Episode 67 || Shipping, Packing for the Holidays

doug@ebay
Community Team
10-29-2019 05:00:00 AM
On this week’s episode, we focus on shipping and packing for the holidays. As always, The Buzz covers topics of conversation in the Community and on social media. In the Main Story eBay Seller Joey Ruffalo helps us further explore best practices for shipping and packing. On Inside eBay Cindy Aknin from eBay’s Trust team tells us about return strategies for the holidays. eBay vice president Sam Bright has an announcement about eBay’s Jargon Jar, and we’ll hear from Heather Bizzell, Director of Retail Channel Marketing at UPS on shipping and packing for the holiday season. To have your questions answered on eBay for Business, call us at 888 723-4630 or email us at podcast@ebay.com.
Links
Hosts
Griff, Alan Aisbitt
Guests
Joey Ruffalo (eBay Seller) Cindy Aknin (eBay Staff), Sam Bright (eBay Staff), Heather Bizzell (Director of Retail Channel Marketing, UPS)
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Transcript


This week on the eBay for business podcast...

“…And somewhere in the move she lost her favorite stuffed animals and these were the exact two stuffed animals that she had lost. She was amazed that we had them and they were together and she wanted us to ship them to where they were going for Christmas and she actually paid for like expedited shipping so they'd get there in time. And just for a little added extra bonus, I printed out a letter on Santa's stationary and I signed it to her. I said, Hey, we found these at the North Pole. Glad we could get them back to you. Merry Christmas and I signed it from Santa Claus and sent it off."

And from eBay's Trust Team, Cindy Aknin talks with Griff about return strategies for the holidays.

"...To be competitive, you have to offer a return policy. And 80% of our shoppers expect some type of return policy, especially free returns. And that will generate repeat customers. 89% of them who have a good return experience are likely to come back again."

eBay, Vice President Sam Bright has an announcement about eBay's jargon jar.

"... So we created a list of the hundred most overused holiday words. Then turned to Twitter to spot when big brands are going over the top with them. Every time one of our friends use this jargon from the list, we put a dollar in the jargon jar and at the end of the season we'll donate every dollar up to $50,000 to charity."

And we'll be asking you to tell us about what you are thankful for this holiday season.

Plus a word from UPS and a lot more.

I'm Alan.

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 small or large business on the world's most powerful marketplace. And this is episode 67. Hey, it's almost here, Alan.

What's that?

The big holiday selling moments. Oh, you mean like Black Friday? Cyber Monday, Fat Tuesday?

Fat Tuesday. That's wrong month. Yeah, some of them, yes. But anyway, we're just a little over a week away.

Does that mean it's too late for sellers to do anything to prepare for and benefit from the big annual retail bounty that is holiday shopping?

Well I'm glad you asked that because the answer is absolutely not. There's always time to make some changes, maybe stock up on a little extra supplies or even inventory. It's not too late in the season to do that. Anything that you can get out there and sell.

Yes. I like your spirit, Griff. Very, can do. Maybe a little bit will rub off on you. Shall we begin?

Let's start off as we always do with what's buzzin.

Okay, so what's The Buzz for this week, Alan?

Well we found a lot of interesting threads on our community boards and I thought we'd highlight a few.

And remember, we'll include a link to each of the specific threads in this episode transcript at ebay.com/podcast so you can get to them, read them and maybe jump in.

Exactly. Okay then let's start off with this one. It's titled angry three day weekend customers LOL.

LOL?

LOL. And the poster says... Got a bunch of angry Saturday buyers? Might I add these bars purchased after 4:00 PM on Saturday. Today they are asking me why I haven't shipped until Tuesday. So for context this for the weekend, just before Veterans Day and Monday holiday for USPS. The poster says his buyers have messaged him with the following, "Hey, it's been three days. Why you not shipped my item?"

(laughter) Why you not ship?

Why you not ship? I like that one.

Yeah It's good.

And the next one is I've been waiting since Saturday. The message was sent at 11:40 PM on Saturday. If the tracking doesn't show an update today, I want a refund. Why hasn't tracking updated? Am I getting this tomorrow?

Oh brother!

And the next one is ...it's been three business days. Why haven't you shipped?

Okay, so I'm getting it. What were some of the responses?

As imagined sellers had definite opinions on this topic. One seller posted, Holy moly! A bit impatient. Are any of these foreign buyers?

Why you not ship my item? That answers that question.

I type like that sometimes. It's just short hand.

Well, you are Irish, of course! It's not the short hand, It's the reverse syntax. Why you not ship my item.

Okay. Another response said..." I had a buyer get a little testy once when Monday was a holiday. So I sent her a screenshot of the post offices closed dates."

Screenshots, my passive aggressive, favorite fallback.

Yup. And then my favorite, because it's shows such restraint was this response... "My listings are on a two day shipping clock. I had a sale on Saturday, 45 minutes after the post office had closed. About two hours later the buyer messages and asks If I have shipped his item. The response was not easy to write, but I kept my cool and was nice."

I've learned the hard way. It's always best to keep your cool.

Yeah. Yeah. Especially that poor seller. They got all those messages.

I mean like you are trying your best to do is ship as fast as you can and it's like, "you didn't ship fast enough!"

Why no ship?

Why no ship!

Give me ship!

Okay, so what's the next bit O' Buzz Alan. You like that Irish bit in there?

Oh, thanks so much. This is just like being at home. Main Reason eBay Businesses Fail.

That's the title?

That's the title.

I'm a little frightened of this, but go ahead.

Wait. This was a question. There was a question mark there. So the poster started with, "what would you say are some of the main reasons eBay businesses fail? You can break them down into the top 10 if you want. I think this type of info can help people to learn what to avoid doing."

Okay. That's an interesting take on this evergreen topic and I think I can imagine some of the responses.

I bet you can. Yes, indeed. A few responders of course blamed it all on eBay. But surprisingly the clear majority of responses were definitely business-minded.

As opposed to victim minded.

I suppose. Here are a few of the constructive responses posted for the thread why businesses on eBay fail. One seller answered 1. Poor inventory choice, 2 too high prices.

Wait, that's it. One and two. I like that.

I think we've got some more coming . He did give it a little bit more info. He said, you can have 10,000 things listed, but if they aren't things, people want at prices those people are willing to pay, you aren't going to be getting sales.

Oh, that is so true. I couldn't have said it any better.

Another poster offered... Many times people come here to sell because they think it's easy money. They don't invest their time in learning how to sell and just jump in and hope it all works out. They don't learn the rules or stay current on the rules that change or get added. This often leads to the seller getting frustrated and mad at eBay when it was within their control to learn the rules. If you are going to make a business of this, treat it like a job. Learn how to do it before jumping in too far. Tandy posted a list of to do's.

I love to do's.

Are you ready?

Yeah, I'm ready.

There's a lot. Know your products. Learn the market for the products you want to sell.

Check.

Learn the price that the market will support.

Important.

Treat your customers with respect even when they don't extend it to you.

Yes, it's important.

Have resources available so you can get support shipping items out in the beginning as eBay holds your money on new sellers or sellers return after a period of being inactive.

That's true. Yeah.

Make sure you have a scale and all the shipping supplies you need for the items you plan to sell. Write complete and clear descriptions.

Perfect.

Take clear pics, multiple picks whenever it is something that gives the buyer more information. Your title is prime real estate, so treat it with that in mind. Use your words you think buyers will be using in their searches. Try not to use words that do not matter. You will get all kinds of advice or replies to your posting, so make sure you have both eyes open and your mind as well.

I want to meet this seller. I want to shake this seller's hand.

I want to give them a hug.

I want to give them a medal.

I know, right? Yeah. Fantastic. Another seller offered this bit of insight. Speaking generally and harshly. The main reason for failure for people is number one, they give up too easily and never make a real effort. Got to get down and dirty. It's not all fun and games. And number two, it's because they get too comfortable and set in their ways and they refuse to change and adjust to the ever changing market. You gotta be willing to always change your business with the times or close shop.

There are so many smart sellers on this thread. I really liked this.

I know! They must be listening to the podcast.

I should hope so.

Sounds like advice that we've been given out over the last year.

Well in a pinch, let's just take credit. Hey, I'll take credit wherever we can get it, even if it's self appointed.

You are a wise guy.

And though there are many other responses, my favorite was succinct and spot on in my view, he or she stated number one, not treating it as a business.

And that's all she wrote. It's really good. Okay, now you can read all the responses and maybe even jump into this conversation at community.ebay.com. Go to discussions and then go to the selling board. You'll find it. I guarantee it. And if you can't, you can always find the link in our transcript to this discussion. Well, what's our third community topic of interest this week, Alan?

