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.

Dear eBuyer.com, You Could Be Doing So Much Better on eBay UK. Here is How!

eBuyer LogoeBuyer has a personal favourite of mine for technology based products; Since the day I discovered their returns process was simple & effective. After being burned by utterly dire customer support at dabs.com. I’ve sworn my allegiance (well, for some things) to them ever since.

But sadly they are making me go nuts about their eBay operations. I’ll explain why.

I am a Clean data Freak

I am the biggest data-freak ever, in my conversations with new clients, besides the formalities of hello and getting a coffee in (note if you want to bribe me, coffee works exceptionally well) I am interested in what their data is like.

This is for the simple reason, if you have great, clean data you can do anything and I mean anything with it. If you don’t, its going to get messy.

Data Freak

Lets take a Wander

Now with this little preface over, lets see why eBuyer would make me nuts…

Lets take a look at an item from their site http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173804 and a screen shot of this item is below:

eBuyer Item Details Page

eBuyer Item Details Page

Now lets make a bullet point list of the features and crucially the data they have on their item details page for this product:

  1. Item Title
  2. Item Image
  3. Description
  4. Specification
  5. Related Products
  6. 104 Customer Reviews
  7. 114 Discussion Topics
  8. A  ‘urgency-generator’ in the header. Order up to 11 for next day’

* takes a deep breath*

eBuyer HD103SJ on eBay

eBuyer HD103SJ on eBay

Now lets look at their eBay Listing for the very same product  http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Samsung-HD103SJ-Spinpoint-F3-1TB-Hard-Drive-SATAII-7200-/ and again a screen shot is to the right. Click on the image to see the full version as its rather long.

Now the key points they have are:

  1. Item Title
  2. Product Image (but not in the listing area)
  3. Product Description
  4. An added bonus of a ‘Storage Calculator’
  5. A not very well formatted specifications section
  6. Some related items

Now can you guess what I am going to talking about next? Yep you guessed it, poor usage of product ‘data’, in this case how they’re making two mistakes that with the right tools (and will) could be easily joined.

Suggested Changes to eBuyers Listings & Why + Tips For You!

Here are my suggested alterations, if you have similar data then I strongly suggest you follow suit to aid conversion of your listings.

  1. Add a Listing Template with ‘Branding’
  2. Add the product image to the description area
  3. Add a ‘Urgency Generator’
  4. Format the description into its own container
  5. Format the specifications in its own container
  6. Add dynamic related items
  7. Add related product groups
  8. Add the top rated customer reviews to the listing
  9. Quote the answers from the forums

Now, lets work these out in some more detail:

Add a Listing Template with ‘Branding’

What do I mean by this? Image is everything and currently it looks pants.

In the case of eBuyer, get your in-house design department to make a listing template, if they are incapable, outsource it for £500 (and tidy the shop at the same time).

If you are not fortunate to have an ‘in-house design team like the rest of us, outsource it. You can get simple templates for free and quality customised ones for £500 (contact me for details, I’ll post information about this in a later post).

Add the product image to the Description Area

Not hard at all, eBay images are OK, but you can gain more flexibility in the eBay listings themselves. There are countless examples of this, just search eBay for a few top rated sellers, most have got the idea. Again this would be part of the formatting in the listing template mentioned above.

Add a ‘Urgency Generator’

This one-gets-my-goat big style, where the * hell is the urgency in this listing? Take the logo in the header area of eBuyer.com, chop it up and slap it in the listing.

If this is for you, then a strong call to action is always needed. This could be the re-confirmation your USP (Unique Selling Point(s)) or a time deadline for ordering. If you’re stuck for ideas, write ‘Order Today, it’ll be with you in a maximum of 3 days’ (at least its a start…).

Format the description into its own container

We are dealing with great data here, so format it just as ‘great’. Give it a container (visual area) of its own and then do the same for the next part too.

Make the description stand out by darkening the outside of it, so the eyes are drawn to it. Customers are sheep, herd them.

Format the specifications in its own container

Arrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

We are selling a highly technical product here, just like on the website, make the specifications clearly readable.

If this you and have a product that requires a ‘product specification’, make the table that is formatting the data, clean, clear and alternate colouring on lines and highlight key specifics.

Add dynamic related items

Ok, this is  9/10 for effort, as its better than what is being shown on the eBuyer.com website. But it hard-coded, go for dynamic tool to display items automatically, there are a few out there, check the eBay solutions directory (again noted for a future post).

