March 3, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 0 Comments

What’s the BEST WAY to pack BRANDED 
products on eBay & Amazon!

Welcome back!

It’s Friday and that means only two things – we have another Reader’s Question post and the weekend is almost here!

For people who are new to my blog – each Friday I publish a post covering a question sent in by my blog readers, so that more people can learn from them. If you have a question or two, you can send them in via my Helpdesk here and I will personally reply to you, even if your question isn’t selected for a future RQ post.

Today we’ll talk about packaging options for BRANDED products!

What is the best way to pack already branded products? Do you need to do anything at all?

This is exactly what Gary asked me:

Hi Andrew,

First of all – I think your blog is amazing, seriously.

I have been reading your posts for two weeks now, and the amount of information I have learned is unbelievable. I also purchased your Easy Auction Business course yesterday and that is a true piece of art too! So thanks again for everything you do here Andrew!

I was wondering if you can help with a packing issue for branded products. Quick story – I sell mostly liquidation stock, clearance stock, and some Argos returns on eBay and most items come with original boxes, manuals etc.

I was wondering – as you place such big importance on presentation, should I re-pack these items before selling/sending to customers? What would be the best way to pack and ship a branded item that already has a box?

Can I just put a shipping label on the box itself?

Thanks again for your efforts Andrew and I’m looking forward for your reply.


Hi Gary,

Thanks for your email and kind words, it really means a lot to me! You made my day! 🙂

It’s funny that you asked basically the same question that someone else suggested in last year’s Reader’s Contest. This means that this question is important and relevant to many people, hence why I decided to use it for a Reader’s Question post.

So if you’re selling branded products that come with their own original branded boxes, you definitely don’t want to re-pack it in any way.

That wouldn’t make any sense to be honest as in most cases boxes for branded products are very well made; they look good and offer basic protection during the shipping process. So there’s simply no need to re-pack them! (more…)

February 24, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

What’s the best way to BRAND a Temporary eBay Business?

Welcome Back!

Let talk about BRANDING!

You all know how much I love to talk about branding – it’s no secret that branding is my passion! With the recent launch of the dedicated Chat With Andrew website, I now offer Branding consulting services to everyone.

But today we’ll be talking about a specific branding situation when you only need a temporary solution. It could be in cases when you haven’t yet decided on your business model or the products you’ll sell. This will also apply to all people who have very small budgets and people who just want to try out selling on eBay.

Sometimes you already know that you’re only going to be selling products for a short time and then you’re going to change your eBay business concept, just like Mo explains in his recent email:

Hi Andrew,

Since I am planning to get branded products from USA (temporary), is it still important to come up with a branding strategy and name? Especially since later on I will buy a specific niche product from China?


Hi Mo,

Thanks for your question, it’s a good one! 🙂

Your situation is a perfect example of a business model that will be used temporarily – just to make some profit and build up your budget so you can start importing directly from China. So in cases like these – should you completely ignore BRANDING? Or do you need to do everything as normal, with a custom logo, template, packaging etc.?

The answer lies somewhere in between those two approaches.

I don’t think ignoring branding completely is a good idea, even if you’re only going to sell those products temporarily. You still want to gain that customer trust, ESPECIALLY if you’re selling BRANDED items! People are afraid of buying branded items due to there being so many fakes being sold so a good looking, reputable brand/listing gives that confidence that the item they will receive is real and genuine. (more…)

February 20, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 5 Comments

Making a Part-Time Income Online – Good Enough?

Happy Monday!

Let’s put the technical stuff and business aside for now and talk about life!

I have been in the online selling business for more than 10 years now (actually I’m quickly approaching the 15 year mark – I’m starting to feel old!) and have worked directly and in-directly with thousands of people over this time. By working with directly I mean all of my Easy Auction Business, eCommerce Magnates, Second Income Generator, and Spicy Auction Templates customers and of course in-directly by answering tens of thousands of emails/messages and forum posts.

So I can safely say that I’ve seen it all.

Many people contact me with lengthy emails, explaining their life stories, complex medical conditions and un-employment situations. And I always try to do my best to give at least some advice to every person who contacts me. Of course, my time is very limited and I can’t reply to every email with an essay but still – even a short answer pointing them in the right direction is better than nothing, right?

One of the most common situations people write to me about is how they’re sick and tired of their job and how they want to start a full-time business, selling stuff online. And that’s great! Being an entrepreneur for so many years, it still always touches me personally when someone wants to make a big change in their lives and do their own thing. This is exactly what I did all those years ago, quitting my first and only day job at a Primark warehouse (you can read more about that on the About Me page).

