Dec
20

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #15

questions-answers-15This is it – the last Questions & Answers post of the year! I’ll be taking a break from writing starting next week (after the winners of my readers’ contest are announced) and will return on the 5th January (hopefully at least!).

I’m sure over the next 3 weeks I will receive tons of new questions from you so we’ll most likely start the new year with a MASSIVE Q&A post!

But for now, let’s cover some of the questions you sent in over the last 2 weeks:

  • Where to get stock Blu-Ray images?
  • What’s the best & quickest way to send a 100kg package from China?
  • Where to get small quantity children’s party dresses/costumes in the UK?
  • How to outsource your eBay tasks?
  • Best way to import giftware from China?
  • Do prices on Alibaba fluctuate based on season?
  • Can I use a Polish eBay account to sell on eBay UK?
  • What are your thoughts on using sourcing agents in China?
  • How to work with 3 eBay accounts at the same time from just one PC?
  • How to pay import taxes on a shipment from China?
  • Does Easy Auction Business come on a physical DVD disc?
  • Where to find good dropshippers in Greece?
  • Do I have to pay import tax on small shipments from China?
  • How does Ali Express’ escrow service work?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

You said to use Amazon for stock images of Blu-ray film covers, which is fine, but how are you lifting them – simply right click, copy then paste? Or are you saving the image first on to a computer and then loading it up to a template on turbo lister or directly to an eBay auction template?

Thanks,
Graham

Hi Graham,

Yes, what you do is you go to the Amazon listing for the Blu-ray you’re interested in; right click; open image in a new tab (this may differ slightly based on what browser you’re using) and simply download that image to your computer.

Mind you, these will usually be very large, high resolution images so before you upload it to your hosting account, you want to re-size it to something more suitable which you can do by simply following the steps in my image editing guide.

If you want to upload these images directly to eBay (gallery images), you make them square, 1600 x 1600 pixels IF the Amazon image is larger than that. If it’s smaller, make it smaller but still use square proportions, at least for the main gallery image. [Read more…]

Dec
16

£100 Amazon Gift Cards to my Blog Readers!

amazon-gift-cardYes, it’s that time of the year again – I’m giving away £100 worth of Amazon gift cards to my loyal blog readers! :-)

As we’re approaching the end of 2014, I want to ask you – my blog readers – what topics you want me to cover on this blog in 2015. This will be a fun & simple contest where 5 people will win a £20 Amazon gift card, delivered to your email right in time for Christmas.

What do you have to do to enter this contest?

Simply suggest a question/topic that you want me to cover on my blog next year. As easy as that! Just leave your suggestion as a comment below this post and you’ll be automatically entered in the draw to win a gift card from Amazon.

Here are a few examples to get you going:

  • How to properly format eBay gallery images?
  • What’s the difference between sea freight and air freight?
  • Do I have to register for VAT when selling digital products?
  • How to set-up a custom email address?
  • How much to charge for gift wrapping?
  • How to make my eCommerce shop SEO friendly?
  • And so on!

So what I’m after here is a list of questions you would like me to cover in detailed blog posts, how-to guides and videos. The more detailed your suggestions/questions are, the better, as I will make sure to cover them extensively in future blog posts. [Read more…]

Dec
11

How to Secure your Websites Against Hackers!

secure-websiteThree weeks ago I faced a server attack.

A serious attack that affected most of my websites and for a while I actually thought I would lose a large portion of my business because of this. Thankfully I managed to fix it and that’s why you’re now reading this post.

So let’s go into detail about what happened and most importantly – how to secure your online business and websites so that you never face a situation like this.

Even though I have dealt with various sorts of hacker attacks previously, this time it was much more serious. What happened was, by using some vulnerabilities within the software I was running on my server, hackers “infected” many of my websites with malware (software/scripts that can be controlled by hackers).

I luckily noticed it very quickly as when I was checking my server status (which I do almost every day) as I saw that there was more than 40 000 scheduled emails in my mail queue. Spam emails of course. That instantly raised alarm bells for me and I knew that something dodgy was going on.

This is what hackers usually do – they get inside your web hosting account or server (if you have one) and install malware to send out thousands of spam emails to email addresses scrapped over the net. This way they use your resources, your email addresses and hosting account to send out spam emails.

If you’re not careful and do not spot this in time, hackers can use your website for days or even weeks to send out tens of thousands of spam emails.

And this results in your domain name and email address being black-listed by mail service providers (such as Gmail, Yahoo) and even search engines!

I’m sure I don’t have to explain the severity of this as if you have established websites and online shops with a good Google rank; this can completely destroy years of hard work.

