By Kate Hornsby | October 23, 2014
I have to admit that there are times when see an eBay auction and I either think “now…why didn’t I think of that?” or “I like the way you think!”
Over the past two days I’ve seen two of those kind of “out there” eBay listings and although I often think these kind of auctions qualify as a case of “buyer beware”, I have to admit there is a certain kind of ingenuity about what these people have come up with to try to sell.
First, we have a woman over on the other side of the pond (U.K.) who decided to list her imaginary friend named Bernard on eBay. On her listing, the woman claimed that her psychiatrist told her that she needed to get rid of Bernard, so she decided to list him on eBay. She stated in the listing that Bernard became her friend during a period of time when she was emotionally unstable.
She even offered free shipping for Bernard, although I’m not quite sure how that would have worked. Would Bernard have arrived in an envelope or a box? Maybe she would have just wished him over to the buyer and told the buyer that he had been shipped and had arrived?
Regardless, of the plan on that one — we will never know the fate of Bernard because eBay pulled the listing. Apparently, eBay has a policy about selling intangible items that was put in place after a man tried to sell a ghost in bottle on the site back in 2010. At the time, they said they understood the man’s intent, but it was still a no-go.
The other eBay listing to catch my eye this week is one where the father is auctioning off his son’s allegiance to a sports team in Manchester. (Note both of these auctions this week are from the UK!) Depending on the way the auction goes – his son will either be attending matches at Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium. The neat part about this one is that the father will donate the money the auction raises to a charity group called Bliss. The charity works to assist families with premature and sick babies. You can read more about the auction here.
By Kate Hornsby | October 22, 2014
If you’re looking for things to sell on eBay, you may not have to look any further than your own backyard. Believe it or not, there are plenty of items in nature that you can sell and you probably see them on a daily basis while taking them for granted.
In some cases, they may even be the bane of your backyard’s existence and something you would really like to get rid of! And yet, crafters are willing to pay top dollar for these items because they can’t find them in their area. The best part is, these items aren’t only just outside your door, they are free and usually yours for the taking.
Sweet gum balls – As their name describes, these round seed pods look a lot like gum balls. If — gum balls had porcupine quills that is. Light to dark brown in color, these spiky balls are an annoyance to many homeowners and painful if stepped on. However, crafters love them for making wreaths and fall or winter decorations. It’s usually best to gather them right after they fall off the tree so they will still be fresh. Remember, the more you can collect – the better the price, so you’ll want to collect 50 or more of them before you list any for sale.
Pine cones – You may be thinking that pine cones are everywhere, so why would anyone want to pay money for them, but that’s actually not the case. Even if they are fairly common, there are many different types and more importantly — many different sizes. I once found a tree near my home that produced huge pine cones. I not only had a lot of fun decorating with them around Christmas time, but my mother made decorative birdhouses out of them using cardboard and a glue gun.
Driftwood – Okay, this one might not be just outside your backdoor unless you live right on the ocean, but if you live near the beach, chances are that you have access to driftwood. Crafters like to do all kinds of things with driftwood and the more unusual the piece is, the more you will find you can get for it. If you’re not near the ocean, but have access to a wooded area – you might also have luck selling old limbs that come from fallen branches or trees.
Acorns — The great thing about acorns is that you can usually find a bunch of them at one time, so try to pick up as many as you can. Although a lot of people like for them to have on their “caps” – crafters will buy acorns without them and will also buy just the caps by themselves too.
Have you ever sold an items that you found in nature? Leave your comments below.
Image courtesy of [Michelle Meiklejohn] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kat Simpson | October 22, 2014
By Kate Hornsby | October 16, 2014
The pumpkins for Halloween may not have been carved yet, but believe it or not, the holiday season is already upon us. In fact, if you haven’t started your holiday planning, then you’re actually running behind.
According to a survey by Experian merchant services, 70-percent of businesses were starting their holiday season planning as far back as August. Their survey even showed that some businesses even started planning earlier than that and began their holiday planning all the way back in June!
If you’re a procrastinator like a lot of sellers, however, all hope is not lost. There’s still time to get that planning done, but you better get started.
Set your holiday goals
Whether you want to have a certain number of items listed by a certain date or you want to see a certain percent increase in sales over your previous year, setting a goal for your holiday sales not only helps you keep your business on track, but also gives you a way to measure whether your marketing efforts have been effective or not.
