Amazon and eBay are two of the largest e-retailers, but people don’t often think of them as being similar. Amazon isn’t just for new, name-brand products—it’s also a huge marketplace for used items.
Lots of Things on Amazon Aren’t Sold by Amazon
There was a time when Amazon only sold books. Back then, everything was owned by, and shipped from, the company. As the Amazon marketplace has grown, this has become less and less the case. By August 2020, 53% of all products sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers.
If you frequently shop on Amazon, this might not come as a surprise to you. But what some might not know is Amazon also has a huge catalog of used items. There isn’t an auction system, like eBay, but it’s still a massive resource for secondhand commerce.
Understanding Who Owns and Ships Amazon Products
When browsing the Amazon Marketplace, there are two labels you should look for: “Sold by” and “Shipped by.”
“Sold by” tells you who provided the product. Many times, this will say “Sold by Amazon,” meaning it’s both acquired and sold by Amazon. This might be an Amazon product, like a Kindle, or another item the company has acquired directly from the manufacturer.
“Shipped by” (or “Fulfilled by“) tells you who will be shipping the item. “Shipped by Amazon” means the product is stored in an Amazon warehouse and it will ship from there.
A product “Sold by” a third-party and “Shipped by” Amazon has been sent to an Amazon warehouse by that third-party. Amazon then takes care of the shipping and gets a cut of the profits.
You’ll find a lot of products on Amazon that aren’t shipped or sold by Amazon. Just like eBay, individuals and small businesses can sell used products on Amazon without the company’s involvement.
A third-party sells the product through Amazon, and then ships it to you—Amazon merely lists the product and acts as a middleman.
Amazon’s Muddy Used Market
Amazon isn’t really designed to sell secondhand products. For example, I purchased a used Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 on the site, and there weren’t any photos of the actual product. There was only a short text description of the item’s condition, as shown below.
Thankfully, third-party sellers on Amazon do have ratings, so you can make sure you’re buying from a reliable source. The only other information you’ll see, however, is the condition of the item (“Like New,” “Very Good,” and so on) and a brief description of the item.
On eBay and Craigslist, sellers can upload photos so buyers can actually see the condition of the item. This is helpful because a description like “minor cosmetic imperfection” could mean a lot of things. This is why not being able to actually see what you’re buying on Amazon is frustrating.
The process for ordering a used item is the same as ordering anything else on Amazon. There are some differences afterward, though. Items that aren’t shipped by Amazon are ineligible for Amazon’s customer service. This means you’re at the mercy of the third-party seller if you want a refund. The good news is Amazon does offer some protection under its A-Z Guarantee.
Generally, Amazon is a safe, reliable place to purchase used products, but, just like eBay, there’s always some risk involved. For example, some third-party sellers have been caught selling counterfeit products.
If you’re purchasing anything that isn’t under Amazon’s umbrella, just do so with caution.
What Is Amazon Warehouse?
The best way to buy used products on Amazon is via the Amazon Warehouse seller. This is Amazon’s in-house distributor of like-new, open-box, and used items. These are typically products that have been returned by Amazon shoppers.
When you’re looking at used offers for a product, Amazon Warehouse will often be the top seller. The benefit of buying something from Amazon Warehouse is it will also be shipped by Amazon. This means you can also get Prime shipping and Amazon customer service. The latter is very important for used products.
Amazon Warehouse items qualify for free replacements within 30 days of purchase, but they don’t typically include manufacturer’s warranties. “Renewed” items also include Amazon’s 30-day return policy. If you’re interested in buying used on Amazon, this is the seller to look for.
How to Find Used Products on Amazon
There are a few ways you can find used products on Amazon. First, simply visit the Amazon Warehouse and browse all the products in one place. This is very handy if you don’t want to deal with third-parties.
The other method is to simply search for products, and then look for “More Buying Choices” underneath an item. There’ll be a link that shows how many “Used & New Offers” are available.
You’ll find the same thing at the bottom of the “About This Item” section on a product’s page.
This takes you to a list of all available products in various conditions. Be sure to note the “Sold by” and “Shipped by” labels here. Read the condition descriptions and check the seller ratings before you purchase a used product.
People typically think of eBay or Craigslist when they want to purchase a used product, but there’s a ton of secondhand commerce happening on Amazon.
While the actual buying process on Amazon’s Marketplace leaves a lot to be desired, you get many of the same benefits on used items that you do when you purchase new products on Amazon. It’s a great way to save money with the relative peace of mind that you’re making a safe purchase.
So, next time you’re on the market for a used product, give Amazon a try. You might be pleasantly surprised!