Hello & Welcome!
It’s time for another Ask Me a Question! post! Soon I will have to do this two or three times a week as the number of questions I receive from you has increased significantly! 🙂
That’s fine though, after all the whole point of me posting these is that more and more people can hopefully learn from them.
So to not waste any valuable web space, here are the questions I will be covering today:
- What’s the best way to send a 115kg package from China to the UK?
- Do I have to register for VAT if I only sell digital products?
- How to reduce time spent on support requests on eBay?
- How to use barcodes with Linnworks?
- How to improve productivity and grow my eBay Business?
- How to properly set-up two eBay and PayPal accounts?
- Why aren’t my items selling on eBay?
- Tips & Tricks for selling second hand goods on eBay for profit!
- How to increase my email subscriber conversion rate?
- What to do with my eBay business when going on holiday?
- Do I need to upgrade my eBay account from Personal to Business?
- Does your Easy Auction Business course work in the USA?
- Do I need to register a company to import goods from China?
- Will My Suspended Account Affect Sellers on eBay?
- Can I buy genuine Xbox controllers from China?
- How to hide your supplier details from distributors?
- Does Amazon steal your supplier information?
- Can I make a full time income selling at market stalls?
Let’s get started!
I’ve been talking to a supplier on Alibaba and can get 90 of this item at $7 a piece so let’s call it £400. It will be in 5 cartons with dimensions of 75x44x76 and gross weight of 23kg per carton.
I’ve had a quote from FedEx for £1300 before duties and taxes, which eliminates my profit completely. Would the best way to ship this be via air freight? And if so after dealing with the forwarding company and any tax and duties, will it be significantly less than the £1300 quote? The total estimated sales on eBay with this item would be £1400.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Sending 115kg goods worth just £400 via courier is not a good idea at all. As you can see from the quote you got, the shipping cost is way, way too much – eliminating any potential profit you may get out of this deal.
So you have two alternatives:
- Air freight
- Sea freight
If you send these goods via Air freight, you’ll receive them in a relatively short time, 5-10 business days. The downside will again be the cost as while it will be cheaper than courier, it will still be too expensive to make this profitable, considering the weight and order value.
So the only option left for you is to send these goods via Sea Freight. Shipping cost per pallet will be approx. £200-£300 plus of course you’ll also have to pay the freight forwarder’s fee, import duty and VAT. Shipping time will be roughly 30-40 days.
When using sea freight, it’s always worth ordering as much as you can as the freight forwarder’s fees and the shipping cost from the port to your address in the UK are pretty much fixed… so the more you order, the lower the cost per item.
With this in mind, I would recommend you increase your order size, to at least one full pallet, if you can’t make it two or three. This way your shipping costs will be kept down and you will be able to make some good profit with this deal.
I have a few specific questions I was hoping you could help me with.
I used to operate my business as a sole trader in the UK, until September 2014. As I was approaching the VAT threshold very fast my accountant advised me to open an offshore company in Hong Kong, which I did.
My business solely sells digital games/codes (game keys, iTunes keys, PSN and Xbox keys). Everything is delivered digitally via email and there is no physical stock involved at all.
My question is – should I be registered for VAT? I am using the same eBay account and am now over 100k in sales for the last 12 months. I am very worried as I am not sure at all if what I am doing is correct. As I said, the limited company is in Hong Kong but my PayPal is still based in the UK. I really feel that I’m doing something wrong somehow and I’m risking all my earnings plus a huge fine as a result.
If you’re using a UK PayPal account, in means your business is in the UK and yes, you should be registered for VAT.
And from 2015 the laws are changing in regards to digital content and you’ll have to pay VAT based on the countries your files are delivered to.
It’s all very complex and hard to explain so you should definitely get a professional accountant on board to help you sort this out.
It’s been a year since I have started reading your blog and watching through some of your resources, but I still feel like I am at zero on eBay.
You obviously have a huge amount of knowledge so I really hope you can help me.
