The eBay UK Bulletin: Issue 211, 11th February 2011
Topics in this issue:
1. eBay news – Shipping delays to the USA
2. Ask Molly I – How can they offer free postage?
3. eBay spoof
4. Ask Molly II – Should I opt for 10 day listings?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
You have got to hand it to the eBay buyer of the Harrier Jump Jet who paid £70,000, especially as they are only seven years old! The Elves get socks or deodorant and are very grateful I can tell you. The buyer is in Australia, the plane in the UK, I guess it will be sent by airmail!
There are two ‘Ask Molly’ questions this week; no extra charge.
If you are experiencing shipping problems to the US, you are not alone. Read on and weep.
[For details of this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY NEWS – SHIPPING DELAYS TO THE USA
Everybody at Molly HQ loves the States, in fact one Elf is still studying shoes, bags and boys in an upstate New York university. The idea of not shipping to the USA is unthinkable; however the amount of grief caused by late deliveries is causing me some major headaches.
New stringent security checks and procedures in light of recent events are causing exceptionally long delays of up to 45 days in some cases. This is far too long to wait and of course buyers are enquiring as to delivery times. So far everybody has emailed asking for an update, it is only a matter of time before a negative is left.
It seems that the US will not accept mail through their passenger airports meaning that parcels must be sent via an alternative method, probably a ship!
This is the official line:
“The United States Department of Homeland Security is continuing to require increased security measures for items carried on passenger airlines. As a result, some mail entering the US from around the world, and including the UK, that would normally be sent via passenger aircraft must now travel by other means, including ships and cargo planes.
Most items, including personal letters and cards, magazines, CDs, DVDs and lightweight packets, will be delivered in the US within a few days of posting. However, there are delays of about two weeks for some heavier packets. These delays are currently affecting stamped items, franked items, and items posted under contract, with the exception of Destination Sort and/or M-Bag* items.”
It is time to activate those hidden notice boards and inform potential US customers of the delays, also a mention on your seller Q&A page would be useful.
2. ASK MOLLY 1 – HOW CAN THEY OFFER FREE POSTAGE?
I have a quick question which is more of an observation really…
I went to a trade show last weekend to speak with distributors for the type of products I’d like to put on my shop. I have their trade prices and noted their SRP prices. Looking at a competitor’s eBay shop that sells the type of items I will, they offer an item (as an example) just below the SRP but with FREE Postage. Now, how they do this I’m not sure. I’d be looking at around £3.30 with MyHermes to ship this item and would lose all profit on the item if I posted at cost.
Are they doing a deal with a Courier Co. or Royal Mail whereby they get free or mega discounted postage on the amount of items they dispatch? I cannot see a further discount on the distributors trade prices being accepted, so I’m wondering if you have any ideas as to how they absorb or are deferring any postage costs to offer it as free?”
It is possible to do a deal with a courier if you ship enough items; it is certainly worth a quick phone call. I have been known to secure a discount or two from couriers which is handy, but not a huge saving as most of my parcels are less than half a kilo so the Royal Mail is the only real option for me.
Check the availability of cheaper stamps or a franking machine, eBay is around 13% cheaper for most ordinary stamps but of course you would have to stick them on yourself and use the Royal Mail.
Most high volume high turnover sellers will be top rated sellers and getting anything up to 30% discount on FVFs. This helps them no end.
Free postage might sound like an own goal as you would pay eBay fees on the full amount, an extra 50p or so on something that you would usually charge £5.00 to post. However, if your buyer buys two items then you do not have to combine and reduce postage as most buyers expect. As the postage is free buyers (even eBay buyers) do not expect you to give them money back!
I sell almost all my cosmetics with free postage to the UK; I build postage costs into my asking price (which is also governed by the marketplace). I can make a profit selling at that price even with the extra fees and postage costs.
When somebody buys two items or more then I am up on the deal as the total postage for two items is likely to be the same or only one tier up using the RM scale.
