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…]


Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #25

questions-answers-25Welcome Back!

For the 25th time, a Questions & Answers post goes live on AndrewMinalto.com! Another small milestone reached! :-)

For those of you who are reading this for the first time – this blog series is all about YOUR questions, answered by me. Every Friday (almost) I put together a blog post covering the most interesting questions that were sent in to me the previous week so that all my blog readers can read and learn from each others’ ideas, experiences and mistakes. If you have a question that you would like answered, you can send it over to me via the contact form here, and chances are it’ll be featured in a future Q&A session.

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • How to order from multiple Chinese suppliers in one go?
  • Can we use coupons on eBay?
  • How to start selling supplements on eBay?
  • What stock levels are recommended for a brand new online shop?
  • How to resolve a “below standard” eBay account?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I have been searching various forum threads but am unable to find an answer to my question about importing for the first time.

I have various suppliers of different products and many are located at different ports in China.

My question is some suppliers have quoted me FOB price (some same port, some different ports) and others EXW price.

If they have different ports how does this work? For example: I have FOB quotes from Shenzhen, Dongguan, Shanghai and then I also have some suppliers who have given me EXW prices as the quantity doesn’t meet their MOQ.

I’m just not sure what the best and most cost effective way to go about this is? I have contacted freight forwarders but I can’t seem to get a direct answer.

Any insight would be very much appreciated!

Thank you,

Hi Gina,

I would highly recommend that you just stick with one supplier from one location, on FOB terms, in order to keep things simple – particularly for your first importing deal.

Sure, buying from multiple suppliers and multiple locations can be done with the help of a freight forwarder who will consolidate all shipments into one BUT it will be very expensive.

I guess your orders are not that big and if you need to consolidate several small packages, from various regions of China, you’ll pay more in shipping fees than you actually paid for the products themselves. Also, I would recommend staying away from EXW terms/prices as you’ll face further complications and charges you can’t really control. [Read more…]


How to EXPAND your eBay Business GLOBALLY!

international-ebayThose of you who keep up with our Questions and Answers series will have seen that I recently received a question about selling to other regional eBay sites. You can take a look at it here if you missed it.

And this question got me thinking – why not write an article on this very topic?

After all, it’s something that nearly every business owner is interested in, yet so many people simply don’t know how to go about it (as evidenced by the question I received).

But before we get into all the best practices and tips for ensuring your international selling is a success, I first have to preface this article with some tough truth:

For some niches/products, there won’t be any opportunities to sell internationally.

Generally speaking, the smaller the items the better as small and lightweight items can be sent anywhere in the world at a relatively low cost, using Royal Mail’s Airmail international service.

A perfect example is video games! I’ve seen huge success for some of my customers in this marketplace. Countries like Australia, some European countries etc. have much higher average prices for games than the UK which means this is a viable marketplace that you can take advantage of. (HINT: I’m not talking about new games only).

BUT that won’t be the case for all products!

Sorry, I don’t want to just blindly tell you that by listing internationally you’ll make 70% more sales as that’s simply not something that can be promised.

It depends entirely on your individual business.

Sometimes it won’t even be worthwhile and you should instead focus on expanding your product range and growing sales in your home market. After all, there is only so much time in the day so you have to focus your resources and efforts in the areas that will give you the highest reward.

Alright, enough about that – I just wanted to be 100% sure you understand that listing internationally isn’t always the right decision and is not the best option for every business.

But if it is, then the potential is huge. To put it simply, you’re opening your business up to many times more customers, which will result in many times more sales (if you do things right).

Going back to the video game example I spoke about earlier; an Easy Auction Business customer of mine had so much success selling in Australia that it became his no.1 source of sales… more so than even the UK, and at much better margins as well!

So the opportunities are there, if your business is suited to the expansion!

Now, the first thing I want to address, as I know many of you will now be thinking “what’s all the fuss about Andrew? All I have to do is sign-up for international sales when creating my normal listing and eBay takes care of the rest… what’s the big deal?” [Read more…]


FREE Image Hosting for eBay Start-Ups!

free-image-hosting-for-ebayLet’s talk about product images on eBay!