I am selling mobile phone accessories on eBay and thankfully business has picked up to the point that I am now doing it full time. However I sometimes feel badly stuck due to the following reasons:
1. My items are basically repair associated and therefore I have to answer a number of emails every day. Although I have made some templates, it still takes a major part of my time. I have seen that you invite everyone to write to you about their problems and that’s something I view as the worst punishment for me as I just cannot reply to everyone as it is. Can you please tell me how you handle so many emails?
2. I have been using a Royal Mail OBA account, with the help of Linnworks (which I purchased thanks to your recommendation). But my problem is that there is no space on the labels to give any hint as to which customer demanded what item and then also I haven’t been able to figure out a system to quickly and easily update the dispatch status. Could you please give me a little advice on how bar codes can help with this?
3. These two things and listing creation (pictures + the description) take all of my time and as a result I am unable to expand to Amazon or anywhere else.
I am sorry to take your time but I want to digest each and every word of your materials (all articles, videos etc.) but I am left with nothing but fatigue at the end of the day.
Sometimes I feel that I should hand over this PC work to free up some spare time but I am afraid the wages would be too much locally. I have also heard about outsourcing these jobs internationally at a much lower cost?
In short, I am having a lot of difficulty with managing and scaling my business and would greatly appreciate any advice you have to help me ramp up from small scale to large scale.
I will answer your questions one by one.
1. Use a ticket system (for example I use Kayako) and create as many Macros as needed to speed up the replying process. Macros are pre-defined answers to commonly received questions and will greatly reduce how long it takes you to reply to your customers.
Also, you should check out my How to Reduce Support Requests on eBay article to learn more about how to optimize your customer support workflow. Try implementing everything I teach in that guide and you’ll see that you’ll cut the amount of time you spend on support tasks to at least half.
2. It’s all covered here.
It’s very easy to implement and if you don’t want to purchase real barcodes, you can simply use your own – made up barcodes solely for internal use.
You’ll also need to purchase a barcode scanner.
Once you have these two things in place, you can pretty much automate the entire order processing and picking process and also reduce mistakes to an absolute minimum. You’ll be able to process orders and mark them as dispatched by simply scanning a barcode on the label or invoice.
3. These questions are just too big for me to properly answer in an email as there are countless things you can do to improve your productivity such as optimizing your customer support workflow and your order processing workflow, starting with outsourcing etc.
BUT if your business grows beyond a one man band size, you simply have no choice but to hire people to help you out. Just start with order processing or listing creation initially and proceed from there.
I was wondering if I could ask you for some help with the following:
I’ve just changed my personal eBay account so it’s now a business account and registered a second eBay account for my personal transactions.
My original one has above standard status and so has no limits on it etc.
I’ve also set up a second PayPal account for business (it’s a premier account) and linked it to the eBay business account and then linked my old personal PayPal account to my new personal eBay account.
What I’d like to know is:
1) When I make sales on my personal eBay account will the funds become “pending” because it is a new account or will they realise I’ve got a better standing account (the now business account) and go by that instead and therefore not restrict the funds?
2) Will my eBay (now) business account get funds restricted or other restrictions because I’ve changed it to business or because of the other account?
3) Will the new personal eBay account have selling limits on it or will they go by my other accounts status?
4) Are there any other restrictions I need to be aware of?
5) How should these accounts be linked up/associated?
6) Can I use the same bank account linked to both PayPal accounts for withdrawals?
I’ve also just tried to move some of my listings from my first eBay account to the new one via Turbo Lister but it won’t let me upload them. I get an error message when I logged into the new eBay account saying it can’t list my items and needs more information to set up an active seller’s account.
If you could please help me with any of this I’d really appreciate it as I’m totally confused.
I will answer your questions one by one:
1) Depends, I have seen both scenarios happen. Just make a sale and see what happens. Chances are that as it’s a new eBay & PayPal account, they will freeze funds for 21 days or until your customer leaves feedback.
No one really knows how PayPal does this as sometimes they don’t place any restrictions on new accounts while sometimes people can’t get these limits removed for several months. So yeah, the only thing you can do really is make a few sales and see what happens.
2) No, that account is established and good to go.
3) It will have selling limits, yes, as it’s simply viewed as a new account.