Add the top rated customer reviews to the listing

Ok, here is the ground breaker… I should be charging for this stuff I tell ya. Lets spell this out:

I am eBuyer, I sell this product, this product has 104 customer reviews

Pillow screams x 10

So you have the data in the eBuyer.com data base, so why not spill the top 10 rated reviews onto eBay? Surely this is a no-brainer? 104 people have left reviews or questions, does it not make you think that out of these 104 reviews or questions your new eBay customers might ask the same? (insert pillow scream).

Two databases, common key, join them, deliver quality content, format it, sell loads.

(ignore that top bit, thats my mind working it out in simple terms)

Quote the answers from the forums

Now this one is a ‘grey one’. If I was eBuyer, I’d push this and bring in the form posts and also link back to the forums, as its helpful info to the product buying decision. Kinda grey due to the eBay links policy, but I’d personally argue this one for quite some time.

Summary

If you have great data, then get it in and use it. This is why the eBuyer listings on eBay drive me nuts, we know they got great data, its on display on thier website, so where is it on their eBay listings?

If you are having similar issues or need some guidance on how best to implement your data as effectively as possible, see the top right of the page, the number is there…

Update

I just spotted this on YouTube, I’m not posting a video reply with fear I’d pillow scream to much, even they know they’ve got a serious issue, branding boys, its all branding!!!!

PS. ebuyerdotcom you got mail on YouTube :)

Part 3 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Not-So Good Points

Carrying on from where I left off in Part 2 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Good Points, time to get into the not-so-good points. These are in no order of importance I hasten to add, they all need consideration though:

SuperDry – eBay Outlet?

If this is the fastest moving account of eBay’s and thier token ‘we’ll-put-a-SuperDryStore-item-on-daily-deal-at-least-every-other-day’ account (I kid you not, look at the RSS feed for the daily deals, should be called ‘SuperDryStore Deals’). My point being, SAY you’re an eBay outlet.

Referring back to the models back in Part 2 put your best assets forwards and being an eBay Outlet is a damn good asset. Add the eBay Outlet logo, announce it clearly.

This one scores 10/10 on the no-brainer score chart. Always put your ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USP’s) forwards in the best possible light as possible.

So… Nice landing page, WTF happened to the rest of it?

For those not converse with leet-gaming-speak, WTF stands for ‘What the F***’ and in this case is makes the point perfectly.

Homepage: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store
WTF Happened to the Design????: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store_Mens-Superdry-Bags/_i.html?_fsub=309702719&_sid=401545409&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

See my point now?

This isn’t just a one of those crap 1/2 done sites that Frooition have been making [a ‘pretty’ home page and a ‘shop header’ and then failing to theme the rest of the site, example here] its an utter annihilation of the homepage and then some.

  • Where has the left menu gone?
  • Where is the search box?
  • WTF has happened to the three USP’s?
  • Where is ANY sign of ANY branding?
  • I’m lost. Who was this again? I’m leaving.

On a serious not, this is not a joke. DO NOT MAKE THESE SILLY MISTAKES (wow I have resorted to using caps lock), but hey, this is seriously poor form by all parties.

If you have a brand or even just a little logo and a colour theme, then carry this theme consistently from your eBay shop home page, to your search & category pages, content pages, into emails, into your website, into… everything, its your brand.

Learn By (much better) Examples

Here are two examples, one where they have paid for a shop design and one where they have at least got a common brand going on.

OutdoorValue eBay ShopRochFord Tyres eBay Shop
http://stores.ebay.co.uk/outdoorvalue/http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Rochford-Tyres

Looking at OutDoorValue’s eBay shop, the branding is clear and carried to all parts of their business. eBay shop, listing template, shop pages, search pages and most importantly their website.

Rochford Tyres while not the most ascetically pleasing, has got most boxes ticked, their brand appearance is ‘remember-able’ and is common across their eBay activities, although their website is of a differing name http://www.alloywheels.com/

The point being, if you have a a ‘brand’ use it everywhere.

Singular ‘Front of House’ Model

After ‘dissing’ Missguided.co.uk a few day s back in this post about a silly design flaw, what they do very well is have an extremely ‘fit model’ for the majority of their artwork (see here for an example, stunning eh?). They have diversified since and introduced more models over time, but the point is that a ‘common face approach works’. If you can afford a model, use one!

Dead Categories

Out of the 18 categories they have in the left menu of their site, they have four that contain no products, thats a 22% chance a browsing buyer is going to go to a dead page, nice.

