Matthew is an eBay Expert & consultant with over 10 years of experience on eBay. Has worked for two eBay auction management companies and has helped hundreds of eBay based businesses sell on eBay, including his own for 3 years.

Having run his own business on eBay UK for 3 years, been featured on BBC News 24, BBC Radio 4 “In Business” with Peter Day and also featured in the Sunday Times.

eBay Top Rated SellerHosting the very first eBay PowerSellers meeting of its kind in the UK, attended by eBay, which then lead to the eBay university program. Then working for the USA auction management company MarketWorks.com (now owned by ChannelAdvisor) here in the UK and then later on eSellerPro.com another eBay listing software company, Matthew has probably seen more eBay based businesses outside the confines of eBay than anyone else in the UK.

Matthew takes a different approach to eBay and it really shows in the articles he writes. eBay is just a sales channel, admittedly a rather large one at that, but this should never be forgotten and he knows that its all to easy to become caught up in a whirl-wind of noise that is generated by selling on eBay and does his best to help keep your feet on the ground and focus at the job at hand, making more profit.

Its unlikely you’re going to ask Matthew something he does not already know about eBay, you can contact him on his dedicated Contact Matthew page.

Does This Look Familiar to You?

If you were unfortunate enough to miss out on the no-holes-barred history to the 3rd generation at the eCommerce Expo two weeks ago, it’s about time we give you a little teaser to the 3rd generation (if you missed this, see here for part 1)

Today’s article is a sneak-peak at the progress being made & what the 3rd generation could look like, if you want it to look like this at all.

 

Order Processing

If you’ve ever used or seen eSellerPro the image below should be familiar to you. If not, it’s really simple to follow, I’ll cover the colour codes with you in a moment

Multi-Channel Order Processing

This screenshot is from a test system that shows orders in different statues, each row is an order. Here is the breakdown on the order colours:

  • Pink is pending a PayPal payment
  • White is processing and good to be processed
  • Brown, well those orders are brown for a very good reason, they’re fraud or reversed payments
  • Green is shipped or complete
  • Yellow the order is pending payment
  • And the blue, the order is on hold

As a business owner you now know exactly which orders should be processed and where they came from too.

But….

There’s a caveat, I didn’t write a single line of code to do this.

It already exists, the whole 3rd Generation already exists.

But there are some people that don’t want us to tell you what it is…

A Different Way

Hit play on the video below:

Then go to UnderstandingE.com/NOW and change your business forever.

See you there!

Matt & Dave

Meet the UnderstandingE Team @ eCommerce Expo (2 Oct)

By now you’ll have heard quite a lot of buzz about UnderstandingE, we believe it’s going to put you back in control and change the world of eCommerce forever and we bet you’d like to know more and here’s your only chance before January.

This is something never done before, we have a clear vision and a single goal of what we are going to achieve and using the passion we have for eCommerce we truly believe that what we launch in January will be of benefit to soo many online sellers like you.

 

Find Out What UnderstandingE is

Myself and Dave Furness will be making our first appearance as UnderstandingE at the eCommerce Expo next week.  We will only be there for few hours on Weds 2nd October because of the epic challenge we have set ourselves between now and January 1st and need to get back the grindstones.

We are arranging a special meetup at one of the stands at 2:00pm.  This way we can get to share with you, the cool people, the business owners what exactly it is we are up to and how with your help, together we’re going to create something amazing.

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve had in the last few days:

“We never considered using it like that before”.
We know, we didn’t realise this ourselves until earlier this year when we had no other option

“You telling me that this will work?”
Yep, we’re using it ourselves, we know it works

“That’s going to save us thousands”
Yup, that’s us off the Christmas card lists

So Which Stand?

To find out which stand we’ll loitering on at 2pm, pop your name & email on the UnderstandingE site here and we’ll let you know on Wednesday morning.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Matt & Dave

Why there will NEVER be 4th Generation of Multi-Channel Software (Ever)

The only direction for the 3rd generation of multi-channel eCommerce software to go is to take ownership. To write, to own the software that will directly integrate your business into the marketplaces, this is exactly the piece that you never want and I’ll explain why.

 

A Mirror Image

It’s just like what we have right now with the 2nd generation, a multitude of multi-channel software providers, all with varying levels of integration and complexities. A “one-size-fits-all” approach and as I’ve already admitted, this approach isn’t the right approach anymore.

Let’s imagine for a few moments if you owned one of the software companies. You would have to deal with never-ending updates from the marketplaces, couriers integrations, bug-fixes, feature requests from your ever expanding user-base, the list just goes on and on and on and on… It’s software that is never finished and the thing is, it never can be finished.

So to step into the responsibilities of managing multiple marketplaces, the direct API integrations is not a world you want to be in as a business owner.

It’s expensive, it’s complicated, it’s ever-changing and unless you’ve got the experience, clear requirements and have a skilled development team on hand, you’ll be strangled by the overheads needed to be able to keep abreast of the highly-dynamic environment we use to operate businesses in and restricted by the one thing that keeps any business going, the ability to innovate and adapt.

Innovation

In conversation for the past eight months with the “cool people”, (that’s business owners just like you), “innovation”, “being able to innovate” has come up again & again.

I know you’re not happy.

The 3rd Generation allows you to innovate, it breaks you free of the massive overheads and allows you to focus on your business exclusively and when you need to add in extra functionality, then it’s optional. Think of it as a salad bowl, you can pick & choose and it’s exclusive to your own requirements.

The 3rd Generation isn’t bogged down with the really complicated parts, that’s the 4th stage of the life-cycle, the taking ownership of the integrations yourself and for 99.9999999% of you reading this, you’ll never want to be involved with this, ever.

January 1st

January the 1st, for most of you will be the same story, you will have just had the busiest season online ever.

You’ll have seen the best and worst of your multi-channel software when you needed it most. You’ll also be sat there with probably the largest bill you have ever had if you’re using one of the multi-channel software providers that take a cut of your sales.

And on January 1st 2014, we’ll be sat there with another way, the next generation and that’s our deadline.

Part 3, where we bare-all is Coming Soon

Think of this article as a delicious appetizer between now and then, but also think of it, that with this open commitment to you, we better deliver what we’re talking about…

We don’t pretend to have all the answers, sadly we never will, but an option where you’re not tied down is already out there, we just need to show you how.

And the thing is, we know we can :)

Matt & Dave

PS. If you’ve not yet signed up to be notified the moment UnderstandingE is launched yet, you can here UnderstandingE.com/NOW

Part 2 – Hands Up I Was Wrong – But What About?

In this second part of the History of Multi-Channel Software, we’re starting a journey, a journey to find the utopia and a journey that we’re going to share openly, wins, failures, the lot.

The utopia for multi-channel software that can fit the needs of any business regardless of size, type, location or revenue both today and tomorrow.

