Mar
27

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #23

questions-answers-23Welcome back!

Another week has gone by and I have compiled the most interesting questions that were sent to me, in order to share them with other blog readers:

  • When and how do I pay VAT on imported goods from China?
  • What’s the best way to transfer money to eToro?
  • Dropshipping and selling allowances on eBay!
  • Where to get EAN codes to sell products on Amazon Marketplace?
  • What’s the best way to sell to regional eBay sites?
  • How to differentiate branded items from unbranded items when importing from China?
  • Where to buy silver plated jewellery in small quantities?
  • What to do when you lose your job and need to make money asap?

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I am a first time importer and I want to order from a company called Wisewell Holdings on Alibaba.

I can work out my import duty, which should be 0% on bunk beds, but my question is regards VAT.

How does this work; when and how do I pay it? Will I be contacted by HMRC?

Thanks,
Nick

Hi Nick,

As they’re quite heavy and bulky items (bunk beds), you’ll most likely ship them via sea freight, right? I can’t imagine how expensive it would be to ship them via a courier company! :-)

So when the goods arrive at the UK port, you’ll be contacted by the freight company who are taking care of the customs clearance procedure for you and they’ll let you know what taxes are due. Then you simply transfer that money so your goods can be released from customs.

To avoid excessive charges at the UK port, I highly recommend doing the whole shipping & customs clearance procedure via one company – a freight forwarder, who can give you a FIXED door to door quote. The company I recommend is Woodland Global. They will give you a quote for such a shipment and that will be the fee you pay, plus of course the actual taxes. [Read more…]

Mar
24

BEST Payment Processor for an ONLINE Shop?

best-payment-processorThough I nearly always recommend starting out on eBay and then progressing to Amazon, the last piece of the online business puzzle is starting your own eCommerce store!

I’m not going to go into too much detail now as I’ve written about this in a separate blog post (eBay, Amazon or an Online Shop?) but to put it simply – eCommerce is the holy grail and the potential is MUCH larger than if selling solely on other 3rd party platforms, like eBay and Amazon.

But of course with bigger potential comes more complications and decisions and one of the first questions that people face when creating their own ecommerce store is what payment processor to use? After all, you can’t leave it to Amazon to handle that or simply take PayPal and be done with it.

So that’s what today’s article is all about – a guide on which payment processor to use for your online eCommerce store.

Let’s get to it!

When choosing a payment processor, there are a few important things you have to bear in mind and they are:

Compatibility

This really goes without saying, but the payment processor you choose has to be compatible with the shopping cart that your eCommerce store is built on.

The shopping cart is the more integral part of your store that will affect everything else so I’d always suggest choosing that first and then finding a payment processor option that fits, not the other way around!

Cost

As with everything, the cost is a big consideration, both in terms of any up-front charges and then ongoing costs – which can include a monthly “subscription” fee as well as a per transaction charge (similar to the 3.4% PayPal charge on eBay).

Quality of Service

Again, this goes without saying, but nowhere is the standard and quality of service provided more important than here. After all, this is your customers’ money and entire business livelihood at stake!

Plus another aspect that I always place a lot of importance on is the quality and speed of customer support. It’s no use at all having a terrific service at an amazing price if when something goes wrong (as it invariably will) there is no way to get any help.

Speaking of problems occuring, another hugely important factor when comparing different providers is how they protect you from and prevent:

Chargebacks

For some high-risk niches this is actually the single most important aspect to consider and you need to choose a payment processor that has systems in place to protect you from fraudulent chargebacks. As I said, this should be a consideration for everyone but in some niches it’s even more important (such as when selling game codes, gift cards and other such digital goods). [Read more…]

Mar
20

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #22

questions-answers-22It’s FRIDAY!!! :-)

And that means time for another Questions & Answers blog post!

Today we’ll cover the following topics:

  • How to improve DSRs after an incident of bad luck?
  • How to insert product pictures inside an eBay template?
  • How up to date is the Easy Auction Business video course?
  • Is it possible to use Turbo Lister on two computers simultaneously?
  • How to start an eBay business with limited funds?
  • Excessive sea freight charges & how to deal with them!
  • Can you go in to debt when trading on eToro?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I was after some advice please, when you get a minute, as I have recently had my eBay account restricted because of poor DSRs. The reason for my poor ratings is items didn’t arrive and my customers opened cases against me; what actually happened was when InPost/CityLink went into administration, I had 4 parcels stolen by the couriers! I’ve subsequently had my insurance claims settled in my favor by Parcel2Go.