Also watch out for PayPal fixed costs. Most accounts have a flat fee of 20p and these do add up. Combining smaller items and selling in pairs cuts these costs down, this is a big drive for me at the moment.
The big sellers may be taking a hit on postage and cutting costs elsewhere, free postage also gives them a boost up the search results which will improve turnover.
Take a wider view on all aspects of your business and cut out costs wherever you can.
3. EBAY SPOOF
It has been quite a while since a true eBay spoof popped into my inbox so I thought I would include one this week. It is not very sophisticated and has the usual grammatical mistakes such as no space between the words ‘account’ and ‘For’.
It is the first line that makes me smile ‘eBay sent this message to eBay’, why would they do this? The ‘go to eBay’ button is of course where the spoof link would be. The ‘Learn more’ link is just a dead end.
Subject: Important Message from eBay
*eBay sent this message to eBay .
*Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay. _Learn_ _more_.
*Important Message from eBay*
I noticed the different connections from other countries on your eBay account.For security reasons we have restricted your eBay account.
Please check your eBay account!
Click the “Go to eBay” button.
*Email reference id: [#fbb5d36e57f6421081289260b215f54a#]*
Please don’t remove this number. eBay customer support may ask you for this number, should you need assistance**
Please keep sending them in email@example.com
4. ASK MOLLY – SHOULD I OPT FOR 10 DAY LISTINGS?
After reading your eBay Business Handbook in only two sittings I’m feeling pretty inspired. Some real neat tricks and tips! [M – I just love this kind of start.]
Just a quick question if you don’t mind – I run a fairly new eBay store selling Computers and Parts. Would I be better off using good till done, or, say, ten-day listing??
With one I get the advantage that the URL stays the same and it’s easier to track, however with the ten-day listing, you get more exposure!”
It is really all down to personal choice. I use the ‘good ‘til cancelled’ option because of all the admin it saves. You can just list it and forget it.
To maximise exposure I don’t use the variant option, but instead list several items that are almost the same at different times of the month. As regular readers will know I recently acquired a batch of Timberland boots and rather than one listing where buyers could choose the size I opted for eight listings ending at different times each with links to the other sizes.
Using this technique means that one listing was around the top of ‘ending soonest’ search results every 3 days or so and I could redirect buyers for other sizes from the listings.
It does fall apart a bit when sizes run out, I only have four left so sales have slowed. However, of course, I have sold numerous pairs.
The other consideration for ‘good ‘til cancelled’ is the way ‘best match’ works. Listings get a boost up the results for each sale that is made from the listing so one that has been around for a while should progress up the search results page.
On the flip side, those listings that get loads of hits but few sales slide down the rankings. I would suggest trying a few different mixes and see how things go.
If you are a featured shop then the monthly fee is only 5p per listing, an additional 10p if you opt for the ten-day duration, a basic shop will cost 20p per month using ‘good ‘til cancelled’ (40p extra to use the ten-day option). If you list 200 items it starts to add up.
If you have a question about eBay or home working in general, please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
– END NOTE –
That’s all for this week. Check out www.ebaybulletin.co.uk <> for the latest news from Molly HQ.
It’s a free listing weekend for private sellers using the auction format and the good news is that any starting price is included.
Details – http://pages.ebay.co.uk/promos/0IF_110212/index.html
Just in case I forget over the coming weeks [Ed – which is quite likely, even between the two of us] don’t forget to stock up on postage stamps. The Royal Mail is hiking the price of stamps again by around 13%! First and second class stamps will be worth this much more after the event, which is a much better return than you’ll get at any bank.
As long as the couriers don’t follow suit they could become a viable alternative. MyHermes, for example, offers an ‘up to one kilo’ option for £3.30 inc VAT, the Royal Mail second class rate is currently £2.84 rising to £3.15. MyHermes offer tracking and insurance up to £25 within the price and of course VAT registered sellers can recoup some costs.
New Royal Mail pricing:
Best wishes and happy eBaying
Author of the bestselling title, ‘The eBay Business Handbook’ – available direct from the publishers: www.harriman-house.com/ebaybusiness <>>>