March 6, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

Your Questions Answered: BEST of 1-20!

questions-answers-best-of-20

Last week we reached the 20th post in our Q&A series, which I am extremely happy about!

I never imagined that this series would be so popular so in celebration of reaching this milestone, today we have a slightly special post – a Q&A BEST OF!

I’ve chosen ten of the most interesting questions from Q&A 1-20 and compiled them below:

  • How to position and sell PREMIUM products on eBay?
  • Importing iPhone cases with Disney characters, is this illegal?
  • Supplier wants an order BEFORE a factory inspection!?
  • How can I create a successful eBay business with a brand new account?
  • What are “grey imports” and can I sell them?
  • How to manage my eBay business when going on holiday?
  • Selling used books on eBay and Amazon – is this still viable?
  • Becoming a slave to my own business!
  • What promo materials should I include with each eBay order?
  • Starting an eBay business with £100k

Enjoy!

Hi Andrew,

First of all I would like to thank you for website as it is such a good source of information. I have found some of your articles extremely helpful and the ideas you present have been very easy to implement into my own business, with great results.

I would like to ask your advice, and would really appreciate your help in the beginning of us trying to create a successful business on eBay.

1. As we will be selling European products on eBay, what do you think is the best strategy to enter the market with a product nobody else offers, in terms of brand and quality? There are of course plenty of low quality offerings but our products are 100% Italian or French made and we really want to emphasise the uniqueness of what we’re offering.

2. We’ve done our market research, looks at the sales, products etc. but do you think little extras will make any difference? Things like coloured bubble wrap, thank you stickers etc.? Basically do you think it’s worth investing in packaging to make us stand out from the crowd, even if it doubles the cost?

3. What 3 things you can suggest to invest money into that will put a smile on a customer’s face when he/she receives the product?

Thanks for your questions!

1) You want to make sure that you say it loud and clear – this product is PREMIUM quality, made in Italy and NOTHING on the market compares to it. Point this out in both the listing title and description.

Product pictures will play a big role in this so make sure you get super high quality images from your manufacturer/supplier.

If that’s not possible, outsource product photography and get professional pictures taken. The final images should look almost like they’re from an Apple iPhone ad – that good.

Compare the quality of materials and functionality with Chinese, and other brand equivalents. Do it inside your listing description, using side-by-side images, text and tables. So that people instantly SEE the difference!

If possible, offer an extended warranty for your product – this instantly says that you’re confident about the quality of your products and the price is higher for a reason.

2) IF you plan on creating a long term business here, with repeat customers, your own online shop and so on – then even the packaging does matter, yes. Premium class products require premium packaging… if not premium – at least good quality, standard packaging but definitely NOT something cheap!

If you’re after one time sales, this, of course, doesn’t matter that much.

3) Another great question! I’d say that anything that surprises a customer, in a good way. Usually it’s a free gift that goes along nicely with the product ordered so anything that complements the product. So yes, a free gift definitely works, even if it’s simply some candy!

Check out my FREE Gifts on eBay guide here for more information and tips.

Then of course – packaging and the way everything is presented (clean, no odours, invoice included etc.) are important in creating the impression of a premium product.

Lastly, next day delivery also helps keep your customers satisfied, especially when they make an order @ 2PM and receive it the following morning! Everyone likes to be treated well, even eBay buyers, so make sure that the service you offer is always one step above the competition.

Hi Andrew,

I have purchased some iPhone cases that I believe to hold copyright and be trademarked and was wondering if you could help me and provide some more information about this?

The iPhone cases are of Disney characters however they were not made by the original manufacturer/owner of these characters therefore I wanted to know if they have the right to produce those products?

The characters include: Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, Captain America and Perry the Platypus from the Disney programme Phineas & Ferb.

The iPhone cases take the image of these characters and I was wondering if you know if those characters have a trademark against them due to them being intellectual property.

I would really appreciate a reply.

