Archive for February, 2009

Credit Crunch Baby Boom Part 2

In the previous post I mentioned the advantages of using a local wholesaler in sourcing stock. However, there are some other alternatives.

 

You can also use magazines such as The Trader; many of the advertisers will have their own website. Disadvantages are that until you have the goods in your hands you will not be able to check the quality of the items. You may know someone who has dealt with the suppliers but if you are just starting out this is unlikely. You could ask to see samples first, but this is likely to be refused, suppliers get many such requests unfortunately most requests are not from legitimate traders.

 

So unless you have good reason, always choice the local wholesaler first. You may find in this day and age that the wholesaler will be reluctant to extend credit terms until you are an established customer. They will want to be paid on a proforma basis. Pay cash or use a debit card if you can, credit cards typically are subject to surcharge of about 2 ½ % which although it does not sound a lot, eats into your profit as does VAT and carriage charges should you have to pay them.

 

Things to factor in your costs. VAT, postage fees, packaging fees, eBay listing fees, final value fees, pay pal fees. Only then will you get paid. So finding some means of reducing costs is a good idea. Padded bags can be bought cheaply from the 99p or £1 shops and offers a good source of supply to get started with. Vast savings can be made by buying in bulk from specialist packaging suppliers, again try local suppliers. Alternatively use the internet or eBay itself, you will often find that the big suppliers have there own websites where substantial savings can be made even over eBay prices.

 

More next time.

Rob

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Credit Crunch Baby Boom Part 1

During the credit crunch one market is seemingly unscathed. That of the baby clothes market. This is a high volume HOT market. It’s a market that I have little experience in. Ok, I know where they come from (I think) but after that what I know about babies I could write on a postage stamp.

 

On thing I do know is that they grow, fast. So there is a hot market for quality baby ware at a budget price. Brand names always draw a premium price, but in most cases you are recouping money that can be spent on lots of other items such as bigger baby clothes. I have some friends who constantly resell baby clothes that are too small and use the money to purchase replacement items.

 

What about selling new non branded clothing. Firstly obtain a reliable source of supply. My preference would be a local wholesaler, a search using yell.com will give you a wide range of choice within reasonable travel distances. Using a local supplier has the advantage of being able to inspect the merchandise at close quarters. You can also build up a personal relationship with the trader. Traders will let you know their hottest selling lines, or what new merchandise they will soon have for sale. You should be able to buy very small numbers of specific sizes. Most wholesalers these days have very small minimum spend levels (typically £100).

 

If the wholesaler has a website you can use the website to select possible purchases, and then use the eBay advanced search to find similar items. The advanced search tool will allow you to see all the items sold in the past 30 days, the final price, postage price etc. By using this tool you can make more informed choices on possible purchases.

 

More next time

Rob

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 Yet more ideas on how to deal with the Awkward/Abusive buyer.

 

Answer all messages, question and e-mails promptly and courteously. Never repeat never react even if the sender is rude and never allow your follow up comments on negative feedback to get personal. Keep it factual and professional, these comments are public and posted for all to see.

 

What do you want the public’s perception of you to be? What about the buyer that rants and raves? Exactly!

 

Who are the biggest moaners?

 

Mostly the 99p to £2.99 brigade. Easy just refund their money you don’t need buyers like these. Nothing is ever good enough. These individuals enjoy the thrill of lengthy disputes which makes them feel important. Refund the purchase price but not the postage, this has cost you time and money, clearly state on your listing your returns policy, also remember distance selling regulations.

 

Are you bothered about negative feedback form someone like this? Thought not, it will make excellent reading. Important rules, always be polite and helpful in all correspondence answer it as quickly as you can. Certainly within 24 hours, this could be an auction that is to end soon. Delays can lose you the sale. If you cannot answer within 24 hours start by apologising for the delay. Offer outstanding levels of service.

 

Always offer a guarantee on each item state this in the listings and stick to it. Show you have confidence in your product. The returns policy makes it very plain what your terms are, the buyer agreed to this when they bought the product.

 

If in doubt just refund or replace it wont happen often but how you deal with it will set the tone for your future dealings.

 

Phew! It thought these posts would be rather short but I think I have covered everything I had to say, hope it wasn’t too negative, it wasn’t meant to be.

 

Completely different subject next time.

 

Rob

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This Post is about eBay

Dealing with bad eBay feedback and complaints Part 5.

 

Some further ideas on how to deal with the Awkward/Abusive buyer.

 

This next one may sound a little strange. In fact most traders will tell you not to do this! On dispatch of a product I always leave positive feedback. I am unusual in this respect in that most eBayers will tell you to wait until you get feedback.

 

Several thoughts on this: I cannot leave negative feedback anyway. If a buyer has paid me promptly then I regard them as a good buyer, they have trusted me in that they have paid me for my products they have decided that I am a honest trader and have put their trust in me to deliver the service that I say I will.

 

On the other hand if it has taken a buyer a long time to pay, I simply do not leave feedback until they have left it for me first. I think that this strategy avoids any tendency for the “awkward” customer to leave feedback.