I refunded my customers within a two week period of the purchase date but because cases had been opened against me it has had this detrimental effect on my ratings. I don’t know what more I could have done? I made the sale and posted the item promptly, using what I thought was a reputable courier.

But eBay will not consider these facts and just say they will send me literature regarding improving my DSRs. I was aiming for TRS previously and still want to but this knock back has left me a bit dejected with the whole eBay experience.

Regards,
Jamie

Hi Jamie,

Yes, eBay never accept such reasons or excuses; they basically don’t care what happened or why packages weren’t delivered. And really that’s completely understandable as otherwise sellers would come up with all kinds of excuses as to why they got a negative feedback or low rating. Is their stance right or wrong? Well that’s a different question and inconsequential really – this is just how eBay works and you either play by their rules or don’t use them at all. [Read more…]

Mar
18

BEST UK Based Trade Shows in 2015!

trade-shows-2015I have actually written about trade shows before and I want to bring up the topic again today, because I think it’s such a valuable product sourcing concept, but one that is completely overlooked due to the emphasis of doing everything online.

And of course, that’s understandable really; with forums, blogs, sites like Alibaba, and all the other resources available to us, it’s easy to neglect the importance of offline interaction and the opportunities it presents.

So today I want to go over and introduce you to some of the biggest trade shows in different industries that you can attend.

But let me first point out that I’m going to be concentrating on trade shows held within the UK, as this guide is mainly intended for people in the early stages of creating their business, so a trip to China and its famous Canton Fair might not the best idea if it eats into your budget for stock.

Alright, let’s get to it!

Spring Fair, 1-5 February, NEC Birmingham

Unfortunately the Spring Fair has already taken place this year, but as Europe’s largest home and gift items trade show, it’s definitely something you should add to your calendar and think about attending next year.

I get asked a lot about branded products from big companies and where to find suppliers and here is your answer! Many of the exhibitors (here is a full list) supply products sold by the big high street stores, so if that’s something that interests you, be sure to check it out.

As I said, 2015’s fair has already taken place but if you want some more info (and to plan for next year) here is their site:

http://www.springfair.com/

Autumn Fair, 6-9 September, NEC Birmingham

That brings us onto the next trade show in our list, the Autumn Fair.

Similar to the Spring Fair, expect this one is geared towards festive, “on trend” items that are in high demand at the most important time of the year for sellers, September – December.

There isn’t that much information available about this year’s event, as it’s still a number of months away, but you can head over to their site to get some general info and some facts and figures about previous year’s trade shows:

http://www.autumnfair.com/ [Read more…]

Mar
16

Should you sell SMALL or BULKY items?

small-vs-bulkyCan you make money selling bulky items online? It’s a good question and one that I get asked regularly by my blog readers and customers. And while I do cover this topic in detail in my Easy Auction Business video course, I wanted to do a separate blog post on it as well, to help as many people as possible.

Before we get into the advantages and disadvantages of selling small VS bulky items, let’s first define what constitutes a small or bulky item in the first place. Obviously, there are no precise dimensions to stick with and it’s all very subjective but still, in my opinion, a small item is something you can send off to your customer as a letter or large letter in Royal Mail’s shipping formats.

The next size up is what I would call medium sized, which are items that fit Royal Mail’s Small Parcel size dimensions and only then come the really bulky and oversized items. To give you a better idea of my general classifications, here are a few product examples so you can see what falls into each group:

Small items:

  • jewellery
  • nail decals
  • video games
  • screen protectors
  • tickets

Medium size items:

  • shoes
  • headphones
  • trousers
  • portable HDD
  • mobile phones

Bulky items:

  • computer monitors
  • small pet cages
  • shower units
  • instrument cases
  • home cinema speakers

Oversized items:

  • weight lifting benches
  • chicken hoops
  • large tents
  • furniture
  • mobile sheds

In the context of this article, we’ll consider the first two categories small items and the latter two bulky items, just to keep things simple. But I will still mention some variances within each category as there’s obviously a noticeable difference between say jewellery and shoes. [Read more…]

Mar
13

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #21

questions-answers-21Hello & welcome back to a regular Q&A post this week.

