Why do eBay Sales Stay Consistent?

For new or smaller businesses, this entire article is going to fly straight over your head, however for larger businesses and for me personally, its a question that has been bothering me for quite some time now. Months apparently.

That question is:

Why do sales through a specific sales channel, tend to stay consistent?

In this article I address this question and it wasn’t until I asked for help, that the real answers came through. It’s also raised further questions, such as how do you deal with this, what options do you have and how can you tackle this with your business model. I actually feel I am now left with more taxing questions than I originally started with.

This really is the upper extremity that I am considering here, if your business is new or is not optimised using any of the 3 rules I cover in a moment, then you should not even concern yourself with this article at all. However, if you’re hitting “limits” on different sales channels, then you really need to read this.

Why this Question?

For a number of years now, I’ve seen merchants selling on multiple platforms hitting a limit of what can be done with a marketplace. For example, businesses that are in a specific niche, their sales will rarely go above or below a 20% window on a daily basis.

There may be “spikes” in sales on a daily basis and seasonality does have a positive effect on most businesses. But overall, most businesses stay consistent.

To understand why I’d be asking myself this question in the first place, I have been working on a set of 3 rules as the basis of expansion/profitability, they also spell “ESI” or are pronounced as “easy!”, which is the ultimate goal of where I am going with these and there is a fourth part that I discuss later in this article. Anyway, the for now these three rules are:

  1. Efficiency
    Both internal & external. Internal is everything your customer does not see, like tools, processes etc… and external is everything your customer does see, branding, the application of persona’s etc..
  2. Sales Channels
    By adding more of them or refocusing on a specific channel to “catch up” with others or to break into a new or refocus upon a competitive advantage.
  3. Inventory
    Either wider or deeper inventory. Range selling, new product verticals (widening the current range) or deeper inventory (thus better price points & supplier relationships)

However, it’s common for a merchant to hit a “limit” on a specific marketplace like eBay or Amazon and I was not happy that “operational efficiencies” were the cause. I know first-hand after spending a few months helping one specific company on-the-ground overcome these and was not happy with the standard reply to such a question. There had to be another reason.

Another aspect has concerned me greatly; what if a client I am working with is actually at 95% efficiency of a channel, what really are the options and what can I do to help them overcome this inherent boundary?

Asking for Help

There was only one person that I knew that could possibly hold the answer or even comprehend what I was referring to in the question. This person was perfect for a number of reasons, the first that he has been in this arena longer than I have, seen more merchants than myself on the differing marketplaces and critically seen the sales data to back this up. That person was Marshall Smith from ChannelAdvisor.

Here is the first email, that I sent over to Marshall. Noting that I have been bothered by this for months. In a conversation on Monday of this week, it was pointed out I had been asking the participant the same question in January.

Hi Marshall,

Here is a question, that I think only you can answer.

Its a question that has been bothering me for quite some time, “Why do eBay sellers sales stay consistent?”

To be more precise, I have noticed that specific sellers sales, never move out of say a 20% window, for example seller X has a average sales of £10,000, the daily fluctuations mean that their sales will never (or rarely do) move outside of 2K below and 2K above.

Surely there are too many factors for a business to consistently land in the same “window” of sales every single day. I understand why this maybe engineered to happen, but that raises more questions that it answers as the most obvious one is “how to you break or work this limitation?”

Have you seen this also?

The first reply is below, it clearly shows that Marshall understands the common issues that occur and why I was right to ask him in the first place.

Matthew –

When I see that situation it’s the same as a regular retail business that’s hit a certain volume and ceiling in their current business practices, so that growth is just not an option for them as they’re trying to run things. They might have a software solution that’s put a ceiling on how much they can get done because it’s not as efficient as they need and a lot of time is spent managing the technology.

They might be short on people (or have chosen to stay at a certain size) and they’re doing all they can every day so there’s no room to grow. Even more common is that people get comfortable and aren’t looking for a change – look at all of the people that have complained about eBay’s changes in the last few years rather than embracing them and recognizing that being ahead of the curve means they’ll pick up the business their competitors lose. There have been plenty that are willing to do that, but even more that had gotten comfortable and just want to keep doing what they’ve always been doing.

One of the things that I’ve found hardest over the years when trying to explain the value that we provide to users is getting them to value their own time. Many times there’s a sole proprietorship that’s been running things using something like Turbo Lister and spending hours and hours every day just to manage their sales. They see it as “free” but aren’t accounting for how much time it costs them to manage that information. Even if they just stay on eBay, coming over to us is going to save them time that they can use to grow their business or go do some other leisure activity instead.

If we just cut the amount of work they’re doing from 6 hours to 3 hours every day (and we’re usually a lot better than that) then we’ve saved them 60-90 hours every month. For that fee that we charge, broken out on a per-hour basis, they’d be hard pressed to get someone that could handle that amount of information and that level of capability to guarantee their business keeps running the same as it’s always been for that amount.

They free up their time to expand their business or focus on customer service, areas that usually didn’t get handled nearly as well before. Yet, they see it as a “cost” because they weren’t calculating the value of their time that they were spending inefficiently to run the business before.

So many of those people have gotten trapped in a pattern where they have something that’s working that they don’t want to change because they fear change or don’t think they have any cash to invest into the business. Most of the time those types of sellers never even get to the level that we’re going to be dealing with them as they fall out of the sales cycle for one reason or another.

If they’re a serious business and want to grow then there are things we can do for them, but if they haven’t figured out the business cycle and a mid to long range plan to grow then we’re going to be big and scary to them.

We’ve had people tell us we made changes to their business that took 8-10 hours of daily work down to just 1 hour a day. Then they finally had the opportunity to grow their business, source more product, expand product lines, hire more employees, and finally get growth back into their business.


Note: I understand that the above is quite a lot for most of you to take in, what this question did in short was highlight that Marshall was the right person to ask. We both [Marshal & I] had reservations that some of you may just not “get this” at all. If this is the case, then the rest of this article is probably a waste of your time.

Redefining the Question

Ignoring that Marshall has created a dozen articles worth in that reply alone, lost about 90% of the people that may read this [Stay! This really does hit gold shortly], it clearly showed that he was the right person to ask.

However I needed to redefine it, we had missed the goal I was looking for. And trust me, we hit it the jackpot in his reply to the following:

Howdy Marshall,

Ah it shows that you understand!

Now remove the users and the software as variables or imagine they’re 90% efficiency.

Why do their sales stay within a 20% window all the time? No major fluctuations, yea some days less, some days more, but never outside of their “boundary”.

Take Amazon sellers, they get the buy box, the sales flood in, its price dependant for sales volume (ignoring lots of other stuff), eBay its different, there is some form of cap or barrier in place??


Now this is where we hit the jackpot and I strongly suggest you read this at least twice as it’s that important:

There’s no buy box in the eBay experience, so you’re subject to the whims of what people are buying at any given point. At a very macro economic level, the demand for most items is pretty consistent and follows a standard pattern.

People replace their shoes on a certain cycle. At a macro version of the economy, there are always X% of people that are shopping for shoes. That keeps the demand at a pretty consistent stream. Then when there’s not something adjusting the demand direction like the Buy Box, then the sellers are exposed at about the same rate that they always are, causing the sales to be within a reasonable statistical level of average.

To parallel to another environment, think of the casino – any individual user might win or lose on the smaller scale, but at the big picture of all of the people playing all of the games the house knows what their rate is going to be and how much they’re going to make as a percentage of the overall bets. That house advantage is the macro version you’re seeing among these sellers where the growth pattern is to:

* improve their placement in the exposure to capture a larger proportion of the regular buyers (Buy Box)
* expand their product line to make the universe of potential buyers for them to be a larger group
* expand the distribution channels to open up the existing product to a larger overall audience

Since you can’t (really) get the Buy Box on eBay (eTRS and Best Match only goes so far) then really the only way to grow is to expand the product line or do additional stuff off-eBay.

