eBay Strategies

Is eCommerce going really Global?

I recently bought a pair of “Sink Drain Snake Brush” on eBay for £1.29. You must be thinking I am a crazy buying this online rather than going down to my local hardware store which has 100 years of family history. The thing is, like me there are thousands & probably millions now a days do not hesitate to buy anything online as long as  there is relevant delivery charges.

 I was expecting it to be delivered within 3 days as normally it does. However this one took a week! To my surprise the parcel came all the way from the manufacturing hub of the world, yes ! that’s right, China.

How can someone sell something for £1.29 and get it delivered abroad making profit. This is something that bewildered me.

We are really going global in terms of eCommerce!

We are aware that cross border trade is increasing in eBay to Europe, America and Australia. If a firm in China could do so why can’t small firm in the UK do it?  If you have not thought about it, perhaps it is time now for you to go Global. The platform is already there guys – eBay, Amazon and Play with a week setup time. Simply give it a go, you don’t lose anything but if it goes success you have found a new growing market. 

 

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eCommerce

Changes in Distance Selling Regulations coming 2013

We all love bargains. Don’t we? Currently quite a lot of people resorting to online shop hoping to find good deals.  Every high street now has online shops and it is now a common trend for a retailer to ask “Buy online and Collect FREE” in store. Do you like shopping online? Do you think it is hassle if something goes wrong? There are quite a few change coming next year which will strengthen consumer rights.

I get annoyed when I don’t tick the box and it is selected for me. I get more annoyed when I did not buy insurance with the product and it’s been bought for me! Pre-ticked boxes on the website to sign up newsletter or with hidden charges are going to be banned. Similarly retailers will be stopped from charging premium rates for help lines. Cancellation periods will go from seven working days to 14 days.

 The interesting one is that retailers will be made to deliver goods within a set date. This will necessitate making delivery process more efficient. I am thinking of a situation when on one is home to collect the parcel and the delivery driver left a card and parcel at local depot. Who is to blame for this delay in order delivery? I am sure courier won’t take the blame!

Retailers will have to refund for broken or cancelled orders with in 14 days which is 30 days currently.

These changes will come into effect only next June. There is plenty of time for retailers to plan the change. These changes are all good for consumers and hopefully increase confidence on online shopping.

Send us your thoughts!

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eBay Strategies

How to put less pressure on your customer support team after holidays?


 

Who does not like weekends, bank holidays and long Christmas break? However, the first day after break is manic. Apart from “millions” of orders to sort out you have got “zillions” customer queries. This normally quite a big chunk of the day! The annoying bit most of them doesn’t buy even after getting the responses. If you still don’t realise what I am talking about! Here it goes…

eBay has given facility that sellers can allow or disallow buyers to contact you before buying the product. Your will find this settings in – Your Account – Site preferences -Manage communications with buyers. Most of you must have not even realised this existed. If you have selected “Yes” to “Allow buyers to contact from active listings”, eBayers can contact you before buying the product. The idea is good that if there is any doubt about the product they can contact you and ask for more information and they might buy. This puts quite a lot of pressure on your customer support team with blast of queries about the product especially after breaks not letting them concentrate other parts of the business.

Now if you think, there should not be any questions regarding the product anyway. If there is, then you have not listed product appropriately. You should include all relevant product information in the product listing. There is no space limit and you can give as much information as necessary. The products listed in eBay, most of the time is already in the market and already seen by the buyers so, there is already awareness regarding the product. Your customers come to visit eBay only to find bargains. This is why “Allow buyers to contact from active listings” should be turned “OFF”.

If you are worried that your sales would drop down, do a week’s experiment and see the result. I bet you will be surprised!

 

 

 

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eCommerce

Planning for success…seven tips to ensure that you are making the most out of Q4

While others will be missing the summer, the winter months prove to be the most profitable for online sellers. Figures from eBay and Amazon’s past reports show that the fourth quarter of the year turns out to be the most money-making quarter for this group.

