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Amazon vs eBay vs Newegg - Where to Buy?

Posted Apr 9, 2015 by Nick Vogt
I purchase a great deal of electronics, computer components, house goods, and yard supplies online. I am very price and review sensitive so I cross-shop everything. My purchases tend to be split fairly evenly between Amazon, eBay, and Newegg. I'm going to share my personal pros and cons for each marketplace, and hopefully it can help you with your buying decisions.


Amazon


Amazon is the most popular out of these according to Alexa (ranked 7th globally), but shouldn't be the only marketplace you shop.

Positives
  • Amazon has great reviews. You can often find out what products are better than others by reading the reviews. If you're serious about getting the most for your money, be sure to take the time to really read the reviews and check if they're verified or not. Customer photos are particularly useful as they often show the product in a non-perfect light. I usually start at Amazon for the reviews, but may not end up buying there.
  • Amazon's Best Seller lists are a great way to find out what is popular by category. These products tend to have the most reviews and pictures, and it's a glimpse into what Amazon is actually selling the most of.

Negatives
  • Amazon's prices tend to be a little higher. They have hefty fees for sellers (12-15%) so you can often find the same product on eBay for less (net total fees are as low as 8% for top eBay/PayPal sellers).
  • While most things on Amazon have free shipping, most also require spending $35 or more to obtain that free shipping. For example, I was looking for a WiFi adapter and found this one with good reviews for $14.88. I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to reach the $35 mark without going too much over. I then looked on eBay and found the same adapter for $12.95 free shipping (with no shipping minimum). Don't fall into the "spend more to get free shipping" trap.

Other Thoughts
Amazon sometimes gives free products to customers for the sole purpose of gaining reviews. This is called the Amazon Vine Program. It's a great way to cultivate product reviews, but some might consider it a little shady. I personally think it is an okay practice, as the reviews tend to be well-written and informative. Just watch out for too much marketing-speak.

‹ Go to Amazon (opens in a new window)


eBay


eBay does not have much in the way of reviews, but I often end up buying here when the price is better.

Positives
  • eBay has lower seller fees so you'll often find lower prices.
  • eBay has the traditional auction bidding system still, which allows you to bid on items if you prefer. They also have "Best Offer" that allows you to make an offer for a product.
  • eBay sellers tend to have more feedback accumulated since eBay pushes its seller feedback through email reminders and such (whereas Amazon pushes its product reviews). This may give you a little more confidence in the seller you're buying from.
  • The item descriptions and pictures can be better on eBay, since each listing has a seller that is responsible for it with complete control over it. Amazon products tend to be neglected as multiple sellers are selling under the same product page. As an Amazon 3rd party seller there is little incentive to improve product pages since you could be helping your competition just as much as yourself.
  • eBay has Detailed Seller Ratings, that allow you to see just how well each seller performs in four different categories.
  • If you're looking for used products eBay is the best place to buy from. With full control over the listing page, sellers can provide much more detail about a used product they're selling. Outside of books, I sell most of my used components and electronics on eBay, and there's a big market for it.

Negatives
  • eBay has very few product reviews, so you're mostly buying blind. I almost always find reviews elsewhere for products before buying them.
  • Seller feedback is very character-limited (80 character or less), so you won't get much detail on customers' transaction experiences with a seller outside of the ratings.

Other Thoughts
I spend most of my time browsing on Amazon, but I often end up buying at eBay. Be sure to always pay close attention to the seller you're going to be buying from, and read how to spot eBay scammers and fraudulent sellers. It might seem scary to buy from eBay, but as long as you pay attention and do your due diligence, you are well-protected by both eBay and PayPal.

‹ Go to eBay (opens in a new window)


Newegg


Newegg is excellent for computer components and peripherals. They sell in most other categories as well just like Amazon (Newegg Marketplace), but they don't have a strong presence there.

Positives
  • Newegg's product pages are much more detailed than Amazon's or eBay's on average, and their product photography is exceptional. They take a good deal of care with each and every product to make sure it has a wealth of information.
  • Long after a product has been discontinued, you can still find the original product page with details, pictures, and reviews.
  • Buying open box or manufacturer refurbished parts on Newegg is safer and easier to do than with eBay or Amazon.
  • Newegg's search engine blows away Amazon and eBay. It has very fine-grain control over searches with well-developed categories and filters. Very few mistakes.
  • Newegg has reviews that rival Amazon's when it comes to computer components. The more computer-focused a product is, the better chance it will have more reviews on Newegg than on Amazon.
  • Newegg recently opened up their site to allow 3rd party sellers just like Amazon and eBay. It's not as well-developed but it does give additional buying options for components.

Negatives
  • Outside of computer components and accessories, the prices and reviews tend to be not nearly as good.

Other Thoughts
If you're buying computer components, accessories, or peripherals, Newegg competes very closely with Amazon and eBay, and often times has a little lower price or better reviews. I tend to buy about 60% of my computer components from Newegg, with the remaining 40% split between Amazon and eBay. I rarely shop Newegg for things outside of electronics, unless they come up in a Google search.

‹ Go to Newegg (opens in a new window)
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