What Does Online Gaming Have To Do With Marketplaces like eBay & Amazon?

In this article I pose the following question with an aim to draw a comparison between features found in gaming, to that found on marketplaces like eBay & Amazon.

What Does Online Gaming Have To Do With Marketplaces like eBay & Amazon?

Before I can attempt to draw a comparison, I need to identify some of the core components of online gaming. Being a self-confessed hardcore gamer, I feel I’m at least semi-qualified to attempt to document some of the qualities that online games have to offer, as for the marketplaces comparison I also feel I’m semi-qualified there too.


Understanding Online Gaming

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

My history of gaming goes back to the original days of WON, which was the system that Valve used for multi-player games using the Halflife 1 (HL1) engine before it was migrated to Steam. This now includes games such as CounterStrike & TeamFortress Classic & the variations that spun from these, like FortressForever.

My online gaming has taken a specific slant, multi-player. I’ve never really been a fan of single player games, HalfLife 1 & 2 are prime examples, I’ve not played more than a few minutes with these two, but I must be into the realms of years now of the hours put in for the multi-player versions. Also it’s worth pointing out that I took several days off on the release of TeamFortress 2, so that I could sit down and enjoy the newly released game.

To give an indication of the extent of my lust for multi-player, I’ve dabbled with MMOG’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Games), however because I know my personal weakness for them, I’ve steered away from the likes of Guild wars & World of Warcraft, because I know I’ll have no life after them. I’ve recently been hooked on World of Tanks (WoT) and my gaming community lost me for over 8 months to a web based MMOG called Tribal Wars.

It’s also a good time to indicate that I am not a fan of football, this may explain in part my obsession with online gaming, as I miss the key elements I detail later in this article from bot being a “fan” that can readily port to the game of football as well, not just selling marketplaces like eBay & Amazon.

Tribal Wars is an interesting game to consider, as its not the normal type of game that you would consider as online gaming, as its all based in the browser & is highly focused towards strategy. Starting with a single village, you go plundering other villages to get more resources, the aim is to increase your buildings & troops to a level, where you can educate a nobleman, then go off and over 4-5 attempts, win over another village. This is all done in a web browser, while fending attacks from other villages, attacking other players,  joining tribes and plotting the demise of other tribes in the world that you’re playing.

Tribal Wars ignoring the core requirements that make an experience (XP) MMOG based game, also sunk into another passion of mine, coding & mathematics. Now this is where I seal my fate for that game as I’m now willing to admit that I wrote a masterpiece of over 52,000 lines of code to automate that game and this was the reason why I ended up dominating an entire continent (or K as they’re known). Naughty I know…

Flipping back to some current games, these being TeamFortress 2, CounterStrike Source and World of Tanks. While these games being in a different format (employing role play, first-person shooter, real-time strategy etc…) where you play an humanoid or tank object, rather than being focused on an image in a browser, the cross-comparisons are exceptionally similar.

Core Elements of an Online Game (for me)

Each of these games employ the following features:

  1. Ease of play, even for new players (called n00bs)
  2. Social interaction
  3. A scoring mechanism
  4. Team play, with real people (see note on AI later)
  5. An experience mechanism & Achievements
  6. A token mechanism (this is another form of Economics)
  7. A single or set of characters that you can improve over time
  8. Ability to be totally random
  9. Respawn events or never-ending

It’s critically important that new players are able to join and understand the game quickly, then to build a lust for gaining experience & achieve some or all of the other core attributes. Some games do this by having tiered levels of games, taking WoT (World of Tanks) for example, there are 10 tiers and players only play with other players in tiers up toa  maximum of 4 above them, to keep the game enjoyable for them.

Social interaction is huge for online games, it’s been known for people to get married in games! A really nice story to add here is that out of the gaming community I created a few years back, we now have our first real life baby that would not have entered this world without it. Now that’s the power of social interaction, forget the rest of the normal stuff, chatting, plotting, team work etc… Social can go to real world too and we’ve had some amazing nights out with the lads when we’ve all met up from all around Europe to a single place and take the virtual to the real-world (Big Chief looked pregnant, but he was a bloke).

Team play and the interaction of other real players is absolutely key, they’re needed to keep the game random and also to allow team work. Now this teamwork may be in dual units or as entire tribes of hundreds of people, but its this co-operation that can truly make a simple game, hugely addictive.

