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Thursday, October 24, 2013

eBay International Market

Dear Diary,
There has been a lot of talk lately about International visibility.  I just feel the need to set the record straight, using eBay's written directions as my source.

We all know that in our listing forms, there is the International Listing section where we CAN choose "Worldwide" shipping.  Choosing "Worldwide" simply means that you will ship Internationally and the shipping prices will show up for that customer.  eBay does not charge extra to be seen on International eBay sites, although listings are in the "International" section and not integrated with their local listings.

If you use GSP (Global Shipping Program),  the buyers do not have to come to the US site as your GSP listings are made available on International localized sites.  For instance, I have this toaster listed with GSP:
My toaster is #1 on Australia.  Items that are NOT GSP listings, and you have marked World Wide are found at the very bottom of the page (about 4 listings) and then there is a link that you can click to see all the International Listings that match.  All my items that are 4 pounds and over are listed GSP.  My light items are regular listings and would be found at the bottom.. well not really.. because I'll be showing you how to list to be integrated within the regular listings and NOT buried at the bottom.  And NOOOOOO this is not by checking the International Boxes on Site Preferences!!!!!  Oh, now I am getting ahead of myself.  Oops!

Some people list directly on the International Sites and pay extra for this service.  To be able to list directly on the sites (you would have to pay extra) but NOT log in... you would change your site preferences to do this:
So what does THIS mean?
Changing your site preferences to include all the countries simply means that you can now create a listing template in Selling Manager Pro and by doing that you will be given the OPTION of selecting the eBay site that the template is for. (Read it for yourself)  This enables you to list there without logging in...   Just checking these options does NOT put your listing in those country listings in the regular mix.  Your listing will still be in the International portion of the search page just like all other world wide shippers that do NOT use GSP or...eBay International Market

So.. what is eBay International Market?  This is a program that eBay has created that displays your listings in their language, with their currency, in their time zone.  This is available for FIXED PRICE LISTINGS.  The following countries are included in this program :  Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Russia and Sweden.  How do you get your items in this program?  Well I can tell you that it is not by changing your site preferences. 
The instructions can be read here.  I always try to encourage every lister to read the information themselves and not just to take my word.  In short... what you do is that instead of clicking "World Wide",  you choose Custom Locations and then check the country areas you are willing to ship to. (I check them all)  I do not know why eBay has this as the method of being in the program, you would think that eBay would just make this automatic but it is just not the case.
eBay International Market buyers in the above list can search in their own language and purchase on three sites.  , (Germany) and (UK)

Other than GSP there are only 3 ways to list Internationally to get your listings lumped together with the local sellers. (as opposed to be buried in the bottom International section)  

So now, when you are tweaking your listings, change that International portion of your listing for Custom Locations.  Disclaimer:  Your items will be seen without eBay International Market and some have grown a very nice International business even with their items being shown in the International Section.  These customers normally can speak/read English.  This program reaches out to those customers that do not speak / read/ write our language.

Listing in the eBay International Market puts your listing in the main search only for the participating countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Russia and Sweden).  All the rest of the countries will see their listing in that little International section.

I finally found Remington Tight Curls!  This set had damage to the lid so I listed as $49.99 in view of that fact.  I had almost given up ever finding one of these babies!

I found this Revere Ware skillet at the Salvation Army for $5.99 and today I sold it on a Best Offer for $35  I'm not looking forward to making a box for it but I must not whine!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FedEx SmartPost

Dear Diary,
eBay has added a new choice in our proverbial shipping menu.  It is called FedEx SmartPost.   This new service is for items that are not time sensitive, it WILL take longer for the most part for delivery.  FedEx will deliver your package to USPS, and they will then deliver it to the end destination.  In some instances, it can really save you money.  If you have an item that is going across country, heavy, or has a little larger dimensions then you might want to compare the shipping choices.  

For instance, this item was an 18" Blue Willow Meat Platter.  At the time I shipped this item, I used the FedEx Home Delivery choice.  Had this choice been open to me, I would have chosen the SmartPost since the customer had chose Parcel Post from the list.  Both services are calling for 2-8 Days...  The one thing I DO NOT like about FedEx is that it does NOT come directly out of my Paypal.  It goes on our invoices.  That is annoying.  Please keep in mind that anything mailed through this choice has to be taken to a STAFFED FedEx location.  You can NOT utilize the drop off boxes.