However – there’s a problem. Not everyone is made to be a business owner, that’s just the truth. It does take certain skills, attitude, and way of thinking to become a successful online entrepreneur in this day and age as make no mistake – millions of other people around the world want the same thing and there’s simply not room for everyone.

On the other hand – I have seen some phenomenal successes achieved by “ordinary” people during my 60 Day Blueprint program. Sometimes all it takes is hard work and dedication and you can basically achieve anything you want in life. It has nothing to do with how smart you are (I don’t consider myself as super smart) or your previous work experience (even though a business environment helps) – it’s more about that attitude – hard work, patience and just working towards your goals.

So I’m not saying you can’t become that super successful online entrepreneur BUT there’s a small chance that you’re simply not cut out to be one. You may simply not have a big enough desire or you may not truly be willing to work as hard as is needed to survive in the business world. (more…)

February 1, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 5 Comments

Net/Gross Profit, Sales, Turnover, Margins, ROI All EXPLAINED!

Hello & Welcome!

It’s 1st February today, congrats – we have moved passed the year’s darkest month and slowest sales period and can start looking forward to spring and summer!

Today I’m starting a weekly, 4 part blog post series covering the most common and important terminology used in the online selling world.

Today we’ll start with General Business terms and in the following weeks we’ll cover:

  • Importing & Shipping
  • eBay & Amazon
  • eCommerce

So in total there will be 4 posts that should cover most of the terms you need to know about.

It may be geared towards people who are totally new to selling online but still – even experienced sellers sometimes mix up important stuff so it’s not a bad idea to go over the basics every now and then. And as we all know from Dragons’ Den – there is no bigger problem than not knowing your numbers, right?

So let’s get started with a list of the most common business terms that every entrepreneur should know about!

Sales/Revenue – amount of money you have received for the sale of goods. Example: if you sell an item for £10 and you sell 100 items, your sales would be £1000. Usually, when showing sales, you don’t take off ANY expenses associated with these sales. For example, this means that you wouldn’t take off PayPal fees from this number.

Turnover – basically the same thing as Sales but the term “Turnover” is usually used to show sales in a certain period of time. So if someone asks you what your turnover was for the last 12 months, you would give your total sales number for that period.

Gross profit – this is one of those numbers every Dragon is looking for! Gross profit means your Sales minus Cost of Goods. So for example, if you buy an item for £50 and sell it for £80, your gross profit is £30 (£80 – £50).

However you do not deduct any further expenses associated with sales, like taxes, salaries, rent etc. Only the cost of goods.

Net Profit – this is the REAL profit as we speak – money you make after ALL expenses are paid. This includes cost of goods, salaries, shipping costs, rent, utility bills etc. This essentially means the money you take home, after paying tax (if taxes are applicable). (more…)

August 2, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Custom PRODUCT Branding – How to Create A REAL Online Business!


Anyone who has been reading my blog for a long time, or better yet has purchased either my Easy Auction Business or eCommerce Magnates video course, will know just how much emphasis I place on BRANDING.

However, some people still view branding as something frivolous… something that you can do if you have the money and business is strong, but certainly not something that’s necessary.

I disagree with this completely! I view branding as an integral part of my online businesses, and creating my own brand products is my no.1 strategy for building real, profitable, and sustainable businesses.

But for anybody who’s not completely familiar with the term, what is product branding?

Well to put it simply – it’s when you take an unbranded product, i.e. a product that doesn’t have a brand, logo, company etc. shown on it, and YOU brand it – either the product itself, the packaging, or as in most cases both.

This in effect creates a completely NEW product which you own and can sell online, be that on eBay, Amazon, or your own ecommerce store.

But I know that some of you will now be wondering “why?”

After all, branding a product will add to the cost and it really doesn’t add any practical value… so it’s a waste, right?

WRONG! Premium packaging adds to your brand and increases the perceived value of the item you’re selling.

Perceived value is something I actually mention quite often, particularly in my video courses, but it’s still something that most small time eBay sellers complete ignore – despite the fact that it’s honestly one of the most important factors in creating a real brand and business.

Just look at some of the world’s top companies… Apple are in fact a perfect example. Some of their products cost a fraction to produce in comparison to some of their competitor’s offerings, yet the perceived value (among consumers!) for Apple products is unparalleled.

This is all down to their brand and you simply can’t create a brand with an unbranded product!