Now this is a good time to cover artificial intelligence (AI) and I’ll be back to the core elements shortly.

Artificial Intelligence In Games

You may also be wondering why I have spent a couple of hundred words with this topic, when you get to the marketplaces comparison later, AI has its direct comparison to “automation” and it’s critical you understand AI and how it’s linked to together.

Now this is where I’m going to slate one of my favourite game providers, Valve. Although to be fair they had a brilliant stab at it & I just prefer playing with real people.

Left 4 Dead Characters In two recent releases, Left for Dead and Left for Dead 2, this game is based upon a AI engine that works out the skills of the players and adapts the game to suit. The problem is, the more you play, it doesn’t take much to work out the trigger events and when you’re likely to find a witch (she’s lost a child& sits there crying and goes ape if you have your flash light on, then proceeds to attempt to kill either you or one of your 3 team mates) or a rank (a whopping great big zombie that can rip the floor up & lob it at you, you gotta burn that one with a petrol bomb and it takes some kill I can assure you).

The original incarnation was just a team of 4 players, this was an immediate fail for me, as I need at least 10 people each side to consider it worth my while, any less, the game dynamics start to suck. In later updates a “verses” game appeared, so instead of just 4 players, 8 could play and the first team, the survivors take on the opposite team, who play one of 5 roles as zombie-fied creatures. With random hoardes of zombies appearing, or not so random as you figure out as you play more and more. Yes, there was an hack to allow more players, but the amount of server load caused by the AI engine, made it unplayable.

So, for me AI sucks. I’d rather play with humans, you can never tell what they’ll do next and no game is exactly like the one before, ever.

Economics & the Other Factors

Economics are a curious addition to online gaming, not only can this provide an amazing gaming experience, but it can also allow game creators to find extra sources of revenue or even make it their sole revenue stream.

World of Tanks - American TreeTo focus on the gamers side of this equation, lets take WoT’s, in this game you start with a level 1 tank and you gain experience (XP) with each battle you fight, you get more if your team wins and less if your team fails. You also gain credits for each battle and they follow the same path as the XP, if you win, you get more coins. Its the combination of the XP to unlock higher tier tanks and you need coins (lots of) to buy the tanks. So the more you play, the more XP & coins you get.

Now while this game does not have sharing abilities that I’ll cover in a moment, this game does have the ability to buy gold coins that can be used for several purposes, such as having a premium account that allows you gain 50% more XP & coins each battle, or they can be traded to buy special tanks or ironically even to convert XP or buy normal coins.

world-of-tanks-gold-1As you can tell this can could get expensive, I did a few quick sums and with a small group of us, we’ve easily ploughed £1500-2000 in this game alone in the past few months.

Now flipping this to the game makers, this is where freemium kicks in and the best example is the TeamFortress 2 game I referenced earlier. In this game you play one of 8/9 characters in teams of up to 16 per side and battle it out in one several game formats capture the flag/point, attack defend or death match.

Bots (AI/fake players) were added, these were a feature in the original game Team Fortress Classic (by their modding community, as the game has an API), however again they’re actions are relatively poor compared to humans (although the way-pointing has come on quite a way since the original), however as per my earlier note on AI, these generally suck and the general community of players tend to keep away from BOT servers.

This is where it becomes interesting because this game originally started as a typical game, buy it and play as much as you like, however Valve at the time had started to implement a drop mechanism for extras in the games, such as weapons or items you can wear. These items could be stored and new items could be built, but in a stroke of genius, they allowed the items to be traded and then that’s where the whole game changed. TF2 turned into a free game and the revenue stream is now made from the massive user base sporting customised items, that new players want and can buy from the in game store.

Modding Engine (API)

In the case of Valve games, they have for a number of years now allowed 3rd parties to leverage the gaming engine, either to create new games or to change the way the current games are played.

This has been done via a link to the game engine on the server and communities like SourceMod that sports over 450 plugins that can completely change the way the games work and have allowed longevity to the gaming engine, because of the hundreds, if not thousands of addon’s & extensions that have been created by 3rd parties to the original games.


In all the games I’ve covered above, they all sport the feature of experience & ability to improve from what they originally started from, this can be with time input or via paid for addons. Another important factor I have not covered up until now is the ability to “respawn”, this is where the player at the end of a round or game, starts again at the beginning, to play another challenge against the players.

