Holiday season has rushed over and engulfed us, there’s no denying it. With holiday season comes holiday buying, and many people have already hungrily been searching the Internet for that perfect gift. Whether or not it’s holiday season, oftentimes we find ourselves browsing webpages before we ever browse store shelves. Today, the online bazaar is where people want to be, and Amazon, Etsy, and eBay find themselves as crowning champions of this virtual marketplace. While each of these Internet entrepreneurs has their undeniable plus sides, they also have some less appealing characteristics. Let’s see what happens when we toss Amazon, Etsy, and eBay into the proverbial wrestling ring.
Amazon.com, Inc. was founded in 1994 and today has surpassed Walmart as “the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization.” A serious online contender indeed. Amazon is considered an electronic commerce cloud computing company and it has its headquarters in cloudy Seattle, Washington. Amazon is the largest Internet-based retailer in the U.S., a shocking achievement considering its humble beginnings as an online bookstore.
The Breakdown – Amazon is a virtual literal giant. You need it? Amazon’s got it, and they probably have it for excellent prices, as well. With the addition of Amazon Prime you can also get what you want extremely fast. However, Amazon’s once-trustworthy reviewing system has become a bedraggled mess. While reviews were intended to be written by real buyers of real items, many reviews are now written by people paid to write them in order to give the item a higher ranking. This means that, for the most part, you can’t trust Amazon reviews of items. Since you don’t ever get to see these items in person before you buy them, this creates a serious problem. Most sellers are honest and legitimate, but with the advent of Amazon allowing literally anyone to sell on their website, more and more shysters are creeping in.
Start Amazon shopping here.
Fancy magnificently handcrafted one-of-a-kind items? Step away from Amazon.com and reap the plentiful rewards of shopping through Etsy. Etsy is a peer-to-peer e-commerce website following the tradition of open craft fairs. Etsy allows sellers- any sellers- to create their own storefront where they can list their vintage or handmade items at a cost of 20 cents each. Etsy was launched in 1998 by iospace. Today, the website has 54 million registered users with 1.4 million active sellers.
The Breakdown – Where you might not trust Amazon reviews you can be sure that Etsy reviewers are telling it like it is. With a website like Etsy, every single seller needs to be extra certain that they stand out, whether that’s through amazing customer service, amazing products, or amazing prices. The best stores naturally combine all three. Etsy proffers items that you can’t even imagine, ranging from homemade wedding dresses to handmade Damascus steel hatchets. Can’t think of what to get your loved one for Christmas? Pick a category and a theme and jump on Etsy. Your spouse likes octopus and coffee? Bam. Octopus design coffee mugs. However, because items are generally either handmade or vintage, you can sometimes get a mixed bag concerning quality. Be sure to check reviews and ask questions of sellers before investing in an item that might turn out to be a piece shoddy craftsmanship. Handmade things also tend to be overpriced because of their novel nature.
Start Etsy shopping here.
Only a year younger than Amazon, eBay Inc. is a peer-to-peer multinational corporation and e-commerce company in America. Its headquarters are in California and its founder is Pierre Omidyarin. Today eBay Inc. is a multibillion-dollar business managing the iconic eBay.com. eBay is an online auction and shopping website which is free for buyers to use, although sellers are charged fees for item listings as well as when listings are sold. As a fun side-note, PayPal was originally a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay in 2002, but only this year became its own independent company.
The Breakdown – eBay offers something that neither Etsy nor Amazon really have any grasp on: haggling. eBay is a thriving marketplace full of both new and used items. If you need a specific car, you’re not going to find it on either of the two previous sites- but you just might find it on eBay. The auction system allows you the chance to score an expensive item for a ridiculously cheap price, but it does require constant observation and some serious timing skills. There are other options that allow you to buy items without having to go through an auction, but for the most part eBay’s best and worst attribute is its auctioning system. eBay has a wildly different selection of items, ranging from autographed prints to enormous used sets of Magic the Gathering cards. However, try not to fall in love with anything too hard… it might just be gone before you know it.
Start eBay shopping here.
Where you ultimately end up shopping ends up having a great deal to do with your personal preferences. If you like convenience, quick shipping, and good prices across the board, you’ll probably be hunting through Amazon for your goods. If you like handcrafted and unique items you won’t ever find in stores, you’ll definitely be an Etsy fan. If you like haggling, auctions, and a bizarre selection of goods, you’ll be on eBay most of your time. Whatever your cup of tea, drink it. These online giants are only getting bigger and better all the time.