And to do this effectively, I need to admit I was wrong.

 

A Re-Cap

In part 1 of the History of Multi-Channel Software we covered how we have ended up where we are today with the collection of software providers that offer pretty much the same options, all wrapped up into different interfaces for multi-channel businesses to use.

I also shared with you the vision for the future which I’ve put below, the “utopia”, the goal that we’re aiming for and the commitment that I believe together we can achieve. I also admitted that I don’t have all the answers and never will but are willing to share this journey as we go and we invited you to join in.

The Vision of the Future

“A hybrid of both free and paid for open source software where multi-channel business owners can pick & choose the tools that suit their business, both now and in the future

I Used To Think…

I used to think that multi-channel software had to:

  • Fit the needs of every business perfectly
  • Have every single feature, bell & whistle going
  • Advanced to the point of being over complicated
  • Do everything, anyone could ever want
  • Be one system that encompassed everything

And the thing is… Hands up, I was wrong, so very wrong.

The Glimmer of Hope

Crude by today’s standards, I had built my own eBay order management tool back in the early 2000’s using excel, outlook, an addon for Outlook and some VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).

I was parsing the notifications for “end of auction” and “end of transaction” emails from eBay using a plugin for Outlook (which amazingly you can still buy it today, see here), loading them into an excel spreadsheet and then using VBA to process them, adding in notification flags for a pick/pack/despatch process with mail merges to create invoices , then email mail merges to email customers their order received, packed and then despatched notices.

I’m probably being a little mean to what I built back then by calling it “crude”, it took me from using a paper tracking system to a semi-automated system, which then led the business to a stage where it could afford more advanced software such MarketWorks or ChannelAdvisor (the only two options we had back then) at around £15-20K a month turnover and then we added in MarketWorks, we ni-on quadrupled the business in 3 months.

I have always wondered “what if the business could have afforded the best software available earlier on?”.

As I sat there in the cyber-cafe looking at eSellerPro for the first time, I genuinely felt that “this was it”. What had frustrated me as a business owner myself and through having seen hundreds of business at Marketworks, seeing them struggle with a slowly developed product with the possibility that those frustrations could be answered and what you use today in eSellerPro is part of the answer I saw back then (after a ~3 years stint that is).

The Stark Reality

I believed one product could fit the needs of every scenario thrown at it and that is where I was wrong.

  • No software product will fit the needs of every business perfectly, ever
  • Software doesn’t need every cool idea in it for it to be viable and meet the needs of the vast majority of businesses
  • Who needs complicated when straight-forwards will work just as well?
  • Why does software need to do everything for everyone, when the core essentials are all that are needed?

The reality is that:

No single software product will ever meet the needs of every single business perfectly

And Wrong Again? Maybe Not….

I know many of you will cringe at the idea of ChannelAdvisor, having a core system and with bolt on modules, using specialists in their own areas, it’s a “hybrid system”.

Frankly speaking, you’re most likely scoffing at the idea because it doesn’t help that the base system is so expensive it rules it out as being a viable solution for +99% of all multi-channel businesses.

The thing is, I believe we were all wrong about this “hybrid” approach and I’ll explain why.

Take the massive cost out of this hybrid approach, so let’s say we take £600 monthly minimum fees and floor them by 95% to just £30 (yes that is thirty quid or $47 USD, or less but that’s a topic for another day) and suddenly it’s a lot more attractive don’t you agree?

Hold on to that thought for a few moments…

Breaking it Apart

Let’s boil everything down to the three key parts of a multi-channel software product.

An inventory management system, an order management system and listing abilities to marketplaces. This goes for any of the 2nd generation providers regardless of origin.

Inventory Management
The inventory management system would need to be able to with both simple and complex products (variations), kits, virtual products, stock control, imports, exports and customisable fields that you can match to eBay & Amazon item specifics.

Order Management
Then the order management system which would need to aggregate orders from multiple channels, websites, multiple eBay accounts, multiple Amazon accounts (if you’re being naughty lol), have order stages, customisable despatch options, links into couriers and back to the marketplaces for order updates. Email notifications, while they’re not an essential they are a nice to have and are of notable value for any order management system.

Listing Abilities
Being able to match up to existing listings on the marketplaces, create new listings and keep prices, descriptions and stock levels updated. And be kept upto date with the updates that these marketplaces like to do every few months.

These 3 are the key components for any multi-channel software product. I am missing one other part on purpose though, support. Because this component it is so special, I need to be address it specifically at a later date.

The Current Approaches

As we saw in part 1 the vast array of options, there is no one right way of approaching each of these components and when we look at the different providers out there, they have all come from different angles and ended up with varying levels of success for each of the 3 components.

Let’s pick on two other providers as an example. StoreFeeder, StoreFeeder came from a fulfilment background so as you would expect the despatch process in StoreFeeder is amazing. I love how you can batch process orders easily and I’ve not seen anything to touch it at the price point they offer. ChannelGrabber, they needed simplicity, so ease of use is unparalleled.

Each and every multi-channel software has come from a different direction and ended up with something that can (or is being) labeled as “Multi-Channel Software” and they can all be boiled down to these 3 components.

Again, hold onto that thought for a few moments too…

So a Time for a Different Approach

Keeping the key components in mind, 3 questions for you to seriously consider.

#1 What if we took the ChannelAdvisor, hybrid approach. One core system that has inventory management, order management and listing abilities and bolstered it with industry expertise?

#2 What if we took away the costly overheads and we leveraged a platform that was open-source and getting back to that £30/$47 I mentioned earlier, what if it would run on shared web-hosting, which is available anywhere, globally, inexpensively?

#3 What if we then said because it’s open-source, you can extend it further and gave you the power to innovate?

What if the listing abilities were available for free to eBay and Amazon was ridiculously inexpensive?

And Then Consider

Originally I thought this hybrid approach wasn’t the correct path to follow. It’s expensive with the current providers but on the flip side allows us to bring in industry expertise in each area, when you need it, if you need it.

So what happens if we floor that massive overhead, leverage the already existing technologies that are proven globally, bring in expertise when needed, if needed at all and open the doors to be able to innovate through open source? The potential is huge?

Interesting theory right?

Like we said in Part 1, we know that this new approach works, it’s not a theory for us or you anymore.

All that is needed is a journey to be started, for knowledge to be shared and for each of us to work together.

We have the the vision of a world where you can use a hybrid of both free and paid for open source software where you can as a where multi-channel business owner you can pick & choose the tools that suit your business, both now and in the future.

Find out more at UnderstandingE.com/NOW

And in part 3, we reveal all :)

The History of Multi-Channel Software – Part 1

Multi-channel software, love it or hate it, if you’re selling online and using the online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, you need it and it makes a massive difference to you being able to run a successful online business or having to wade through the endless repetitive tasks each day manually.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on that covers the history of multi-channel software and is the beginning of a journey that will change the future of multi-channel software.