All right cause we always do things in threes, right?

In threes cause you like when I say tree!

okay, there you did it!

Okay. Last one for this week is tiled... "What is it with the zero feedback bitter epidemic? And the OP, so that stands for original poster by the way, I had to say this. Went on to say, I never remember things being this bad with zero feedback bidders. I see it an overwhelming number of zero feedback bidders in my auctions lately. They fight each other to bid up the item and then they consistently either do not pay or they do not pay on time. They are usually international bidders outside the U S in either South American or African countries. What do you do as a seller to prevent this? Is there any selling format where I can require instant payment? I'm not a big seller but occasionally sell an item or two when I feel that eBay is the place for that.

Oh boy. This is a common and understandable frustration. I think this could be a format issue. What did the other sellers provide in the way of advice? Never mind me.

Well, one seller said this, use fixed prices, immediate payment required. Lots of zero feedback buyers showed the site is growing with the potential of increased sales, possibly in response to all the commercials eBay, husband airing. If everyone said they will not sell to a buyer until they have 10 positives, how would that buyer ever accomplish that? Because no one would sell to them.

Good point.

I know you mean well, but I wish people would stop telling auction sellers to switch to fixed price and media pay when that option does not work for many of us who run true eBay auctions. And by true auctions, I mean where the buyers set the price, not the seller.

Well that that person has a good point, but it's important to make the distinction. Not all items will benefit from the auction format. It has to be something that's rare and sought after and it takes a little research to do that. But putting used clothing with an auction format, probably not going to work.

Yeah.

Okay. Sorry, I just had to interject there.

Thank you Griff. And the best statement of the whole thread was this one..."I once had zero feedback. Now I have thousands."

Every buyer on eBay starts with zero feedbacks. Why would any seller want to block a new buyer? He could have a lot of cash in his pocket to spend. It's always best to assume good intentions, not bad.

Such a wise Sage, you become Alan. Thanks for sharing The Buzz from our community of sellers.

Oh, it's my pleasure, Griff. I'll be back next week with even more. In the meantime, why not join in on the conversation in our community? Have your say, just visit community.ebay.com and jump in.

Thanks Alan. Coming up next and eBay seller shares some choice holiday selling, shipping and packing tips.

This month we're all about shipping. We're all about getting it out the door as fast as possible. And joining us right now is Joey Ruffalo. He sells on eBay and he also has his own podcast and the podcast is econ101. Joey, welcome to the show.

Thank you Griff. Always great to be here.

I trust that you're going to have a lot of expert advice for our sellers on the topic of shipping and packing, but what's the most challenging item you've ever packed or shipped?

All right, it was a puzzle. And then you're going to say puzzle. Wow. It's pretty easy. But no, it was one of those 3d cityscape puzzles. It was about, I don't know, three and a half feet long by like two feet wide, by like a foot deep. It was ridiculous. And I made one of those rookie mistakes that we'll talk about. Where I bought the item, but I didn't have a box for it right away. And I ended up with a box I had and I was like, yes, this is going to work. And then when it came time to buy, it was a Friday. So I'm like, Oh good. I have until Monday to get it out. My wife is very adamant about getting it out on Saturday because you know that's how she rolls. So I'm like, okay, fine. I go down and get the box and it doesn't fit.

I drove around trying to find a box place that would sell these big giant boxes. It just, none of them fit right. But what I ended up doing was taking my original box, cutting it open and re shaping it to make it fit the actual item and it worked. It was too big on one side, so I was able to fold it and redo it to make it fit. But it was a lot of tape, a lot of effort, a lot of math.

And it arrived safely we trust?

It arrived safely with positive feedback in two days.

Joey, what does Get It Out The Door mean to you?

Get It Out The Door means exactly that. Get it out the door. I mean, once that thing sells, I don't want it in my house anymore. I want it out of my inventory. I don't want to look at it, it's gone. But it also means getting it to the customer as fast as possible so they can enjoy it.

That's especially important during the holiday season when buyers want their items faster than ever. We are going to talk about packaging specifically talking about packaging across that spectrum that we've talked about in the past, which is, yeah, I can pack this thing so that an armored tank can go over it and it is still going to be safe, but it's going to cost a fortune as opposed to the other end of the spectrum. Oh, I can ship this really cheap and it's the bare minimum of packaging. It's risky. It could get damaged. And it's figuring out that balance. Is this something that you have to do with your selling on eBay on a regular basis? And if so, how do you calculate it? What are the considerations and factors in determining what type of packaging, what type of service you're gonna use?

Okay, so the first thing, I have, two things that I do right off the bat. One is I have a philosophy and a rule of thumb when I'm shipping and that is to ship things the way in which I want to receive them. Sort of the golden rule of packing. When I'm shipping something, I want to pretend that I'm the receiver. Will I be happy with the way that packaging looks if I received it in the mail? And a lot of times on the boards and in the communities you'll read, other sellers will buy things from people and they'll complain about the way they received an item cause the other person didn't take the care to pack it correctly. So they're upset. The item got there fine. The item wasn't damaged or anything. But just the presentation, that's where we have that first impression with the customer essentially. Right? They're looking at your item online, they're looking at the price and description, your pictures, but they're not physically touching or holding that item in their hand yet. So when that package arrives in the mail, that's that chance for you to make that first impression with them. And I'm going to say if it looks bad, it's probably not going to buy from you again because it's a reflection on you essentially. But if it looks great, you've probably got a customer for life because even if it's a small little plastic mug and you pack it like it's the Mona Lisa, it goes a long way.

The golden rule, pack onto others as you would have them pack onto you.

Yeah, I like yours. Yeah. The other thing Griff is when you are listing the item, make sure you have all the relevant packing materials with you when you're weighing that item. I've seen too many people who just weigh the item and then forget to weigh the packaging and then realize they have to pack it with extra bubble wrap or extra or packing paper and then that might push something from a first class package to a priority weight and that's going to cost you money in the long run. So essentially weigh it with that first. If it's, if it's a priority weight because of the packing, factor that into your costs. Either if you're doing free shipping, factor that into your price. If you're doing discounted shipping or a flat rate, you know factor that into everything. If the customer's paying for it then factor that in when they are giving you best offers or negotiating back and forth that extra cause you're spending the extra money to get it to them on time or to pack it right. If you don't want to pass it along to the customer. Then factor all that into your original pricing in your cost and stuff.

Do you do anything different for your customer service this time of year?

Well I, I mean we do get a little bit more requests during the holiday, right. Ship it to a different address or can you ship it here. Sometimes maybe can you gift wrap this cause it's a gift. Those are things we'll take into consideration when we are shipping things out. It does get a little busier around the holidays obviously because there's a lot more orders, but we try to keep our same business practices throughout the year. For example, if an order sells on Friday, with one day handling time, we technically can get it out on Monday and still be okay. But we'd like to get it out on Saturday. Even though we don't have next day built into our shipping. We get it out next day or even same day sometimes. If it sold Friday morning, it's probably out the door Friday afternoon rather than waiting.

So under promise and over deliver.

Exactly. I'll share this story. It was a special request of last year. We had these, um, these little plush dolls online. I don't even remember the characters, but we had two of them and we decided to group them together and we had a lady contact us. It was about a week before Christmas and she was so excited because they had just moved cross country. Her daughter was six and somewhere in the move she lost her favorite stuffed animals. And these were the exact two stuffed animals that she had lost. She was amazed that we had on them and they were together. We gave her a great deal and she wanted us to ship them to where they were going for Christmas and she actually paid for like expedited shipping. So they'd get there in time and it's like, yeah, no problem. We'll do whatever you need us to do. We took care of it. And just for a little added extra bonus, I printed out a letter on Santa's stationary. I typed a little letter up from Santa and I signed it to her. I said, Hey, we found these at the North Pole , glad we can give them back to you. Merry Christmas and I signed it from Santa Claus and sent it off. And the emails and the praise and the notifications we got after that was just amazing.

That was probably the best gift that that child has ever received.

v Probably. I mean it's, it still makes me feel good to this day.

This is a busy time of year and a lot of sellers are listening. So what would you say to a seller who's just maybe getting started or is looking to improve their business during the holidays?

