This post was originally published on LinkedIn as Why Are eBay Buyers 10x More Demanding Than Amazon Buyers?
A lot of businesses sell on both eBay and Amazon.
Many of them – from part-time traders up to multi-million dollar companies – have told me that eBay sales take a lot more of their time and energy than Amazon sales.
I’ve heard enough sellers say the same thing to be convinced that there’s some truth in it. But what I had never seen, until recently, were any hard numbers backing it up.
But then Web Retailer member Bigian13 posted some statistics in our forum, from his sales in January this year. His numbers don’t just back it up, they put a shocking perspective on it.
Bigian13 made around 6,300 sales across both eBay and Amazon this January. A little over half of those were through Amazon FBA. All the rest – eBay sales and merchant-fulfilled Amazon sales – were dispatched by the same people, with the same processing time, and the same shipping methods, from the same warehouse.
So eBay buyers and Amazon buyers should be having exactly the same experience, right?
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
From Bigian13’s 1,511 eBay orders, he received 732 messages, 124 “item not received” claims, 47 “not as described” claims, and 24 returns.
From his 1,375 self-fulfilled Amazon orders, he received 64 messages, one “item not received” claim, zero “not as described” claims, and one return.
Factoring in the slightly different order volumes, eBay buyers sent ten times more messages than Amazon buyers. Not only that, they made a total of 171 claims, compared to practically nothing on Amazon.
This is not a small difference. It’s huge.
Why are eBay buyers so much more demanding?
Why do so many claim their orders were not received, or not what they’re supposed to be?
eBay and Amazon are long-time rivals and the two marketplaces are often compared. But they operate on very different philosophies. eBay started out as a person-to-person auction market, with a bargaining mentality and a flea-market atmosphere.
Amazon started out as a book retailer, then continuously expanded its product categories. The third-party Amazon marketplace widens their range, encourages competition, and pushes down prices. Buying on Amazon has always been a quick and clinical business-to-consumer affair.
But that was then. Today, both eBay and Amazon are dominated by businesses selling products (not unique items) at a fixed price and with a high standard of service. Yet eBay is still a “chatty” marketplace, where buyers and sellers are encouraged to interact. Whereas on Amazon, if buyers and sellers need to communicate then something must have gone wrong.
So maybe the high volume of messages on eBay is just a glitch left over from its history? A hangover from buyers who learned how to behave when it really was like an online flea market?
Maybe so, but the bigger horror within this is not the much higher volume of messages from eBay buyers – it’s the deluge of claims.
How can you explain 171 claims of “not received” or “not as described” made by eBay buyers – compared to just one made by an Amazon buyer – on practically the same volume of orders?
I can’t think of an explanation, other than outright dishonesty.
Bigian13 investigated further. It turned out that 57% (418) of the messages from eBay buyers were to say that their item had not been received – before the buyer made an “official” claim. 68% of those were “persuaded, politely, to stop trying to rip us off”. The rest went on to pursue their claim through eBay or PayPal.
Where does this leave us?
A flea-market mentality and a chatty marketplace I can understand. eBay’s history, at 20 years, is about as long as it gets in ecommerce. A lot of habits get established in that time.
In a flea-market environment a few underhand practices can be expected, and even forgiven – if it’s against a background of generally honest buyers.
But ten times more messages than Amazon? Hundreds of buyers making false claims? Two-thirds of them dropping their claims when challenged?
To accept that is to tolerate dishonesty and theft. And that we must never do.