My goal for this week is to clean up and organize my eBay room.  Oh my... my room is a mess and I am so embarrassed.  Moving across country from Indiana to Virginia Beach VA was a chore and I am NOT caught up and NOT in the swing of things even though I have been here going on 6 months.  I am going to show you a picture, please do not laugh, snicker or make me feel worse than I do!!!
I purchased a commercial shelf today for these bins.  I will update the blog when I am done.  I have clothes in the closet and china in two china cabinets in the dining room.  Hopefully I can free up some of this floor space.  I've also have unlisted items piled on the left, and even a box that is unpacked in this conglomeration.  Oi!

I found this set in the Salvation Army for 4.99 recently.  I initially listed it for 59.99 and accepted an offer for 49.99 plus shipping. It took about a month to sell.

Dang!  I am happy these are gone.  I've had them listed as Southwestern for awhile  because of the color choices.  Finally I put Geometric and slashed the price.  I'm just happy to get a little $$ investment back to purchase better items.  These are just butt ugly to me, but I am sure others would disagree.  Good thing we don't all have the same taste.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

eBay Collector

Dear Diary,
This week I noticed something different on my account. I noticed eBay Collections, kind of like Etsy Collections.  Not everyone has this option yet, but to see if you have it... look in the upper left corner of your eBay screen that has your name.  Click the little downwards arrow and if you have it, you will see a link to building your collections.

Once you get started, all you have to do is come up with a snazzy title for your collections and then start browsing stuff that you want to put into your collection.  Once you find something cool, click to open up your item and notice that there is a handy dandy link to add it.

The purpose it for readers/buyers/sellers to "follow" your collections resulting in sales.  Now, I'm thinking that eBay needs to take it one step further.  You see on Etsy when you have a collection.. you can click on the followers and see what other collections they follow.  By doing that you can now follow more people and they can do the same to you making a viral following circumstance.  eBays seems to be a dead end, but we will see.  Once you follow someone those items I assume will end up in their home page feed.

You can see the beginnings of my collections here.  I don't have any followers yet, but then I don't think people really know about collections yet.

About a week ago I found a Richard Caruso curler set.  Before I purchased the set, I opened the box to make sure that the foam was okay.  (These curlers are known to dry out and break apart)  The sets normally sell around $40 to $50 so I won't lie... I was excited to find another set.  Well... when I opened the box, it was good news bad news.  Bad news that the unit was not in the box.  This was curlers only. (for a 2.99 price)  So I set it back and began to walk away when a thunderbolt idea nearly knocked my block off!  Okay... since the curlers are known to have drying out issues... I bet these would sell as good replacements!  Yep, I bought those babies, broke them up into 5 sets for $10 each set.  I have sold three sets to date.  I have two sets of 3 jumbo curlers left.

I have to tell you about my latest adventure!  Yes I love thrift stores, and you love thrift stores so working at one must be heaven!  Right?   Wrong.  I got the bright idea that working at the thrift store would be my dream job!  Note to self, do not pick a extremely big for profit thrift store to work at...   So anyway, I was hired as a pricer for a certain thrift store.  The owner was very friendly, no complaints there.  But... I have to tell you of the serious... the scariest... the most frustrating issues that I had.