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • How to properly expand & grow my eBay sales?
  • Can you get genuine sports jerseys from China?
  • What to do when eBay suspends your account?
  • Is there a “multi shop” shopping cart available?
  • Is 1688.com a legit website?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

Having followed your advice from EAB and on your blog, I have a few products with great looking listings that sell pretty well on both eBay and Amazon.

I am pondering my next move as I have a problem; I am undercut by competitors because they buy in greater numbers and probably use sea freight rather than courier which I have used so far as my order quantities are in the hundreds, not thousands. This is especially true for Amazon which is more price sensitive than eBay. I’ve come up with two ideas I can pursue, but can’t really afford to do both at the same time. My options are:

1. Buy existing products in greater quantities and start using sea freight (to bring down my cost and selling price and be more competitive).

2. Expand into other products.

I could do a bit of both but it would mean half-measures for each.

Just to sound out a possible solution… as a large proportion of importing costs seems to be in the transport, would you advise that I try to get smaller orders of different items from various suppliers and put them together to make a few pallets that I can then ship via sea freight?

Can this be done when the suppliers are from different areas in China? Maybe this is something that Woodland Global could help with or it could just be too much hassle to arrange from here?

Any advice would be welcome! Did you have this problem of expansion when you started out?

King regards,
Ali

Hi Alistair,

Great to hear you’re already making good sales, well done! :-)

As for your situation with expanding into new products or trying to bring down the cost of your current items – you really have to look at both options properly and consider the numbers and how it would work out. If your capital is limited, sea freight may actually not be your best bet as you have to keep in mind that it will take roughly 40 days for re-orders to arrive. With limited cash flow this may actually ruin your business (leaving high ranking GTC listings with no stock for too long time a time). [Read more…]

Mar
10

What contact details to include in eBay Listings?

contacts-on-ebay Today’s topic is a very simple one, but still hugely important.

You have to include enough contact details so that your customers can reach you if needed (plus it also adds confidence that you’re a legitimate business) BUT you have to also ensure you abide by eBay’s rules on what you’re allowed to include in your listings.

The problem is that these rules differ between eBay’s multiple sites (region by region) and that’s why people sometimes get confused. I’ve seen it many times myself; people search online and find an answer from a forum or blog and follow that for their listings but then they get in trouble with eBay as it turns out those rules were for another eBay regional site.

So, I’ve decided to create a quick resource that you can use and refer to whenever needed.

Let’s get to it!

eBay.co.uk

On eBay.co.uk you are “permitted to include contact information for the purpose of offering customer support…” and this can include:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Chat ID information

However, you are expressly not permitted to:

  • Link directly to an email or chat client
  • Include contact information for the purpose of soliciting sales outside of normal eBay processes
  • Post contact information in the title, subtitle, item location or images of a listing

All pretty simple really and it basically just means that the contact information you give should be displayed in your listing template and not thrown in to other random parts of the listing.

Also please take note about not including contact details in the images of a listing as I have seen a few people trying that recently by including their site URL behind the item in their product images.

And lastly, for UK sellers, you are actually required by law (Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002) to include your business information within your listings.

So you HAVE to include your business name and physical address. [Read more…]

Mar
06

Your Questions Answered: BEST of 1-20!

questions-answers-best-of-20

Last week we reached the 20th post in our Q&A series, which I am extremely happy about!

I never imagined that this series would be so popular so in celebration of reaching this milestone, today we have a slightly special post – a Q&A BEST OF!

I’ve chosen ten of the most interesting questions from Q&A 1-20 and compiled them below:

  • How to position and sell PREMIUM products on eBay?
  • Importing iPhone cases with Disney characters, is this illegal?
  • Supplier wants an order BEFORE a factory inspection!?
  • How can I create a successful eBay business with a brand new account?
  • What are “grey imports” and can I sell them?
  • How to manage my eBay business when going on holiday?
  • Selling used books on eBay and Amazon – is this still viable?
  • Becoming a slave to my own business!
  • What promo materials should I include with each eBay order?
  • Starting an eBay business with £100k

Enjoy!