The biggest tip here is to use the eBay categories menu bar and refrain from using hard coded category menus. The eBay category bar updates automatically depending on your item counts, while not instant (insert private joke about eBay saying the eBay shop updates instantly and it took 24 hours with a massive UK retailer *coff* Tesco’s *coff*, oh how that made me giggle) it does update eventually with no manual coding.

Clothing = Clear Returns Policy

The #1 concern for the people I have spoken to when it comes to clothing is “I need to feel reassured that I can return it if it doesn’t fit or if I plain don’t like it“. SuperDryStore fail on this and get a 1/10.

The ‘tiny’ returns page link is along the top and should really be featured in the main description or header somewhere. Even if you have a poor returns process, 90% is appearance and 10% is doing.

The returns page is cluttered, cut to the point, spelling out in simple terms, make some bullet points about it. Lets have a suggested version of this page, cutting out the waffle:

7 Days from Receipt Returns, No Quibble Returns Policy

  • We gladly accept returns
  • Refunds processed in less than 5 working days
  • Sorry, you cannot return to one of our stores

If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with your amazing purchase from the SuperDryStore, just let us know by using the eBay Resolution Centre. If you’re not sure, see eBay’s help page here or of course you may contact us directly here.

See that’s a lot nicer than the ‘stuff’ they got cluttered on their returns page and gets the point clearly and efficiently across. Although if this is yours I’d suggest you add a little more content around this after it and especially include your address.

Last eBay Shop Gripe, ‘The Picker’

If you’re going to pay for one of these item pickers for your home page, make sure the organise it in alphabetical order. Joe-Public-Customers are idiots, don’t try and make them think, they’re just not capable if it. Its your sole job not to let them think.

Its Your Store, Use It

Only you are responsible for your own store, even if you just add a logo or tidy up your returns pages, its a bonus. As I said above, its ‘our’ job to make sure ‘Joe-Public-Customer’ does not have to think and making him panic by loosing ‘branding’ for what is a very easily solved issue is going to you loose you customers.

Click here to view part 4 of this series

Dan Wilson: What are your nuggets of eBay selling advice?

Online Business Forum eBay

Online Business Forum eBay

An interesting question came up in the LinkedIn ‘The Online Business Forum powered by eBay‘ group by Dan Wilson and I think I am only one probably prepared to spill anything of any substance (I might be wrong by the time this is released), here is the question in full:

What are your nuggets of eBay selling advice?

I was asked last week for some advice regarding online selling by a journalist. The hack in question wanted little known tips for an article he was writing. Needless to say, I had a view. Here’s what I said:

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Dealing with trouble customers and problems takes time and time is money. Sometimes quibbling over a few pounds is just not time or money efficiently spent. And when it comes to customers, there really are just some people who can never be satisfied, so save your energy and don’t try. Refund and move on. Finance this by making sure you build up a notional fund for such situations. The size of that will depend on what you sell online, but a small levy on everything you sell soon adds up because most customers really are lovely.

Are you getting the best deal on fees?
On eBay, there are several ways of getting better, lower fees. The first is an eBay Shop. Just by paying a subscription, you can get preferential treatment on the fees for BINs in particular and that can significantly lower your outlay if you want to expand the inventory you have available in the marketplace. And don’t forget PayPal. The merchant rate offers lower PayPal fees if you’re taking a lot of money through the system. But you do have to ask!

What’s your best little nugget of online selling advice? Or is it too good to be shared?

After writing what was a hefty reply, I decided it would be worth beefing it out and including it here for all to see. I’ll keep to my two points I could go on a blogging-bender quite easily.

Point 1: Do not devote 100% of your business to eBay

Amazon UK

Hey Look Amazon!

Its a mistake I made a long time ago and will not let clients make the same one. If eBay is taking up more than 40% of your over-all business turnover then you have a *critical business issue* and need to diversify your marketplaces, FAST.

I’ve said for a very long time that I am sure that sure that eBay does what it can to cause maximum impact to sellers to keep them ‘entertained’ with the eBay marketplace. The entire selling process could be a lot simpler and dare I say it less ‘unique’ to each buyer. eBay selling can-and-will hog your time, you need to be wise to this and look for ‘tools’ to aid you to diversify into other channels.

I’ll come back to viable actions for this point later in this post.

Point 2: My other tip is risk Aversion.

The point here is to not rely solely upon a single eBay ID. This could mean breaking ‘eBay policy’ to some, but I see each eBay ID as a ‘business’ in its own right and if done well it acts like one too.