If you were wondering, this is directly related to main reason why I have been so quiet lately and together (thats us & you) will be changing the world of multi-channel eCommerce software forever and dipping our toes into the world of 3rd Generation multi-channel software.

However before we can get to the really cool stuff, we need to start our journey from somewhere and the best place to do that is to reflect on where we have come from and where we are today and this is what this article, part 1 and accompanying video is all about.

 

Part 1 – The History of Multi-Channel Software

Myself & Dave have put a video together to explain the history of multi-channel software below.

You can subscribe to the UnderstandingE YouTube channel here: youtube.com/user/understandinge

Proprietary, 1st & 2nd Generation Software

From it’s beginning where proprietary tools like Turbo-Lister (eBay) and Seller Desktop (Amazon) were created by the marketplaces themselves, then through the demands of businesses to expand further and add-in several missing features tools like InkFrog (1999), Auctiva, AMan Pro (for Amazon) and ChannelAdvisor who appeared on the scene in 2001. The 1st generation of software born and was there to help businesses be more productive with these channels.

Then the 2nd generation came around in the latter part of the naughties (around 2008/2009) where “Auction Management Software” turned properly into “Multi-Channel software” and was needed by businesses as they really started to leverage both eBay & Amazon and other online sales channels. We suspect this was because the Amazon marketplace really started to take off around then and the requirements changed for online businesses, they were selling in more than just one location, they had eBay, they had Amazon, their offline trade and the website platforms out there were getting better & better.

A Change in Requirements

This change in the landscape of business requirements spawned multiple 2nd generation providers that include ChannelAdvisor, who jumped from 1st generation (as they added in Amazon support), MarketWorks, ChannelGrabber, Linnworks, eSellerPro, SellerExpress and numerous other software companies who have come in later such as Brightpearl & StoreFeeder that have woken up to the apparent lucrative world of multi-channel software and whom we see today.

Some companies haven’t made the jump from the 1st generation at all, InkFrog, Auctiva & AMan Pro haven’t really strayed from their original selling platforms and that’s “ok” if that’s all you need for your business.

In the cases of eSellerPro and 247TopSeller, these were created by the failings of the original two providers that serviced the United Kingdom, ChannelAdvisor & Marketworks to adapt to the UK (and Europe for that matter) fast enough.

eSellerPro started as a shipping solution and with an integration to Sage from MarketWorks that then evolved into the tool we see today (see here for the unofficial history), as for 247 TopSeller well this was born in the same 2-3 months time window of eSellerPro because neither of the existing options (CA & MW) would meet the requirements of UK wholesaler.

Cost, Cost, Cost

The current options for business owners like yourself that use multiple sales channels (including the marketplaces) all fall into one of the two camps when it comes to pricing, fixed price and a percentage of sale.

Generally the “smaller” providers offer fixed price software where you pay a set amount each month to them for them to help you manage one or more marketplaces, these are generally medium cost and viable options. The more expensive options appear from the larger providers such as eSellerPro and ChannelAdvisor, where you’ll have a committed minimum monthly bill in the region of £500-600 and if a percentage of sales (around 1-2%) exceeds this value, then you pay more. That’s why you’ll find numerous businesses paying in excess of £1,000 a month for multi-channel software.

It doesn’t matter which path you have followed up to today, all the current 2nd generation multi-channel software products offer good-ish value for money.

As a whole, they all do the same tasks with similar features when we look at them from a high-enough level (in some cases it has to be really high with a slight squint). When we get down to the minute detail, there are major differences which explains the differences in the amounts that different providers charge and it’s these smaller details that generally depict which business uses which software provider because their business needs these small, less “transparent” options.

3rd Generation

It took a mistake by one of the 2nd generation providers to force this path to be explored and when we joined the pieces of the puzzle together we ended up with something that is greater than the original parts combined. What has been missing up until now is for us all to work out that this is actually viable and what we found, personally I was very surprised by.

The 3rd generation is a completely new take on multi-channel eCommerce software and while I say completely new, this has been around for the best part of 3 years already. We’ll cover more on this in part’s 2 & 3.

We don’t have all the answers, frankly we never will, however we know this path works. It’s highly flexible, ridiculously inexpensive and leverages the might of both open source and the backing of a massive corporate umbrella. For the past 7 months, I have followed it myself and there are examples of businesses turning over millions each month using this method.

The Vision of the Future

“A hybrid of both free and paid for open source software where multi-channel business owners can pick & choose the tools that suit their business, both now and in the future

We’re going to leave you with the vision of the future of multi-channel eCommerce software and we’re starting a journey today and we both invite you to join in at UnderstandingE.com/NOW.

PS. You can find part 2 here, where I admit I was wrong. But what about?

Sneak Preview: The Reason Why We Have Been So Quiet Lately :)

Have you ever had an idea that gives you chills down your spine?

We believe that we’re going to change your world forever and for the better too.

Hit play on the video below:

It’s not 1st generation, nor 2nd generation, it’s 3rd generation with a completely fresh look on the world of [something amazing].

She’s not ready yet, but she’s coming soon, infact one month from today and we will change your world forever.

Be notified the moment she’s live here UnderstandingE.com/NOW

Why is eSellerPro still the best of a “Bad Bunch”?

It was 3 years ago I left eSellerPro and still today, eSellerPro is generally the better choice for larger multi-channel marketplace businesses, but why is this? That’s the question I aim to answer in this article & accompanying video.

I’m answering the same question a couple of times a week and rather than repeating myself over and over, I thought it would be more productive for me to create a video and explain the once :) If I’ve referred you to this page, scroll down and hit play on the YouTube video.

 

So why 3 years on is eSellerPro still the best of a bad bunch?

Just for the record, “Bad Bunch” is not my term, this is the term being used by business owners like you to describe the multi-channel eCommerce software providers out there today.

And back on topic… Well, the answer falls down to only three key areas:

  1. Inventory Management
  2. Importing & Exporting
  3. Stock Control

So let’s look at these in more detail. You can either follow these in the video below or the written overview that follows.

1. Inventory Management

I’m really surprised that none of the other providers have picked up on this and this can be boiled down to two key areas, inventory structure and the extensible data fields called “custom fields”. So let’s look at the inventory management side in more detail and custom fields, I’ve covered before.

Simply Master, Sub, Listing, Variation and Kit inventory records are the answer here.

No other multi-channel software product out there has an inventory system similar to what is found in eSellerPro and it’s still holding strong  with the inventory types we created over 6 years ago. And this boils down to several key inventory types, these are:

  • Master
  • Sub
  • Listing
  • Variation
  • Kits

Basically you have maximum control over the way your inventory works and if you’re selling products that come in variations or have more than one sales channel, then these really come into their own and kick every other software providers butts.