5) You don’t need to link them in any way.
6) I don’t think you can, no, but not 100% sure.
You need to upgrade that personal account to a seller account:
My name is Dan, I live in Belgium and I am hoping you can help me with something.
I started selling on eBay about a year ago. In the beginning I sold things from my house and then I started to buy things from thrift stores to resell. The problem is that I don’t manage to sell everything I buy (I am selling toys, some old video games and figurines). I’ve lowered my prices and also offered free shipping but there just doesn’t seem to be many people interested. I have also tried Terapeak but there’s no search option for eBay Belgium.
So I’m only selling about one or two items a week.
I have read through all the incredibly useful tips and guides on your site; I’m using a free template from you; I’ve set up a ‘photo studio’ for taking product pictures and have also done some advertising on Facebook and Twitter but my problem is I am just not seeing the results I had hoped for.
I really want to succeed online, first on eBay and then my own site. But I want to start slowly and that hasn’t really worked out for me so far.
I wonder if you would be so kind as to offer me some advice or guidance? I know I won’t be the only one asking for your help but I am very motivated to succeed and just need some guidance.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Start by reading my blog – there are tons of valuable tips there!
If you don’t have Terapeak for Belgium, simply use eBay’s advanced search for completed listings to do basic research and find out whether a product sells and for what price, BEFORE you buy it.
As you really want to make sure the products you purchase will sell, at a price that gives you a good amount of profit. Product research is the KEY FACTOR in making this work. You can’t simply buy random things and then hope that they’ll sell on eBay.
And lastly, if you are really serious about building a successful business online, check out my EAB course which will help you take your eBay business to the next level.
My name is Luke and my partner and I have been playing with the idea of starting up our own business and have just started setting up our eBay and PayPal accounts so we can do this.
I quite liked your piece on the £50 eBay business buying and selling second-hand items. I thought that this would be a good way to learn and gradually progress into wholesale buying. The number one question I have is what is the best way to go about it, the dos and don’ts so to speak.
I have set up a Terapeak account to aid with research and I agree with you that it is very good. I do have one problem with it and it might just be me but when I search for the current second-hand market price of a product, the results can really vary a lot.
Do you have my EAB course?
If not, I highly recommend you get that first:
In this video course I show step-by-step, in video format, how to set-up everything, how to best source products, how to use Terapeak properly and much, much more!
It’s really the best investment you can make into your start-up right now.
As for the differences in prices – yes, Terapeak will show you average prices which are not very accurate. For that reason I recommend checking eBay’s Advanced Search > Completed Listings to see for what kind of prices that particular item has sold for recently.
While doing this, you should also check out the listing and see how well it was created – how good the product pictures and description was. Soon you’ll learn how to come up with a target price for any item with a perfectly created listing.
I have EAB and am currently a power seller after being on eBay for only 4 months.
I also have an autoresponder set up with aWeber to catch more of these customers and to try and direct them to my own site.
But my success with this has been very poor with only 73 people signing up from a total of 1137 sales. So I’ve now decided to look into this as a priority.
I’ve been going over Module 7 again and have seen the example with children’s pencils, which was very interesting.
But I just wanted to find out, do you put that in the confirmation email AWeber sends out (the one with the link they need to click to confirm their consent) or do you put that into the autoresponder sequence afterwards?
Yes, you need to offer something VALUABLE for people to sign-up and YES you want to include that message in the confirmation email – as if they skip it, they will never click on that confirm link and see your offer.
You can’t just use the default confirmation email message if you want to get a high conversion rate for your list. You have to think about what kind of bonus, free gift or valuable information you can give them in exchange.
The easiest way is to just give a limited time discount code which they can redeem on your online shop but if you don’t have one, you can still come up with something valuable, like a free article/guide on how best to use the product, or an extended warranty or extended returns policy when they sign-up.
So just think about it for a while and try to come up with something your customers would really value and want in exchange for signing up to your mailing list.
If I am running a business from home, how would this work when I go on holiday for a week or two?
Can I disconnect my business from eBay while I’m away or should I get someone else to run it or could that be a mistake if they don’t provide the same level of service?
