This week’s theme is The Perfect Holiday Listing. As always, In The Buzz, we cover topics of conversation in the Community, on social media, and the news. In the Main Story eBay seller Monica Gamboa and eBay VP of Seller Experience, Harry Temkin discuss... the perfect holiday listing. Better Know a Seller returns with eBay Shine Award winner Elijah McCloskey who tells us about his passion for vintage bicycles and how he’s leveraged that into a business on eBay that ties in perfectly with his charitable organization. We’ll also answer seller questions! To have your questions answered on eBay for Business, call us at 888 723-4630 or email us at email@example.com.
Don Vigeant (eBay Seller), Louis Rodriguez (eBay Seller), Richard Cooley (eBay Seller), Glen Zubia (eBay Seller)
Yeah before we start, I am just gonna check my 401-K.
They’re we go.
Yeah. Funny week for the Stock Market.
Yeah, so a lot of stocks tanked. But they are already coming back up though.
Yeah, they came back up. They go down. I’ve lived long enough, i’ve seen this happen before.
Yeah, I haven’t. I kind of panicked.
No? Should I sell everything?
No. Don’t sell everything.
Just sell things on eBay. Don’t sell your stock. No.
Yeah. I’ve got some things lying around the house, make some money out of that.
Yeah, you should. You should be doing that.
I should. I’ll try. I’ll try.
What's wrong with you?
Busy! I've been so busy.
I’m busy. I do this podcast. I still sell things. I sold four things in the last day.
Yeah. A couple of CDs, a shirt. I sold a bottle of Cologne.
I need some Cologne actually. Is there any for me?
Check out my listings and see if there's anything you like.
Okay. Are we not supposed to promote me on the podcast? That’s not fair.
Or any other reputable seller on eBay.
Yeah, there's lots of them. Just check them out.
Okay. Time to get a mortgage then, Griff says that everything’s okay.
All right. Good luck with that. Alan.
And I’m Griff and this is the eBay For Business podcast. Your weekly source for the information and inspiration you need to start, run and grow a business on the world’s most powerful mar-ketplace.
And this is episode number 55 for those of you out there who might be keeping track.
Yeah, pushing towards a a hundred episodes Alan. We should hit that mark at eBay Open next year.
Oh, eBay Open 2020, if everything works out, if the stars align and I have no doubt that they will. So Griff, what’s up this week?
Well, this week Alan, we continue with part two of our theme Lean Into The Holidays. We’ll visit with four eBay sellers who will share how they get ready for the biggest selling season of the year.
Four eBay sellers, who are they?
Well they are, in no particular order eBay seller, Don Vigeant also known as Trad’r Don, also known on eBay as garbsafari, and also we’ll speak with Louis Rodriguez who sells under the us-er id funphones. We’ll talk with a local seller here who has a rather big business. We were sur-prised, in fact he’s only a few blocks away. His name is Richard Cooley and he sells under the ID salearea. And finally our good friend Glen Zubia will be on to talk about how he prepares for the holidays. He’s also known as hustlerhacks.
Nice. For seller some familiar names, some new names. I’m excited. That’s a lot of seller con-versation.
You know it is, but it’s all super relevant Alan and definitely worth a listen. Each one has their own distinct way of prepping for the holiday selling season and like I said, we’re going to hear from each, so there you go. And because we’re talking with four, by the way, count them four sellers this week. The regular inside eBay segment is on a week-long hiatus.
Oh lucky segment.
Wait, you just got back from a long hiatus, Alan. Now there’s work to be done.
I know. I know. I can dream can’t I?
Alan, yes you can. Far be it from me to step on your dreams as futile as they may be.
Okay. Heartless old man.
Up next time for The Buzz.
Hey Alan, what’s The Buzz this week?
Well Griff. In the eBay community and on social, sellers we’re talking about business develop-ment, seller protections, and shipped by dates.
Three interesting topics. Let’s talk about the business development discussion first.
Yeah. On our community board sellers we’re discussing ways that they can adapt their busi-nesses to changing markets and how eBay can improve and help them develop their businesses.
Yeah. You know, I always say this, Alan, you have to think of your eBay selling as a business. You can’t think of it as just a hobby.
You do. You do. That’s right Griff. You’re always saying that. And some sellers mentioned that they would love to see eBay ads that highlight and promote niche products such as antiques, collectibles and used clothing, And sellers have been sharing advice on tips on how to maximize sales, improve their listings, reduce their overheads, and adapt to change.
That’s very constructive conversation. It’s the key to adaptability to a changing market and trends. What used to sell well on eBay may not be what’s selling right now because things change.
Things change and yeah, VHS. I was staying at a place on the weekend that had a VHS player.
And tons of VHS videos. When we walked in, we were like, ugh. Why have they got these old VHS tapes and players? But then actually when you sat down and played with it, I was like, oh my God, this is so cool. Now I’m like tempted to go onto eBay and look for VHS.
You are so easily lead!
I know! But it was like, cause they had all the old advertisements from like the eighties and nineties. And then «next up is our feature presentation».
Oh, that's cool.
So it was like a cool experience that you just don’t get any more with DVDs and Netflix. So an example of something that’s gone out of trend for a long time that comes back into trend. So you really got to stay on top of that curve and doing things like checking the eBay trending page for items that are, that are hot or coming back into fashion is a good way of staying informed. Right. Walkman, cassette players are really in right now.
Cassettes are back.
Cassettes are back yeah. I was in a trendy millennial shopping store. Not only were they selling new clothing, but they’re also selling cassettes and they were expensive.
This is the antiques for millennials.
Yeah. They think it's like from another century.
Oh you like open the case and then there is artwork and lyrics. Oh my God. Why didn’t nobody think of this before.
Granddad, you really had a good back then.
Well going back to the community sellers, except that changes in consumer expectations should be their focus for adaptation. So as part of the conversation, the Community Team jumped in and engaged and provide resources for development. Such as Info from eBay Seller Center. There’s also the wonderful eBay For Business podcast.
