eCommerce: Buy it Now VS Add to Cart (Amazon VS eBay)

Mar 26, 2012 by Yuriy Sklyar

Recently while working on a client project, a good point was brought up: why use “Add to Cart” if you can just leave it as “Buy it Now”, and what is the difference between these two?

While neither Amazon nor eBay have released any official information on their research/analytics, I still thought that these two will be the perfect examples to demonstrate the differences.

In short, neither way is “wrong”, and each one has its own benefits - it all depends on how your business works.

Amazon’s way of doing business is completely different from that of eBay. In this case  Add to Cart dictates their users to add more things to their cart, resulting in more products purchased . Amazon's 48 billion revenue for 2011 (compared to 11.651 of eBay) could be the testament of that.

eBay, on the other hand, has always been more of an auction website. Since most of the items at auctions are unique and can only be bought once,  Buy it Now creates a much more powerful call-to-action, dictating the user that they need to make a purchase right now .

After some basic research however, one could form a fairly educated opinion on their biggest difference: the conversion rate.

Compared to an estimated 47% conversion rate of eBay, Amazon's “tiny” 9.6% conversion rate has a long way to go. There can be a number of things affecting their conversion rates, however psychologically speaking, “Buy it Now” has a much greater impact on people, resulting in more guided and confident purchases.

On a related note, not too long ago a new feature got added to eBay – the already familiar to many “Add to Cart” button. With this new update eBay is entering the same market has been dominating for a long time, and my guess is that eBay will come out on top if it does its marketing properly.

Watch out Amazon!

Yuriy Sklyar - Principal, Threefifty

I'm responsible for UX and UI (among other things) of all projects that come through the doors of Threefifty.

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