  1. Goal: Price around 1000 items daily.  Yes you heard that right.  There are two pricers (technically three since I was in training), and a continual stream of boxes coming in.  You see the owner goes to Salvation Army auctions, store clean outs, hoarder clean outs, old yard sale cleanouts.. you name it.  The boxes never stop coming out...awk!!  Okay so lots of good stuff to look at! Yes and no...
  2. Learning to price isn't as easy as it sounds.  Although I have lots of experience with thrift store pricing.... this store has some items with crazy high prices.  You know what I am talking about.  I'm sure you have went into a thrift store and said, "Say What?"  Yep...
  3. I am a klutz... a klutz and a box knife does not compute.  Can you picture constant bandaids, blood running down my arm and down the hallway?  Okay well not down the hallway (because it is filled with boxes)  but I did have blood on every finger.
  4. Did you notice in Number 1 I said hoarder cleanouts?  In case you haven't watched an episode of hoarders I'll fill you in.  Nasty... nasty.... cockroach egged, yellow smoker film, things that haven't seen the light of day since the dawn of the earth.  Okay, wear gloves right?  Please see #5
  5. Most boxes are from auctions and yard sales, therefore there are price tags on almost everything.  Plus you know those crazy tags that just won't come off unless you put water on them for scrape them off?  Okay,  more blood because now I am using the box blade on tags.  I tried to wear gloves because of the freaking insect crap (literally) but I soon had an inch build up of old tag scraps on my cut up latex gloves.  Ain't nobody got time for that!
  6. Rules are, if puzzles/games are open they are thrown in the trash.  If books have a name written in them at all or a little yellow on the edges they are tossed.  And... I couldn't save them, take them home ....  I cringed every time as I could see $ signs flying out the window.. 
So yeah,  I think I lasted about a week and a half.

I found this Avirex Urban shirt this week at the thrift.  I think I did pay 3.99 for it, but I knew it was special.  It is a man's shirt, and I knew that somewhere out there was a man looking for a cartoon shirt!  It sold within the week to a nice buyer in France.  I had $39.99 OBO and the offer was $30  Not too shabby!  I love finding unusual items to sell.  Way Word!!  Kaboom!! Olla!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Needle In A Haystack

Dear Diary,

So eBay has changed its user agreement to include this clause: " To further create a marketplace where buyers find what they want and drive positive user experience, we updated the provision regarding listing conditions to recognize that the appearance and placement of listings in search and browse results will depend on a variety of factors.  So, in some situations a listing may not appear in some search and browse results regardless of sort order."

I am not surprised at this change, in fact I believe it has been the case for a long time.  I also expect that the recent change resulting in giving us all the free listings made it inevitable that the the practice would be brought out in the open.  eBay is fluid, ever changing...  so my question is to you.  Have you noticed a change in your sales?

It is that time again!!  The glorious season of coffee cups.  The weather is slightly cooler, fall weather is approaching and customers are looking forward to a hot cup of coffee sitting outside on the porch as the steam dances in the crisp air..  Are you ready?  I have been busy adding some coffee mugs this week.  Yesterday I listed this Scottish Terrier mug.  I paid 49 cents for it.   

I listed it for 24.99 simply because right now I am into the quick flips instead of the slow dimes.  It sold within hours.  I'm not worried if I left money on the table as now I can take my $$ and reinvest quickly.  Isn't it funny how your business model can change?  A few years ago, when eBay was hopping, I was into pricing higher and waiting on that right buyer.  

Yesterday I went into Kmart and checked out the toy section. Most of the toys are on clearance, but I decided to check out the summer toys.  The sign said "Up to 50% off" , so I picked up a big honking laser squirt gun and took it to the scanner.  Those suckers were ringing up half price off of clearance price.  Now, I can tell you.. once you load up a cart until it is over flowing.... and it starts puking out toys as you struggle down the aisle... well you get a few comments.  "Are you having a party?"  "Are you buying for Christmas?"  No... I am a hoarder. You never know when you will need a squirt gun.... SILENCE... <snicker>
This is my haul, and I might add that these are the huge bags.  DH just shook his head when he unloaded the truck today.
I am having lots of good luck with the Revere Ware.  This is a little 6 1/4" omelet pan, Pre 1968 that I purchased for $1.99 and sold for $24.98    If you don't know a lot about Revere Ware and dating the pans, here is a good place to bookmark.  I've got a few other posts about Revere Ware, like how I clean mine.   (although I didn't use Taco Sauce this time.... Ketchup works too)
So I thought I would occasionally add some great video's to help you in your online business.  I have been scouting a number of smart online sellers/teachers that have videos.  I'll share the ones that I really feel can make your selling easier, more profitable and are just plain interesting.  This video is from Cindy Sorely.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gas Can Treasures

Dear Diary,
Many of you know that originally I was a country girl.  Our garage was nicely stocked with old plastic gas cans... I mean when you have a lot to mow, well you just have that kind of stuff hanging around.  Well now we live in the city and in an apartment complex so there isn't a need for lots of gas cans.  Too bad they are in our Indiana storage building!  You can be sure when we drive back to visit, I'll be bringing them home.  Look at these completeds!
In the old days you could buy these plastic gas cans for around $5, but of course those days are over.  Hubby was surprised when he saw how much they sell for now.