To list on eBay has never been so cheap for pretty much ALL eBay sites, yes ALL sites, not just the eBay UK site. By spreading the risk of selling on eBay into two or more (20 plus is not unheard of now) eBay ID’s that have specific persona’s and product cross overs can be done from well managed backend systems.

Once you have created your inventory in a backend management tool (Channel Advisor ‘loosely’ fills this spot, eSellerPro is suggested [yes I used to work there, hell there is not one part that I didn’t influence. blah blah blah its ace]). The point is that to prepare the data for a second eBay ID is a fraction of the work, to prepare it for many eBay IDs (including on multiple sites) is again ‘a fraction’ of the initial work.

By spreading your inventory groups over more than one eBay ID, loosens the reliance upon a single point of income which in my eyes is a bad thing. It also allows you to focus each business (eBay ID) on to its core role. This does need to be done well and its a whole topic for another day on how to do it well (if I ever decide to divulge this info publicly, actually I doubt it).

Expanding Upon These Points – Real Life Tips

Now here some real life tips you can action really easily if you have the right tools.

Here is a no brainier, did you know that the vast majority of the eBay US categories are exactly the same as the eBay UK ones? That means porting your eBay UK data to a eBay US eBay ID is really quite easy, especially now that both sites are using custom item specifics for almost all categories? The same goes for nearly all the other sites too, they all have a common base, just with a few tweaks here and there.

Settle for the ‘Other Category’ if you have too, if its a decision between actually getting listed and getting the categories right, screw the cats, get the items on. You can sort out the re-categorisation (not mess as I first typed) later.

Also remember that America is massive, buyers are used to orders taking over 10 days to arrive for non expedited services and guess how long it normally takes for a UK parcel to arrive in the US? Yep you got it, about 10 days!

The second is a set of two questions:

  • Do students really cost that much?
  • Does outsourcing your language translation requirements sound really that scary?

Now leading on… eBay Germany [DE] is bigger than eBay UK and they will pay by PayPal (used to be a big issue, as those Germans love bank transfers). Yes thats right eBay Germany is BIGGER than the UK, let that sink in for a moment.

* let the dust roll by *

Sunk in? Here’s an idea for you, use Google Translate on your top 10 products, now search on eBay.de for them, making an excel spreadsheet as you go, then use xe.com to get the latest rate, the numbers work? If you have a Terapeak account, pay the extra and research the foreign eBay sites, I guarantee you, you’ll start feeling sick.

I Need Help Now!

I’d love to, but cannot commit to anything before the new year due to prior commitments. My content creation team is working literally 24/7 currently and its time I start looking at a VA (Virtual Assistant) again. Hey at least I’m admitting my flaws! Are You?

Anyway, its the reason why I have published this in front of the other posts that were due to be released, at least I can help you go in the right direction.

PayPal needs your input – PayPal Bribes @ £65 An Hour!

Wow I’m in the wrong business, check out the mail below, we’re being offered £65 an hour if we pass the survey test, I need to go back to being a full time ‘consumer’. I’ve completed the form and are waiting eagerly!

Paypal-bribes

PayPal Customer Survey @ £65 An Hour

Part 2 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Good Points

SuperDryLets start by looking at SuperDryStore ebay shop, you can view it here: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store. There are definitely some great points to be noted and also some silly mistakes. I’m looking forward to explaining these to you in the next few paragraphs.

Here is a full screen shot of the SuperDryStore eBay shop:

SuperDryStore eBay Shop

SuperDryStore eBay Shop

The Good Points

Lets start with these, its very easy to be negative and point and poke’n’point at someone else’s work, but thats not constructive and there are some great things to note; In no order of importance, these are:

  1. High Impact Design
    It has to be said, that branding is absolutely key. In this instance the ‘SuperDry’ logo is melded nicely with the ‘eBay Store’ text (note on this later).Then use of three primary colours, black, orange and white (yes white is a colour) is great, the objective of a great design is to carry across the companies ‘branding’ and to be ‘rememberable’.Jump of their page for a few moments, then ask your self ‘if my life depended on it, could I draw their shop’, if the answer is yes, the company has done a pretty good job.
  2. High Quality Images
    This is another key factor to a great looking design. If you have poor image quality or a sheer lack of product or lifestyle imagery then you’re letting yourself down.While I feel there is a lack of a singular ‘front of house model’ (I’ll cover this later), the flash slides are good and have a common feel to them. Its very tempting to whack together some slides and upload them. Doing so will give a junk yard feel, sit down and draw a maximum of two slide outlines/templates and stick to them.Flash objects such as the one being used on the SuperDry store are very easily picked up using Google for free, if you are after a custom layout, flash developers are pretty darn cheap if you can specify exactly what you want. My guidance on this is be wary of total file size of the flash object and the slides and keep to common theme and template the slides, so not to ‘visually confuse the browser’.