So the first thing I would do is, again, make sure you have the packing material, the box, everything you have while you're listing the item. This way you can factor in the correct weight, size and dimensions of the items so that you get accurate shipping cost. Once you do that, pack the item and put it in the box and put that in your inventory location. Don't change it out because if you put it in a different box later on, you're going to be screwing around with the weights and the dimensions. And that's gonna factor into your shipping costs. As a new seller. Don't be afraid to charge for shipping. Honestly, in our store we have very few items that are free shipping, but we have lower cost items. So we lower our item price down and charge shipping. I mean that's just a business policy or plan that you can decide for yourself. If you charge free shipping, make sure your price points are good on your items. So that it factors into the cost of the shipping price. Get it out on time. If you say one day handling, get it out in one day. If you say two day handling, get it out in two days. Don't wait to get stuff out the door. Get it out as fast as possible. And lastly, like I said earlier, ship things the way in which you wish to receive them. That's your first impression with your customer. If they open up a a vintage baseball hat that's flat brimmed and new with tags and it's in a maybe a Ziploc bag and a poly envelope and there was a chance it could've got crushed during shipping. Not saying it did or wouldn't, it's a little different than getting it in a box with peanuts around it and it looks nice. That is just is my opinion on that.

As a buyer of hats, I love when my hats come in a nice package as opposed to just thrown into a poly envelope. You know, and I've seen it work that way in a poly envelope, but to me it's, it's adding risk to the equation and I'd rather not take the risk.

The money you think you're saving, you'll end up spending anyway with having to take the shipment back and having to replace the inventory. It's just it can be a nightmare.

Exactly. And again, look for different demonstrations online if you're not sure how to pack things or ship things. There's definitely some demo videos out there. I actually did one myself unpacking a mug where I wrapped it in a poly, I mean a bubble wrap and then I put it in a, they call it a Scottie box. So it's an internal box that goes inside a padded flat rate envelope. And then I dropped it off a 20 foot building. I opened it up, it didn't crack. I re taped it up using the same tape, so it was kind of compromised. And then I threw it up in the air and I smashed it with a softball bat about 30 feet in the air. And you'll have to watch the video to find out if it broke.

Where do we go? You've left us on the cliff. Where do we go to the video?

It's on my YouTube channel that I do with Robyn Yednock-Hass. Ecom101 Podcast on YouTube and it's called a softball bat versus mug challenge shipping eBay breakables.

So check them out on YouTube. That's ecom101 and your businesses JR Financial Coaching.

Correct.

How do people find you if they want some financial coaching?

I'm everywhere at jrfinancialcoaching.com. JR financial coach on Instagram and Facebook JR financial coaching. Find me and send me an email direct message and let me know how I can help you.

Thanks so much Joey. This has been a pleasure and happy holidays and great success for you during the season.

Thank you Griff. We've been speaking with Joey Ruffalo. He sells on eBay. He has his own financial coaching business as you heard, JR Financial Coaching and he and Robyn Yednock-Hass have a YouTube podcast channel at ecom101 and go check it out. They're both a riot and you can learn something too.

We've been talking this month about how you can up your game when it comes to things like shipping and to some extent even packing, but you know another important tool in that kit is your return strategy. Specifically how you handle requests from your customers who for whatever reason want to return an item. I'm now joined in our studio here by Cindy Aknin. Cindy, welcome. Before we start, could you tell us a little bit more about your role here at eBay?

Thanks Griff, for having me. I am on the Trust Team here at eBay and I manage the returns experience for all of our members, buyers and sellers alike.

Why is having a return policy so important in today's marketplace universe, especially during the holiday season?

Well, I don't think it's a surprise that to be competitive, you have to offer a return policy. You see it across the marketplace today. And 80% of our shoppers expect some type of return policy, especially free returns. Almost 60% of those expect at least a 30 day return window and that will generate repeat customers. 89% of them who have a good return experience are likely to come back again.

And that's from our own data, correct. That's from our own data and you will probably find the same external studies across the internet.

Can you share a little bit more, provide a little bit more, maybe a insight into what we see on our side when it comes to sellers who offer returns compared to those who don't? I mean, do they fare better? Do they have lower return rates? Do they tend to have better sales?

The sellers who offer returns oftentimes have more sales because of an increase in conversion. Like I mentioned before, buyers are expecting a return policy when they buy online, so they'll often look for sellers that have a return policy.

If it is a buyer expectation and they're offered choices, does that mean that they're more than likely to given the same item in the same price range, go with the seller who's going to have a more customer focused return policy?

That's exactly right. They will choose the seller that offers a return policy and accepts returns.

What are some of the considerations a seller should keep in mind regarding customer behavior and their return policy?

According to what we're seeing, our sellers see an increase in conversion by up to 25% when they offer free returns. What's great about that is listings with free returns are usually highlighted within search on our item pages and even in marketing and sellers that offer free returns will also receive Top Rated Plus benefits. So what I would suggest to sellers is they offer free 30 or 60 day returns. And don't forget to check your good till cancelled listings too and make sure those return policies are also up to date. And then you might also think about offering replacements and exchanges.

You know, a good return policy offers buyers the option of returning an item. Okay, that's the basic, right? But many sellers, they'll accept returns kind of reluctantly, but only if the buyer pays return shipping or they make the buyer jump through hoops. Is this a good practice?

Not so much. What we recommend is sellers offering to pay for the return shipping, which is, in other words saying it's free returns for the buyer. I mean, as I mentioned before, that's what's going to help with conversion. That's also going to drive repeat customers and just ultimately giving the buyer a great shopping experience.

A lot of sellers, they focus in on the one transaction. They're making sales. Hopefully every day at the end of the year they'd have a whole year's worth of sales, but when a buyer makes a return, they start factoring in how much am I gonna lose on this? And then that starts to drive their behavior about how they're going to treat this experience. Should a seller focus so much on just that single transaction?

No. I think they should look at the overall picture.

And at the end of the year they can just write these. If there's a loss on a single transaction, they can write it off. I can tell you from my own experience, my return costs for accepting returns and paying for return shipping are minimal against my profit margins and more than easily absorbed. And I'm not a big seller. I'm a small seller. Should a seller ask someone who wants to return an item, a lot of questions beforehand. So for example, before they agree to the return, they say they start asking why are you returning an item? Well I want proof and send me photos, is this a good practice?

No. I mean what we usually see is that just adds a lot of friction to the buyers and we'll also risk them no longer coming to the site or buying with that seller again. Cause it goes back to what we were saying earlier about just making sure the end to end buying experience is as seamless and enjoyable as possible. So we recommend to sellers, you know, to accept the return as soon as possible and take care of the buyer. Right. And once the returned item is delivered, provide the refund within two business days after that. And that way the buyer will be happy and will realize that they've been taken care of and we'll come back and shop.

So all my returns are set to accept the return automatically. I had sellers question me on this saying, you don't want to talk to the buyer beforehand? And I always say, why? For whatever reason they've gone to the site to make a return. They're not happy. I'm not going to negotiate unhappiness with them.

That's right. And then when you negotiate, that would seem to take a lot more effort than just accepting the return and then providing the refund.

Now there's a question that comes up all the time with sellers. And I've had, it actually happened to me twice. One not so seriously, but one really seriously about 10 years ago. So what should a seller do if a buyer abuses the return process by returning an item in condition that's obviously worse than what it was sent. So for example, one we hear all the time is new clothing. Like a new dress with tags and it comes back soiled and its tags are missing. Or worse, they send back something that's different from what the seller's sent. What should a seller do in a case like that?

If the seller offered a free 30 day return policy on that dress example that you provided, they have the ability to keep a portion of that refund because that item was returned in a different condition. We have guidelines on the site that kind of describe, Hey, if it's a piece of clothing and it was returned back to you worn, maybe you need to keep a portion of that cost to have it dry cleaned or repaired.

How much can they keep? What's the maximum that they can take off?

The maximum that you can take for a partial refund is up to 50%.

So that's pretty steep.

You know, so it's a kind of a case by case basis. A dress I feel could be reworn and resold, so it may not be worth keeping 50% but a portion of that. So it goes back to saying, Hey, if you have this really competitive free return policy, then you'll be able to utilize this additional benefit of a partial refund. And in cases like that, does eBay make a note that the seller had to issue a less than full refund because the buyer, had used the item and returned it in condition not as received initially? Is that kept on the buyer's record? And if so, and where I'm going with this is if there's a pattern, does eBay actually take that into account when dealing with that buyer in the future?

Well, what we recommend to sellers is actually reporting buyers if they've received an item back in the wrong condition or if they received a completely different item than what they had originally sent to that buyer. And what that helps us do is keep track of any potential abuse of buying behavior patterns to protect our sellers.

A lot of sellers know, want to know what we do. And we never really get into detail about what we do with individual members. But I know we've talked in the past that if a buyer shows excessive return behavior of this type, that we start to limit their ability to request returns.

That's right. So if we continue seeing bad buyer behavior, there's a consequence path that we will put that buyer through where it may eventually stop them from opening a return at all. And there may be even be a possibility of suspending them completely from the site.