Hmmmm, have you ever heard about the eBay International Market Program?  (eIM)  I hadn't until recently and frankly it is a little confusing.  Of course we all know about the new Global Shipping program where we send the purchased item to the hub in Kentucky and eBay takes care of the shipping from there.  We also know about International Shipping in our listing, where we choose flat rate or calculated shipping...  I normally choose Worldwide shipping and then have my exclusions set so my items aren't sold to risky places.  Apparently the eIM program is another option.  This option, instead of choosing the worldwide,  you choose the "custom locations" and then check the areas where you would like eBay to figure the cost and be available for purchase.  You are also given a second option to choose areas where you would like the buyer to contact you to get an international quote.  The difference in this program is that eBay translates the listing and can buy your items on (Germany), (United Kingdom) and of course   Ebay says that this is only available for the following countries:

  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Sweden
This leaves me a little confused, perhaps someone out here can enlighten me.  Why would we have three programs?  The regular, the Global Shipping and the eIM program.  Regardless, I have taken a few of my listings and tailored them for this program.  I'll see if it is an advantage for me.  I've chosen Harley items, and after my sale on Levi's is over, I'll try them on this program as well.

I purchased these Twizzlers at the Dollar Tree.  They sold within 24 hours.  They fit in a padded flat rate envelope, but luckily the buyer was near my zone.  That mean't that the Regional A box was just as cheap and looked nicer.

I love selling Levi's !  If you are lucky enough to find the larger sizes like this one, you can really clean up!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Round And Round She Goes!

Dear Diary,
Here I go on the eBay Merry Go Round.  It won't be the last time.  eBay is committed to changing up the ranking when they discover too many people using shortcuts, because remember we need a level playing ground.... pshaw!

So in the past, I had to change my listings to 30 day listing, listing as similar as with free shipping to keep my sales chugging along.  Wouldn't you know that right after that webinar my sales started to wither.  What is a girl to do?  I did the opposite of everything I was doing before.

When my 30 day listings expired, I went ahead and "Listed As Similar As" (I'll redo them in about 6 months)  eBay has been clear now that sell through rates are more important to ranking.  GTC (Good Till Cancelled) is "relisted" which keeps stats.  I'm being picky on what I list.  Before it was all a numbers game, the more you list the more sales you got.  While percentage wise that might still ring true, but now... listing items that sit for a long time brings your stat score down.  

Ugh,  I took off free shipping on my heavy items.  Free shipping was always awesome for my California buyers.. but now that I've taken it off sales are booming.  Yes I'm paying fees on my shipping prices but hey... profits are up.  I can absorb that fee.

I'm really excited to say that my DSR's are now solid 5's too!!!  This is the first time I've achieved all 5's.
I am attributing this with my system.  
1. Ki Tracking which emails my buyers as soon as the item is delivered.  I've got the note nice and personable so the customer really thinks I went that extra mile.
2. I ship out within 24 hours and sooner.
4. I wrap all items in tissue paper, over pack and make opening the parcel an experience.
5. I do not remind the customer of money by putting a packing slip with prices on it.  I do NOT have the postage amount on the label.
6. I list all items with Parcel Post first, this way almost all my items are "upgraded shipping."  When I print out my label, I also affix a label that says "Upgraded Postage!"  So that is the first thing they notice when they get their package.
7.  On my business card I hand write:  "Hope I EARNED all 5 stars" and put a cheesy happy face underneath. I do this because it gives the illusion of vulnerability as I say that I hoped instead of asking for it or stating that I would like it.  If you look at my feedback you will see where many customers clearly remembered that sentence because they will say that I DID EARN all 5 stars.  Try it, you will see.