    If you are thinking ‘High Quality Images’ are expensive, get real. Lookup iStockPhoto and start searching, also you can use images from Flickr if you read the licenses properly. Take the header image of this site, as part of the creative commons licensing, I was able to use the above image as long as I post and link back to the author. Oh and if budget-challenged, try Paint.net its a free image editing software and is excellent.

  3. Organised Layout On-The-Homepage
    The note here is ‘On-The-Homepage’, I’ll cover off the sub pages later. Its what I call a ‘Split 2 column layout’, there are two main columns, but the right content block for the first section is broken into two.Categories categorically go on the left.Now there there is room to maneuver on this for homepages, I’m sure you’ve seen how the vast majority of the bigger internet shopping sites will move from 1 column layout for the homepage, 2 column for category view and then either a double or single column layout for the item detail pages.I’m a bit disappointed about the limit of just three real items on the bottom, I’d have personally preferred six and from a wider product range.
  4. SuperDryStore HeaderClarification on being ‘the only official outlet’
    When you have an unique selling point, SHOUT ABOUT IT. The statement below is pretty good:

    “Superdryebaystore is the only authorised re-seller of superdry on ebay. Buy with confidence.”
    I’d however suggest they alter it to:“Buy direct from of SuperDry, Quality, Service & Value Assured”

    But I do like the ‘the only authorised re-seller’ part and maybe the following is a short alteration to maximum impact:

    “Superdryebaystore is the only authorised re-seller of superdry on eBay.”

    Although this is quite hard without knowing their business goals for the platform.

    If we think about this for a moment for your business, try and summarise what your business is and how it is different from every other business into no more than 12 words. Adding ‘Established 2006’ or similar are also killer terms, as they immediately add ‘age’ and ‘trust’ to a brand, especially if its situated below a brand logo.

  5. Item PickerSuperDryStore Picker
    Now I suspect this is one of OBaid’s creations. Obaid is a developer that worked on Amazon.com’s TV picker. While I am not a complete fan off such ‘item pickers’ (mainly because I think it can be done in less code and be more widely accepted in Javascript) the decreasing numbers of items is cool and in this instance the levels have been well thought through, but some plonker has forgotten his alphabet when it came to ordering them!If you sell complex item types, then such a ‘tool’ is suggested to help your buyers locate the items they are looking for.
  6. SuperDryStore Fit Model

    SuperDryStore Fit Model

    Sex Sells – Use It
    I don’t care if you take offence here, Sex-Sells and thats been a known fact since year dot.So… SuperDry have have almost got it. The woman on the left is pretty ‘fit’, the same for the model in the middle ‘featured items’ section. However the minger, I mean ‘model’ n the flash gallery could at least simile and push the chest out. The same goes for the male model, bush the pec’s out and hunch forwards a bit more.

    SuperDryStore Eaten a Wasp

    SuperDryStore Eaten a Wasp

    When some is buying an item, especially clothing, ignoring the brand, they are asking themselves ‘will this make me look good’ and if the model looks great in it, then that helps them to believe they will do too.

    This does not mean, getting a lap dancer and a male stripper, it just means if you use a model, make sure they look hot and push their ‘assets’ to help the customer make a decision on whether this item is good to make them look ‘great’.

  7. Content Pages
    At least SuperDry has actually created some shop pages, most sellers don’t even know they exist let alone use them. The content is pretty poor, but 5/10 for actually using them. See http://stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store/About-Us.html as an example.If you’re not using the shop pages, then you’re missing out, see http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/stores.html for eBay’s pants help files on the subject (there isn’t one). I’ll be covering this off later in more detail.

The ‘Good Points’ Summary

I think I’ve remained pretty positive so far. There are some good points to be learnt from SuperDry’s store, even though I suspect they got it for free from eBay’s Indian designers whose designs have been pretty crap, eg Dune, hell, them all bar Office Shoes.

Just remember these key points for now:

  1. Great Quality Design.
  2. Organised Layout to Industry Standards.
  3. Promote your ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USP(s)).
  4. If you offer complex items, make it simple for the buyer to find them.
  5. If you have control over whom is wearing or sporting the goods, put the best ‘assets’ forwards, it sells.
  6. Use content pages, with proper content.

Next Time

Keep peeled for the next instalment [I’ll be getting the daggers out] as there are some shockingly silly mistakes that are being made. After I’m done you won’t be making these same mistakes and it won’t cost you hours or thousands of pounds either.