 

After dispatch I always send an e-mail confirming dispatch, it is very easy to setup an e-mail template. In the e-mail I thank them for their purchase, tell them the item was posted today (I always give the feedback on a daily basis; It cuts down the work load and shows you are running your business on a professional footing). I thank them again I also include the address of my eBay shop and an invitation to browse the other item I have for sale. Takes seconds, its worth priceless! Remember you are also graded in your detailed seller ratings on your communication.

 

More next time

 

Rob

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This Post is about eBay

Dealing with bad eBay feedback and complaints Part 4.

 

How to deal with the Awkward/Abusive buyer.

 

It really goes without saying that your aim selling on eBay apart from making money is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is the key to repeated sales which is how to grow your business.

 

Some simple things can make the process so much easier. An once of prevention is much better than a ton of cure. So some simple measures can make your life so much easier.

 

Always put in a dispatch time for the item. I always give my dispatch as 2 working days, but 95% of my sales are posted the next working day. I get great feedback for my speed of service. I have a friend with a hectic life who cannot post items midweek so he clearly states that all items will be posted on Saturday morning’s 1st class post. Being up front about his post times has done him no harm at all.

 

Set up an e-mail template if someone sends you a message saying that their item has not arrived. Mine is dead simple, I just ask them to be patient for a few more days and then quote the delivery times for different classes of post from the royal mail website. royalmail.com. I then ask that if they have not received after a stated number of days (you need to choose this number) to contact you again and you will deal with the problem immediately.

 

Be true to your word. It is possible to offer 5 star service with a 1 star budget. If people like your service they may tell others. If they don’t, they will tell everybody. Always obtain a certificate of posting. Unfortunately there are a small number of buyers who never receive any item that is posted to them; you can usually get a feel for them in the wording of the e-mail they send you. I had one that never received any item that was sent to him. I simply put him on the blocked bidder list.

 

I always replace the item or offer a refund; the buyer can then decide how to proceed. At the worst all that has happened is that I have lost my profit on the product. For overseas I usually just refund outside of Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Really simple but it stops a significant amount of repeated messages and e-mails asking “where’s my stuff”? If you have more than one eBay identity you must have a separate e-mail address for each identity.

 

Remember to check this regularly. Don’t make the mistake I once did and assume that a buyer will contact you through the eBay my messages system.

 

I had rather one irate buyer who had not received their item blowing his stack because I was not answering his e-mail. He eventually contacted me though the my messages. Not a happy bunny, to make amends I refunded him all costs and sent a replacement product. Ok it cost me, but I have never overlooked checking e-mails again. His feedback was phenomenally good.

 

More next time

 

Rob

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This Post is about eBay

Dealing with bad eBay feedback and complaints Part 3.

 

So what other circumstances would I think it would be a good idea that negative feedback can be left?

 

Well there is no problem as a buyer you can! It’s the circumstance the seller finds themselves in. This one is really easy. Fraudulent, fake and items that are significantly not as described, poor service at any level.

 

I will admit that item not as described can be rather a grey area, one persons accurate description is not always the same as another’s accurate description. I once sold some genuine Ralph Lauren bath robes bought from a well respected clothing wholesaler these were selling in the high street stores at up to £99; mine were on a BIN at £22.50.

 

One of my buyers e-mailed me to say that the item was a fake and they wanted their money back, oh and by the way they were not going to pay the return postage of nearly £6. If I did not refund then they would take out a dispute, contact trading standards etc.

 

Although I knew the product and the company were both the genuine article, and the robe was accurately described with a photo of the exact item which I took myself. At that time I only had a feedback score of 57; I panicked and offered a full refund plus postage to protect my feedback.

 

Would I do the same again? Not a chance, we must remember that 99.99% of buyers and sellers are good honest people.

 

More next time.

 

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

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This Post is about eBay

Dealing with bad eBay feedback and complaints Part 2.

 

More on feedback.

 

If you have a lowish feedback score early negative feedback can at first appear devastating. Remember that you will receive MANY MANY more positive comments than negative.

 

Some time ago I was reading Mike Enos’s e-book eBay Zero to Hero (recommended) and he gives some good advice. A few hundred feedbacks show that you are a good honest trader. A score of 500 or more is as good as 5000 and a few negatives on a high score makes very little difference.

 

My score as I write this is 2143 with 1 negative; this gives me a customer satisfaction score of 99.9%. Very impressive but still irritating! I recently showed a friend my eBay detailed seller ratings. Guess which one he looked at first? Not the 93 pages of positive feedback. Human nature I’m afraid but I don’t think I would be any different.

 

So ok in what circumstances would I like it to be possible to give negative feedback to buyers?

 

  • Non payers, there appear to be little in the way of sanctions against these people. Ok I know you can have an unpaid item strike against your account, but unless you have a certain number in a short space of time, you can carry on “buying” Remember eBay don’t want to lose buyers.

