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If you’re looking to make some money flipping items online or just looking to reduce the number of items around your home, figuring out what to do with them can be a difficult issue.
The way everyone talks about minimalism and simplifying your life always made me feel like getting rid of stuff is easy. It’s not.
Finding the best way to sell your items and recoup some of the money you put into them can start to feel like a full-time job. And, if you’re like us, then it really is a full-time job.
For the past five years, we have made a full-time living buying clothing and other items from thrift stores to sell on eBay (and half a dozen other platforms). During that time we’ve seen thousands of sellers come into the game, fail, and go back to their jobs. Sometimes it’s simply because they weren’t cut out for the work or didn’t know what kinds of things sell well online. Other times, it’s simply because they couldn’t figure out the best place to sell their stuff!
There’s no one-place-fits-all solution when it comes to selling things online. However, if you are comparing selling platforms as a reseller, your choices pretty much come down to one (or more) of the big three: eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari. (Check out our Mercari vs. Poshmark comparison as well)
In my opinion, you shouldn’t choose only one. Selling platforms are unpredictable. If you want to protect your reselling business and survive long-term you should crosspost between two platforms (two only, three is too many).
eBay is the backbone of most reselling stores and then people choose an auxiliary site to also cross-post their stuff on. But does eBay still deserve to be the king? We recently did an eBay vs Poshmark comparison in which eBay totally dominated the comparisons. But what about Mercari? Is eBay really that much better than Mercari? Well, let’s see!
For sellers, there are 3 things that really matter: fees, the audience (size and quality), and the platform’s ease of use. There are, of course, other items that may affect your decision but if one of the platforms is a clear winner of those 3 big items it’ll be a hard sell to go anywhere else. So let’s take a look at each one of them and see who is currently on top.
But first, if you’re considering just getting into buying or selling on Mercari, you’re in luck. If you sign up through my link (on a mobile device), you’ll get $10 off your first order and an extra $20 bucks when you sell your first $100 worth of goods!
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Fees on Mercari vs. eBay
|Selling Fee||0-14.55% + $.30||10% + $.30|
|Balance Transfer Fee||None||$0-2|
|Listing Upgrade/Promotions||up to 100%||None|
Since the advent of eBay’s Managed Payment System their fee schedule has become much more complicated. Every category has its own fees and fee limits. When I’m doing mental math while purchasing an item, the number I use to estimate my eBay fees is 13%. While some categories are higher/lower, 12.35% percent is a pretty common number.
In addition to the listing fee, eBay has many other ways to nickel and dime you to death (or at least into the poor house). You get 250 free listings (or more if you have a store) but after that, it’s $.25-.35 per listing. Since all of your listings are relisted automatically every month (and charged each time) this can add up quickly if you have hundreds or thousands of listings.
eBay also has the option to “promote” your listings. Basically, you bid an additional percent of fees that you will pay if an item seller and, if you have a high bid, your item will show up at the top of search results. This is an easy way that people lose an additional 5-10% on their sale price.
Last, but not least, there are all the “upgrade listing” options that eBay offers. We have left these almost entirely alone and recommend you do as well. If you list low-dollar items it’s entirely possible to pay more for your listing than you will make from the sale.
Whew, that was long. Gone are the days where I could just summarize eBay fees as “around 10%”.
Mercari’s fees on the other hand? Around 10%. The significantly lower fees (and the ability for people to shop with their balance) often result in people getting a better price for their item on Mercari and then keeping a higher percentage of it. In this regard, the simplest option is also the most money-saving option.
As far as paying fees, both platforms now take their portion from your balance and don’t send invoices. Easy-peasy.
If don’t have a Mercari account yet, you can take the sting out of fees by signing up with a Mercari coupon code that will give you an extra $20 when you hit $100 in sales, effectively wiping out fees! (Sign up here)
Fees Winner: Mercari
Audience Size & Quality: Mercari vs. eBay
There’s a reason that eBay is considered an 800lb gorilla in the reselling world. They’re well known, they’ve been around forever, and they absolutely blow the other platforms out of the water when it comes to traffic.
As you can see, eBay gets 9x the traffic that Mercari does! And contrary to popular belief, eBay traffic is not declining over time.