Click here to view part 3

SuperDryStore, eBay UK’s Largest Outlet Seller Exposed For YOU to Learn From

SuperDrySuperDryStore is eBay UK’s largest outlet store for Fashion. As we all know ‘Fashion’ really is eBay’s baby atm and they’ll bend over & drop their pants for anyone with a brand name in this arena at the moment.

Yes thats right for anyone who has they’re head in the Arctic for the past year, eBay is in a 100% all out assault on getting high street names onto eBay, literally what ever the cost is, throwing round freebies all over the shop, free listing fees, free gallery, free sub titles, free designs, free development time, year contacts for monkey nuts.

eBay UK LogoBut…. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, that’s not to be the topic of discussion, for this and the forth coming posts, what I am going to cover is what YOU can learn from them, both the good things, the things I suggest you don’t do and crucially why.

I’ve a couple of posts already lined up, but they need more work, however the time is right to start this series off. So lets get right into some numbers from Terapeak for the past 90 days:

Total Sales £1,344,390
Total Listings 36,458
Successful Listings 35,352
Total Bids 89,233
Items Offered 156,013
Items Sold 62,616
Bids per Listing 2.45
Sell-Through 96.97%

Past the headline number, £1.35M, thats £450,000 per month in sales. Amazingly this is no where near the figures turned over by the heavyweights on eBay and mere sniff on the values being chucked around by sellers on Amazon.

However they’ve[SuperDryStore] done a pretty good job, there is quite a bit we can learn from them for both what you should be doing and should not be doing. I see it as my role in the next few posts to expose these to you and I’d welcome any feedback you have.

Part 2 will be covering the ‘SuperDryStore eBay Shop‘.

18% Wasted – Your Most Important eBay Marketing Asset

ChannelAdvisor

Channel Advisor Seller Buy4Less

Thats right here is the best way to waste 18% of your most valuable asset on eBay, the Listing Title. You make your listing titles on eBay look pretty by including ‘=’ and ‘-‘ symbols.

No idea what I’m taking about? See this item: 230526814009. Here is the listing title:

THOMAS TAKE ALONG === Thomas&The Jet – Die Cast === NEW

So lets count this up there is:

  • 6 x ‘=’
  • 1 x ‘-‘
  • 3 x ‘ ‘

They’ve included these characters at the expense of the formatting and crammed ‘Thomas&The’ together to make it fit. That is 10 out 55 wasted, now thats not the best bit, wait for it, it gets better, brace yourself… Really silly question, where is the keyword ‘train’, it IS a train right ??

Lets get this straight, do not waste your most valuable marketing asset on eBay, the listing title. If it was not bad enough that you’re only given 55 characters to cram your description in, something like 80% of purchases are made by search and this search is now the ‘best match’ search which favours ‘top rated’ sellers and items with a few sales on, so your requirement to be as efficient as possible as describing your products has newer been so paramount.

About Buy4Less
Apparently they sold 3000 plus orders a day last Christmas, so crap titles can’t matter that much eh? Must have been the Amazon sales that bolstered this figure. You can read the ChannelAdvisor case study here.

eBay Buyer Message Spam @ 99%

eBay UKeBay Buyers, they really are nut cases. Following on from my previous post eBay V’s Amazon – Its a ‘Trust’ thing, Trust is undoubtedly one of the core reasons behind this non-shocker I got in my mail:

Great customer communication is important for your success, especially when preparing for the Christmas period. We have worked with sellers to analyse the most effective way to reduce buyer questions.

Did you know that in the first half of 2010 you received an average of 99 questions per 100 transactions?

Find out how to reduce the number of questions you receive.

Regards,
The eBay Team

Yes that’s 99 questions per 100 transactions, don’t believe me, check the screen shot below:

eBay Buyer Questions

eBay Buyer Questions

Yes, the product type sold heavily influences the number of questions received, however of the 14 other emails I have seen today alone, none of them were below 40%.

For those that know me personally, they’re aware that I have a strong dislike to eBay buyers. To be utterly fair, this isn’t really their fault. They are just programmed to ask questions for the most silliest of things, because at heart they are scared that ‘eBay’ (note the term ‘eBay, not the seller) is going to rip them off.

I’ve sworn blind for years that 90% of all questions pre-sale are checking the sellers authenticity because they’re plain paranoid on eBay.

