I have found the information on your blog very helpful. Thank you.
I just wanted to ask you, almost every niche I look at, there is someone selling things cheap from China. How do I overcome that?
Thanks for your question.
When I do market search, I almost always ignore Chinese sellers! YES, I ignore them… as really they’re not actually even your competitors (apart from in a few, very specific niches).
In the mind of most eBay shoppers, a China based seller is associated with:
- Long shipping times
- Possible extra taxes
- Lower product quality
- Customer support issues
- Potential problems with returns
You see? They’re really not in the best position to start with and the ONLY real advantage they have over UK sellers is usually PRICE!
Obviously, there are people who go for the lowest price no matter what. But I feel that this trend is slowly dying out on eBay – at least when it comes to China based sellers. Yes, buyers will usually pick the cheapest UK seller BUT when it comes to buying from Chinese sellers, they’ll think twice before hitting that buy now button.
Is it really worth waiting several weeks for this product just to save a few quid?
Will the product be up to the highest standard in terms of quality?
What happens if I don’t like it? Can I send it back? How much will that cost?
These are just a few of the questions buyers ask themselves when looking at a listing on eBay UK from a seller based in China.
And this is where you come in! As a UK based seller, you have many advantages compared to Chinese sellers:
- Quick shipping
- The ‘trust factor’
- UK support
So the only real downside for you compared to a Chinese seller is THE PRICE, which in most cases you won’t be able to compete with…. but so what? If you can’t compete on price with Chinese sellers, you can’t – so just don’t think about it!
You won’t attract all the bargain hunters looking for the lowest price, but that really doesn’t matter – you can still compete and make plenty of sales with people who by default try to avoid ordering from overseas sellers on eBay UK, just to avoid all the extra problems that entails.
As I said in the beginning, I don’t even consider Chinese sellers to be competitors! And you should do the same – concentrate on your strengths and just make sure you’re BETTER in every other aspect of your business! If you do this, many people will buy from you even if your price is significantly higher compared to China based sellers.
I’m talking about stuff like:
- Great product listings with great descriptions and lots of high quality pictures!
- Feature in the listing the fact that you’re UK based and offer top level customer service with email / phone support (graphical icons / banners work best for this)!
- Offer next day delivery.
- Offer a full 2 year warranty (as per EU law on most items).
- Make your returns policy as simple and hassle free as possible.
If you do all of this, you’ll definitely stand out from Chinese listings and people WILL buy from you.
Previously, many UK sellers used Gallery images to add flags that clearly illustrate they’re UK based. Lately it wasn’t working that well though as everyone started using these (even Chinese sellers, believe it or not!) and search results started to look like one big carnival. So considering this, I actually supported eBay’s recently launched gallery image rules.
But the gallery image is not the only place where you can feature such pictures! You still have plenty of other images in your listing! Why not use them and add watermarks of your logo + UK flag to them? This will instantly show your potential customers your location and what they can expect from you.
Here’s another tip: if you know for sure that there are many Chinese competitors selling lower quality goods in the niche you work in, emphasise this in your listings! Something like this would work best:
This works wonders! Who wants to buy a cheap, low quality imitation? No one! The price at this point becomes secondary.
The same can be applied to licensed items – if you sell genuine originals, make sure you have a similar statement / banner in your listings that informs your potential customers that items coming from China will be low quality FAKES!
To sum it up – don’t over-think Chinese competitors and just do the best you can with your listings, keeping in mind the few tips I have mentioned in this post.
With all that being said, I truly believe that if you’re looking at a niche and it’s completely dominated with cheap products from Chinese sellers then you should try to avoid it, if at all possible. I’m talking about stuff like:
- Super cheap phone cases
- Super cheap phone accessories
- Super cheap screen protectors
These are just the first few items that came to my mind but there are many more. I’m talking about items that are being sold for £0.99 or £1.99, often with free shipping. That’s not a business you want to be in!
If you want to sell mobile phone cases, pick higher-end lines and more expensive styles that sell for 10, 20 or 30 quid. Then you won’t have to compete with Chinese sellers at all as most of them concentrate on very cheap items.
Also, an item’s size and weight also plays a part in this. Most China based sellers only sell small / lightweight items that they can cheaply post via China mail or HK Airmail. Very rarely will you see any Chinese sellers for items that weigh above 2kg (as that’s AirMail’s weight limit per package).
So, if you’re totally paranoid about competition from China, pick a niche with bulkier / heavier items and then you’ll almost completely eliminate this problem.
Lastly, remember, eBay is just the beginning phase of your online business. When you’re all set-up on eBay, you should expand to Amazon and an eCommerce store on your own website. And this is where you’ll face very little competition from Chinese sellers.