June 12, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #31

questions-answers-31Welcome back!

Another week has passed and it’s time for this Friday’s Questions & Answers post.

Today we’ll cover the following questions:

  • Can you sell items that look similar to branded ones on eBay?
  • How to avoid getting my eBay account suspended?
  • How to register a business on eBay as a Partnership?
  • How to evaluate the level of competition in a new niche?
  • How to minimise “Item Not Received” cases?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew!

I’ve been reading your website for the past couple of days and love it!

I want to start selling bracelets on eBay, but the ones I’m planning to sell are shown on stinghd.com. My idea was to buy them from China, and they’re basically the same, at least as far as I can tell.

Under the T&Cs of stinghd it talks about how you cannot sell anything that comes close to the design of the items shown on their website, but it doesn’t say these design are actually registered on any intellectual property sites?

I’m a bit confused here and was hoping you could give me your advice…

Thanks,
Kris

Hi Kris,

IF they don’t have those designs registered, you shouldn’t face any problems selling replicas made in China, as long as you don’t mention Stinghd’s brand name anywhere on your sales page.

To be sure these designs are not protected, you would have to do a search for the company’s name in USA patent/trade mark/registered design directories.

Hi Andrew,

I have sold on eBay for 14 years and have great feedback.

Recently I had 2 transactions that eBay needed to step in and make a decision about – they decided in the buyer’s favor (of course). So now when I attempt to list items, there is a restriction on the amount I am able to list.

I called eBay and according to them, these restrictions will be lifted in October this year. BUT that’s not the worst of it as when I was talking to eBay I was told there’s a good chance that my account will be suspended for good. I honestly couldn’t believe it when I was told this.

So now I need to plan ahead for that worst case scenario (I sell on eBay for a living).

If I set up a corporation and register it on eBay, will that work? But I will still have the same IP address so I’m not sure if that would stop me from being shut down by eBay?

Thanks for any advice
Danny

Hi Danny,

First of all, you should never let cases go to eBay – you should ALWAYS resolve cases on your own, even if it means doing so in your buyer’s favour. As there’s no point letting eBay decide – 99.9% of the time they will side with the buyer so the only difference is you now have some serious account issues as a result.

I don’t think they’ll ban your account though, unless you sold some counterfeit items? You should improve your feedback and defect rate as quickly as possible by selling loads of cheap items.

Opening a new account won’t change anything really as eBay will link them and if they decide to ban your current account, the second account will automatically be banned as well.

So yes, I would just concentrate on getting your current account back to the required standard asap and that should stop any potential ban.

Dear Andrew!

My name is Taimoor and I wanted to get some advice from you. I am planning to do some online CFD trading, as well as invest some money in funds, and also possibly start selling on eBay and Amazon.

My question is if you think it’s possible to start multiple business at once? If it is, should I register as self-employed?

Another question is what if I want to start an eBay business in partnership with a friend? Would I have to register as a sole trader plus a partnership? And then lastly, how long can I delay registering with HMRC after I’ve started my business?

I would be very grateful for any advice you can offer me.

Kind regards,
Taimoor

Hi Taimoor,

Yes, if you have plenty of time on your hands, it is possible to start multiple businesses at once. Is it advisable to do so? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I always recommend picking one business/one project at a time and concentrating on that. Once you have achieved your minimum goals in that business, then you can start looking at other opportunities.

Yes, the simplest and cheapest way is to register as a Sole Trader. If you’re starting an eBay business with a friend, then you should register as a Partnership or Ltd company.

You can read more information about business registration, all the requirements, and forms etc. on my guide here:

https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-tax-registration/

Hi Andrew,

I am looking to sell essential oils on eBay and there seems to be 150 or so sellers at the moment. Is that too many and should I look for another product?

Sue

Hi Sue,

The number of sellers alone doesn’t really indicate the actual level of competition you’ll face. You can’t look at this number separately from the overall market size (total sales), the overall quality/professionalism of these sellers, and other factors.

You need to first establish the size of the niche – this will be the Total Sales figure in Terapeak, taken from the last 30 days, for new products only. Then you take that number and divide it by the number of sellers. If the result is less than £500 per seller, that usually indicates that the competition is rather large, yes, and there’s not much potential market share for you to take (not always of course as there are exceptions).

My gut feeling says that for a product like this – essential oils – 150 sellers is quite a lot, yes. The market for such a product probably isn’t very big to begin with which means that tons of people are competing to get a slice from a rather small pie. But you’d have to do full Terapeak research to get the complete picture.

