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Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered (#9)

August 29, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 6 Comments
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questions-answers-9Welcome back to our weekly Questions & Answers blog post series!

In today’s post I’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Buying football shirts from AliExpress to resell in the UK
  • How do I get my free guide to customers?
  • Does my order already include VAT?
  • Creating a hands-free business using a fulfillment house
  • Importing fake football shirts from Thailand
  • Should I start with an eBay store or just use listings?
  • Creating an eBay and Amazon business selling used books
  • Do I need to add VAT to the items I sell on eBay?
  • Starting an eBay business from scratch to support me and my daughter
  • Best product to sell on eBay?
  • Becoming a slave to my own business!

If you have a question for me that you’d like to see featured in a future Q&A, then please get in touch here.

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I just recently bought 3 football shirts from AliExpress and found them to be unbelievably cheap, at a price of $60 for 3 and I was thinking of maybe getting more to resell. However is it illegal to buy shirts from here and resell them in the UK? It sounds like a great idea but was just worried about tax and VAT etc. – could you please help??

Many thanks,

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your question.

From the sound of it, you have just bought 3 FAKE football shirts! Which are obviously unlicensed and illegal to sell online.

You’ll find many cheap suppliers in China that sell football shirts from top Premier League and other European teams, as well as US ones. But just so you know – they’re all FAKES! And that’s why the price is so cheap.

In a word – if you’re looking for genuine football shirts, stick with reputable UK suppliers who can provide 100% licensed and genuine merchandise.

Hi Andrew,

I stumbled upon your website last night and I am so glad I came across it – there’s a real wealth of information for me to digest! I have created a ‘how to guide’ to coincide with the new product I’m about to list on eBay, which I was originally going to print and post with each order.

But after reading your post about the power of free gifts, it seems that delivering it in PDF format would be the most cost effective way? From your recommendation, I have just created an account with MailChimp and as an incentive for my customers to subscribe I will include a discount/coupon code that they can use on my eCommerce store. But I would still like to provide my customers with this how to guide to add extra value to my product and to convince them to buy from me!

So, how should I deliver this PDF document? After they purchase do I request their email address then simply email it to them, or is there a program out there that automatically sends the PDF document to them for me?

Any information on this would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Tanya,

Thanks for your question.

There are special programs out there that can send such files automatically after PayPal payment is received but they are quite complicated and not the option I’d recommend for you at the moment. Instead what I’d suggest is that you simply use an autoresponder service, in your case – MailChimp.

This won’t cost you anything extra and is quite easy to set-up.

Here’s what you need to do:

1) Create a simple page where people can download this free guide from you. It can be ANY kind of page – a WordPress page, Facebook page, single HTML file uploaded to your hosting account (if you have one), Squidoo lens, Google doc – ANYTHING really! All you need is a page where people can go and download your free guide.

2) In your MailChimp settings – edit the confirmation request email so that it includes information about this free guide. This will also act as an extra incentive for people to click that confirmation link and subscribe to your newsletter as well.

3) In same confirmation email settings, set the URL to CUSTOM URL and enter the link for the page where your PDF file can be downloaded.

That’s it!

Now when someone purchases from you on eBay, they will receive this confirmation email with info about the guide. When they click on the link they will then be added to your email list and forwarded to the download page to get the free PDF guide. As easy as that!

Hope this helps!

Hi Andrew,

If I bought some items from Ali Express, does the price I paid (including shipping) cover the VAT?

I understand about paying the tax man (here in the UK) but I am unsure what fees I have to pay when ordering from China or the US.


Hi Leanne,

Thanks for your question.

No, the fee you pay to A Chinese supplier DOES NOT include VAT or import duty.

You have to pay any applicable taxes when the goods arrive in the UK. If they’re delivered via a courier service, they will calculate these taxes for you and simply send you an invoice. If air freight or sea freight is used, you’ll need to use a customs clearance company for this process.

Please check out my guides on Importing from China and Import Taxes for more information on this process.

Hi Andrew,

I’ve read some of your content on Fulfilment Houses and it looks like that’s the path I’d like to follow for an online t-shirt selling idea that I’m running with at the moment.

Just wondering if you could shed some light on how Shipwire works? I’m looking at having my items sent off to a warehouse in the UK (I noticed they have a warehouse in London) and literally have them deal with pretty much everything.

Once an order comes through on the website, I’d want it to go straight through to the fulfilment house for them to deal with and get it sent out to the customer. It appears that Shipwire can integrate with Shopify (which I’m planning on using for this), so I’m assuming this would all work without too much trouble?