There are two approaches to consider:
1) Putting your eBay shop in holiday mode. When you do this, you can have your listings disappear from public view so that no one can purchase from you while you’re away. eBay also offers the option of keeping your listings live BUT to include a holiday message in your shop that states you’re away and orders will be dispatched on X date. I don’t recommend this though as many people won’t notice that message and you’ll end up with many un-satisfied customers.
Another downside of doing this is that your listing search positions will most likely suffer when you come back and turn holiday mode off. This happens because your item selling history is in standstill while competitors keep getting more sales in. So if you have listings with high search positions, this may not be the best way to go.
2) Second option is to hire someone for customer support and order dispatching while you’re away. While this may be tricky if you don’t have anyone you can fully trust with your business, it’s really the best way to go as you won’t lose your sales and listing search positions.
But do this only if you have someone who’s good with eBay, someone you can train, someone you can trust fully. If it’s not possible to find someone like this, you’d be better off putting your eBay shop on holiday mode and simply hope your listings won’t suffer too much in the time that you’re away.
I’ve decided to make some extra money by buying and reselling on eBay using the step by step guides on your blog. I have done everything you’ve stated and it all seems to be going to plan so far.
I was just wondering, in the account information section in eBay it says my account type is, ‘Personal’. I now have a seller account, but I can also change the option to Business account rather than Personal. Should I do this or not? Will this stop me from buying off eBay? I’m just a student looking to earn some extra money this way so not too sure what the best option is here.
Thanks in advance.
For now, you can keep your account as personal. When you get at least 30-40 feedbacks, you can then upgrade to Business. You can still keep buying things with a business account, so it doesn’t matter really.
The reason why you want to upgrade to Business account once you get 30-40 feedbacks is that only Business accounts can qualify for Power Seller and Top rated seller programs, with all the advantages they give.
Some fees are higher for business accounts though, that’s why in the beginning you can stick with a personal account.
My name is Andrei and I recently came across your website accidentally while searching for tips on how to avoid scams on Alibaba.com and to be honest, I was quite amazed at what you’re offering.
I have spent a lot of money buying useless things in my life but this really looks like the real deal to me and I wanted to ask you one question before buying your program:
Since you talk about pounds and UK type stuff, is your formula based solely on the UK market or anything like that because I’m from the US and was wondering if this whole thing can be operated from here? I know this may sound like a stupid question but I’d rather sound stupid than spend money on something that isn’t of use to me again.
Well thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing from you.
Yes, absolutely – EAB course works worldwide – I have hundreds of customers from countries all around the World (Singapore, Thailand, Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany etc.etc.)
You can still source products from US wholesalers, or Import from China like everyone else.
I have worked with many people from USA in my personal coaching program (60DBP) and what I have found is that eBay is so much bigger in the US than the UK, which brings up a lot of additional opportunities.
So effectively, I think my course works even better in the USA that the UK or Ireland.
There’s one concept I teach in the course that is all about sourcing stock from the US to sell in the UK, so that will of course be particularly effective when you’re selling there instead!
Hope this helps Andrei!
I have red you blog and find it really informative.
I am about to order some birthday items from China to sell on eBay. Its total value with shipping etc is $95 so nothing big. I just want to know if I need to register as a company and do I need any other documents as my supplier told me the items will be delivered directly to my house?
I look forward to your reply.
No, you don’t need to register a company to import such goods. Individuals can import goods from China in the same way a company does, it really makes no difference, especially when you’re talking about such a small, low value order, sent via a courier company.
And you don’t need any special documents – the courier will take care of everything and deliver the goods to your door.
I came across your website while trying to find out why eBay have suddenly suspended my account.
The account is a buyer account which I opened earlier this month (2nd November).
I placed my first order of 3 items from 3 sellers (all trusted with 95%+ positive feedback on thousands of sales). All the items are normal sales, not auction sales, thus PayPal payment was made immediately but about 24 hours later I received the dreaded MC999 notice for indefinite account suspension (this was on 5th November). The notice cited ‘security concerns’ as the reason.
