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Etsy vs. eBay: Who makes a better e-commerce partner for merchants?

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Etsy vs. eBay: Who makes a better e-commerce partner for merchants?

Business entities occupying the same ecosystems have a tendency to clash, compete, and fluctuate. In doing so, one optimistic outcome of the friction is a process increasingly better tailored to suit a given market. 

As eCommerce continues its meteoric rise in importance, with some estimates pointing to the industry surpassing almost 22% of all international retail sales by 2023, the territory is highly disputed.

Inevitably, the intellectual elites, corporate visionaries, and entrenched investors that govern enterprises often disagree. As such, behemoth companies each develop different ways of conducting business. 

This article’s purpose is to explore how an e-commerce partner can make the most of one of these incorporated intersections: Etsy vs. eBay. 

Setting the table: Etsy vs. eBay

Source: Unsplash

Congratulations, by the way. At this point, any merchant reading these words should be well along their entrepreneurial journey; considering which eCommerce outlet to fill with their freshly designed, not-so-blank gear. 

Both websites act as digital business-to-customer (B2C) and customer-to-customer (C2C) mediums where a host of partnered merchants showcase various wares. 

But which one? The good news here is that Printify supports quite a few options, including API capabilities. While this article is tailored to the Etsy vs. eBay spectrum, you can also see our Wix vs. Shopify for additional information.

Overview: Etsy

pod etsy make money from home with etsypod etsy make money from home with etsy

A merchant’s decision when considering an Etsy vs. eBay partnership dilemma largely depends on what type of seller they are. In other words, the products that a vendor sells will determine their success within these eCommerce platforms. 

An entrepreneur’s decision to utilize Etsy means that their audience would be the site’s roughly 45 million active buyers, up from 39.5 million back in 2018. It’s an American dominated market, with only 34% of business leaving the border. 

Etsy users prefer to purchase unique and creative items that resonate with the site’s farmer’s market ambiance; handmade and made-to-order items in particular. It’s perfect for your print on demand merchandise.

Etsy shies away from mass-produced and resold goods. This means that, if a seller doesn’t own the intellectual property to make/sell a particular item, they may be contacted, restricted, or even suspended. 

Overview: eBay

eBay Seller centereBay Seller center

Moving on to the other side of the spectrum, eBay caters to an entirely different demographic. When someone logs into eBay, odds are they’re looking for a better deal than would be available through conventional retail. The marketplace offers both auction-based and fixed price sales models, depending on merchant preferences. 

It’s worth mentioning that, while most of their business is conducted throughout the USA, eBay has amassed almost 182 million users throughout the world – up 1.11% from 2019

Unlike Etsy, eBay hosts the option to sell mass-produced, used, and otherwise less-than-certified goods. In a word, as long as it’s legal, just about anything can be sold on eBay.  Make your own shirt and sell it all over the world.

This generalized accessibility, as well as the option to sell in bulk, makes the flexibility of eBay a good choice for merchants preferring to deal in larger quantities, resell, or list items under a diverse range of categories.

What to sell on Etsy

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While nothing can replace a wholly homemade feel (except maybe ordering products yourself and modifying them), the Etsy market’s crunchy customers have a big thing for custom mugs. They list among bestseller pages, along with a bunch of custom t-shirts and hoodies boasting inspirational and nature-specific themes. 

Article: Things to sell on Etsy – 10 profitable product ideas

While such items like unisex lightweight hoodies are prevalent, there’s a significant uptick when it comes to baby attire. In one opinion, baby gear is perfect because 1) you can tap into either parent’s demographic, and 2) infant bodysuits get dirty incredibly often. 

The home-crowd of Etsy is also a great place to pitch artsy merchandise like stickers, posters, and notebooks. They’re a cultured, nuanced group, so work toward nurturing that organic feel.  

What to sell on eBay

ebay vs etsyebay vs etsy
Source: Unsplash

As touched upon above, a merchant’s choice between Etsy vs. eBay depends primarily on their goal, niche, and audience. 

