Everyone is trying to sell their items on line these days through a website or ebay. The big guys will always be there but a large percentage of sales are pushed by smaller companies that you compete with on one level or another. Ever wonder why your competitor has higher DSR stars or better feedback ratings than you? Occasionally, a good way to check your own operations or to get a feel for how other companies handle their post sales procedures can teach anyone a few shortcuts or cost savings ideas.
A few interesting points to check are:
- Checkout system – How easy? What processing method? Ease of selecting item specifics etc.
- Communication – What e-mails do you get when you checkout? Do they cross promotions with mailing lists and repeat customer tactics after after the purchase?
- Packing Materials – You may learn a few cost savings techniques in shipping supply reduction or alternatives, invoice information and paper marketing materials.
- Customer Service – Call up after you’ve received your item and even if all is well, test their customer service department with e-mails or phone calls. Test their returns and exchange procedures and length of time etc. Playing the unhappy customer has never been so fun!
Testing a few of these areas can help you find strengths and weaknesses in your own and others post sale transaction. Your routine might be comfortable, but with everything involved after the sale it can be easy to look past an improvement that can make a big difference when multiplied by all of your outgoing shipments.
I’ve been monitoring ebay stocks price pretty closely the past few months and for some reason I kept telling my self it gets much below $16.00 I would take a “gamble” and scoop some up. For some reason, it just seems like the right time. I’ve put some money in stocks before and have money in a Fidelity Roth IRA …but I would never consider my self even half way intelligent with stocks.
However, as a Titanium Powerseller and someone who has his hands in ebay for 12+ hours a day, I’m thinking this is a good call (for now).
- For starters, ebay’s stock has been doing poorly the last few months if not past few years down from $40 on it’s 52 week high. Could it really tank below $10 …my personal opinion is no.
- Obviously, ebays recent policy changes have had the market down and some sellers either adjusting or leaving the marketplace – most have made up their mind by now and things are starting to seem a bit more consistent. The vibe still hasn’t improved but sellers are implementing new strategies and at least not feeling like they’re playing as much of a guessing game with a bit of experience and testing of auctions in the past few weeks.
- Also, last week when the stock market plunged 700+ points ALL stocks were doing poorly; to the point that global markets were taken severe beatings! I considered ebays plunge last week due to economic factors …not necessary ebay’s marketplace.
- The 700+ Billion $ bail out has now been approved and a SMALL bit of hope is putting a bit of confidence into peoples heads and the market (or at least better than when they couldn’t come to a resolution). Please note the word SMALL.
- The Holiday season is approaching and we’ve had a few customers mentioning they’re buying our items for gifts for the Holidays. The summer was very slow this year but even in a semi-recession, you can expect lots more sales from the past few months.
With all of this being said, it seemed a bunch of external and internal factors have been hitting ebay hard all at one time. More importantly for my purchasing decision, as a “large” ebay seller and tax payer, I see ..again a SMALL light at the end of the tunnel at the least. Especially with an election a few months away …no matter who wins, people will feel a page is being turned for the better after the previous administration has left office. I feel ebay is a buy because some of the weights of the marketplace and economy have been lifted off ebays shoulders and I’m willing to buy a few shares to see if this is the case! Lets see what happens in the next few months! 🙂
There comes a time for every customer service department when a customer refuses to pay the return postage, even if it’s their fault! Unfortunately, this can cost you money but to save a negative feedback or the hassle of having them call and bother your crew can often times be well worth the $5.00 to have them ship it back. Likewise, the customer is more likely to send the item off right away instead of waiting at his conveyance to wait in line at the post office. Everyday that passes, the customer might still be e-mailing you threats or silly e-mails.
You will need an Endicia account and have their Dazzle software installed. Dazzle with Endicia does not necessary explain in layman’s terms how to email postage and it’s defiantly not an automated task with that works with your other software applications but it is possible. One reason USPS doesn’t really want you doing this is because the shipping post office is graded on a scale of 100 the on-time percentage of delivery for parcels and upgraded options. You might send someone a label via E-Mail on Monday, but your customer might not send it till Friday, causing the Post Master to feel a small deduction in his percentage if the process is repeated over and over.