There you go. And also the eBay For Business Facebook live videos. And of course I must men-tion, there is the weekly Ask Me anything with eBay staff that takes place on our community boards. You can find that at ebay. com/community chat and that takes place every Wednesday from one to two Pacific.
You never miss out a chance to plug that. That’s what I love about you.
It's in my contract. I've got tee shirts.
Well let’s move on to the seller protection discussion. I want to know what people were talking about on this topic.
Yeah, always a nice topic. So sellers we’re discussing specific situations in which they do not al-ways feel protected. And again, the Community Team shared info on seller protections availa-ble. We did escalate reports of buyer abuse and then we updated sellers accordingly. But Griff, can we talk a little bit more about seller protections for a minute?
Well could I stop you? But I’m happy to talk about it. When you sell on eBay, you’re protected by policies, transaction monitoring and data systems that help make eBay a safe platform. We announced a new seller protections as you know at eBay Open this past July. For more infor-mation on seller protection policies, check out ebay. com/sellerprotection.
And buyers have always ever evolving expectations. So now they expect returns, fast shipping, competitive pricing. Can you talk a little bit about that, Griff?
Well, I’d be happy to. It’s an industry standard. I always find it amazing that some sellers like to argue that that’s, that’s not the case. And I tell them, put it on your buyer’s shoes. Buyers want, they want to be able to return an item if they’re not happy with it. It’s no reflection on you. Most of the cases they want the item as soon as they can. Gratification is what it’s all about. Fast Shipping and they want to be able to get the best deals. So finding items that are priced competitively is what they look for. It’s not me. It’s not you, it’s not eBay. It’s what buyers look for. Exactly.
And I’m sure sellers, for the most part, when they go shopping online or in store.
I think they would search for the same stuff.
They checkout the returns policy. And I know myself, if there’s two sellers and they have similar listings, one might be a couple of dollars more expensive, but that one might also have a more competitive returns policy.
Right. The only time, this is probably not always the case, is things like one of a kind items, col-lectibles, antiques, things that are singular, highly sought after. Those buyers are willing to, you know, they know the market they’re in. But when you’re talking about regular commodity items, whether that’s fashion, home and garden, pet supplies, any, you know, electronics, peo-ple are looking for the best deal for the single item they’re looking for. Exactly. That’s my piece on returns, shipping and pricing.
Yeah. And I do want to add that if eBay finds a buyer’s behavior as abusive, we will take action on the buyer and remove negative and neutral feedback and defects, including open cases and service metrics. Customer service can help with seller protections and buyer issues. And we’ve got an easy to use flow at ebay. com/help/home.
That's great. Anything else in the news this week, Alan?
There was an eBay Inc feature on the Blind Center of Nevada and its business on eBay. Now ob-viously this is a great story. And I did actually visit this facility with Doug last year after eBay Open. We attended an onsite seller meetup and got a feel for how the Blind Center of Nevada worked.
Oh, that’s amazing. I believe it’s an electronics business, right?
And The Blind Center of Nevada provides services for hundreds of blind and visually impaired residents within the Greater Las Vegas area. How do they make money?
So more than 50% of the revenue that funds the centers operating costs does come from selling refurbished electronics on eBay. And the organization’s business is growing. It is set to make 1 million in revenue this year.
Wow, that's amazing.
And according to the eBay Inc article, The Blind Center of Nevada was founded in 1965 by F Marian Keel who became blind at the age of 38 and his wife, Effie. The organization set is fo-cused on three key areas, personal development, social interaction and provident living.
I’m looking at the article here cause it’s up on the Inc blog. And eBay’s CEO, Devin Wenig re-cently visited the center and he had this to say and I’m going to quote him. Is that okay?
Go for it.
Okay, so Devin says «the thing that is so stunning is that the center’s building was built on their eBay sales. The meals are served on their eBay sales. The meals are cooked on their eBay sales. The programs are supported by their eBay sales. There were a number of people that were members of the program that were visually impaired and that are supporting the pro-gram by supporting their eBay sales». Devin says, «I was just blown away.»
Yeah, it certainly is a great initiative.
I’ll have to visit that center sometime.
Maybe eBay Open2020.
Well that’s next year. We’ll take a side trip and go visit the center.
Yeah, certainly a great place. Well Griff, that is all the news that I have for this week.
Alan, we nearly forgot.
We have breaking news.
Really, on a pre-recorded podcast? How is that possible?
On eBay, anything is possible Alan.
Ok then... what’s the breaking news?
Two things: First, because of the Labor Day holiday next Monday, our next episode will drop on Wednesday, Sep 4th instead of the usual Tuesday.
Episode 56 drops next Wednesday, not Tuesday. Ok. There! Made a note of it. And what else?
Now pay attention sellers: And remember, you heard it here first! Next Wednesday, Sep 4th is the date of the next eBay Seller Update, otherwise known as the Fall Seller Update! So, next Wednesday, Sept 4th, watch your emails and the announcement board for details.
Excellent! So next Wednesday, Sept 4th we’ll release the Fall Seller Update. I’ve made a note of that as well. The next episode of the podcast drops next Wednesday AND the Fall Seller Update will be released next Wednesday as well. Notes made!
You’re very noteworthy Alan.
Thanks Griff. Any other breaking news Griff?
I think that’s more than enough breaking news, don’t you think?
I suppose so Griff.
Up Next we’re going to talk to four eBay sellers who share how they plan and prepare for the holiday selling season. Don’t go away.
This week on The Main Story we’ll talk to four sellers about leaning into the holiday season, specifically how they prepare for the biggest shopping season of the year. And as you’ll hear, all four have some well mutually shared tips and advice. But they also each have their own unique take on prepping for the season and a few of their tips were even brand new to me. We’ll start with eBay seller Louis Rodriguez. Louis has been selling new clothing and accessories for sever-al years on eBay and he was eager to share his holiday selling experience with us.
