How to make your eBay items gift ready for the holidays

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Although the official start of fall isn’t until September 22, many people consider the unofficial end of summer to have “officially” started this week. For many sellers, the day after Labor Day not only means summertime is over, but that it’s also time to kick-start the holiday season (even if it is a month or two early to be getting out those winter coats).

So, what is one of the first steps for getting ready for the holiday season? Getting your eBay items “gift ready” for the holidays. In other words, there are some things you can do to make the items you already have in your store more giftable. Let’s take a look how.

Tweak your keywords

First, take a good look at the titles of your listings. Are there ways to incorporate keywords that could make the item a better fit for the holiday season? As an example, if a whimsical coffee mug would make a good co-worker gift, you can add “co-worker gift” or “Secret Santa.” Think about who the buyer could be purchasing your item for. Add details to your listing that can help make the item seem more personal, so that it is attractive as a gift for a close friend or family member.

Consider pricing

Think about the people in your life. How much would you spend for a gift for your son’s teacher, a coworker, or a brother or sister? Setting prices within the $10 to $25 range can make them more appealing as gifts for office parties or a white elephant gift exchange, since presents for these types of get-togethers normally have a price cap. Also organizing items by price can help buyers quickly find gifts that are within their budgets.

Sell gift sets

Many buyers like gift sets because it takes some of the pressure off them when they are gift shopping. As an example, if you sell products such as homemade soap and hand creams, you could sell some of the more similar items together. Not only are buyers more likely to get them since it’s a complete gift, you can also often get a higher price by selling a set than if the person was buying just a single item from you.

Create a seasonal theme for your store

Okay, it might be a little early to bring out the snowflakes and dancing snowman, but adding a holiday theme to your photos as you bring in more inventory can save you time when the holidays draw near. For instance, you might show a necklace in a gift box or draped over a Christmas stocking, so that buyers can envision how the item will look when the recipient opens it (however, make sure to let buyers know that the stocking and/or box are not included though unless you are providing them as part of your holiday marketing!).

Are you preparing for the holiday rush? Leave a comment below.

EBay 2016 Fall Updates – What You Need to Know

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It’s that time of year again. Time for the dreaded eBay Fall Seller Update. Although it will take a while for everything to shake out, it appears that once again eBay is moving closer and closer to trying to be the next Amazon and as always, the question is how it’s all going to affect eBay sellers.

Here’s the latest:

Seller Performance Standards : Some good news here. EBay is going to give more time to sellers who have fallen below the required performance standards. This means that instead of a suspension or showing you to the door, you will have 3 months to improve your transactions. As long as each month is better than the previous, they will continue to work with you.

Structured Data: In another, “do as monkey do” move, eBay is pushing for newly created listings to have at least one type of product identifier. They say that you will no longer have the option of using NA or “Does not Apply.” Some categories will continue to be exempt, however, so there is still hope for those selling vintage and other one-of-a-kind items that normally wouldn’t have any type of coding for you to use even if you wanted to.

Phase out for Active Content: In a nutshell, if you have been using a company that does custom HTML for your store, eBay will not longer allow it. As of June 2017, this means no more JavaScript, plug-ins, Flash, or form actions will be allowed in listings. (So long Auctiva and InkFrog???)

Turbo Lister going bye-bye: This one isn’t exactly new news, since eBay had already announced plans to move sellers over to a new Seller Hub, but there are some final dates set now. As of June 2017, eBay will no longer support Turbo Lister and in the spring it will no longer support Selling Manager or Seller Manager Pro. They are emphasizing though that this new shiny Seller Hub is free to use, and you can get optional additional features for $15.99 a month. (Free to Premium or Anchor Store subscriptions)

Shipping and Returns: eBay states that they are making it easier for sellers when it comes to offering replacements and exchanges. As of October, sellers can automate the process, or will have the ability to offer replacements and exchanges whenever a return request is started, even if the seller didn’t set this feature up when they initially created the listing.

New categories and classifications: No surprise here as this seems to happen ever so often anyway. EBay states that the new and revised categories will arrive this October.

What do you think of the Fall Updates for eBay? Leave a comment below.

EBay offers Stockpile gift cards on marketplace

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Take a look at some of the listings on eBay and you’ll see all kind of gift cards for sale. WalMart, StarBucks and even eBay gift cards themselves. This week, however, eBay charted some new territory by carrying a different type of eBay gift card, one that allows the gift card holder the ability to buy shares of stock in the company itself.

According to eBay, the company has joined forces with another company known as Stockpile to sell digital gift cards for buying stock. The gift cards are similar to other gift cards in that buyers can purchase the cards in varying dollar amounts, but instead of using the cards to buy items such as clothing or food when dining out, recipients of the gift cards actually use the cards to purchase shares of eBay stock.