A lot of people get comfortable with their products and what they know of eBay, so they don’t change any of these things and grow up to the point that they’ve captured “their share” and then are stagnant from that point forward.

That was okay in the past when eBay was growing at such a clip that people were seeing 20-30% annual increases because they were just riding on the coattails of eBay growth, but when that slowed down they weren’t ready and just got frustrated and confused.

When they pay attention to the types of things we both talk about, that’s when they’re able to address one or more of these points and expand their business again instead of being stuck on a plateau.


Kipper Slap

What Marshall had highlighted were the following:

  1. There is a pretty much consistent demand for some product ranges, like shoes.
  2. With all factors being equal, sellers are exposed to buyers at a consistent rate
  3. There is only so-much you can do in a single marketplace
  4. There is only so-much you can do with a specific product range
  5. If you just tread-water, then you’re not going to see the high increases that you used to see, as eBay’s growth rate has slowed down

You cannot imagine the gravity of these 5 points were to me. I had been pondering over this for several months and in this one reply, which was comparable to being hit in the face with a kipper. It all became clear. It’s also raised bucket loads of other questions, but it was finally answered.

What Does this Now Mean?

In short, as Marshall puts it so aptly, “You can no longer ride the coattails of eBay for growth”. This also extends to every other marketplace there is as well. There is an inherent cap to the number of people looking for a specific product on a specific day on a specific marketplace.

Yes, globally this number may be a huge, however on a macro level each and every marketplace, the number of customers you can reach and convert is limited.

The E, the S, the I and the?

In the 3 rules of ESI, I give equal value to each of rules, that is, that efficiency carries a weighting of one, the same as sales channels and inventory. However within each of these, the weighting is not equal and it’s the combination of them that equate to something higher than just 3.

However, if just one is exceptionally poorer than the rest, then that heavily out weighs the others. In simple terms (I like to use metaphors, get used to them, there are more) its like a Ferrari with elephant as a passenger and coal as the fuel, you got some of the right gear, but you ain’t going anywhere.

If you’ve got a great listing template and no inventory, if you’ve got a world class backend system, but no sales channels, if you’ve got masses of inventory and a limited backend tool and only a single marketplace. You’re not going to get very far and there is no way you’ll ever hit the boundaries that we’ve been discussing in this article.

This is why its absolutely critical to your business that you pick the right tools for the job, because without them you’re not going very far and with them all in harmony, you’ll outpace “The Stig“.

I hinted earlier that I am working on a fourth part to the ESI structure, this is one is special, because this one is a multiplier. While the others cumulatively have a positive effect, this one is ultra special because with this one executed currently multiplies the gains of the first three.

The multiplier is “Why”. Why are you doing what you are doing and what guides you to what you are doing. A business with no drive is pretty much only ever going to tread water, however, if you lob in the magic of a say a CEO like Steve Jobs that will ensure that a company will succeed huge personal cost, then this is a multiplier.

My equation (again I am trying to keep this as a simple as possible) looks like this:

Results = (Efficiency +  Sales Channels + Inventory) x The “Why” Factor

As you can see, even if the sum of the E, S & I are low, if you say have someone or a purpose to add in a “Why Factor” then all these are multiplied and that is why I believe that most small businesses that stick longer than a year, have this very special ingredient.

Determination and grit are absolutely required and its these kind of factors that multiply the results. I am reminded over a conversation in a meeting a few months back, where it was blatantly obvious that my role in the conversation was to highlight that what they lacked for, did not matter. What did, was that they had the determination to make it happen, “The Why Factor” and I think you might have already guessed it, they are winning.


A stark summary of this entire article, is that there is a limit to what you can do on a single marketplace.

The inherent cap, does not impact all business models, if you’re business is subject to multiple customer bases (eg. B2C & B2B) and/or irregular stock levels, then this cap is going to yo-yo and give inconsistent sales on a frequent basis, by its very nature. However if your business is homed-in on a specific niche then if you’re not at this wall yet, then you will be soon (or later).

I’d like to extend a public thank you you Marshall from ChannelAdvisor. It was not my intention to use his replies in this article, but as I started working on it over the course of over a week or so, it became apparent that without his replies, the story of arriving at the final answer, would fall far short without its inclusion. Thank you.

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The (Online Marketing) Nightmare Before Christmas

John Hayes

John Hayes iContact

The following is a guest article from a colleague & friend John Hayes from who is the EMEA Business Development Executive for iContact

You may have seen us talking at the eSellerPro conference last week, soon you’ll hear us talking as we’ve got some topical debates planned.

More on that later, for now, email marketing is one of the most measurable & powerful forms of marketing there is. Look out for the Return on Investment stats in the article, 300% is a whopper and has John’s top tips for your Christmases marketing campaign.

Also note that the links to iContact are not affiliate links, I’ve personally agreed to it being published here, because I feel its that important that you participate. 

The (Online Marketing) Nightmare Before Christmas

As we edge towards the busy Christmas trading period, online marketers will be bombarded with advice on how to maximise results over the festive season. For many businesses, Christmas represents the greatest opportunity of the year to profit from their marketing activity. However, Christmas also represents a significant threat to online businesses, if they follow the wrong advice.

Perhaps the most common piece of misguided advice offered to small and medium-sized enterprises looking forward to a profitable Q4 is to drastically increase their online marketing spend. At first glance, this seems perfectly sensible. It follows the age old adage, “The more you tell, the more you sell”. But it also ignores the equally wise tenet, “Don’t be a busy fool”.

Let’s look at some of the risks involved with simply spending more.

You Cannot Afford It

Acquisition channels such as Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising are very expensive and highly unlikely to yield a quick return. To see any kind of profit you’ll need to know your numbers inside out, understand your customers’ lifetime value and have a complete appreciation of multi-touch attribution (i.e. how your campaigns are influenced by other marketing channels).

Big businesses spend a considerable amount of money trying to understand this. Whilst you will want to allocate some budget towards customer acquisition at this busy time, unless you have significant funds to invest in long-term forecasts and sophisticated analytics, this is not the approach you should follow if you want to see profits THIS Christmas.

You Haven’t Got the Resources

When you throw a considerable amount of money at a highly visible channel you should expect to get real busy, real quick. Have you got the warehouse space, stock and staff on hand to cope with a sudden upturn in business?

You should also remember that your competition is playing the same game, forcing marketing costs up and putting additional pressure on margins. If you are forced into this “race to the bottom” you’ll either be compelled to lower prices accordingly or risk being left holding stock. If this happens your additional investment into staffing and logistics will only add to your problems.

Your Reputation Cannot Stand the Risk

Any number of challenges can stand to ruin your reputation if you drop the ball at Christmas. If your prices are visibly higher than your competitors, you’ll be hard pushed to win business back from the discount traders. If you run out of stock you’ll be seen as unreliable, as well as wasting money driving traffic to web pages that will never convert. Increased spend will push your warehouse to the limit. Fail to deliver on time at Christmas and you’ll go down in history alongside the Grinch.

In the UK last year (due to adverse weather conditions) 17% of gifts bought online failed to arrive before Christmas. The public are an unforgiving bunch and are more likely to apportion blame at your doorstep than the weatherman’s if their gifts are delayed. In this case, you could find yourself actually paying to tarnish your own reputation?

Smart Marketers Wish for Many Happy Returns

Paying to acquire new customers is just the start of a relationship. This is why smart marketers surround themselves with friends at Christmas. They have worked hard to gain their trust and will have invested heavily (and not necessarily just in terms of cash) to keep them.

Smart marketers win and keep their friends by offering the following:

  • Amazing product knowledge and advice
  • Stellar customer service
  • Great deals (a mixture of price and service and not just the cheapest unit costs)
  • An open forum for conversation between the marketer and the customer

Sounds easy – right? Well, that’s because it is.

Most marketers will already be very familiar with two of the most common online tools required to maintain great customer relationships. It’s highly likely you are using them (to some degree) already.