Many Thanks,

Chad

Hi Chad,

I have already covered this topic several times on my blog but feel obliged to do another post on this as I still receive similar questions to what Chad has asked on a regular basis. I really feel sorry for all those people wasting money on such items and importing goods from China that are ILLEGAL and cannot be resold.

Batman, Superman, Spiderman and all other Disney/Hollywood characters are of course trademarked and these designs are all protected. Not only can you not use the Batman logo for example or the name – even similar names can and will cause problems, like in a recent lawsuit where a company was prohibited from using the name Batsman – as it’s too similar to Batman.

It’s a well known fact that IP rights are not properly protected in China; hence you find all these fake products being sold freely. It doesn’t stop with iPhone cases – a copy of almost everything is produced in China, including sports cars that look exactly like a Ferrari. It seems that the Chinese government doesn’t care about this as otherwise there would be some more strict rules and laws in place by now.

To manufacture iPhone covers with brand names, Disney characters and similarly protected content, a manufacturer would have to obtain a licence from the IP holder and pay royalty fees. While there are of course legit companies who do this, I’m afraid you won’t find them on Alibaba.

Suppliers on Alibaba simply take these designs and use them in production without paying any royalty fees, making these products illegal.

So I’m afraid you’re stuck with your purchase Chad and can’t sell these items online or offline for that matter.

What you can try to do is contact your supplier and maybe arrange a deal where you send these products back in exchange them for items WITHOUT any copyrighted designs on them? Obviously you’ll lose on shipping but at least you’ll get rid of this stock and get something you can actually re-sell in return.

And for the future – just STAY away from importing ANY kind of branded items from China. This includes items with:

  • Brand logos on them (Apple, Sony, Nike etc.)
  • Cartoon Characters (Batman, Spiderman, Ironman etc.)
  • Musicians & Bands (Michael Jackson, One Direction etc.)

Just don’t deal with such items and import only plain, unbranded (or your own brand) products.

Obviously, this does not only apply to iPhone covers. ANY kind of product that contains a protected image/logo/name is prohibited and should be avoided at all costs.

I contacted a supplier on Global Sources as I want to buy some raw materials from them.

When I contacted them they sent me an email with their quotation and though I know they are verified, I wanted to also arrange a third part inspection of their factory, for extra precaution.

Initially, the sales representative agreed to the inspection but when I arranged it and the inspection company contacted them, they started saying that I have to pay them at least $1,000 before inspecting their factory.

I tried to convince her to allow me to check the factory first but she claims that’s the company policy.

What do you think, is it safe to order from this company or are they simply a scam?

RUN AWAY from them as fast as you can!

A factory that requires an order BEFORE you can verify them is nothing more than a SCAM!

Imagine a situation where you want to enter a brick and mortar shop but they ask you to pay $20 BEFORE you can even take a look? It’s something simply unheard of.

If they’re real and have nothing to hide, they’ll be more than happy to accept the inspection without any fuss at all.

So just don’t bother with them anymore and look for other suppliers who are happy with an inspection before you place an order.

Hello Andrew,

I recently started up on eBay selling bikinis and am making a couple of sales a day which is not what I intended, as I hoped to sell a lot faster. I am starting to think the competition is far too high in this category so I am currently trying to find another niche product that will produce more frequent sales.

I have signed up to Terapeak to try and help me source the perfect product, I have spent weeks researching but without much luck, I am starting to believe whichever product I go for the competition is going to outride me due to me being a new seller.

I was wondering if your DVD explains the use of Terapeak in depth as thinking this may be my only way forward.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Many Thanks,

Lois

Hi Lois,

Thanks for your question.

Yes, in the Easy Auction Business video course you’ll learn exactly how Terapeak works and most importantly – how to use it to analyse the potential of a niche and to find profitable products to sell on eBay!

The fact that you’re a new seller doesn’t mean you can’t make it work on eBay. You can easily become an established Top Rated Seller following this guide and after that – you’re basically on the same level as others.