Louis, welcome to the show.
Great to be here. Excited to be talking about gearing up for the fourth quarter.
Yeah, that fourth quarter. It’s a big one. What do you sell on eBay?
My niche is fashion clothing and accessories.
And you’ve been selling for about six or seven years seriously on eBay?
Yes. I’ve been selling for six or seven years where it’s my full-time job. Where you know when people ask you, what do you do for a living? I’m an eBay seller. That’s what I’ve been doing for six, seven years. I dabbled in it for a very long time but never really took it serious till about six or seven years ago where, I guess I went all in.
So you have about six or seven years worth of experience with past fourth quarter or holiday selling. And has that guided how you’re going to plan for this upcoming holiday season?
Yes and no. I feel like every holiday season is different. But yes, I mean we do lean on past ex-periences, past trends to dictate what we’re going to do for every upcoming fourth quarter.
Thinking about this upcoming holiday season, which I gotta remind everyone is now only what technically three months away at most, cause it starts in November and we’re in August. And I assume you’re getting ready right now?
Yeah, you can never start too early. I mean I’ve never heard anyone come January say that they bombed in the holiday season because they prepared too much.
Right. That’s a good way to put it. Give us an idea of what you’ve done so far. Again, we’re talk-ing right now in mid August. What you’ve done so far to help get ready for the fourth quarter that would be of interest to other sellers who are probably, many of our listeners maybe have never thought about prepping for this period of time. So you’re actually giving some great ad-vice. So what are some things you’ve done so far?
It’s a mental thing right now. You know, I’ve already started in my mind to have a timeline of what certain goals I want to meet by what time. You know, I also have started kind of looking into what brands I want to go heavier on. Things that I think might sell better through the holi-day season even though everything sells, but try to see where, where I want to focus myself in what brands.
Are there specific brands that you pay attention to more during the holiday season than you would rest of the year?
Definitely. My average sale on eBay is north of $100 and I understand not everyone can be gift-ing $100 items. I definitely want to stay in a $30, $40, $50 range where someone can go in and say just buy it and ship it. So yeah, I tend to wanna like bring in fashion accessories, little purses, little wristlets from brands like Coach and stuff like that. Where I can not blow them out but buy them and go. Buy them and go and you know, maybe even create a multiple sale of two or three. What part of your inventory that you list during the holiday season is new?
So my business is 100% new, a hundred percent buy it now. I don’t have the stomach I guess to sell used things because it’s too arbitrary. I tend to not have the stomach for that. So I just sell everything new. And you know what you’re getting into. Cause what I might think is perfect you might think isn’t up to your standards, I guess.
I suppose competition is always an issue. But do you find this is especially true during the holi-day season selling?
Yes. During the holiday season you will have those people that want to cash in. So it’s where experience comes in that differentiates us seasoned sellers that have stayed around the whole year from those that want to come into the holiday season and sell.
What do you see traditionally where your sales start to increase as the holiday season ap-proaches?
I think sales, believe it or not, start picking up early November. You have those people that want to sit back and enjoy the holidays rather than going around and you know, fighting for people for that Tickle Me, Elmo. They’d rather sit back and enjoy the holidays. So they’ll start Novem-ber 1st. We’d be naive to think that there’s not people out there already doing Christmas shop-ping in October who 1st week in November are done with their Christmas shopping.
Does holiday season end for you at the end of December or does January have a carry through for you?
Oh Yeah. Yeah. So January 15th is the day that maybe not, maybe not the 15th but definitely the 10th, 11th, 12th something around that is where I can kind of start to relax because people do gift gift cards and they have to spend them. Or they don’t have to spend them, but they want to spend them and I want them to spend it with me. Come the 25th they opened up that gift card and they go and they buy. And then come the returns or the exchanges and stuff like that. Espe-cially in my area, which is accessories and clothes and stuff like that. Yeah, the 15th is, I guess the good time to put it where I relax. I mean that doesn’t mean that I don’t relax the 24th and the 25th because you know, as much as I want to say that I can get that item on the 24th and you’ll get it on the 25th it’s impossible. So people understand that there’s a slow period for the 24th, 25th, 26th. And then it picks up again until early January.
So basically you don’t take a break.
I guess to bring it back around. No, I don’t take a break.
And you’re okay with that?
I am. Okay. Because in a world where we don’t have a set schedule, it’s kind of the regimen that I give myself to to work and always answer questions as quickly as possible.
Everyone has their own work life balance and apparently yours is weighted heavily towards the work end of the seesaw so good for you. Given your experience in the past six or seven years getting ready for holiday, is there something that you learned early on that you didn’t know that would be a value to a new or inexperienced seller who’s getting ready to ramp up for the holi-day season? A mistake you want to avoid or something that you definitely want to take care of beforehand?
Yes. If you rely on USPS shipping supplies, avoid running out. You want to make sure to order enough USPS supplies or boxes and stuff like that because you will run out. And the last thing you want to do is not get a client or a customer something there on time because you’re run-ning around looking for a box. Or worse, you know, ship out something in, in a box that’s not going to withstand the journey to the customer. So I would say the biggest thing is just make sure that you have sured up your shipping supplies and enough of them to carry you through the holidays. Because it’s one less worry and I think something that can be avoidable for the holiday season.
So plan early for supplies at the very least.
Yeah, plan early. Yeah.
If you order too much you can always use it after the holidays.
Yeah. The good thing about cardboard boxes is that there’s an expiration date. So yeah, it can never be a bad thing. And USPS, the post office provides free boxes for, you know, a certain for Priority Mail and all of that. It doesn’t cost you anything. That’s great advice. So Louis, how do you measure holiday success?
I measure holiday success by selling more than previous years. We’re not a charity. We’re here to make a little bit of money and hopefully be able to provide for our families and also having my sanity by the end of it. Being able to tell of holiday season 2019 and not, you know, not just lose my mind completely. Which could be a good thing. Right. Cause I mean if you lose your mind, hopefully it’s not because sales are bad. It’s hopefully because sales were so good that you were throwing it out of the water.
