Feb
25

How to LEGALLY Spy on your eBay Competition!

spy-on-ebayWouldn’t it be nice to see exactly how well your competition is doing on eBay? To see how much money they make in sales each month? To see their best selling items, to see what listing formats they use? What listings titles and upgrades? Even the exact sales they get from each individual listing?

Well, it may surprise you to hear this but you can already do all of that, and more, using nothing other than Terapeak!

If you’re not familiar with Terapeak, to put it simply, it’s the world’s best and most popular eBay research tool. It’s cloud based software that gathers data from millions of eBay sellers and billions of listings in total to show you the specific data you need.

This all happens online, so you don’t have to install anything on your computer. All you have to do is sign-up for a Terapeak account and you can start doing research straight away. To learn more about how Terapeak works, check out my previous guides here:

IMPORTANT!!! When you sign up for a Terapeak account, make sure to select the Professional Plan as only that provides you with competitor research tools. And no, it doesn’t matter where you live – UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Australia, France or Italy – you can do research on all these regional eBay sites from your main Terapeak account.

So once you have an account sorted and have learnt the basics behind Terapeak, you can move on to the next level by learning how spying on your competitors can help you with both the product research phase as well as when you’re already running a successful eBay business.

Let’s cover these two scenarios separately.

How to use Competitor Research to find new products to sell on eBay!

If you’re new to selling on eBay, your biggest hurdle will be finding good, profitable products to start with. And the same applies to existing eBay businesses too as you should always be looking for new items to add to your product range. And I believe this is the biggest advantage of Terapeak’s competitor research function as it essentially allows you to BORROW other seller’s research work and simply copy it in the blink of an eye! [Read more…]

Feb
23

How to Import & Sell BATTERIES on eBay!

batteries-on-ebayAs many of you will already know, in 2013 new regulations were introduced to control international air shipments of batteries and as of January 2015, these regulations were tightened by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and some further rules were brought into place under the Dangerous Goods Regulations.

And these rules aren’t just applicable to stand-alone batteries, but also to the lithium ion batteries commonly used in mobile phones, cameras, computers and other such electronics.

So if you deal with these products or have any plans to deal with these products, you need to be aware of all the rules and regulations in regards to shipping these batteries, both internationally and domestically.

Why Are These Regulations Even Being Introduced?

Firstly I want to very quickly go over why these rules are being brought into place at all and the reason for it is actually very simple – though most people are unaware of the fact, lithium ion batteries are actually very dangerous and are prone to shorting, overheating and catching fire.

Therefore, it is incredibly important that they are sealed and transported in the correct way.

I won’t go into all the explanations and reasoning behind this, as it’s not really necessary for us to understand/know about that, but of course if you are interested in reading more about this, there are countless news stories that you can find online that delve into it further.

But for our purposes, let’s see how these rules and regulations affect the import of batteries.

Importing Batteries Into the UK

Importing batteries from China to the UK is very difficult (and expensive) with all the new regulations in place. Depending on who you’re using for the shipment (courier vs air freight vs sea freight) and the specifics of what you’re importing, you may even have to agree a specific contract if your shipment is classified as containing “dangerous goods”.

As I said, this depends a lot on the specifics of exactly what you’re importing and if the batteries are already contained in equipment (this is considered safer and the rules are slightly more lenient). [Read more…]

Feb
19

My 2015 eToro Investment Update!

etoroIt’s finally here – the long awaited eToro trading update for 2015! I know that many of you have been waiting for an update from me on eToro since last year and I’m very sorry that it took so long for me to get this done. You know how it goes – there are always too many tasks on your plate and there have always been other topics of higher priority that I needed to cover on my blog.

But as it turns out, I’m actually very glad that I didn’t write this update earlier as just last week, eToro launched a brand new, totally revamped stats page, which we’ll cover later on in this post. So this will be the latest, most up to date material you could wish for.

For those people who are totally new to eToro and don’t know what this is all about, I recommend you check out these two posts first:

The first post describes what eToro trading is all about and will give you a basic understanding of how this works and the principles behind my investment plan, which utilises the Copy Trader function on eToro.

The second article is an update I did in 2013 in which I go over all my discoveries, tips and tricks (as well as mistakes!) – everything that I learned during the early days of my investing career.

Both of those posts are very valuable and still valid in 2015. There are some technical changes that I will cover in this blog post but the overall strategy of copying low risk traders remains the same, as I’m simply looking for a relatively safe investment form with higher gains than bank deposits or property rental.

Ok, so let’s cover the latest news on eToro and take a look at how my investment is getting on in 2015!