In TF2, its normally a round based game, this could be to capture a flag or point(s), counter strike source is similar where a bomb needs to be planted or hostages need to be saved (or inversely,  a bomb site or the hostages need to be defended) and for WoT all the enemy tanks are destroyed or the cap point is taken.

In almost all the games I’ve mentioned there is the ability to be awarded achievements from the actions taken in the games. For WoT this may be sniper or a medal, for TF2, this could be the number of kills scored with a weapon or other combinations, some are obscenely hard to get, in fact one of the spy achievements due to a bug that was introduced a year ago, cannot be completed.

The most competitive of players will aim to unlock ALL the achievements for one or more player classes, the same as one of the players that I play with on WoT, he’s unlocked every tank & upgrade for an entire country tree.

This has literally taken him months and by his own admission that country tree (USA) & the tanks contained with in it, are crap compared to Germany, to the point that the highest tier tank in that tree is being removed and replaced with another, because its so under powered.

But he knew this & still continued, the game play itself was only one part of the game, unlocking the boxes on the screen was more important to him, than how the tanks actually played and invested months obtaining this level. That I hope demonstrates the power of achievements.

How Does Online Gaming Dynamics Relate to Marketplaces?

I’ve pretty much covered the basics of online gaming in ~1900 words, however how does this relate to marketplaces like eBay & Amazon?


Well the most obvious is feedback, when you first start selling on either Amazon or eBay (the game), you start from 0 and work upwards. The feedback system is incremental and ports directly to the experience (XP) model found in games, the more you sell (the game) the more feedback you’re likely to obtain.

Now this is where the game gets interesting, as Feedback is not entirely incremental, it can decrement too. So if you have a dissatisfied customer, they can leave you a neutral or negative feedback, this can be directly compared to the World of Tanks game, because even though you lost a battle, you still got something from it, albeit a negative and because you want more XP & coins (think feedback score & profit) then you do your best [as a business] to ensure that the feedback is positive.

Marketplace Achievements

When we mix in other dynamics of the marketplaces, lets take the eBay PowerSeller status, that has multiple tiers, Bronze, Silver/Gold, Platinum & Titanium and now the ultimate of being a “eBay Top Rated Seller” (eTRS). So that when you reach this level, you are allowed to leverage discounts on your eBay fees and gain extra exposure. This is very similar to the premium model found in MMOG’s and has distinct correlations to the items found in TF2, an item is worn, the same as the eTRS badge is worn.

Now chuck in the eBay “Detailed Seller Ratings” (DSR’s) where sellers (the gamer) can be scored on more than just feedback that had just three levels, buyers can rate sellers on a scale of 1 to 5 for their experience, this absolutely wreaks gaming levels, especially when you consider the business (or gamer) can electively choose to lower its risk to specific DSR ratings by tacking tactical/strategic decisions on the way they list (play the game) on eBay.

Flipping over to Amazon, Amazon is a slightly different game (or business), Amazon is a longer term game where you don’t gain access to the converted buy box for at least 3 months and in most cases is 4-5 months, after proving that you are a worthy gamer, I mean business, as you can see the line is now becoming blurred between business & gamer.

Amazon also leverage the feedback game, with ratings from 1 to 5 and with eBay too, you can play the feedback game by leaving follow up comments or attesting feedback that has been left by buyers. In a gaming scernio this is similar to appealing to the server admin or game providers for a cheat or foul play (think those scummy buyers that try it on) or appealing directly to your eBay or Amazon account manager.

The reviews & guides that is found on eBay is also an interesting gaming feature. As a business you’re able to write reviews for other gamers, sorry I mean eBay members to rate on how well the review is written / its usefulness. You can also sport an extra logo next to your eBay ID (player name) if the sum of your reviews meet specific requirement levels (think XP).


You can also make complaints about cheaters to the powers that be, this maybe someone stealing your images or breaking one of the marketplace policies or this could be a player with suspect game play.

This can also take an automated approach by either the markeplaces or the game providers, for example listing items that are under the VeRO protection on eBay or by a cheat being picked up by the anti-cheat VAC system that is used by Valve.

What Does AI & Marketplace Automation Have In Common?

I spent a good few hundred words explaining the AI (Artificial Intelligence)  system found in games and I did air a dislike for AI in gaming, this can be directly compared to automation of business processes for the marketplaces. Somewhat ironic that I’ve spent years working on tools to automate marketplaces, however just like AI it has its place, the same goes for automation.