Email Marketing + Social Media – The Gift Which Keeps On Giving

Email Marketing remains the most cost effective online marketing tool in terms of Return on Investment available to marketers today.  Unlike costly acquisition channels like PPC, Email Marketing is a retention tool and as you already know, it is much cheaper to retain an existing customer than win a new one.

So how effective is email marketing in terms of profit generation. Well that depends on a number of factors but a recent survey conducted by eConsultancy in the UK suggests that 63% of companies using Email Marketing saw a Return on Investment of greater than 300%.

Email’s strength lies in the fact it is invited and therefore welcomed by the recipient. The ease with which a subscriber can opt-in and out of receiving emails also ensures unwanted email does not tarnish your reputation. Carefully segmented lists mean that marketers can afford to get straight to the point and promote products and services with an extremely relevant message.

Having a well-segmented list should also mean you are sending out high-frequency campaigns whilst not clogging up subscribers’ in-boxes. Finally the in-box environment also ensures emails are kept and can be referenced multiple times rather than appearing and disappearing (as your budget dwindles) on the major PPC networks.

When looking at building profitable relationships THIS CHRISTMAS Email Marketing should be the number one weapon of choice in your online marketing arsenal. But the reach of Email Marketing doesn’t stop at your subscribers’ inbox. Thanks to social media, Email Marketing has become supercharged.

By incorporating simple social media tools into your email campaigns allows you to harness the power of your customers’ network of friends and followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly your campaigns, shared across multiple peer networks, become viral and the reach of email marketing campaigns increases drastically.

Could it get any better?

How about if I told you extending the reach of your email marketing with the power of Social Media is FREE.

Still not convinced? Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do I have customers that love my products and appreciate my service?
  2. Would I benefit from more customer referrals and repeat business?
  3. Am I spending too much money on acquiring new customers and too little time with my existing customers?
  4. Do I want to see a return on my investment This Christmas?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above questions, don’t waste anymore more time. You can start your 30 day Free Trial of iContact’s email and social media marketing software here iContact.com.

The 12 Email Marketing Tips for a Better Christmas

Tip #1 – Be relevant
When putting together the content, never leave yourself outside of the customer’s shoes. From top to bottom, each and every word needs to relate to the customer, or else you’ve lost them.

Tip #2 – Avoid set schedules
You don’t have to stick to sending a newsletter at the same time every month. If you have nothing to say, don’t say it. Missing a “scheduled” email newsletter is better than filling it with useless content with no value for customers.

Tip #3 – Less is more
Select just one offer per email and segment your list accordingly. If you have a range of complementary products, choose a hero product to focus on and add simple links to promote the additional items. Think of your email like a menu in a restaurant – too many dishes to choose from and nothing looks appetizing.

Tip #4 – More is more
Now that you’ve made your campaigns more relevant, it’s time to increase the frequency of your emails. Keep your emails relevant and interesting and your subscribers will welcome the increased touch points.

Tip #5 – Headline News
Your subject line should scream benefits. Think of it in the same way a newspaper editor writes a headline. It should tell the full story and entice the subscriber to read more. Give your subject line as much thought as your body text. Your subject line is your first line of defense between your subscribers and the delete button.

Tip #6 – Automate
Set up auto-responders to automatically deliver a predefined series of messages. These could include welcome messages to new subscribers, online courses or carefully crafted sales messages delivered over a specific period of time.

Tip #7 – Keep it real
Make good use of real text (not graphics) at the top of your email. A graphic-heavy email will appear blank until the subscriber has selected to download the graphics. Real text in the message will remain visible even in HTML emails and entice subscribers to open the complete email.

Tip #8 – Get social
Use your email campaigns to encourage subscribers to engage with your social media activity on Facebook or Twitter. Social media will not replace your email activity but will allow you to build your brand across your subscribers’ social networks.

Tip #9 – Test
Whenever possible, test your subject lines and creatives and then optimize accordingly. Split testing does not have to be complicated. Hit 20% of your list with two different emails and monitor the response. Hit the remaining 80% with the most successful email.

Tip #10 – Cleanse
Take the time to cut the deadwood from your list. Remove bounced email addresses and any names that have not opened any of your mails over a significant period of time. Remember, you are paying to target a list of people who want to receive your emails. Old, dead and unwanted emails are expensive and can damage your reputation.

Tip #11 – Understand what success looks like
A 20% open rate is good, 35% is ideal. Shoot for the latter with a compelling headline that sticks with the customer. That’s your most precious real estate. You have five words, max.

Tip #12 – Register for a free 30 day trail of iContact’s email marketing software here icontact.com
You’ll have access to all our email and social tools as well as video tutorials and best practice guides. You’ll also have full access to our UK support team and a range of easy to use, customisable email templates to get you started. Could you not wish for a better Christmas present?

7 Leathal eBay Listing Mistakes (Including Borat)

I’ve put together some of the most lethal eBay listing mistakes, I’m sure you’ll not use any of these, just in case, here are some of the things to avoid!

No Gallery Picture

No Gallery Picture

No Gallery Picture

Have you seen how many items are in the clothes, shoes & accessories category lately? On checking there is approximately 13 million listings. Fashion items are the most visual items of them all and not including a gallery picture, which is free I hasten to add, will pretty much kill any chances you have of getting a buyer (or anyone for that matter) to view your listing.

One Word Titles

No eBay Title

One word eBay title

We’ve now got space for 80 characters from the previous 55 this month. There are extremes of keyword abuse, however this one falls rather short.


eBay Caps Lock

SHOUTING at your buyers doesn’t help.


Poor Images


One hours free consulting if you guess right what this is.

You can get mobile phones with 12Mp cameras on them now (probably more!), there is no excuse for not including great images on your listings.

Using Borat to Sell Your Wares


Say NO to Borat

Look, I cried with laughter at that film, but skimpy birthday suits to sell your wares, naaaa.

L@@K This!


L@@K This!

If you cannot think of any more constructive keywords to put in the title, stop!

Get your Pricing Right


Pricing gone AWOL?

Yep that’s a seven million pound book. I’d not want to be paying the 9% fees on that!
(£617,282.88 to be precise, ignoring any discounts)


The above are a bit of fun, I found all these on Sunday evening within a few minutes.

On a serious note though, great eBay listing’s are a combination of the lots of little things done right, great titles, superb images, informative descriptions and so on, not a Borat-look-a-like in his skimpys.

Stop - Take Action!What could you do today?
What tiny tweaks could you make today, to make your listings better?
Need ideas? See an earlier guide I wrote for SEO for eBay 10 minutes per day.

Mobile Shopping to Deliver £4.5bn by 2016 to Britain’s Economy Says eBay

I’ve just received this, I’ll pass comments in an later article. However the numbers are literally “epic” and I’m looking forward to delving into this into greater detail.


  • m-commerce to be worth £19bn by 2021, research reveals
  • eBay calls on Ofcom to address consumer frustrations
  • 16% of UK is an “m-commerce not-spot”

Mobile shopping could deliver a £4.5bn boost to Britain’s economy by 2016 and a further £13bn by 2021, according to new research by online marketplace eBay. The research reveals that m-commerce is on the verge of a potential four-fold increase over the next five years as consumers become more comfortable with shopping on their handsets.

Despite the future potential of m-commerce, the research by retail experts Verdict, warns that the market is currently being held back by unreliable mobile broadband. UK retailers are missing out on at least £1.3bn as a result of consumer frustrations with patchy coverage, unreliable connections and slow connection speeds driving shoppers away.

eBay, Britain’s market leader in m-commerce, is calling on regulators to take action to enable m-commerce to support the UK’s economic recovery. In a submission to communications regulator Ofcom, eBay is calling on policy-makers to do more to address consumer frustrations when rules for the fourth generation (4G) of mobile networks are agreed later this year.

The research shows that 16% of the UK is an “m-commerce not-spot”, where mobile spending is at least 20% below the national average. Sparsely populated areas, such as the Scottish highlands and islands, rural Wales and rural counties of England are the worst affected. But the evidence also shows that mobile shopping is underperforming in certain heavily populated areas like central London, with broadband reliability and coverage acting as a brake on the potential mobile retail market.

