April 17, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #25

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questions-answers-25Welcome Back!

For the 25th time, a Questions & Answers post goes live on AndrewMinalto.com! Another small milestone reached! 🙂

For those of you who are reading this for the first time – this blog series is all about YOUR questions, answered by me. Every Friday (almost) I put together a blog post covering the most interesting questions that were sent in to me the previous week so that all my blog readers can read and learn from each others’ ideas, experiences and mistakes. If you have a question that you would like answered, you can send it over to me via the contact form here, and chances are it’ll be featured in a future Q&A session.

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • How to order from multiple Chinese suppliers in one go?
  • Can we use coupons on eBay?
  • How to start selling supplements on eBay?
  • What stock levels are recommended for a brand new online shop?
  • How to resolve a “below standard” eBay account?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I have been searching various forum threads but am unable to find an answer to my question about importing for the first time.

I have various suppliers of different products and many are located at different ports in China.

My question is some suppliers have quoted me FOB price (some same port, some different ports) and others EXW price.

If they have different ports how does this work? For example: I have FOB quotes from Shenzhen, Dongguan, Shanghai and then I also have some suppliers who have given me EXW prices as the quantity doesn’t meet their MOQ.

I’m just not sure what the best and most cost effective way to go about this is? I have contacted freight forwarders but I can’t seem to get a direct answer.

Any insight would be very much appreciated!

Thank you,

Hi Gina,

I would highly recommend that you just stick with one supplier from one location, on FOB terms, in order to keep things simple – particularly for your first importing deal.

Sure, buying from multiple suppliers and multiple locations can be done with the help of a freight forwarder who will consolidate all shipments into one BUT it will be very expensive.

I guess your orders are not that big and if you need to consolidate several small packages, from various regions of China, you’ll pay more in shipping fees than you actually paid for the products themselves. Also, I would recommend staying away from EXW terms/prices as you’ll face further complications and charges you can’t really control.

So as I said, for your first importing deal, order from just one supplier, with FOB terms, and contact a freight forwarder who can give you a door to door quote. Otherwise you’ll create a really expensive mess that you’ll almost certainly later regret.

Hi Andrew,

Does ebay.co.uk facilitate the use of one time coupon codes? I have heard some people say they use it on Amazon to give their customers free products and it is still counted as a transaction. I want to email my customers so that they can use a coupon code for a discount when ordering from me on eBay.

Thanks in advance!

Hi John,

No, unfortunately eBay does not provide any such coupon system for sellers. It’s a real shame of course as this is a fairly basic and simple marketing strategy that every online seller should be implementing. But eBay doesn’t even offer a decent newsletter service, never mind coupons or discount codes.

Hi Andrew,

I want to start selling on eBay and I’m hopefully going to start selling various fitness related equipment, protein powder, sports supplements etc.

Do you have any advice on selling such items as I’m sure there are some differences purely due to health reasons? Do you think this would be worthwhile getting into as I understand that it’s a very competitive market?

I am a total newcomer to this and unsure how I should get the ball rolling… should I just buy say 5 tubs of protein to start off and see if I can actually sell them? I have a lot of learning to do, but hopefully I can make at least a second income from this. Thanks by the way, your website has some really good information and is a great read.


Hi Christopher,

Why do you want to sell fitness equipment and sports supplements? Do you have any particular reason for wanting to do so?

I mean – you can’t just blindly pick products you like and hope you’ll be able to make money by selling them on eBay.

You first need to do proper market research using Terapeak and find products with real potential. The next step is to find suppliers and get quotes and ONLY THEN can you decide whether you’re going to sell that product or not.

Particularly as you’re new to eBay, you absolutely MUST do proper market research and base your buying decisions on data, not guesswork.

By buying 5 tubs of protein powder and simply listing them on eBay, you won’t achieve anything.

This market is SUPER competitive and I can tell you with 99% certainty that you won’t make any profit at all. In such a crowded marketplace you really need to create your own, powerful brand, offer something unique and buy product in huge volume to make it cost effective to sell on eBay.

So please don’t pursue this idea as it’s simply not viable.

Spend some time on my blog, read my guides, learn everything you can about selling on eBay and only then make your first step. Otherwise you’ll simply be wasting your money.

Hi Andrew,

I have been following your blog and other works of yours for a few weeks now, and I think you are doing a really great job!

Thank you for sharing all the knowledge you have with us!

About two months ago, I decided to start my own eBay store, selling fine jewellery.

I’ve been doing a lot of research recently (Terapeak is indeed a great help) and I also visited an international jewellery fair last week in Germany, just to make contact with possible future suppliers.