Right? Depending on the severity or the type of reports.

Exactly. I think we've covered it all, Griff. As long as sellers update their listings, including the good till cancelled listings with our most current return policies, we'll be in great shape for the holiday. And this is a good time to kind of re review their inventory because coming in March of next year, we'll be updating any listings that have an outdated or unsupported return policies on their behalf.

If they have the old duration of 14 days, that'll be updated to 30 days. Cindy, is there a page on eBay where we can send sellers where they can learn more about, for example, the categories that are exempt in that specific instance, but more about returns in general?

Yeah, a great starting point would be ebay.com/returns and that should get them to what they need.

Cindy, thank you so much for stopping by.

Thanks Griff for having me. Cindy Aknin is with the Trust Team and works directly with the folks that create our return product and our policies.

This month it's all about shipping. It's all about getting out the door fast. It's about making sure you're pleasing your customers with the way you pack, how much you charge for shipping, how fast you get it to them. And a lot of this depends on you but of course some of it depends on the carrier. With us now is Heather Bizzell, she's the Director of Retail Channel Marketing at UPS. Welcome Heather.

Hi there.

Heather, why should an eBay seller consider using UPS?

I think some of the reasons why eBay sellers should use UPS is really the service that we provide them. Specifically having options that are really designed for eBay customers and eBay sellers. With our services, you can save time and money. You have solutions and bring your order details, customer information, and all of your customer information in one place that allow for shipment tracking to occur in a cohesive way.

What are some of the benefits that make UPS stand out?

Well, our shipping tracking and billing technologies are certainly effective tools to help streamline operations for small businesses. We provide a array of solutions that allow any size of goods to transport, including moving shipments by ground air or even by ocean and necessary to serve a variety of different weights. We have a variety of different pickup options, whether a customer needs to have shipments picked up daily, weekly, or really upon request. So we provide a lot of flexibility to small businesses and particularly to those that are in using marketplaces like eBay.

There are some limitations that are imposed by other service carriers and one of the things I'm thinking about are weighed and size. So if I have a particularly heavy or big item, I'm not going to be able to ship it by my more common carrier, is this something that UPS fills the gap for?

UPS has weight restrictions on certain types of packages. However, because we have such a large network the provides services from mail in some cases through our mail innovations unit to larger shipments that include freight, we provide customers with a variety of options to meet their needs and provide the accessories to go with that to ensure that a variety of shipping needs are being met.

One of those accessories I'm assuming are packing supplies. Does UPS provide their own packing supplies?

Yeah. UPS does provide packaging supplies to help our small businesses. They can be ordered off of ups.com. Those supplies include packaging such as envelopes for express or express shipments, forms, labels and stickers as well as pouches to make shipping convenient and easy for small businesses. All of which can be ordered by logging into ups.com.

How does UPS pickup work? Ups has a variety of pickup options. Some of the best options we offer not only save customers money and time, but they also help the environment. For example, our ups smart pickup service provides customers with the ability to receive pickups only when they have a shipment that's needed. And we, we provide that at a low flat weekly rate and that allows customers to not only save time money, but also help the environment.

Most sellers know they're going to be shipping every day, so that's, that's a way of covering themselves into the future for pickups.

That's right. We offer variety. We offer the scheduled pickup that you can receive every day. We offer day specific pickup pickups when you know you have shipping occur on a specific day of a week, when you're doing all your consolidation. We even offer Saturday pickups in certain areas, where it's necessary for you to get ahead on the week and the work involved.

As a seller, can I do this all online or do I have to call or show up at a UPS center?

No, you can schedule pickups. I'm on ups.com by going to your profile and taking a look at making changes to your account settings that allow for you to sign up for pickups and to select the pickup time that's most convenient for you as well.

Now most of the eBay sellers want to get a package quickly to their buyers fast as possible, but they want to do so at the least amount of cost to their business, especially if they're offering free shipping, which a lot of eBay sellers do. What kind of services does UPS provide to help provide sellers those options when they're considering cost against speed?

Well, the good thing about UPS is you're going to have a variety of options that's provided. We offer not only ground delivery, but we also offer a variety of overnight services depending on the time of day that you'd like to have your package delivered. And the good thing for eBay sellers in particular is that we offer a special rate that allows those customers to receive discounts up to 45% off on our ground shipments and up to 55% off of UPS second day air on eligible packages.

Are those discounts available to anyone who has an account with UPS?

They're available to customers that have an eBay account with UPS.

Oh, an eBay account! Okay.

That's right. That's right. These reduced marketplace rates really were designed to help eCommerce merchants and small businesses and it's intended to really provide a simple and cost efficient way for businesses that are selling in places like eBay within most efficient rate available.

Does UPS also provide any insurance options for sellers who may have a high value item or an item that may be breakable or or fragile or whatever. They just want the peace of mind by purchasing insurance, which they can do with other carriers. Can they do this with UPS?

Yeah. Shipping insurance is really a necessary option, particularly if you're sending valuables or if the cost is of concern to the shipper. Even if costs are minimal, there is a no cost insurance that UPS provides. It can help with replacing an item and in the event of a loss or damaged package. We offer insurance for in transit goods through our license affiliate UPS Capital and it automatically covers most packages up to a hundred dollars for both domestic and international movements. We also provide declared value coverage for an additional fee for packages that exceed that amount and if there's some specific need that any customer has, we offer through our UPS Capital organization insurance that can help really customize a policy that can be affordable for small businesses and allow for them to receive rates that are most appropriate for them.

Do they offer anything else for small businesses, for example, in the way of instructions, tutorials, guidance to help the small business owner who may not be aware of specific shipping considerations that can help benefit their business?

Yes, ups.com has a variety of information that's available for various different industry types. There's tutorials on how to use our shipping platforms as well as information on the best way to package shipments should packaging questions arise. We help provide instructions on the best way to package materials of odd type and provide instructions and best ways to meet the needs of customers.

We see them in every town, UPS stores. What are they and how do they work and are they a resource for eBay sellers?

Yeah, UPS stores are really great resources for small businesses. Soup to nuts. They provide full service packaging, shipping, labeling, um, in a variety of different services that allow for small businesses to be successful. We find that their certified packaging experts allow them to advise small businesses on the best way to pack and ship their items and they're just really convenient. The certified packaging experts at the UPS store allow for a small business to ship their item via UPS and then if the item is ever damaged or lost, they're going to get reimbursed for the items value as well as the full retail price of packaging, the materials and services plus those shipping charges.

Heather, is there anything about UPS that we may not have covered that you would like to add?

Sure. I think that maybe it's important for small businesses to know that UPS started out as a small business. We were founded over a hundred years ago by two people with $100 located in Seattle, Washington. We have empathy for small businesses and understand where they're coming from. And we recognize that in some cases, conducting business internationally can be intimidating. UPS has been delivering packages around the world more so than any other carrier. UPS is the only carrier who offers guaranteed small package ground service between Mexico and the contiguous 48 States. We have a variety of shipping options internationally that provide service as early as 8:30 in the morning, 9:30, 11 o'clock, 10:30, noon, two o'clock depending on whatever time you're looking for to 57 countries and deliver to over 220 territories across the world. So if you're really looking for expanding your business outside the U S and are a bit intimidated by that process, UPS has a variety of shipping options and resources to be able to help businesses that are in those places.

Heather, I want to thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to talk to us. We really appreciate it.

Thank you. We've been speaking with Heather Bizzell, she's the Director of Retail Channel Marketing at UPS. You can learn more about UPS and what they have to offer you as a small business on eBay at their website, ups.com.

Today we're welcoming Sam Bright back to the podcast. Sam is Vice President of Verticals at eBay and that covers everything, all categories of all goods on eBay. Hi Sam, great to have you back.

Thank you. Great to be here.

We've invited you here to talk about the holiday jargon jar. Can you tell us what this is?

Yeah. So everybody has their own favorite holiday slogan or jargon that they see over and over and commercial efforts. And so for us, it's our way of turning all the holiday chatter into charity. It's the time of year when big brands, ourselves included, sometimes tend to overindulge in holiday speak. It's like a whole different language. And we see words like tis and jolly and ho ho ho on every commercial sign and park bench. So we decided to have some fun with it.

Oh, really? Tell us.

Yeah. So we created a list of the hundred most overused holiday words, then turn to Twitter to spot when big brands are going over the top with them. Every time one of our friends uses jargon from the list, we put a dollar in the jargon jar and at the end of the season we'll donate every dollar up to $50,000 to charity.

Already we've got $8,000 collected.

Wow. That's a lot of quarters.