Order your shipping supplies
Tape, peanuts, bubblewrap, and boxes. Now is the time to check your shipping inventory to see what you’re running low on. If you generally use the post office to ship your packages, go ahead and order in some of their free shipping boxes. Keep in mind that it can take a while for your boxes to arrive once you order them, so the sooner you do this — the better.
To free ship or not to free ship?
Thanks to Amazon and their Amazon Prime, there’s a lot of pressure to offer free shipping especially around the holidays. While it may not be cost-effective to offer free shipping on every item you sell, offering it on a few items or if the buyer makes multiple purchases can help meet buyer expectations. If nothing else, you could choose to offer free shipping on December 18, which is known as “Free Shipping Day” and then promote this in your email and social media marketing.
Plan those specials
Finally, most sellers know to offer special deals on certain days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you can keep those sales rolling in by planning other deals throughout the holiday season. As an example, you could offer sale items at the beginning of November to catch those early shoppers and offer another sale as it gets closer to Christmas to pick up some of those last-minute holiday stragglers.
By Kate Hornsby | October 15, 2014
If you were buying or selling on Amazon during the holidays last year, you may remember a shipping glitch that made some holiday packages arrive late last December. And in late, I’m referring to the fact that they actually didn’t make it until after Christmas, so in some cases Santa came up a little short in the gift department.
Well, this week, Amazon sent out an email to sellers who are considered “third-party merchants” or rather, sellers who do not participate in the FBA program to let them know of a policy change that is scheduled for November 13, 2014. The email, which had the somewhat ominous title “Upcoming Changes to Shipping Options on Amazon” in the subject line announced that Amazon will have stricter shipping requirements for non-FBA sellers starting next month.
While part of the change seems reasonable, such as the requirement for sellers to use USPS, UPS, OnTrac or Fed-Ex if they wish to offer 2-day shipping as one of their shipping options, the biggest change is one that some sellers may not be too happy with.
That change states that in order to ensure that buyers receive their packages in a timely manner, Amazon won’t allow non-FBA sellers to use the 1-day shipping option. The other change, which may raise some concern (or not) is that if you want to use the 2-day shipping option your defect rates must be less than 0.05-percent. At the moment, the policy simply says that the defect rate must be less than 1-percent.
Although the 2-day shipping option rule and the change of policy for the defect rate doesn’t seem like all that big of a deal, one can’t help but wonder how the inability to use 1-day shipping will affect sellers who prefer to sell from home. Will buyers automatically choose the faster shipping option or will one more day for shipping not really matter if you have what they want and the price is right?
What are your thoughts about this latest policy change? Will this change affect sales for non-FBA sellers or is this just a small bump on the road to the holiday season? Leave your comments below.
Image courtesy of [Master isolated Images]FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kate Hornsby | October 10, 2014
If you’re like most online business owners, you are always looking for ways to improve your business. While a good business strategy is certainly fundamental for long-term success, there are also some things you can start doing right now in the short-term that can help that bottom line.
Here’s three ways to improve your online business.
Out with the old and in with the new
Do you have a lot of items in your store that seem to have been around forever and just aren’t moving? Slow moving merchandise not only reduces your cash flow, it can also slow down the growth of your business. Take a good look at your inventory. If you have items that have been sitting in your store for six months or longer, it may be a good idea to think about reducing the price and having a closeout or clearance sale.
In the alternative, you may want to consider trying a different site to list them on. As an example, if the item has been for sale on eBay, try listing it on Amazon, eCrater or even your own website.
Consider free shipping
As Amazon has demonstrated over the last few years with their Amazon Prime option, buyers really just don’t want to pay for shipping. It may not be cost effective for every item you sell, but free shipping is something you really need to consider.
While most marketplaces don’t allow you to set specific options for free shipping, if you sell through your own website you could always offer free shipping if the buyer purchases a specific dollar amount or amount of items. Keep in mind, however, that free shipping does cut into your profit margin, so when possible try to add all or at least part of the shipping cost into your purchase price.
Make yourself accessible
Although a lot of sellers are uneasy about providing their phone number for buyers to call them, it really can help improve conversion rates (sell-through) if the customer knows they can easily contact you if they have a question. Consider using an phone option like Google Voice, which provides a phone number for buyers to call and then connects that number to all your phones. It not only provides you with voice mail, but when someone call yous — U.S. long distance calls are free.