The one thing that Mercari has gong for it is that, while it has way fewer buyers, it also has way fewer sellers and therefore product offerings.
However, I can chip in here with a good amount of my own experience. I crosspost almost all of my eBay items onto Mercari and, in the past year, have had more than 3x as many on eBay as on Mercari.
Not only are the traffic numbers wildly different, but so are the types of people that use the different platforms. Judging by the items that sell well on Mercari, they attract a younger audience that is more interested in trendy items. eBay, on the other hand, attracts a very broad audience of all types. They also are far more likely to attract customers with deep pockets who are looking for unusual or rare items.
At the end of the day, I’d recommend using both platforms so as to maximize your exposure. There are people that use Mercari but not eBay and visa-versa.
If you must choose one, eBay is the clear winner. Tens of thousands of people make a full-time living on eBay but it would be much more work to do so on Mercari.
Traffic Winner: eBay
Ease of Use: Mercari vs. eBay
If you are interested in getting items online as fast as possible, Mercari is dead simple. It has fewer specifics than eBay and many of them are not required. You can simply snap a few pictures, write a description, and have your items online within a minute.
eBay’s listings process, while not complicated, is a bit more intensive than Mercari’s. They want many more specifics, you have to take better pictures to stand out, and you have to mess with shipping/payment settings that you don’t have to worry about on Mercari.
With that being said, eBay’s additional listing requirements give buyers far more options for filtering and let customers find exactly what they want. Mercari’s listing process currently feels more like an online classified ad rather than a full-scale selling platform.
While this is typically a matter of preference, I think this is actually a great argument for using both. I list my items on eBay first which gives me all the information I need to cross-post it to Mercari, making it a breeze.
Ease of Use Winner: Mercari
Other Things To Think About
Those three things were enough to give me a definitive answer but they might not be enough for most people. There are obviously dozens of other differences between eBay and Mercari so I’ll hit them quickly and tell you which is better (according to me). In the end, however, many of these items will be more of a preference than anything.
Returns: Mercari’s return process is much less user-friendly and the buyer has only 3 days to open a return. While some sellers have had trouble getting customer support when they’ve had returns, we’ve had far fewer returns on Mercari than on eBay. I’ll give Mercari the edge here (for sellers, anyway).
Feedback: Negative feedback has a far more harmful effect on eBay than on Mercari. On eBay, having less than 97% positive feedback tells me that the seller is either new or does not take care of their buyers. On Mercari, the start system allows a little more leeway and buyers are not as put off if you have several 4-star ratings (which would be 80% on eBay).
Scams: As a buyer, you are far more likely to scammed on Mercari than on eBay. The customer service and seller flow are not yet sophisticated enough to protect buyers sufficiently. If you’re overly worried about Mercari scams, check out how to protect yourself here. We’ll let eBay take this one.
How You Get Paid: Last year at this time this would have been a runaway victory. Now that nearly every seller is on the Managed Payment System Mercari and eBay have pretty much the same system. Getting paid on Mercari (and eBay) is as simple as selling an item, waiting for the fees to be on your balance, and then transferring them to your account. I’ll give eBay a win here (slightly) because you do not have to wait for the item to be delivered for your funds to be released.
Shipping Discounts: Mercari has recently upped its shipping rates (again) which puts them on par with eBay for shipping prices. Both platforms offer significant savings over retail. I’ll side with eBay here because they offer the chance to change the shipping method and weight after an item is purchased. If you’re after simplicity, however, know that shipping on eBay is slightly more complicated.
If you’re going to try and make a living by reselling on a single platform, eBay still cannot be beaten. While they do have their foibles and problems, there is not currently another platform that can offer what they do in terms of traffic and, therefore, sales. But, as I’ve said before, why choose when you can have both!
Crossposting Between Mercari and eBay
Because it’s free to post items on Mercari, you should absolutely give it a try. You may find that you like it better than selling on eBay!
The easiest way to do this is to use a cross-posting software such as List Perfectly which will simply pull the listings that you choose from your eBay store, duplicate them, and stick them onto Mercari (or another platform you choose). You can read our full review of List Perfectly here and grab our List Perfectly Coupon code here.
Best of luck!