Good point. Louis, I want to thank you so much for taking the time out of your selling schedule to talk with us today. I really appreciate it.
Thank you. No, it’s my pleasure.
My next guest is also a long time seller on eBay and is well known to many eBay sellers active on Instagram. Don Vigeant also known as Trad’r. Don sells on eBay under the user ID garbsafa-ri. Dawn has sold through many an eBay holiday season.
Hello Griff. Glad to be here.
So we’re going to talk a little bit about the holiday season. I assume that you do get ready for it?
Oh, of course.
And what do you sell again?
Mostly clothing and cds.
Is there anything else that you sell besides those or are you just exclusively into cds and cloth-ing?
No. I’m always trying to pepper in hard goods and experiment with other markets, other prod-ucts. For some reason I still will sell a few coffee mugs a month. Anything that kind of catches my eye as having any kind of uniqueness or desirable authenticity or scarceness.
Is it too early for an eBay seller in your opinion to start preparing for the 2019 selling season? We are recording in the middle of August. Is it too early?
I don’t think so. As a reseller I think it’s best to be prepared for any level of traffic at any time all year long. And keeping a tight ship at all times along with solid business practices can help keep you limber and ready to deal with sales and fluxes and odd requests as the holiday selling season heats up.
I think at your core when you have best practices scaling, it doesn’t take as much effort.
Do Don, when do you start prepping? Again we’re in the middle of August right now.
Well, my scenario is a bit unique in that I don’t necessarily acquire a significant amount of holi-day related product in advance as I specialize in pre-owned one offs for the most part. That said, I do specialize in Christmas music, mostly CDs and keep an eye out for them year round. Christmas music surprisingly does sell during every week of the year for me, but prime time is the two months before Christmas and a good deal of January.
All year round it sells?
Yeah, usually weekly and then daily after Halloween it seems like. But because of the seasonali-ty I’m not able to source the bulk of Christmas CDs until November, sometimes even late into that month when record stores typically put them out in earnest. When that happens, I have to move and list fast in order to get the most benefit from shopper’s interest. During the holidays, Christmas music typically accounts for half of my sales. Which is fortunate since the demand for used clothing isn’t as sought after for gift giving. That said, I do keep an eye out for holiday related clothing year round also, and just this past weekend during National Thrift Shop Day, I hauled in another half dozen Christmas related tee shirts.
And those sell during the holiday season?
That’s amazing. What sort of holiday prep activities are you doing right now towards the end of the summer now?
Well, it’s a constant struggle to stay organized, but keeping an eye on the upcoming season can help light a fire to stay motivated and restore order to a work and warehouse space. Moving into the fall. I like to gradually give my inventory a once over to get reacquainted with where everything is stored and to catch any misfiled items. It’s a great idea to get those death piles of unlisted inventory off the floor and live in your store now. Also now before the rush is a good time to take stock of your shipping supplies and get them ordered well in advance. Increased demand for free boxes and tape from a USPS can cause them to run out early. And it’s just too easy to order through their online account and have it all sent to your door. So why not take care of that today is what I’m always thinking.
And they run out. If you wait till the last minute, you may not get them.
That’s right. And also keep in mind that the next coupon code for the quarterly allotment of eBay and supplies will be released on October 1st and that’s when other sellers are also antici-pating those supplies as well. There’ll be a rush on.
And they could run out.
You’ve been selling for how many years now?
Now, this is 21 now.
That's a lot of years selling. So you have experienced with past holiday seasons. Can you give us some tips and lessons learned from the past holiday seasons where you've been selling in those two plus decades?
Sure. As always, the mail is unpredictable. You can never go wrong getting things shipped as soon as possible. Many of the sales can be gifts and are time sensitive. I always strive to ship same day. Even though my advertise handling is one day. Just keeping your customer at ease from the get go is a win. You should take the initiative and get a label printed immediately as possible. That way eBay sends them automatic notification that this step has been taken and they feel things are in motion regardless of how long the next scanning or subsequent notice will take. I like to think of this as a highly professional first impression dimmer.
I know it’s a buyer I feel that way when I get that notice that the label has been printed, I go, well there’s like you said, well it’s in process now. I don’t have to worry.
And also eBay usually releases several customer discount codes during the holidays. These are typically announced without prior notice and are valid for a very narrow window. It’s best to have your ears on for such deals so you can incorporate them into your social media promotion in order to drive shoppers to your store. Additionally, I like to launch a Flash Sale to make these eBay code savings even more irresistible.
It’s perfect, so you’re right. Every year we do this and sellers tend not to pay any attention to this cause it’s buyer focused. But having your ear on this, paying attention, you can take ad-vantage of it as a seller. I never thought that. That’s a great tip.
And finally, it’s best to map out a calendar of key days during the holiday season, including shipping deadlines, major shopping days. Know in advance when to launch targeted sales that coincide with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and numerous weekends in December. By staying on top of these, the big weekly picture, it’ll help lessen the stress by keeping you on the ball to ac-tivate sales and promotions before it’s too late.
That’s great advice. What’s the craziest or most memorable holiday selling story that you can come up with?
Well, I don’t want to disappoint. I don’t think I have anything necessarily crazy unless you count the sum of my local customer does two towns over who paid triple the CD cost to have it over-nighted to them. But I’m, I have a unique regular customer. Uh, in a nutshell, I’m a longtime connoisseur of Christmas music and I make a yearly homemade compilation to trade with like minded collectors. I don’t remember when it started, but a certain eBay customer who would buy holiday music from me, we ended up working out a deal where I’d include these home-made cds as a bonus when a certain amount was spent. And this has continued right on through present day for a few years now.
Have you ever met this customer face to face?
No. He's in the Midwest.
And he buys from you regularly?
That is amazing.
Carrot and the stick.