On top of the general growth encountered by sellers trading on Amazon and eBay, this season could get so exciting that sellers will have a good reason to do a little victory-lap around their laptop.

However, as with everything else, staying on top takes a lot of work and preparation. iwoca has gathered a few tips on how to get ahead.

1. Be best friends with your suppliers. Staying on good terms with your supplier is always a good idea, especially when you’re moving towards a busy season. When you’re busy, that usually means that your supplier is busy as well and what that means is that it’s good to be on top of your supplier’s list of favourite people.

 

 2. As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. Make sure that your listings look professional, by taking some strong pictures of your products.

 

3. Describe your products well. Top the pictures off with a great written copy that will entice your customers.

 

 4. Stick to your delivery times. When you provide your delivery estimates make sure they’re actually accurate. Especially around the holidays your customers will want to know that they can trust that your deliveries arrive on time. Please don’t wait until the holidays to prove this!

 

5. Top up on your stock levels. There’s no worse feeling that running out of stock when you know you could have sold more. If you have a feeling this might happen it’s probably a good idea to start exploring what options you have to gain external funding for your business.

 

6. Keep your customers happy. Although this one is an oldie, it will always be goodie. Remember to maintain your high feedback score. Just remember that this is what customers actually look at and if it’s low you may risk losing out on business.

 

7. Social is the way forward. Many successful eBay sellers have started investing a lot of their time in social media. If you’re not on board yet we advise you to get started. The social media platforms are great ways to engage with your customers and increase your presence in the online space.

iwoca is the first company in the UK to provide small business loans to eBay and Amazon sellers.

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eBay Strategies eCommerce

Getting sales on eBay is easy job. The question is how you can get incremental sales ?

It is easy to get sale on eBay when you have a right price of a product. The challenge is to increase sales on a long run. How can you grow? There is there tough competition out there. There are loads of companies who sell same type of products. How can you have competitive advantage? We will be discussing some of the factors that worth’s considering.

 . customer service

Customer service is one of the greatest keys to your business success. It can literally make or break you.[1]  Keeping happy customers brings you repeat sales and increases your audience. eBay CEO Meg Whitman says – “you see that we’re spending less than $10 to acquire new customer. The reason is that we are being driven by word of mouth.”[2] Better customer service creates loyalty and they in turn refer others to your shop. Loyal customers take over the function of advertising and sales – for free!

You will have some complaints from you customer. If they ever contact, you have a good opportunity to hear their say and solve the problem. Only few complain and the rest just quietly go away. Another worrying bit, a dissatisfied customer will tell 7-10 people about the problem and bad service. So you don’t want many dissatisfied customers. You would want to keep them happy and many times even if it is at your loss. Trust me; it pays to keep customers happy in a long run.

Better customer service brings repeat sales and increases your audience reach by word of mouth.

. price comparison

Consumer buying decision process starts with need recognition, information search, and evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behaviour.[3] Consumers carry out price comparison of an item they need in second state, information search. With everything on click of a mouse this does not take long online. So, it is important to have right price.

The best way to go forward on this is to compare other sellers’ prices on both eBay & Amazon. You can tweak the price by pennies which give better sales opportunity. Bear in mind that you must compare prices periodically as they change. If you don’t you are left out!

­­

. promotions

Roger Hyslop wrote that what he learns in the 1960s still applies: “The use of a sales promotion stimulates consumer excitement, retail reaction and wholesale reward.”[4] 

Few popular sales promotions are:

  1. Buy One Get One Free
  2. Free Gifts for orders over £50
  3. Vouchers/Coupons
  4. Competitions
  5. Free Limited Time Delivery

These promotions give reason for your eBay customers to return to your shop. We are well aware that all of these promotions cannot be implemented in your eBay store however; you can use them to promote your own store.  Remember promotions are means of influencing customer behaviour and should be part of long term business strategy.5

. delivery time

Online Shopping Customer Experience Study by comScore[5] suggests that delivery time is ranked top influencing factor for online shopping and 43% expect to see availability of 2-3 day delivery.