2. Importing and Exporting

If we take a moment to look at what some of the other software tools have out there and then look at eSellerPro, you’ll then understand why importing & export still rocks in eSellerPro.

Let’s take Linnworks, what would take a single import in eSellerPro takes 3 imports in Linnworks, oh and then you have to combine this with a disjointed interface, managing lots of inventory becomes cumbersome.

Now let’s look at ChannelAdvisor, ChannelAdvisor has the second best importing system out there and in a few places a superior import system as you can run excel based logic when importing product data, but it’s let down by the poor inventory management system behind it, thus falls flat on that part.

ChannelGrabber, they still don’t seem to be able to handle a single import for all products, instead you have separate records for the same product. So if you have one product and 10 listings on the channels, you have 11 records (or there-abouts), times that over 1000 products, you can see the problem.

Other software tools like SellerExpress, StoreFeeder, 247TopSeller etc… I’m unable/unwilling to comment on, but they don’t have the same inventory structure we covered in #1, so they’re basically flawed for larger businesses when compared like for like.

3. Stock Control

In eSellerPro there is a system that was a cool idea in the beginning and even today I’d personally class it as “insanely cool” and I bow to the developer that built the code behind this, it’s amazing.

This all boils down to the way that stock is managed over multiple sales channels and inventory records. But let’s keep it simple!

Say we have a pair of sunglasses that we have 10 in stock, we are selling these on eBay on two accounts, Amazon and our website, we can sell these sunglasses on all the sales channels and when the stock level decreases, then all the channels are updated, when we have stock arrive, then the stock levels are also updated.

But it doesn’t stop there with the channel profile you can set up minimum quantities to limit the risk of overselling, you can use it to calculate prices and it’ll list and delist products as your products come in and out of stock and also by it’s very name “Channel Profile”, you can have more than one profile doing different things for different products

So why is eSellerPro still the best of a bad bunch?

Their inventory system is designed for large multi-channel marketplace businesses, their import & export system is one of the best and most flexible systems out there and finally with the Channel Profile, you can have ultimate control over where and how products are listed.

And frankly what did you expect?

After all I genuinely did believe that eSellerPro was the last software product I would be helping create for multichannel businesses, this is clearly shown  six years on as it’s still the better choice of a bunch of providers out there.

I hope that helps you!

PS: If you’re one of the 3rd party software providers I just covered above and don’t like my summaries or explanations, make your software better, the keys to doing this are covered in the video :)

Are You Being Overcharged on eBay Too?

Just like most of you, I bet it was quite a while ago when was the last time you dug in to your eBay invoices. Digging into the transaction history in one eBay account identified an expensive flaw with eBay’s billing when it comes to multiple eBay categories resulting in the account being heavily over charged.

Read on and let’s see if you’re affected too by this.

2nd Categories

There is a flaw in the way eBay handles the billing for fashion categories on the eBay UK site with second eBay categories, this results in your account being over charged, £2.70 every time or if you’re lucky just 36p a pop.

When you list into the eBay fashion categories on eBay UK, you are given a free picture pack.  This is great, you can add lots of images (12 of them, “happy days” springs to mind) which are especially important in fashion related categories. 

You don’t ask for this on the sell your item form or via the eBay Trading API, you are given it for free whether you want or actually use it

Remember this point, it’s important.

The problem occurs is when you list into a fashion related category as your primary category and then add a second eBay category that isn’t a fashion category. This second eBay category may not have a “free picture pack” and because you were given this without choice on the 1st category, your listing is imposed the upgrade fee of £2.70 per listing for the picture pack.

But it doesn’t stop there… as we’ve found you can also be charged 36p “Picture fee” on other items per listing that is listed into secondary categories, although the listing only has one image and there are no additional images. Oh and to top this off, on the account we found this on, the images are externally hosted as well. So that means anyone using 3rd party listing tools are also affected.

Ouch This Hurts

This is the direct feedback from a eBay UK business owner that is affected by this, I’ve checked their account this morning and the fees are there in their billing history exactly how they describe:

Hi Matt

Over the last few days I’ve revised some listings into different categories. Big mistake if I’d have deleted the listings and reuploaded I think I’d have saved £400 ish.

So I’ve uploaded an item into Clothes, Shoes & Accessories >Womens Clothing >Activewear (category ID 137085) and ebay have by default added a free picture pack (we didn’t set it).

Then I have revised the item and added a second category

Sporting Goods >Exercise & fitness>Exercise Clothes & Shoes>Womens Clothes (category ID 79758)

When adding this second category it has picked up the free picture pack on the original category that ebay has added and charged. £2.70.

It’s also charged for picture upgrades on some at 36p & I have listings that are the same as above moved into identical categories and have been charged the correct amount 1p. (anchor store listing with 2 cats).
eBay have recommended two options to stop being charged in the future

a) Remove the second category from any listings.

b) Upload blank images to delete all images from the live listings. Then re-upload the correct images back onto the live listings. But can’t give me any guarantee that this would work.

the option they didn’t say was to delete all listings and re-upload as this would cancel any future issues. But I think this recommendation would be too close to admitting there is a bug in their system. It should have dropped the picture pack when I added the second category.

I have been told that the picture pack charges are down to me as they are advertised clearly on the fees page. I have told them that at no point did I ask for a picture pack to be added to the first category so it can’t be my responsibility.

Unfortunately moving forward there is no setting in ebay to stop additional images charges.

Now there’s not much option but to remove any second categories from my listings resulting in me not using ebay properly and giving my competitors a massive advantage.

We’ve worked out how much this has cost this business this month, it wasn’t pretty as it came in at over £400.

Penalised for Playing Fair

This really does feel we’re being penalised for playing fair.

I know many of you use 3rd party tools and to duplicate your entire inventory, switch a few titles around wouldn’t take more than a few hours, but we generally don’t (most of you anyway, *coff*) and could easily list products into other categories, but in this case we’re adding the second category to play fair and not duplicate list everything.

After all, eBay has gone to such lengths to remove duplicates from the site such as the August 2012 where the a single fixed price listing was imposed, a duplicate listing tool back in 2001 to identify duplicate listings and I’m sure you’ve received them, the bot that scans eBay and slaps you for having duplicate listings with policy warnings.

Are you Affected Too?

A serious question, when was the last time you scanned down your eBay listing fees? Quite a while ago like the rest of us I’m betting.

Take a look at your eBay “Account Activity”, you can access this page from My eBay > Account > Seller Account > And clicking on the “View All activity” link at the bottom or  a direct link is here http://cgi3.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewAccountActivity.

Tip: A download option to CSV files is also available on this page too for those of you that have a large amount of transaction history and you can filter the charges using the data filter option in Excel.

My questions for you:

  • So are you affected by this as well?
  • Do you agree with me that this really is not fair for playing fair?

Let me know in the comments box below.