At the moment, a buyer can buy a $25 gift card for eBay stock for $29.95 or a $50 gift card for $56.95. The person they gift the card to, then goes to Stockpile and buys the eBay shares for the amount of the gift card.

It is important to note that Stockpile works a little differently than most stock trading companies. You don’t have to buy a whole share, the gift cards can be used to buy a fraction of a share instead. As an example, an eBay share is currently trading at $31.05 (aggregate). This means that if you used the $25 gift card, you wouldn’t get quite a full share, but if you used the $50 gift card, you would then own a share and a little bit more of another share. The shares then would become worth more or less as the stock price goes up and down and would be sold the same as any other type of stock.

Although eBay is focusing on its own gift cards, a visit to Stockpile’s website revealed that the company has a whole lot of gift cards that can be purchased in the same way. In fact, the company plans to have the gift cards in 14,000 stores by the end of the year. They are betting that the gift cards will be popular as Christmas gifts given by adults to children, in a way similar to how grandparents use to give their grandkids savings bonds back when savings bonds were more popular.

Will you be giving eBay gift cards for stock shares as Christmas gifts this year? Leave a comment below.

How to operate your eBay store on a shoestring budget

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Although the old saying “you’ve got to spend money to make money” is true, sometimes life happens and you just got to do what you got to do to keep on going. Whether you are just getting started or sales have been slow and you need to save money for inventory, here’s four tips that can help.

Tip #1 Boxes

Use free boxes from the post office or recycle old boxes. If you typically sell a lot of the same sized items or items that will fit into normal sized boxes, then you can save a ton of money by getting free boxes from you local post office. In fact, they will even ship them right to your door! The only problem is that when you use boxes from the post office, the item has to go either through Priority mail or Express Mail.

If your item is going by Media Mail or another way you can’t use the post office boxes, but you can use recycled. Depending on the size you need, grocery stores or local retailers are a great place to score free boxes and often come in a variety of sizes. Pay attention to the weight of the box, however, since if the box is made with double or thick cardboard it can add weight to the package and make your shipping costs go up. As an example, many wine boxes are made this way to keep the wine safe while it is in transit.

Tip #2 Packing material

Just as you can find free boxes, you can also find free packing material. Freecycle is often a great way to get packing peanuts for just the price of the gas in your car that it takes to go pick them up. You can also reuse the materials that arrive in packages from places that you order. As an example, keep and then reuse those air pillows that many companies use to keep items from touching the sides of a box.

Tip #3 Sourcing inventory from Freecycle

Although some members of Freecycle frown on members selling the items that they get through Freecycle, it can still be a way to get free inventory when times are tight. Do respect member’s requests when they ask you not to claim something if you plan to resell it, however. You may think that they will never find out, but you would be surprised what a small community Freecycle is.

Tip #4 Offer to sell other people’s things

Known as “consignment,” some sellers make a good living by simply selling other people’s things. Since you have no out-of-pocket costs to buy the inventory, you can keep your store full while not investing money. There are, of course, a couple of things to consider. First, you will still have store fees to pay whether the items you list sell or not. Second, you need to have a clear understanding upfront what you will make on the items you sell for someone and what portion they will get if the item sells.

Most sellers who work on consignment recommend having a contract for clients that lists what they will make on anything that sells and how long they will try to sell the item for. It is also a good idea to make sure that clients know that they will need to either pick up the items if they don’t sell or that after a period of time, you will be donating them to charity.

What money-saving tips do you have for eBay sellers? Leave a comment below.

The Evolution of Your EBay Store

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Many successful eBay stores have changed tremendously since back when they first opened. Sellers have brought in new inventory, updated the look of their store and logo, and even incorporated new trends and ideas into their online business. While the journey for each eBay seller and their store is different, there are some common threads among them that sellers say have helped their stores evolve.

Don’t be afraid to change direction

Like any good business, sometimes it takes more than one try for you to find your true niche. When Tiffany first started selling, she was simply getting rid of the clothes that her children were outgrowing. Overtime, she also begin making the rounds to local thrift stores and finding children’s clothing from there to sell as well. It wasn’t until she added some Little Golden Books into the inventory of her store that she realized what she actually wanted to sell. Today, she primarily sells vintage children’s books on both eBay and Amazon and says her store is continuing to grow as her inventory and tastes change.

Continue learning

Although becoming an expert in a niche is what every seller strives for, it is also important to continue learning new things so that you can keep challenging yourself. Brad went from selling vintage fishing lures to learning how to make his own. This has not only kept him interested in his store, but allowed him to expand his business in an entirely different direction. Today, Brad not only still has his eBay store for selling his vintage fishing equipment, he sells personalized fishing lure on Etsy. He states that he never would have discovered this niche if he hadn’t been trying to not only expand his business, but challenge himself as well.