The other big benefit to branding, which I briefly mentioned above, is that you create a unique product and this helps hugely with comparison shopping, where the buyer simply chooses the cheapest option, as it’s much harder to compare two different products – even if that difference is only the branding. (more…)

April 6, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

eBay vs Amazon Price War – 50 Products Tested!

ebay-vs-amazonIt’s competition time again! 🙂

In the past I’ve done several “battle” blog posts, where I put a few options against each other in a side by side test in order to find the winner – such as the fulfilment house battle, which is a very popular post on this blog.

Today I want to test some online wisdom that you hear very often:

“You can get higher prices for your products on Amazon than you can on eBay”.

You see this “fact” quoted so often online, and I myself have actually said this a few times as, based on some random research I’ve done, it does appear to be the case more often than not.

But I decided that it’s time to test this claim properly, and get some proof one way or the other. So today I’m pitting the two giants, eBay and Amazon, against each other in a comprehensive pricing test.

How The Test Works

Even though I would ideally test thousands of products to get the most accurate data possible, that’s just not feasible, so instead I’m going to choose 50.

But to keep the products I choose relevant, I’m going to introduce a few rules:

  • No big name brands

I don’t want there to be any confusion here – I’m doing this test so we can find out where it’s better to sell our products, not to find out whether you should use eBay or Amazon for this year’s Christmas shopping.

And that means I will be completely ignoring products from major companies like Apple, Samsung, Nike etc. etc. I’ve probably said this a hundred times by now, but much to the dismay of those who are first looking into selling online – you cannot make any money on high end branded electronics/clothing as the margins are just too thin.

So for our experiment I’m only going to look at products from 3 main categories:

  • Unbranded products
  • OEM branded products
  • Small/Asian brands

Basically – the type of products that you can actually source and import from China.

  • Focus on Cheap Products

While I will of course try to get a good mix of different product prices, for similar reasons as the no big name brands rule, I will generally focus on products that sell for less than £50 as that’s really the optimum pricing level for small/medium sellers. (more…)

March 16, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 22 Comments

My New Die Cutting Press is AWESOME!

tippmann-clicker-1500This is a sort of sequel to the compressor post I did a few weeks back. Only this time there’s one big difference – this post is all positive as my new Tippmann Clicker 1500 Die Cutting Press arrived last week and it’s nothing but awesome! 🙂

I’ll talk more about what this machine is and what it can do a bit later on, but for now I want to share some valuable tips on shipping & transporting such heavy machines from the US.

Shipping Heavy Machinery

First off, this machine was manufactured and shipped from the US. As it’s a heavy piece of equipment (the total shipment weight was 340 kg), I was considering using sea freight to get it delivered BUT as I needed it quite urgently, I decided to go with air freight in the end, and it only took seven days to arrive.

Now, here’s a hot tip – if you need to import anything like this from the USA, shop around for prices!!! And don’t only compare quotes you get online/over the phone but bargain as well – and I mean bargain HARD!

In the end, it was a fight between TNT and DHL to deliver this to me and they basically placed counter offers to each other. DHL won (by some £30 or so) and the final price was almost 45% less than my initial quote. So with such large/expensive air freight shipments, it’s always worth it to negotiate the best possible rate DIRECTLY with the manager.

machineAs this machine is so heavy, I knew that I’d need at least 4 men to move it around and place it on the special desk it came with. In such situations, you should always make sure you have arranged people to help you beforehand as courier company drivers are usually not very willing to help with any moving (they’re not really supposed to) plus in this case it wouldn’t have been enough anyway due to the extreme weight. (more…)

August 13, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 41 Comments

VAT Registration – THE END of Your Business?

vat-registrationThere’s really no two ways about it – registering for VAT almost always means less profit for you at the end of the day.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in various Q&A posts and even wrote a guide on how registering for VAT when you don’t need to is the biggest tax mistake an eBay seller can make!

As covered in that guide, there is really one main exception to this rule, and that’s if you sell zero rated goods. Zero rated goods have a VAT rate of 0% so in this case you’d actually be better off registering for VAT from day one as it wouldn’t affect your sale price but you would still be able to reclaim VAT on all business expenses (more on that later).

The products that qualify for 0% VAT or the reduced rate (usually 5%) are very rare, so it’s highly unlikely that this will apply to you.

You can take a look at this page for a full list of reduced or zero rated goods and services:

Some of the more common products that qualify for 0% VAT include:

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Leaflets / Flyers
  • Children’s Clothing
  • Children’s Shoes
  • Motorcycle Helmets

So if you happen to sell one the above products, then you should definitely look in to registering for VAT, if not – then hold off for as long as you can!

Let me say this again, so that it’s 100% clear:

You will (almost always) be worse off if registered for VAT!!!