Making Sense of the Spring 2013 eBay UK Seller Updates

This is likely to be the most comprehensive guide there is to the eBay UK updates that are being released this morning that covers the all the changes that are included in the eBay UK Spring updates and a look on how these are going to impact your business over the next 6 months.

These updates require your full attention, pop the kettle on and pull your chair closer, we’re going to dig in deep and see what these changes are all about and crucially how they impact you and your business and we’ll also be looking at what wasn’t included in this update too.

I’m interested in what you make of these updates and how they’ll impact your business over the rest of the year. You can let me know your thoughts & reactions in the comments section at the bottom of this page. If you’re an eBay Top Rated Seller, then do let me know what you think of the changes you’re about to discover.

 

So What’s eBay Included in eBay Updates?

Almost across the board the updates are almost all positive and we don’t have any unknown surprises of what’s been included, the writing has been on the wall for the images requirements since last year when eBay US sellers got hit with the update, we have also known for a long time now that the “New eBay” was coming and it’s going to be rolled out in the UK this year and there is one word I know you love the most, “FREE” is included in this update as well.

There is one word I know you love the most, “FREE” is included in this update as well

With the eBay UK site being the most highly penetrated site per head of all the eBay sites (hat tip to Chris @ Tamebay for working this out) there are deeper links into cross-border-trade and eBay are taking the extra steps needed to help expand UK sellers by working with 3rd party companies to offer tracked postage options into the EU with half decent rates too, plus clarity for international buyers from their native sites when selecting postage options.

While this update has to be one of the most positive updates there has been to date by eBay (I even questioned this in the call, “we’re 20 slides in, when to do get to the bad stuff? Come’on there has to be some percentage fee increases in here somewhere?”), we do have category & item specific updates in this update as well, that’s almost a given now. I’ll also be taking a look at what was not included in this update, especially around eBay Shops, for me one of the most undervalued parts of eBay that has been shunned again and got a fee increase too.

eBay’s Theme for the Spring Updates

This update has a theme to it, well three to be precise and they all revolve around those most dear to our hearts, customers and crucially what they are becoming to expect from any retailer out there online and offline.

Visual browsing and inspiration
“Online shoppers want to be able to see an item just like they can in a high street shop. This means lots of high-quality photos and clear item descriptions on every listing, especially for buyers using mobile devices. Buyers also like to be inspired by regular deals and great merchandising”

Fast and flexible fulfilment
“When shopping online, buyers can’t simply walk away with an item as they can on the high street, but they still expect the next best experience. Flexible delivery options, with same day or next day dispatch are standard expectations”

No surprises, no risks
“Online shoppers want the option to return an item, with ‘no questions asked’, just like they can in most high street shops”

What we’re now going to see in these updates are changes & updates that revolve around how businesses with eBay can help deliver these as a high quality package to customers.

Update: A short video from eBay on these changes can be viewed below:

Overly Harsh on Themselves

In the chart below, which was compiled by research by a visually impaired research company (joke, but seriously not sure where or how deep they looked?) multi-category retailers are compared to specialist retailers and to marketplaces such as eBay and rated them on a scoring system from good to bad.

Services provided by retailers and marketplaces

Services provided by retailers and marketplaces

Marketplaces appear to have had a really rough ride in this research, consistently scoring poorly.

Yes, we know that same day delivery & scheduled delivery have never really been part of eBay, but as a whole for customer service, most smaller businesses on eBay believe that outstanding customer service is their primary unique selling point and Amazon even changed the rules last year to penalise businesses that don’t respond questions within 24 hours, even over weekends regardless if you’re open or not with the Amazon Seller Ratings they released last September.

eBay swaps images on colour selection

This is a screenshot from the article I mention in a few moments regarding how listings change images on eBay.

I wish I had finished an article that I have been working on over the gallery options on Magento, in this I look in depth at the gallery options on eBay and Amazon, while neither of them are “perfect”, they are a lot better that what you get in almost ALL shopping cart systems out there, free and paid for!

Both eBay & Amazon marketplaces do a pretty good job at the fly over zoom options when there are larger images available and most serious business sellers on eBay have got excellent images, combine this with outstanding product data and many of you reading this would put large retailers to shame.

Update: Thanks to a nudge from eBay, there is a “Top tips for taking photo’s guide” that you can download here.

We’ll be back to the topic of images shortly as we have some important updates on this topic.

eBay Top Rated Seller Status Changes

This is the biggest change to the eBay Top Rated Seller status since it was brought in (and that includes the discounts going down last time too). In this update, we’re seeing a shift from eBay from looking at your performance overall at an account level, but also focusing at individual listing level as well.

You must offer:  (This is their words, not mine)

  • A minimum returns period of 14  days, using the new way of specifying your returns policy
  • 1-day or same-day dispatch
  • An express delivery option – offering delivery within 1 day
  • A free postage option
eBay Detailed Seller Ratings requirements removed

eBay Detailed Seller Ratings requirements removed

The caveat to this is that you don’t need to meet these requirements for all of your listings, instead you’ll only receive the associated benefits and final value fee discounts on listings that do match these requirements.

While you’re not forced to include these options, I know for several companies same day despatch would be impossible and next day would be a massive challenge, especially if we consider that products need customisations made to them before dispatch and is going to be a challenge for them to maintain the eTRS status levels they have previously enjoyed.

On the flip side to these requirements, the entry level to obtain eTRS (eBay Top Rated Seller) status will have it’s minimum of 4.60% for detailed seller ratings dropped [Update: This is actually an error, these are still required to meet the eTRS status] and the minimum percentage will be 0.5% or 2 (this is the 1 & 2 star ratings for the 4 detailed seller ratings, which is what we have now). Also, the barrier to entry has been halved from a minimum of £2,500 of sales & 100 transactions to just  £1,000 of sales for any the past 12 months.

Does this sound exactly like what happened with the eBay PowerSeller status when it was diluted when eTRS was brought in?

Is this a good or bad move by eBay? Remember you can let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Free Pictures But No Advertising :(

The second most important marketing asset that we have available on eBay is changing (the listing title being first of course).

We saw in the updates that were released on eBay.com last year where extra marketing information was basically banned from being used in product images (this is extra information such as brand logos and text such as “UK Seller” and so on…), in this update we’re being given advanced notice that in August of this year the same rules are going to be imposed on UK businesses.

Promotional messages & borders are going in August 2013

To sweeten the impact of this, we are going to be given free images, well 12 to be precise and when questioned, this looks like up to 12 images per variation as well (not just the 1st free one like we have now) and access to the zoom feature as well. A side effect of this is that the picture pack is no longer needed and is being retired, but the super-size upgrade option will remain.