Anyways, it’s pretty easy to do.
Step 1: You will need to download adobe reader and install the full version. You also need Dazzle from Endicia installed as stated above. This version doesn’t cost you a dime but might take in upwards of 10 minutes to download and install. Restart your PC. Doing so will allow your computer to set adobe as a valid “printer” when you go to print postage and is necessary in the below steps.
Step 2: After you’ve installed, open up Endicia Dazzle software and the layout that you wish to send return postage etc with.
Step 3: Fill out the address and return address accordingly. Usually I type our company name in both the return address section and the mailing address section. We can usually be accurate with the weight, but if it’s not, USPS might return it to the return address and the postage is wasted and still needs to be sent out. When you put your address in both of these fields, if for some reason something goes wrong, USPS has no option but to “return to sender” and it will eventually make it back to your facility/home.
(When you double click on the senders address a menu comes up. Here you highlight the entire address, press CTR-C and it will auto populate the shipping address. USPS has no option but to send it back to you even if the party you’re emailing over packs for the next earthquake)
Step 4: When you have the label, weight (adjusted by double clicking on the postage section on the label) and method, you’re ready to export to PDF file so you can email the file. You will need to set up the postage to print to PDF Adobe Reader. Click on FILE>Printer Setup> and change the default from your thermal/laser/inkjet printer to AdobePDF Creator. Select this option in printer drop down menu and click ok.
Step 5: Time to “print”. Click on the print Icon in the upper left of the application and it should open adobe, create the file automatically and then (for me at least) opens up Outlook with the file already attached. I enter in the customers email and a quick message and you’re done! EASY!
Remember to remind them to send it out ASAP so you don’t get a call from your Post Master or it gets delayed. Faxing labels doesn’t work because it throws the bar code off and 3D scan postage at the top off and cant be used by USPS. Very rarely, faxing a copy might make it’s way to the lost and found never to be seen again. Also remember to change your layout back to your default!
Making money on craigslist is actually alot easier than you think. Obviously, the site is filled with spammers, advertisers and affiliate programs that are going to be flagged and removed before you know it. However, If you’re able to copy and paste relatively fast (easy) and can do some basic ebay research, you should be able to pull in a few hundred dollars a week in your spare time without violating craigslist terms of service.
This method is pretty guaranteed and constant and it really takes advantage of the weekend warrior who needs cash for a night out on town or to pay that past due bill and prevent their cell phone or other utility from being shut off.
This Craigslist Article Received so many hits over the last 4 years, that I decided to remove it from this blog and post on my official blog. Please follow this link for this popular article and many other related eBay and Craigslist money making tips on everythingauctionpro.com . Thank you and let’s make some money!
Sellers might want to adjust many of their automation rules or listing strategies on ebay with the new policy changes. Previously, listing management software based alot of their automation rules around times to list. Now that best match doesn’t take this into consideration, getting a listing up as soon as the previous one ends will increase your exposure time.
Example: Before if product A sold best at 7pm EST on Sundays you set a 7 day auction to start and end at this time. If the product sold out or was bought before then using BIN or Best Offer, your rules would relist the item at a popular time or date that you specify. Sometimes the listing might not relist for a few hours or days depending on how you set that one up. Best match isnt sorting by time ending soonest and is in fact hiding it from the search results. Changes to make automation rules relist as soon as the listing ends or to always keep one listing active will now need to be updated to listings. You could miss out on hours or days of exposure till your old rules relist (which seem to be the norm). I’ve found when you list your product is having less and less to deal with success ratios unless they’re auction style, that I try to submit the listing as soon as i’m done with it. This can also save those that are paying scheduled listing fees 10 cents per listing now as well.