Speaking of Ki Tracking,  I had an item arrive broken this week!  Instead of contacting me through eBay messages (which would have automatically opened a case in the resolution center), the customer replied to my Ki Tracking email!  This was on a Wednesday.  I assured her that she would be reimbursed and then immediately filed my claim through ShipSavers.  Within a few hours I had the link sent to the customer for her to fill out a short form.  She did her part immediately and low and behold ShipSaver reimbursed me in full the very NEXT morning!!  How awesome is that?  I'm assuming checks are cut on Thursday.  Anywho, I avoided a case, got it taken care of and the customer was extremely happy!!

I found these Le Crueset items in my Salvation army for 4.95 each last month.  I sold them this weekend to the same buyer and did the happy dance that they fit into a Regional B box!  These suckers are heavy!

I absolutely love to buy pipe racks, humidors and stands.  There are many collectors out there.  I purchased this one about 2 months ago for around $7 and sold it this weekend for $35.99

You might remember that as soon as I moved to Virginia Beach I was able to find a very large lot of Babysitters Club books.  I bought the whole lot for $20.  This is the second lot that I have sold, this one was sold for $58.00  Here is my totals:
1. Lot of 42 BabySitters Club books : $73
2. Lot of 50 Babysitters Club books: $58.50
3. Judy Moody set of 3 $9.99
Total:  $141.90  for a $20 investment  There is money to be made in books!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dissecting Hughs Webinar

Dear Diary,
I recently listened in on a webinar given by Hugh E. Williams.  Of course you know that I've always studied what he says and in this case what he doesn't say.  It isn't that I am a conspiracy theorist, it is because I am genuinely interested in the inner workings of search and how we can translate that into dollars as we go through the change over from Voyager to Cassini.  Search is changing,  the factors involved in ranking is a closely held secret.  The mantra at this time spoken by eBay execs is the Trust, Value, Relevance.  This is what we are to focus on to be successful on eBay.  I agree, these things are very important... but just as website owners study SEO for their personal websites to be successful, then we too need to work toward a little more knowledge as well.  We can't just be told to stay still, don't talk about it, don't tell the "shortcuts".  

These are some of the slides presented in the webinar that I found interesting.  On thing I heard over and over was (see figure 1.) eBay wants a level playing field.  What does that mean?  It means that it does not want curious folks like me to spill any beans getting an advantage in ranking.  
(See figure 2)  The honest truth is that those of us that find shortcuts are monitored, and a way will be used to change those shortcuts as time goes on.  Now that is a double edged sword.  One of the shortcuts have already been altered.  A year or so ago, ending your listing early and "Listing As Similar As" gave a very dramatic result!  Over time, although it still works, I find that letting my listings set a day or two before "LASA" gives a little better result.  Fresh listings, where the stats are reset to 0 on views, perhaps now has a number of day integer added to code.  Perhaps... I am not sure.  But... it does work to get rid of old stale stock.  Been busy getting rid of old stock all month that way.  Figure 3 tells you to before of wrong, misguided information and also shortcuts.  Of course there is wrong information out there, there always is.. I'm sure some people think that I am wrong, I will agree that my methods are shortcuts!  So beware, I'm the evil shortcutter. lol

"We also want a level playing field for all sellers. We don't want to create an unfair advantage from a set of sellers that have the time and resources to invest in doing complicated complex things, reverse engineering of our algorithm..."   There you have it.  It was said,  there are just things that eBay doesn't want you to know.  I understand that on the whole, but I also believe that if you are working very hard to foster trust in your buyers.  If you are working hard at doing all the right things, great customer service, great pictures, great items... sometimes you still need a little help in the ranking.  Most of us that has been on eBay for many years has seen a clear shift in visibility.

Hugh also makes it very clear that he is committed to making sure that the shortcuts that work now will NOT work tomorrow because it does not make a level playing field. So what does that mean?  It means that various writings are most likely monitored, when they see that a shortcut it discovered, then the computer code will be altered.

I'll go over some interesting questions.  Someone asked if html will make a different in search.  There was a little stuttering, "...Not really... not really..."  He also managed to say that in the future they may make it so that the presentation has something to do with search.  He discusses this further but later on someone does ask about mobile in which he backtracks on that.

eBay makes it very clear in their Best Practices for mobile optimization that you should not use it.  Pluuuuuuuuu...eeeeeease!  Mobile is where eBay is banking on growth, if they have called out a Best Practice you might think about that as a ranking factor.  Who knows, it might just be a point off the score, I wouldn't know.. but I do know that if they are asking that you refrain from doing it for their bouncing baby boy mobile program than it is important for them.  They are all about quality pictures right now, they don't want html making a buyer move away from a listing.  Remember, some phones handle it well, some don't... the emerging markets may have a large number of phones that wouldn't handle it correctly at this time.   When eBay stutters, and says "not at this time"  or "we may in the future" then just make a mental note.