Hi Andrew,

First of all I would like to thank you for website as it is such a good source of information. I have found some of your articles extremely helpful and the ideas you present have been very easy to implement into my own business, with great results.

I would like to ask your advice, and would really appreciate your help in the beginning of us trying to create a successful business on eBay.

1. As we will be selling European products on eBay, what do you think is the best strategy to enter the market with a product nobody else offers, in terms of brand and quality? There are of course plenty of low quality offerings but our products are 100% Italian or French made and we really want to emphasise the uniqueness of what we’re offering.

2. We’ve done our market research, looks at the sales, products etc. but do you think little extras will make any difference? Things like coloured bubble wrap, thank you stickers etc.? Basically do you think it’s worth investing in packaging to make us stand out from the crowd, even if it doubles the cost?

3. What 3 things you can suggest to invest money into that will put a smile on a customer’s face when he/she receives the product?

Thanks for your questions!

1) You want to make sure that you say it loud and clear – this product is PREMIUM quality, made in Italy and NOTHING on the market compares to it. Point this out in both the listing title and description. [Read more…]

Mar
04

Start Up Funding for New eBay Businesses!

ebay-loansThis is a topic that I’ve shied away from writing about a little bit, mainly because I don’t want to give general financial advice to people without fully knowing their circumstances, finances and plans.

However, I think this is a very important topic and something I need to cover as it really pains me to get emails from people struggling and in debt, all because they financed their online business dream in the wrong way!

So today, I’m going to be going over some of the options for financing a new online business. Let’s get to it!

Firstly, I want to clarify a common misconception about starting an online business which I hear all the time and just don’t agree with and that is “that you don’t really need a start up budget and can create a successful business with practically nothing”.

Unfortunately this is just false!

Of course there are some strategies and business models you can use to get started with a very limited budget BUT these aren’t ideal and you’re very limited in what you can do.

In fact, the main purpose of these low-budget strategies is to build up a proper bank so that you can really launch your business.

So many people think that though you need tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds to start an offline business, you can start an online business on a shoestring budget.

And while of course online businesses are much cheaper to launch than an offline one (that’s one of the great things about the internet – it opens up a lot of opportunities for people) that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still costs involved when you launch a proper online business. Things like:

  • Website Design
  • eBay Store and Template Design
  • Stationery Design
  • Samples
  • First Orders
  • Import Tax & VAT
  • Initial Supplies and Equipment

It all adds up!

Please don’t take this the wrong way and think that I’m saying it’s impossible to start an online business unless you have a big starting budget as that’s obviously not the case. There are many viable methods for starting out without much money (a few of which I’ve covered on this very blog that have been incredibly popular, links at the end of the article if you’d like to check those out) but just understand that these are limited and will mean more time and work from you before you can build them up into a big business. [Read more…]

Mar
02

Do You need an eBay Shop when Starting Out?

ebay-shopIf you have an established eBay business you’ll most likely already have an eBay shop subscription too, due to the various advantages it presents. But what to do if you’re just starting out on eBay and have sourced only a few products to sell? Do you need to sign-up for an eBay shop or can you do just fine without it? I’ll try to answer this question in detail in today’s blog post.

First of all – what are the advantages of having an eBay shop subscription?

A few of the most important ones are:

  • Ability to use the Good ‘Til Cancelled (GTC) listing format.

In my opinion this is the most important advantage of an eBay shop! If you want to rank your listings high in eBay’s search results in competitive niches, you simply MUST use the GTC listing format and follow my guide on how to get your eBay listings ranked in the top search positions. Without GTC listings you simply won’t be able to compete with sellers who use them and build huge sales history over several months and even years.

  • Savings in listing insertion fees.

I already covered fees in my recent eBay fees blog post so I won’t go into too much detail about it again now, but just so you know – with a shop subscription you get a certain number of free listings each month. Exactly how many depends on which subscription you choose but at a certain level in your business, this can provide a decent amount of savings in the amount of fees you pay.

There’s a very handy fees calculator on eBay which you can use to see exactly when it makes sense for you to move over to a shop subscription and which one is best for your business. [Read more…]

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