In a recent article I released titled “The Top 8 Pitfalls of Using 3rd Party Software To Manage Your Business” I cover the common issues found when using such tools as eSellerPro, ChannelAdvisor, Linnworks, ChannelGrabber and so on, these are all caused by being removed from the games or businesses processes at ground level. The ultimate failure here is when the 3rd party provider goes down, this is the same as the AI engine failing and no-one can play the game, the business almost stops without it.

Don’t get me wrong, AI has its place, the same as automation tools, but if you rely too heavily on them and don’t report on them effectively, then the game or business is pretty much over.

API Access & Longevity

Another striking comparison between HalfLife engine games & the online marketplaces is the API access abilities. Having access to the core engine of the game/marketplace allows 3rd parties to expand on it further.

This could be as simple as feedback automation or it could go exceptionally deep as examples such as eSellerPro & ChannelAdvisor demonstrate exceptionally well.

The eBay API has to be one of the most comprehensive API’s out there and comes in numerous forms. Amazon Web Services rely heavily on API’s also and this has spawned numerous connected businesses, you only need to look at the eBay solutions directory to see the full scale of what can be achieved and its no wonder eBay Inc went for a new platform called X.Commerce, they know full well, without the integrations that millions of 3rd parties can provide will extend their core marketplace & associated companies offerings.

In all cases, because of API access, this has allowed 3rd parties to take extensions to the original platforms into areas that were not even conceived by the original creators, increasing customisation & longevity of the platforms.


All marketplaces whether knowingly or unwittingly employ several key features found in on-line gaming to keep businesses & users entertained with the marketplaces.

eBay probably have most of the bases covered, all though the XP model could be leveraged more, the feedback stars are nice, but multi tiered achievements could also prove lethal for competitiveness. A wild idea would be to have achievements for selling X value in one day, week or year, dominating sales for a category, badges based upon time, the options are endless.

Amazon have a few areas covered, but could leverage so much more from the core elements of online gaming to their advantage. In both cases, the marketplaces can be quick to leverage and as more experience is gamed (or did I mean gained?) and more automation is put into place, more coins, achievements or profit can be leveraged from them.

Yes, eBay & Amazon are different marketplaces or games, however the most starkest comparison that can ever be made between gaming & marketplaces is this:

Whether its a game or a business, if you take away focus, that is either working on despatching your orders (amongst other key business tasks) or playing the game, the game is going to cease to be played.

Did you enjoy this article? Did I miss out an element or a factor that you feel is important or have you spotted something I’ve completely over looked? Post your comments in the box below

5 Tips for Preparing Your Business for January Not Christmas

It’s now late November and we’ve seen a good couple of press releases from supporting companies on how to increase and keep your Christmas period sane. However, it’s all too late as preparations for Christmas really should have been in place at or before August.

If you’ve not trained seasonal staff, arranged stock transfers, deliveries, put automation software in place, heck everything that gets amplified due to typical higher sales volume, then the next 3 weeks are going to be “fun time” for the business.


I Forgot January Once & Only Once!

However… below I’m sharing a short story on why you should not forget January and learn from a mistake I made a couple of years back.

After having a pretty hectic Christmas period, I had decided that on the 1st of January I was going to have a week or two off. Oh boy did we need it. We had been flat out for the past few months preparing for Christmas sales and had thought we had done everything right, sales were good and were very much looking forwards to the break and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

On our return, we started talking to our suppliers and that’s where it hit home, it turned out that our two main competitors had been busy & done their homework. They had an amazing 3 weeks after Christmas. They had been negotiating special deals and jumping on the clearance lines that were abundant. They’re January had rocked to the point that they had cleared more stock in those 3 weeks after Christmas, than in the entire month of December.

I cannot tell you how sick I felt, I had missed one of the oldest tricks in the book.

No Slacking in January!

January has the potential to bigger for sales volumes that December, the reason is simple people are in “sales mode”. What happens just after Christmas or even just before, 99.9% of all high-street retailers go into sales mode. People queue & even camp out on shop doorsteps to grab bargains and ironically this is really straight forwards for you to hijack.