I almost immediately replied to the notice asking for more information and suggestions (I also included other possible relevant information regarding my account etc). I have yet to hear from them (almost a week later).
Regarding my order, can eBay penalise a seller for completing the order and shipping the item to a user who has had their account suspended? Obviously with a suspended account I cannot create another order, I cannot participate in the feedback system etc. but in this case the payment went through (a seller contacted me to say that payment was received and the product is about to get shipped).
2 of the 3 sellers have already shipped the products I ordered from them (and they’ve arrived), however the other 1 is concerned about dealing with me due to my suspended account status.
What are my options regarding this?
I do not want the seller to be penalised for dealing with me (with my suspended account), possibly ruining their trusted status; but I do not think that something like that will happen (seeing as the other 2 continued and shipped the orders as normal).
No, sellers will not be affected by your closed account in any way. But it’s really weird that your account got suspended IF it was a genuine, legit account,
I would recommend that you call PayPal and ask for more details about this as chances are your ban was made through some error of an automated bot or something, as honestly this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a genuine account being suspended after merely buying three items.
I’ve recently started selling on eBay, and you have been such an inspiration (I’ve also told all my friends about you).
I am now considering importing from China for the very first time. The product I am looking at is Xbox One controllers and the company is Shenzhen Bosslife Technology Co. Ltd, from Alibaba.
They have quoted me $35.7 and have also answered my questions about the products saying they are completely original and genuine.
They do accept PayPal and the minimum order is for 5 units. What do you think, should I place an order?
As that company is based in mainland China, those controllers can’t be genuine and real. Most likely they’re copies. They’re not scammers in the classic sense, as if they take PayPal, they probably do send out goods, only they won’t be genuine Microsoft controllers.
Mainland China is only good for un-branded products and you simply cannot get branded items; you’ll either receive fakes or nothing at all.
Just two questions:
1) I want to get my products from the manufacturer in China to a store in the USA who will package my products from the raw materials sent. This will save time and money vs. me getting them here in the UK first and then sending them on…
But what I don’t want to happen is the USA store finding out my supplier.
Have you any advice? Is it wise to ask the manufacturer to send it, not in their name, but a personal/discreet name/address? That way, I can keep my contact confidential.
2) This is one that perhaps may be suited for the blog ‘ask Andrew’, as I’ve read a lot of people coming up with scare stories about FBA both in the UK and USA, with them intervening and taking away your supplier and selling it themselves. I just can’t see the logic in this theory unless you sent Amazon your supplier details. Where has this all come from?
Thank you so much! Love what you do!
1) You can probably try that, yes, but in any case – the shipping documents will have the export company’s details + many Chinese suppliers also use their own packaging materials with their company details on them.
If your supplier in China uses another export company to send the goods to you, then that store in the USA won’t see your real supplier details.
2) I really don’t know Sophia. I have never personally heard such stories from my customers and I bet the majority of them are nothing more than just that, rumours.
I just can’t believe that a company like Amazon would do such a thing. Their employees, yes, but as a company – I just don’t see it.
In some of those stories what could have happened is that Amazon starts selling the same product from the same supplier and people just assume that Amazon stole it from them, while in reality it really was just a coincidence.
To me that is a more likely scenario than a $100 billion company stealing suppliers from their very own customers.
I know you must get this a whole lot with what you do but I felt like I must email you just to throw my thoughts out there and ask for some advice.
I have always been interested, ok slightly obsessed, with starting my own business of sorts/selling online, having seen so many do it and seeing how big the market is out there. I really want to do this and make it work as I’m just so tired of failed attempts using affiliate programs that I can never drive any traffic to or make any real money from. Well that’s my past attempts in brief anyway.
Presently I work at Primark, in the stockroom too! So I feel your pain when you worked there, couldn’t believe it when I read that on your site! But more importantly on the business side of things I have started doing weekly carboots with the Mrs.; we mainly sell Disney Frozen items bought from Poundworld etc. for, you guessed it, a pound. We generally sell them on for £2 or 3 for a fiver, and are actually doing doing quite well but after our first success I instantly grew hungry for more and started thinking into the future “What do we do when Frozen dries up?” “Where can we expand?” “How can I get better deals than raiding local cheap shops praying they have stock for the next car boot?”