 

This is very irritating because in any given month 10% of my sales result in non payment. I can reclaim my final value fees after a predetermined time which is higher for auctions than for BINS. Ultimately these “buyers” cost me money. I once had a non buyer who “bought” a whole range of products from me which cost me £85 in sales.

 

I can add these people to by blocked bidder list. But what does that mean? It’s not likely that they would buy from me again anyway.

 

So I should be able to leave a negative for non buyers. Remember that distance selling regulations mean that a buyer has 7 days to change their mind. It’s the law!!

 

More next time.

 

Rob.

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This Post is about eBay

Dealing with bad eBay feedback and complaints Part 1.

 

The eBay feedback system changed several months ago to only allowing sellers to leave positive feedback for buyers. This caused a great rumpus at the time in the eBay forums, with weeks of mostly negative comments about the changes.

 

So what was the problem and does it still exist? EBay perceived the system that was in place at the time was prone to manipulation. It was easy to gain positive feedback by buying enough 25p e-books so therefore buying positive feedback for a small amount of money.

 

It was also used buy a smaller number of sellers as a lever that they would leave bad feedback for other members if they failed to leave positive for them. Many including myself disliked the changes. I had very mixed feelings over the matter. Although I disliked the idea of using feedback as a lever over another seller or buyer, I disliked the fact that feedback could be bought.

 

I though the changes were ill thought out from the seller’s perspective as eBay were trying to keep buyers to make more money. The thought of negative feedback is a great disincentive to using the site.

 

Just after the changes were made I received an e-mail threatening that if I did not send double of the product I was selling for the same price as a single item I would get bad feedback. Needless to say I did not send another item free. Needless to say the negative comment was duly left and is still visible today on my detailed seller ratings (it is the only one).

 

So what can you do if you receive negative feedback? Well you can get mad; throw a wobbler, scream, shout etc, etc. Do you feel any better? Did it change anything? No.

 

Sometimes you just have to roll with it. You can ask the buyer or seller for mutual feedback withdrawal, where both parties agree to have there comments removed. It can work, it happened for me once but don’t hold your breath!

 

Continued next time

Rob.

 

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Making Money in the Credit Crunch

Its not a load of old flannel!!

 

In some of my earlier posts I have mentioned the importance of finding a niche market to operate in. The advantages are often little competition and bigger mark ups.

 

I thought it may be worth giving a few examples that I personally know about of people making a secondary income in niche markets.

 

A work colleague of my friend sells towels to hair dressers, tanning studios and beauty parlours. His wife notice the poor quality of the towels used at her local hair dressers. This started her thinking that if she could provide a better quality product at a cheaper rate they could make a very respectable second income.

 

They started by sourcing good quality towels from a local wholesaler, visiting local salons and offering a better product at a competitive price. They soon started making a second income. They then expanded this idea by visiting salons further a field.

 

Just by using Yellow Pages or yell.com they were able to find a huge amount of business within a 20 mile radius. They now have a turnover in excess of £3000 a month.

 

They have started to import directly from china which allows them to offer better discounts whilst still improving margins. With literally scores of businesses within a 20 mile radius of home, even if only fractions want to purchase from them it’s still a considerable customer base.

 

As towels are disposable items they will need to be replaced at regular intervals. They aim to offer outstanding value and service. However one simple mistake has cost them a few thousand pounds. They had an e-commerce website built to sell these items further a field. It was disaster with very poor sales conversions. This is a great example of where the face to face approach is much better than the anonymity of a website.

 

I’m sure you will agree that this very simple idea has been very effective.

 

More soon

 

Rob

 

 

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Making Money in the Credit Crunch

How to make money from McDonalds (or Burger King) instead of them making money out of you.

 

How often have you noticed a promotion at McDonalds or Burger King or one of the fast food outlets “celebrating” the launch of the latest block buster film?

 

Often these will be a happy meal with a free toy or toys. Lots of these become very collectable. However the currency of the product is very short but often become collector’s pieces in the future, changing hands at good prices. What is not often known is that the majority of these toys never leave the premises and are simply junked or sent for recycling.

 

Do you know anyone who works at these outlets? Maybe you could joint venture by listing the items on eBay and sharing the spoils. The condition of the toy is paramount as only the best pieces will command the best prices, simple really but it is something that is too often overlooked.

 

Ok so it will not make you a million! Well, at least not this week. But it’s a good supplement to your income for not a lot of work.

 

What about toys and games associated with block buster films or TV series that are available in the shops. I once picked up a selection of Creature Comforts figures for 50p each and sold them on eBay for many times more than I bought them for. Thanks Gary and Nigel.

 

The curse of the Were-Rabbit starring Wallace and Gromit has a promotional Thermo nose mug as a giveaway with PG tips tea bags. The price was £2.88 but was reselling on eBay for up to £14. Supply and demand, the price will eventually return to realistic proportions when the market gets swamped or the film comes to the end of its run.

 

So what’s the worst that can happen? Well I would have had enough tea bags for a year plus a collection of nifty mugs to drink it out of.

 

More ideas next time.

 

Rob

 

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