Right now, the market for iPhone accessories, smartwatches, and other gadgets is booming. So, if your Printify store offers some eye-catching phone cases for popular models, that’s a great place to start. Furthermore, watch bands could be a popular inclusion for the crowd looking to spice up their smart-wrist lives. 

Article: Surprising things that sell well on eBay

It’s worth mentioning that some voices are down on the eBay t-shirt industry. Conversely, others indicate the shirt industry is thriving. Having mentioned that, a search for shirts on eBay does yield almost 44 million hits, so the market is a bit oversaturated.

Here’s the best part, to really key into what’s popping on eBay, use their free trend tracker. This tool taps into everything going on inside the eBay hive mind and relays that information to you. 

Etsy vs. eBay – which is easier to use?

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While both systems have a fairly streamlined, user-friendly setup process, it largely is up to the entrepreneur to weigh the attributes of Etsy vs. eBay – deciding which environment is better tailored toward their audience base. It’s important to register that both systems are both heavily app and mobile-friendly. 

Etsy had over 10 million installs on phones in 2018 alone. This factor contributed to Etsy standing as one of the top 10 most popular American retail websites in 2018. 

Putting things in perspective, eBay’s app was downloaded internationally 476 million times. Currently, roughly total of 63% of their overall business involves a mobile touchpoint. 

Effective Etsy

It can be said that Etsy is a bit faster on the draw. It starts out cheaper, products can be listed in a few minutes, and activating the online store is very fast. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to be discovered on Etsy after flying through store creation. 

Article: Etsy SEO secrets – all you need to know

For those without a sizable social media following, this initial hurdle can be a tough one. To this end, the site has been working vigorously toward upping its advertising game (and that of its partners).

This action was achieved through a near mandatory advertising fee on sales gained through the ads. This development met mixed reviews, with some Etsy merchants being labeled “furious”

Lastly, Etsy has analytical tools to help track visitors and sales. These can be utilized to better understand how the public reacts to given products, marketing, discounts, etc.

Effective eBay

Terapeak – free eBay analytics app

Here, it’s all about versatility and raw foot traffic. Setting up a shop near a busy road is more expensive, but it does garner more eyeballs. Getting wares in front of customers on eBay is much easier than the scramble of Etsy. 

The pricing flexibility is nice, as well. Accessing both buy-it-now and auction capabilities on top of selling almost anything makes for a dynamic sales environment. Unfortunately, the process behind listing a product is significantly more time consuming than that of Etsy.

The monolith can be a taskmaster, as well. If one incurs the wrath of eBay, it has very stringent policies on those that break its rules. 

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Etsy vs. eBay: initial investments

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While starting a Printify store is free, connecting products from that store to an eCommerce platform requires some investment. To that end, a preliminary comparison would indicate eBay being more expensive than Etsy. 

Etsy is the cheaper deal due to both a less expensive, longer-lasting listing price. However, the overarching idea behind eBay is that its larger audience increases the likelihood of sales – making the investment worthwhile.

Navigating the Etsy vs. eBay fee structure

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It’s notable that the pricing structure for eBay is a bit more complicated than that of Etsy, with more conditional, circumstantial occurrences. Therefore, fledgling entrepreneurs might be tempted to gravitate toward simplicity in the Etsy vs. eBay battle. 

Let’s explore the fee differentiations therein for Printify merchants to arm themselves with the best information. Please remember, a Printify store can be connected with multiple eCommerce platforms to get the best from both worlds.

The following is an overview of the fee structures for Etsy vs. eBay, not a comprehensive guide. 

Simplified fee breakdown: Etsy vs. eBay

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  1. Connection: Etsy doesn’t have any joining fees to link to a Printify shop
  2. Listing fee: There will be a $0.20 charge to post an item on Etsy. This payment will last for 4 months or until the sale.
  3. Transaction fee: 5% of the total sale price
  4. Payment processing fee: In the USA, it’s 3% of total sale + $0.25


  1. Monthly fee: No obligation here. This only applies to setting up an eBay store.
    – Pricing options range through starter, basic, premium, anchor, and enterprise
  2. Insertion fee: This is a mandatory $0.35 charge per item that lasts for 30 days
  3. Final value fee: Depending on an item’s sale price, there is an additional charge often roughly 12.9% in addition to a shipping charge (up to $750) for basic categories.