Do you think running with a Fulfilment House is the best option form me in order to minimize the amount of time that I have to physically work with the products? The idea is for me to manage the website, and the items placed there, and let the fulfilment house take care of everything to do with actually sending out orders to my customers…

Also, any advice on the best way to get items sent to the warehouse would be great. Is it simply a case of getting in touch with the cheapest courier and sending everything down?


Hi Liam,

Thanks for your questions.

Yes, you’re correct – that’s exactly how it works; you simply send the goods to the fulfilment company, they’ll add it to your account/inventory and from that point you can manually send packages out to customers or integrate directly with your shopping cart.

Just make sure you read the rules on how goods must be packaged/marked before sending them out to avoid any extra fees. You can simply sign-up for a Shipwire account (it’s free!) and check out their own guides on this.

And yes – you can use any transport company you want or simply a courier to deliver the goods to Shipwire – it’s up to you!

If you want to create a hands free business, then yes – using a fulfilment house for stock storage, order processing and shipping is definitely a good idea! T-shirts are also a perfect product to use fulfillment houses for as they’re small, lightweight and should carry good enough margins to allow you to cover the cost of the fulfillment house.

Hello Andrew…

I just happened upon your website after investigating Alibaba…thank you for your sensible article on it.

I am trying to order soccer jerseys from AliExpress. I know that they are ’knock-off’ Adidas kits (Germany home/away etc.) but I heard that the quality from Thailand is actually pretty decent…suitable for a recreational league, anyway. Have you any experience with this kind of purchase, or do you have any additional advice other than your 10 points to consider, when ordering a known reproduction?

Thanks again for your cool-headed words on what looks to be an amazing global marketplace.

Have a great day!


Hi James,

Thanks for your question.

You know that selling fake merchandise is illegal and can get you into serious trouble, right?

I have never supported the sale of fakes and never will – it’s simply not a ‘business model’ that I’m remotely interested in.

I recommend you do the same and start looking into more legit opportunities that you can build a real business on.

Hi Andrew,

Based on your experience, would you advise someone to start with an eBay store or just with listings?


Hi Karris,

Thanks for your question.

Ideally, you want to start with a Basic shop subscription straight away. Yes, it does cost £20 per month BUT you’ll gain one very important advantage: you’ll be able to use the Good ‘Til Cancelled listing format which is CRUCIAL if you want to reach page one of search results on eBay.

Besides that, you’ll also get free listings every month, a much better account homepage (shop front) and the ability to more effectively cross-promote the products you sell.

Hi Andrew,

I am considering starting an eBay/Amazon business in the UK selling used books. Do you think that this is a viable business given that it seems to be very competitive (such low margins?) with loads of books selling for 1p plus postage?

If it is viable, do any of your products address this niche?

Thank You,

Hi Graem,

Thanks for your question.

From the research I have done – used books is a very, very difficult market to work in. As you say – they sell so cheaply and the competition is huge! Plus shipping costs can also be quite high for some heavier books. So in general; I don’t think it’s a niche worth spending your time on.

But as with most niches out there, you can find a sub-niche in the used books market that is more viable – one that carries higher margins and with less competition. I’m talking about more expensive and rare books, such as:

  • Student books
  • Design/Architectural books
  • Old, vintage books
  • Rare/Specialist books
  • Technical books
  • Signed books
  • Etc.

If you can locate such a sub-niche and have good KNOWLEDGE on the topic, you can create a decent business out of used books.

Hi Andrew,

I hoping you can help me with this – I have just started to sell items on eBay and am now seriously considering buying from China to resell. The items are small and not very expensive. What I don’t understand is that I’ve read on many threads NOT to become VAT registered? But when the parcel arrives through FedEx, how do I pay the import duty and VAT? Do I pay the courier or I have to file this myself?

Also, once I have paid all the VAT, can I just sell the items on eBay without having to add VAT on as this would really reduce my profits?

I don’t want to get on the wrong side of HMRC so I really hope you can offer some help!


Hi Nisha,

Thanks for your question.

If you have just started a new eBay business, you really DON’T have to worry about VAT at all!

Yes, when goods arrive in the UK, you’ll pay the courier (FedEx) VAT and import duty BUT that doesn’t mean you have to register for VAT, not at all. You just pay these taxes on all imports from outside EU and that’s it.

When you sell on eBay, you don’t have to add VAT or anything like that – just ignore it as you’re not VAT registered.

Hi Andrew,

I’m looking for ways to make money to support myself and my daughter. As I cannot find a job I decided to research selling on eBay and came across your site. I see that you’ve had a lot of success with selling on eBay. Can you please help me? I really need something fast as I don’t have a job.