Here are the four suggestions eBay have given:

  1. Customise Automated Answers
  2. Block buyers from countries you don’t dispatch to
  3. Clearly structure item description (e.g. in bullet points)
  4. Use high quality photos and multiple pictures with different angles and close-ups

[sarcastic tone] Wow thanks lads [/sarcastic tone]

eBay has definitely got its sense of humour hat on today, at one hand they’re saying block buyers, in the very same email ‘sell internationally’. Irony?

eBay has expanded its international markets to include Finland, Hungary and Portugal, increasing your potential number of buyers to up to 25 million.

In comparison, number of questions from Amazon buyers this morning: 2.

Oh how I <3 Amazon even at your 15% fees.

The Facts: ChannelAdvisor’s Featured Retailer – LeSports

ChannelAdvisor

ChannelAdvisor

One of the huge benefits of being a consultant, is that you can enter a business with a completely fresh look at it. Not influenced by any of the day-to-day operations, any historic issues or misconceptions created in the business by itself and can work from the cold numbers.

A few weeks back I was intrigued by the big Channel Advisor PR wheels moving and spotted one of their featured sellers ‘LeSports Ltd on YouTube.

The video is below features James, really nice chap, he explains what most e-commerce businesses  have issues with, management of inventory across many channels and order processing; And that he is using CA to promote his products across new sites and that it saves him time. Great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxPB5nt2sQQ

BUT…

With this increase of automation, I wonder if they’ve failed to notice the extra cost at which it has taken to do this. Please do not get me wrong, automation is fantastic if done well, there are many tools that can aid a business in its day-to-day operations that will save hours & hours a day. But… this is where it could go wrong and the numbers need to be kept an eye on. So lets look at the numbers:

All figures are based upon data from Terapeak for the date range 01 Sept – 30 Sept 2010, the direct link to this search is here. Noting, a Terapeak account is required to view this.

TeraPeak

Overview:

Total Sales£28,632
Total Listings2,811
Successful Listings1,105
Total Bids1,920
Items Offered7,097
Items Sold1,692
Bids per Listing0.68
Sell-Through39.31%
Sellers per Day1

So for this month of September we have a gross sales value of £28,632. Now lets split this between GTC (Good Till Cancelled/30 Days) listings and auction based listings (10 days or less).

Bid Auctions:

Total Sales£4,847
Total Listings1,509
Successful Listings348
Total Bids576
Items Offered1,509
Items Sold348
Bids per Listing0.38
Sell-Through23.06%
Sellers per Day1

So we can see here that for 1509 listings, £4847 was sold over 348 items. Lets crunch some numbers to see what this really means.

£4847 is 16.93% of their eBay sales (or 4/25ths), each sale has an average value of £4847/348 = £13.93, now here is the curious number, 23.06% of their listings sale. Now this is not distorted by multiple quantity listings because Terapeak says this ‘Total Listings = 1509, Items Offered = 1509’, so they’re all single item listings. This is an important factor as GTC listings normally have multiple quantities and skew this number heavily, to the point its almost worthless.

Now, this is where the numbers can lose their accuracy, so please allow some error of fees here as I am going to assume no discounts for seller fees and we are using averages.

There were 1509 listings at an average start price of £13.37, Terapeak also tell us clearly that there were no listing features used, so we can assume a straight auction fee. Now knowing this, lets crunch some more numbers:

1509 listings x 0.25 insertion fees* = £377.25
348 sales x (£1.22 Final Value Fee + £0.67 PayPal fee) = £657.72
Total = £1034.97

Some notes:
* I checked manually in eBay and also verified with http://ecal.altervista.org/en/fee_calculator/ebay.co.uk/index.php.

** This assumes no discounts and standard PayPal account and that all buyers paid via PayPal (probably true for 90% or more of sales) and that Channel Advisor fees of around 1-1.5% are not not included.

So for £4847 worth of sales, it cost around £1035 to actually sell the 348 items to customers, or 21.35%. This is of course excluding the item cost, packaging, staff time for the 222 questions (assuming 65% asked a question) they asked and the time taken to create the inventory record in the first place.

So… Using Using Auctions, is it Worth it?

Frankly, yes it is for them.

Why? 21% is far from the worst overhead I have seen, yes its pretty high, but there are a large number of sellers out there that are hitting 30-50%. I know for a fact at one time it was costing me 32% (the fee structure was different then). But its the ‘fact of knowing’ which is key here, if you know what your sale cost is, then you can work on it. Not knowing it is literally business suicide. I strongly suspect Jame’s know’s these numbers and is why he’s actually doing a great job.

