July 18, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 12 Comments

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered (#8)

questions-answers-8It’s Friday and time for another Questions & Answers blog post. It will be a slightly shorter one as it’s now the middle of summer and I’m really trying to take a break from business activities to spend some quality time with my family.

Still, over the last week I have received some interesting questions I would like to cover:

  • How to get goods imported from China through UK customs?
  • How to manage orders when going on holiday?
  • Is it possible to start an eBay business from Pakistan?

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Hi,

First of all, your blog has amazing information! Thanks so much 🙂

I have ordered 1,000 wooden photo frames from China and I am getting them shipped into Southampton, UK. This is my first time ordering from China and I ordered a few test products first and loved the quality and price so I went ahead and ordered the full 1,000.

I paid in dollars via PayPal and the ETA is around 25th July 2014.

Is there a service anywhere that can collect my order when it comes into the port at Southampton? Then pay the relevant fees and tax and then invoice me a bill? As I am really stuck with the whole process of collecting my order from the port and paying the fees!

The company I have ordered from has already arranged the shipping to Southampton and I just need help with the last bit now – getting my goods through customs and to my actual address in the UK!

Please ask if you need more information about my order.

Thanks,
Rachel

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for your question.

From the sound of it, you have purchased goods on FOB basis which means that the goods are loaded onto the ship in China but you take care of customs clearance and delivery of the goods to your address in the UK. This is perfectly fine and is the most commonly used method when importing goods from China via sea freight.

Now, when your goods arrive in the UK, they will basically be held in customs until you “clear” them. By customs clearance I mean a procedure when a broker puts together all the documentation needed; you pay taxes; customs officials then review this information and release the goods to you. You’ll most likely be asked to provide a few documents, such as:

  • Bill of Lading (ask your supplier about this);
  • Invoice;
  • PayPal payment confirmation

From that point you can either collect your goods in person at port OR use a shipping company who will deliver them to any address you specify, for a cost of course.

While you can collect your goods in person, you CAN’T do the customs clearance on your own as only licensed brokers/companies can do this task. So what I recommend you do is get in touch with 2-3 such brokers in Southampton and get some quotes for this task. You can use the directory Yell.com to find such companies.

My personal recommendation is a company called Woodland Global and you can get in touch with them here.

Not only will they clear your goods through customs but they can also deliver the shipment to your address, for a very reasonable fee.

Hi Andrew,

Love your site!

I’m going on holiday in a month and have a couple of listings high up in search results (1 in the first 3 pages though it fluctuates).

I sell about 25 items per day and post each weekday but if I go on holiday or overseas (for my main engineering business) then I either put my eBay shop on hidden listings holiday or sales enabled holiday. Either way it’s always “listing position suicide” and I end up selling at a loss for weeks afterwards to repair the damage (which is really holding me back).

Fulfilment houses seem a bit too extreme as the listings are for low cost items but I’m not sure what else to do (burdening a family member with Linnworks etc. seems a bit unfair).

Do you know of any fulfilment houses that cater for temporary cover situations like this or do you have any other suggestions? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

All the best
Leo

Hi Leo,

Thanks for your question.

Yep, I definitely appreciate your situation as it’s summer time and most of us are therefore taking our holiday now. And you’re right – if you put your eBay Shop on holiday mode for several weeks, your listing search positions will suffer (though I haven’t noticed such dramatic effect on shorter, 2-5 day leaves).

So what to do?

There are still a few options left:

1. As much as you don’t want to do it, hiring a friend/family member for this period and teaching them how to process orders is one of best options out there. Well, if you’re using Linnworks, it won’t be easy, true… But maybe you can just use Selling Manager Pro for that time to simplify the workflow? I don’t know your set-up of course so chances are that’s not an option?

Alternatively, as Linnworks is cloud based software, maybe you can process orders remotely, from your location? These days there are network solutions, virtual PCs etc., which you can set-up to WORK in your office, while you’re on holiday. And then, the person you hire will simply have to pack the orders, attach shipping labels and drop off packages at the post office.

2. Fulfilment houses. I don’t know of any such temporary services, and it’s very unlikely they exist at all. As you say you deal with low value items, using a fulfilment house probably won’t be cost effective in the long term BUT if you use it for a few weeks, just to keep your search positions intact – that may be an option? You might not make any profit during the time you’re away but at least you’ll keep your rankings and won’t have to sell at a loss afterwards to regain your positions.