One of my questions was if eBay is using data mining of our emails.  Hugh does talk about data mining of our searches right before this question was asked.  The person reading the question had a little laugh about this question..  before I tell you what Hugh says let me just say that a few years back eBay put a pop up security question on the screen before I could get into my account.  They asked me the birthday of my daughter in law and called her by name. She hadn't been my daughter in law for a few years yet they knew this information.  That could have only come from email or Facebook.  A colleague of mine got the same sort of question about someone in her past!  So when Hugh was asked this, he hem hawed and said they do not do that at this time but would in the future if it proved to be good for the buyer experience..... I don't know, at that point I remember back when I asked an incriminating question to one of my teens.  I got a response sort of like that... you know when they later say , "Oh you didn't ask me if I did a year ago, you asked me about if I did it now."  Yep,  or I should have included Facebook in that question.  Regardless, Hugh talks about how search tries to determine what "we really want" and how they data mine all they can to collect information on searching habits.

Someone asked if there was a bias on eBay between New or Used. Hugh said quickly that there was no difference there is no bias.  Now this is where it gets interesting! In a transcript of a speech that Mr. Donahoe gave, he gave the following quote: " We're testing a new user to eBay that has never been to eBay should when they show up we only show them fixed price brand new items, items from top-rated sellers.  It's a more familiar commerce experience and then as they learn eBay they get the wider experience."   That was quoted from May 30th 2013.  The point is, that when employees of eBay give Q/A sessions, they have to follow the rules from their legal department.  They can not give all the information that we would like to know.  Their hands are tied.  Sometimes they aren't in the know, sometimes they just have to play that corporate game.  The point is that search results are tailored according to the buyer.  You never know if you are part of an A/B testing series, you never know if the buyers is in a testing series that is manipulating what they see.

A lightbulb went off in my head this week.  You know that if you list a lot, you have noticed that you get more sales when you list.  Once you stop listing, the sales die down.  Old stock sells when you are listing your new stock.  A nice fellow on a Facebook group was talking about how eBay was all about growth.  Now doesn't that make sense?  The people that are going to continue to list are more valuable to growth.  You'll be told that listing consistently does not affect search, just remember.... if you ask a search computer person a general question, you get a general question.  If you ask if it affects the rank algorithm, the question will not be answered.  Search and rank algorithm are two different things.  A no for a search question doesn't mean a no for the rank question.  Search gets you in the listing line up, rank tells where you are setting and if you will be seen.

Should we be worried,  I say no.  Continue to work hard on your customer service,  make sure your listings are fresh.  Keep it simple.  Right now things are rapidly changing at eBay so we have to be fluid, be willing to do a few new things and not pigeon hole ourselves into a major revamping of listings.  

Listen to Hugh in it's entirely here.

Just sold this cowboy shirt for $29.99 this week.  I got it for $2.50 at the Goodwill in Indiana.  I had it for awhile but just redid the listing to make it fresh.  I sure wish I would have more time to list, but we are still in transition in Virginia Beach.  Our daughter has her home for sale and we will be moving to a larger home soon.  I've been listing here and there between home viewings of course, and focusing on some Amazon FBA since that doesn't have to be kept here at the house.

Boy I was glad to get rid of this puppet. It is a Folkmanis puppet and I remember the day I found it in a flea market.  I was so excited because Folkmanis goes pretty high... well except for this type of fox puppet.  Ugh! I ended up clearancing it off for $19.99 and sold it overseas. I didn't make a great margin on it because I paid $10!  By by Mr. Fox!

I got this Ravioli maker for a single buck at a thrift.  I finally sold it this week for $22.95.  I am so happy to get rid of this old stock.  I've been busy consolidating boxes in the attic and once our life is settled, WATCH OUT!