Etsy Listing fee

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Source: Unsplash

Each listed product will incur a $0.20 USD fee; this charge gets a single item up on the website amongst Etsy’s other displayed goods. If an item is listed with a quantity greater than 1, the $0.20 fee will only apply toward each item that has been sold. 

So, if a Printify merchant selling t-shirts chooses to list a unisex, there will be the initial fee for posing. However, it’s possible for customers to buy more than one shirt. Or, for multiple people to each buy a shirt(s). 

So, after paying the original listing, an additional $0.20 will be taken from each shirt sold. The $0.20 payment remains valid for up to 4 (four) months or until the item(s) is sold. Then, it must be renewed. 

There is an option to create a private listing, these are immune to the $0.20 listing fee, but these will not be made publicly available. This option is usually used to work one-on-one with individual buyers looking for custom or unique items. 

Etsy Transaction fee

Source: Unsplash

When an item sells on Etsy, a 5% commission is taken from that item’s display cost. Both shipping and gift wrapping, (yes, Etsy hosts a gift wrapping preference selection) are included. 

For example, if a product sells for $20 with a shipping charge of $5 (making a total sale of $25), the 5% transaction fee would be $1.25.

Payment processing fee (Etsy)

This fee is entirely dependent on the country one does business in. Please see this list for a complete breakdown. As an American company, the standard is 3% of the sale price in addition to a flat $0.25.

eBay Monthly fee


First of all, any Printify merchant wanting to work through eBay has to decide if they want to set up an official account. While signing up for one of these store subscriptions comes with a host of benefits, it is also possible to sell without doing so.

This requirement is straight-up optional because eBay gives all sellers 50 free posts a month – even if they don’t open a shop. The necessity of investing really depends on the volume at which a Printify merchant is selling. 

A primary benefit of all store models is providing store owners to put their account on hold, should the need arise. Shops also ensure discounts toward listings and final value fees. 

Source: Unsplash

Beyond that, each package really only differs in terms of the number of free listing opportunities they provide to their owners. Please see here for more detail

Insertion fee (eBay)

Otherwise known as a listing or posting fee, these occur every time a seller makes or renews an item. All sellers get a minimum of 50 free posts a month.

After the freebies are used up, a posting is $0.35 for a month of activation. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including categories like shoes, musical instruments, heavy machinery, and services. 

Final value fee (eBay)

Whenever an item sells, a percentage of the transaction is taken. This includes all shipping and handling, but not the sales tax. 

Due to shipping being included, a portion of whatever service the customer chooses will be included in the final fee. 

Etsy vs. eBay – who can sell more for you?

Any entrepreneur must consider the type of item being sold, how quickly it must be sold, asking price, and how niche that product is. Trends will always ebb and flow – anticipating and reacting to those fluctuating waves is where success lies in the Etsy vs. eBay dynamic. 

If a merch maker is more into pursuing a smaller market with fewer rivals, Etsy has open doors. This is arguably a younger market (at least in feel), with almost 67% of the website’s traffic coming through a mobile phone, tablet, or device. Connecting to this targeted audience base has the added value of being able to sell slightly higher, unlike the eBay surfers looking for a bargain.

There is still more to be said for eBay, though. They make it so easy to list or duplicate products through their many convenient features. This is an important factor, as the attention of millions more users becomes available. Furthermore, as Etsy has a primarily America-centric focus that eBay transcends with its broad, international presence. 

Closing argument: Etsy vs. eBay?

Source: Unsplash

As always, the eCommerce success of a Printify merchant is entirely up to how they operate. It’s all about finding and staying in tune with niches that offer returns. 

The good, bad, and ugly of both the Etsy vs. eBay combatants are laid bare; both entities are simply tools – useful when applied correctly, disastrous in the wrong hands. 

Research the trends behind developments in marketing, demand, social activism, politics, world news, etc.

Knowledge is power and the race is on 

Make it happen right now.

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