Getting first position on eBay’s search rankings has nothing to do with how old or new your account is – as long as you’re a TRS and follow my advice, getting high search positions won’t be a problem. In some niches you don’t even have to be a TRS to achieve decent sales, so don’t look for excuses but just start working on this!

Hi Andrew,

I have another question for you about warranty.

I have found a supplier in Hong Kong, who I think is reputable and I would like to buy a Samsung Galaxy S5 as a sample order. However, I am confused about the warranty.

I know you do not work for Samsung, but maybe you can help me with this question?

Apparently every Samsung product comes with a 1 year warranty from the country it was manufactured in.

However, are you aware at all about the term “parallel-imports,” or “grey market” goods?

The company that I wish to buy from is called “Universal Drop-Shipping Ltd,” and apparently their products are as mentioned above, i.e. “parallel-imports” or “grey market” goods, which means they do not provide manufacturer warranties with their products.

Are you at all aware about what this means? Because as far as I know, I have spoken to Samsung, and they tell me that all their products contain a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.

So I ask you Andrew, what exactly does “parallel-imports” or “grey market goods” mean?

Regards,

Adam

Hi Adam,

“Parallel imports” (also called “grey imports”) is a term used to describe goods that are being sold in a different region to where they were meant to be sold. For example mobile phones manufactured for sale in Asia being imported and sold in Europe.

Just to be clear; I’m not talking about fakes/counterfeits here – these are 100% genuine products – just being sold in an area different to what the manufacturer designated.

There’s currently a big debate over this in the European Union and I predict that new laws will be introduced in up-coming years to regulate this. From what I have heard, it looks like the EU wants to remove the idea of grey imports and allow free trade of goods no matter what region they were originally produced for. But that’s just my take on the current events and obviously only time will tell if it pans out.

Anyway, as I said, these are still genuine goods but could differ slightly from region to region. For example:

  • Different packaging
  • Different language set-up
  • Different materials used
  • Etc.

In most cases though we’re talking about exactly the same goods here, maybe minus some small alterations in the packaging.

As for the warranty – I haven’t researched this in great depth but my understanding is that it differs brand to brand. Sometimes companies will still accept goods under warranty regardless of their original retail area but others can be very strict about this.

Take Apple for example; their warranty is very specifically an international warranty which means it doesn’t matter at all where it was purchased from, as long as it’s still under warranty it will be repaired/replaced with no problems.

But then contrast this with DSLR manufacturers (Canon and Nikon), as an example of companies that are extremely strict on regional warranties and won’t entertain warranty requests outside of the original region.

Then in regards to your question about Samsung specifically, I believe Samsung operate on a regional warranty scheme. So not quite as specific as country by country but still – within the EU, within Asia, North America etc. so you may have problems importing from Hong Kong to sell in Europe.

But as I said, I’m not 100% sure about this so your best bet is to contact Samsung in the UK to find out exactly how this would work.

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 listings’ search positions will suffer (though I haven’t noticed such a dramatic effect on shorter, 2-5 day leaves).

So what should you 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.

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,

Graem

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,

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?

Regards,

Steve

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!

Hi Andrew,

First off let me say what a great blog you have!! Real questions and real answers all in one place.

I’ve been selling on and off on eBay for a few years now, nothing much really, just household items. But after seeing the huge potential of importing from China, I’m now taking the plunge.

I’ve stumbled across a hot niche that has multiple sub-niches that I can break into. It’s just a matter of getting the products at the right price + shipping (thanks for the tip on Woodland Global btw).
My question is more in regards to customer service.

What do you recommend I send with each order on eBay? I’ve read that some just send the packing slip and some include a business/thank you card so I’m unsure what works best. I don’t have a large amount of products yet so at the moment I don’t have an eBay shop (how many items do you suggest before opening a shop?)

Also when I myself bought an item from eBay, I was sent a customised email showing recommended items near the bottom – how do I set up something like this for my own business?

Thanks again,

John

Hi John,

Thanks for your questions. I will answer them one by one.

What to include in each eBay order?

