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eBay, Amazon, Play.com: where to sell online for less

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On 21 January 2013


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As Play.com moves to being a marketplace only, which sites are cheapest to sell on and who offers the best chance of actually making a sale?


If you want to make a bit of money from those things you don’t use very much, if at all, lying around your home, you could do a car boot sale. Or you could sell your items online via one of a number of sites.

For years, eBay was the number one place to sell second-hand stuff online, but Amazon’s Marketplace has grown in popularity. And Play.com has now changed its business model from retail site to a marketplace called Play Trade.

So let's have a look at how those three sites compare on price and number of visitors. This analysis is based on an infrequent user, not someone selling masses of items.

Online marketplaces: fees and charges

eBay

Insertion fees: Free-£1.30 (sliding scale based on value of item, type of item and type of sale)

Final value fees: 10% of final selling price up to a maximum of £75

If your item doesn’t sell, you don’t pay a final value fee and you can relist it. If it sells, you may receive a credit on the insertion fee.

Ranked seventh-most popular site in the UK by web analytics firm Alexa.

Amazon

Completion fee: 86p per item

Closing fee: 11.5% (electronics and photos items), 40.25% (Kindle accessories), 17.25% (other items)

Ranked fifth-most popular site in the UK by Alexa

Play.com Trade

Complete sale fee: 50p

Commission: 10%

Ranked 90th-most popular site in the UK by Alexa

How they compare for selling popular items

Now let's have a look at how the charges stack up for a number of different popular items.

Type of item and sale price eBay cost Amazon cost Play.com cost
DVD box set (£10) £1.20 (20p Buy It Now insertion fee + £1 final value fee) £2.58 (86p completion fee + £1.72 closing fee)
£1.50 (50p complete sale fee + £1 commission)
Designer dress (£30) £3.40 (40p Buy It Now insertion fee + £3 final value fee) £6.03 (86p completion fee + £5.17 closing fee) £3.50 (50p complete sale fee + £3 commission)
Digital camera (£95) £9.90 (40p Buy It Now insertion fee + £9.50 final value fee) £11.78 (86p completion fee + £10.92 closing fee) £10 (50p complete sale fee + £9.50 commission)

In the examples above, I've only looked at the Buy It Now option on eBay, but you do have the option of an auction-style listing, where you could sell for more than if you just listed the item at a fixed price.

In the examples above, eBay consistently comes out cheapest. However, eBay generally requires you to use PayPal to receive payment for your goods. And PayPal has fees of its own – 3.4% of the transaction amount plus a fixed fee of 20p.

And if you want to withdraw money from your Play Trade account to your bank or building society account, it will cost you 5% of the amount you're transferring. Or you can spend the amount in full on Play.com.

Let's look at our table again with these things factored in.

Type of item and sale price eBay cost Amazon cost Play.com cost
DVD box set (£10) £1.74 (£1.20 eBay fees + 54p PayPal fees)
£2.58 (86p completion fee + £1.72 closing fee)
£2 (£1.50 selling fees + 50p transfer fee)
Designer dress (£30) £4.62 (£3.40 eBay fees + £1.22 PayPal fees)
£6.03 (86p completion fee + £5.17 closing fee) £5 (£3.50 selling fees + £1 transfer fee)
Digital camera (£95) £13.33 (£9.90 eBay fees + £3.43 PayPal fees)
£11.78 (86p completion fee + £10.92 closing fee) £14.75 (£10 selling fees + £4.75 transfer fee)

If you start selling more expensive items, the less competitive eBay and Play become against Amazon.

However, based on popularity, you'd have to say eBay and Amazon were the best bets – for now at least and certainly for items Play isn't traditionally renowned for, such as clothes and non-entertainment equipment.

Don't forget to factor in postage costs to your selling price too.

Other alternatives

eBid

This rival to eBay charges no insertion fees for listings. There's just a final value fee of 3% of the sale price. You'll also likely pay a transacton fee via one of the online payment sites via PayPal. While eBid is growing it certainly doesn't get anywhere near the audience of its competitors yet.

Preloved

This second-hand site offers free listings with no fees and might be worth a shot before you try the paid-for services.

Craigslist and Gumtree

These regional sites are more aimed at jobseekers, people searching for a home to rent and lonely hearts. Again, they might be worth a try before the paid-for sites as they're free to use but beware of timewasters and scammers.

What sites do you sell on? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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