Should I Shop on eBay or Amazon?

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

Woman using laptop on sofa
••• Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Once upon a time, was the 800-pound gorilla of , but Amazon now overshadows it in terms of influence and total sales. If you compare eBay to Amazon, though, it will be easy to decide when to shop in one online marketplace over the other.

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 simpler. 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, it's a good place to go if you're basically looking to replace a trip to your local department store with online shopping.

The future perks of Amazon look like they'll include things like drone shipments, which, as of 2018, are not widely available yet. Amazon began private trial deliveries in England in 2016. At a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium in the spring of 2018, Gur Kimchi, vice president of Amazon’s drone delivery organization, Prime Air, said he was hopeful that approvals would be ready for 2019. The company's focus on getting purchases to its members quickly and its focus on innovation should also be taken into consideration.

 

When to Shop eBay

Even though Amazon may be much larger than eBay at this point, eBay could at times still be a better option. For instance, when buying imported goods, eBay might offer more seller choices. It's also where seekers of one-of-a-kind, boutique, and craft goods may have more luck. 

 remains the leader in online auctions, and if you're looking to auction goods or participate in an auction, it's likely 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 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 found 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.