Yeah, but it’s a great carrot. No stick. Just all carrot. And so what should eBay sellers avoid do-ing during the next few months?
I’m constantly doing things. I shouldn’t. So who am I to say? But staying away from the malls is always a good rule of thumb.
Seriously. A lack of focus and disorganization will begin to compound inefficiency and that’ll spill over into your personal life at a time when social obligations are already making things stressful. It’s a good idea not to start any more death piles which will draw away energy and attention. Any inventory, acquisitions should be listed and put away as quickly as possible. On the flip side, don’t automatically avoid opportunity just for the sake of comfort or not buying more inventory. Sure, be judicial about it. But any sourcing made during the next few months is potentially seeding your profits for Q one of next year.
You keep mentioning death piles. What are death piles?
Oh, that’s reseller terminology for things you don’t get around to listing because you’ve got analysis paralysis and tracking down the keywords or the pricing or knowing what it is. We’ve also spun it into profit piles to make it sound less morbid.
That’s where all your capital is sitting, not working for you.
Death pile. I got a garage that’s four times death piled.
How do you measure holiday success?
It’s pretty simple. I look at it as an uptick in sales, happy customers, a few to no returns and striking that essential holiday work, home life balance. And of course getting that all important photo of my kids on Santa’s lap in the earlier weeks of the season before the mad rush and with plenty of time to send them to the relative.
And do they help out with the chores yet or are they grown up enough they can help you with shipping or do you keep them separate?
I pretty much keep it separate. We have a pretty chaotic household and on one hand I have a three year old and then I have a 14 year old. So it’s being torn in the middle and sometimes it’s best just to close the office door.
So with all this selling, with all this chaos that comes naturally with the season, whether we like it or not, is there a point where you’re satisfied just to sit back and enjoy the holidays and when is that?
It’s hard to switch off when you’re an entrepreneur and there’s always seems to be something else that can be done. If you don’t find a balance and mix the seasonal experiences throughout, you’ll miss a lot of it. This year. Christmas falls on a Wednesday, so the prior Saturday will be a hard marker for the vast majority of last chance shipping. I imagine a great deal of relief and celebration will be in order on Saturday, December 21st. Of course, that’s far from the end of things, but it’ll be a huge downshift in terms of the holiday season proper.
The retail season tends to kick right into high gear after the holidays are over. Are you set for January? Is that part of your preparation?
I feel like I want to do a little bit for it every day minimum, if not a lot. So it’s an ongoing thing. I have an inventory of 2300 items and I’m always accumulating and adding to it. The thrift shop day netted 68 more pieces than I have to work in this week and this is still all in advance of , you know, the upcoming cds and everything. So it’s an ongoing process and it’s just an enjoyable treasure hunt that uh, is just part of woven into my life.
Don, I want to thank you for taking the time to stop and talk to us about holiday prep.
Thanks for having me, Greg. Great to be here as always.
Don Vigeant is a seller on eBay under the user ID garbsafari. He’s known by all of the denizens of Tiki World and thrifting as Trad’r Don.
You can find me at Instagram at garbsafari as well.
Thanks again, Don.
Our next guest is eBay seller Glen Zubia, also known as hustlerhacks, who along with his friend and colleague Ken the Hustle B is well known to many eBay sellers on both Instagram and youtube. Hello Glenn, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks for having me, Griff.
It’s our pleasure. When do you start getting ready for the holiday season, Glen?
So I started getting ready last month in July and then now being in August, I’m really preparing everything that I can possibly do right now. So I think August to September is pretty much, you have to be on top of things ready to go. Because these months are going to fly by and next thing you know, October hits and you have to be ready.
And time starts to move really fast as you start seeing increases in sales.
Oh yeah, exactly. And you’ll see, I mean just the big increase even just from July to August, now that you know, school is starting up. People are getting back to kind of like the normal sched-ules away from vacation. I’ve seen numbers, you know, really go up just from, from then.
Have you sourced all the product that you believe you’re going to need to satisfy customer de-mand so far?
Not a 100% I am a lot more confident this year than last year. Now that it’s been my first full time year. But I do have at least like 40,000 in inventory. That’s brand new shoes that I feel are going to do well in November, December, that I’m really just holding onto. And also as the mar-ket kind of goes up on these shoes, the demand also goes up as well since they came out earlier throughout the year, sneakers that came out in February, March and so on. So I’m really just holding onto those, but I really need to add on the next two months or so.
And we should clarify, Glen, you sell primarily new product?
Yes. So brand new shoes, some are with or without the box. Really depends on where I sourced it from, but yes, brand new.
What sort of holiday prep activities are you doing? Say Right now?
Holiday prep right now. So we talk about building up inventories. I’ve been building up through-out the year, but lately, you know, we had a Texas tax free weekend, so that really helped me build up some inventory. Second, really getting to the supplies I ordered. Oh man, I ordered eBay boxes. Those should be coming in I think tomorrow or the next day. So boxes, tape. I also use saran wrap if I wanna keep the box or even without the box, keep the shoe wrapped well. So supplies, inventory and then the process. My wife is helping me out as well with the business. We want to make sure we have our timing down. How can we get quicker on taking photos, on listing, on prepackaging inventory that already in the box ready to go. We just have to weigh them, slap the label and they’re set. Those things we’re preparing right now.
So when you’ve listed inventory it’s up on a shelf in the box. If the shoes came in a box ready to ship. What about items that don’t come with their original box?
For those we use the USPS shoe box. They’re all the same size we can just to Kinda like lay them up kind of like bricklayer style and that helps us to pull out, you know whenever a shoe has sold and then we can put in a new one to replace that one. And so we can just kind of keep that lev-eling up and not have to run or try to figure out where inventory is.
Can you give us an idea of the kind of volume that you do? For example, how many live listings do you have at any given time?