I have talked a lot about why EVERY eBay business should have their own web hosting account, for various reasons, such as:

  • The ability to use your own info@yourcompany.co.uk email address. It looks much more professional than a free Gmail or Hotmail email address (IMPORTANT: Read my Hotmail should be BANNED article if you’re still using a Hotmail email account for your online business).
  • Use of your own domain name and website. Even if you don’t have an online shop yet, you still should have your brand name/company name registered as a domain name because when you DO want to start an online shop, you need that domain name in place. Also, even if you’re just selling on eBay, you can promote/advertise your website/domain name to your customers and simply re-direct it to your eBay Shop!
  • Having full control of your image hosting. If you’re using a custom made template, or any template for that matter, you know that you need to host your product images online to be able to include them inside your listing description. Your own hosting account gives you this ability while maintaining 100% flexibility. For example, with your own hosted images you can change special promotions or urgent messages across all listings by simply changing the image file on your hosting account.

The last point is the most important as without an image hosting account of some sort, you really can’t create beautiful eBay listings.

However, many people who are just starting out face one of the following problems when considering a hosting account for their business.

  • They don’t have a brand name yet so don’t know what domain name to register.
  • They are working on such a small budget that even £6 per month for a hosting account + domain name may be too much for them.

For whatever reason, if you can’t open a hosting account right away, you have to look at other options, and luckily there’s a very easy solution: [Read more…]


Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #24

questions-answers-24Hello & welcome back for another weekly Questions & Answers blog post.

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • How to use MANUAL research alongside Terapeak data?
  • How to sell an established online business?
  • Where to report Alibaba scammers?
  • Can you buy branded electronics in wholesale from China?
  • What’s the easiest way to sort out shipping for product samples?
  • Can you still make profit on eBay in 2015!?

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Hey Andrew,

I follow your blog a bit and was curious about one of the topics you write about.

I bought Terapeak professional about a week ago and ever since I’ve had it, I’ve just been researching in circles. I get the idea of what I should be doing but at the same time I don’t. For example, I did some analyzing to the conclusion that I was going to buy wholesale sunscreen BUT after looking at hot keywords, I didn’t know if I should be buying a specific brand…

Looking at other competitors’ sales show they’ve sold random sunscreen here and there. I’d rather end up running my business with a certain level of consistency, so always having to change the product I’m selling doesn’t appeal to me (unless that’s how it should be?).

Basically my question is, once I have a particular item of interest, what should I do to find out if the item I’m going to buy is really the one I should be buying in bulk? I hope throughout all of my common sense-based rant, the question makes sense!


Hi Jeff,

What I personally do is introduce manual research at that stage as you’re right – just by looking at the numbers it’s hard to know exactly which brand, type, size, colour etc. items you should be buying and selling. By manual research I simply mean going to eBay and doing a search for that product and then looking at the first 3 pages of results, with the first page being the most important.

You just browse through listings and see which type/brand of product is selling best! This is usually the most popular product on eBay. Also, make sure to then check the sales history for the top 10-20 listings so you know what kind of sales volume each seller is achieving. The sales history will show you the dates of the last 100 transactions and you can use this info to easily calculate how many sales each listing generates per month. [Read more…]


A Complete Guide to Buyers-Scammers on eBay!

scamIf you go by all the posts and comments online, it’s nearly impossible to sell on eBay without being scammed, by the buyer! Pretty much every online forum or eBay related blog you visit will be FULL of such stories and from the emails I get, it’s clear that this is one of the main things that holds new sellers back from getting started on eBay.

But I’m happy to say that these buyer scams really aren’t as prevalent as is made out, and are much more common in certain niches, particularly more popular/everyday items.

And that’s actually one of the reasons you hear so much about this, because a lot of new, private sellers who list their own items (things like mobile phones, tablets, game consoles etc.) aren’t aware of the best practices they should follow, and end up getting scammed.

And that’s what today’s article is all about! I’ll be covering some of the more common scams on eBay and telling you exactly how to deal with them so that you’re never a victim to fraudulent eBay buyers.

To start off, I want to cover some of the selling rules and best practices that you should be following with all your eBay sales.

Create Buyer Requirements

This is probably the simplest and easiest way to reduce your exposure to buyers who are more likely to cause difficulties in a transaction.

Of course there is no universal list that tells you the user ID of all scammers but by applying some common sense filters, you can significantly reduce the chances of you being scammed.

You can block bids/purchases from buyers who:
  • Have unpaid items recorded on their account.
  • Have a feedback score lower than the number you specify (it goes without saying that not all new buyers are scammers, but a high proportion of scams come from new accounts with little feedback, so this is a great way to protect yourself).
  • Don’t have a PayPal account

Here’s an example of set of rules you can set in Buyer Requirements:

buyer-requirementsAnd you can also add difficult and problematic buyers to your “blocked list” via their user ID which will prevent them from buying anything from you in the future. [Read more…]


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?


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…]


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:


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!


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:


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…]


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.


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…]


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:


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…]

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