It's a lot of quarters or a lot of egg nog depending on how you're looking at it.

So this is a take on the old swear jar.

Exactly.

Say a naughty word. You got to put a quarter in the jar.

Yeah. Except say an overused holiday word. You got to put a dollar in the jar. And it's our way of, you know, getting everybody involved. If someone sees, you know, a particularly garish Christmas tree display at their supermarket. They can just post a photo on Twitter, tagging at holiday jargon and we'll put another dollar in the jar to be donated. Wow. This sounds like a lot of fun. So what's the charity we're supporting with the funds from the holiday jargon jar? So we decided to partner with Score. It's an organization that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses across the nation. They have 11,000 volunteer business experts that provide free small business mentoring sessions, workshops, and educational services to clients. And 300 chapters nationwide. In 2018 alone Score volunteers helped to create over 32,000 new businesses and 103,000 non-owner jobs. And so at the end of this season, all the money up to that 50K will be donated to Score. And it's really kind of a fun way for us to take the overused holiday words this season and invest back in small businesses while having a little bit of fun with it.

And those businesses could be on eBay.

They could be.

So talk about the virtuous cycle.

That's right. It sounds like a fly wheel to me.

All right. I'm interested, how do we get sellers involved in this?

Well, so any seller can start by following along on Twitter at holiday jargon and tagging only big box retailers they see that are a little too jolly, let's say with their holiday marketing.

Could they tag something that they found on eBay?

Yes, they could.

Okay, so if we overplay, we have to pay too.

Yes. If it's, if it's something in our eBay marketing where we're a little too jolly, by all means it's going to a good cause to support small businesses like them.

I can't wait. I'm actually gonna try this. And while we've got you here, Sam, I wanted to ask you on behalf of our sellers, how is eBay thinking about holiday in general this year? Jargon jar is a great example of what we can do with our fun brand. But what might other sellers notice that's different this year?

I think what you'll notice is that eBay celebrates the uniqueness of its seller community and the uniqueness of the inventory that nobody else can find anywhere else except for on our platform. That's what makes us who we are as a company. And so you probably saw that back in September, like we announced our commitment to the "holiday chill". Meaning that we wouldn't bombard our community with holiday themed advertising or deals until November cause everyone's been moving the season up sooner and sooner.

Yeah, this year to April.

Yeah, exactly. Don't take your Christmas tree down at all. Just leave it up. And while November's fast approaching, it's our plan to stay true to that commitment all season long. So you may notice that eBay is consciously taking a step back from the frenzy this year to focus on helping our sellers continue to deliver great deals every day. Great value, unique items, not just during the holidays and so there are multiple ways we partner with our sellers, but just continue to to have an eye out for that and how we go to market. We love this time of year, just like everyone else. I mean it's the most wonderful time of the year, regardless of which holiday you're celebrating.

Wait a minute. I have to put a quarter in the jar. You just said most wonderful time of the year.

That's true. I couldn’t help myself. Let's see how many dollars I rack up for a score before we're through. I.

t's a lot healthier than taking a drink every time.

That's true. Especially of egg nog! We want to be a destination for shoppers looking to escape the madness that comes with early bird and marathon deals.

And door busters and all of that.

Which I think you need to put another dollar in the jar.

Ah darn. I have to get a jar. All of our eBay employee guests that are on this month, we're asking for their three top tips that they would give sellers this holiday. What do you think is the best advice you can offer in your role as Vice President of Verticals?

Yeah. So number one, know your customers. Know when they're paying attention and how to tailor your store to when there's going to be the highest visibility or interest from them. I think the second is really leaning into the unique inventory that you have. Like what are the things that whether someone is purchasing it for their own passion or own utility reason or they're purchasing it for a loved one or a friend, what is the right mix of inventory that needs to be brought to bear? That will likely drive conversion. And then the third, you know, I think more so than other times of the year, it's really making sure that all of our I's are dotted and T's are crossed around shipping. Like what are the right windows in terms of delivery that we're promising? When are we actually able to meet those windows given all of the additional interest and the positives that come from the order stockpiling, that's going to be a big determining factor for a lot of consumers who are trying to make sure that the gifts that they purchase actually arrive in time. And so just building in the right lead time and I think arranging the store to highlight that is what's gonna be really important in driving conversion.

Great advice, Sam. Thanks again for stopping by and, and by the way, I'll get my quarter ready. Happy holidays!

Happy holidays.

Two quarters. That's right. Two dollars!

Two dollars, right. We're not talking quarters. That's old school.

That's right.

But dollars don't make a real sound when you drop them in a jar. So we'll say quarters.

Yeah, that's right.

Appreciate you coming in to talking with us today.

Thank you for having me. Always happy to come and chat with the sellers. We've been speaking with Sam bright, he's the Vice President of Verticals here at eBay.

And that's our show for this week. Say before we jump into the boiler plate, we have a request for you.

That's right. It's just a few days until Thanksgiving and we thought it would be great to ask you what you are thankful for this year. It could be just about anything. No matter we want to hear it.

If you have something for which you are especially thankful for during this holiday season of thanks.

Ah, Thanksgiving. I get it.

A little slow on the uptake there, Alan, but better late than never. Thank you. Why not share it with your fellow podcast subscribers? Just call us at (888) 723-4630 and leave a message about the person or thing or whatever for which you are most thankful this year.

We'll put the best ones on the air next week.

That's right. So bring out your thanks. Maybe you're going to want to write them down and then call us at (888) 723-4630 to leave that Thanksgiving holiday message on our voicemail. And again, you can call that hotline anytime of the day, any day of the week.

We also have our very own special dedicated email address where you can send your questions to us if you prefer. It's podcast@ebay.com that is podcast@ebay.com. And after the last week's embarrassing impersonation, I think you should just jump straight to the core message on the meetups Griff.

It was that bad?

You should read some of the email reviews. They were not kind to say the least.

Oh, well critics, what do they know?

A lot.

Well, okay. Oops! Almost slipped. I'll just, I'll do it in my regular voice then.

Fantastic.

If that's what the audience wants.

That's what everyone wants.

All right.

Why not attend a local eBay seller meet up in your area? At seller meet up sellers share tips, selling stories...

You didn't have to go to the extreme.

Learnings, insights and even a little gossip/kvetches.. That's what it says in the script. You can see upcoming meetups on our special eBay community page for meetups at www.ebay.com/meetups. Yes, yes.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry sellers, I'm sorry, listeners that you have to put up with this. One day he'll learn. He will just stick to the script and no messing around.

Yeah, I'll be dead by then.

Don't forget, you can tune into our weekly live video stream on the eBay For Business Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:30 pacific. Go to facebook.com/eBayforbusiness.

You can see Audrey!

You can see Audrey and her lovely earrings.

That's right.

Yeah, every week a new pair. And right after the live stream, make sure you hop on over to the eBay community for our weekly community chat. That starts Wednesdays at one o'clock Pacific go to ebay.com/communitychat and we will see you there.

The eBay For Business Podcast is brought to you by the Head of Community, Brian Burke, the most special Correspondent, Jenn Deal. Associate Executive Segment Producer in Temecula, Doug Smith. Marketing Strategist, Elizabeth Austin and my esteemed Cohost, Alan Aisbitt. Thank you. Editor in chief, Griff.

The eBay For Business Podcast is produced and distributed by Libsyn and podCast411.

Yeah! Woo-hoo!

So we're done.

Don't forget to send us your Thanksgiving messages.

And thanks for, thanks for listening to the podcast.

Thank you for listening.

Yeah, we're thankful for you.

You in your car. We see you. Thank you.

Yeah. Don't text and drive.

Show Less

eBay for Business — Episode 64 — Promotions That Work for the Holidays

doug@ebay
Community Team
10-29-2019 05:00:00 AM
eBay for Business- Episode 64— Promotions That Work for the Holidays
On this week’s episode, we focus on promotions that work for the holidays. As always, the Buzz covers topics of conversation in the Community and on social media. In the Main Story we’ll talk with eBay sellers Liz O’kane and Cyndi Zlotow and get their perspectives on promotions that work, and tips for holiday promotions. Better Know a Seller returns with eBay seller Dov Schreiber, and 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 podcast@ebay.com.
Links
#ebaypodcast
Hosts
Griff, Alan Aisbitt
Guests
Liz O’kane (eBay Seller), Cyndi Zlotow (eBay Seller), Dov Schreiber (eBay Seller)
Not much going on at eBay this week?

There's enough, but it's all about promotions again. So we've talked a lot about promotions this month.

Yeah. Promoting, promotions a lot.

It's, there you go. There's the angle, right? We're promoting, promoting, promoting promotions.

