We all know the old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If you drop the basket, the basket spills, or Amazon suspends your basket (wait, what?) you risk losing all of your eggs.
Spread those eggs out in a few different baskets, and you protect yourself from a number of unforeseen circumstances. One of the baskets can be larger than the others, but you should still have multiple places to keep your precious eggs.
Of course we’re not really talking about baskets and eggs today; we’re talking about how we spend our time and money on our business ventures. This blog is about using Amazon FBA to work part-time hours and make a full-time income. So, if we’re only working part-time hours to make a full-time income, what do we do with the rest of our time? Well, we put that time (and some of our business’ financial capital) into other business ventures to make more income on top of our Amazon FBA income.
Perhaps the most complementary “basket” to keep on the side of our Amazon FBA business is selling on eBay. Many of us who run an e-commerce business started out selling on eBay before we got into Amazon, but there may be those of you out there who started selling on Amazon FBA first. Today we want to share with you the reasons why it’s important to keep an active eBay selling account – or to start one if you’ve never sold on eBay.
- Some items are restricted on Amazon, but they can still be profitable to sell on eBay. You might not be ungated in certain categories on Amazon, or you might not be approved to sell items from certain brand manufacturers. Some manufacturers might only restrict a certain product line within their brand (think Disney Frozen or Star Wars Episode VII). Also, you never know when an item will suddenly become restricted on Amazon after you already have it in stock at an FBA warehouse. In each of these cases, do the research and see if you can sell the item for a profit on eBay instead.
- Sometimes we receive online arbitrage (OA) items that are damaged in shipment, and it’s easier to sell them on eBay than deal with returning to online store. We do a significant portion of our FBA sourcing online, which means we receive a large number of shipments throughout each week. It’s inevitable that a small percentage of those will be damaged in shipment. If the item can easily be returned to a brick-and-mortar store in our area, we’ll consider returning it. If it’s an online-only store or one we don’t have in our area, we sometimes sell the damaged item on eBay with thorough condition notes and pictures for full disclosure, rather than dealing with the hassle of calling to arrange for return shipping, an exchange, or refund.
- Sometimes we have items returned from Amazon FBA sales that cannot be listed again on Amazon, but we can still sell it on eBay.If an item is returned with a damaged box or with wear-and-tear that keeps us from relisting it in new, used, or collectible condition on Amazon, we can easily list it on eBay with thorough condition notes and pictures for full disclosure of any defects, missing parts, or damage to the packaging. This has been especially useful as we’ve transitioned to selling more in the shoes and clothing categories.
- Some items require detailed descriptions and multiple pictures because of their rarity or because they are missing parts; these types of listings belong on eBay, not Amazon.If an item is an antique or collectible, we sell it on eBay. If an item is missing parts or has a part that doesn’t work, we sell it on eBay. If for any other reason an item needs a detailed description of its condition or photos of the actual item showing its condition, we sell it on eBay. We’ve found that eBay buyers are more accustomed to reading the entire description and looking at all the photos so they know the condition of what they’re buying. Amazon buyers usually do not read the condition notes as thoroughly, and you’re more likely to have an Amazon buyer complain that you didn’t disclose an item’s condition (even though you did disclose it thoroughly!) than an eBay buyer would.
- Sometimes we sell unique, one-off items that we don’t want to create an Amazon listing for. We’ve found certain one-off items have a much better market on eBay than Amazon, and we would rather create a one-time eBay listing than try to create an Amazon product page and keep our fingers crossed that a buyer finds it. These one-off items might include individual board game pieces, Lego minifigures, collectible coins, and sports memorabilia.
- Some items sell well through multi-channel fulfillment. We don’t have much experience with multi-channel fulfillment yet, but it’s an area that we are hoping to learn in the near future. Whether you create your own individual listings on eBay or use a listing service, you can send items to an Amazon FBA warehouse, list them on both Amazon and eBay, and see which platform brings you the sale first.
- If your Amazon FBA account becomes suspended, you can transition to selling on eBay more easily if you already have an account. If you’re making a full-time income from Amazon FBA, perhaps the biggest reason you should keep an eBay seller account active and in good standing is so that you have a platform ready to go to keep getting sales if for some reason your Amazon account is suspended. Your Amazon account can be suspended, rightly or wrongly, for any number of reasons, and sometimes it can take weeks or months to get it reinstated. You must (repeat, must) have a back-up plan in place before you experience account suspension, so that you and your family don’t suffer unnecessarily from a lack of income while you go through the reinstatement process. Having an active eBay account with good feedback and good metrics will allow you to continue selling online if your Amazon account is suspended.
To read more about protecting your Amazon account from suspensions we highly recommend the book Suspension Prevention by Cynthia Stine. I know if we ever got suspended from Amazon Cynthia and her reinstatement program would be the very the first place I’d reach out to.
Now, if you’re just getting started on Amazon FBA and you’ve never sold on eBay, we recommend waiting a while before you rush out to get an eBay seller account. We firmly believe that you should FOCUS while you’re learning. FOCUS = follow one course until successful. Learn Amazon FBA first, get some sales under your belt, start to feel confident in what you’re doing with FBA, and then look into starting an eBay seller account.
As a general rule, we prefer the convenience and ease of sourcing items to sell through Amazon FBA. But if for any of the above reasons we find ourselves with inventory that we can’t sell on Amazon, it’s reassuring to know that we can open up the eBay app, check completed listings for profitability, and do what it takes to list the inventory on eBay instead of Amazon.
