May 22, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

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,
Delia

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).

A private seller simply means an INDIVIDUAL selling on eBay, it has nothing to do with privacy. On eBay, with a business account, you should use your brand name or website name (without the domain name extension), not your full name.

Hi Andrew,

I have a problem regarding getting my items shipped from China to the UK.

My freight and customs cost are excessively high – how do I get around this?


There has to be some mistake as I’m being quoted double the cost of my product which is taking me out of my target price range! Please help!

Thanks,
Shazad

Hi Shazad,

There could be several reasons for this, such as:

1) Wrong shipping method. This is the most common mistake newbie importers make – choosing an unsuitable shipping method for the products they purchase. Courier is cost effective only if you import very small, lightweight products (jewellery) or slightly bigger but high priced products (like mobile phones). For larger and cheap items or bulky items, courier costs will be way too high to make such a deal profitable.

With such items you have to use sea freight to get the best possible prices.

2) Order size is too small. Again, this is a classic newbie mistake. Many people think that they can buy just a few products from China, ship them over and make decent profit by re-selling them on eBay. I’m sorry but that’s just not how things work anymore, in 2015. You really have to buy in true bulk to get the best prices from suppliers AND, what’s even more important, to get as low a shipping cost per product as possible.

There’s always fixed costs associated with any shipment and then a variable part based on how large the shipment is. For example, a 100 kg package via sea freight may cost almost exactly the same as a 200kg package, due to those fixed costs which make up a large portion of the shipping fee for smaller orders.

So evaluate your order based on these two factors Shazad and see if any improvements can be made.

Hello Mr Andrew,

I am considering starting a small eBay business soon, but in my research I have come across many sellers who are quitting due to increases in fees. They simply say “it’s not worth it anymore”, and some of these sellers have been members for a long time. This is a big knock down in my motivation because I thought it would be a good opportunity, but then many people who are already experienced are quitting.

So what should I do? Start up a business or not? I’m in a bit of a dilemma here and I would like your advice.

Thanks,
Saleem

Hi Saleem,

Increase in fees? eBay & PayPal fees have been almost the same for the last 5+ years, so it has nothing to do with increased fees. I also hear many people say they will move away from eBay to Amazon because the fees on eBay are too high! Well, in reality the fees on eBay and Amazon are very similar, so it’s really not that much about fees.

Competition – yes, it has increased on eBay and in many niches margins are very small, especially if you’re not creative and just copy what everyone else is doing. You can’t simply pick a well known product, buy it in small quantity from China and expect to make profit. Every man and his dog is doing this on eBay and that’s why many people can’t make any profit.

If you want to succeed on eBay, you must do MORE than everyone else is doing and be the best, not just average. Be creative when looking for products to sell, use your own branding, create superb listings/product pictures, unique offers (kits/bundles), use smart listing strategies etc. etc. if you do this, you can still make money on eBay in 2015 and beyond.

And by the way – you can simply call me Andrew! 🙂

Hi Andrew,

I have only been allowed to sell 5 items a month, so would you advise me to start another account, and which way is the quickest to improve my selling limits?

Thanks,
Steve

Hi Steve,

There are no magic recipes for fixing account limit issues… opening a new account won’t help you much as it will most likely carry the same 5 item limit as your current account.

Really the best way to increase and lift limits is to simply sell to your max allowed limit, wait for feedback to come in and then simply contact eBay and kindly ask them to increase your limit (as you have more items you want to list). So for example, if you have reached your 5 item limit in May already, i.e. sold all 5 items and received at least 2-3 feedbacks from these transactions, contact eBay straight away and ask them to increase your limit.

Hello Andrew,

I have been following your valuable blog for quite some time and have really learned a lot from your deep insights.

We are selling well on eBay now but this has led to a new problem as the orders and eBay messages keep on increasing, and it’s becoming increasingly time consuming to keep up with them all. As a result we miss out on some orders and messages, which results in some negative feedback for us.

I really want to ask you for your expert advice on this and if you can suggest any good software/tool that we can use to manage orders, reply to customers, and keep track of important orders/messages and follow ups.

I really would like to know your suggestions about this as the market seems to be full of such tools but none come close to what we need. 


We mainly ship via MyHermes in the UK and Royal Mail for international orders. We’ve had very good experiences with MyHermes and their service, though Royal Mail is a pain and we have to refund a lot of customers as Royal Mail 2nd Class doesn’t hold any responsibility for lost deliveries.

I know you are a very busy guy so I would appreciate it if you took the time to offer me some advice.

Regards,
Atif

Hi Atif,

You will have to separate these two issues as I don’t know any tool that does both jobs well.

So for order processing, stock management, shipping labels etc. you want to get a cross-channel platform like:

http://www.linnworks.com

It also integrates your business with Amazon, your own online shop and does many other useful tasks.

As for customer support – you should start using a hell desk/ticket system to keep up with everything. I personally use Kayako (hosted version) and it works great for me:

http://www.kayako.com

You can connect it with your eBay email address to fetch in all eBay emails within the system and reply directly from there. Plus of course you can add your main customer support email.

Also, I recommend you check out my guide on how to REDUCE your eBay support requests in the first place.

Hope this helps!

Hello Andrew,

I just wanted to send a quick message to show my appreciation for your blog!

Thank you so much for sharing such vital information! As an eBay seller looking to expand their business, some of your pages have been a MASSIVE help! So just wanted to say thanks.

Regards,
Mike.

***

The last one was my favourite! 🙂

If you have a question or two you would like me to cover in future Questions & Answers blog posts, feel free to send them in via my helpdesk here. It can be anything related to eBay, importing, branding, ecommerce and beyond! The more interesting the question, the better!

And if this is the first Q&A post you’re reading, make sure to check out all 27 previous editions on my blog’s archive page!

Thanks again & have a great weekend!

Andrew

2 Comments
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  1. Hello Andrew,

    Thanks alot for suggestion regarding customer support & order management.

    Can Linnworks be integrated with Kayako …
    Can myhermes be integrated in Linnworks.

    Myhermes though superb shipping service but don’t have any tool API or even we cannot download the shipping details at once for all orders … one by one only via Web … its a real pain and hell time consuming.

    Also MyHermes integration with Ebay is just useless as they only take first 30 characters from title which would be ambigious to sort whats the order and especially for multi variation links they just cant get the variation details.

    So here is my idea in detail:
    Order comes in ebay … extracted to Linnworks … sent to hermes … linnworks sent orders / customer details to kayako … Kayako send an auto email letting customer know their order is processed… linnworks get the tracking info from hermes … linnworkds update the tracking on ebay site … then send to kayako … kayako send email to customers with tracking info …

    I know it sounds complicated alot but it could be perfect scenerio for any business ebay seller, and may be not possible with solution right now but could be made possible.

    Thanks alot
    Atif

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Atif,

      No, unfortunately Linnworks does not integrate directly with My Hermes and Kayako.

      Integration with My Hermes is possible though via Meta pack:

      http://linnworks.com/Doc/metapack_integration_shipping_courier_management_multi_carrier

      Order related emails can be sent directly from Linnworks, via Mailshots function.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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