Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #28

questions_answers_28Welcome Back!

You guessed it right – it’s time for another Questions & Answers blog post! The 28th time, to be precise! Yes, this series has become very popular and I’m very happy about that as with the help of these blog posts I can cover a great range of smaller topics, which I wouldn’t be able to do standalone posts on.

So keep sending in your questions via the contact form on this page. Remember, my goal is to reach the 50th post in this series by the end of the year, so let’s keep it going!

Today we’ll cover the following questions:

  • Which business type to select when opening a new eBay business account?
  • What to do when shipping costs are DOUBLE what you pay for the actual products?
  • Is it still possible to make money on eBay in 2015?
  • How to increase an eBay selling limit of 5 items per month?
  • What is the best way to automate eBay order processing?
  • How to handle a large volume of customer support requests?

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

When opening a business account, it asks me about business type – manufacturer, retailer, charity, wholesaler, distributor, broker, jobber, market trader, dealer or other…as a sole trader who plans to import from China, should I select the other category? 

And business entity type – plc, ltd, partner, sole proprietor, charity, foundation and other? What would this be?

If my listings are more private nature, should I just use my name for my business name? Could I change this with eBay and HMRC if I think of a name later? What exactly is a private seller?

Thank you for your help. I’m just worrying about these registration details but after that I am ready to begin!

Thanks again,

Hi Delia,

Thanks for your email.

You’ll be okay if you select Retailer from the list of business types. Other will also work, as it doesn’t really matter that much what you select there.

Business type – sole proprietor (as it’s same as Sole Trader). [Read more…]


Gallery Images on eBay Should Be SQUARE!

gallery-imagesI have talked about this a lot in my product photography guides as well as more recently in Don’t Mess Up Your Product Images blog post. But I think it needs to be repeated as I review eBay listings every week that are repeating that same old mistake of NOT making their gallery images square! So I think it’s time to feature this problem once more, so that everyone gets it right.

You may be wondering why it’s so important to have square gallery images in the first place?

I will show you why!

Take a look at this search result:

search-gallery-imagesAs you can see, that one listing in the middle takes less than 50% of the SPACE available compared to other listings that use square gallery images! And I hope I don’t have to tell you that larger images will attract more views, clicks and sales as a result.

And this is exactly why you should always, ALWAYS have square gallery images for your eBay listings! eBay won’t take care of image editing for you, so you can’t just upload whatever images you have and hope for the best!

Even if image editing is not your thing and such technical stuff scares you off, you really should learn at least the basics behind preparing images for eBay use, following my image editing guide here. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want the same size (number of pixels) for both the width and height of your image, to make it square. [Read more…]


Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #27


It’s FRIDAY & time for another Questions & Answers blog post! Thanks for all of the questions you sent in during the last week.

Today we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • How to make importing work on a small budget?
  • How much money can you make per month by importing from China?
  • Can you re-sell products that are made specifically for chain stores?
  • Can you sell the same items from multiple eBay accounts?
  • How can you find out if a product is patented?
  • What’s the safest way to pay Chinese suppliers?
  • How to deal with unauthorised PayPal payments?
  • What’s the best & cheapest way to import mobile phones from China?

Let’s get started!

Dear Andrew,

I use your blog as if it is a bible, and would appreciate any guidance you could give to this newbie.

I currently live in Australia, and am very interested in the import business, but I cannot see how to lower the freight cost. is the product I am currently interested in importing, but I do not see how I am able to import it at an economically viable cost. The cheapest I am currently able to import it to Australia is via EMS at US $60 dollars which is $75 Australian dollars after conversion.

I also have two questions for somebody with such a large knowledge on this subject such as yourself:

Is it still possible to make good profit from the import business?

What kind of pay could a successful importer make on average, $/per month?

Thank you for writing your blog, as it is easily the most useful information I have read on this topic.


Hi Kyle,

You can’t really buy an item like this, in such a small quantity, then ship it via courier and expect to make any profit from selling it. It’s a cheap, rather bulky item – which means it’s totally unsuitable for shipping via expensive courier services. What you need to do is find a supplier/manufacturer on (not Ali Express) and buy this item in decent quantity – at least 100 units or so. The more you buy, the cheaper the price you’ll get.

As for the shipping – a cheap and bulky item like this (probably heavy too as it’s made from metal), needs to be shipped via sea freight, not air couriers! You can read more about how sea freight works in my importing from China article here:

This is the only way to make this work I’m afraid Kyle. If you can’t afford to buy this item in such a large quantity, you’ll have to look for smaller items which can be sent via courier services. [Read more…]


How 10 Grams Can Make or Break Your Business!

ebay-shipping-10-gramsThis may sound a bit overly dramatic, but with all the messages I receive every week about the “shipping cost destroying my profit”, I think it’s time to write about this!

And that’s what today’s article is all about – how small differences in the size and weight of a product can make a HUGE difference to your profit margin.

This is especially important with small and cheap items, and for eBay sellers – where the competition is intense and your margins are razor thin.

