September 5, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #10

questions-answers-10Hello & Welcome!

This is the 10th Anniversary post in our Questions & Answers series! I have received tons of new questions from you over the last few weeks so without further ado, let’s get started!

Here are some of the questions I will cover in today’s post:

  • What lights are best for product photography?
  • How to create your own eBay template?
  • Do I get support when purchasing the Easy Auction Business course?
  • How to price my own, custom made items for sale on eBay?
  • How to get FREE access to Spicy Auction Templates?
  • At what stage would you recommend signing up for Linnworks?
  • What promo materials should I include with each eBay order?
  • Where to get wholesale Disney items in Australia?
  • Is it safe to import electrical goods from China?
  • Do you need a company to register for an EORI number?
  • How to start an eBay business with a budget of £100k?

Here it goes…

Hi Andy,

I’ve just been reading your posts on product photography, and in particular lighting, and wanted to ask you – do you prefer to use flash strobes or continuous daylight bulbs for photography?

For example, below I’ve found this continuous daylight bulb product photography kit with 1000 watts power.

I would have thought it would be easier to take the product pictures with continuous light on the product so that you can navigate around any reflections if the product surface is shiny, what do you think?

I’m guessing you use the flash strobes for your product photos but just wondered what your opinion is?

As I’m looking for a proper lighting kit as currently only have a 2 x 65 watt bulb setup with a Nikon D300S.

Thanks,
Mark

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your question.

Yes, I do prefer strobe light and flash for one, very simple reason – they give much more power than continuous lights. Much more!

With strobes you can eliminate all shadows around the product by properly placing the units – ideally three – one on the right side, one on the left and the 3rd one – on top, mostly to expose the background.

Continuous lighting can also work but it’s rather difficult to position them properly as due to the comparatively low power they produce, you need to place them very close to the item you’re photographing. With larger items it may not be that difficult but when you work with small items (such as jewellery) – you basically need to place them 20-30 cm away from the item, and still leave enough of a “window” for the camera to take pictures.

I have done this and trust me – it’s not easy.

Professional strobes are very expensive BUT on eBay you can get amateur kits for less than £300 for a set of 3 or 4 strobes and I think that’s a very reasonable price for the picture quality you get in return.

When buying strobes, make sure they have adjustable power as otherwise it will be difficult to use them on small items (at full power there will be too much light and your images will be over-exposed).

Hi Andrew,

I’m a beginner to all this eBay and online selling and had a question – where on earth do I get the HTML code in the first place, when creating a customised template?

I’ve created my own template using Photoshop but I have no idea where or how to get the HTML code. I’ve found numerous potentially helpful clips on this very thing, but in every one of them… everyone already has the HTML code to put in… so where do I get THAT!?

Thanks!

An eBay listing template consists of two parts:

  • Design &
  • Code

Now, if you’ve created a template design in Photoshop, that’s only the design part of the template. Without getting it coded into HTML, you can’t use it on eBay.

I wouldn’t recommend you to start learning to code and do this yourself though – just outsource this task on Elance or Fiverr! If it’s a simple layout/design, something like that shouldn’t cost you more than £20-£50, depending on the coder.

Hi Andrew,

I am looking to start selling on eBay and while doing some research online, I came across your site. I am thinking about buying the course from the “start your own eBay business today” banner but would like to know if you offer any additional support with it? And in the course will you teach exactly how to do the shipping and all of that? As I am a complete newbie to it.

I was reading over your blog and there are many tips, which are very helpful, but in the course will you teach exactly how to do everything?

Please if you can respond as soon as possible as I am very keen to start my business.

Kind Regards,
Lenara

Hi Lenara,

Thanks for your question.

Yes, absolutely! All my products come with various support options and the Easy Auction Business course is not an exception. When you purchase the course, for the one-time fee of just £67, besides the course material, you also get:

  • My personal email support;
  • EAB forum access (where I personally answer all questions);
  • A 1 hour chat session with me (there’s no expiry date on this).

So as you can see, you get superb value for your money and can be sure that I won’t leave you alone when you face a problem or two.

As for the course content itself – yes, it’s created in a way that even people with no eBay experience can learn and apply what I teach. As it’s a video course, it’s extremely easy to follow what I do and simply implement it in your own business.

The course is divided into various modules, each containing several videos. In total there are 50+ video lessons so it truly is a STEP BY STEP system and if you follow it, you simply can’t go wrong. As long as you stick with what I teach then you won’t fail!

Hello Andrew,

You have explained about buying used items at cheap prices and selling them for a profit. I am just trying to sell a few items to start with and need your advice on how to price an item that I already have with a profit margin, after deducting say 15% for eBay and PayPal fees.

For example I have loads of brand new handmade paper lamp shades in nice colours and shapes. They cost me £1 – £2 each depending on the design and size. If I add 15% to the price it will barely cover the fees and my cost price!

The more I add, the more that 15% will increase accordingly! If I add more it will be more expensive than my competition on eBay! So how do I price it so that the item, once sold, will recover my cost, pay the fees and give me some profit?