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kate Hornsby | October 9, 2014
If you’re like most eBay sellers, you’ve probably had an item that you listed that just sat and sat. You could almost see the virtual cobwebs covering the item as you waited for it to sell. After a period of time, you probably lowered the price and then lowered it some more. Still, it just continued to sit there. You might have even commented that you couldn’t give it away for free.
Yep, I’ve done it. I’ve even had an item or two that I listed below what I paid for it just so I could get it out the door and it still just sat there.
What I didn’t know at the time, however, is that lowering the price on an item isn’t always the way to go if you want it to sell. In fact, a lot of the time setting the price too low can actually backfire on you.
You see, sometimes lowering the price of an item can actually make people shy away from a product. They may begin to think that the quality of the product isn’t as good or something is wrong with it. In some cases, it may also have a negative affect where people will hold out from buying it because they think that if they wait a little longer you will lower it some more. Which you do…because no one has bought it.
Instead, try a little experiment and raise the price on the item. Yes, you read that right. Go UP on the price. You see, buyers often have the mindset that you get what you pay for. Although some buyers will go after the lowest priced item, there are plenty of buyers out there that will pay more for the exact same thing simply because in their mind the one that has the lower price must be one of lesser value.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. From experience I have found that if you’re using the auction feature on eBay, it’s often helpful to set it just below what you really want to sell the item for instead of going higher or try it one time at the higher price and then go just below what you really want if the item doesn’t sell on the first go around.
Although some sellers I know even set the starting price for an at something ridiculous, such as .99 or .01. I don’t usually recommend that because at some point, you will end up with only one bid and it’s a sickening feeling to have to sell an item for .99 when you know it’s worth 500 or 600 times that. For me, $9.99 is usually the lowest I’ll go for running an auction or $6.99 if it’s been around a while and I just want to get it out the door.
Keep in mind, I’m talking about running auctions when you don’t actually have a store. If you do have a store, I suggest trying the auction and then if you still have the item, try the higher price in the store and see if anything happens. You can, after all, always go back and lower the price if you’ve shot for the moon and the stars, but went just a little bit too high.
By Kat Simpson | October 9, 2014
By Richelle Parham, CMO, eBay North America
I am thrilled to announce today the launch of eBay’s global brand campaign, “Shop the World,” illustrating how the moments of inspiration that surround us every day can be instantly shoppable on eBay. The campaign brings to life the company’s unique position in commerce: eBay’s unmatched selection of 800 million listings paired with eBay’s multiscreen technology means people can instantly shop the world’s inspiration – anytime, anywhere.
Designed to put eBay top-of-mind with consumers during the most important time of the year for commerce – the holiday season – this campaign is a celebration of our community of global sellers and an invitation to shoppers everywhere to act on your inspiration. I hope that it inspires the entire eBay community as much as it has inspired me.
Some will begin to see our campaign on TV and online next Monday, October 13th. It will continue to roll out across the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Germany in the coming weeks, with more markets to come in 2015. The campaign was created in partnership with Goodby Silverstein & Partners and shows how any and every moment that inspires you – from rock concerts to street artists, classic films to marathons – can be yours on eBay.
The campaign launches in conjunction with themed collections of shoppable inventory on eBay.com. We also invite you to visit our social channels – Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.
eBay understands that the way people shop has changed. People want to buy whatever inspires them: anytime, anywhere. As one of the world’s largest marketplaces with over 800 million listings from a diverse community of global sellers – from individuals to small and medium-sized businesses to beloved brands – we offer incredible inventory: more than 80% of sold items are new; and 78% of Gross Merchandise Volume is fixed price (Buy It Now).
The campaign coincides with the release of Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands” report in which eBay is named the #28 most valuable global brand. eBay is not only one of the world’s most recognizable brands, but a rapidly evolving company and global commerce leader. “Shop the World” showcases eBay today, a modern, trusted marketplace – true to its roots of connecting a global community of buyers and sellers, while continuously innovating to shape the future of shopping.
We invite you to view the anthem here, and hope this campaign inspires you to shop the world.
By Kate Hornsby | October 3, 2014
Although the constant changes at eBay and Amazon may sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, they do offer online sellers at least a little bit of protection against unsavory buyers. When you strike out on your own, however, the only one protecting you from buyers who are trying to pull a fast one — is you.