Overcome your limitations

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Whether it’s a lack of space, lack of time, or a lack of money, all successful businesses eventually experience growing pains. While some are held back by these limitations (and often go on to other things instead), others make do with what they have or learn to work around their limitations. Tiffany initially could only work limited hours due to her three children, but discovered that two other mothers in her neighborhood were willing to look after her kids on certain days if she would look after theirs in exchange. She states that the other two mothers were lifesavers, since it gave her two days a week to take photos and list items undisturbed. She would then work on packaging items to ship after the kids were in bed and either ran the packages to the post office first thing in the morning, or had the post office pick them up.

Have you successfully evolved your business over time? Leave a comment below.

EBay Tinkers with UK Feedback Feature

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EBay is apparently back to its old tricks of “if it’s not broke, we need to make it that way.” This week, sellers in the UK noticed that the online marketplace giant had decided to remove the feedback feature “Feedback left for others.”

Although eBay buyers still apparently have the ability to see feedback from sellers, sellers can no longer see what type of comments the buyers are leaving for sellers. Sellers have noted that this can be a problem because without this feature, sellers have no way of knowing exactly what kind of buyer they are dealing with. As an example, a seller has no way of knowing that a buyer constantly likes to state that the items they purchase never arrive or that the items always seem to arrive damaged.

While this may not seem like it would be very important, to many sellers it actually is. Since eBay only allows sellers to leave positive feedback, sellers have had to rely on other ways of determining what type of buyer they are dealing with. Analyzing a buyer’s comments on the feedback they leave can help to identify problems that might arise when they are dealing with that buyer.

As in the earlier example, if a buyer likes to say that the items they buy are constantly not arriving, the seller then knows that they should require a signature confirmation from the buyer to prove the item made it safely into their hands, or that the seller should insure even lower priced items, if the buyer likes to constantly state that items are arriving damaged.

According to an eBay discussion board, when one seller made an inquiry as to why the feedback feature had been removed, eBay dismissed the concerns stating that it was to protect the buyers by keeping their purchase information private.

Perhaps what is the most upsetting about this change, however, is not the fact that eBay has chosen to do this, but that they made the change without notice, once again helping the buyer while ignoring the needs of the seller. Despite the fact that the change is currently only affecting UK sellers, some sellers suspect that the United States will soon be next. If so, what will this change mean to you? Leave a comment below and let us know your opinion.

Pokemon Go Plus Pre-Orders Fetching High Prices on EBay

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Unless you’ve been off hiding in a cave somewhere over the last week or so, you’ve probably heard that Pokemon Go fever has gripped the nation. The mobile game, which is played through an App, allows people to hunt for an assortment of creature-like monsters in their neighborhood while using the cameras on their phones to give the game a more virtual-like experience.

Now, some savvy eBay sellers are cashing in on the craze by listing a product known as the “Pokemon Go Plus” on eBay. Interestingly, pre-orders for the Pokemon Go Plus were actually available back in June, but at the time, many people were unsure whether or not the mobile game was going to be a success. Since literally million of players have decided to participate, however, these pre-orders are now being offered for sale on eBay.

For the uninitiated, the Pokemon Go Plus is a Bluetooth accessory worn on the wrist like a watch that allows players to participate in the game without actually having to use their smartphones. Since playing the game can quickly drain down the battery life of a smartphone, it really is a pretty nifty gadget to have.

Before you list your pre-order (if you were lucky enough to have got in on the initial deal, since most retailers have already sold out), keep in mind, however, that the Pokemon Go Plus is not scheduled to be released until the end of Jul. This means that you may have to contend with some overly anxious buyers wanting updates on their purchase once your Buy It Now or auction is over. If you are interested in making a little money though, there could be a great reward for your troubles. The device, which has the initial price of $35 has been fetching pre-order sale prices of over $100 with reports that some sellers were actually even asking as much as $475.

Are you selling your pre-order or are you forsaking profits and anxiously awaiting for your Pokemon Go Plus to arrive? Leave a comment below.

What you need to know before you sell your old laptop

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As an eBay seller, you know that one man’s (or woman’s!) junk is another person’s treasure. When it comes to used electronics, such as laptops, printers and computers, even if these types of items are old and considered obsolete, they can still fetch some pretty decent money on eBay if you want to sell them.

What you may not know, however, is that simply deleting files from your old computer and sending them to the “recycling bin” before you put the item up for sale doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve taken all your personal data off your computer. In fact, PCWorld reports that a study done by Blancoo Technology Group showed that of the 200 secondhand PC storage drives that were purchased by the group from sellers on eBay and Craigslist, 78 percent of the hard drives still had residual data that could be recovered. This data included everything from personal files to resumes and even financial data. All of which, if in the wrong hands, could end up as information that could be used by identity thieves to commit fraud.