Deposits/Withdrawals

etoro-depositsI really wanted to start my update on this topic as there seems to be a lot of misconceptions and false information floating around the net; people saying that eToro didn’t let them withdraw money from their account and other such nonsense. First of all, let’s cover the basics of uploading money to your eToro account.

Once you have registered for your free account, you can go to the Cashier section and upload funds in various ways:

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Skrill
  • Neteller
  • Webmoney
  • Wire transfer (bank transfer)

The minimum deposit amount is $50, apart from wire transfer, where the minimum is $500. [Read more…]

Feb
16

Accounting for eBay sellers SIMPLIFIED!

accounting-for-ebayToday’s topic, accounting software for eBay/eCommerce sellers, is something that I’ve put off writing about for a while.

Why? Well the main reason is that I personally outsource ALL of my accounting to a professional accounting company.

After all, I always preach about outsourcing and hiring a professional who will do the job better than you, and this couldn’t be more true than with accounting, especially when you consider the number of different businesses that I own and operate.

But for small business owners and sole traders, who simply need to keep track of everything for their own sake and to help with filling in your basic end of year self assessment, this is not 100% necessary and you can definitely get by using some of the great online tools that are now available.

So I’ve finally decided to tackle this subject, as I get an insane amount of questions about it, and even if you just use this as a starting point in your own research, that’s still good enough.

What Are The Options?

To put it simply, your first real choice is whether you want to go down the manual route and record everything yourself (using Excel or simply good old pen and paper!) OR if you want to invest in accounting software, which will help you record and monitor your business’ cash flow, profit and loss, invoices, tax liability and even VAT (with some of the more advanced options).

With very simple eBay businesses (where all your sales come from eBay/PayPal and your expenses are limited to eBay fees, PayPal fees, postage and of course buying stock) then the manual method is perfectly viable.

There are a lot of Excel spreadsheets that you can find online for this or to keep things really easy – you can simply download transactions from PayPal and just manually add expenses.

The benefit to doing it like this is of course the little to no cost and overall simplicity of the whole process, after all, the last thing you want is to have to learn how to use complicated software when it isn’t at all needed for your business and circumstances. [Read more…]

Feb
13

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #19

questions-answers-19Hello & Welcome to yet another weekly Questions & Answers session!

If this is the first Q&A post you’re reading, this is how it works – you (my blog readers) can send in questions related to eBay, importing, or any other general online selling topic using this contact form and each week I pick the best questions and answer them publicly on this post. Rest assured, even if I don’t publish it here, I do personally answer every question via email.

So if you have a question or two you want me to answer for you, click here to submit a support ticket and I’ll do my best to get back to you within 24 hours, Mon-Fri.

Today’s questions are:

  • What happens when a Chinese supplier under-declares the value of goods?
  • How to re-brand products to increase their value?
  • Can I sell copies of “patent pending” products?
  • Best way to sell mobile phone cases on eBay?
  • Where to host your website for maximum speed and reliability?
  • Why are shipping costs from China that high?
  • Are import duty and declaration fee two separate fees?
  • Can I use Western Union to pay a 9 year Gold Supplier on Alibaba?

Let’s get started!

Hey Andrew,

I read your blog post on importing from China and was wondering if I could ask a couple of questions?

I recently made a couple of orders from china after having a successful run with products, totalling £750.

I have been shipping with EMS even though there is a 2-4 week delivery time as it’s cheapest by far and via courier the profit margins are nowhere near as good.

One thing I came across is that though the supplier asked me for the value to declare and I said just put the total of all items, once in my trial run it was put as much lower.

Do you know what happens if your Chinese supplier under-declares the value of the goods being sent? And also I was wondering if it would actually be cheaper for my supplier to send 12 units individually rather than as a lot? As each one is under $20 they do not receive import VAT. I’m guessing import VAT is payable on the whole package rather than each unit inside?

Is this illegal, importing separate packages?

I’m in a learning process at the moment and want to ensure I do it correctly and your blog was very helpful.

Thanks,
Matt

Hi Matt,

Yes, absolutely – import duty and VAT are payable on the total order/shipment value; it really doesn’t matter how many boxes are used or how many items are in each box. If it comes in one shipment, value is calculated on the whole order.

If your supplier undervalues goods, there are two scenarios that can happen:

1) Customs stop the shipment because they think the declared value is too low. Then they contact you and ask for proof, such as invoice and payment receipt, to verify the actual order value. This is a very common procedure and doesn’t involve any fines against you. [Read more…]

Feb
11

Buy It Now VS Auction VS Good ‘Til Cancelled!

 best-ebay-listing-formatI received an email last week from one of my Easy Auction Business customers, asking me about which listing type they should use for their products… and it got me thinking – why not go through all the listings formats available on eBay and compare them for my blog readers.