You can update your listings on eBay with various shipping options so that you don’t lose your visitor conversion. You are just giving buyers what they want! You must have noticed that eBay search results highlights “express delivery available” during product search which prompts user to visit the listing. Adding multiple shipping option means you don’t lose our in this important aspect of online selling.

 

. feedback

 eBay feedback must be one of the factor buyers look out before making purchase decision. It quickens the decision making process and creates quick conversions. One research[6] suggests the established identity fared better compared to that of new seller. So you must continue providing better service to your customers. You will get odd number of negative feedback. Don’t worry! Simply reply back and acknowledge if there is any error from your side.  One or two negative feedbacks for our new sellers does not affect buyers’ willingness-to-pay.

These are few of many factors you must consider in order get incremental sales on eBay. Most importantly these must be part of your. The competition is tough, so don’t just list your products and expect sale to happen.

What is your experience/thoughts?

 


[2] Frederick F, Reichheld & Phil Schefter: E-loyalty: Your secret weapon on the web
[3] Philip Kotler & Gary Armstrong – Principles of Marketing, (P 177-181)
[4] Roddy Mullin: Sales Promotion
[5] Online Shopping Customer Experience Study: comScore
[6] The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment

 

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eCommerce

Easy Marketing Tip: Promote your online shop with Amazon Customers

I got a letter through the post today from Amazon. I was not expecting it. It was a good formatted letter explaining about the Amazon’s new company “LoveFilm”. The interesting bit was it was offering me 30 day FREE trial and £20 Amazon Gift Certificate if I become a paying member.

This is a really good deal. I have no obligation subscription along with Gift Certificate. If I were a movie fan I would definitely jump into it. Would you not?

You can learn to apply this marketing method to promote your online store if you are currently selling on Amazon. It is now time to design one if you have not and if you are already sending one, start redesigning. Here are some components you must include in your leaflet:

  1. Personalise the letter with Full Name and address which establishes that it is genuine and not a spam mail
  2. Brief about your company with location, number of years of trading which creates a relationship that you are not virtual
  3. Give your Amazon customers reason to go to your store. It could be FREE gift or MONEY OFF vouchers.
  4. Include your FREE delivery promotions or WEEKLY deals
  5. Create a gift Certificate imprint with 1,2,3 steps to redeem the certificate

Now that you have designed your leaflet, you need think about how to measure the impact of your leaflet. One way is to monitor the direct hits to your site and another is to monitor the customer registration source in your site. Don’t be afraid to re-design if your result is not good!

This is a simple way of getting new customers to your site. Remember these are customers who are already looking for your product. You would have to spend 100s to get these sort of targeted customer & we often overlook these who are in your doorsteps.

Let me know how you get on.

Good Luck !

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eBay Strategies eBay Training

Why is it important to Automate your Order Processing jobs ?

The key to your online sales success is better implementation of your knowledge in development of the sales strategy. You can only achieve this if you spend more time on research and less time on routine jobs. You might have found that inventory and order management takes awful amount time. However, I find it very hard to understand why so many small businesses spend time on the routine tasks and disregard sales strategy which actually they should look at more than anything else. This is the only way to go forward and grow your business.

Try to find ways to automate the processes which you already know. If there are recurring questions from your customers, why not make response email templates. I am sure you will find your customer support team finishing their job in half the time they used to! Similar is the case of order management. If you have multiple sales channel why not automate the process of getting invoices and shipping them. Let me introduce “Linnworks Express”, a FREE order management system to suit your need. Yes, it is FREE with no catch. Let’s see what you can achieve with this software.

 

You will see your orders from eBay & Amazon or your own website at one place allowing you to print invoices, shipping labels and picking/packing list with one click. I don’t disagree with the fact there is learning curve to apply this. However, once you learn the process, the routine order management process becomes quick and easy.

Remember if your business expands beyond online sales, then Linnworks also provides integration with telesales, direct orders and an integrated EPOS (electronic point of sale) system.