More than a third of consumers have failed to complete a purchase on their mobile due to issues with mobile broadband.

Although network coverage (79%), the reliability (85%) and speed (86%) of mobile internet connections rank highly as barriers to mobile shopping, consumers are also heavily put off by the cost of data (80%).

When asked their views on what should be the top priority for mobile networks and regulators, the cost of data came out top (over half), with improving coverage in second place (23%). One in ten think improving of the reliability of internet connections in urban areas (14%) should be the priority, followed by providing better internet coverage on transport routes (13%).

eBay has published this data as it calls on Ofcom to take action to support m-commerce and help the sector realise its potential, as the regulator decides on how best to sell licences for new superfast “4G” mobile broadband. Ofcom is currently consulting on the rules of the auction.

Angus McCarey, UK Retail Director for eBay UK said: “Mobile shopping represents a massive opportunity not just for retailers, but for the economy as a whole. But our research shows that consumers and retailers are missing out as the cost and reliability of mobile broadband prevents shoppers from spending.

“High quality and reliable mobile broadband coverage throughout the UK has to be our ambition, giving consumers choice over when and how they shop, encouraging spending, thereby benefitting online and high street retail, and giving a much needed boost to the fragile economic recovery.”

MP Rory Stewart, a leading campaigner for mobile broadband, confirmed the importance of m-commerce to small businesses: “Growth in Britain is going to come from small businesses and it will be driven by mobile broadband. In rural areas, our businesses depend upon online activities, e-commerce and increasingly eBay and m-commerce. This is another fantastic example of why we must take this opportunity to expand mobile broadband coverage as far as possible.”

Mobile continues to be the fastest growing part of eBay’s business, with global mobile sales set to double again in 2011 to over $4 billion. More than 16 million people use their iPhones to shop through eBay – whether that’s for bespoke or vintage items, or increasingly for branded and new items direct from over 100 high-street retailers at up to 70% off full price.

Retailers also have a role to play in harnessing this opportunity and reflecting the demand from consumers, with 88% less likely to shop via mobile because many shopping websites are not optimised for mobile.

Neil Saunders, Consulting Director, Verdict Research commented: “With the increasing proliferation of smartphones, more and more consumers want make the most of the convenience of being able to shop on the move. Retailers need to move fast to optimise their websites and capture this growing market.”

UK’s top 10 mobile shopping “not-spots” where mobile spend is significantly below the national average:

Rank Place Mobile spend % lower than national average
1 Outer Hebrides 58%
2 Lerwick, Scotland 57%
3 Kirkwall, Scotland 50%
4 Llandrindod Wells, Wales 47%
5 Jersey 43%
6 London WC 38%
7 Inverness 35%
8 Galashiels 35%
9 Perth 34%
10 Isle of Man 30%

UK’s top 5 mobile shopping hotspots where mobile spend is significant above the national average:

Rank Place Mobile spend % higher than national average
1 Birmingham 75%
2 Chester 62%
3 Leeds 28%
4 Romford 28%
5 Halifax 26%

About Verdict research

The consumer polling was conducted with 1,500 consumers between 11th and 16th May 2011.

Verdict uses a variety of sources for its market forecasts and numbers. Consumer research is used to understand current consumer penetration and habits in the mobile space and this data is modelled and sense checked against retailer data and other industry sources. Forecasting is conducted using Verdict’s rigorous integrated forecasting model that assesses retail’s position in the broader UK economy and the relative performance of individual channels, including mobile. It also takes account of macro-level factors such as demographic change, consumer preferences, evolving technologies and economics. All forecasts and numbers are challenged in an internal analysts’ forum to ensure that they are compatible with expectations of other retail channels and sectors and for retail as a whole.

About eBay.co.uk

– Founded in 1999, eBay.co.uk is the UK’s largest online shopping destination, providing a platform for over 17.7m unique visitors per month to buy and sell new, unique and used items in a fun and easy way.
– Far from an online auction house, eBay currently has 17 million live listings on the UK site, with fixed price goods accounting for the majority (60%) of items sold globally.
– Sellers of all sizes, including 180,000 registered businesses and over 30 high-street retailers use eBay.co.uk to reach the UK’s largest online shopping audience.
– eBay supports buyers and sellers by promoting the best value deals through Daily Deals, and the eBay Outlet sells products from well known brands at up to 70% off the recommended retail price. Follow www.twitter.com/eBay_life4less for alerts to great deals on eBay and beyond.
– eBay.co.uk is owned by eBay Inc, which has expanded to include some of the strongest brands in the world, including eBay, PayPal, StubHub, Shopping.com, and others.
eBay mobile facts- Over 16 million people have now downloaded the core iPhone eBay app across the globe.
– eBay mobile applications are available in more than 190 countries and eight languages.
– Across all its mobile platforms the eBay apps have been downloaded 30 million times
– eBay mobile apps have been downloaded over 30 million times globally.
– Mobile shoppers on eBay.co.uk have bought more than 30 million items through iPhone and WAP since July 2008.
– There are up to 380,000 daily visits to eBay.co.uk via mobile apps, and more than 170,000 UK mobile shoppers spend over £30 with the eBay mobile app per week.
– In 2010, global eBay sales via a mobile device more than tripled, generating $2 billion in sales – up from $600m in 2009.  This is set to double again in 2011 to over $4 billion.
– Globally an item is purchased every 2 seconds using the eBay app.


eBay’s mobile “not-spots” analysis uses eBay’s own sales data to compare levels of mobile commerce in each area relative to levels of ordinary e-commerce. An area is defined as a mobile “not-spots” if the ratio of m-commerce is 20% or more below the national average.

The estimate of the current loss to the economy in m-commerce sales resulting from poor mobile broadband connections was calculated using consumer research conducted by Verdict into the extent to which consumers are currently deterred from spending via their mobiles. Our model calculates the lost value to the economy by taking the number of consumers who responded that they would spend “significantly more” if mobile broadband was more reliable, and calculating how much they would spend if they consumed at the level of consumers who are satisfied. To ensure a conservative estimate, consumers who responded that they would merely spend “somewhat more” are disregarded.

The estimate of current and future regional spending levels via mobile is calculated using Verdict’s nationwide estimates of current and future m-commerce spending combined with eBay’s own detailed regional data on current m-commerce spending levels.

– Locational information is based on consumers’ registered home addresses

9 days to Go ChannelAdvisor Checkout Closing

ChannelAdvisorJust in case you’ve not had an update, the 3rd party checkout system that was employed at Channel Advisor is being removed on the 18th May. You can see the full update and requirements here.

This is a forced change by eBay to move all buyers through a standardised checkout flow. Although, as far as I’m aware they have yet to provide an alternative that can deal with the complex shipping and tax requirements of some businesses and countries. A huge benefit outside of these two requirements for the 3rd party checkout system was the ability to offer credit card processing outside of PayPal, I suspect we’re unlikely to see anything threaten the eBay revenue cow ‘PayPal’.

Note: While there is a tool for very large retailers called municipal-level tax calculator its unlikely that “normal” sellers would be allowed access.

While personally a fan of the 3rd party checkout system myself for the reasons above and having the chance to actually alter a 3rd party checkout system to how I actually felt it should look like and feel at eSellerPro with fully customised and branded checkout experiences.

The only real advice I can offer is that is look upon this as a chance to simply processes. Complex is great, but sometimes simple is just as easy and much easier for customers to understand too. Ultimately this is a win for buyers as it gives a unified checkout flow and it does enable the eBay shopping basket that eBay have been trying to implement for 3 or so years.

eBay Customer Service Vicious Circle – Seller V’s Buyer

This article stems from a conversation I had with an eBay buyer I had on Saturday and after the call, it struck me… “Could the amount of eBay buyer contact actually be provoked by the sellers need to feel that they are giving ‘zealous’ customer service?”