And that’s what today’s blog post is all about – a quick guide on all the different options for listing on eBay, the different fees, and which you should use in different situations.

By the end of this, you should never have to wonder which option is best, Buy It Now or Auction, 3-Day or 5-Day etc.

So let’s get to it!

Fees for Private Sellers

First things first, let me quickly go over how this works if you’re a Private Seller, in terms of the fees.

Basically, for private sellers, eBay have created a very simple system: you get 20 listings each month with NO insertion fee, after which it’s £0.35 per listing (regardless of whether it’s an auction or buy it now).

And you also pay 10% of the final value fee for all listings as well (plus of course the PayPal fee, which is 20P + 3.4%).

So for private sellers, there is no difference in fees between an auction and a fixed price listing.

As a private seller, you can also opt for a Basic Shop subscription (no, you do NOT have to be a business seller for this, as many people erroneously believe) which means a monthly subscription but more free listings and a slightly less final value fee.

At the moment, a basic shop subscription costs £19.99 per month and for that you get 100 free listings (vs. 20 without) and 8% final value fees (vs. 10% normally).

It’s very easy to decide whether it’s worth going for the shop subscription, as you just have to look at your number of monthly listings and see if it makes sense financially.

So for example, if you sell 35 items per month, at an average of £10 per item, that would mean you pay the following eBay fees:

15 x £0.35 = £5.25 in Insertion Fees
35 x £10 x 10% = £35 in Final Value Fees

Total Fees per Month = £40.25

Now let’s do a quick comparison to the fees you’d pay with a shop subscription:

£0 in Insertion Fees
35 x £10 x 8% = £28 in Final Value Fees
£19.99 for the Basic Shop Subscription

This gives a total of £48.00, meaning in this case it wouldn’t be worth going for a shop subscription.

For another quick example, let’s say you buy and sell used Blu-rays and each month you sell around 150 of them, at an average price of £4: [Read more…]

Feb
09

How to Add YouTube Videos to Your eBay Listings!

embed-youtube-on-ebayOne of the easiest ways to bring online selling closer to the real life experience is by using video. Product pictures, if done properly, also are very important of course but with some products, video is just so much more effective, especially if you can demonstrate how it works and give a brief review of the product’s features and benefits.

It’s actually surprising to see how few eBay listings have videos in them. All the major online shops, including Amazon, have been using product videos for quite some time now. eBay, as always, is a few years behind everyone else and does not provide a simple way for people to upload videos to listings.

It’s not prohibited though – eBay does allow videos to be embedded inside listing descriptions but you have to figure out how to do it on your own.

If you don’t want to learn special video hosting programs or pay for them, the easiest way to do this is simply by using good-old YouTube for this purpose. It takes just a few steps to add a YouTube video to your listing and best of all – it’s 100% free!

There are a few downsides though:

  • YouTube videos may show ads when played in your listing, potentially turning some customers away.(if you OWN the video, you can disable ads in your account settings).
  • YouTube videos will show related videos at the end of yours which can again potentially take customers away from your listing.
  • YouTube videos on eBay will play in Flash, which means that they won’t be shown to people using mobile devices that don’t support Flash.

So it’s certainly not a perfect set-up, BUT, if you need something that’s FREE and easy to use, it’s still your best option.

I will also try to cover professional video hosting/embedding systems in the up-coming months – as though there is a cost attached, they do eliminate all 3 of the problems described above.

Ok, without further ado, let’s get started!

How to Embed a YouTube Video In Your eBay Listing!

Up until recently, this process was very easy – you just had to go to the YouTube video you want to use, click on the Embed button, choose “use old embed code”, set the size and simply COPY & PASTE that code inside your listing description. Easy!

Unfortunately YouTube doesn’t give the “use old embed code” option anymore which leaves only their default embedding code active. The problem is that it is an iFrame code – something that eBay does not support. So you can’t simply copy & paste this iFrame embed code into your listings… as nothing will show up!

Luckily there’s a pretty quick and easy workaround – you have to manually edit the old embed code with the video you want to play. This will require some HTML editing skills BUT please don’t be put off by this – it’s actually a very easy task and I’ll show you exactly, step by step, what you need to do to get this done. If necessary, please go over this guide as many times as needed and just practice until you get the hang of it. [Read more…]

Feb
06

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #18

questions-answers-18It’s Friday, which means – time for another Questions & Answers blog post!