First Things First

If something like this happens to you, the first thing you want to do is contact your hosting company and ask them to DISABLE the mail sending function for your account. This effectively stops ANY emails coming out of your account and is the best temporary solution to put in place while you deal with the core problem – the actual malware.

If you have your own dedicated or virtual server running WHM & CPanel, you can do this on your own – by switching off the Mail Exim service. Either way, the idea here is to stop those spam emails being sent out while you clean up your websites. [Read more…]

Dec
05

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #14

questions-answers-14Hello & Welcome!

It’s time for another Ask Me a Question! post! Soon I will have to do this two or three times a week as the number of questions I receive from you has increased significantly! :-)

That’s fine though, after all the whole point of me posting these is that more and more people can hopefully learn from them.

So to not waste any valuable web space, here are the questions I will be covering today:

  • What’s the best way to send a 115kg package from China to the UK?
  • Do I have to register for VAT if I only sell digital products?
  • How to reduce time spent on support requests on eBay?
  • How to use barcodes with Linnworks?
  • How to improve productivity and grow my eBay Business?
  • How to properly set-up two eBay and PayPal accounts?
  • Why aren’t my items selling on eBay?
  • Tips & Tricks for selling second hand goods on eBay for profit!
  • How to increase my email subscriber conversion rate?
  • What to do with my eBay business when going on holiday?
  • Do I need to upgrade my eBay account from Personal to Business?
  • Does your Easy Auction Business course work in the USA?
  • Do I need to register a company to import goods from China?
  • Will My Suspended Account Affect Sellers on eBay?
  • Can I buy genuine Xbox controllers from China?
  • How to hide your supplier details from distributors?
  • Does Amazon steal your supplier information?
  • Can I make a full time income selling at market stalls?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I’m looking to start importing from China and I think I may have found a profitable product to sell on eBay.

I’ve been talking to a supplier on Alibaba and can get 90 of this item at $7 a piece so let’s call it £400. It will be in 5 cartons with dimensions of 75x44x76 and gross weight of 23kg per carton.

I’ve had a quote from FedEx for £1300 before duties and taxes, which eliminates my profit completely. Would the best way to ship this be via air freight? And if so after dealing with the forwarding company and any tax and duties, will it be significantly less than the £1300 quote? The total estimated sales on eBay with this item would be £1400.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks,

Adam

Hi Adam,

Sending 115kg goods worth just £400 via courier is not a good idea at all. As you can see from the quote you got, the shipping cost is way, way too much – eliminating any potential profit you may get out of this deal.

So you have two alternatives:

  • Air freight
  • Sea freight

If you send these goods via Air freight, you’ll receive them in a relatively short time, 5-10 business days. The downside will again be the cost as while it will be cheaper than courier, it will still be too expensive to make this profitable, considering the weight and order value.

So the only option left for you is to send these goods via Sea Freight. Shipping cost per pallet will be approx. £200-£300 plus of course you’ll also have to pay the freight forwarder’s fee, import duty and VAT. Shipping time will be roughly 30-40 days. [Read more…]

Dec
02

TURBOCHARGE Your eBay Christmas SALES!

ebay-christmas-salesChristmas – whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying one thing – there is huge potential in the holiday season for all business owners (no matter what niche you’re in) IF you know how to make the most out of it.

And that’s exactly what today’s article is all about – I’m going to share with you all the little tips and tricks that I’ve learnt and developed over the years, things that will ensure you take full advantage from Christmas this year.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

To start off, I want to address one of the biggest issues for Christmas sales, something that customers are extremely wary of and that is:

shippingWith the mass of postage being sent in December, and the extra delays sometimes caused by more extreme weather, not getting their order in time is a big worry for your customers…

And now you might be thinking, “there’s not much I can do about that is there Andrew?” Well, there is in fact:

Clearly listed last delivery dates!

As simple as it sounds, having a clear latest recommended order date for Christmas delivery will make a huge difference to your customers and will save you countless queries and messages about this very thing.

For those that post via Royal Mail, they have given the following dates for Christmas delivery for their different services:

  • Royal Mail 2nd Class – Thursday 18th December
  • Royal Mail 1st Class – Saturday 20th December
  • Royal Mail Special Delivery – Tuesday 23rd December

So you simply need to display this information clearly, either within your eBay listing or somewhere on your eCommerce store.

And of course the same applies if you’re using a courier – they’ll have the last shipping dates for Christmas delivery shown so find out when it is and pass that information onto your customers.

Please don’t ignore this point and assume your customers can find this out for themselves as they shouldn’t have to, and by presenting it for them to see quickly and easily; you’ll get more orders and, most importantly, cut down on post-Christmas complaints about late deliveries.

Offer multiple shipping options!

Again, this is something that seems so simple yet countless online sellers don’t offer any additional postage options for Christmas. [Read more…]

Nov
27

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #13

questions-answers-13Hello & Welcome!