In next few sections, I cover this realisation and perhaps have unearthed a new DSR that we could see in the forth coming months?

The Call

I had managed to keep away from the PC, iPad and phone for nearly all of Friday, although on Saturday I could not resist a few rounds of gaming. Mid game, I get a call from a buyer who was trying to contact the courier we use, so that she could collect her order for an night out that evening.

She proclaimed that

“I have already wasted 30 minutes trying to ring this damn courier”

eBay Seller CommunicationsAnd went off on a bender on how this courier (I’m not mentioning names as they all have lovers and haters) is crap and its a 30 minute drive to their depot and no-one is answering the phone.

Diplomatic me, suggested that they are probably not available as its a bank holiday and that I only have the same contact details she has from their website.  That I would personally not suggest driving for an hour for an unknown and it might be a better idea that if its urgent for that evening, she would be better off shopping locally and we’d be more than happy to accept her return after the bank holiday when it finally arrives, so that her evening is not spoiled.

That was me being proactive (finding a viable resolution) and reactive (quashing the returns question and adding reassurance) to her needs.

Now This is Where the Penny Dropped

The conversation then digressed into a pivotal statement that complete re-adjusted my line of thought on eBay buyers and they’re incessant demands on sellers.

“I am an eBay seller myself she proclaimed”

And the continued with:

“This really isn’t on, I don’t care if its a bank holiday, I give my  eBay buyers excellent service, it doesn’t matter if its a bank holiday, I still have to work”

I was a little dumb-struck by this and suggested my earlier suggestion of buying locally, as I’d hate for her to ruin a evening out, just for the contents of that order. She agreed and the call ended.

Dumb-Struck… What If…

I had not even considered this, what if the velocity (and verocity) of eBay buyer communications is not caused by the buyers fear of being ripped off?

This is a theory that I concluded a long time ago and ever since seen this in buyer to seller communications on eBay

What if this entire culture is actually being fostered by the sellers? Infact I’m sooo stupid not to have thought of this before. It is this, I did it myself.

To be absolutely clear, I fully understand the requirement of great customer service to a business, but the level of buyer to seller contact created on eBay is lubriciously high when compared to other channels.

If we look beyond the larger selling ID’s on eBay and focus on the macro (say 1-5 people) and micro businesses (1-2 people part time), then what are these business USP’s (Unique Selling Points)?

  1. Price, especially with the micro businesses being under the VAT threshold
  2. Quality of descriptions, images etc..
  3. Customer Service (email and through despatch etc…)

There are others too, but these are the main ones. In a marketplace that fosters the buyer to seller communication so heavily and the mix of buyer fear of being ripped off (caused by bad press sticking and a severe lack of good press, remember the WOM Factor? This also ports outside of eBay feedback too).

But… Fostered by all the micro and macro businesses, zealously trying to give the best customer service it can to compete?


That call really turned my thinking on its head for me. Maybe its not the buyers, its not ‘eBay’ (directly), instead is the inherent fundamentals of a the ‘eBay marketplace’; That buyers will ask questions regardless, but are continuously fostered to do so, by the over zealous sellers that make up the other part marketplace.

Closing Thought…

What if eBay deployed a monitoring system and a new version of the DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings), but for timed responses to eBay Questions?

Well quite like what Amazon have started to show in their seller performance dashboard, but one stage further where the DSR concept is ported to response times and then tied to the eBay TRS (Top Rated Seller) status?

Maybe in the next eBay Seller update eh?

Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time

Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time

How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages

In reviewing several eBay accounts for a client, I noticed that they were not using any of the eBay shop pages to promote niches of their products. Taking note that they were are paying for the anchor stores as well, that comes in at a cool £350 per month, none of the 15 customer pages are currently being used.

What’s an eBay Shop?

eBay ShopsCovering off the ground work first before we progress, as not everyone that reads this blog is professional eBay seller yet.

You may hear me and others mention ‘eBay Shop’ and ‘eBay Store’, this is because the USA have ‘eBay Stores’ and a few years back we ensured (via Jamie Parkins, who then ran the original (and in my opionon better) eBay PowerSeller Program) that the UK version was called ‘eBay Shops’, not ‘Stores’ as we felt ‘stores’ was sooo American.

An eBay shop is brilliant for the following reasons:

  • Its your own slice of eBay
  • Potentially cheaper listing fees
  • It features only your items
  • You can change the way it looks using eBay’s own feature addons or have a store graphically designed to follow the consistent branding from different channels
  • Categorise your items in a manner that makes sense to your customers (not you, I hasten to add) in up to 300 categories that can go three levels deep.
  • You can have a smaller eBay header on the eBay shop for Featured and Anchor levels
  • You can put all your live listings on ‘Hold’ for a holiday or similar time away.
  • Increased promotion, through various means, logo, relating shops etc…
  • Included cross promotion tools for listings
  • Listing frames, to ‘frame’ your listings
  • 5 Custom pages on the basic store, going up to 15 on Anchor level
  • Email Marketing, starting at a minimum of 1000 emails, right up to 5000 on the Anchor shop

There are other features as well, such as RSS feeds, reporting for both traffic and sales. The eBay shop is the most underrated tool available on the entire eBay platform.

I used to run the largest eBay UK group called ‘eBay Shops Making eBay shops work for you’, but someone closed it, to be fair I had not spend much time on it in a fair while, although I would like to find out whom closed it…

Open your eBay shop and watch the sales roll in…

ebay-shops-homepage-navigationWell maybe not, starting off on negative points, the eBay shop has slowly received less and less promotion by eBay. They used to be featured on the homepage header, that ran throughout the entire ebay site, that got dumped for eBay Outlets, its even been dropped from the main category menu and the left hand bar on the homepage. Its still on the homepage, but in a section that is rarely used and is sporting a colour scheme that only the sharpest of eyes could spot. See the picture to the right!

On a positive note, your eBay shop will be promoted in numerous places around the eBay site. However, just like a website, the only person who is going to reallllllllllllly push it is you.

You may also want to read my article called ‘A Previously Unreleased eBay Shop Exposure Tip‘ for a little tip that may help you expose your items to a wider audience than just by yourself. Also this article is one of a series of articles on eBay shops, check the related articles at the bottom of this page.

Custom eBay Shop Pages

Custom pages are the focus of this article and the keywords that you can use in them. For the differing shop subscription levels you receive a set number of pages, these are:

  1. Basic – 5 Pages
  2. Featured – 10 Pages
  3. Anchor – 15 Pages

I’d personally suggest that you do not upgrade your eBay shop purely on the amount of pages you are offered, while what I am explaining here will gain you extra, tarted exposure, a leap of £300 from Featured to Anchor levels are not worth the returns and such a increase should because the number of listings V’s fees dictate this shop level.

Note: I’ll be posting an article shortly that includes an excel file that tells you which level you should be using for the different subscription levels for the differing eBay sites

How to Access Custom Pages

This needs a special mention as I feel eBay do a good job at hiding most things, to navigate to the custom shop pages, follow these steps:

Go to My eBay > Hover on the ‘Account’ tab > Select ‘Manage My Shop’ > Left menu, under ‘Store Design’ select ‘Custom Pages

A direct link is here http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreManageCustomPages

A screen shot of this section is below, I have removed the sellers ID and page names for animosity.


eBay Shops Custom Pages Overview

About Me Page

Its also worth noting, you can also have an ‘About Me’ page, these pages are special and are not going to be covered in this article.  You can find out more on this page type on this blog in a week or two’s time or read the help file on eBay here http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/account/about-me.html

Standard Pages

The customer pages allow you to expand upon points or add content in more depth that what you could possibly do (without scaring people anyway) in a eBay listing. You should also try and keep information about your business to the About Me page, its best kept there and its better to leverage the custom pages for other information.

I would personally suggest that you start with two standard pages, these are:

  • Contact Us
  • Delivery & Returns

The reason for adding these two as pages of their own, because they are there for reassurance purposes. Even if people do not read them, by only their existence people will feel reassured (trust me on this one, I am not going on a bender about the factors that aid websites convert more through visual Talisman’s any further here).