To be fair we’re being given a decent amount of time to work on changing any images that we may have up with extra borders, messages and so on in them, even businesses with large amounts of inventory, this should be enough time to make the changes needed (although quite painful if you have +10,000 listings with them). If you’re selling in the vehicle parts & accessories categories, then you’re the exceptions list (again) and won’t be subject to these requirements or restrictions.

eBay are setting some new minimum requirements for when it comes to images, these are as follows:

  • Every listing must have a minimum of 1 image
  • That image must have a minimum width or height of 500 pixels
  • Watermarks are allowed, but under strict guidelines

It’s suggested that any images used are 1600 pixels on their longest side, as this causes the zoom feature to be shown on the listing pages and for refurbished items stock photographs are allowed, but not for used products.

Below I’ve included some images around the new image guidelines to help you:

eBay Reccommended Image Sizes

eBay Recommended Image Sizes. A minimum of 500 pixels on the longest side and a suggested width or height of 1600 pixels, as this makes the zoom feature appear on your listings.

eBay images don't use borders

Borders are going to be disallowed when the image requirements are in-force.

eBay water marking Images

Watermarks are allowed for ownership and attribution, but not for marketing information such as specific details about your item or customer service. Your watermark should be no bigger than 5% of the total image area, have an opacity of no more than 50%, and never obscure the item. Links are not allowed in watermarks.

eBay no text or artwork in gallery pictures

This is the end of using the eBay gallery picture to help promote the product and/or your business and instead to focus purely on the product.

What do you make of these changes? Are they going to dramatically change the way you view eBay over the next 6 months? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom.

eBay Shop Subscription Changes

Did you know that there are approximately 400,000 eBay shops in the UK alone and these make a cool £81.4M per year?

If you’ve got a basic or a featured eBay shop, then the monthly subscription fees are going up. Basic is going up by £5 to £19.99 and a featured eBay Shop is going up £10 to £59.99 per month. For this, we’re getting 20 GTC listings (That’s Good Till Cancelled ) for the basic level and a whopping 60 GTC free listings per month for the featured store.

When we do the maths on this, this equates to 20 listings x 10p = £2.00, so that’s a £3 increase for a basic shop or 20% and 60 listings x 5p = £3 and £7 increase for the featured or 13% more.

It doesn’t matter how we mince this one, we’re going to be paying more for the same under-performing, lonely, forgotten-about-for-years, under-developed, under-promoted, generally-lacking, poorly-design, pants-marketing-tools and unloved eBay Shop. More on this topic later.

The New eBay is going to be Rolled Out This Year

The “New eBay” is more than just a logo change

For those of you that followed the Podcast series that we ran last year, one of them also included a deeper look at what the “New eBay” is. The “New eBay” is more than just a logo change, we have already seen some of these changes, but there are some massive changes coming for buyers this year as part of this and I’ve included the video from the Podcast that covered the changes below, which will take you through the updates that eBay have planned with the “New eBay” below:

Common Sense For eBay Buyer Protection Cases

Not just yet through, but in May when you win a buyer protection case, any feedback that has been left will be removed from your account and crucially excluded from the seller performance evaluation.

Same Day Despatch on the Item Detail Pages

eBay same working day despatch optionIn this update when it’s released, we’ll be able to set a “Same Working Day” option for our despatch times on listings.

I’ll cover this in more detail later in what was missing from this update, but for now you can only set your cut off times for your entire account as a single time user setting in your eBay account settings for all your listings.

Native Shipping Options When Listing on Other eBay Sites Locally

This always was a challenge when listing locally on to other eBay sites, which shipping option do you choose? eBay are adding 3 options for international sellers for Economy, Standard & Express options to the shipping options for international sellers when listing onto foreign sites directly.

If you’re using a third party tool to list with, do make sure that once these are released that these options are available for you, as this will help buyers see a true reflection on the right postage costs and delivery times to them.

Forced Immediate Payment Only on Buy it Now Listings

We’re starting to see the first imposed PayPal that we have seen to date, probably since PayPal nought and favoured over the previous billing system Billpoint (which was ok actually) and for listings that are over £650, PayPal immediate payment is required on buy it Now listings. It’s not clear yet whether this is on all product categories or if there are some exceptions (Motors for example), we’ll know more once the updates are public.

Faster Resolution of Unpaid Items & Feedback Removal

A while back (maybe 18 months or more) eBay lowered the amount of time it would take to open an unpaid item case, from April this year eBay are reducing this by 50% from 4 days to 2 days to expedite the payment process or for you to be able to relist your item more quickly.

Keep this in mind if you’re using third party software to automate your disputes and do nag them to make sure that you can take advantage of the ability to create cases faster, as this ultimately means that you’ll get paid or you can release the inventory back to eBay quicker, either-way this will help cash flow.

Best Offer Changes

In May we’ll be seeing some changes to the “Best Offer” functionality as eBay test over multiple categories the ability to access best offers from multiple buyers for an item, but crucially the item actually only being won by the customer who pays first. That’s an interesting dynamic, which I can see sellers liking, but I’m not entirely sure how much customers will like this. Would you agree?

This is going to be tested in the following categories from May:

  • Computers, Tablets & Networking
  • Jewellery & Watches
  • Art

Category & Item Specific Changes

Ewwwwwwww these fill me with dread.

I’m not sure which categories are changing and how deep the item specifics are changing for the eBay UK category tree yet (I’ll update this article when I know), but any change when it comes to categorisation and item specifics makes me cringe. Data is the live blood of an eCommerce business, if you’ve got more than a handful of listings live, then you’re going to want to check these updates out ASAP.

As with any changes on any marketplace, you can gain a competitive advantage by being first to fully implement changes, this is especially true when it comes to categories and item specifics, unfortunately not everyone will read this site that uses eBay and even with eBay’s messaging over the next few weeks it’ll still be missed, read up on the changes ASAP and take advantage of the headstart on these.

If you’re using third party tools to list onto eBay with review what options you have around item specifics and factor these in as quickly as you can. I’m suspecting that the majority of these changes will be minor, that means within a few exports & imports you can have the majority of these changes licked and your data prepared for the updates.

Update: The categories that have updates are as follows and they’re not that bad on first impressions:

  • Clothes Shoes & Accessories
  • Coins
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home, Furniture & DIY
  • Jewellery & Watches
  • Pet Supplies
  • Sporting Goods
  • Vehicle Parts & Accessories

A by-product of these changes, two leaf categories are seeing an increase in fees, these are:

Current category Current final value fees New category New final value fees from 1 May
Home, Furniture & DIY> Celebrations & Occasions > Christmas > Santa Hats & Costumes (122751) 10% Clothes, Shoes & Accessories> Fancy Dress & Period Costume > Other Fancy Dress & Period (163149) 12%
Home, Furniture & DIY> Celebrations & Occasions > Hallowe’en > Costumes (10944) 10% Clothes, Shoes & Accessories> Fancy Dress & Period Costume > Other Fancy Dress & Period (163149) 12%

Also  the “Other Stuffed Toys” category will no longer receive free pictures:

Home, Furniture & DIY > Celebrations & Occasions > Valentine’s Day > Stuffed Toys (70981) will become
Toys & Games > Soft Toys & Stuffed Animals > Other Soft Toys (68394)

A full list of the category changes can be found here and the PDF downloads are below:

Business Policies Tool Being Launched

Back in the eBay May 2012 updates, one of the updates that wasn’t released was a new tool that that simplifies the policies for businesses and buyers. Sometime between March & July we’re going to see the the business policies section launched, this will allow you to keep manage your own custom settings for returns, postage and payment information in one central location.