Most of the business must have noticed the issue with overselling when you operate multiple sales channels. It is very difficult to be 100% efficient in updating the inventory over multiple sales channels manually. The consequence, unhappy customers with unfulfilled orders! With this software if you sell a product through one channel it updates the inventory level across channels so you know you are not going to oversell it and yet the inventory is visible in all sales channels. You have better inventory visibility with no risk!

Shipping your orders on time is important part of order processing. You would want to let customers know that their orders have been dispatched on time and that they can track their orders line with certain codes. Now, you can do all these with a click. You can generate labels from Linnworks saving you time having to switch to the shipping company’s label printer along with automatic recording of the tracking codes. You have now better informed customers about their orders putting less pressure on your customer support team.

If you are not happy with above free features, Linnworks has more for you.

  • You can establish your business brands with customised invoice templates with your company logo. This is very important to promote your own web store.
  • You can automate email notifications to talk to your customers as you need. This can be handy when there are issues like delay in delivery due to weather conditions when you tend to get many “where is my order” queries.

All in all, you have a clever system to suit your order processing needs for FREE. The key is to get comfortable with this service and see if you need any extra to help your business. Do you think Linnworks express would do well for your growing business?

 

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eBay Training

The Art of Clever Bidding on eBay

Have you ever lost a bid on eBay? I will be surprised if you have not. For me, I lost quite often before I found out the trick. It is quite simple to understand and it is more of “thought” than anything else.

eBay does have guide on how to do automatic bidding. However, it lacks the thought that putting higher bid live allows other bidders to bid more. Thus, the price of the product goes up! There is gain to seller as he/she gets high price and eBay who could take cut on higher value. Really buyer is paying higher price when he/she could get away with less. Right let’s get to the point!

 You have an item to bid. You know your buying power. Now, all you have to do is decide the maximum amount you could afford to pay for this item.

 STEP 1. Open up the listing page


Say for example you could afford to pay maximum £100 for this bike. This is quite popular with 31 bidding at the time of writing. Quite impressive!  You must have noticed the automatic bidding is shown as light grey. There is automatic increment in bids by 50p (orange circle) in early history and latest automatic increment is £1.0 (green circle).

 

The next bid it is expecting is £67.00, £2.00 above current maximum bid. So if there is automatic bidding in place the bidding goes up by £2.00. The increment in bidding differs when there is sudden change on the bid. However, there is only minimal change in the incremental automatic bidding so you are safe!

 

STEP 2. Open another browser window and arrange the size as shown below so that you can view both windows.

 

 

STEP 3 Put maximum amount you could afford to pay for this item, £100 in this example and click place bid. (Remember click only “Place Bid”)

 

 

You have screen like this. Do not confirm the bid.

Step 4 Leave the second window and stay on first window. You will notice the changes in bidding. If somebody bids more than £100 you lost it. You could not have afforded it anyway! Move to the second screen in last 2 minutes. When there are last 10-15 seconds left, click “confirm bid”. Now either you won or did not buy the item which could not afford.

The interesting bid is, you will pay for the item lot lesser price compare to normal bidding system which increases the value of the bike or automatic bidding system which allows other bidders to bid higher than yours.

The trick on this is to give a thought what you could afford and bid at the last minute. Love me or hate me, leave your comments !

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eBay Strategies

High postage cost: How can we absorb?

Many of small business are hit hard with the high postage cost this year with increase of royal mail prices by 11% on average. These prices will not come down & we need to find a way how to absorb this price rise so that you can stay in business.

Few businesses might be able absorb the price rise due to high volume of transaction and others thinking of closing down! Many of us might already be looking at finding alternative suppliers & others stay with royal mail as it is still cheaper. We knew about the price rise in March which was the time to think and plan. Here are few ways to cope with royal mail postage price rise for your business.

