Topics in this issue:
- eBay news – Duplicate listings.
- An insight into Molly margins.
- Blocked UK bidders.
- Ask Molly – How can I compete with free postage?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
My apologies for the intermittent bulletins, this has been caused by too many holidays. In fact I’m off again next week; not much in the way of eBay sales and the weather is set fair.
In the bulletin this week, a warning to all sellers who flout the duplicate listing rules and something for that coffee break: your ‘buyer requirements activity log’. Read on for more.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY NEWS – DUPLICATE LISTINGS
At last eBay are doing something to address the issue of duplicate listings, a big cheer went up from the Elves at HQ. Hopefully the clever software will also spot the listing which has just one subtle change in the title but is for the same item. I also would like to think that when a duplicate listing is reported the eBay team will do something about it as they don’t seem to be too bothered right now.
“Starting in July, listing visibility in Best Match will be reduced for sellers who populate the eBay marketplace with duplicate listings. If a seller violates our duplicate listings policy, then all the listings from that seller – including those created using any of the seller’s linked accounts – will have reduced visibility. This will last until the duplicate listings are removed. Therefore, we recommend you remove duplicate listings as quickly as possible.”
Having all your listings across all linked accounts penalised should provide a good incentive to stop this practice.
2. AN INSIGHT INTO MOLLY MARGINS
I get many emails asking about the best items to sell and how to become very rich quickly. I have a standard reply as you know which is to take your time and ‘get rich slowly’. This question arrived and I thought I would share my thoughts.
“Hello there, hope you are well.
I have just purchased and read through your book which was an excellent read – thank you. I have been trying to set up a successful eBay business for a year now. My aim is to make £200 profit p/m alongside my full-time job. I have started off with screen protectors but they only bring in 20p profit per item and they do not sell fast enough due to the amount that are on offer.
My question is, how much profit margin do you make on your products, or how much should I be looking at?”
This will be quite a complex answer to what was a simple question, mainly as I now sell a large range of lines.
The easiest one to mention is my cosmetic lines as I have just submitted my books to the accountant. The gross margin is 60%, then of course there are expenses – eBay, PayPal fees, postage, VAT, packing, etc. These all add up but as this business exists only to pay a wage, pensions and cover any related expenses, breaking even is just fine. The accounts were in order by the way and I guess the pain of the fee will fade over time.
The toy business really comes into its own at Christmas, only a few sales during the summer months but the margins on secondhand / collectable toys are much higher. I still get many of these from car boot sales and small ads but supply is drying up as more people use eBay [Ed - there must a be a book about it somewhere]. I always look to at least double my outlay, the days of higher margins than this are a distant memory.
DIY and electrical items is a more steady concern and although a fairly new venture is providing a good yield with markups in excess of 400% on most items that sell, but I do need to carry large stocks which hits cash flow. These items do not sell fast as the demand is limited but when they do – happy days.
The number of items sold each day depends on the time of year. Summer months are easy with around 50 items per day and I take 7 to 10 days off each month, shutting the shops. Christmas is different, from mid-Sept to Christmas Eve all I do is sell, sell, sell and volumes hit 200 plus items per day.
I no longer sell very much overseas which accounts for lower turnover but I make sufficient profit for my needs and no longer have to work all the hours I used to.
As an aside to this question you can see your total sales figure by accessing your dashboard, the lifetime sales figure is right at the bottom on the right. It might surprise you.
3. BLOCKED UK BIDDERS
A worrying email arrived at HQ highlighting an issue that I was not aware of, one that might have implications for all sellers.
Another eBay issue! Some of my buyers are reporting that they are receiving this error message when trying to buy from me,
“The address specified in your basket is in a location that doesn’t meet the seller’s postage requirements”.
They are in the UK, as am I. They are blocked from buying from me. When I looked at my buyer requirements activity log, to my utter dismay eBay have blocked over 300 buyers from purchasing from me in the last month because they are ”Buyers in a country I don’t deliver to,” but they are all in the UK.
To cut a long, very long, story short, eBay have checked that all my preference settings are correct, so have come to the conclusion that it must be the buyer’s settings (all 300 of them). What a load of nonsense. Three phone calls later, a technical issue has been raised, but it won’t be prioritised as they are not receiving many complaints about this issue.
Can you ask your readers to check their buyers’ requirements activity log and report any issues to eBay so they can escalate the problem?”
You can find your ‘Buyer requirements activity log’ by clicking on the ‘Account’ tab in ‘My eBay’ and then selecting ‘site preferences’ from the left-hand side. halfway down is ‘Buyer requirements’. Open this and you will see your activity log.
I checked mine and sure enough there were a number of UK buyers who had been blocked from making a purchase, only a handful in my case but still annoying. As there had been no attempts from buyers outside the UK to purchase I have removed the ‘Buyers in locations to which I don’t post’ bar from my buyer requirements.
Check it out and please let me know at the usual address how you get on.
4. ASK MOLLY – HOW CAN I COMPETE WITH FREE POSTAGE?
“Hi, I wondered if you mind me asking for some advice. I’ve read your book and it has given my the inspiration I need to start my own business. I have been using eBay for a number of years to sell my used clothing and general household items. However I now intend to start selling gifts for the home that I have purchased wholesale.
The problem I am encountering is being able to compete against other sellers that offer free delivery. If I was to pay for the postage and after eBay/PayPal costs, etc., I would fail to make any profit at all!”
Many thanks for buying the book, glad it was of interest. Funny you should mention clothes as two of the Elves recycle their clothes on eBay. I only get involved when they go on holiday and I have to post them, thankfully I know my River Island from my ASOS.
Free postage is a tricky one although there is not really any such thing as shipping costs are included in the price. Free postage does give the item a boost up the search results which is why it is offered.
Offering free postage can be a nice little earner as well. Imagine you bought three items from the same seller: £5 each with £2 postage, you would expect a postage discount, maybe a reduction of £3. If the items were £7 each with free postage then you would not expect any although the seller would make this saving. This works very well in my cosmetics business where people buy in multiples but is not significant in the toy world as sales are generally singles.
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 –
Check out Harriman Intelligence for the latest news from Molly HQ.
I was very sad to notice that the sales history from ‘multi-variation’ listings seems to have vanished. Hopefully this is just a glitch and it will return.
This record was very handy for me as an indication as to what the pricing of items should be. If no sales had been made at say £10 then that price should be lowered, if I sold out of item B at £8 then maybe a price hike is in order.
As all sold records now say zero I have no idea if the various items are priced correctly. Not good for me and not good for eBay.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook, available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
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