Actually finding good examples of the custom pages being used was extremely hard, so few sellers use this functionality and its such a shame. However I found a few, which are below and most are poorly done, BUT top marks for using them!

Don’t skimp on the content either, Add Value

Please don’t be tight on the content and always add in some artwork too, don’t be doing a SuperDryStore and see this article for more information Part 3 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Not-So Good Points.

Add value to the person who has clicked on the page by giving them the information they were after in a cleanly laid out format that is in plain English.

Using the Extra Pages

I’m sure without any creative thought you could think of at least three more pages to fill up with topics, however this is not the purpose of the article and would be a waste of what is about to follow.

With the extra pages, you can reinforce your dominance in a category by expanding upon strains of products and information and as I am about to show you, promote products too.

For example, if I was a DVD seller, I could make a couple of genre sections, such as:

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • TV Programmes
  • Action & Adventure
  • Documentary
  • Horror

Then add some background or more information on popular series etc and maybe what makes a great Drama, great Horror and even add in some personal recommendations too.

You know more about your items than what I do, grab a sheet of paper and brain storm some ideas and use them as a base for the shop pages, you can always go back and alter them later. The next section may help with this task.

eBay Shop Keywords

There are several keywords that can be used in the eBay shop, its also worth noting that they do not work in listings and the About ME page has its own set of ‘tags’ that can be used.

Note: eBay call them tags, I call them keywords, if you see either of these terms, they mean the same thing, they are a special term like {eBayUserID} that can be used in the eBay shop and can be clearly spotted by the curly brackets either side of them. Also to help I will always mention them in a bold font face.

The eBay shop keywords that can be used are:

  • Your User ID
  • Your Feedback
  • Item List
  • Item Showcase
  • Individual Item
  • Item Details
  • Search box
  • Promotion box

I’ll now go through each of these and include where apt a use-case for each of the eBay shop tags

Your User ID

This tag is really handy for including your eBay ID and extra icons into a custom page. It does lack the extra control on choosing to show the different sections, but at least it shows the latest feedback count and the extra icons an ID may be sporting.

Keyword: {eBayUserID}
Example Usage:  My eBay ID is {eBayUserID}
Example Output:


An example using the {eBayUserID} shop tag

Your Feedback

This is handy for bringing the latest customer feedback into a a customer services page, its also handy to bring in and then take a screen shot of and use in your listings if you feel you need that extra little boost to them.

There are some extra attributes to this tag, that can change the way it appears, these are:

  • COLOR – Used for the main colour
    eg GRAY
  • ALTERNATECOLOR – The colour used for alternative feedbacks
    eg PLUM
  • BORDER – The border around the table
    ie 1 or 0
  • TABLEWIDTH – I’ve never tried fixed widths, the default is 90%, I usually set this to 100%
  • CELLPADDING – The default is 0, probably best left at 0 too.

You can play around with the different colours that you can use for the table, personally I prefer the simple version, however you could try a mash-up using these colours from http://www.w3schools.com/HTML/html_colornames.asp for the ALTERNATECOLOR and COLOR attributes.

Keyword: {eBayFeedback}
Example Usage: {eBayFeedback SIZE=”5″}
Example Output:


An example of the {eBayFeedback} in use, ID's and times have been blurred, they're not blurred in real life!

Item List

This is one I use a lot, its one of my favourites. The reason why is because you can create  a custom page, say to ‘High Heels’ or even ‘Horror’ using the suggested example and then set the keyword just to bring back ‘Horror’ or ‘High Heels’ items using the KEYWORDS attribute.

As a tip, you can also specify the shop category number too, if you wish to narrow the results even further using the STORECATID attribute.

This keyword is also handy if you are creating a custom shop homepage as well, so you can bring in live items, just like the default store does, but then without hard-coding anything, the latest items can be shown with your filters.

Again there are some extra attributes to this tag, that can change the way it appears, these are:

  • SORT – You can change the order in which the results are returned
    2 – Ending first (default), 4 – Newly listed, 0 – Highest price, 1 – Lowest price
  • DISPLAY – Using this, you can swap between list view and gallery view
    0 – List view, 1 – Gallery view
  • TABLEWIDTH – The default is 100%, I’d suggest you leave it at this value
  • STORECATID – This is a super option, as suggested you can narrow the results down using this option and the next. You can find the eBay shop category ID’s here
  • KEYWORDS – If you can sort by store category ID, then adding a keyword here will focus the results
  • MINPRICE MAXPRICE – When your products are very varied or you have ranges within ranges, then using a minimum or an upper cap with the MAXPRICE option can help you really drill the results.
  • LISTINGFORMAT – The two numbers you may want to abuse here are 1 for auctions only, this is super handy if you create a ‘see all our auctions’ page on the shop and 9 for fixed price listings.

Keyword: {eBayStoresItemList}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItemList SORT=”4″ DISPLAY=”1″ TABLEWIDTH=”” KEYWORDS=”bag” LISTINGFORMAT=”9″}
Example Output:


An example using the eBayStoresItemList keyword to return just bags on a custom shop page.


Item Showcase

I’m utterly amazed that no-one has caught on to this keyword properly. Why? Because it could so easily be framed as a daily or weekly deal on your eBay shop and needs little to no formatting by yourself.

In the easiest example I’m refering to, pop the item numbers of say three items (max 4) and then it’ll automatically make you a featured item gallery.

eg: {eBayStoresItemShowcase ITEM=”w,x,y,z”}
eg: {eBayStoresItemShowcase ITEM=”280475881234,280475881234280475881234,280475881234″}

I covered this in detail in an earlier article called How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals check this article out to see a more detailed description.


The Example Code Output with Live eBay Items

Individual Item

This tag is handy for promoting a single item, say within a custom eBay shop page. Just because it brings through just a single item, if you combined several of these together with content, then the page would quickly fill out.

Although to be frankly honest, you’d be better off with the “eBayStoresItemList” keyword to return multiples or the “eBayStoresItemShowcase” tag for bringing through a larger picture.

The attributes for this are limited:

  • ITEM – Specify the eBay item number to be used
  • DISPLAY – Using this, you can swap between list view and gallery view
  • 0 – List view, 1 – Gallery view
  • TABLEWIDTH – The default is 100%, I’d suggest you leave it at this value
  • BORDER – The border around the table
    ie 1 or 0

Keyword: {eBayStoresItem}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItem ITEM=”01234567890″ DISPLAY=”0″}
Example Output:

eBayStoresItem Example

eBayStoresItem Example

Item Details

This keyword, in the right scenario makes the inclusion of live listing data into a custom page very easy and also very simple for users that want that little extra power when making their eBay store custom pages.

Using the “PROPERTY” attribute you are able to bring in specific attributes of a listing and then format them as you desire. From the listing title, price, picture, prices and direct link to the item. Its the internal components of the larger modules we have been playing with up until now.

Note: If you are after this level of control, then its probably time you looked at making an external application to query the eBay and add the level of control you are probably after. Not that I’m saying this tag is not useful, just that you can gain far more control by other means.

This tag has several attributes as detailed below:

  • PROPERTY=”title” – The item title
  • PROPERTY=”price” – Current price
  • PROPERTY=”binprice” – Buy It Now price.
  • PROPERTY=”time” – Time left
  • PROPERTY=”picture” – Gallery picture.
  • PROPERTY=”URL” – The item’s URL.

Keyword: {eBayStoresItemDetail}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItemDetail PROPERTY=”title”}
Example Output: This is the Listing Title

eBay Shop Search Box

This is one of the best eBay shop tags there is, as it allows a user to easily add the search box to custom pages.

A prime use of this is if you were making a custom landing page for your eBay shop (You can do this after creating a custom eBay shop page and then setting it as the landing page. I’m really tempted to mention some shockingly poor designs (and probably expensive) that a certain company produces, but I’m not, I’ll just leave this link and leave you to make your own mind up).

