Topics in this issue:
- eBay humour – An insight into the British buying public.
- A blatant plug for the editor.
- The key is under the mat.
- Ask Molly – How can I make a profit?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
It is great to be back after what seems like a year walking through the Derbyshire Peak District. It is not easy walking up hills carrying a laptop, bubble bags, a selection of best-selling items and a flask.
A fun-filled bulletin this week as I suffer from too much caffeine. Some real questions to make you smile or grimace, and a serious warning if you are thinking of a weekend away.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY HUMOUR – AN INSIGHT INTO THE BRITISH BUYING PUBLIC
Maybe it is the hot weather or just that I am getting older but I seem to be a little less tolerant than I used to be. This selection of questions arrived all in the same week.
Q – “I have looked at all your feedback, please may I ask one question ?
Are all your Clarins products new and unopened? Thanks.”
A – “Hi, what a strange question to ask, if you have checked our feedback and we state that they are all new then what answer did you expect. ‘No, actually you have found us out they are all old and used, fair cop guv.’ The great thing about eBay is that other buyers leave feedback which should be a guide. If you are that concerned you will be ripped off, it might be better not to buy them from eBay.”
Q – Hi there, I have not managed to collect the cream from Argos because apparently they close 5.30 (been there 3 times just before 6 and failed to speak to anyone). Please could you advise what I should do in this case?
“A – Stick with it, hopefully you’ll catch somebody working late one evening.”
Q – I would like to ask you about ‘Lancome hypnose mascara – black’ is it really unused?
A – “I can’t be certain, I do use some and then wipe them over and pop them back in the box, it might be a good one though.”
Q – What’re Did you buy or get these items from? Where they free samples etc? [M - the spelling & grammar has not been altered.]
A – I am not really sure why it matters and of course nothing in life is free.”
OK, so I am just getting more grumpy, it’s all those hills.
2. A BLATANT PLUG FOR THE EDITOR
Regular readers will know that this bulletin only hits your e-mail due to a partnership between myself and Harriman House publishing company. I write page after page of drivel and they edit, distill and produce each bulletin.
Apart from an occasional book plug, usually one of mine, they tend to sit in the background, however a recent development at Hh is worthy of mention. And it could makes yours truly a few quid, which can’t be bad.
Harriman House have built and are about to launch their own eReader, called Volow. To try Volow for yourself for free just follow the link below. All you need do is sign up (only an email address is required) and away you go.
“Volow is a browser-based eBook reader. With it users can read eBooks they already own and wish to buy. No new apps or software to download and install – just read eBooks in a web browser on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC. Everything is stored in the cloud so readers can log in and continue reading on any device at any time. Volow is designed to be quick, simple and to deliver a great reading experience.”“Being browser-based means that Volow eBooks can contain much more than just text. As well as graphics and images they can also include video, audio, interactive content and links to relevant content online – and all of it just works, no upgrades or new software required.”
Now all this sounds great, but the good part for me is that you can read any of my current books this way and I get paid a royalty.
Right, that’s the rent covered, now on with the drivel.
3. THE KEY IS UNDER THE MAT
I just thought I would share an exasperation I have had today and which I have been trying to resolve for hours. I put my shop on to holiday settings for a few days, so on every listing there is a message saying I am away, great I think! Suddenly a bit later in the day I also realised that at the foot of the listing under business information for all to see, is my address.
As a small business working from home I have just told every criminal and his brother that I am on holiday and on the same page provided them with my address. I know it is required that a business address is provided, but in doing so a security risk is also created.
So to try to reduce the risk slightly I changed my address temporarily by removing the house number and the street. However after much checking and re-checking all the address details were still on all my listings.
I contacted eBay for assistance. Honestly I cannot believe how difficult it was to get them to find a resolution. I was on chat for so long I was losing the will to live, with endless people telling me different things. I gave up on that eventually as they just did not seem able to help.
I eventually discovered a way to resolve it myself by trial and error. I clicked on all my current listings and chose edit, waited until they were all listed for editing and clicked submit without actually changing anything. It then updated the address details on each listing to my temporarily amended address under business information. What a hassle of a day trying to resolve this.