So instead of making the mistake I made, here are five tips for preparing for the first few weeks of January or before:

Tip #1 – Delay Moving Software Providers

Shelve any idea that moving software providers, that can wait until the middle or later in January, if they got you through Christmas, then a few weeks delay won’t make much difference. If it’s not completely broken, don’t fix it (yet).

Tip #2 – Speak to Your Suppliers in Advance

Ask them explicitly what is going on sale after Christmas, suggest that you’ll be able to take larger volumes or stock that didn’t do well at a discounted rate. Spell it out on them, you have extra buying power after Christmas and you can help your sales rep hit his bonus for January.

Tip #3 – Prepare Several Lines to go into “Sale Mode” Now

By using tip #2, you will have an idea on what product you may have at better rates for a sale, as such prepare any data around these in advance, it’ll only take a few minutes per SKU as you can easily create duplicates or variations of the SKU in advance, with new details and perhaps use a different listing template to go with them.

Also a slightly different method would be to consider products that you would feel comfortable sitting on for 9 months, that you know will do next year and scoop extra discounts now and take a punt on higher returns next year?

Tip #4 – Do the Artwork Now

Designers are typically not very busy at this time of the year and it could be a good time to grab a saving on a mild branding redesign for a sale period. Such as adding sale logo’s to an existing template and preparing the design aspect in advance, so that its a click & go event, rather than a rush job when it’s too late.

You might also want to look at the two articles I wrote earlier this year on How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals and another on How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages, as you can prepare these in advance and hide the pages in the shop, then when it comes to sales time, swap them over in your eBay shop.

Tip #5 – Email Marketing

The same as the visual aspect, if you’ve worked and have obtained a couple of product ranges that will be worthy of a sale, then combine in the updated artwork to your email marketing campaigns and prepare the notifications in advance, so when the time comes, it’s a quick check over and off you go.

As an idea, if you have multiple products, you could make an event of it, explain which products you have going on sale and when (a delayed sale) and notify customers on say a daily or bi-daily basis of the latest sale item (you’ll need to be careful with this not to spam, just make your offering exceptionally compelling).


Don’t make the mistake I made, prepare for January, what products can you clear, what products can you buy to clear and how can you leverage the “sales mode” that most buyers go into at or before January?

If you do this now, before competitors have started having the conversations, then you can be first in and negotiate the best deals in advance, prepare a campaign and take January easy, knowing that you’ve worked extra hard now and actually have a plan for the month, rather than just “seeing what happens”.

Import Duty Calculator For eBay Items (as a Buyer)

After receiving an eBay item I ordered from abroad, having to take a trip to the Royal Mail collection point & send ni-on a tenner in charges from Royal Mail, I wondered if there was a tool that work out the import taxes in advance. And there is!

Import Duty Calculator

At DutyCalculator.com you can work out in advance how much import duty you’re likely to be charged for an item, as a bonus, they have a tool for working out the likely duty to be paid for eBay items.

In the example images below, ironically the eBay item I picked as an example, incurred no import duties and most annoyingly used up the 3 free trials of the tool on the very same item.

I had a look around a couple of them and categories and sub-categories offered and the categorisation was relatively straight forward to work out which classification the items would fall under, as it’s not the simplest of jobs for one off items and varied orders,  as the import duty classifications are rather deep on the HMRC site and they change the exchange rates often too.

I’m not sure it’s worth the $19.90 a year for the basic version, it would really depend on the level of your buying habits from foreign sites, if its high and varied, this could be an excellent forewarning for items being received for which the contents are properly declared.

Import duty calculator eBay

import duty calculator eBay

eBay Import duty calculator

eBay Import duty calculator

Global / International eBay Site List

The following is the list of the global eBay sites, their links, country codes, site ID’s, currencies & whether you’re able to list with them directly.