While some scams are easy to recognize, there are some scammers out there who know how to push all the right buttons. Here are some things to watch out for:
Orders that seem too good to be true. You may be thinking “ka-ching” if a buyer contacts you and says that they want to order a 100 pairs of socks, but take a moment to think about it before you process the order
Although there may be some legitimate reasons out there for a buyer to purchase a large quantity of something, most buyers would probably turn to a wholesale company if they needed to buy hundreds or thousands of a similar item. If the item is is something that is highly resalable and hard to trace, you are probably dealing with someone who is trying to scam you.
The buyers asks you to use a third-party to ship their item. It’s not uncommon for someone to ask you to ship their item through the post office instead of using UPS, if they only have a p.o. box, but beware of the buyer who asks you to use a shipping service that you’ve never heard of before. Not only do you run the risk of them saying the item never reached their destination, but the “shipping company” may actually be part of the scam too.
This type of scam usually involves the buyer saying that you should pay the shipping costs to the company they have selected and they will handle the insurance, duties and other expenses that you might normally would have. There is also usually a request for you to ship the items to a foreign destination. It will all initially sound great to you because in your mind you are saving money, but at the end of the day — you’ll probably not only be out the money you thought you saved, but out the money for the items and shipping costs too.
The grammar and punctuation used in the email you receive is just way off. Strangely, it’s not just the ecommerce industry that receives these odd little emails. I’ve received them in the past when I owned a pet sitting business.
The emails start off friendly enough and usually asks a question about an item or a service you provide. It all sounds good, but the language is a little off (maybe a bit too proper) and words are often misspelled. No big deal there, you think…after all, we all know people that just aren’t that great at writing emails…but…and this is where you need to pay attention…these emails are a little vague at first about what they want, but they are really quick to tell you that they want a large amount (or want to use your service for a long time) of whatever it is that you sell.
In some cases, they may offer to send you a money order. Strangely, if you agree to this you will find that when the money order arrives that it’s for a higher amount than what you agreed on. The buyer will then ask you to send the overage back since they were unaware you made a mistake. By the time the whole thing is over, you will discover that the money order is fake and you’re not only out the money for the items, but you sent even more money to them too.
As you can see, these scams are easy to fall for if you’re not watching for them, so if something even seems remotely off, it’s always best to take a step back and think about it before you agree to the deal. Also, keep in mind that these types of scams usually go out to sellers everywhere, so if you mention the emails on a ecommerce board, there is usually a good chance that someone on there has received the exact same email or one similar to it.
Have you ever received one of these emails or had an experience with a scammer? Leave a comment below.
By Kate Hornsby | October 1, 2014
Apparently, all the rumors you heard were true. Yesterday, eBay announced that they will indeed spin off PayPal and make it a separate entity. As I mentioned after the rumors began spreading back in August, this is an extreme about face for eBay’s CEO John Donahoe, who was initially strongly against the idea. His comments when he was first questioned about it were that PayPal was essential to eBay’s business and that a split didn’t make good business sense.
Now, the official announcement on eBay’s website is that there will indeed be a spin off and it will occur sometime before the end of 2015 (the announcement says it will take about 12 months to finalize all of it). Apparently, Donahoe and CFO Bob Swan will oversee both companies during the separation and then plan to serve on the board for both companies as well.
Meanwhile, eBay is getting a new CEO as Devin Wenig takes the helm after the split, while Dan Schulman will become the new President of PayPal. Actually, as of yesterday, that part about Schuman has already happened. He will then move up and become the new CEO after PayPal becomes its own company.
Although this move sounds like a good idea for PayPal, sellers at eBay aren’t quite as convinced that it’s the best thing for the online marketplace. In fact, if you check in on several of the Facebook pages that are devoted to selling on eBay, quite a few sellers are speculating that eBay has started circling the drain. Whether it has or not, the general consensus seems to be to ride it out through the holiday season and then start looking for other venues to sell on (if you’re not already).
While no one knows for sure how all of this is going to play out, if you look at how investors are viewing it, it really is a scary thing. EBay shares dipped after the news came out. Most investors think the move is good for PayPal because they can pair up with the competition and places like the Alibaba Group or even perhaps Amazon. They aren’t as favorable about the spin off, however, when it comes to eBay. In fact, Moody’s (Investor Services) actually downgraded eBay saying they felt that without PayPal the online marketplace will have weaker credit making it a bigger investment risk.
What’s your opinion of the spin off? Do you believe it’s the beginning of the end for eBay or a fresh new beginning? Leave your comments below.