The best example to illustrate what I’m talking about here is the Large Letter format when posting with Royal Mail.

royal-mail-large-letterIf your item is small enough to post as a large letter with Royal Mail, then your postage cost is less than £1 per item (if it weighs less than 100g) which is tiny!


But I am continuously shocked at the amount of people selling items that could be posted as a large letter, but due to them using the wrong packaging, they end up paying for small parcel postage!

royal-mail-small-parcelAs a result they pay three and a half times more than necessary for their postage; and then they wonder why they can’t make any profit or compete with other sellers on eBay… [Read more…]


Behind scenes VIDEOS from Chinese FACTORIES!

chinese-factories-videosFollowing up on last week’s article on how to do proper, 3rd party inspection on suppliers in China, today I want to share with you 4 videos that cover in detail how Chinese factories work, how quality control works and many other aspects of business.

These videos are about 4 different electronic cigarette factories but they’re highly valuable no matter what products you sell as main principles will stay same in all factories based in China.

By watching these videos you’ll better understand and “read” your inspection reports, particularly quality control procedures, general manufacturing, packaging procedures.

Special THANKS goes to PBusardo & Dimitri for making these videos available to all of us!


[Read more…]


Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #26

questions-answers-26Welcome back!

After a short break we’re back today with another blog post in our Questions and Answers series.

Today we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Do you need a special export license to sell from the UK to USA?
  • How to automatically manage inventory levels on eBay and Amazon?
  • Can Turbo Lister handle 500,000 listings?
  • Which business registration form is most suitable for eBay traders?
  • How important are COMPLAINTS on a supplier’s Alibaba profile?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I have read a lot of info on your blog that has been very helpful, so thank you for your common sense approach! I wonder if you can help me…I sell on Etsy (I’m in the UK but sell to the US mostly) and I have recently had a large order for goods from a shop based in St Louis. I am completely miffed as to whether I will be liable for any taxes or have to register as an ‘exporter’ in any way and there is so much confusing information that I am overwhelmed!

Obviously I want a big sale but not if I am going to get hit with US taxes!

Can you help?

Kind Regards,

Hi Shelley,

First of all, you don’t have to register as an “exporter” in any way. There’s no such thing as registering to export in the UK, and you don’t need any special permission to sell your products to customers in the US.

Also, any taxes your customers have to pay in USA, are again, not related to you. Their import duty is their responsibility and if they’re importing from abroad on a regular basis, they will already know about any taxes that they need to pay. But either way, it’s not something that you are liable for.

So basically, if you’re currently registered as a sole trader or run a limited company, there’s nothing you need to do. If you don’t have a registered business yet, it would be a good idea to register as a sole trader now as you’re starting to make some decent money. You can read more about how to do so in my guide here:

And don’t worry, you can do this after the deal goes through (so there’s no need to delay it). [Read more…]


Trip to China: £3000 vs Factory Inspection: £70

china-factory-inspectionSo you have found that perfect supplier in China, using Alibaba or any other sourcing platform, you’ve made sure the company isn’t a scam, and everything went through fine with your sample order…

But now it’s time for you to send your first real order.

Be it for £1k, £3k, £10k or more – there’s a worry inside you that stops you from making that payment. You simply fear getting scammed, especially if it’s your first importing deal or first time ordering from that particular supplier.

So what can you do? How do you keep your chances of getting scammed to an absolute minimum? I have already talked about safe payment methods on my blog, and that is one incredibly important aspect, but there’s also one more thing you can do to fully verify the supplier that you’re dealing with. And that is – doing a factory audit/inspection using a 3rd party inspection service.

How does it work? It’s a pretty straightforward process – you hire an inspector who goes to the supplier and does an independent review on the company in question. This means checking the company’s registration documents, bank account information, office, manufacturing, warehouse facilities and many more things!

In essence it’s almost like you’re visiting the supplier yourself, just without the huge costs associated with a trip to China! I have been using such inspections for many years now and they’re really valuable when assessing new suppliers to deal with as well as checking the product quality while still in the pre-shipment stage.

Today we’re going to cover how this all works in detail so that you can use this as a guide in the future, when conducting your own supplier inspections.

1. First things first – letting your supplier know about the up-coming inspection.

You don’t want to hire an inspector to visit a supplier you haven’t been in contact with! They may simply refuse entry or won’t cooperate at all.

Of course normally you will already be in communication with the supplier as you contacted them to get more info about products (prices, MOQs etc.) and placed a sample order. So they already know who you are.

When you’re ready to do the inspection, simply let your supplier know that you would like to check their company using a 3rd party inspection service. In most cases, genuine suppliers won’t have any problems with this and accept it as standard procedure.

If your supplier refuses an inspection for any weird reason, for me personally, that would ring alarm bells and it usually means something is wrong. Either they’re not what they say they are or they’re hiding something from you… whatever the reason – if this scenario occurs, I would seriously reconsider using that supplier for a full order. The only valid excuse to not do an inspection would be if they’re on holiday or attending a trade show; any other stories I simply wouldn’t believe. [Read more…]


An Introduction to Split Testing on eBay!


