Topics in this issue:
- eBay 101 – Shops & links.
- The GSP is just so good.
- Only five months to go…
- Ask Molly: Should I wait?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
A small landmark for your bulletin team this week as we reach number 350. Who could have thought there would be so much to talk about over almost a decade. [Ed – Let's be honest, some topics have come up more than once.]
Still no sign of the Christmas rush at HQ, although toy sales are starting to pick up so all leave is cancelled and extra coffee on order.
In this week’s bulletin, more on the eBay ‘Global Shipping programme’ and a tale of woe concerning the current defect rate.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY 101 – SHOPS & LINKS
Molly is a big fan of the eBay shop. For a relatively small cost you can remove the burden of re-listing items manually, which is worth the fee on its own.
I already have one shop and sell a range of items, which can be grouped into 3 different types.
The question is – is it worth floating these off into other shops with an appropriate name?
If I do this, can I link the shops in some way, so repeat buyers know where to go? (In the nicest possible way of course!)
On the face of it this is a great idea and something that I am shortly to do myself. Some years ago I split my toys business away from cosmetics opening another shop, now the toy shop which is also used for DIY items has become too cumbersome so a DIY / Toy split is the way forward – after Christmas of course.
You can customise each shop towards your potential buyers with different links in the shop, categories and promotion boxes.
Each basic shop will cost you £17.38 per month but includes 200 inclusive listings saving 9p each. 193 listings will see your monthly subscription covered. As you have 467 items listed at the moment then assuming a basic shop you are using your full allowance.
The eBay links policy is a little confusing and quite complicated but they do say that you can have:
“Links to eBay Shop pages of other members (with their permission) on your Shop’s home page (up to 10 links) and on your Shop’s custom pages (unlimited links)”
I guess you would give yourself permission so that should be ok.
You are also permitted to include links in your listings to your other eBay items and although the rules do not specifically say if these items can be in another of your eBay shops, I would be surprised if eBay decided that this was not allowed.
Any thoughts on eBay shops? Please let me know at the usual address.
2. THE GSP IS JUST SO GOOD.
I agree with you about the GSP being worth using. After a couple of European sales had been delivered not working and wiped out my profits in postage costs it took more effort than it was worth to convince the courier company that hifi items could be damaged with negligible signs to the box.
Despite bad forum feedback about the GSP I then decided to ship outside the UK by GSP only and am now relieved I did.
A damaged technics pre and power amp were dumped on the doorstep in California in an open box without being signed for. If I had sent it I would have been liable for a £350 refund, repair cost and the cost of return postage.
eBay refunded the buyer and he kept the damaged item. The only downside was they blocked the buyer’s (positive) feedback.
I now only send ‘for parts or not working’ items by quoted international postage.”
If you send items to the eBay shipping centre and use a courier service there is no facility to add your tracking number onto the sales record as this space is reserved for the onward tracking number arranged by the GSP.
If you use Hermes to ship your item there is a place on the new website where you can enter the GSP client reference number but you will need to shorten the word ‘reference’ to ‘ref’ or the last letter of the country destination code will be missed off when printing and your item could end up anywhere.
3. ONLY FIVE MONTHS TO GO….
Until the cumbersome defect mechanism becomes history.
You asked for thoughts on the Defect rate. As someone who has just been stripped of the top seller rating because of my supposed defect rate being 2.54 I can say I’m not a great fan.
My defect rate seems to be made up of 0.36 % INAD 0.36% INR (actually both were INR but the customer logged an INAD case because she got a torn envelope with the item missing, but I digress). Both were pit tokens I no longer sell because it became obvious someone in the Post Office system was mistaking them for coins & pilfering the contents. In both cases I refunded immediately.
The rest is made up of 1.81% seller cancelled transactions, 5 in total.
The first was someone who bought an item via eBay’s Italian site then contacted me to say he’d made a mistake & didn’t want it (about 2 minutes later!).
The second was another pit token which was removed from the envelope that I refunded in full. Not sure why this shows as a seller cancelled transaction.
The last 3 relate to a multi-buy listing item that was on a buy 2 get 1 free offer. Unfortunately the buyer bought just a couple of hours after it had expired & the listing still referred to it. Because eBay don’t allow you to discount above the postage price the only way I could resolve it was to cancel the transactions & list them as 1 item with the 3 items priced at the cost of 2.
So this last transaction alone accounts for 3 of the 5 cancellations or nearly 1.10 % of my supposed defect rate of 2.54. As the maximum defect rate is 2% that more than anything else accounts for me losing TSR.
It seems to me that eBay are punishing me for providing good customer service, which is barmy.
I have 100% positive feedback of 453 with 5 stars but this means nothing any longer.
Losing TSR just as we’re about to go into the peak season is not what I would call helpful & of course will cost me money too as I’ll no longer qualify for a final discount fee. All for doing the right thing!”
Molly’ defect rates for interest only:
Cosmetics – 0.45%
Toys & DIY – 1.13%
Clothes – 1.70%
Misc – 0.82%
Things will change in February when the whole process gets overhauled. I think eBay have finally realised that it doesn’t work very well.
My defect rates are primarily ‘items not received’ requests which are either stolen or delayed items and always result in a refund or the item arriving later.
It is your seller cancellations that might be worth a closer look. eBay will count against you as follows:
“Anytime you cancel a transaction either on eBay or PayPal because the item is out of stock or you can’t complete the order for another reason.”
There is a second option when selecting a reason for cancellation:
“The buyer asked to cancel the order or there is an issue with the buyer’s address.”
I always use this option and have a zero ‘seller cancelled transactions’ defect rate.
4. ASK MOLLY – SHOULD I WAIT?
As a business seller I leave feedback as soon as the order has been dispatched, which was what I was advised by eBay when I first opened my business account.
I have noticed that fewer and fewer of my customers have been leaving any feedback. Would I be better waiting until my customers have left feedback for me?”
Feedback seems to have gone off the boil of late, I hardly ever check mine anymore. For many years now I have only given feedback when it has been left for me. I have of course automated this using ‘Selling Manager Pro’. Here’s the eBay blurb on SMP:
‘Selling Manager Pro’ can save you time by leaving Feedback for your buyers automatically. You can choose to leave a positive Feedback rating and use one of your stored comments either:
- When the buyer has paid for the item (PayPal payment received or you mark the item as paid), or
- When the buyer has paid for the item and left positive Feedback for you.
The SMP subscription is worth paying just for this facility.
eBay do send a feedback reminder after about a month but even with this around one-third of my buyers don’t leave feedback.
One of the big dangers in prompting buyers for feedback is not knowing what they will leave. After a month they may have forgotten your service level so they may mark 3 out of 5 stars because they are unsure. Not good for DSR ratings.
I would prefer not to have any more feedback at all rather than pick up poor scores.
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.
In the last bulletin I mentioned the return item which was under-stamped but as my return address was on the back I avoided the penalty fee.
This week an even more bizarre event occurred. A ‘penalty to pay’ notice arrived at HQ, the fee to pay was £3.80. This means that no stamps at all had been on the parcel (£2.80) plus the £1 fee, most odd.
Even my Elves put some stamps on so this was a mystery.
At the depot it turns out that the parcel was one I had sent by Hermes, I assume nobody was in and somehow it found its way into the Royal Mail system (with no stamps attached). Thankfully, and this is the moral of the story, I have recently taken to adding return labels to all parcels including those sent with Hermes, so it came back to HQ.
As before, I refused to pay the penalty fee and the parcel was handed over.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook, available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
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