However, I am emailing you because I think this is a serious security issue for sellers, in particular those working from home as they are just advertising their absence to the entire world. I really do think this needs to be addressed by eBay. They should ensure that when a seller puts their shop on to holiday mode there is also an option to stop showing the address for the time the person is away.
At the very least the customer service staff should be able to assist with explaining how sellers can do this, to reduce the risk of burglary in their absence. I wonder if there are other sellers like me who don’t immediately realise that by telling everyone they are on holiday their home and possessions are at greater risk because their address is visible. Or is it just me who didn’t realise all this until I had spent 24 hours telling the world and his wife that I have allowed myself five days holiday?”
Got it, 37 High Street, Clapham, I’ll be round later tonight.
This is a very serious issue, I always leave an Elf on guard, although they are not always easy to spot.
I too drop the house number from the address which might help a bit, the neighbours have been burgled six times so far.
On a serious note, when I close the shop I can add a note at the top which I word along the lines that I am still about just away from the desk, undertaking a stocktake or similar and when activating my ‘out of office’ e-mail response word it in a similar way. On the subject of general security, all home workers with stock should invest in an alarm or at the very least a dummy alarm box. Readers in Essex might be able to rent an Elf, e-mail for more details.
If you have a solution to this issue then please let me know at the usual address.
4. ASK MOLLY – HOW CAN I MAKE A PROFIT?
I have started looking for wholesalers, asking for prices, setting up a lot of accounts and when I receive the list of prices they are usually high.
For example a branded toaster purchased at £12 from the wholesaler and normally sold on eBay for £19. Which will give me only a profit of £1.50 considering shipping cost and packaging.
I have even seen wholesalers with prices pretty much the same as eBay so I wont be able to make any profit if I purchase from them.
Is this a normal profit that you can get from a wholesaler or should I keep looking for one with better prices?
It is all about choosing the right lines. The wholesale price is usually good but other sellers are already on the bandwagon and the big guys can sell in high volume and this small margin is enough for them.
For us mere mortals selecting the right item is key, especially in the beginning.
Cutting down on shipping costs is a big factor, selecting an item under one inch thick when packed allows the use of the Royal Mail 2nd class postal rate which is a lot cheaper. For larger items up to one kilo I use Hermes at £2.78, tracked and insured up to £25. It is also possible to pick up cheap stamps on eBay: £54 worth of 2nd class stamps will cost £34, so that may be a route to investigate.
In order to manage cash flow I would suggest a good spread of different lines, unless of course you can spot the next big thing before anybody else. The fastest moving lines are likely to have several sellers keeping prices low, which makes sales slower for you and I. A spread of items should result in more sales as you will appeal to different buying groups.
It is a balancing act between impulse buying more and considering turnover and cashflow. As an example, I spotted that B&Q were selling a medium range shower for £55. They were trending on eBay at £120, but how many to buy? I opted for 13, leaving many on the shelf, and dropped the price to £105 on eBay, undercutting all other sellers. After all costs this gives me a profit of £34. Five sold so far, but as other sellers catch on the price has dropped to £105 as they all match me. I can hold on or drop the price again and sell out and in time the price will return to £120 as the cheap ones are sold.
It may also be worth considering completely different lines. As you know from my books, I sell cosmetics, toys, DIY stuff, ladies’ bags and used ladies ‘fashion. Toys are better at Christmas so I am now building up inventory in advance, the DIY stuff sells all year, bags and clothes just after each payday, travel size creams in the holiday season and larger sizes/perfume as gifts again at Christmas. This spread keeps my sales reasonably constant throughout the year.
It really is a case of keep at it until the right item pops up. One assumes that sellers on eBay are making profits if they have the right mix of items, process and cost management.
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.
If you are into DIY then you may have spotted the recent clearance sale at B&Q. With up to 90% discount there had to be something in it worth trading on. Saturday was a busy day with a local garage sale in the morning followed by visits to no less than five B&Q stores in the afternoon.
Many miles and several coffees later the weary Elves unloaded the haul at HQ, including the showers mentioned above, which now looks like a miniature B&Q but without all the overheads – happy days.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook, available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
– NEWSLETTER ADMIN –
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