I met several potential companies to start ordering from, but still have not decided which one to do business with.

My question is whether it’s necessary to have my starting inventory before I start working on creating the company’s branding and my store’s image, or can I start working on all of this (name, logo, business card etc.) while I’m looking for the right supplier?

I am planning to start with jewellery that I can sell for around 50USD, with a decent profit, but later on I would like to move towards more expensive products as well. So my concept is to create a store where lower and higher end products can also be listed without confusing potential customers about who exactly these products are geared towards.

What do you suggest, how much inventory should I purchase to get things going first?

Thank you very much for your answers!

Best regards,

Hi Daniel,

You can definitely start working on your shop while you’re looking for suppliers, ordering stock and waiting for it to arrive. There’s no conflict in doing these two things at the same time. Any decent shopping cart system will allow you to close down your shop while you’re working on it and put a placeholder message/logo people see when visit your website.

It’s not even that important when you start a new online shop as no one will visit it in the beginning anyway, if you don’t promote it (and why would you do that if your shop isn’t ready yet!).

As for inventory levels – if you can find a supplier with low MOQs (minimum order quantities), there’s no real reason to not go as low as possible, especially if you plan on selling more expensive items. 2-3 pieces per product is enough, as long as you can place re-orders quickly.

It’s much better to have a large variety of stock in your new shop rather than just a few products, but huge quantities. Then when your business grows, you can always increase stock levels if needed.

Hi Andrew,

I hope my email finds you in great health. I am just after some quick advice from yourself: I am a regular blog reader and EAB subscriber and I started selling on eBay about 6 months ago and everything was going really well.

However, over the last 4-5 weeks I have gone through a rough patch in my life and had some serious family problems. I have not been able to monitor my emails or check my eBay account – all I did was price all my items high enough so that I wouldn’t get any orders.

Now that things are sorted and I am back in business I have seen that there were two cases opened by the buyer and not resolved by the seller i.e. me. I had just achieved power seller status before all this happened and now my projected seller status as of 20th of April is “below standard”.

What would be the most appropriate step for me from here? Forget this account and start fresh or continue with this one and put lots of 99p auctions on to get a lower percentage of defective transactions? Or are there any other options that haven’t occurred to me? Your help and time will be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

Kind Regards,

Hi Ghaus,

I know it’s too late to tell you this but you messed up by leaving your shop live in such a way… It would’ve been much better if you put your shop on holiday mode or simply ended all active listings until you had a chance to sort out your personal issues. But anyway, it’s done now and there’s nothing you can do to change that.

As for your next step – it depends entirely on whether or not eBay have placed any selling restrictions on your account? 2 defects is not that bad and if there are no severe selling limits in place then yes – I would simply recommend you list as many 0.99 items as you can to get your account back in good standing. You could, for example, buy a large job lot of used Blu Rays or DVDs and re-list each item individually at a starting price of ÂŁ0.99 plus free shipping.

If there are selling restrictions in place, like 10 or 20 items per month, then your best bet would probably be to start with a brand new account.

Hope this helps!


Okay, that’s it for today!

If you have any eBay, eCommerce, importing or any other business related question that you’d like me to cover in a future Q&A blog post, then feel free to get in touch via the helpdesk here. Even if you’re question isn’t published on my blog, you’ll still receive a full reply from me personally via email.

Enjoy your weekend – spring is in full swing!


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  1. Kenneth Cook

    Hello – I have had an EBAY account for many years and never had a problem with 100% positive feedback. I also have an account on ioffer in which I also sell items. I never had a problem with either account but in January – Paypal without notice or reason permanently froze my account based on an item on ioffer. I believe they used an algorhtym that keys on certain words, because I never had problems with any items on either site before. I tried getting around this by signing up for Propay, but customers refused to use it. For them it was paypal or nothing. In addition, Propay doesn’t work for overseas customers (outside the USA). I tried talking to Paypal, but they just said if you want to sue us, here’s our address. At any rate, is there either another service acceptable to people on EBAY and ioffer that is international, or else can I start a new paypal account under a different bank account and another name (like one of my family members with their consent). Any guidance would be appreciated as I have lost one of my income streams due to Paypal’s malicious actions without due process.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kenneth,

      Thanks for your email.

      Unfortunately on eBay it is PayPal OR nothing. There are no real PayPal alternatives when we talk about eBay businesses…

      So your only options would be to get your PayPal account back somehow (very un-likely), use someone else’s account or simply sell on Amazon, other marketplaces where PayPal is not required.


      1. Hi,
        So if your account is restricted, can work at it or start new account and if suspended can still start new account?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No, if eBay suspends you/bans you for life, you CAN’T open any new accounts.

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