Yeah.

But we're going to do our best to make it as interesting as possible.

Always.

Let's get up!

That's always!

I think it's time for us to raise the energy level. I think we're ready, Alan.

Let's do it.

Okay! I'm Alan, and I'm Griff and this is the eBay For Business podcast. What happened to my energy?

Get up!

Your weekly source for the information and inspiration you need to start, run and grow a business no matter how big, no matter how small on the world's most powerful marketplace. And this by the way, is episode 64.

Good job Griff. I'm thinking of a song.

It sounded like it.

And the theme this week is promotions that work. And to that end, we're going to speak with two eBay sellers this week. The first one is a seller named Liz O'Kane and I talked to her about her promotion strategies that work. And I actually was quite intrigued by what she had to say.

Awesome. Can't wait to hear it!

Yeah, and our friend Doug spoke with eBay sellers Cyndi Zlotow at the annual e-comm Chicago conference.

And guess what Alan?

I dunno.

We have questions.

Oh really? Lovely.

Yeah, we got lots of questions emailed to us at podcast@ebay.com.

Podcast@ebay.com?

That's it. Podcast@ebay.com. We want to promote that a little bit more?

We have our very own special email address?

Yeah we do.

Podcast@ebay.com?

That's the one! You're good at promotions.

I've mentioned that one before.

See what you did there.

You know what is not so good though? As much as we promote the hotline, we had no calls on the hotline last week.

Landline is dead. Yeah, I don't know. I guess people don't want to phone in at 888-723-4630. We are getting interesting calls. I'm just going to go off topic here and I'm not quite sure. I think something happened cause did I talk about this in the past?

Spanish number?

Yeah. We are getting a lot of Spanish speaking callers, and then I figured out that somewhere somehow that number got published as the eBay customer support number on a Spanish network somewhere. So I added a bit of to the recorded message that says, Hey, this is in Spanish. It says, and I don't speak Spanish. I used a Google translation voice. I said, Hey, it's not customer support. Here's where, if you have customers support, go here, and those calls have gone down, but we're getting a new interesting call now on the hotline.

They last about a minute or two and it's just industrial noise. So I, and I can tell by looking at the length of the phone call, the file size, and I'm almost always right, it's going to be someone running an engine or water dripping. And I'm thinking it might be a disgruntled person somewhere who's determined to drive me crazy.

Yeah.

Where has your number been posted now?

Probably on the set of Saw 3.

Let's antagonize Griff.

It's easy. You're not agonizing me I just delete them, but I'd love it if you'd call us . Anyway. We got sellers.

Okay.

We got questions.

A very full agenda by the sound of it. So let's begin with what's Buzzin the eBay seller community.

What's The Buzz this week, Alan?

Well, we've mentioned before that we report what sellers are talking about to the organization and by now I hope sellers realize we don't sugar coat it. We report the good and the bad.

That's right. There you have it.

The Buzz.

Right. Indeed.

Well, It's been an interesting week Griff.

Has it?

We've had some issues, but we're doing our best to keep the seller community updated via announcements. We held a focus community chat, and we've even done a special eBay For Business Facebook live.

Yeah. Let's get into the details here. Cause someone who's been under a rock may not know what we're talking about. On October 15th eBay rolled out an update that caused a couple issues. Initially an issue that prevented sellers from relisting or revising listings in certain categories. Now, we're not going to go into all the details here, but there are multiple announcements on the community announcement page, the seller and news announcements and they detail everything.

So if you want to know the details and you want to stay up to date and we urge you to do so, you have to head on over to ebay.com/announcements and you got to read through the latest information and it may during times like this behoove you to check it out every morning. Even in the best of times, still a good habit to get into.

Definitely. There is an option to subscribe to the announcement boards and that way when a new announcement is posted you will receive a notification and an email, just a little pro tip there.

Keep you informed.

Exactly. So when we heard about the issue, we announced that we were working on it. We did see there was a lot of information that was incorrect and guidance spread on social media and YouTube and that caused unnecessary concern among sellers.

Yeah, it's always best not to jump to conclusions and you should always wait for either a recommendation or information from the source and in this case that's the Seller News Announcements. In the meantime, be careful what you see out there on social media and on YouTube. There's quite a bit of well meaning, but sometimes a little inaccurate information out there and you want to stay informed correctly.

That's right. The good news here is that we have had a lot of sellers passing on feedback and details to us and we've been updating as much as we have been able to and made the eBay experts available to answer questions in the community and on Facebook live.

This feedback does get passed on to the the teams and the execs at eBay. In fact, they're not waiting for this to be passed on. Most of them are actually reading the comments and sometimes jumping in to the appropriate forum as well.

That's right.

So what we're sellers talking about in relation to this, Alan?

Overall, some sellers were upset that category changes were implemented close to the holiday season and sellers wanted to know if they needed to manually input data in listings that are missing item specifics or if eBay will migrate these details?

I believe the correct call to action for sellers is on the Seller News Announcement.

It is.

Right and Seller News Announcements were posted throughout the duration of the issue as we've said, and they're going to continue to get posted and they'll provide detailed information. We'll include the links in the transcript of this episode so you have access to all of that information.

And what I like to see Griff, sellers expressed appreciation that eBay was transparent about the issues and the amount of updates we provided and they liked that we did additional things like additional community chats and Facebook lives.

Our team has built a pretty good relationship with sellers over the years. A lot are helping with details and feedback, so keep them coming.

Recently there was discussions about an issue with Markdown Manager. We saw a conversation saying that Markdown Manager promotions were not beginning or we're stuck in pending for days.

I believe that there is normally a 24 or 48 hour indexing period for most promotions before they go live. I think.

Yeah, we're still working on fixing this one, Griff.

Well, I'm glad they're discussing it. It brings it to our attention. It looks like we're on a roll Alan, what else do we have?

Yeah, in community and social, we saw a lot of conversation from sellers who received excessive and inaccurate bills for their upcoming fees in both Seller Hub and the My eBay Account Overview.

Really?

Yeah. The good news is this one was resolved very quickly and only the correct amount will be deducted from the seller's accounts.

I'm glad that one's tidied up. As always, we recommend and urge you to visit the Seller News Announcements in the eBay community for updates. Is that all, Alan?

That is all that fits this week, Griff.

Great.

Now we reach back into our vault of seller interviews from eBay Open 2019 for our segment, Better know an eBay seller. This week, we're listening to the interview that Griff had with Shine Award Winner, Dov Schreiber.

There are 8 total Shine Award Winners this year. And our next guest is one of those Shine Award Winners. And his name is Dov Schreiber. And your business Dov is?

I'm the owner of Framesandoptics. We sell eyewear, both sunglasses and eyeglasses designer and non-designer.

Prescription?

Without the prescription.

So you get the frames and then you can fill them after?

Right, right. Our customers usually fill them locally at their Optometrist stores.

Tell me a little bit more about your business and how it connects to Shine.

Yeah. Yeah. So I started the business the journey five years ago, uh, in the summer of 2014. And I was in college at the time seeking to make some small profit on the sides covering for, you know, tuition and some of the recreational things I was doing. And I thought it'd be best to take a local job in an optometry store close to my home.

And where's your home?

I live in Barr Park in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn, New York?

Yeah. And so I took this job as to make a little bit of side income at the local optometry store and began to build a passion for eyewear, dealing with consumers, uh, helping them with their fashion, both fashion and their, you know, what they need. As you know, glasses are important. They're highly personal. They sit on your face. The first thing people see. You want them to look good and you want them to help the purpose of vision. So it's a necessity as well for my consumers, I was highly passionate about it and wanted to seek out an opportunity to build my own business. So I saw an opportunity, a big gap in the marketplace and e-commerce filling a gap for affordable eyewear. At the time, there wasn't much on the internet for designer frames. So I started looking into maybe even creating my own website, but then saw that it's highly competitive and promoting my own site, doing the campaigning, the SEO would just be too much to handle while being in college. So what better platform to use than eBay's? Right? They bring everything the seller needs. And the seller just brings the product and that's, that's the step of building my business.

And when did you start this again?

This was in 2014.

Right so not that long ago. Five years.

Right. Yeah. It was a short journey. An incredible one.

Where are you now with your business? How successful is it?

So, following graduation I saw the opportunity of growing it into a full-time career. Given that it picked up, uh, you know, extravagantly over the past few years in college. So I didn't want to miss out the opportunity to make it a full time career for myself. So I was able to take it from a hobby, which I saw it at the time being in college, to a successful full time career. I graduated last year and the end of the summer. And since then it's just been a really prolific for the business.

Do you work alone or do you have employees?