I starting putting some stuff on eBay, but I don’t have enough knowledge on how to grow a business to generate enough income for me and my daughter.

Thank you very much and God bless you!

Hi there,

First of all, you need to learn the basics of how to sell on eBay and you can do this by reading through all the posts in my blog’s archive.

Next, learn how to take great product pictures and create eBay listings that really SELL!

Then you can start listing any used goods that you can find from around your house. That will be a good starting point. If you have a brand new eBay account, with no feedback at all, before you start selling – buy around 10-20 cheap items on eBay (can be anything really – household supplies, packaging materials etc.) so that you earn those first 10-20 feedbacks as a buyer.

It’s really not a good idea to start selling with a feedback score of 0. People won’t trust you. So get at least 10 feedbacks as a buyer and then start selling.

Once you have gained some experience selling your own stuff, you should take a look at my Used Goods business concept here. It’s the quickest and easiest way to make money on eBay for people with very limited buying power.

Once you have saved some working capital, you can look into brand new goods – wholesaling, importing and other concepts which I cover in the EAB course.

Dear Andrew,

I would like to ask you for some advice about importing from China. I’m looking for a product that people use more than once, with a price about $10, that’s not too heavy.

What do you recommend?

Thank you and sorry for bothering you.

Best Regards,

Hi Emanuel,

Thanks for your question.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what products you should sell. You’ll have to do your homework and start learning how to do proper eBay market research to find profitable products to sell on eBay.

If you can invest some money, I highly recommend you checking out my brand new Easy Auction Business 3.0 video course which will guide you through this process step by step, in an easy to follow video format.

Hi Andrew,

In my head it should be easy to earn £200.00 a day sending out 20 items and making £10.00 a sale but the item I have found can only be done via counterfeit goods which I am unwilling to pursue for obvious reasons.

Do you feel these types of figures are possible? Just sending out a few items with high returns?

Having become a victim of my own success previously I don’t want to become a slave to my own business again.

Hence my thoughts on 20 – 30 items a day as I’m not yet able to employ others to take care of all this work.

What are your thoughts please?


Hi Steve,

Thanks for your question.

Yes, of course that is doable. And I can totally understand why you would want to go after higher margin goods VS cheap goods – as the workload is essentially the same, while the return is not. You still have to process that order, pack and ship it out – whether you make £1 or £10.

To make £10 NET profit per item sold on eBay you have to be prepared to sell products in the price range of £50 – £150. Unless you can create your own unique products that you can say sell for £30 and make £10 net profit (very unlikely).

So if we take £100 as average, this means that your buying power should be, at a minimum – £10k, ideally £20k. That way you will be able to purchase at least 100 units at a time for the product you choose, which is needed to get good wholesale pricing.

If you have the working capital to support this, then it’s definitely doable!

I hope this helps!

Next week we have the special 10th edition of our Questions and Answer series so keep sending those questions in!


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  1. Hi, I just wanted to make sure that I am working things out correctly as I will be VAT registered soon.

    Imported Item (landed cost) – £83
    Import VAT (20%) – £16.60

    Sell on eBay for – £135
    Postage costs – £10.75

    Profit after eBay/Paypal fees (ignoring VAT) – £22.96

    So now I think this is what you do with the VAT:

    As the price is includes VAT, I have to exclude it so selling price is £112.5 + VAT

    20% of £112.50 = £22.50

    I give the VAT man: £22.50 – £16.60 = £5.90

    So final profit = £22.96 – £5.90 = £17.06

    Is this correct?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Hamzah,

      Roughly correct, yes.

      Don’t forget that you will claim VAT back on some other expenses too – like packaging, shipping etc. So it probably will be less than £5.90 you give the tax man.


      1. Hamzah

        Hi, thanks for reply. Are you sure this is correct as few other people say my profit will be around £2.22.

        Can you run the calculation over for me please? It’s really confusing me.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Hamzah,

        Just double checked your numbers – yes, you actually will not make any profit there.

        Because you haven’t subtracted PayPal & eBay fees from the selling price.

  2. Hi there,

    I purchased the video course on Sunday 30th August via Paypal. I have checked my Paypal account, the money went through. I did not receive email confirmation and I cannot access the videos on your website as the user details that I set up are not recognised. I sent and email on Sunday and earlier today via your facebook page, the website and directly emailing via you email address on Paypal.
    I would like to start this course ASAP. If I don’t get any communication by tomorrow I will proceed to request a refund via Paypal.


    Layna Armstrong

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Layna,

      Thanks for your EAB purchase and I’m very sorry to hear you haven’t received confirmation email.

      Did you check you junk mail folder?

      Anyway, I will send you details over email in a second.


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