Hello Everyone and Welcome Back!
As many of you will have noticed, our Q&A series has been absent over the last few weeks, but it’s back this week and today is our 34th Questions and Answers blog post! You can check out previous posts in this series using the Archives page here.
For those of you who are new to my blog – every week (almost!) I do a Q&A blog post where I go over, in detail, questions that have been sent to me by my readers.
You can easily take part in this by sending in your question via the contact form on this page.
What kind of questions can you ask? Really anything related to:
- eBay selling
- Online business in general
- Etc. etc.
So don’t be shy and send in your questions! Even if it doesn’t make it into our weekly Q&A post, I’ll still send you a personal response via email.
Okay, so for today we’ll be covering the following questions:
- Can you open an online shop as a Sole Trader?
- How to properly send goods via courier from Pakistan?
- Do you need a separate eBay shop for each product group?
- How to make sure you’re dealing with an ethical supplier in China?
- What’s the best way to manage stock levels for a new eBay Business?
- Do I have to offer a FREE shipping option on eBay?
- How to increase search exposure for old listings?
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Firstly just a quick thank you for sharing your knowledge, I found your blog extremely helpful when registering as sole trader and when using Alibaba!
I wanted to ask you about the requirements when setting up my online shop. I have already registered as an online trader, as I am selling on eBay, but do I need to register as a company when opening an online shop? The rules aren’t really clear to me here.
No, you don’t have to register a company to be able to open an online shop.
If you’re already registered as a sole trader, you can sell from your online shop in the same way you do on eBay, there’s definitely no problem with that.
I have just read your blog post about importing from China and wondered if you could give me a little more help on the subject.
I am about to import some goods from Pakistan to sell on eBay.
The manufacturer has given me a quote plus a quote for shipping (not sure what shipping method is being used yet).
If a courier is used would I usually arrange it or would the manufacturer? I just want to make sure that all the customs paperwork etc. is sorted correctly.
Thanks for this post by the way as there’s not much easy to understand information on this topic.
Yes, if a courier company is used, usually the supplier arranges the shipping and simply invoices you for shipping costs, as you wouldn’t be able to do this without opening an account with a courier company and even then your supplier will usually get better prices anyway.
With a courier you don’t really have to worry about the customs clearance procedure as they’ll handle everything and deliver the goods to your door. Just make sure you remind your supplier to include the FULL and CORRECT commercial invoice with your shipment and not to under-value the order.
If air freight or sea freight is used, the whole procedure is more complicated and I would recommend using a freight forwarder to ship the goods, clear them through customs and deliver everything to your address.
I hope you’re well, and thank you for your previous responses to the other messages I’ve sent.
I have another quick question for you:
Is it better to have one eBay shop with everything in it, i.e. clothing, tools, software, anything and everything basically! Or is it better to have separate eBay shops for each product category, i.e. one for tools, one for software etc.?
What’s more profitable? Do customers really care and pay attention to things like that? The reason I ask is because I myself think that having separate shops is best, but when you look at a company like Babz Media who sell all kinds of products and are probably the biggest sellers on eBay, then it makes me think that perhaps it doesn’t really matter that much how you present yourself.
What are your thoughts?
If you sell various products, it will be best for you to create an all-in-one BRAND and sell everything from one eBay shop, simply because running so many shops is impractical for a number of reasons.
I only recommend having separate niche shops IF you really work full-time in one, two, maybe three niches, and even then I would suggest starting with just one shop initially and only adding a 2nd when you’re established and making good profit.
So yes, in your case, I would recommend going with an all-in-one style store and simply sell everything from one place.
Your website is fascinating and inspiring; however, my concern with having things manufactured overseas is that the workers may be exploited. Is there any way to ensure that I am working with a company who pays its employees fair wages and ensures they work reasonable hours?
Yes, it is possible by doing an inspection on the supplier you’re planning to work with. You can ask an inspection company to specifically check the employees’ working conditions, working hours etc.
Take a good look at this recent blog post to learn more about how to go about this:
Also, you may find these videos interesting as they relate closely to your question as they show some behind the scenes footage of how these factories in China work:
What’s your feeling on stock levels and how much you should hold?
Depending on the products and amount of sales, is it too much to hold a month’s worth of stock or is that too little?
I could order a year’s worth of stock for one product and get really low prices but I’m not sure I want to have all that money tied up in one product for that amount of time.
What’s your theory on stock levels and how often do you like to reorder? Once a month, quarterly etc.? Obviously I understand that this will vary for each product, but there must be a general rule to stick to?
There are obviously no hard rules on this as your stock levels will depend on many factors, such as:
- Sales speed (how many units you sell per month)
- Re-order time scale (how quickly you can re-stock items that go low on stock)
- Your cash flow (how much money you have available)
- Product price breaks (based on the quantity you buy)
So I can’t give you one definitive answer to your question. But if you use courier delivery from China and can re-order quickly, 1-2 months’ of sales volume sounds about right. One year is definitely too much as prices and demand can change over such a long period of time.
Also, it’s very important what quantity price breaks your supplier offers and how much you pay in shipping PER product. You need to calculate your sweet spot where you don’t have to invest too much at once but get a good cost price at the same time.
I have two questions which might be better answered as part of the next Q&A:
1. What have you found to have better success – a lower sale price with additional postage or a higher price that includes postage but then gets the free postage label on eBay?
2. What methods are useful to revive a listing with slow sales, e.g. other sellers are selling 5+ a day of an item compared to my 2+ even with my lower price. What’s a good way to just generally kick-start listings that have slow sales?
1) Definitely the FREE Delivery option, at least in most cases. The reason for this is very simple – FREE P&P is a very important element in eBay’s Best Match algorithm and gives you a great boost in search results.
There are a few exceptions though, like when almost everyone in your niche/market charges P&P separately. In cases like these, you will probably be better off having a slightly lower price but charging P&P on top (as everyone is doing that so you’ll be treated the same way in search results).
Another situation when I think it is better to charge a separate shipping fee is when you sell something cheap but bulky – with a massive delivery charge. For example, you sell an item for £9.95 but delivery for it is another £10, due to the fact that it is a bulky and over-sized item. It would probably be best to offer free collection on items like this and charge a shipping fee separately, if it’s needed.
But in general, I would simply look at what your competitors on the first page of search results are doing and go with that route.
2) Sometimes it’s really not worth “re-starting” an old listing for a very simple reason – eBay takes into account your conversion rate (buyers/visitors) when ranking your listing in search results. So if it’s an old listing, with poor sales data, it’s very hard to get it back in good shape, due to this lower conversion rate on record.
But before cancelling it and creating a new listing, you can try running a sale for it via Promotions Manager. Sometimes this works and eBay features such listings higher in search results.
If this doesn’t help, simply cancel the listing and try to improve any of the poor aspects that were effecting sales (visuals, shipping, price etc.) and then simply create a new listing using my strategy to rank at the top of eBay’s search results.
Hope this helps Paul!
Okay, that’s it for today.
Have a great weekend everyone!