Strangely there is actually a lot of confusion about this point, especially online, and I think this stems mainly from a misunderstanding of the figures and in particular – reclaiming VAT on business expenses. I don’t want to spend too long on this aspect of VAT registration, as I have covered it previously, but let’s do a very quick example calculation:

Minalto’s Muscle Machines

Let’s say I have a business selling workout equipment and gym gear.

Turnover is £75,000 a year and gross margins are 60%, which means a mark-up of 150% (100-200%+ is what I aim for when importing from China).

So if I’m NOT VAT registered, the calculations are simple – I pay 20% VAT on the total value of the goods I import, which is £25,000 a year.

20% of £25,000 = £5,000 VAT paid per year.

Now let’s see how it works out if I am registered for VAT:

So the first difference is that the VAT I pay on the import value of my goods is reclaimable, so I’ve saved £5,000 already!

Plus I can also reclaim VAT on all of my business expenses, and this includes:

  • eBay Fees
  • Postage (some postage is VAT exempt though, such as 1st and 2nd class stamps)
  • Packaging
  • Etc.

Using our £75,000 annual turnover, let’s be generous and assume £15,000 in VAT reclaimable business expenses. (more…)

August 10, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 1 Comments

What eBay Sellers can LEARN from Kia Motors?

kia-motorsAs an entrepreneur, I always try to keep up to date with general business happenings, even of companies and industries nothing to do with me.

One thing in particular that I enjoy is following successful companies in order to see what I can learn from them, be it their general business practices, a terrific marketing campaign, great product design etc.!

There are so many innovative companies out there, that if I can learn just one or two things to use for my own business, then it’s worth my time.

And today I want to talk about one company in particular – Kia Motors.

Twenty years ago Kia was considered nothing more than a below average South Korean car manufacturer with just a few, fairly mediocre models available.

But fast forward to 2015 and KIA has achieved phenomenal success in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

So how did they achieve this?

After all we need to analyse the how and why to be able to learn anything that we can use ourselves.

Well, Kia’s success has undoubtedly been a combination of a number of factors – after all you can’t build a company worth over £9 billion with sales of over £28 billion with a few good ideas – but purely from a customer’s perspective, these are the main factors which I believe has made Kia into the company it is today:

1. Peace of Mind – 7 Year Warranty.

This for me is the no.1 selling point for Kia!

Everybody loves a long warranty and when you can offer 7 years rather than the norm of 2-3 that your competitors offer, then you really differentiate yourself and it’s a huge selling point.

The takeaway here for eBay sellers is obvious – emphasise the reliability and quality of your products.

Not a single day passes without me receiving at least one email from someone who says they can’t compete with the lowest priced sellers on eBay and my answer is always the same – “you don’t have to!!”

Nobody wants to buy cheap if the item isn’t going to work so rather than compete on price alone and cut corners to bring your costs down, instead concentrate on providing a reliable and quality product that you can stand behind proudly. (more…)

July 8, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 23 Comments

eBay VS Amazon – Which one is CHEAPER?

ebay-vs-amazonQuite often online you’ll see people saying how “it’s cheaper to sell on Amazon vs eBay”… but is this really true?

Well that’s what we’re going to find out today, to put this claim to rest one way or another!

But rather that just list all the fees for selling on eBay and Amazon in a boring table, instead we’re going to take a few examples and go through them one by one. That way we’ll get an easy to compare head to head battle between eBay and Amazon!

Before we get started with that, I also want to quickly go over the fee structure for selling on Amazon, as it differs slightly from eBay, and I know that this can sometimes cause confusion for new sellers.

So as most of you will already know, when selling on eBay you’ll pay the following fees:

Insertion Fee

This is the fee paid to start your listing. The exact amount depends on your shop subscription, how many listings you create each month, and whether it’s an auction or buy it now listing, but the most you’ll pay for an insertion fee is £0.26 per listing.

ebay-insertion-feesFinal Value Fee

This is the fee you pay when your item sells, calculated as a percentage of the total transaction amount (including shipping). Depending on the category, the final value fee ranges from 5% to 11%.

PayPal Fee

Lastly, there is the PayPal fee, which is 3.4% + £0.20 (again calculated on the total transaction amount, including shipping).

Now let’s take a look at Amazon’s fee structure and how it compares to eBay:

First things first – Amazon offer two different pricing plans, depending on your volume of sales – the Basic (sell a little) plan and the Pro (sell a lot) plan. As the Pro pricing plan is better value if you sell 34 or more items per month, that’s the one we’ll be using for our comparison today. (more…)