With this tool being launched, later in this autumn we’ll be seeing new standard returns policies for the eBay UK site, this will include an expansion on who pays the return postage that we already have to include the number of days that a buyer has to cancel a transaction and implementing a standard returns policy for all business sellers on eBay UK.

eBay Returns Information

The standard returns policy can be updated in your site preferences section in “My eBay”

Note: This one will be interesting to read when it’s released, eBay UK publish that there are now 190,000 registered businesses on eBay UK and trying to cover sooo many different business types with one policy means this is bound to upset someone. We’ll know more later this year on this.

eBay Business Policies

Currently the eBay Business Policies is an invite only, this means you should expect an email when it’s released and you’ll most likely be notified within My eBay too.

When this was originally released, Dave Forest from eBay released the video below. If you’re not using advanced listing tools, this tool could save you a bucket load of time when it comes to these settings and is worth taking a the two minutes to watch this video:

eBay Charity Updates

eBay for Charity LogoeBay are removing the  £1 minimum donation from sellers for charity listings.

For the switched on business owners out there, you’ve gotta be thinking 1 pence is a small price to pay to have the charity logo on your listings and I can see this being heavily abused, sorry “used” when this update comes out.

All Ticket Sales Moving to StubHub

This is more of an informational update than anything. eBay bought StubHub in 2007 a platform dedicated to ticket sales and as StubHub launched in the UK last year, ticket sales are being migrated to the dedicated site and from the week commencing the 13th May 2013 all ticket sellers will be required to list on StubHub.co.uk instead of the eBay.co.uk site.

So What Was Missing from the Spring Updates?

Now this is where it gets interesting, what did we not see updated or included in this release?

No Updates to eBay Shops Functionality

I just feel that the eBay shops owners like you deserve more

Another update passes and eBay Shops now have a price increase, but no extra functionality or exposure added in return. If there are 400,000 eBay shops in the UK, you would have thought that someone (there has to be someone!!!!) that has worked out that the obscene amount of revenue that these stores generate could be used to really expand on what has been built with the existing eBay shops and build these into proper eCommerce sites with features such as:

[one_half]

  • Domain mapping
  • Better themes
  • More configurable design options that we see in true eCommerce websites
  • Maybe responsive themes as standard
  • More SEO options for the shops
  • Daily or weekly deal widgets
  • Deeper shopping cart functionality
  • More custom pages, with more keywords
  • Maybe a proper content management system to make each business show that they are the experts in their niches

[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

  • Better email marketing tools and a signup page that isn’t absolutely pointless
  • More advance cross promotion tools
  • Discount codes
  • Deeper links back into eBay search results
  • Other payment methods (lol, couldn’t resist)
  • Advanced search options that don’t need 3rd parties to create
  • An online chat system
  • Discounts for businesses that use Google Adwords to promote their eBay shop

[/one_half_last]

eBay is a leader in Marketplaces across the globe, I just feel that the eBay shops owners like you deserve more. Do you feel this way too? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

No Delayed Shipping Options

One of the points that were highlighted in the research at the beginning was that even high-street retailers are not really offering same-day or delayed/scheduled delivery options.

If you were looking at that research (and trust what it says), then surely would you not be thinking “We could add this into eBay now and facilitate this before any of the other platforms out there“. I feel eBay missed this one early and we’ve missed out on some cool functionality that could have given an edge over the outside world of eBay.

No Control at Listing Level for Same-Day Despatch

Having a global setting for all listings for a cut off time is nice and it’s s start, but for most business now use a mixture of business models for the supply & distribution of stock, then this is plain useless as some products won’t be despatched until the next day and this could be different options within the very same listing as well.

No Fee Updates

Always a welcome to have no fee changes, but makes you wonder what will be in the Autumn update, are they saving them up?

A Complete Reworking of the Types for Vehicle Parts & Accessories

Have you tried listing into the vehicle parts & accessories categories lately? What a nightmare this has become. I’m not sure, if anything has been planned over the use of the parts compatibilities, but they’re not simple to work with on a massive scale. One update that I didn’t include in the bulk of the article above is that eBay are reworking the parts compatibility tool for listing onto eBay directly, this is welcomed of course, but it’s still not a friendly affair.

No Variation Listing Expansion into More Categories

eBay variations are lethal, we covered these in a Podcast last year called “The 101 of eBay Variations + 7 Tips” which was one of the most listened to Podcasts we created. What was missing from this update was the expansion of variations to even more categories. I know some businesses that are crying out for these. (Are you too? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom)

No GTIN/EAN/Barcodes for Variation Listings

We also didn’t see the ability to set a barcode for each variation listing in this update. This basically means that variation listings on eBay don’t get the exposure they should do in Google Search & shopping, plus in the main eBay search. Think about it, if a customer knows the barcode of an item, do you also think that the customer has a credit card in the other hand waiting to buy the product? I do. So that’s why we should have this in eBay too, we have it everywhere else (*coff* Amazon, Magento…)

Summary

Out of all the changes that we have in this update, the one that is most likely to impact your business is the changes to the image requirements. If you’re in the vehicle parts & accessories which have missed this hit, then this is the end of the extra marketing potential of the eBay gallery image.

Personally I’m sad to see this go and I know many of you reading this will be hit hard by this update that will be hitting us in August. With up to 12 images now available for free in listings is a really nice extension to combat this but some categories already had free images, such as the fashion categories…

eBay category & item specifics updates are to be expected, they have been in the last few updates and the reasoning behind this is around the cross border trade into the EU sites, there are multiple sites that need to be aligned to each other and I’m sure we can expect more updates to these over the next year or so. On the bright side is that once they are fully aligned (or as as aligned as possible) then updates for inventory data that is used on multiple eBay sites should become a lot easier for businesses with large amounts of inventory.

I’m a little surprised at the bar for the eBay Top Rated Seller status being reduced by such a considerable amount and that the DSR scores are no longer part of this as well, just the minimums that are always tricky to maintain.