In my recent article on Selling Bundles on eBay, I alluded to how it is much easier to make more money from your current visitors/customers than it is to find new ones – even though most people focus almost solely on the former.

So following on with this theme, today I want to introduce you to split testing on eBay and how you can use it to increase your conversion rate and make more sales – and ultimately, more profit!

But firstly, for those who don’t know, what is a conversion rate?

To put it simply, it’s what percentage of visitors to your offer (in this case your eBay listing) are converted into a sale.

That means if 1,000 people click on your eBay listing and 50 of them buy from you, your conversion rate is 5% (to calculate conversion rate, just take the number of sales divided by total views times 100%).

So straight away you should be able to see how important your conversion rate is, as it directly affects your sales!

Imagine there are two sellers on eBay, both selling the exact same product and making the same amount of profit (£20) from each sale.

They both get 10,000 views to their listing every month, but seller A has a conversion rate of 5% whereas seller B has a 3% conversion rate. How does that affect their overall profit?

  • Seller A = 10,000 x 5% x £20 = £10,000
  • Seller B = 10,000 x 3% x £20 = £6,000

And there you can see what a huge difference your conversion rate makes to your bottom line. From a small 2% difference, one seller makes 67% more profit than the other!

Or think about it another way – to make the same amount of money as seller A, seller B needs more than 16,500 visitors to his listing every month. So 6,500 more views to make the same amount of money…

And that’s not even considering the additional positive benefits of having a high conversion rate, as it’s well known that eBay bumps listings with a high conversion rate further up the search rankings. This creates an extremely powerful positive cycle:

A higher conversion rate = higher search position = more views = more sales = higher conversion rate!

Alright, great – but HOW do we increase the conversion rate in the first place!? [Read more…]


How To Increase Your eBay Sales with BUNDLES!

bundles-on-ebayToday I want to talk about an incredibly simple, yet still hugely effective tactic for selling on eBay called bundling!

Bundling is basically taking a product you sell and offering it along with another product (this could be an accessory or simply a related item) thereby creating a product bundle.

Easy, right!?

But you may be wondering what the point of doing that is? After all, if a customer wants to buy two items, then they’ll just buy two items, right, so really there’s not much benefit to bundling anyway?


There are a few very important benefits to bundling, such as:

  • Increased order value

Broadly speaking, there are two ways to make more money online – get more customers or sell more to your current customers. Most people focus their time, energy and resources on the first option, but really option no.2 is much easier and offers much higher rewards! By encouraging your customers to order product bundles rather than single items, you make more in sales and ultimately – more profit!

  • Reduced shipping cost

When selling online, the shipping charges can often make up the bulk of your cost when selling an item. By pushing your buyers to order multiple items in one go, you can drastically reduce your shipping cost per item!

  • Increased convenience = higher conversion rate

When you present well thought out and worthwhile bundles to your customers, you make their online shopping experience easier and this results in higher conversion rates.

Let’s say I am a parent searching for party hats for my son’s birthday; I head to eBay and search for “20x star wars party hats” and the first few results are exactly that, packs of children’s party hats… but then the third listing is for a complete Star Wars themed birthday set, including hats, cups, plates, balloons and wall decorations.


Terrific right!? Now I don’t have to search for each of these items individually and can order them all from one seller! The pricing seems decent – maybe not quite as cheap as ordering from the cheapest seller for each one but it’s hard to compare and I’m happy to pay a little extra in any case – so I go ahead and place the order.

And this actually brings me perfectly to the next big benefit:

  • Create a unique offer – it’s MUCH harder to price compare bundles

“eBay is all about the lowest price!”

You don’t know how many times I get an email or message from my blog readers along these lines, complaining that it’s impossible to be successful on eBay unless you’re the lowest price, BUT, that’s complete rubbish! [Read more…]


Don’t WASTE your time making an Online Shop!


On a regular basis I receive emails from my blog readers that go something along these lines:

“Hi Andrew,

Can you take a look at my online shop? I created it a few months ago but get just a few visitors a day and maybe a random sale once or twice a month. Can you check it out and see where I’m going wrong?”

And in many cases the shop itself actually looks very good, clearly they’ve spent some money on getting a decent design made and from the outside, everything looks just fine.

But the question remains – why are these shops making such little money?

Because in most cases people don’t market them, at all.

Most of the time, people build a shop and think that’s it. After that they expect thousands upon thousands of visitors and purchases, just like magic!

I’m sorry to burst the bubble but that is NOT how it works!

Building your eCommerce Shop and getting it right visually is very important of course BUT that’s only the first step, not the most important one. What matters more is WHAT you do after that!

Yes, I’m talking about promoting your shop, advertising it, publishing content, building high quality links, distributing content, doing social marketing and all those other things that build a solid SEO foundation which will result in natural traffic from search engines as well as direct traffic from your marketing campaigns.

And this is SO IMPORTANT to understand!

If you don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to do all of the above, then you shouldn’t even bother getting started. All you will do is waste your money. [Read more…]

Who Wants a £100k a Year eBay Business?Show Me How!