These Were 2018’s Top Selling Product Categories at Amazon and eBay

Electronics & Accessories was the top selling product category from eBay last year, garnering 17% of all items sold, while Books (16%) maintained the top ranking category sold at Amazon.

Key Takeaways

• Clothing & Accessories (16%) and Automotive (11%) round off the top 3 categories for eBay

• Health & Beauty at 12% and Electronics & Accessories at 11% are second and third top categories for Amazon

• Both companies experienced a bump in sales in the Toys & Games category during the months of December and March

Unsurprisingly, Amazon was the number one ecommerce retailer in 2018, capturing an estimated 49% of the total US ecommerce market according to eMarketer. While the second largest player, eBay, isn’t getting as much attention as it once did in its heyday, it still maintains a hold on the ecommerce market. To better understand what items are popular from both of these e-retailers, Edison Trends applied granular analysis of sales at the product level from each e-retailer.

What are the most popular items sold on Amazon vs. eBay?

Figures 1a & 1b: Estimated category percentages of items sold at Amazon and eBay. Category percentages were calculated by number of items sold, according to Edison Trends.

The top selling item for eBay was Electronics & Accessories at 16%, while—staying true to its origins—Amazon’s top seller is Books at 16%. In second place at eBay was Clothing & Accessories at 14%, while at Amazon it was Health & Beauty at 12%. In third place at eBay was, perhaps surprisingly, Automotive at 11%, and at Amazon it was Electronics & Accessories at 11%.

Perhaps surprisingly, as eBay is generally known as a place where people sell second-hand collectibles, Toys & Games made up only 5% of eBay sales during the last year. Comparably low, Toys & Games only made up 3% of Amazon’s sales. Overall, the lowest selling category from eBay was Magazines at 0.01% of sales and from Amazon, the lowest category was Online Services at 0.2%.

How did category sales at each retailer fluctuate over the year?

Figure 2a: Estimated number of items sold by category at eBay. "1x" means "1x the amount of the smallest category (Toys & Games) in February, 2018." In other words, if Toys & Games sold 100 units in February 2018, that would mean Sports & Outdoors sold 155 units in the same month, and 180 units in March, according to Edison Trends.

Sales at eBay have remained largely steady throughout the year, with the biggest exception of December, where the number of Home & Kitchen items eclipsed those of both Tools & Home Improvement as well as Sports & Outdoors. Overall, most categories experienced a bump during the holiday season as people purchased gifts for their loved ones except for Automotive, which saw a decline in sales during the holiday months.

Interestingly, there was also a bump in sales during the month of March for many eBay categories, most notably in Electronics & Accessories, Clothing & Accessories, and Automotive. Throughout these bumps, Electronics & Accessories maintained its lead as the highest selling single category, with Clothing & Accessories close behind.

Figure 2b: Estimated number of items sold by category per month at Amazon. "1x" means "1x the amount of the smallest category (Automotive) in February, 2018," according to Edison Trends.

At Amazon, proportions of categories, relative to each other, remained steady for most of the year but saw large fluctuations during the holiday months especially in Home & Kitchen, Electronics & Accessories, and Toys & Games. Just as in eBay’s numbers, although less so, there was a jump in sales among many categories during the month of March. There’s also a bit of a jump in sales around July, most likely due to Amazon’s annual Prime Day. The biggest jumps in sales during Prime Day can be seen in Books, Electronics & Accessories, Home & Kitchen, and Software & Mobile Apps. Overall however, Books remains Amazon’s top selling category month over month.

*The data shown is based on a sample of anonymized and aggregated e-receipts from millions of consumers in the United States.

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