It’s time for another Questions & Answers post and today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • Hong Kong vs China for Genuine USB Drives?
  • How Can I Make £1k a Month on eBay?
  • Help With My First Import from China!
  • Can I Still Make Money on eBay with Your Used-Goods Concept?
  • Is Alibaba Still a Viable Sourcing Option?
  • Selling Clearance/Closeout Clothing on eBay – Easy Money?
  • Declaring a Low Import Value so I Can Compete on eBay
  • Help With My Product Photography Set-up
  • Confused About VAT vs Sole-Trader vs Registering on eBay – Please Help!
  • eBay Sales Have Tanked! What Can I Do?

Let’s get started!

Hello Andrew,

My name is Mamun and I have recently purchased the EAB course. I’ve just finished watching all of the videos and it’s been extremely helpful for me (I’m now planning to buy more training materials in the future after seeing how useful they can be).

I have done some research on Terapeak and my current plan is to sell USB drives on eBay. I have searched Alibaba for suppliers, using SanDisk for example, and have found a supplier from Hong Kong with 6 year gold member status as well as an onsite check. Is it safe to order from this supplier?

Another company from China has the same features as the Hong Kong supplier but on the brand description they say ‘for SanDisk’ rather than just SanDisk? But the packaging is the same as the original so I’m a bit unsure? Is it safe to buy from such companies as they do have 6+ years gold membership?

One more thing – some companies mentioned Brand: OEM but I don’t really understand what this means, can you please help with this?

Thank you very much.

With regards,

Mamun

Hi Mamun,

Buying branded products from China is a very, very risky venture. While it’s true that you can get genuine branded products, particularly electronics, from Honk Kong, it’s still very risky – even more so when these storage products are involved.

6th year Alibaba Gold status is obviously a good sign and generally indicates a reputable supplier but it alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive genuine goods.

What you could do though is maybe order some samples from them and check whether they’re genuine products or not. It can be a tricky task though as often these knock-offs are so well made that it’s hard to notice any differences even when compared to originals side by side.

Also, when you deal with storage products, you have to be very careful and vigilant to ensure you receive the product you actually ordered. What I’m referring to here is one of the most common tricks used in this industry where you are sent the correct product but at a much lower capacity.

For example, you order 128GB memory cards but the supplier sends 8GB cards, but they look exactly the same. And you can’t even check this by simply inserting the card in your PC as they have programmed it in such a way that it will actually show as the fake storage capacity. So the only way to properly check such memory cards is to use special software or by simply manually trying to copy files to make up 128GB, that way you will know for sure whether or not the cards are the correct size. [Read more…]

Nov
25

Click and Collect for eBay Sellers – Useless Gimmick or Terrific New Selling Channel?

click-and-collectWith all the big and highly important changes eBay has introduced this year, such as eBay’s new seller standard, the Defect Rate, and Managed Returns (both of which I have already written about – Defect Rate & Managed Returns) it is not surprising that a smaller introduction has passed many people by…

What am I talking about? eBay’s new delivery service, Click and Collect at Argos.

But what is click and collect and how does it work?

Well, as the name suggests, it’s a simple process where your buyer purchases an item from you but instead of it being shipped to their home address, they instead collect it from their nearest Argos store.

Now initially this sounds terrific!

I mean, the more choice we can give to customers the more sales we’ll make and a collection service is very useful for people who can’t be home to receive a delivery and don’t want the hassle of chasing the courier and then having to drive to their delivery depot to collect the item…

This way, the buyer chooses to collect their item and is notified when it’s ready, then all they have to do is pick it up like a normal order from Argos, on their own time.

Incredibly simple and that’s why these click and collect services have always been so popular with consumers (just take a look at John Lewis, Currys/PC World, Tesco or even Argos itself).

BUT there is one big difference between what say, John Lewis, offer and the click and collect service with eBay and that is SHIPPING!

As you are obviously unable to store your actual products at Argos, you still need to ship them out as normal (except delivering to Argos rather than your customer directly) and once they’ve been received and processed, your buyer will then be notified that their item is available for collection.

So what that means is; using this click and collect service will take as long (if not longer including processing) than delivering directly to your customer. [Read more…]

Nov
12

CHEAPEST Packaging Materials for eBay Sellers!

cheap-packaging-materialsA few months ago, I wrote an article of packaging materials for online sellers and in it I go over the best options for different products – boxes, jiffy bags, mailing bags etc. BUT since then, I’ve received probably hundreds of emails from sellers asking me where to buy this stuff?

So I’ve decided to, once and for all, create a full comparison for you that you can refer to whenever you need to order packaging materials!