The study, which was released last week, was provided to show the highlights of security problems with secondhand electronics. As an example, even innocuous items such as digital photocopiers were found to still have all of the information stored from every single document that the machines had ever scanned. This means that if you made a copy of something with your personal information like your social security number or your banking information, it could still be retrieved from its memory.

What all this means for sellers is that just running a “quick format” on the storage drive of your old computer won’t remove all of your files. In most cases, it simply leaves the data hidden, but still intact and available on your computer where anyone can find it if they know what they are looking for.

So, what should you do before listing that old laptop or computer for sale? Blancco suggests using proper data erasure software to ensure that all of your files are properly removed and erased. This type of software overwrites the data in the hard drive and replaces it with meaningless data instead. As for your printer, while most (but not all!) of the ones that you use in your home apparently don’t have a hard drive, they will still contain the information for your fax setup and WiFi. You can remove these from your printer by doing a semi-full reset.

Keeping your competitive edge in the eBay marketplace

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If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a competitive edge. This is especially true if you’re selling the exact same thing as the other guy (or gal). Your competitive edge is the thing that makes you stand out, or rather, it’s what can give your store an advantage over the competition. Below are some tips that can help.

Identify your strengths

Start by identifying the things that make you stand out from the other stores in your niche. What do you and your store have over the other stores that sell similar items? As an example, maybe you and another store both sell vintage clothing, but you have noticed that you tend to sell more scarves than they do. Ask yourself why you believe this is happening. Perhaps you take better photos or your descriptions are better than other similar stores. Once you realize where your strength are you can find ways to use it to an advantage in your store.

Note your weaknesses

A weakness is something that you can improve upon. It’s different for everyone, so this may take some introspection. Perhaps you have items that you keep in the store that have never sold (and never will), but you keep letting them stay in your store (and take up inventory space in your house). Maybe your inventory is okay, but you haven’t updated the look of your store in years and years and it looks out-of-date.

Identify the opportunities

An opportunity is something that you aren’t taking advantage of that could help you with your store or sales. Are there any trends going on in your niche that others haven’t noticed yet? As an example, some of the retail stores, such as Target already have items for dorm rooms on sale. Many of them are kitschy and in bright colors. If you sell in a niche that caters to the college crowd, this may be an opportunity to look for items that are following this trend.

What’s standing in your way?

Things that stand in your way are problems or potential problems that may be keeping your store from reaching it’s full potential. Maybe your competition has already noticed that items for dorm rooms are already selling, but you’re still lagging behind. Maybe you have a lot of heavy items for sale, but the cost of shipping will be going up soon and it’s going to make those items too expensive to ship. Identifying things that are standing in your way or could soon impact your business can help you not only keep you competitive edge, but also help ward off issues before they become a problem.

EBay: The mysterious case of the missing item specifics

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In a move that has mystified some eBay sellers and puzzled others, the online marketplace has apparently decided to run a test that has some people simply scratching their heads. It seems that the test removes product attributes from listings, or rather, it takes away the item specifics that are generally seen at the top of a description. Since it is this description that tells buyers exactly what it is they are purchasing, removing it on purpose has most sellers stumped.

Although some sellers who had signed up for a test run of the Promoted Listings Beta program initially thought that the missing data was a glitch, it soon became apparent that something else was going on when others who weren’t part of the testing noted they were having issues with it as well. Although eBay was initially silent about the change, one seller noted on the eBay community forum page that there was an update from eBay that stated in part:

Update on reported tech issues:

NOTE: eBay is currently running a test of item specific display on listing pages. This is not a bug. Some listings may not display their item specifics during the duration of this test. These listings are still searchable by item specifics (search refinements) so that buyers can find them. There is no opt out for this test.

As someone else on the forum board stated, it is a bit of a mystery as to why eBay would choose to do this as they have previously been quite adamant about the importance of adding detailed descriptions. Some sellers have even noted that it is actually hurting them since with over 300 listings, buyers can no longer see relevant specifics that make their listings stand out from other similar listings made by other sellers.

Interestingly, some sellers have noted that the item specifics seem to appear (or not!) depending on what version of Microsoft and what type of browser you were viewing the listings from. As an example, it appeared item specifics would not show up on Windows 10 if you were using FireFox, Edge, or Chrome, but would appear on Windows 7 if you viewed it through FireFox.

How all of this will play out is anyone’s guess. As of June 7, 2016, the testing has been going on for about eleven days now, so hopefully eBay will shed some light on all of this soon.

Have your item specifics disappeared? Leave a comment below.