I think it goes down to more like quantities. I think right now have like 180 listings, but some of the quantity goes down to like five to 600 products. So yeah. So right now I have like a, an air max 98 Hornet’s Color way that’s, I have 30 pairs listed right now on eBay. But they all depend on different sizes. So like three and eight and a half. And I think they have the most in size 10. I think I had like 10 pairs of size 10 so they kind of go deeper in quantity.
So out of those a hundred live listings, most of them, 180 live listings. Most of them are skews with many products available in the listing itself.
Are there any tips or lessons or things to avoid that you’ve learned from past holiday seasons that you actively avoid doing now?
Avoid doing for sure. Just wasting time.
Wasting time. Oh, that’s a good one.
Yes. Because during this time there’s so many other things that could bombard you and you’re, you’re kind of stuck with giving gifts for, for family, but then also you might be watching youtube videos and relaxing a little bit. It’s like you have to go all in and when you’re caring about your business, there is no time to relax until the holiday hits and then you can enjoy the holidays briefly before we start up again. So I would say, you know, going 100% all in and ignor-ing all the noise that’s out there and really just building up everything you can, selling every-thing that you can. So I just do not want to waste time.
So, Glen, do you have an unusual or crazy holiday selling story from your past selling on eBay?
Well last year, me and Ken the Hustle Bee who you mentioned in the very beginning. We did do a workshop in San Diego helping other eBay sellers and Doug, of course Doug was there from eBay and he gave a presentation as we did. And it was in November and we weren’t, I guess we tackled on maybe a little too much, having Q4 and everything that’s going on in selling. So my wife was back at home shipping out those just for the two days we were gone. But even then, so much was happening. So it was kind of like helping her face timing at night. Okay, we need to get these shipments out, here’s where it’s located, this is what it needs to do. And then she did very, very well during that. Then once we got back home, it was like, you know, back to Q4. luckily it wasn’t in December, but it was still busy being in November.
Right. Are you going to avoid travel this year?
Yeah, definitely. We’re not, we’re not traveling. We’re making sure all inventory is set and just nonstop focused. And also being my first full time year, I’m, I’m ready to go.
Now, do you have a goal set for this holiday season and if so, how do you measure success based on that goal or how will you measure success based on that goal?
This one, I don’t necessarily have a goal because my last years were part time since I was work-ing. So I think this one’s going to be my first one to really see where I’m at as a full time seller.
Now next year I can see how I need to improve, where my numbers came from and where my inventory was. So I think this one’s really going to be like a, you know, a starting point for me as a full-timer.
Well that’s great. And you did mention that you do plan to take a little bit of time during the holidays and take a break from selling. Is that good? Did I hear that correctly?
Usually what happens is like by the 21st ,people are still ordering from you, but it is starting to somewhat slow down. Now by the 23rd well it’s like, okay, we’re kind of locked in here. This is it. Now you know 24, 25th is coming, but now once we start getting into 26th, 27th you’ll start seeing, might have some returns, might not. You might have people using eBay gift cards as a gift. You might have people wanting some different items they didn’t get for Christmas. So now it’s Kinda like we’re back into the mode again and then from 27th on, you know, until January. Even till probably I would say the end of February. The sales still continue.
Yeah, well then that’s a good thing because you don’t want to drop in sales. But you, I hope you’re able to take a little bit of time off for the holidays.
Yeah, the little, the little stretch in there is usually like 23rd through like 26ish.
Now, Glen, you mentioned your wife actually helps you during the holiday season. Otherwise, are you doing this mostly alone?
I’m mostly doing this alone, but she does help me with the sourcing part. She does help me with the packaging part. As far as taking photos, I usually do that myself and the listings because I’ve done them for so long for the years. I’ve gotten a lot quicker on that, but she mostly helps me with sourcing and packaging and shipping.
Do you envision a day where your business grows so that you have to start hiring staff?
That’s a good question. I think for me, I enjoy it. Like there’s even times, you know, sitting here and listing, I get to listen to music, podcasts and I enjoy listening. I think it’s actually peaceful. Like listing, even taking the photos. So I dunno. I think I just want to keep building it myself and with my wife.
You’re kind of happy where you are right now. There’s nothing wrong with that Glen. Not eve-ryone has to be ambitious and want to grow their business into a multimillion dollar conglom-erate. Well I wish you a lot of success for the holiday season and I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to speak with us here on the podcast and we’ll check in with you after the holidays and see how you’ve done.
Thank you. Appreciate it. Griff.
We’ve been speaking with Glen Zubia. He’s known on eBay as hustlerhacks. He sells brand new shoes with or without the box and you can check him out at hustlerhacks.
And our last eBay seller guest this week is Richard Cooley. And as you’ll hear, Richard has the largest volume business of any of our four guests. Richard, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Pleasure to be here. And your user id on eBay is?
And you sell?
Fashion footwear and handbags.
So brand name, designer name. How big is your business?
I’ve been selling on eBay for 19 years. We’ve steadily grown over the years and became full time around 2004 and I’m proud to say that I’ve paid nearly a million dollars in eBay fees.
I think ourselves as can make the extrapolation from there.
That’s a good business. Thank you by the way for the fees. You help write my paycheck and I am forever grateful.
I’m grateful to eBay to be able to pay those fees.
It's a mutual thing.
Given your experience on eBay, I’m assuming you’ve gone through a lot of holiday preps year after year?
I certainly have.
What you’ve learned from the previous year. Does that drive your planning and strategy for the coming season?
Actually it really does. I think for the first several years I didn’t really focus on the holidays as I should have. And over the last I’d say five years, it’s really kind of ramped up what I’m doing during the holidays as I paid more attention to it and seen the higher revenue during that time of the year.
Is this your biggest selling season then?
What’s the first thing you need to start doing before the holiday season comes in your business?
This time of the year, it’s starting by sourcing more new product, new in the box. We do a lot of pre-owned and store return items and right now I’m currently trying to source a lot of new in-box items, so I’m ready for when that holiday season starts.
Pre-owned even in the brand name business is not that popular when it comes to holiday shop-ping. Is that the point?