Keyword: {eBayStoresSearchBox}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresSearchBox}
Example Output:

eBayStoresSearchBox Tag Example

eBayStoresSearchBox Tag Example


Promotion Boxes

I’ll be quite honest, I never actually got this to work. It didn’t work when it was first introduced and I’ve not used them since. However, when coming back to test them for this article, they’re working and they must have been fixed by eBay in the last 7 or so years :)

The idea is that you can create your own promotion boxes, then using the name you have set for them, bring them into a custom page. This could be handy if you want dynamic data from the promotion boxes on all the custom pages.

Keyword: {eBayPromo}
Example Usage: {eBayPromo ID=”eBay Guided Setup Position 1″}
Example Output:





The eBay shop tags can be very powerful and make adding dynamic content easy-peasy for any level of skill user. Combine this in with the more powerful functions and methods, you have the components at your disposal to create a dynamic and rich custom page experience for your eBay shop.

The Top 5 Must-Haves for the Killer eBay Listing

In the next few minutes, we’ll be looking at what I currently class as the top 5 must haves for any serious eBay seller to be including in their eBay listings. Some of these you might feel as being obvious, like titles, but dig deeper and there is a fresh look on them.

#1 A Fantastic Title

I’m going to use a quote from a previous article about the SuperDryStore eBay Outlet on eBay and how wasteful their listing titles are:

The eBay listing Title is THE MOST Important Asset on eBay

Screw feedback, Screw categorisation, Screw a crappy looking listing, Screw everything.

Without a quality listing title you are knacker’ing up any chance of buyers finding you

It really is that severe and that is why #1 spot has to go to the listing title. I’m not going to cover the details on making a great eBay listing title, I’ve already done this in a previous article.

#2 Superb Images

Long gone are the days where just a poor webcam image would cut it, buyers now demand not just good images, but superb images.

Remember  it is your role to effectively describe the goods or services that you are selling and an image really does say a million words and several great quality ones, helps ensure that the customer is reassured exactly what they are buying is what they expect to receive.

While not the best images, the images in this listing do fall into the superb category because they are of a decent size, show all the angles, the product working and all bar them being linked to their originals is a pretty good job.

#3 A Professional Design

Unless you’ve been far too busy focusing IN your business lately, rather than ON your business, you can’t help but notice that there has been a huge influx of professionally (and sometimes not so professionally) designed eBay listings and eBay store designs.

From when I first started selling on eBay, it just made good sense to me to have a well structured template and a template that was well designed. In today’s ultra-competitive market, I’m just not sure you can cut it any more without one. Almost every seller that I have dealt with in the past few years has always had a design to help promote their business and their products with.

Typically, if you want to see some well designed templates, you should see the “art” section on eBay, as the majority are very gifted designers, their designs are normally very good, although the “layout” part can be lacking in some cases.

There are several companies out there who can provide such designs, I’m not going to suggest anyone in particular, because simply put, any design is better than something like the below, which involves none and usage of the H1 tag and probably a few others too:

Killer eBay Listing

Thankfully, pink and green was not used for this description :)

#4 The Top Key Points About The Item

Ironically, I have to credit the seller’s description above, not because of his fantastic presentation skills, but for their use of bullet points and being able to describe their item in  a few bullet points.

I read a while back that buyers make their decision of whether to continue looking at the item or to move on within just 10 seconds of the page loading. If you’ve ever watched my partner shop, she discards listings in seconds if its not what she’s looking for.

So with this in mind, its ultra important that we not only create a keyword rich listing title so that buyers can find the goods or services, fantastic images and a layout/design to match their level, however short, punchy description that a buyer can scan read in literally seconds.

If you account that a buyer is scan reading your listings, then you can tackle this by providing them with a few (say 5) bullet points on the products features. If they are ‘hooked’ then they will read further, into descriptions and other information and then hopefully buy.

A sub note here is that you may find a specifications table useful. This is not a specifications table that you’ll find in the Computing section, which is 10 miles long, I’m referring to a shorten table where the key attributes are shown. Most buyers are looking for it to be a USV web camera, they care little on the standard or the speed, just thats USB, has a microphone and has a few settings.

Pulling this information into either a specifications table or into five or so bullet points, makes not only good sense when it comes to showing punchy information to buyers, it also ports exceptionally well to both your own website and crucially Amazon who use a five (or so) bullet points for the main product details.

There is an article I have sketched out on the importance of “portability of data” between platforms that is due to be finished in the next few weeks. However for now, take a look at the image below and note its an Amazon listing and the four bullet points. These allow for the buyer to quickly scan and make the decision.

Amazon Listing Layout

The Amazon Listing Layout. I'm assuming you were not expecting to see or hear mention of Amazon on this page did you?!

#5 An Exit Strategy

This is something that businesses give little time or thought to. What happens if the item being viewed is not the right item? The worst case scenario of the back button being pressed or the tab closed, is going to be played time and time again if you do not plan for failure.

This could be as simple as including your eBay shop categories in the left hand bar as part of the eBay listing frame or the top search box also in the listing frame.

In more professional designs, you’ll find your eBay shop category structure included, integrated search, custom search and filtering options and in really smart listings, related items pulling dynamically using rules.

I once developed a keyword with a developer at eSellerPro that would automatically link to products in the same eBay category. Since then you can actually use scripts to dynamically pull in related and similar items using various parameters.

My point is, plan to fail, fail to plan. Know that not everyone that is going to view your item is going to buy and cater for it.

Amazon: Navigate the Cloud at AWS Summit 2011

amazon-web-servicesThe UK Summit is in London on the 14th June 2011 and Navigate the Cloud at AWS Summit 2011 registration is currently open and there are also events in New York on the 10th June and 21st June in San Francisco.

The full details are below.

Navigate the Cloud at AWS Summit 2011

Whether you are new to the Cloud or looking for more knowledge to take you to the next level, these full-day conferences will provide the information to successfully navigate the Cloud. These regional events will feature a keynote address by Amazon.com CTO, Werner Vogels, customer presentations, how-to sessions, and tracks specifically designed for new and experienced users.

Reasons to attend

  • Gain a deeper understanding of Amazon Web Services, including best practices for developing, architecting, and securing applications in the Cloud.
  • Hear how AWS customers have successfully built and migrated a variety of applications to the Cloud.
  • Learn how Solutions Providers from the AWS community have helped businesses launch applications in the Cloud, utilizing enterprise software, SaaS tools, and more.
  • Discover how AWS’s services can help your organization meet growing business needs while reducing overall IT expenditures.

Who should attend

  • Developers and Engineers, System Administrators, Architects, IT Specialists, IT Managers and Directors, and Business Leaders.
  • Find sessions that meet your needs in our three tracks:Trailhead for those new to the Cloud, Base Camp for experienced users, or the Guided Trek to help you discover Cloud solutions.


8:30am–9:30am Registration & Solutions Provider Expo
9:30am–9:45am Welcome
9:45am–10:30am Opening Keynote: “State of the Cloud”, Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon.com
10:30am–11:20am Customer Presentations
11:20am–11:45am Customer & Q&A Panel
11:45am–12:45pm Lunch & Solutions Provider Expo
12:45pm–4:30pm Break out Tracks:
Base Camp
Guided Trek
4:30pm–5:00pm Closing Keynote: “How Amazon Migrated to AWS”, Jon Jenkins, Director, Amazon.com
5:00pm Networking/Cocktail Reception


June 10 – New York
Roosevelt Hotel
45 E 45th Street
New York, NY  10017
Register for the New York event

June 14 – London
Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
Broad Sanctuary, Westminster
London SW1P 3EE
Register for the London event

June 21 – San Francisco
Westin St Francis – Union Square
335 Powell Street
San Francisco, CA  94102
Register for the San Francisco event

eBay Duplicate Listing Tool

Duplicate eBay ListingsIf you’ve been shelled up for the past few weeks, you’ll not have noticed that eBay are taking action on duplicate listings and from mid May in the eBay May 2011 update amongst many other changes.

eBay have released a tool so that you can check your listings in advance for duplicates and take action on them now before they end them automatically in mid may.