Do you sell on eBay? Are there other types of items you would rather sell on eBay than on Amazon? Let us know in the comments!
Adrienne Dupree says
Stephen, I have talked to several Amazon Sellers that also sell on eBay. I do not but I need to. I have some items that were deemed hazmat as well as things I returned prior to Long Term Storage Fees. Do you recommend that I just sell them or open a store?
Gail R says
Adrienne – You might consider opening a Basic store if you need to close it down from time to time (for vacations for instance) or if you want to run markdown sales. It’s not generally profitable to open a Premium store until you have 250+ items listed on Ebay. The stores cost a monthly fee.
Unless you plan on selling a lot of items on eBay, then I don’t really recommend opening up an eBay store.
I agree with everything you have stated. I also started on ebay with Power seller status & I got to 6000+ve feedbacks. At the end of last year I started purchasing branded products and attempted to sell them on Ebay however with limited success. I then transitioned to Amazon and have now expanded to 450 products.
Your summary as regards keeping an active Ebay account is really good and very accurate.
I am trying to learn how to sell on eBay and want to especially learn how to do the photography properly. I am interested in selling clothing on eBay but am not yet sure how well that sells. As for books and other items I may sell on Amazon, how do the fees compare in reality (especially after factoring in the Amazon professional account subscription, FBA fees, etc., vs. the eBay commission and PayPal fees plus shipping?
There are some great videos on YouTube about taking quality photos for eBay. Also, eBay does have an eBay fee estimator where you can get a better idea of the fees of what you’re selling.
Martha Mayo says
Oops! Thanks for this post Stephen, yet I’m reading it a day too late! I just closed my account yesterday:( Oh well….
It’s still alright to open a new account… if you want to.
Mary Ells says
I use a service called Joelister.com that I have the ability to list any of my Amazon inventory(I choose the items and can edit the listing) on Ebay. When it sells on Ebay, Joelister orders the item from my Amazon account with multi-channel fulfillment and it is sent to my Ebay buyer. I do not have to do anything. It also de-lists an item that goes out of stock on my Amazon account. It has a small fee for the service but it pays for it’s self.
We are looking into the possibility of using that service too. We’ll write more about it once we have some experience.
Tina Marie Bueno says
Yet another smart article Stephen. You always offer valuable insights.
Just in case this may be helpful: You don’t even have to be selling on Amazon to use their MCF (multi-channel fulfillment) services. You do have to be signed up on the professional seller plan though. ($39.99/mo)
If you are already an FBA Amazon seller, it’s super easy to use:
In your seller account, on your Manage Inventory page, select the products included in your eBay order, then choose Create Fulfillment Order and fill out the prompts.
Note that your packing slip will have your company info but as of September, boxes will no longer be generic…they’ll be sent in Amazon boxes.
I believe, the fees are @$3 higher for MCF which means making sure that is calculated into pricing.
One last thing regarding MCF, since products are stored in Amazon warehouses, they are subject to their hazmat scrutiny. As Stephen writes, then eBay listings without MCF works well…although USPS/UPS/FEDEX rules would still apply.
Great additions, Tina!
I am thinking of selling some items on ebay.
I wonder if MCF from amazon is worth it? Are the fees the same as and are we paying double fees to ebay and amazon?
Do I send items to amazon as I do with FBA? If so if they deem something hazmat on amazon won’t that prevent us from keeping them in the warehouse?
amazon seems to just decide one day a product is restricted and they do not give us a chance to sell through our products..can these be left at the fulfillment center then listed on ebay and shipped through MCF?
There are so many reasons to sell on ebay also…I am wondering if MCF is worth it over just shipping it ourselve..
You are paying fees to both eBay and Amazon, but as long as you work that into your profit margins, then everything will work out.
If you send something to Amazon and they change the status of that item to hazmat, then they will destroy it, as they would not be able to legally transport it with their shipping agreement with UPS.
If a product becomes restricted, then I think the only option would be to create a removal order.
I love the idea of multichannel fulfillment because you’ll have the same item on sale on both Amazon and eBay, and if it sells on one platform, then the service makes it’s no longer available to buy on the other platform.
Thanks again for another very detailed post that covers a very important subject as it relates to having an alternate selling platform other than Amazon in the event of suspension. Like some of the prior comments, we also use JoeLister to cross-list some of our FBA and MF inventory on eBay and it works very smoothly as described above. Using the multi-channel strategy, we also list the same FBA items on our website and Amazon ships them.
Thank You Stephen I so appreciate your answers and your articles…
Great article, and very timely too with regards Amazons recent purge on certain brand names, with more to come I am sure.
I have sold a little bit on eBay in the past but not enough to warrant using the services of Joelister because of the cost. But I definitely need to up my game with eBay.
But what about Rakuten? Has anyone used them before and is it easy to get set up, plus now that Walmart have taken over Jet could we sell on Walmart too?
I have never used Rakuten or Jet, so if anyone else has some helpful experience with them, feel free to chime in.
Maggie Delaro says
I got my Amazon recently banned with no chance of appeal. I still have my eBay account, but Amazon makes a huge part of my income. I was wondering, do you think it is safe to use stealth accounts that sellers such as the Aspkin forums and Auction Essistance offer?
Tried to create a new account on my own, but I got suspended just shortly after.
Am at my wits end as losing Amazon will mean losing a chunk of money.
I don’t know if that’s safe or wise. If you can’t get reinstated, consider going here and seeking professional help to get your account reinstated: https://www.fulltimefba.com/reinstatement