We’ll also be seeing granular control over the eTRS status on listings that don’t conform to eBay’s requirements at a listing level, so if you’re not offering:

  • A minimum of 14 days returns
  • AND 1 day or same day despatch
  • AND an express delivery option
  • AND a free postage option
  • AND meeting the other requirements at account level

Then you’ll not be promoted as an eTRS at listing level, which is a little harsh, but if there are items that cannot match this, then the fairest way is to control this at listing level.

eBay are also working with 3rd parties around delivery options as well in to Europe & beyond. Again I’ve not covered this in the core of the article (mainly due to time restraints), eBay have teamed up with 3rd parties to work out decent shipping rates into these locations and especially around expedited and tracked options. This has to bow well not only for us as business owners (especially around PayPal issues), but crucially for customers too.

If eBay’s focus really is, “fast flexible fulfilment”, “no surprises, no risk” and “visual browsing & inspiration”, these core essentials are an excellent base to work from. We’ve seen them working on all these topics in this update, but also in previous updates as well. Sometimes these updates don’t go as planned like the image swapping and colour swatches that had issues in the run up to Christmas from the Autumn 2012 updates, but that’s OK, we know that sometimes updates won’t always go smoothly, with the customer as the focus point, they really can’t go wrong.

What Do YOU Think of the Updates?

That really is enough from me, what do you think of these updates?

  • How will the images update impact you?
  • Will you gain anything from having free images?
  • What do you make of eTRS being diluted?
  • Do any of these updates change your thoughts on eBay as a marketplace?

You can let me know in the comments box just below this article.

eBay Dynamic eBay Store Categories Script Updated

Dynamic eBay Categories ExampleOver the weekend several updates were added to the Dynamic eBay Store Categories Script were released.

If you’ve not heard of this before, this is a “eBay Compatible” widget that allows you to add in your eBay shop categories into your listings remotely and have complete control over how they appear and look.

The Updates:

The updates to this script are as follows:

eBay Store search added

You can now have a eBay search box at the top of your categories bar in your listings that allows customers to make searches in your eBay shop, straight from your listing. Add in your eBay shop URL and set the setting to true to enable this feature.

Ability to order the categories

This was a feature request because sometimes the ordering that eBay gives you in the “Manage my Shop” section isn’t good enough and now you have the option of setting the ordering of the categories either to follow the eBay ordering or to order them alphabetically on each of the 3 levels of categories

Speed improvements & better compatibility with more hosting providers

Not all web hosting is born equal, several changes have been made so that you don’t run into challenges with hosting provided by the majority of the UK & US web hosting companies. Also added to this were several faster ways of rendering the final output code too and cache management

Upgrading

If you’re already purchased & are using this widget to bring in your eBay shop categories in your listing templates, the upgrade details are in your email inbox :) You can download the latest version from your account on this site and I’ve increased the download limit by 2 to allow you to grab the latest version.

Would you like your eBay shop categories in your listings?

eBay compatible applicationThis is a stand alone script that runs from your web hosting for maximum control and allows you to not only show your eBay shop categories in your listings, but also includes a search feature and is completely configurable through the template system I added last year as well.

You can find out more about this script here (there is a video included too).

Matt

PS. If you’re a web designer, there is a special web designers version also available for use with multiple clients which is being used by several high profile eBay shop & listing template design companies

Why Does More Products = More Kisses?

Sat around the dinner table a night or two ago, the reply to a question which was asked almost choked everyone the table.

So what was the question?

Does having more products available online equal more sales?

The thing is I was being serious in my reply and to share with you, we need a little story.

Intrigued? Read on…

 

The Direct Answer

The question was “Does having more products available online equal more sales?” and from experience the answer is simply “yes”.

If we look at Amazon then there is no price difference between having 1 item and 1,000,000 items listed if you have a Amazon Pro merchant account for a flat £25+VAT. With eBay if you have more than 6000 listings, then you should be on the anchor shop subscription level and you get free listings too (see here for why) and for websites… well that is really down to the tech behind the site being able to cope.

The Real Answer

If the answer is a plain “yes”, but what on earth does this have to do with kisses?

Well that needs a little story to explain it. Between the ages of 19 & 21 I completely missed the drug scene and instead we used to just get drunk and chat up women. Not being a huge sports fan, that was to all intents and purposes “our sport”. One night we decided to mix things up a bit and instead just  to “cut to the chase” and ask the simple question:

Do you fancy a snog?

Then round robin the entire bar or club that we were in until receiving the answer “yes. Crudely put, the law of averages just worked and unbelievably we never got slapped once either.

Now we just didn’t ask the question with no sense of style, we mixed things up.

This could be the entrance to the group of the unsuspecting, by sliding in to the chosen party or following up with the cheesiest of grins or just a tongue & cheek smirk and waiting for the response (silence with friendly smirk/smile worked best if you fancy trying this yourself). There was only ever two outcomes, yes or no. And even no wasn’t a point blank no, it was an entrance and opened up the conversation, so we were winners all-round (and at worst we got the piss taken out of us).

So how does this relate to more products?

If you don’t ask you cannot be told “yes or no”. This directly applies to making products available online. If you don’t make inventory you have available for sale, then how on earth can you make a sale?

The reason why we were never slapped was simple, we flirted at the same time. We weren’t butting in and not following up with a “follow up” of some form. We were making a light hearted gesture that sometimes got results.

When it comes to products, if we put up the barest of listings then our chances are still better than not having that item listed at all, but we can at least one a few extra steps and provide that tongue & cheek smile and provide:

  • Semi decent titles of products so that they can at least be found in the first place
  • Add in an image that is more than a thumbnail
  • Do our best to document the item with the information we have available
  • Bolster this with a half decent listing template
  • Cross promote our other products
  • And have accurate pricing

Now you maybe concerned about being uncompetitive with the pricing and that is a fair point, but at least we had the item listed and gave the buyer opportunity to make the purchase (this is comparable to flirting with the potential customers). After all if it means that the customer then gets a combined postage discount and a single delivery, they might just take it and that ultimately means more money for you.

Now before you leave this page thinking that I’m a just a womaniser, if we don’t ask, we won’t get.

That worked for us and opened up untold amounts of conversations we would never have had. When we compare this to making more products available for sale online, the same is true. Even if the browsing buyer ends up not buying a the product that they found us by in the first place, they weren’t looking at someone else’s and we’ve just introduced them to our business  and gave them the opportunity to say no.

Start more comnversations, take more rejections, just make more products available for sale, the worst they can do is just click away, but at least they met you and you got to say hello.

Matt

How Much Did eBay & Amazon Spend on Google Advertising in 2011?

While researching for an article working I’m working on in relation to Google Adwords and the eBay & Amazon marketplaces, I came across the info-graphic below and I’ve got to share!

The numbers are just unreal

In 2011:

  • eBay spent $42.8 million
  • Amazon spent $55.2 million

On Google advertising in one year.

Yes, in one year!!!

Question: How much did you spend on Google Adwords last year?

Was it £0, £10, £1000? You can let me know in the comments at the bottom

Googles Earnings Breadown for 2011

Googles Earnings Breadown for 2011