I would be grateful for your guidance and advice. Many thanks and regards.

Deepak

Hi Deepak,

Thanks for your question.

There are two ways to price such a handmade item:

  1. Use a formula
  2. Use common sense and just come up with a price that best suits the items you sell

I would recommend you go with the second option.

Just take a look on eBay at what prices similar items are being sold for. And when you get that number, you can simply take off your cost price and eBay/PayPal fees to see how much profit you’ll make.

For example (without taking shipping costs into consideration) – you find out that similar items sell for £5 on average on eBay. To find your profit number, do the following:

  • From £5 (selling price) take off eBay & PayPal fees – roughly 15%. So £5 – 15% is £5 – £0.75 = £4.25.To make this calculation simpler, you can simply multiply selling price by 0.85. So £5 x 0.85 = same £4.25
  • Next, take off your cost price for this item (for example – £2). So £4.25 – £2 = £2.25

And that is your net profit for your item (£2.25) if you decide to sell it at £5.

You can change the selling price and re-calculate to get profit numbers at various pricing levels.

Don’t forget that if you offer free shipping, you’ll also have to minus that from your selling price, as well as the PayPal and eBay fees.

Hi Andrew,

After months of research I have just purchased some women’s wig hair from China. I have also purchased a domain name for future website use. I am just about to purchase your DVDs, and just wanted to confirm that a one off payment of £67 will give you access to Spicy Auction Templates as well?

Oh and another question regarding building a website; would you just concentrate on eBay first and only build your own site afterwards?

Thanks,
Paul

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your question.

Yes, when you purchase the Easy Auction Business course, you also get FREE, full and lifetime access to Spicy Auction Templates. This means for the one £67 fee you get full membership to both products with free lifetime updates included.

As for eCommerce shops – yes, I recommend starting out with eBay, then expanding to Amazon and your own online shop. You can read more about this in my business models article here.

Hi Andrew,

At what level of sales would you recommend Linnworks?

I am trading on eBay and Amazon at the moment and wondered when it becomes financially viable to use Linnworks to control both.

Regards,
Peter

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your question.

It’s not so much about profitability as it is about the features Linnworks offers and how those features can radically change the way you work, process orders and keep stock levels under control.

Linnworks is a very complex software that offers dozens of features but the most important one for any seller working on multiple platforms is STOCK CONTROL!

You say that you already sell on eBay and Amazon which means that you have to carefully monitor stock levels so as not to oversell on one platform, which can of course lead to unfulfilled orders and dissatisfied customers. Linnworks will do this for you automatically, 24/7, so you don’t have two keep two separate stock levels for eBay and Amazon.

For this feature alone I would recommend switching to Linnworks as soon as you start selling on multiple platforms.

Another hugely important feature is order processing in one place. Printing out shipping labels, packing slips, invoices – Linnworks will do all of that for you, all under one system, so you’ll save yourself a lot of time in every day order processing tasks.

Yes it’s not cheap, but then again – it offers so much in return!

Obviously, if you’re making just £100 in profit per month, it wouldn’t be wise to spend that all on a Linnworks subscription. But if your profit is at least £300-£500 per month, I would definitely recommend signing up for Linnworks’ cheapest package which is currently available for £80 per month.

Lastly, remember that it’s a business expense and can be deducted from your taxable income.

Hi Andrew,

First off let me say what a great blog you have!! Real questions and real answers all in one place.

I’ve been selling on and off on eBay for a few years now, nothing much really, just household items. But after seeing the huge potential of importing from China, I’m now taking the plunge.

I’ve stumbled across a hot niche that has multiple sub-niches that I can break into. It’s just a matter of getting the products at the right price + shipping (thanks for the tip on Woodland Global btw).

My question is more in regards to customer service.

What do you recommend I send with each order on eBay? I’ve read that some just send the packing slip and some include a business/thank you card so I’m unsure what works best. I don’t have a large amount of products yet so at the moment I don’t have an eBay shop (how many items do you suggest before opening a shop?)

Also when I myself bought an item from eBay, I was sent a customised email showing recommended items near the bottom – how do I set up something like this for my own business?

Thanks again,
John

Hi John,

Thanks for your questions. I will answer them one by one.

What to include in each eBay order?

There are no definite rules to this but here’s what I include with each order:

  • Invoice
  • Thank you letter with attached business card
  • Promo material for the website (with a special offer/discount code)

If you don’t have an eCommerce shop yet, at least include an invoice, thank you letter and ideally a business card as well. This gives a real, welcoming feel to the customer. The business card trick also plays an important role here as customers will instantly know that they have a REAL person in your company they can contact to resolve any potential issues they might have.

When to open an eBay shop?

As soon as possible really!

Not only will it make your account look more professional, it’ll also make it easier for people to buy multiple items from you, and possibly most important of all; a shop subscription allows you to list under the Good ‘Til Cancelled (GTC) format which is CRUCIAL in getting your listings to the top positions of eBay’s search results.

Really it’s worth signing up for a shop for the GTC feature alone.