  1. Tweak your Product Prices: It is good idea to do a research on your product prices & see how your competitors are selling. Raise the product price by few pence if you need to. This may not look ok with one product but will make difference across a range of products saving you money bit by bit.
  2. Lower your packaging cost: Try bulk buying your packaging material which should lower your cost. If you are loyal to you supplier you might even be able to negotiate price. The best way to go forward is to use recycled packaging material which you can get for free. Do you have Cash & Carry in your area? Ask them if they got any wasted shrink wraps or boxes. They will be more than happy to give it out as it is going to be their waste & you are helping them out with picking it up their area!
  3. Offer Multi-Buy Products: People love bargains & they will buy more if you offer them decent price. As you already know the royal mail minimum price starts with 0-750g product. Why not offer multi-buy deals which will clarify the postage cost? If the price is right you will have better sales.
  4. Alternative Suppliers: This may be an option if you are selling heavy products. Collect + starts their price £3.99 and it is a good service as well. Why not keep your mind open for this option especially if your multi-buy sales go up?

These are basic ways of absorbing the royal mail price changes. You may be in trouble if you were offering Free Postage. The best way to go if you are in this situation is see what others are doing. If you can raise the product price, do it! Keep the postage free as much as you can as it is one of the reasons that buyers are put off in online shopping!

It would be interesting to find out which strategy worked out for you and which did not. Please do leave your comments.

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eBay Strategies

eBay Listing Feature: Which one should I use ?

If you have some extra cash there are always some people who want to take it. It’s up to you how you decide to spend your cash. EBay listing features are one of them. They can easily gobble the fees if you are not careful taking away major part of the profit. However, if you are careful and use these features they will give you competitive advantage over others thus, increasing your sell through rate.[1]

We will discuss about eBay listing features and which one of them are important for you. If you wish to sneak peak at the eBay listing feature fees please feel free to browse eBay Fees page.

Timing your listing helps you to schedule your listing so that you can start to sell during a chosen time. This time is supposed to be the high traffic time increasing your chances of selling. One research[2] suggests that Sunday evenings, 6-9 is the best time to sell.

eBay says adding pictures to your listing helps you increase sales, gives your buyers a more accurate picture of what to expect and distinguishes your listing from others of its kind. There is an option to add up to 12 pictures all together. Gallery Plus enhances the product displaying a larger picture, up to 400 x 400 pixels, when you hover over the item which is 96 pixels otherwise. Subtitle gives and option to add more descriptive and enticing item information below the main title, to create more interest and emphasise listing in search results. Listing Designer gives you an opportunity to enhance the listing with attractive themes. There is freedom to use HTML codes allowing you to customise the listings as required.

One research[3] suggests that promotional upgrades to auction listings are now a ubiquitous and only subtitle is effective and worth the cost. Another research[4] suggest that the designer listing feature was the most important feature for determining the final selling price of an item, followed closely by the subtitle feature, while additional photos and gallery plus proved to be the least important feature. The designer listing gives an opportunity for seller to bring forward what customer needs to see in order to complete the purchase with larger area display. The list of listing features according to their importance is listed below:

Designer Listing

  1. Subtitile
  2. Gallery Plus
  3. Additional Photos

Bear in mind you can easily use this features and easily spend good amount of money on your listings. There are no rules of thumb on using this features which why it makes difficult to decide whether to use it or which one to use. Researching the products is a better idea with tools like Terapeak. It claims that one Terapeak seller saw that a specific category sold items at higher price points than others, and made 360% more by listing smart. If you are thinking that I am suggesting this particular tool to use. No I am not! Now the best tool is in your hand research. Have a look at Terapkea testimonials and use it as a trial. It does not hurt trying.


[1] Sell through – Sell through is the number of items that sold divided by the number of clicks for your listing. A higher sell through rate is better, meaning members were more likely to buy your item when they clicked to view your listing

[2] David Steiner, EcommerceBytes.com: The Most Popular Day to End an eBay Auction?

[3] Mikhail I. Melnik, Paul Richardson& Dan Tompkins: Does It Pay to Promote on eBay?

[4] Leon Lin ,Vasant Ramachandran : Assessing the Value of eBay Listing Features

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