You'd be surprised.
Yeah. I actually sell a fair amount of preowned items that are specifically for gifts. And I know that from eBay messages of people reporting happy family members that they’ve purchased pre-owned items for.
Has this changed over the years since you’ve been on eBay? Is this becoming more a thing or more acceptable?
The more that I’ve focused on the fact that it’s a holiday season and looking at their pre-owned items and selling, I’m noticing it more. But I’ve, I think I’ve noticed pre-owned items selling for holidays for quite a few years now.
So besides sourcing and we never ask anyone where they source their material. So you can rest assured we're not going to share that secret. But the next thing on your list for getting ready for the holidays?
It’s staffing. Yeah, I think that’s key and the main advice that I would give to newer sellers, es-pecially trying to ramp up is to get some help. I think that’s where my business personally really took off. When I decided to not be a waiter full time and put a little bit more full time into be-ing an eBay seller and hired my first couple of assistants, one writer, one in shipping. Getting help in those two areas has helped me delve into paying more attention to sourcing. Now my only job is sourcing. That’s the only thing I do for our company.
So you don't have to list or take photographs?
I don’t do any of that.
Man after my own heart. Now there must be some ramp up time where you have to train these people on how to do the job as well as you would when you were doing it.
Yes. That’s why we have sections. We have a set of shipping employees. I have one amazing photographer who actually takes all of our pictures. He takes about 4,000 pictures a day, be-lieve it or not, he’s an athlete. That would generally be a two person job and he’s been with me for awhile. I have one cleaner. We have actually six writers. Writing is the most labor intensive part. If anybody’s looking at trying to ramp up their sales, if they’re able to get the volume, first thing they should do is add somebody to help them make listings.
Is that because most of your items are one of a kind?
So you can’t rely on a skew and one description.
And how many listings do you have live at any one given time?
We were doing 100% auctions up until about six months ago. So we have an average of about seven to 800 auctions running at a time.
I can see where you’d have to hire the writers.
And how long has their duration?
Done 10 day since 10 Day was introduced. I was very happy when the 10 day fee went away. That saved us quite a bit of money. That’s the best way to get the most visibility and run a start low start price and let it run through. And it’s a great way to sell.
People who utilize auction format successfully have to have a strategy. I assume you have a strategy as well? Cause it’s not just listing an item in an auction format at any given time and just waiting for 10 days.
Well actually my strategy has has kind of evolved. As I mentioned, we did all auctions for a long time. We did 99 cent auctions for years and then I’ve seen a little bit of a dip in the market-place. I think it’s becoming a little bit more crowded. So a lot of those were ending at 99 cents where we’d like to see at least some bidding competition. So what we’re doing now actually is a new strategy for us. Where we’re running $5 and 50 cent auctions and when some of those are ending, we’re bumping those back over to buy it nows.
What do you mean without, without a bid?
So that means that somebody has to, because the 99 cent auctions, we’re all getting a bid. Those were all selling at that price. If we’re starting a little bit higher. Some of those are ending without bids and that gives us an opportunity to try to sell those specific items for a little bit of a higher price.
And you rely on auctions because these are one of a kind items with high value.
Exactly. Yeah. And if I could delve into, actually what we’re doing now towards the holiday with those auctions is we are starting to run some of the more expensive items. I’m starting those at an actual higher price than I’d like to get for it. Sometimes getting bids on them. But when those are ending, I’m able to move those over and put them into a buy it now so that I have those listed in inventory ready for when the holiday season starts.
The advantage during the holiday season is buy it now, if someone needs it right now, they don’t have to wait for the auction.
Exactly. Yeah. We’re hoping to get a lot more inventory of buy it nows.
What about auction timing? As I mentioned before, it’s not just listing it. You must have some strategy in the holiday time of when these auctions are going to end?
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s actually the one part that I’ve, that I’ve kind of focused on in the last few years is really narrowing down the timing. As it gets into November is when I start a calen-dar and I keep it on my board in my office of the timing because I, I did say my main job is sourcing. I also do activate the listings. I look at the time for activation of listings. I count 10 days out, we focus around Cyber Monday. We put a fair amount of listings on Cyber Monday and then we just put a big group of listings within that two week period. So usually we run an average of 70 listings a day during that period we’re going to try to run about 200 listings a day. And then actually another thing that we do is when it gets to the last cutoff day for postal deliv-ery for the holidays, we stop. We do zero listings from that day all the way through about two or three days after Christmas. We don’t put up any auctions during that time. And that’s one thing I’ve actually done for a few years because that’s going to be a little bit of a low because there’s a lot less people buying. It’s going to be a little bit slower market place so we have al-ready ramped up all the inventory before that and then we’ll be able to start pushing back out again after the holiday.
When you say you don’t list any auctions, there’s still live listings up on the site?
This year there will be. In the past there we’ve gone to where I’m only putting up five or 10 a day just to have something still live some people aren’t wondering what’s going on with us.
Like have you gone on a permanent vacation for the holidays. It’s always good to have some-thing in the store.
What other efficiency tools do you rely on? As business starts to ramp up even with the staff it gets pretty hectic. Do you have anything operational that helps you with efficiency? So for ex-ample, dealing with customers.
The main thing that we do is having set listing answers. So we of course get a fair amount of questions a day. We have a perfect spreadsheet of answers that will answer almost every ques-tion. I think that’s a great tip for any seller. I’m sure a lot of sellers use the same thing. Like can you offer a buy it now for this item that’s in auction? Instead of typing out every time, I’m sorry, but we like to give everybody an opportunity to bid. I have a preset answer for that.
That's cut and paste.
With a little personalization.
And then we also are trying to help efficiency in the staffing department and in our shipping department. We’re getting ready for those higher 200 listing days where we are going to be able to have the output to be able to ship all this out.
You have a set staff during the year, do you have to hire extra people temporarily for the holi-days?
