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!
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.
Seller Manager Pro, en ebay listing tool has some serious errors after fixed price 30 and good til Canceled rolled out 2 weeks ago. Updating quantity and other changes to active templates are giving sellers error messages that prevent them from making adjustments to descriptions and quantity changes. Until they’re fixed, high velocity listings maybe effected after you go to relist the item as well.
My exact example is coming from an active FP30 featured listing. Yea, one of those you pay $118.00 to list! I had an auction that was about to run out of quantity and for the first time tried to add another couple of pieces since it still had 20 days to go and got the following error message.
Error: Please provide the correct information in the highlighted fields.
- Description – The description can no longer be revised.
The description hasn’t been changed but does now include a text box below your current HTML/Description. The only way around this is to add something to the description that will appear unprofessionally at the end of the active auctions and says something like “The Following was added to the description on XX/XX/XXXX “A great item!”. It’s actually been tough to come up with lines so I’ve been adding a “.” not to confuse buyers.
The next problem is updating the quantity. Again, you go into a product template to change the Quantity Available filed and when you click continue you get an error telling you:
Error: You must fill out the Return Policy Specifics
When you scroll down to the red text that highlights to problem, the return policy is filled out and an an un-editable field.
After calling the powerseller support line, we found out it’s a problem that has been called in a few times already. We checked different Internet browsers and they even logged in under our name and received the same two problems.
After going through a few dozen auctions and checking this out, the problem was defiantly coming from the changes in the return policy. In the last 3 months ebay has made 3 difference phases of Seller Manager Pro’s return policy fields.
- Phase 1- had only two text fields for Payment Instructions and Return Policy Details.
- Phase 2 – added in the amount of time a customer could return the item and the length of time.
- Phase 3- added the Return Shipping Cost – Is paid by Buyer/Seller.
If your template is recent in phase three, you shouldn’t experience any problems. If you are in phase one or two, you will get the error messages.
Ebay did agree they would refund some money back on listing fees for those listings that we wanted to change. If you’re running out of inventory, updating the quantity for a FP30 with 20 days left is an easy way to save two more relist attempts at $100+ per listing so it can be costly.
The third error I found (and I haven’t called in about this one) is some of our images are not showing up in the core results gallery image at all. I’ve checked our images and the templates say they’re uploaded and a preview of the listing in their software pulls it up just fine. I saw immediate dips in sales where the images didn’t show up and again these were a few FP30 Featured listings.
They should have this fixed soon and was told the developers were working on resolving the issues.
HOW TO FIX AND UPDATE TO PROBLEM!
I’ve been scrambling to find a solution and finally I found the answer. You wont be able to fix it on the front end, but you can correct current listings. For us, I’ve only noticed featured or multiple quantities listings being effected so I only had about 15 to changes. They were $100 listings so I didnt mind spending the time. If you have dozens or hundreds, it could take some time but at least for now you’re able to make the corrections
- Go to the sitemap located on ebay.com in the upper right hand corner
- Under Selling Activities , click “Change your Items Image Gallery Image”
- Type in the item number and click continue. You’ll get a screen that looks like this.
If the image gallery photo is correct in the upper portion, click “Create”. This will populate the below field with the correct photo and click submit. Check your auction in the core results and it should be fixed. It’s worked for me so far.
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.
I’ll have to say September 16th 2008 is defiantly a big event for ebay. With all the changes to fees, feedback and a “new and better” best match algorithm, 3rd party software providers have had their hands full with updating their platform to keep up with the marketplace.
Channeladvisor was right on top of things even though the changes didn’t go live till a little after midnight. Scot Wingo and his team were able to make the FP30 adjustment to all of their multiple platforms. He adds that it was even more difficult because their API wasn’t available till after the changes were post leaving little to no advanced preparation. However, CA users were able to wake up and drink their coffee without starting their morning as a typical “Case of the Monday’s”.
I had the pleasure of checking both turbo lister and auctiva and both had problems or had not made the changes at all. Seller Manager Pro did make have the updates but thats expected when they are owned and operated by ebay employees. Those who’s software was not updated could suffer a huge disadvantage if they are unable to gain “Velocity” with their listings from day 1. Just comes to show you when a company is serious about their customers. Ultimatly, Channeladvisor is funded by the success of their users and im sure their customers appreciate the hard work as well.