Sometimes the number of sellers is very high BUT there are none that concentrate solely on this niche (most are just general shops selling this product on the side). So this is also something you have to keep in mind when evaluating competition on eBay.

Hey Andrew!

I’m loving your blog – wish I had found it sooner!

I have a quick question with regards to a lot of buyers (scammers) claiming their item was not received. I post everything the same day or the next day and do everything possible to provide the best service for my buyers. However I very much doubt all of these items are getting lost with royal mail so I can only assume it’s a certain few that are trying it on for a freebie.

Basically in your experience how can I cut this down as it’s really hitting my defect rate hard and I’m starting to worry about going below standard. I can’t send everything ‘tracked’ or ‘signed for’ as the extra cost would cut down my profits and putting the price up on my listings would make me a less competitive option compared to other sellers.

Now I don’t mind losing a few bits here and there as I understand that’s the price of business, if I had a high street store you’d get a certain amount of theft, it’s just the way it goes. But I need to try and stop people from opening a case straight away and to instead email me first. That way I can refund them and not have a defect against my account.

I was thinking of leaving a compliment slip in my parcels saying to contact me via message if there is a problem? Now I know someone who is pulling off a scam would in theory pretend they didn’t get such a parcel or a slip but my thinking is they would see this and opt to email me first saying they didn’t get it rather than go straight to the resolution centre. Do you think this would work?

Do you leave slips in your parcels? If product lines are causing you too many problems with defects would you just stop selling them and focus on lines that don’t have any issues? For instance all my fancy dress is a nightmare. I feel people begrudge paying for a dress that they will only wear one night out and think “I will claim I didn’t get it and get my money back”, whereas in comparison I have been selling tools and software and others bit that never seem to give me any headaches.

Any advice or help would be much appreciated

Thanks for your time Andrew.

All the best,
Christian

Hi Christian,

Thanks for your email.

Yes, I totally understand your pain – these scammers are one of the biggest problems every eBay seller faces. And unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to protect yourself, especially if you can’t afford to use tracked shipping methods. As without tracking you really aren’t covered. And many people take advantage of this fact; they know that if their package isn’t tracked/signed-for, then they can contact eBay and will 100% get their money back, plus be able to keep the item! That is the sad reality of eBay nowadays.

I recommend you check out my article on this topic where I’ve covered this problem in more detail:

https://andrewminalto.com/buyers-scammers-on-ebay/

In general, for anything that is worth more than say £10, you want to use a signed for service and nothing else UNLESS the items you deal with are in general low risk and don’t attract scammers. And on the other hand, with some items, that are popular amongst scammers, you may need to use a signed for service even for less valuable items. There’s simply no way around this if you want to keep your defect rate low.

Including a slip (thank you letter as I call it) is definitely a good idea and can prevent some disputes from genuine people, who are actually having problems with their item or your service. But it obviously won’t stop scammers as they know perfectly well that the fastest and easiest way to get their money back is by simply opening a case directly with eBay.

Lastly – you already partially answered your question – but yes, indeed, IF you’re having so much problems/scams/defects selling any particular line of products, simply don’t sell them! As there are products that are like magnets to scammers and there are many other products you can sell all day long and post without tracking and you won’t get a single defect for years! That’s how it is, yes, so you may want to evaluate your product line and simply stop selling products that are so risky to deal with.

Hope this helps Christian!

***

Okay, that’s it for today!

Don’t forget that you can get YOUR question featured in the weekly Q&A post! All you have to do is send it in via the contact form on this page. Even if your question isn’t picked for a blog post, you will still receive a personal reply from me via email.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Thanks,
Andrew

4 Comments
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  1. HI Andrew,

    Thanks for the reply. I’ve seen the option there to add a new item, but I can’t see the option to remove items, only edit the existing ones.

    I want to remove certain out of stock items from the drop down menu.

    Many thanks

    Alan

  2. HI Andrew,

    Thanks for all the wonderful posts. Trying to implement some of them and see if sales are boosted.

    We have a multi variation listing with good sales history, but there are two or three items that are now out of stock and discontinued, so we are no longer selling them. I understand it’s not the best thing if the items in the variation listing are out of stock.

    Is there a way to remove items from the variation without losing the entire listing and sales history?

    Also, is there a way to add new item to the variation listing after the listing being active for a long period?

    Thanks a lot

    Alan

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alan,

      Yes, of course, you can do this via Revise listing feature.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. HI Andrew,

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve seen the option there to add a new item, but I can’t see the option to remove items, only edit the existing ones.

        I want to remove certain out of stock items from the drop down menu.

        Many thanks

        Alan

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