Going back to my roots in college, I had a part time job in a regional ebay consignment chain called ShipOnSite. I was really excited when I got the job, even with the hourly rate of $8/hour. During the early part of this decade, these chains even rated very high in reputable commerce directories for “best franchise opportunities”. Today, much has changed and the business model is suffering big time due to the economy and changes in the marketplace. While some are still successful, it takes a very good manager and the right demographics for one of these chains to succeed these days.
This eBay Franchise Article Received a lot of traffic, comments and questions over the last few years. I’ve moved this blog post over to my new site with many other eBay business articles. Please follow this link to read the rest of this eBay Consignment Store article and other related business posts. Thank you, and let’s make some money!
There’s one thing ebay rules are changing for the better these days. Companies who give great customer service, have great DSR stars and have above average feedback scores will be greatly rewarded with discounts coming in mid October 2008. What does this mean for those who qualify? HUGE discounts (double) in FAV fees that can help your bottom line!
First of all, for those who are so upset with the policy changes this year should really reconsider their operations. Many are saying that reaching 15%-20% off is close to impossible and I was one of them. We are in a cut throat category with lots of competition dealing with used, refurbished and new electronics. Things happen with electronics and you can even experience a 5% defect rate buying directly from manufactures with brand new items. Currently we qualify for 15% off and our DSR stars are rising to where 20% off is not an impossible reality.
Starting October 14th, Ebay will give double your FAV discount located in your seller dashboard for those who offer free shipping on their items. For those with 5%-%20, this can mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars in savings per month off your bill.
Example: Previous to ebays fee structure change, we were spending $2.50 to list a single item that was $39.99 with some listing upgrades and paying $3.80 for each item that sold totaling $6.30 per item that sold. Now ebay has given us a free gallery image and a free subtitle (with free shipping) reducing this cost by about $.75 cents.
Now, the FAV fee without any discounts is $6.60! That’s a HUGE increase from $3.80. But take into consideration that the insertion fee is now only 35 cents, reducing the front end fee by $2.15 cents per item. With a 15% discount, doubling this so 30% because we offer free shipping on the item, we will only pay $4.62 cents per successful listing saving $1.68 per item from their fee structure before the increase and discounts were announced. Times this by 10 per day and 30 days per month, this one specific line item will save us $504 per month. Now times this by your top 10 line items and you’re sure to save thousands a month, only paying for successful auction with the ebays new successful based pricing tiers.
My take on Ebay’s move: It’s very simple. They want to separate GREAT sellers from average and below average sellers. The thing is, even those who “boycot” ebay or are leaving really make little to no impact on ebays bottom line in most categories.
Example: We monitored a close competitor that was selling the same item as we were. His feedback was 98.2% and was obviously paying squaretrade $10 per negative feedback to be removed. When ebay made the feedback changes, he dropped below 98% (went down to 97.2%) and lost his powerseller status and 2 months later was NARU. (No Longer a Registered User). Does ebay miss his sales? Not really, our sales almost doubled on this item because the buyers were still there! The new rules simply made it harder for someone who did not take care of their customers shut down and threw the sales to someone who did resulting in nearly identical sales being purchased, just spread across fewer sellers.
Also, because the sales are shifting towards a company who offers customer support, longer warranty periods, faster shipping and a great product etc …the buyer will be more likely to revisit ebay because of the buying experience that they had, and hopefully be a return customer of the seller who offered them a prestine buying experience.
Conclusion: It will probably take several months into 09′, but ebay is moving towards Amazonification where just not everyone is allowed to sell on ebay. Those top merchants will be rewarded with search standard exposure rates in the core, double discounts in fees and repeat/more buyers for those with the total buying experience. When someone gets ripped off or even encounters a simple error in their buying experience they hold ebay accountable not the seller. They flock off the ebay to buy elsewhere resulting in less sales potential for legit sellers and then no one gets the sale.
Tip: Take care of your customers. Phone support, email support, clearly stating your return policy and abide by it 100% if there’s a problem. Get your DSR stars, feedback etc up NOW because those who have done this even before the changes are reaping the benefits in success ratios and increases in sales.