How to send out promo emails to eBay customers?

There are special tools and software available that can do this for you – something like Auctiva would have this functionality.

Personally what I do is use an auto responder service such as Mail Chimp or Aweber to send out highly customised emails to my customers. You can read more about how to implement this in your eBay business in my auto-responder guide here.

Hi Andrew,

I just read your post about buying from China, well more accurately, about NOT buying from China!!

The problem is I am in Australia and I have contacted MANY American wholesalers for Disney clothing but none will sell and ship to me here. Any hints/tips on suppliers for this would be greatly appreciated.

I have a website, logo and FB page and have been doing this for 18 months now and though I don’t have huge buying power, I really want to take my business to the next level.

Thanks for your time,
Narelle

Hi Narelle,

Thanks for your question.

Glad you got that part right – you absolutely DON’T want to import Disney items from China or any branded items for that matter.

If you have found good Disney wholesalers in the US but they don’t ship internationally, you can use a mail forwarding company. A mail forwarding company gives you a free US based address which you can use to send packages to, and they’ll then send it on to you anywhere in the world.

I personally use shipito.com but there are many other similar companies out there. Just make sure to check their pricing before signing up as some mail forwarding companies only use expensive couriers for shipping, which is not the way you want to go.

You want to use a mail forwarding company that offers shipping via USPS as it’s the cheapest method for sending parcels from America to around the world.

Also, some mail forwarding companies, like Shipito, also offer assisted purchases. This service can be used to buy goods from companies who don’t take international credit cards or just simply don’t deal with international customers at all. In this case, Shipito will make an order on your behalf for a small commission.

Hope this helps Narelle & good luck with the business!

Hello Andrew,

I am a newbie when it comes to buying from abroad but am looking to purchase some table lamps from China. I know that gold suppliers, the payment methods offered etc. are very important and I have been careful to only contact sellers who seem to be legit.

Could you tell me if you have ever, or known anyone who has, ordered lamps from this country. Electrical goods can be dangerous and I don’t want to lose my home over this! Most of the lamps on Alibaba look very similar to/the same as ones I have seen in stores in the UK and USA.

Do you know if these imported lamps are the same quality as sold in the UK stores?

Love your website,
Catherine

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your question.

No, I haven’t personally ordered lamps from China but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Just make sure that the items you import have CE certification in place as electric items can be dangerous, as you said, and this isn’t something you want to take any chances with!

Regarding the quality of the items – it will depend on the supplier and even one supplier can carry stock in various quality levels. Often you see items with the same design as local products on Alibaba but then find after ordering that the quality is not the same.

That’s why I always recommend getting samples first and only then placing a bigger order. And even then, the best way to avoid disappointment is to use a 3rd party inspector to check the goods before they’re dispatched. This is the only way you’re guaranteed to keep quality to a certain level without physically going to China yourself.

Hi Andrew,

I wondered if you could help me with this. I want to import goods from China for resell in the UK but right now I’m self-employed and I don’t have a registered company. Is it mandatory to have a registered company to have an EORI Number?

Also, once you do have a EORI Number, do you need to register again and repeat the whole procedure for future imports or does it become your own and unique number?

Thanks for the help.

Best,
Frank

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your question.

You don’t need a company to get an EORI number and can apply for it as an individual/sole trader.

And no, you only need to apply once and then you’ll have your unique number which you can then use for all future imports.

Hi Andrew,

I wanted to get your opinion on my starting budget if possible. Most of your literature mentions only needing to start with a small budget, but what if you had substantial starting capital, say £100k.

Then would the procedure be the same or would you advise a different strategy?

Many Thanks,
Miles

Hi Miles,

Thanks for your question.

It’s great to hear that you’re in a position to invest such a substantial amount of money into your business. I usually mention much smaller sums because most people have very limited budgets available to them when starting an online business.

But to answer your question directly – yes, the exact same principles still apply! The only difference is that you’ll be able to order in much higher quantities, thereby getting lower prices and increasing your chance of success.

Also, with a budget like that, you can start with an eCommerce shop from day one, and also sell on Amazon from day one. Simply outsource the shop creation, design & coding and use Linnworks to synchronise all 3 platforms (eBay, Amazon and your own shop).

Good Luck!

***

That’s it for today! Thanks for all the questions you have sent in and I really hope I have helped you by answering them.

And don’t worry – nothing ends with this 10th anniversary edition of the Q&A post series! In fact, I hope someday we’ll reach the 100th post! 😉

So keep sending those questions in, using this contact form.

Best Regards,
Andrew

2 Comments
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  1. Kuljit Lail

    Dear Andrew,

    Your advice on importing advice is very helpful. I have recently started by own produce importing business and wanted to find out the duty/clearance for countries outside of the EU.

    Best regards,

    Kuljit Lail

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kuljit,

      Thanks for your comment.

      As I’m based in the EU, I don’t have experience with customs procedure outside EU. So you’ll have to do your own research, contact local customs to find out how this process works in your country.

      Good luck with your new business venture!

      Andrew

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