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
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.