I was a bit unsure about the differences between Fixed Price 30 and Good Til’ Canceled and how it would effect velocity with your listings so I decided to shoot a call to the powerseller hot-line. In a brief summary, the differences are both obvious but can drastically change velocity and rankings within ebay’s core search results.
Going through some seller searches, it’s very definite that listing research tools (hammertap and terapeak) have some serious tweaking to do with their software platforms before we can consider them serious tools after ebay’s policy changes this year. Research on seller competitors and reports have stats way off and not even close to a ball-park figure.
One main reason people use these research tools is their ability to look up recent trends within the past week or month on how a certain product has performed and tracking competitors sells to find new products and trends to take the guess work out of listings to reduce listing fees and guesstimate success ratios. Let’s take a look.
What I found: For starters, they’ve been unable to update 30 day listings formats in any of their stats. As many ebay sellers start to pump their auction out with Fixed Price 30, having these stats to make better decisions is a great way to take a lot of the guess work out. As you can see below, weeks after the new updates, FP 30 items are neither listed as a listing type or duration making many sellers who’s product fall under this category useless for research.
Falling along this same idea, trends change so fast on ebay in a 7-30 day period, that completed auctions can no longer be a standard for research data. Most sellers want to know what’s sold or is selling within the past few days or weeks, not over months and months of data.
If I wanted to do a search for “Unlocked Motorola V3 Phones” …using this tool I am only going to see finished auctions and BIN items that were successful/unsuccessful. But when I do a search (not under completed and on current items) I see dozens of fixed price 30 auctions up and selling WELL.
With the current programming, Terapeak and Hammertap will HAVE to implement some type of current listing data to flow into completed auction data. Until a 30 day listing ends, (which is way to long to grab real time data in E-Commerce for current trends), sellers will be unable to really get a feel of how their items might sell with post-sales data.
Ex: I see an auction for Motorola F3 Unlocked Cell Phone up that is a featured FP30 listing. Under purchases, it’s sold 350 phones in the past 10 days and still has 20 days left. Terapeak isn’t going to take those 350 phones into consideration till the auction ends in 20 more days. Two other sellers have similar auctions up accounting for over 700 purchases on FP30 with at least 15-20 days left before they end. Only 1900 of these phones sell per month leaving about 30% of sales data out of the equation and taking. Even more importantly, neglecting the MOST RECENT sales data. By the time these end, prices can easily change in the cell phone category leaving sellers with unreliable up-to-date research data.
Competitor research is also completely off. After researching our user names sales in the past 7 days, this is the screen shot that I get.
These number are completely off. Our inventory system gives us very accurate reports on weekly/daily sales and we actually averaged about $18,000/day this week and by tomorrow will have done about $80,000 in gross sales. Again, terapeak is taking ONLY completed auctions into consideration and is unreliable because the tool won’t current (not yet ended) FP30 auctions into their equation.
We also averaged 380 packages per 24 hour period this week, taking reliable reports from shipworks. Terapeak is saying we only sold 973 pieces.
Conclusion: I think they’ll eventually change this but have to really think hard on how to merge completed auction and current sales data and even more importantly, represent it in a way that benefits their customers. Also thinking about the options the users will have to graphically or numerically represent data around these new issues is sure to be a large task in their R&D departments.
For others, research might not be as off. It all depends on the category and nature of products being sold as many categories will not be selling in FP30 because it doesn’t make any sense. Other categories such as consumer electronics, DVD’s, CD’s etc are sure to feel this effect.
Tip: All sellers should do a basic search from the main page of ebay.com to check current FP30 auctions. Check their success, prices, keywords etc as these research tools will not have accurate data till after 30 days (if they make the update by then)
I was pretty surprised by this video. I will admit, Ebay Live Chicago 2008 did seem a bit dead this year. I also noticed vendors brought less employees from the past. Networking is usually a great part of Ebay Live but this years attendance numbers were so low this was very hard. Check out this short clip from a top view of how dead the traffic was! I will say, this was taken at the end of the day when things were winding down and when lots of the seminars were being given but the traffic wasn’t much larger during the peak hours.