This is when I started googling my ass off looking for wholesalers, and yeah I found a few that seemed quite good that do reasonable “carbootable” items (cheap crap that will shift at low prices) but doing this one day a week and making say £50 profit (IF it all sells in one day as opposed to 2 weeks / 2 carboots) from a £100+ order is not exactly my idea of a successful business in the long run. I want to get out of Primark and work for myself, at home or out of a coffee shop somewhere on my laptop.
Then I came across you, I can’t even remember how, but I signed up to your newsletter and saved your site. I have been reading your daily emails (they are great by the way) which just make me crave success even more more so now here are the questions (sorry for going on for so long)…
1) Is there good profit to be made at carboots like I have been doing? I have made profit both times we have done it but it’s minor and like I previously said, we are worried it will soon dry up, either the hype over Frozen or the stock itself.
2) Where do I go next? I met the brother of a wholesaler who’s company actually supplied one of the pound stores with some of the Frozen stock, the company site only allows registered traders to apply (already have a successful eBay shop etc with references). He said he’d be able to supply me stock at low prices, do you think it’s worth investigating?
3) On the back of 2, is eBay my next move? The only problem I have with eBay is PayPal, I do not have my account anymore due to buyers scamming me and me refusing to pay PayPal money they took off me! This was back when I was new, so I would have to start fresh but obviously don’t have a PayPal account, would there be any problems in say using a friend’s PayPal?
4) eBay + Postage! This is the main concern for me, postage, some items I have seen that I believe I could shift from the guy mentioned in question 2 are quite bulky and many sellers are offering free postage, how can I compete with that?! I am a 24 year old guy in debt with a crap job; I can’t afford to pay the postage.
5) Market stalls? Not thought much into a market stall but what are your thoughts on them?
I am sure I have more questions but can’t quite think of them at the moment, sorry for going on so long and I do hope you reply.
Either way, thanks a lot for your time!
He-he, it’s great to hear from a fellow Primark warehouse prisoner!.
I will try to answer your questions one by one:
1) I personally don’t have any experience with market stalls/carboots so can’t really comment on that. I’d say for a small-time, second income they’re fine but in the long term you want to sell online as there is just so much more potential than in a local market stall. You just have no leverage selling locally when the internet opens up a worldwide marketplace to you.
2) If you can move those items at market stalls, then I guess you can do it. Again, you have to think about what your goals are here – do you just want to make a second income selling at market stalls OR build a real, sustainable business online?
3) Yes, your next logical move would be eBay. If you got banned many years ago, chances are that you could open a new account or an account in your wife’s name?
4) Postage costs are the same for everyone. Free shipping simply means that the shipping cost is included in the price and the sellers certainly aren’t paying for it from their own pockets, buyers are. Please check out my Shipping guide for eBay sellers to learn more about this.
5) Same as the first, I don’t have any experience with this so don’t want to give you any uninformed advice.
I really hope everything turns out well for you in the near future as I can totally relate to how you feel, having been through it all myself.
Thanks & Good Luck!
I’ve been reading through all the articles on your blog for the past month and I have to say thank you!
Your amazing advice has inspired me to drag my ass off the floor and to start something, just when I’ve hit rock bottom.
Your second hand buying and selling business model is working wonders for me at the moment. I’ve managed to turn the last £30 I had into £150 in just over a week sniping products, searching through thrift stores and getting what some people consider trash and selling it on to a market that want it.
Just wanted to say thank you and keep up the good work.
Thanks very much Nick! 🙂
It’s always nice to hear back from my bog readers, especially when they have implemented what I teach and made a success out of it! Congrats and keep up the good work!
Ok, that’s it for today.
Wow, the number of questions being sent in just increases month after month, and you’re certainly keeping me busy answering them all!
But rest assured, they are all being answered by me personally and I do not outsource this process.
So if you have a question to ask, get in touch with me via this contact form.
Have a great weekend!