Site Name/Country
Can List On?
(Via the API) 
Argentina AR ARS
Australia 15 AU AUD Yes
Austria 16 AT EUR Yes
Belgium (Dutch) 123 BENL EUR Yes
Belgium (French) 23 BEFR EUR
Brazil BR BRL
Canada 2 CA CAD & USD Yes
Canada (French) 210 CAFR CAD & USD Yes
China CN CNY
Czech Republic CZ CZK
Denmark DK DKK
eBayMotors (US) 100 N/A USD Yes
Finland FI EUR
France 71 FR EUR Yes
Germany 77 DE EUR Yes
Greece GR EUR
HongKong 201 HK HKD Yes
Hungary HUF
India 203 IN INR Yes
Ireland 205 IE EUR Yes
Italy 101 IT EUR
Korea KR KRW
Malaysia 207 MY MYR Yes
Mexico MX MXN
Netherlands 146 NL EUR Yes
New Zealand NZ NZD
Norway NOK
Philippines 211 PH PHP Yes
Poland 212 PL PLN Yes
Portugal PT EUR
Russia RU RUB
Singapore 216 SG SGD Yes
Spain 186 ES EUR Yes
Sweden 218 SE SEK Yes
Switzerland 193 CH CHF Yes
Taiwan TW TWD
Thailand TH TBH
Turkey TR TRY
United Kingdom 3 UK or GB GBP Yes
United States 0 US USD Yes
Vietnam VN VND

You are also able to add international site visibility from your UK & US eBay listings to gain access to a wider customer base & if US based, specifying the international shipping rates to Australia, Canada and the UK will enable the items to be shown natively on those sites (see here for more info).

The Four Standard Physical Product Business Models

The following two video’s are part of the UnderstandingE project I have been working on & I’m sharing them here for any feedback you may have.

This hasn’t been clearly defined before (that I know of) and will be an immense help if you are considering an eCommerce product business for eBay, Amazon, transactional websites, the other channels etc… Or as I’ve found, to help realise that you’re actually using one or more of these and why you’re actually using more than one of them.

Four Standard Product Business Models

There are four standard product models that a business can use when it comes to physical based products which are intended for resale, this applies to almost all incarnations of an eCommerce product based business.

These are:

  1. Stocked
    This is like a retail shop, where the items are pre-purchased, then used as the inventory to drive data for the online channels and to fulfil orders. I cover the advantages in the video, however this has one major disadvantage, the outlay of cash to fund it.
  2. Manufacture
    This doesn’t have to be as hardcore as making glass, where you take sand (silica) and add other additives such as lime (calcium oxide) and then adding immense heat & other processes, it can be the combination of two or more products to make a unique third product. In the second video I use the example of the lighting in my office, taking stands, plugins, blurbs & softboxes and combining them into a kit, which is a unique product offering.
  3. Virtual / Just-in-Time
    I personally hate the phrase “drop shipping”, a more apt description would be “virtual” or “just in time”.
    This is typically where stock is made available virtually and then put on offer by the business, when an order is taken, the stock items are ordered and then fulfilled. This may be directed to the customer, but also to the business for sorting and then sending out (as I learned two days ago, the correct term for the latter part is called “Cross Match”).
  4. Asset Recovery
    We can also include refurbished products under this model, as essentially they have gone through the asset recovery process and been re-manufactured. This model can enable the highest returns, but also some major downsides, such as availability and quality.

In their Purest Form

In the video below I cover each of them in the purest forms, you’ll need to watch this one before moving to the second as without the explanation of them in this form, the hybrid models won’t make sense.

Hybrid Business Models

However, in reality, there are very few business that use only one of these, instead in this video, I explain how and why you would want to use a hybrid of these standard models for your business.

I also cover a model that I have not included in the four standard models called “Flipping”, as I explain in the video, this is not a scalable model and if you do find a product base that you can scale with, then I would suspect that it falls under the asset recovery hat.


Documenting these have been exceptionally useful for me & I’m sure for you also.

I’ve found when talking with business owners about these, this has helped them realise why they’re doing what they are with their businesses. It also makes it a pick & mix exercise, however you can now see why you would want some elements of each, but to limit as much as the negatives as you can by combining them together.

Stop - Take Action!Which models are you using?

Image Source

Why I am Envious of a Cocaine Addict

To explain this properly I need to share a short story with you. I am fully aware that this article is controversial by its very nature, if you read it in full, you’ll understand how on earth I could possibly come to the conclusion I came to.

Friday Drinks

To set the scene its Friday and I’m out for an evening drinking with some friends, we’ve met up at one of my favourite bars, its a boat called the Apple in the centre of Bristol and they only serve cider (hence the name).

After having an evil “day after” a few weeks back suffering from mixing 10 or more different ciders, I had decided to stick with cans instead of tap house ciders and Thatchers Gold was my poison of choice.

