Topics in this issue:
- Ask Molly: Why have sales been so bad?
- eBay 101: Global Shipping Programme.
- What a lot of trash.
- Mix it up a bit.
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
I have received a record number of emails from readers this week all on a similar theme: why are sales so bad? Well, in response to both of you I have decided to dedicate this entire bulletin to the topic of driving through more sales and hopefully a little profit as well.
As with everything in this bulletin these ideas come with a wealth warning: they may not work for everyone so pick and choose. Just to get in the mood I have flipped the bulletin around and started with Ask Molly. We live on the wild side at HQ you know.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. ASK MOLLY – WHY HAVE SALES BEEN SO BAD?
Been selling on eBay for what I consider a very long time, what is going on? The past six months have been awful, sales come through in set periods, nothing for hours then few come in, this has been going on for last few months, very odd don’t you think?
I looked on the business sellers board community and there seem to be masses of similar quotes from various sellers who are saying they are giving it up now, no sales, huge issues with eBay site, outages too often, etc.
Any similar comments from other sellers?”
Yes, in short the eBay boards and my inbox are full of sellers venting their frustration regarding sales.
I am not exactly sure why sales are hit and miss, certainly eBay is a little less predictable than it was, but maybe also the volume of items for sale has increased or the search engines are a bit iffy. We can only surmise and do what we can to keep going.
I have managed to stay flat on last year’s sales figures but am putting in a lot more admin time to manage prices, etc., which is very boring. This, along with a few other things which I will outline below, is working for me.
Remember that on one hand poor turnover is a big concern, but on the other if the number of sellers reduces then those that are left should prosper.
Top tips to boost turnover:
- For those sellers with shops, run a few selective sales using the markdown Manager link. If you don’t have a shop consider adding the Best Offer option to fixed-price listings.
- Maintain a variety of products and appeal to as many buyers as possible.
- End long-running listings and re-list. When newly listed you may find that it sells as buyers search for newly listed and can have alerts sent to their phone [Ed: but not my Nokia 3310].
- Use the eBay system to your advantage. Offer free postage and build the shipping cost into your asking price, offer the Argos click and collect service, take advantage of the free pictures to show your item from all angles, etc.
- Manage your prices. Is it better to sell something at a reduced profit than not at all? It’s your choice.
2. EBAY 101: GLOBAL SHIPPING PROGRAMME
OK, so I said that I was not a big fan of this idea but in the name of research I enrolled a couple of IDs into the programme with results much in line with my expectations.
I have not made a single sale through the programme from the cosmetics ID, which is not surprising when the international shipping cost for a small £4.99 tube of cream is £7.77 and other sellers ship overseas for a much lower total cost. The cosmetic market is very competitive, with no shortage of sellers mopping up these sales.
However my off the wall slightly unusual collectable toys ID has seen three sales totalling £85. Not a king’s ransom but handy nonetheless. Just this morning I sold a chrome shower head for £45, in addition to which the buyer in the USA paid £18.23 shipping.
I think this shows that if your item is a little less common then opting into the GSP might be a way to increase sales.
I’ll go even further and point out some of the fringe benefits from this channel. Firstly, you only ship to Derbyshire, saving the ‘International Signed for’ fee needed to protect a higher value item. Recorded delivery at £1.10 is enough. You don’t charge anything for the overseas shipping, so no eBay fees to pay on any postage revenue and of course no PayPal fee to bring in the extra money.
For VAT registered sellers, or indeed those close to the registration threshold, this is great news as there is no shipping income to include in turnover; you get the benefit of the sale without the financial consequences. Not sure that George will be too pleased though.
It all depends on what you sell, but look into the programme. I am still a little apprehensive about delivery times, returns, etc., but must admit that I am warming to the scheme.
Sign up from the ‘Account’ tab in My eBay, then under ‘site preferences’ select ‘postage and packing preferences’ and then ‘Offer the Global Shipping Programme’.
3. WHAT A LOT OF TRASH
I just thought I’d tell you about my success selling vintage Sindy items as it was partly down to something you wrote in the eBay bulletin weeks ago. A DJ on the radio said the other day that he had seen a Transformers toy that he had as a kid going on eBay for over £1000 so he asked if anyone else had ever owned a toy that was now worth something. I remembered what you had said about brunette Sindy dolls being worth more than blonde ones and I knew I still had one in my Sindy / Barbie box in my parents’ loft, so up I went.
I had great fun with my two girls, going through the box, sorting out the Barbies from the Sindys and, with more difficulty, the Sindy clothes from the Barbie clothes. It was very nostalgic for me and just plain fun for my girls. Anyway, it turned out that I had three brunette Sindys, one blonde one, a horse, a Range Rover, the remains of a four-poster bed and lots of clothes. So I did a bit of research to find out which outfits were Sindy’s and which were Barbie’s (these things had never been important as a child!) and how best to prepare them for sale. Then I listed the lot (14 separate listings) on eBay in ten-day auctions, UK only.
The bids and the questions then trickled in and on Sunday they had all sold for £105. The next day they got shipped off, mainly to the UK but also to Sweden, Poland and Denmark. There is a little regret that I have just sold off part of my childhood but I figured I may as well do it whilst the plastics of these toys are still good. Anyway, my girls have inherited all the Barbie stuff (doesn’t seem so valuable on eBay), and I have a nice little bit of money to put towards Christmas! Makes me wonder what else is in my parents’ loft.”
Nice one, I still love playing with Sindy dolls although I have always found bra straps a bit fiddly.
This brings me on nicely to the idea of selling stuff that might otherwise be left to one side and dismissed. There still seems to be a market for almost anything.
Throughout the summer months I buy loads and loads of battery operated Thomas trains, some of which are in a very poor state. During the quiet months after Christmas I sort through them and being a reasonable engineer am able to mend a fair few. This year I have brought forward the salvage task and managed to list over 60 trains with a sale price of £10 to £15.
Great stuff, very handy, but I am left with a big pile of junk, which in past years has gone into the bin. In these lean times nothing should go to waste so a few ‘train spares’ listings hit eBay, I have now sold spare tyres, replacement motors in many sizes, the couplings and even the axles. I am not sure what kind of person gives a set of rubber tyres as a Christmas gift, but with sales well over £200 from just the junk long may they keep buying.
The moral of this story is to take a fresh look at the stuff gathering dust on your shelves or maybe in the attic, whether its Sindy dolls or train wheels, somebody will want it.
4. MIX IT UP A BIT
The temptation I have is to list all my stock on a ‘good ’til cancelled’ format and forget about it. Instead I have been mixing things up recently, running a few auctions and cross selling from them to fixed-price items of a similar nature.
These ‘loss leader’ auctions might not achieve the prices you would get from a BIN when it eventually sells, but given a reasonable start price it will sell, thus boosting cash flow. Try a few different duration auctions and you should have something towards the top of the ‘ending soonest’ search, which you can use to redirect visitors to your other items.
A little HTML in your description is all you need to point buyers at the item you want to shift. If you need any help with this just drop me a line. Alternatively use the ‘inserts’ option from the ‘details’ section of the listing form.
If you have a question about eBay or home working in general, please send it to me at the usual address. I will reply personally to every email I receive and, remember, there are FREE copies of my book available for the best questions, tips or stories.
– END NOTE –
That’s all for this week. Check out Harriman Intelligence for the latest news from Molly HQ.
Normal service will resume next week, I am fed up with all this selling, it just means more packing and less time for coffee.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook – available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
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