If this dropped to say 15%-18% through optimising the time windows of sales and utilising the other four days of the week (the listings only end on a Sunday ,Monday & Tuesday) and testing outside of their normal ending windows of 7pm to 10pm, it would be tidy win for Jame’s.

Some Quick Numbers:

We’ve only focused on their auction style listings as these are the most expensive, here are some quick numbers on James’s ‘Fixed Price’ listings:

Total sales = £23.423 over 1223 listings of which 727 sold, for 1302 items, this is a positive percentage @ 106%, which means more items sold than that was listed as separate listings (I suspect due to multi level listings). With an ASP (Average Selling Price) of £17.99 the fees would come in 1302 * (0.20p insertion fee @ Basic level + 1.78 FVF + 0.81 PayPal) = £3632.58. Which is a very good 15.5% excluding any PayPal, Channel Advisor or eBay discounts.

Its a pity (or a positive) there is no ability to mine data on Amazon or the web to gain a true picture of LeSports. For anyone that is determined, using Terapeak to gain the last 365 days worth of data to get one set of data and a report for a tenner from companies house can easily do the maths…

eBay: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/LeSports
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/shops/A3DKHE7UJOAC3O
Web: http://www.lesports.co.uk/

eBay V’s Amazon – Its a ‘Trust’ thing

Well after another quick read of the feed reader, there is an announcement that eBay is to spend a huge wedge of cash sending out some postcards, no not to promote products or sellers found on the site, but ‘Trust’.

eBay really cannot shrug that carboot sales & miss-trust thing they  have got in-ground. Its  major difference between them[eBay] and Amazon. Amazon is thier marketplace and ‘allow’ other sellers to sell on thier marketplace, not a marketplace where the party[eBay] are the facilitators of the marketplace.

So when you buy from Amazon, there is a single point of trust, the Amazon logo, but for eBay, it means nothing, the buyer has to check lots of things about the listing, who are they, where they from, how much, how much shipping, when really they should only be asking ‘is this the right item for me’.

When will eBay take a leaf out of Amazon’s book and start slapping the daylights of the under performers. Amazon really does not take any crap from their sellers, you piss off one of their buyers, wow do you pay, its one of their customers, not a ‘member’ or ‘community member’, one of their customers. You see the fundamental difference between the market places yet?

Here is the homepage for the .com site, nothing up on the UK site, hey we don’t have any ‘trust’ issues here, just a complete Island (Ireland) to deal with the UK & Europe.

eBay Buyer Protection on eBay.com

eBay Buyer Protection on eBay.com

AuctionBytes, such a fab source of the latest news, its unreal, if you’re not signed up for them, you really should be. The article I’m referencing can be found here.

eBay Conspiracy Theory Overview : Part 1

Here are a few things for you to chew over, I’m not saying these are true, they’re probably utter rubbish, but… they do have enough in them to at least be partly true, right?

Here are my eBay conspiracy theories, don’t expect too much detail yet, I’ll beef these out in further posts over the next few days:

  1. eBay does whatever it can to keep the seller ‘entertained’ on the eBay marketplace, so that they are too busy to sell on other marketplaces.
  2. Using best match, eBay throttles a sellers performance, so that their number of sales stay with a 25% or so window of an on going average.
  3. eBay is turning into Amazon.
  4. The ‘Free Shipping’ promotions are nothing but a marketing ploy, to gain more fees for eBay.

I’m look forward to putting forward my flakey cases on each one of these in the next few days. I’d really value your comments and suggestions on these, the comment box is below awaiting your brain spam to join mine.

Oh dear, They Really Shouldn’t

eBay Selects Joomla to Launch Employee Collaboration Tool

eBay Selects Joomla to Launch Employee Collaboration Tool

Well been hovering thinking of all the cool topics I should blog about, then out of the blue from the AuctionBytes site and chestnut appears.

It reads ‘eBay Selects Joomla to Launch Employee Collaboration Tool‘. Oh dear god no!!! I’ve been through most open source CMS systems and Joomla is the most hacked to pieces one of them all. I’m not posting the site I use to check the latest  vulnerability list on, but I assure you, Joomla has the longest list of holes of them all.

Yea its easily worked with and I have seen some fab looking sites, although the shopping cart system you can add is the worst ever in the wrong hands (I’ll post my email to a site owner in a later post, honestly I have never been through such a worst cart system end to end). BUT they have to be safe and sorry to all the devs of Joomla, Joomla would just not been on any recontamination list of mine.

Here’s hoping they keep it in a VPN envrioment, if not lets keep an eye out for leaks!