Topics in this issue:
- eBay news – Fees on postage
- Reader’s Rant – Royal Mail – possible strikes
- Tax returns
- Where do you get your stock?
- Ask Molly – Why are sales so slow?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
The summer has all but gone and HQ is settling back into a routine; list, sell, pack, ship with the occaisional coffee along the way. The shed is stuffed full of bubble bags, wrap and boxes, all we need now is some bad weather to keep buyers at their PCs, here’s hoping.
I have had a few emails asking about the 4th edition of the Business Handbook and the good news is that I have finally finished writing it, the bad news is that it needs rewriting at least twice. Craig (esteemed editor of this bulletin) will sort all that out over the coming weeks and publication is likely to be in the spring.
In this edition; following the implementation of fees on postage Molly pulls out of Europe and a little advance thought concerning the Royal Mail could be called for.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY NEWS – FEES ON POSTAGE
Just as the UK starts to nudge out of the economic doldrums (or so we are told) eBay charges fees on postage and the result is that Molly stops selling overseas. This is bad news for the treasury as VAT receipts from Molly HQ will drop and this could well tip the UK back into recession!
It just works out too expensive as the minimum £3.00 postage charge already attracts VAT, PayPal fees and now eBay fees as well. To break even the cost would have to rise to £3.80 or so, which may price the item out of the market or result in poor feedback due to high shipping costs. Add this to the steady stream of lost parcels overseas and the liklihood that this will increase over the Christmas period and it doesn’t seem worth the hassle.
I have roughly calculated that eBay will lose around £1,800 per year in lost fees from European sales and the treasury about the same amount. Sorry George.
All this happens as eBay ask us to push into Spain, Italy and France. Well, it’s a thought isn’t it?
As ever your thoughts are most welcome – firstname.lastname@example.org
2. ROYAL MAIL – POSSIBLE STRIKES
Whether you agree with the plan or not I suspect that there will be disruptions to normal postal service over the coming weeks so now is the time to plan ahead.
Check out alternative carriers and maybe add something to your dispatch notifications advising buyers of potential delays, certainly if you still sell overseas.
Looking forward I can’t see the service or charges staying the same after privatisation so a sit down with a big pot of coffee may be in order to hammer out a new distribution strategy just in case. It is a shame that Hermes removed the one kilo tier rate as they could have picked up a lot more trade.
3. TAX RETURNS!
Another massive landmark passed at HQ as the tax return for last year is finished; some might say that this is the second work of fiction finished in a week.
I am a traditional kind of guy who still likes to work with paper and crayons so my submission date is the end of October – right in the middle of Halloween and Christmas sales. If you are a paper person then get it out of the way now, online by the end of Jan.
4. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR STOCK?
Regular readers of this bulletin will know that I am a big fan of the humble car boot sale, it is where I started and I still visit on a Sunday looking for that illusive bargain. Although the season is all but over I should see turnover end around 60k this year on the proceeds of a handful of morning bootsales.
I also love to ‘chill out’ and watch TV shows such as Storage Wars, Baggage Battles, American Pickers and so on as these shows are similar to car booting because you never know what you might turn up. On the TV the guys usually find a rare baseball card or speedboat whereas for me a great deal is an old Warhammer figure or unused Drayton TRV, but the thrill must be similar.
Although I have not actually visited auctions of this type in the UK – I just don’t have the time – I am fasinated to know if any readers frequent them and if hidden speedboats are as common as they are on the telly.
In the new book I have a section on sourcing products and would like to include a few real life stories regarding these kind of events. Contrary to some reviews on Amazon I don’t make this stuff up and all experiences in the books are either mine or as told to me.
So, if you would like to be in the next edition and grace the coffee tables of literally hundreds of living rooms please let me know of your adventures in the world of ‘bid and hope’ auctions, or of course if you did rummage through a box of junk at a bootsale and find a speedboat that tale could also make its way into the book.
Please let me know – email@example.com
5. ASK MOLLY – WHY ARE SALES SO SLOW?
I’m sure you get theses types of enquires the whole time, so apologies in advance!!
I am a relatively new eBay seller but sales are very slow, and wondering if you have any advice or even if you would take a look at my shop to see where the problems could be, I have your book and have been following as best I can!!
Anyhow would really appreciate any help or advice, I’m going mad!”
First of all congrats on taking the plunge, eBay is a big pond and sometimes hard to get noticed but if you are not swimming around in it somewhere then you will never know if it is for you.
You have chosen a tricky time to launch on eBay as the summer is always slow, however the good times are just around the corner and from what I have seen your gifts should be exactly what is needed in the run up to Christmas.
Price is a big issue, especially now with money very tight. I looked at your listing for ‘Robert Opie Small Steel Sign, Bovril’ which in the UK would cost around £11.73 shipped. I did find another seller (item number 330702355687) who has them on sale at £5.25 and ships into Europe for £2.70 so can sell into Ireland cheaper than you can (9.95 euro is around £8.37). Buyers will sniff out the best deal and savvy ones will sort search results by ‘price & p&p – lowest first’.
I think this is your biggest problem as your shop and listings look fine, uncluttered and your pictures are good.
I would consider trying to position yourself as a traditional Irish candle seller. Although there are 37,000 listings for scented candles, which does make yours hard to find, there are not any others for the ‘bog standard’ range. I love this name, it conjours up a sense of Ireland, and we are coming into the candle time (I don’t allow the Elves electric lights before December). Even my kids buy Yankee candles although I am not exactly sure what they are, so candles are big.
Follow all the usual rules, fill in all item specifics, use up all 55 characters in the title, include key words for your product and I would avoid words like ‘small’ as in ‘Irish Made Bog Standard Candle Irish Rose Small’. Leave off the full stop at the end, get the word ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ in and if space allows describe the smell, e.g. autumn, and so on.
Product and price are the key factors, stick with it and remember ‘get rich slowly’.
If you have a question about eBay or home working in general, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
As I write Molly’s feedback score is fast approaching 47,000, just 3000 more sales required for the new coloured star [Ed - it's good to have a goal in life].
As mentioned above I have noticed that sales have tailed off a little of late, possibily due to being mid-month with money in short supply. Christmas is just around the corner so it is time to concentrate on the toys but also a little line I have in boiler spares; not the most exciting of items to sell but with all those central heating systems about to be fired up there are bound to be a few non-starters – fingers crossed.
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