really has to take a look at what their goals are. But I would never say no to a Shopify store.
But it’s also true with eBay and Amazon, it’s not just a matter of putting a Shopify store up. You will need to take a look at doing ads to get drive traffic to your Shopify store. You know, how are you going to get traffic to your Shopify store? It’s not just like “building the field and they will come”, but similar with Amazon and with eBay.
I always say that it’s like countries: Europe is the perfect example. So Amazon is the UK and eBay is France. Okay. So are there similarities? Absolutely, but when I’m in the UK, predominantly I’m speaking English, and when I’m in France, I’m going to be speaking French.
And to really understand France , it’s probably gonna help me if I learned French, right? And then I’m going to learn the culture and the food and everything. Transportation. How do I get around? Well, it’s the same thing when you’re selling on eBay is I need to learn what works on eBay, what works for eBay search, which is the most effective programs.
eBay offers all these programs for promotions, which is the most effective. Same thing on Amazon. There’s these various ads, programs and brands programs. What’s the most effective for my niche? Because depending on what you sell, it could vary a lot. This season, you know, we’re going into prime day or we’re going into the fourth quarter.
It seems to me that it’s similar to social media: you build your audience quickly on platforms such as YouTube or Medium, similarly to how eBay VS Amazon allows you to quickly get started with their recommendation algorithms, and so forth. If you’re someone new to e-commerce, should you start on a platform, or do your business from scratch?
I would recommend that you start on one platform. This is also depending on your budget like if you’re a brick and mortar that’s coming online, it’s going to be a very different situation because you have to really know your inventory.
You know a lot about your ideal customer, a lot about your keywords. You know a lot about your product lines. But let’s say that you know something about online, then I would focus on one platform at a time, unless you have a large team. If for some reason you have a large team, that’s great.
Then certain team members, this is just my opinion, I would assign to each platform. So Sergei you would be the Amazon guy. I would be the eBay lady. If I’m at Walmart, I have somebody else, you know, we all put our heads together and then each one of us needs to learn.
But you need to learn a little tweaking here and there might work. Typically, eBay VS Amazon titles are longer in amazon. eBay has 80 characters. So if you’re importing a hundred character title from another site, part of it’s going to get chopped off and you need to take a look at where and it’s getting chopped off of.
It still makes sense. Um, so you just, you need to learn and learn what works. So focus on one. Um, I think when it comes to eBay VS Amazon, eBay is far easier to learn than Amazon, the basics. So I would start there, but if you want to start on Amazon, and I would give it a good 90 days, you know, not a week or two 90 days. And don’t start learning during the fourth quarter.
Kathy, I have one last question for you. It’s from Peter Thiel’s book, our traditional question: What truth do very few people agree with you on?
Well, people that look for the back door.
And those aren’t the kind of people that I would want to attract. I want to attract people that have a great product, they have a great business and they want to serve great customers. And certainly we all run into, you know, challenging circumstances sometimes where it’s like, ah, actually I’ve got one right now where I’ve got a challenging customer.
I sell online. You know, but basically I want to attract people that are looking to buy my item. You know, people that are honest, great people. And the same thing when I work with clients when I work with sellers is I want people that are selling great products, um, and I get to work with a great range.
Everything from home and garden to auto, to clothing. Um, you name it. And I don’t know people, the people well that I serve, um, the sellers that I’ve loved. That’s the way they operate is that they are good people. That’s so good. Um, and they’re looking to have a good business. I couldn’t agree more.
Thank you very much, Kathy.