After a couple, we decide to move on, pay a visit to Vodka Revolutions and proceed to drink some vile concoction called “Mojito”, which had more ice & plants in it and is positively evil. Although this did spur some random photo’s that were promptly uploaded to Facebook and possibly the worst close-up shot of me was taken.

After finishing off that interesting mixture of plants (mint apparently, tastes rank on its own), ice, some sugary powder base (not cocaine!!) & alcohol we move on to the next bar, where some old friends are spotted. They’re positively wasted, although suited up in the traditional recruitment consultant grey suits, loud, but still holding it together.

Another round of Mojito’s arrive and this lot made the first round taste like lemonade, as I think the bartender put too much of or the wrong sugar base in it and ruined them completely. Anyway, after one of them falling over & promptly ejected by the doorman, the other two deciding enough was enough, decided to leave and one was left, let’s call him “Dave”.

After another mixer round of rum & coke, washed down with a pint of Strongbow, we moved on and ended up at another bar, feeling pretty alert after the thus-far alcohol intake, I started to listen in on a conversation between Dave and another. Now this is where it got interesting.

Dave has been a long term coke user that had progressed to rocks (or known as crack, which is the most addictive shit of them all), in the next 10-15 minutes I hear one of the most horrific stories I’ve ever heard on how it’s affected Dave’s life, in and out of CA rehab, family & relationships.

The guy literally poured his guts out to us in those few minutes and I was speechless (which for those who know me personally, it can be ni-on impossible to shut me up after, even before drinking). It was a journey that I am personally so glad I’ve never taken, although none-the-less exceptionally interesting, although I feel ‘horrific’ is an understatement.

Dave left us around 2 am, we were pretty sure he was off to score before bed, I had another pint after he left just to try & comprehend what I had listened to.

The Only Positive Point

Now where the hell could I get envy from in such an awful turn of events I had just been privy to?

It’s simple, motivation.

Now here’s the thing, do you think Dave would be wide awake and in his office by 09:00 the next morning? You bet your ass he was going to be. He’d have been in there before 9 and on the phones straight away, driving results to fund his habit.

Now do not believe for one second I am an advocate of hardcore drug abuse, my line has always been alcohol, tobacco and trying (badly) to chat up the opposite sex, of which the latter I gave up on 12 years ago (getting hitched next year).

Sometimes we all lack motivation, I know I do at times. However, in this extreme case, pretty-much the only positive I could pull from it, was that regardless of what events unfolded in Dave’s personal life and putting every bad effect of coke to one side that he would be highly motivated to succeed.

eBay Sales Count/History Does Impact Sales

In this article I’d like to share an observation of my own buying habits and it actually surprised me afterwards once I had analysed my own buying activity and spotted something I had glazed over in the past when purchasing from eBay.

Picking Processes Apart

My online buying experiences are far from the norm, typically I analyse each & every step, work out what processes are being actioned and how they appear to the user. It’s an annoying habit I have, as I’m used to working those processes from the backend to the customer, so I’m always ultra curious on what the “I” as the “customer” sees of them.

I needed some professional lighting for my office, as the lamps were just not cutting it and had decided upon two softboxes as a kit from eBay. You would have thought my first choice would have been a seller that had an ultra clear description, in a professional template with superb product images and all the bell’s & whistles that I have become to expect…

But No!

I ended up buying from one of the worst combinations of font sizes, text colours and from a listing that had only one image. Pretty poor when you consider that the kit had numerous parts and didn’t show them individually, plus was out of the normal “comfort zone” for buying at £50.

A screen shot of the listing is below, I’d smirk, but it was actually effective for one reason which I’ll show you in a moment:


And That Reason Was…

Sales history! Simply put, if +300 people had bought this kit and the sellers feedback was not trashed, then it had to be better than just “OK”.

eBay Sales History Affects Buying Decisions

There were 5 different sellers I was considering during the process and the one that won my business was the one that had the highest sales history count on the listing. Yes, there were cheaper options and this option was not the cheapest by any-means and some of the others on offer were described to a superior level, but they just could not compete with a sales history like that.

Yes, the best match is carried over when using 3rd party tools that reference the previous listing or by using the “relist” button at the top of an ended listing, however, if you do end the listing, then you’ll be loosing the visible sales history count on the listing and from my own personal experience, this can make the difference between making and not making a sale.

Stop - Take Action!Have you consciously bought from a listing because of the sales history on the item too?