Today we’ll cover these questions:

  • Can you start an eBay business using just a mobile phone?
  • Do I need an EORI number when ordering samples from China?
  • How to cancel transactions on eBay WITHOUT getting a defect?
  • Where’s the best place to buy jewellery in bulk?
  • Do I need responsive eBay templates in 2015?
  • Should I pay PayPal fees when buying goods from Alibaba?
  • Courier OR freight forwarder – which one is cheaper?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for all the information and the link you sent me! I have one more question and then I will finally be ready to start. I do not have a laptop or a working computer at the moment and because of that I only have my mobile phone to access eBay so my question is, can I start buying and selling using just my mobile or do I need to buy a laptop or a computer to build a full time income on eBay?

Thanks,
Alex

Hi Alex,

In a word – YES! You can definitely start selling using just your mobile phone and mobile eBay/eBay app. It won’t be as handy as working with a computer but you can still do it. You can still take product pictures, write descriptions and list items for sale. Yes, you won’t be able to use listing templates or format them with a visual editor BUT if you have no choice, you can still use just a mobile phone to get started,

Building a full-time business on eBay takes time and capital to invest in stock though. The more money you can invest, the quicker you can grow your business. But it’s not only the amount of money that determines whether you’ll make it work or not. Even more important are your personal qualities – how driven and how motivated you are!

I know a person who started on eBay with just a few hundred pounds and turned that into a full-time income in 7 months, working with the used goods model. He only managed this because he was highly motivated and spent every free minute he had on his business – looking for products to sell, creating listings etc. etc.

If you have loads of unwanted items, you can simply start with them – risk free! You can learn everything you need from my blog, such as how to take great product pictures (even with a smart phone) & how to create beautiful listings and then you simply get started! There’s really no risk in selling off unwanted items from your home and it’s a great way to get some experience. And if you’re good, you’ll create some decent start-up capital by doing this which you can then invest in importing goods from China or buying wholesale.

Lastly, if you need a step by step program on how to achieve this, take a look at my Easy Auction Business video course (instant access).

With the help of my course, the sky really is the limit! [Read more…]

Feb
04

How to Monitor your Online Shop 24/7!

pingdomI recently wrote an article about protecting your website from hackers and I’ve received a lot of interest and questions from you about this and about website downtime and monitoring in general.

And that’s not a surprise to me – a lot of people simply don’t even consider this as a possibility until it affects them, and by then it’s too late as the damage has been done. So well done for trying to protect your sites and your business – after all, prevention is the best cure of all.

One specific aspect of safeguarding against hackers and other causes of downtime that I spoke about is monitoring. Time is of critical importance with these hacker attacks and the longer it is before you notice something is wrong, the worse it’s going to be.

And that’s why today I want to share a service/company with you that can monitor your website or an online shop (self hosted) for any outages, as well as any issues with performance.

The company is called Pingdom and they have a range of plans available, starting from £9.95 a month all the way up to £329 a month (that plan offers a lot more than simple up-time monitoring).

And they also have a completely free plan so if you only need to monitor one website or server and can’t quite afford the monthly options, this is a great alternative to still ensure that your site is monitored. I personally use free account too and just purchase extra credits to receive SMS notifications.

pingdom-monitorsFor a full comparison table between the different plans, head here: https://www.pingdom.com/pricing/ but in essence it just depends on how many sites you have and how popular they are (monthly pageviews etc.) so for a small blog or site the Starter plan should be more than sufficient and possibly even the free one!

One thing I like about Pingdom’s service is that as well as the usual up-time monitoring, their plans also include Real User Monitoring. [Read more…]

Feb
02

To Niche or Not to Niche?

niche-or-no-niche“You need to find a niche.”

You have probably heard this phrase from me many, many times. And you’re sick of hearing it, because finding a profitable niche becomes more and more difficult and problematic as there are probably ten times more online businesses nowadays compared to say 10 years ago.

From the emails I receive from my blog readers I know that finding that perfect niche is one of the most difficult tasks for people who are just starting online. In many cases it’s because people simply struggle to think out of the box and can’t see anything beyond the usual phone accessories, designer clothing and video games.

But do you REALLY need to find a niche to make money on eBay?

That’s what I’m going to try and answer in today’s blog post.

What is a Niche?

For those of you who are new to the whole “selling online” game, let me explain how we use the term “niche”. You can probably find dozens of various definitions online but to put it simply:

“A niche based business is a business selling a specific product or group of products, targeting a specific customer profile”.

It simply means that you don’t sell EVERYTHING (like Amazon) but concentrate on specific product categories (possibly even single products) or customer profiles.

Just to give you some examples of typical niche businesses:

These are all classic examples of niche businesses. These companies sell a specific range of products targeting a specific customer profile. You won’t find video games on Big Dug’s website or designer clothing on CamLab.co.uk [Read more…]

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