We’re always attempting to grow through the years. So my, my goal this year is that the tem-porary, the people that I’m actually putting on, because I actually did bring a new writer on this week and we did bring on a new shipper last week. So we are bringing new staff on in prepara-tion for the holidays. Hopefully our volume will continue to increase where we can keep them after the holiday, but there basically are going to be there as things ramp up over the next few months.
Can I ask how many people you currently employ?
I believe it's 10.
I’d have to count. I might have to use my fingers.
And you started out by yourself?
So we know you’ve paid $1 million in fees, you’ve got 10 people. We can just guess about your gross sales a year. We won’t ask.
There is a lot of overhead with 10 people.
Yes. You have a business location.
And it’s based here in Campbell.
I’ve been asking sellers about any unique stories or unique items that they remember selling either around the holiday or holiday related. Do you have a story like that?
I do actually have one. A very memorable item that I think it was way back in about 2005 and I can share the secret that I actually purchased this item for $10. It is when I used to go thrifting, so I got it at a thrift store. It had just come out on the floor and when I was younger I was very into skateboarding and snowboarding, so I know a fair amount about the sport. I saw a very unique snowboard come out and what it was is a Tom Sims snowboard. It was actually a proto-type that he had made and hand signed. I knew it was a unique board. I knew it was a prototype because it had his hand signature on it. I knew it was a huge item and I picked it up for 10 bucks, had just put a price sticker on it, took it home and listed it and sold it for $6,500.
That's a great story.
That was a big one.
Yeah. If you could just get those every day you can make a living. Do you know who ended up with it?
It was somebody in Utah. It was a snowboard collector.
They knew what they were getting.
Well. I hope that you and everyone else who makes the trip into a thrift store find something like that. I just wouldn’t hold my breath. They’re out there waiting for you.
Right? They're out there.
Richard, I want to thank you so much. Continued success through the holiday season and beyond and we’d love to check in with you after the holidays.
I’d love to, yeah.
We’ve been speaking with Richard Cooley. Richard sells on eBay under the user ID salearea. That’s one word salearea. I want to thank each of our four eBay seller expert guests for stop-ping by and sharing how they prep for the holiday shopping season. If you have any questions for any of our guests on this episodes Main Story or if you would like to be a seller guest your-self on our podcast, why not drop us an email at podcast@ebay. com or give us a call on our hotline at (888) 723-4630 and let us know which topic you’d like to discuss.
Well that’s all for this week Alan. Give them a preview of coming attractions for the next week.
Certainly next week we'll talk an eBay seller who was using the new multi-user account access tool, Aka MUAA to learn how it's working for them.
I love that name. MUAA.
And we’re also going to talk with a few eBay insiders about progress on new features an-nounced at eBay Open.
Oh Nice. Can’t wait to hear more about MUAA. In the meantime, you can be part of the pod-cast.
Yes, you can! Join the fun here at eBay For Business by calling us with your question or com-ment. You just dial this number, go get a pen. I’ll wait. You back? Good. (888) 723-4630 leave a question or comment and we just, we just, we just might put it on the air.
Or if you prefer, you can email us. Our email addresses is podcast@ebay. com that is pod-cast@ebay. com and don’t forget, as I say every week, don’t forget to attend a local eBay seller meetup in your area. If you don’t, you could be missing out on some serious fun and learning because at eBay seller meetups, eBay sellers share tips, selling stories, learnings, laughs, in-sights, recipes, and just about everything.
Except where they source their inventory.
Well Alan, no one shares those secrets and can you blame them? But still you could learn a lot about improving your existing business on eBay by popping into a local eBay seller meetup. Did you like that? Popping?
I learned that in the UK. Just gonna pop into, pop right in, gonna pop into Sainsbury.
Hop on in, which you say hop on? Jump in?
I love that name. MUAA.
No. That's a bunny thing.
Hop on into Sainsbury's . Well Griff. Griff.
If I am a seller. Where do I go to find out if there’s a local seller meetup in my area so I can pop in?
Well, I’m glad you asked Alan. You can see upcoming meetups on our special eBay community page for meetups.
You can find it at www. ebay.com/meetups.
It is a very special page and then they’ll forget to tune into our weekly live video stream on the eBay For Business Facebook page every Wednesday at twelve thirty pacific. Go to face-book.com/ebayforbusiness and then right after that hop on over to the community page for our weekly chat. It starts every Wednesday at one o’clock. Go to ebay.com/communitychat and we will see you there.
Now you can hop over, you can pop on over.
You can do whatever you want. Just be nice.
You can bop over if you want to.
You can arrive however you wish.
By the way. I’m going to take this opportunity here on the podcast to congratulate you and re-mark on what a wonderful job you did of engineering our last live stream.
Oh, thanks Griff.
Here in our brand new studio with the window.
With the window.
Yeah, with the window.
We’ll have to take a picture and post it on the podcast.
It's like a family friend.
Well guess what Alan? That's our show!
The eBay For Business podcast is brought to you by Head of Community, Brian Burke, Special Correspondent, Jenn Deal, Associate Executive Segment Producer and back from an extended vacation, Doug Smith. Marketing Strategists Elizabeth Austin. Our Co Host, Alan. Editor in Chief and Host DeJour, Griff.
The eBay For Business Podcast is produced and distributed by Libsyn and podCast411.
Host DeJour? What am I, a Pie?
Tasty. You are. Host DeJour.
Is this just for today?
It's my French.
Yeah, next week. I'm not the host.
Cause I'm not the host of the week.
Yeah. Do you ever see the movie Bel De Jour?
Oh, you got to look that up.
So what's it about it?
Uh, I can't talk about it on the podcast. It's a little racey. But it's an early Catherine Deneuve film.
It's the exploration of a bourgeois woman when she finds her kinkier side.
I'll look it up. I'll look for it on VHS. On eBay. That's my new thing.
The posters did a lot for lingerie back in the 60s.
Back in the day.
Back in my day. look it up.
For your lingerie collection? TMI