There are no definite rules to this but here’s what I include with each order:

  • Invoice
  • Thank you letter with attached business card
  • Promo material for the website (with a special offer/discount code)

If you don’t have an eCommerce shop yet, at least include an invoice, thank you letter and ideally a business card as well. This gives a real, welcoming feel to the customer. The business card trick also plays an important role here as customers will instantly know that they have a REAL person in your company they can contact to resolve any potential issues they might have.

When to open an eBay shop?

As soon as possible really!

Not only will it make your account look more professional, it’ll also make it easier for people to buy multiple items from you, and possibly most important of all; a shop subscription allows you to list under the Good ‘Til Cancelled (GTC) format which is CRUCIAL in getting your listings to the top positions of eBay’s search results.

Really it’s worth signing up for a shop for the GTC feature alone.

How to send out promo emails to eBay customers?

There are special tools and software available that can do this for you – something like Auctiva would have this functionality.

Personally what I do is use an auto responder service such as Mail Chimp or Aweber to send out highly customised emails to my customers. You can read more about how to implement this in your eBay business in my auto-responder guide.

Hi Andrew,

I wanted to get your opinion on my starting budget if possible. Most of your literature mentions only needing to start with a small budget, but what if you had substantial starting capital, say £100k.

Then would the procedure be the same or would you advise a different strategy?

Many Thanks,

Miles

Hi Miles,

Thanks for your question.

It’s great to hear that you’re in a position to invest such a substantial amount of money into your business. I usually mention much smaller sums because most people have very limited budgets available to them when starting an online business.

But to answer your question directly – yes, the exact same principles still apply! The only difference is that you’ll be able to order in much higher quantities, thereby getting lower prices and increasing your chance of success.

Also, with a budget like that, you can start with an eCommerce shop from day one, and also sell on Amazon from day one.

Simply outsource the shop creation, design & coding and use Linnworks to synchronise all 3 platforms (eBay, Amazon and your own shop).

Good Luck!

Alright, that’s it for today.

I hope you found these interesting and if you’d like to read more of our previous Q&As, you can find them all on this page:

https://andrewminalto.com/start-ebay-business/

(just scroll down to the Questions and Answers section).

If you have a question yourself that you’d like my help with, simply send it in via my support desk here and you might be featured in a future post, but if not, I’ll still answer you personally via email.

Here’s to reaching our 50th Q&A post!

Thanks,
Andrew

4 Comments
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  1. Dennis R A Gunning

    Hi Andrew, The mind boggles reading all these questions and your most interesting answers.
    I have been trying to buy a new mobility scooter, came across lots , Yongkang Sinotech Vehicle Co Ltd.
    Have been dealing with a Mrs Lisa Wang who on paper is the Manager .
    The scooter is a 3 Wheeler 0 – 15 mph road worthy job $530 + $ 50 shipping =$580. All very nice.
    But when it comes to payment, I want to do it my way which is unacceptable.
    She wants me to it :- Western Union . Money Gram. or Alibaba. ??
    At the age of 87 I certainly do not wish to get caught up in a scam .
    I am in a state of shock having perused all the previous statements. Golly Gosh !!!
    Please Advise.
    Best Wishes Ricardo from Sunny Spain

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ricardo,

      Don’t do it, it’s most likely a scam if they push only WU and MG as payment methods.

      Also, you say – shipping is $50, that simply can’t be true, it’s too low + if it will be shipped via sea freight, you’ll face hundreds of dollars in additional fees when goods arrive in Spain.

      So in a word – stay away!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

    2. Ricardo Gunning

      Hi Andrew,
      I thank you for you quick reply ,your common sense to me will prevail.
      I thank you most kindly for correcting my stupid brain that thought all was well.
      I was in touch with my manager at H.S. B. C . about it ,no reply yet .
      But I am sure they will not want me losing my monies on scam in China. !!
      Once again for sound advice. Ricardo G.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        No worries, you’re welcome Ricardo!

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