In this guide I’ll be comparing the big 3 options – eBay, Amazon and ecommerce sellers. But I won’t just say “go to eBay”, no – I will tell you exactly where you should go to get the cheapest price possible for your packaging, after all – overspending here won’t give you any benefits for your business and it’s simply an unnecessary expense.

Let’s get to it!

Jiffy Bags

The jiffy bag I’m going to be researching is probably the most commonly used by eBay sellers – the JL1 170mm x 245mm (‘DVD size’).

Now I always like to start my research on eBay, as it’s the quickest and easiest way to compare multiple sellers at once and to get a good idea of the average pricing, whereas in comparison you would have to go through hundreds of ecommerce stores.

So I start off by simply searching JL1 jiffy on eBay.

Now ignoring the multi-item listings for now I can straight away see that the price for 100 of these on eBay is around £11 (a little bit less).

jiffy-bags-1Next I’ll go through the first few results, which were multi-item listings, and see if any of them offer better pricing.

And yes, I find 100 of the same size JL1 jiffy bags for just £8.99 delivered: [Read more…]

Nov
06

New Office – First iMac and £400 Electric Desks!

my-officeRegular readers of my blog will probably have noticed that over the last few months I haven’t been very active in terms of publishing new content, well at least not as active as I’d like.

But there was a very good reason for this – I spent July, August and September moving into a new office which took A LOT of time and energy (plus mental anguish!). We all know how it is with a move, and this one was no different – nothing went to plan and every schedule quickly went out the window.

Some of you may remember that early this summer, after finishing work on the brand new version of Easy Auction Business, I promised myself that I would spend the rest of the summer with my family, just take some time off and recharge myself for the new season.

If only life was that easy! ☺

I’ve had plans to expand for some time already, particularly as my new handmade greeting cards company needed more space for assembly work stations, warehousing etc.

And early in July, I received an offer to rent a bigger office space not far from our previous location. The offer was so good that I couldn’t resist and signed-on and as the new place needed some renovation I spent most of July and August on that, plus of course the actual moving process itself.

office-desk-1

office-desk-2

office-desk-3But nothing to worry about now as luckily this has all be done and we’ve been settled in our new office for a few weeks now, continuing with work as usual.

So in today’s blog post I wanted to share a few things with you that I have implemented in my office to improve productivity and in general – make the whole office routine more enjoyable and easier to handle.

‘Special’ Desks

electric-desk

The first new thing I wanted to bring to our office was height-adjustable desks. Mainly for health reasons of course as we all know how bad it is for you to sit down in front of a computer all day long. Also, keeping in mind that the employees for my new greeting card company need to work on various machines, I really wanted to offer them the best in terms of workspace ergonomics.

Now some of you may never have heard of them before so might now be wondering what on earth these height-adjustable desks actually are? Well basically they are normal desks with one important distinction – you can alter the height with the push of a button.

They have a special motor underneath the desk which is powered from the mains and a small up and down button panel screwed beneath the desk surface. [Read more…]

Oct
31

How to Remove Defects on eBay!

remove-defect-ebayFollowing on from Part 1 of my guide to defects on eBay, we’re now going to take a look at what defects can be removed and how.

As was the case previously, when your positive feedback percentage was the main indicator for seller performance, it is very difficult to get a defect removed from your account and really, it can only be done in very specific circumstances.

Automatic Removal

There are a few instances where eBay will automatically remove a defect from your account, such as:

  • If the buyer doesn’t pay for their order (but you HAVE to open an unpaid item case for the defect to be removed).
  • An eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Buyer Protection case is ruled in the seller’s favour (though obviously this is a very rare occasion).
  • If eBay takes action against a buyer for violating their buying practices policy.
  • If eBay can determine, through valid tracking, that the defect was the direct result of systematic delays in delivery or communication – such as wide scale postage delays, items being stuck at customs (through no fault of the seller), power outages due to extreme weather etc.

With this last point, it has to be a wide-scale problem for eBay to remove the defect.

Don’t think that you can show that your courier didn’t show up when they said they would and that’s why the item arrived late, not at all! It would only apply in a case such as Royal Mail delaying deliveries due to extreme weather or if you couldn’t respond to a buyer because eBay’s site was down.

But again, it can’t have been a problem for you specifically, so it won’t matter to eBay if your internet was down (even if you can prove it) – it has to be a wide-scale problem.

With these automatic cases – defects should be removed on a Wednesday so if you believe your case falls into one of the above categories, keep an eye on the defect via your seller dashboard and monitor whether it is actually removed.

defects-rateIf not, you’ll have to contact eBay and ask them to do it manually.

Now I know what you may be thinking – is that it? Surely there must be many other instances where eBay will remove a defect?

And the short answer to that question is – no. [Read more…]

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