So I do everything myself. Like from the start of the listing and package and shipping, everything is done by me.

And do you work out of your home?

Yeah.

How many articles of eyewear do you keep in an inventory in stock?

Well, currently I have about 2800 listings on eBay.

Okay. And all that's in your house or apartment?

All that is in the basement?

Yeah. It's a pretty large basement, but nonetheless it's getting cramped up. Eventually I'll, within the year I'll probably move out, just to, to enable me to stack up a lot more inventory.

Do you have systems and operations in place to keep things straight so that you know where everything is?

Yeah. So that's important to have. It's like I do everything myself from like bringing the shipments in and having them sent to the consumers so I know where everything lies. I sort of, have them physically mapped out in my, you know, where I keep the inventory in the basement.

You're obviously passionate about eyewear.

Absolutely.

What started this passion?

While I was still working, I guess in the, in the storefront, in the optical store and being able to communicate with buyers with a highly individualized product, fitting their needs both in fashion and with their health. So what do you hope to get out of being a participant in the Shine Award Program for yourself and your business?

First of all, being chosen as, as a a young entrepreneur that would reinforce the idea that as long as you're passionate about anything, there's always room for growth. Be it that you sell someone else's brand or you want to sell your own brand. There's always opportunity present. You just gotta love what you do. And once you love it, you do it well. And that's when you know, chances are highly likely for you to be successful. And to give that message over to even my community where there are many young people, who think there's only maybe one, one direction to take to success, which be it college or, or more like the nine to five job. I just want to give the message that you don't have to sell your hours for a dollar amount. Opportunity is endless, especially with eBay and e-commerce growing so much. My story hopefully will inspire others to take a step, a leap into eBay.

So how many pairs of glasses do you own for yourself?

Oh, good question.

I know how many I own.

Exactly. Well, um, so every season I get another pair. So yeah, they come out of style so I don't wear them anymore. But I usually switch between two or three pairs.

That does happen, doesn't it?

Yeah. Well it is fashion. So you have these fads coming in and out.

You can always resell the frames.

Exactly.

Do you ever resell?

So I'm thinking just now to open another eBay account that will focus primarily on store returns, used products. Cause I don't want to mix them, you know.

That's a smart idea to keep it separate. Yeah. Well if I start to de-accessorize from my collection, I'll call you.

I got Griff as a customer.

I'm obsessed with glasses right now. I'm never going to get laser. I'm never going to get contacts, so why not look good in what you've got. We've been speaking to Dov Schreiber. Dov is on eBay. He sells under the user ID of Framesandoptics.

Best of luck with your Shine Award winning.

Thank you very much. I consider myself a winner already just being here and participating.

I think so too.

Thank you very much for hosting and it is a pleasure to be here.

Wrapping up our month here, talking about promotions, promotion strategies, promotion tools, what works and what doesn't work. We're going to focus on what works and this week we're talking about promotions that work! And we're lucky enough to be talking with an eBay seller. Her name is Liz O'kane or user ID is Colorado re worn. That's her user ID and we're going to talk about her perspective on promotions that she's found over time work for the holidays. Hi Liz, welcome to the show.

Hi Griff. Thanks for having me.

It's a pleasure. Liz, tell us how long you've been selling on eBay and what it is you sell. I think I have an idea, but I'll hear it from you.

I've been selling full time on eBay for three years, but I've been selling on the platform for 17 and I sell mostly men's and women's clothing and in the home goods, linens.

You're in more than just one category then?

Yes.

What's your promotion strategy?

Honestly, my strategy doesn't really change throughout the year. This is actually my third holiday season as a full-time seller. I'm one that believes in knowing all the tools and using them year-round and as the holiday season approaches flexing based on what my competitors are doing. So I feel that knowing the tools year-round and using them year round is my strategy.

And also keeping an eye on the competition.

Absolutely.

And how does that impact how you manage and run a particular promotion? Does that mean that sometimes you have to change things about the promotion and if so, what?

Absolutely. For an example, right now I'm running a promotion, buy two, get one free in one of my categories.

May I ask which one?

Right now it's all of my socks. Coming into the holiday season, socks are stocking stuffers. Socks are kind of universal, right?

They fit right into socks, it's amazing.

They really do. And if I feel that that's not working for me or that strategy is not working for me, I know that I could easily end that promotion after letting it run for a while and getting a feel for how that's going and easily change it to say a Markdown Manager Sale.

You have to be nimble. You can't just set it and forget it and walk away and think it's going to work.

Absolutely not checking on my promotions at least once a week during the regular season, that's a once a week checklist as a seller for me. During the holiday season, I may check that every day or every other day.

And I'm assuming that the one metric that counts is how many sales you're making?

Yes, it is. So if you see that you're not making as many sales over the last week as you would have liked to, that's the impetus to actually make a change to the promotional strategy?

Yes, it is.

So what types of promotions work best for you?

It really depends on the category. Like I said in socks, the buy two get one free. That worked for me last year in another category, so I decided to try it on this one this year. In other categories maybe say men's or women's sweaters, a traditional mark down sale could work.

So as opposed to a BOGO, buy one get one, just taking the inventory in a category and then just running a markdown sales event.

Yes, and another thing that I like to do is if I do have say multi quantity of a certain sweater, I will do the volume discounts on that also.

Are there any types of promotions that you've learned over the last few years that just don't work well at all for you?

Years ago I used to when Promotions Manager, Mark down Manager came out, I'm like, well, I'll give 5% off. That doesn't really add a value to my customers. I like to add a value to my markdowns when using a Markdown Manager. The lowest I go might be 10% for a small amount of time, but I really like to offer my customers 20 to 40% off my items when I am marking them down. Another promotion that did not work well for me that I have seen is a buy three get free shipping. I have taken that away because I've added more shipping into my item so the buyer looks at my items and half of them already offer free shipping then it is not really an incentive. So I have stopped doing those. Recently, I was talking to a fellow seller and we were talking about promotions and I asked them if they were offering a markdown sale on their items and one of value that we were talking about before, and a question that they asked me was, so do you increase the price so that you can mark it down lower? My question is, why would somebody buy something at $20 on sale when it's been offered for $20 all year? There's no value in that.

I can understand why a seller might try that strategy, but if, especially if you're after buyers who are watching your items, they're pretty savvy about the price before the discount so that actually could erode trust with buyers who are watching your inventory.

It can and I think that that strategy could go one of two ways. I've just adopted the plan of not doing it. Honestly if something hasn't sold in six months, I want to mark it down to move it to make way for new inventory for my buyers.

And you really want to mark it down. You don't want to play games, you just want it gone. Absolutely and sometimes if I'm thinking of it and I haven't run a markdown sale, the other tool that I really like is the seller initiated offer. The one where you can make an offer to buyers who are either watching your item or have it in the shopping cart.

Yes, and the way that I see that is I am sending an offer to my buyer. When eBay sends out that offer, the buyer sees how much it is discounted by by both dollar amount and percentage off. So I like to make sure that there's value in that offer.

And you find this as a successful strategy?

I do. I feel that what makes this for me successful is that I do offer a valuable discount and I also strategize the time of day that I send these offers out. You mentioned percentages and about how 5% just didn't work for you. Do you use the same percentage discount across categories or over time if you discovered that there are different sort of floor levels or sweet spots for the percentage discount that worked for different categories?

I do offer different discounts. As a matter of fact, one of my strategies that I do like to use is what I call a tiered discount when I start a markdown manager sale. To Amy.

Tiered? That is interesting. What is tiered?

So I don't know if that's the appropriate word for it, but that's what I've named it in my world.

Well we are going to name it that. We're going to stick with that name.

Then I will go in and start a markdown sale and in the markdown sale event tool you have the option to offer let's say 50% off and then I can tear that down to 40% off and then tear that down to 30% off. When I start my sale I can then add items to each of those percentages and it will all fall under the same sale. So that when a buyer sees one of my items and sees that it is 30% off and the banner across it says up to 50% off, they can click on that and see all of my items that are included in that sale.

What a crafty way to use that! That's wonderful. Yeah. I was wondering if what you meant is that over time you increase the discount much like they used to do in retail when they'd have like their clearance area. You know, for a week it would be 20% and then they would take and add another 10% and add another 10% every week until it was gone.

Right. And I do believe eBay does have a tool that will do that for you. It's honestly not one that I have played around with yet.

Yeah. You know, I've seen it. When you list an item on the app or if you're a brand new seller, it comes up as an option just before you submit the listing with, I forget what it's called. Forgive me.

So you haven't used it either?