Obviously, you would have to do some maths here as I of course don’t know your margins etc. so this may not be a viable option – it all depends on your calculations.

The easiest way to set this up would be to use Fulfilment by Amazon as there are no contracts to sign and you register straight away, having your products ready for dispatch in a few days’ time.

Dear Andrew,

I have been following your blog for some time. I am currently an undergraduate student and work part-time as a Virtual Assistant on Elance. I am interested in investing my savings in a business that doesn’t require a lot of start-up capital.

I was interested in setting up an eCommerce store or starting an online auction business on eBay but the problem is I am located in Pakistan, so I’ll have to pay huge courier charges to get the products to me and then repack them to sell to America. Because of this I don’t think this is really a feasible plan for me.

Could you let me know which business model best suits me considering my geographical location? I do have experience listing products on eCommerce stores as I’ve done this for clients so that may come in useful? I have a few hundred dollars ($100-$200) to start a business. Should I join your second income generator as I am a student and only have a few hours available to work each week?

Thank you for your time,

God bless you and your family.

Thanks,
Masnoon

Hi Masnoon,

Thanks for your questions.

It’s great to hear you’re already making some money online by working as a freelancer on Elance. To be honest, I think that in your current position, that’s the best option for you – do online freelancing, as with physical goods you’ll run into several problems:

  • Your buying power is too low. $100-$200 in your situation is just really not enough to buy goods in wholesale or to import from China.
  • Your location. As you already mentioned, shipping goods from Pakistan to Europe or USA will be very, very expensive – it simply won’t work due to extremely high shipping costs.

The only way I can see you making money with physical goods, either on eBay or your own online shop, is if you can source goods LOCALLY!

Yes, I’m sure there are factories in Pakistan or wholesalers you could source products from in small quantities and for good prices if you do some research.

I haven’t personally bought anything from Pakistan but I know that it’s a place where many clothing manufacturers are located – also it’s a very popular place for all kinds of leather products – so you could maybe sell leather gloves, motorcycle jackets or similar products?

If you can find good suppliers for such products locally then you could make it work.

If not; stick with freelancing and continue making money online by doing work for others. If your English is good enough, you can always start a side project – a blog or a website which you can then monetise with ads and affiliate links and make a passive income that way.

Hope this helps Masnoon!

Thanks,
Andrew

12 Comments
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  1. Hi

    I am located in Pakistan and have a factory that makes Hunting knives. One of my friend is interested in selling these knives in UK through eBay. He will have a resisted company for this purpose and will register as Business in on ebay.co.uk
    He is already doing another job and has no time to list products and do shipping.
    so is it possible if i can upload and ship products from Pakistan to customers?He will be handling accounts and payments. I look forward to receive your kind response soon, Thank You

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Awais,

      Yes, that’s possible.

      Only thing – you have to be aware that many people will not purchase only because item will be sent from Pakistan – which means long delivery times and possible delays at customs.

      There could also be some restrictions on sending such knifes via airmail – they could be on prohibited item list.

      Andrew

  2. Hello,

    I would like to sell goods in US and UK via ebay. I have an ebay account but because I am based in the Netherlands I have a Dutch account. My question is can my products on ebay be still listed on UK and US ebay? If yes, how can I do that technically?

    Thank you in advance.
    Marina.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marina,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you can absolutely do that. All you have to do is login onto that regional eBay site you want to list on (with same account details) and create listings there.

      Alternatively, you can use Turbo Lister and download regional eBay site add-ons for as many eBay sites as you want and list on any eBay site from same Turbo Lister.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Dear Andrew,

        I am willing to start eBay business using importing from China (which I already have some experience with). Important fact is, that I am located in Czech Republic. I have limited buying power, so I want to start with small number of different items, make it as simple as possible and let it grow “organically”.

        There are several options how I can start and I would like to know your opinion about them. They are sorted by my preferrence.

        a) focus on eBay.co.uk (quite fast shipping to UK from CZ, less competitive than global eBay)
        b) focus on eBay.com (mainly targeting USA, longer shipping time)
        c) focus on eBay.de (I would prefer this one because of lowest competition – especially chinesese sellers – and cheapest and fastest shipping, but I am not confident enough in my German language skills yet to provide a support and communication, that would look professional enough)

        Considering eBay.co.uk – Taken economically, I have slight disadvantage in shipping costs and speed to UK compared to local sellers, so this is not a big issue for me. But what I am afraid of is, that I would need to set my prices very low to beat UK local sellers, because they have serious advantage of being local and thus having higher trust level. Or even worse, that my only advantage over chinese sellers would be only shipping time and absence of customs and VAT charges.