You can find eBay duplicate listing tool at the link below:

As mentioned in May they’ll be automatcially ending any fixed price listings eBay see’s as being duplicates regardless of sales performace and will be happening to all categories with the exception of Cars, Motorcycles and Vehicles, Parts and Events and Tickets.

eBay give you some tips in their update information for duplicate listings, if you’ve not done so already, check to see if your category is having the variation format introduced and learn this forma very quickly as it will change the dynamics of your category. You can learn more about this and the other changes in the previous article Making Sense of the Pending eBay UK Updates in May 2011

Email Marketing. How to Win Friends and Influence People

John Hayes iContact

John Hayes iContact

The following is a guest article from a colleague John Hayes from iContact. I first met John via LinkedIn a few months back and we had a call and laid foundation for further communications.

After meeting John at the NEC for the Internet Retailing conference a few weeks back, it was only natural that when it came to looking at providers for the email marketing campaigns that were being worked on, that iContact would be a natural choice.

When the pricing turned out to be exactly the same as the other parties we were considering and the company being used for the marketing, said, “Yes, our largest client uses iContact”, that was it, the order was in.

As you’ll see from the article below, email marketing, just like business in general really is a personal affair. I’ve enjoyed reading the article, I’m sure you will do too.

Email Marketing – How to win friends and influence people

Put aside all the science around the art of selling for one minute. The first lesson in any sales course should be the basic fact that people buy from people they like.

If you don’t have chemistry with your clients you can kiss goodbye to their business.

As with any relationship, selling is a two-way street. It’s about engaging your clients in a conversation and like any decent conversation it is as much about listening as it is about talking.

In the online environment, where we are all getting more social, this has never been more important. The Shotgun approach to marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is equally as true in a tried and tested medium such as email marketing as it is on the social networks like facebook and twitter.

How to lose friends and disenfranchise people

Bombarding your clients with untargeted, irrelevant and seemingly desperate sales messages will more likely turn your customers into ex-customers than win any repeat business.

Let’s look at an example of how a good deal turned sour when a lazy marketer didn’t want to make friends with me.

Attracted by a cheap park and fly offer at an airport hotel, I booked a family room the night before an early morning flight leaving the car in the hotel car park for the duration of my vacation. The hotel experience was OK, with smooth transfers to and from the airport, and I was more than happy with the cost which was only slightly more expensive than a week’s parking at a nearby airport car park.

And then the emails started arriving.

Seaside breaks, city breaks, wedding packages, free dinning, two nights for the price of one, turkey and tinsel Christmas breaks, happy hours – you name it, they sent it. Relentlessly. I received an email from them every single day until eventually I hit the unsubscribe button.

It was as if they were desperate for my business (I guessed they were having cash flow problems). They didn’t take the time to get to know me and swamped me with offers I just wasn’t interested in. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth and I’ll probably never stay with them again.

How they could have won me as a friend

The hotel had a lot of information about me and my family. They knew my home address, marital status and the age of my kids. They knew which airport we used, the airline we were flying with and our final destination.

From this information they could have made some educated guesses and targeted their email marketing campaigns more appropriately. They could have even used email to get to know me a little better by following up on my stay with a short survey. Just a little thought and a little targeting and we could have been friends.

Let’s work at this relationship

Email Marketing is perhaps one of the most mature marketing techniques available to today’s online marketers. So why do apparently sophisticated companies continue to blast out irrelevant, untargeted and plain boring emails.

The fact is Email Marketing works. Even for lazy marketers (like the above un-named hotel chain) email remains one of the most cost effective and successful marketing techniques available. Return on investment from Email Marketing can be staggering with an ROI of more than 600% not uncommon. But a failure to effectively target and engage with your customers will ultimately result in failure.

Just because something works in the short-term doesn’t mean it couldn’t be even better in the long term with a little time and effort in building relationships.
You might think you have a great offer that you need to shout about – but when you are selling to your friends the message really shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about your customer’s individual needs, desires and interests. Make them feel part of your business and not just source of income and they’ll stay friends with you for years to come.

John Hayes – iContact, EMEA Business Development Executive

iContact is a purpose-driven company working to make email marketing and social marketing easy so that small and mid-sized companies and causes can grow and succeed.

For a free 30 day trial of iContact’s Email Marketing software visit http://genieandthegeek.icontact.com

eBay as a Business – Three Different Ways of Approaching It

There are so many different ways that a business can be approached from, however I believe in keeping things simple where-ever possible and here are three top tips for when approaching eBay as a business.

#1 Think Like a Buyer

eBay buyers are a special breed, you need to at least try and understand them and thier whims, desires and fears when dealing with them.

After answering so many questions from buyers, I have come to the conclusion that they are:

  1. Scared of being ripped off
  2. Scared of being ripped off
  3. Scared of being ripped off
  4. Scared of being ripped off
  5. Scared of being ripped off
  6. Scared of being ripped off
  7. Scared of being ripped off
  8. Scared of being ripped off
  9. Scared of being ripped off
  10. Just like any other buyer

9/10 for being “Scared of being ripped off” is a bit harsh, but that is my personal conclusion. If you look at buyers emails, with this in mind, those mindless questions make sense. Why else would a buyer be asking a question, if it is not to test the seller to see if they are real (ignoring their thousands of feedback) and if they respond quickly, then they know if something goes wrong, they feel half assured that something will be done about it.

I never saw myself as a sales person ever on eBay, I saw myself as a provider of quality information, wrapped up in great customer service. Nothing else.

So its your job to ensure that the customer feels safe, by providing:

  • Good product images (although I am now certain that these need to be “exceptional” to make a real difference)
  • Accurate product specific information
  • An accurate description
  • Easy to read postage
  • A clear layout of the information provided
  • Quality branding of your business

The last one has almost become an absolute requirement. With the focus on customers, if you’re presented with something that looks like its been made by a blind monkey in a dog shed, to that of a professional, I’m pretty sure you know whom you’d buy from.

#2 Time Really is Money

eBay can be a very time intensive environment when compared to other marketplaces. There is a steep learning curve and the customer service requirements are high, its very easy to fall into a self centred trap, focusing on just plodding along, without focusing upon expanding and maintaining profit.

eBay can become very personal and its your job to ensure that it does not, a simple tool such as a time sheet can help you work out how many hours each week you are spending on each task.

Taking the time to make a sales projection can also be a good goal setting exercise, this does not have to be power point charts or excel sheets, literally by grabbing a peice of paper and writing “sales projection” at the top of it, will put you in front of 90% of the competition, because you are now working ON your business not IN your bussiness.

Shed Working

Ever considered working from a Shed?

Back to the sales projection, if you can use excel, that would be handy, using your previously recorded sales, use these to map out expected sales and what growth you would like to see. You do not need to worry about being accurate, that will loosely come with time and even the best strategies in hindsight, turn out to be a lot of luck in the right order.

Its also likely that you are working from a home office, if you are struggling with excessive hours, then why not take a serviced office, for what is peanuts a month and actually make the step of “going to work”. Most amusing, you could join the millions that work from a shed, see shedworking.co.uk.

#3 Know that eBay is Going to Change & Embrace it

I was looking at the eBay.com community boards and those on a few American sites and they are littered with people going nuts about the pending updates on eBay.com, there are some hefty changes going on in the eBay May 2011 update that I documented a few weeks back.

Fact. eBay always changes, it always has done and always will do.

My point is simple, let everyone else bitch about the changes, you should be smart and work out how they affect you and then plan to change with them.


Those who know me well, know that I commonly preach and personally aspire to the following statement:

What you focus upon, expands.

I sincerely hope I’ve given you a slightly different outlook on eBay and how to approach it. Not only as a buyer with their ‘concerns’, but as a business, with a simple timesheet and sales projection and finally that eBay always changes and its much easier to work with it, as with anything, than against it.