        Do you think my worries are relevant or the disadvantage of being located in CZ is not that big? I will try it out anyway, but I want to know your opinion so I can adjust my strategy accordingly.

        Thank you very much in advance for your time and help,
        Best regards
        Otakar

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Otakar,

          Thanks for your email.

          You have basically already answered your question by yourself so not much I can add to it! I would personally probably start with eBay.de and have listings in English, just so people don’t expect support in German language. eBay.de is a very active marketplace and from what I have seen, competition is smaller there compared to eBay.co.uk and the fact that you can offer quite fast & cheap shipping, will also help you.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  3. Randy Grewal

    Hi Andrew,

    I have just planned to start export copper wire scrap to India and Pakistan from Europe and china , Malaysia ,Thailand or North America.

    Now I found out that most sellers or suppliers are not legitimate or genuine. There are lots of scammers sitting on Alibaba, EC21,and so many other websites.
    So can you help me how to find the genuine suppliers or scrap metal sellers please or give me some tips on how to go about these situations?

    Thanks and regards,
    Randy

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Randy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Check out these two guides and make sure to read comments too:

      https://andrewminalto.com/alibaba-scam-exposed/

      https://andrewminalto.com/how-to-import-products-from-china/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  4. Hello Andrew,
    about a week ago I created a German Ebay account for my boyfriend so he can sell one specific item on it. It is important for me to say, that he doesn’t live in Germany but in Czech republic. He just gave me a random address and a German phone number of his friend for the process of verification. He wanted to have German account because the targeted buyers for this item are Germans and it always look better and more convenient if the item you looking for is from the same country as you are. He is doing pretty good with the sales so far so he asked me to open an UK Ebay account as well. I did it today, again with a random address and his cousins phone number. The account was approved and I successfully listed the same item today. I used same first and last name for both accounts and same Paypal account.
    Few hours later, I recieved message from UK Ebay….
    Subject: MC999 Ebay account restriction

    Thanks for selling on eBay. It’s important that we speak with you about recent activity on your account. Because of this activity:
    – We’ve temporarily restricted your selling privileges until you call us to verify your account.
    – Any active or pending listings have been removed. You can see a list of removed items below.

    To prevent your account from being closed, please contact us within the next 48 hours at this link (you may be asked to sign in):

    Thanks,
    Ebay

    ……Next to the cancelled listing is note from Ebay : This listing has been cancelled due to a listing breach. See ‘My Messages’ for more details.

    Now I don’t know how to save this situation. I read one of your posts about having multiple accounts and that it is ok but how about multiple accounts in multiple countries. I don’t know what they will want from me when I will call. I am not even sure if they will talk to me when it all is made with my boyfriends name. He just wants me to do all this because he doesn’t speak any languages and is very busy so doesn’t have time to play on Ebay every day.
    Also, I am worry about my personal account now as well (since you mentioned how Ebay know all about you thank to IP address etc.). I have it since 2001 and really don’t want to lose it. I actively use it a lot.

    Thank you so very much for your time and your advice, it is sure appreciate it.

    Nicky

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nicky,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You may be in trouble, yes as it’s clearly against eBay’s Terms & Conditions to open accounts on other people behalf.

      I’m sorry, I can’t help you really with this situation as you have breached eBay rules by opening these accounts…

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  5. Hi Andrew,

    Your website is brilliant and I am learning a lot.

    My question. At wholesaleforum they recommend that you register with esources but you have to pay a premium. If I go ahead and register and get access to wholesalers etc will I be sure that I will not be scammed?

    Please help I thinking of starting an ebay business. Please advice accordingly.

    Thanks a lot,

    Zyan

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Zyan,

      It’s a directory of wholesalers/dropshippers. Do you need it while there are several good, free UK wholesale directories, like:

      http://www.thetrader.co.uk/
      http://www.thewholesaler.co.uk/
      http://wholesale-outlet.co.uk/

      I haven’t looked into eSources for years so can’t comment on quality of links provided there…

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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