No, I haven't, but I, but I think if you're an experienced seller, you don't want, I'm not very comfortable with that happening automatically. I'd rather do that manually at my choice. But it's the same strategy I think. You know keeping, you keep lowering the price by increasing the discount over time. And I think the eBay tool just actually lowers the price. That sounds like a good program for the newer sellers.

The newer seller and I think it's called Easy Pricing, if I'm not mistaken? There's also Promoted Listings, which we've talked endlessly about in the last few months, but some sellers do promote their listings and others don't. Do you have a promotion strategy for promoted listings?

I actually do. I incorporate both promoted listings and listing promotions. Sometimes separate and sometimes together. I play around with my percentages on my promoted listings based on the market of like items.

I don't spend a whole lot of time digging. If I have something unique or a one of a kind item, I may skip a promoted listing on that item.

If it's doing well.

If it's doing well.

Right, why promote it if it's already doing well?

Sometimes I feel that sellers feel that it's an all or none tool. That's what's kind of great about Promoted Listings is you can pick and choose which items you promote. Right now I have about 90% of my store promoted because I do hold back some of my items that I don't feel need the promotion. At this time I typically have my store anywhere between 2% and 6%. I have not played around with trending rates for my items at this date.

Well Liz, before we go, I was hoping that you might from your expertise and experience as a seller on eBay with promotions have some promotional tips for sellers out there that you'd like to share.

My tip for sellers is to give each and every promotion and promoted tool a try. If you're new and you've never tried one, start with one promotion. I feel that a markdown sale is the easiest one to start with. My second tip is to give it time. Try out different strategies in different categories. A markdown sale for one day is going to net different results than a Mark down sell say for a week. Give your first one a week or two and see how it goes. Next, try out another tool and then you'll soon learn how to incorporate them and how to use them together.

So don't be afraid. Try everything, try different combinations and be patient.

Absolutely. You're not going to break it.

I mean, what do you have to lose right?

Absolutely.

Excellent advice. Liz, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for taking time out of your selling day to speak with us here on the podcast.

Thank you for having me.

We've been speaking about holiday promotions that work with Liz O'Kane. She's known on eBay as Colorado re worn, that's all one word, Coloradoreworn. Go check her out and see what she's doing for her promotions.

Last week, Doug Smith attended the annual e-comm Chicago conference. While there, Doug spoke with eBay seller Cyndi Zlotow about promotions that work for her. Let's listen in.

Hi, this is Doug from the Community Team. I'm at e-comm Chicago 2019 with Cyndi Zlotow. What we want to talk about is promotions that work, advice you have, tips you have for sellers, so at a high level, what promotions work for you?

The one that works best for me, especially going into fourth quarter, is the spend a certain amount and get free shipping. And what we have found is that it doesn't matter if you have a lot of the same items or if you have a wide variety of items, people will buy a second item to get free shipping. So since we sell a lot in used clothing, we can't necessarily offer free shipping on every product, the margins not there. But if they'll buy multiple items, then I can offer free shipping and we've found that they can, and they will buy a men's item and a children's item, they'll buy a coffee mug and a sweater. They will combine any combination of two items to get that free shipping. I think a lot of big sites have that where you have to spend a certain amount to get free shipping. And so as buyers we're kind of trained to feel that way. So it allows me to offer a buyer free shipping without having to offer it on each item, which my business can't necessarily afford. I think a free shipping one has worked across every category that we sell in but we do sell mostly in used clothing. I guess I would say that it works best there for us, but that's simply because that's what we sell the most of.

And how do you decide on percentages and things like that?

For me, I look at when they run a promotion, they can't submit a Best Offer and I offer Best Offer on all of my items. So I look at, okay, if they spend this amount then would what I would have taken in a best offer, cover the shipping cost? So the discount I would have provided in a Best Offer situation will cover the shipping cost. So that I'm not actually losing anything. It's just a way for them to get the free shipping and it becomes a cart builder for me. So instead of someone just coming in and buying one item, now they buy two or three items.

And what about promotions during the holidays? What high level tips do you have?

So one of the things that I love to do is to run the code less coupon. So I can go in and find my buyers that have bought from me in the last month or so who have left me positive feedback that I have similar items as what they've purchased recently and I can send them a message and say, Hey, I'm so glad you got your item and you enjoyed it. Here's a coupon off your next purchase and then they'll come back in by again and so that drives more traffic to my store. It gets me more sales.

And what tools do you use? Are there any that you recommend over others?

I definitely think the cart building tool of either offering free shipping or spend a certain amount get a certain amount off. I think if you're only going to use one, that would be what I would use. In retail it is so hard to get somebody to come into your store. The hardest thing is to get somebody to come in. Once they're there, you can sell them, but you've got to get them through the door. That cart building promotion allows you to sell them once they're in the door. I already got them into my listing so I got them in the door. Now I can sell them multiple items so I keep them in my store versus them going to somebody else's.

So what mistakes do you see out there in terms of promotions?

When somebody says, I'll give you $5 off your $500 purchase. Nobody cares about that. Nobody's going to come into my store and spend $500 for free shipping when the average item costs $18. It's not going to happen. So what would entice you as a buyer to actually buy multiple products. Instead of just having something just to have, just to say you have something. It has to be a promotion that is actually going to convert.

And what about Promoted Listings? I always use Promoted Listings, but unless we have a very rare item, so let's say we have a very rare item that there are only five on eBay, then I don't need to promote that one. It's going to wind up on the first page no matter what. But for the vast majority of our items, they're common items. It's a used sweater that you could buy anywhere in the country, so yeah, I'm going to pay to promote it, but we come in low. So when I first list that item, I don't need to even be a trending rate. I can come in low and see if it sells. If I still have it a month from now, then maybe I push that promoted listing percentage up to try and get it to move then, so I use it as a lever to push sales in areas that I need.

What Q4 holiday promotion tips do you have? What would be your top three tips?

If you're not offering free shipping, If you can't offer free shipping, then do a free shipping promotion. Even if you don't do it throughout the rest of the year. Do a free shipping in Q four and then pay attention to code less coupons. Because you can create repeat buyers in Q for that you can't get any other time of the year. You have buyers that will come on just in Q4 that don't normally shop at eBay throughout the year. So if I can grab them in Q4, I can keep them all year round, which is how I've created a repeat buyer base. I grabbed them in Q four and then I kept them. So pay attention to those code less coupons. I think it's an undervalued promotion and then run a sale. Everyone expects a sale, especially during the holidays. Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Pay attention to those retail events and adjust your sales accordingly so that you can be a part of what is a massive traffic boost.

Anything to add around promotions?

You don't have to lose money using promotions. You can set your prices to where you still have profit margin in those items. You may need to be creative with them, but there's a way to do it in every product so that you're still making a profit and pushing extra sales then.

How long have you been selling on eBay?

16 years.

What brought you to eBay? How'd you get started?

So I started selling on eBay because I was in an MLM, a multilevel marketing. Sold rubber stamps, like back in the day, the crafting, all of that. Like, I'm not even a crafty person, but that's what I was selling. And we had our third child who was really sick. So there was no going to parties or having parties or any of that. So now I had all of these stupid rubber stamps that I didn't even really like and nothing to do with them. So somebody said, Hey, why didn't you sell them on eBay? I listed them all at auction at 99 cents each and they went through the roof and then I went, huh, I can do this and I've never stopped. And your husband Matt, has he been your partner in your eBay business since the beginning or when did he come on?

No. So it was just me for the first 11 years. And actually in the beginning I think he thought I was just nuts and that I just wanted to shop and bring stuff home. And then as it grew and grew, I got into a place where I was going to have to hire help. And so I said, I'm either going to have to hire help or you quit and we grow this together. And you never have to drive in Chicago snow to a job you don't like anymore and we decided that was a better option. So five years ago he quit his corporate job and we've been both full time e-commerce sellers ever since.

Anything else to add to sum up?

Come to e-comm Chicago next year.

All right, well thank you.

We've been speaking with Cyndi Zlotow regarding promotions and promotions for the holidays.

Thanks Doug and Cyndi. Up next we answer your questions.

If you have questions, we have answers and boy do we have questions this week Alan?

Indeed we do. Four in fact.

Excellent. Without any further ado, will you read the first question?

Certainly. Our first questions is from eBay seller Raasistore. That's our R.A.A. S. I. S. T. O. R. E. He asks, I listed 50 items last month, but all sales for last month was only five items. How do I improve my sales? What do you think, Griff?

This one's pretty Alan, so if you have low sales, lower than you'd like, there's a few steps that you should take. And the first one is to research the market in which you're listing items. The two things you're looking for are demand and price for your items. You want to make sure that there is some demand and you want to make sure that you're not overpricing. Those are the two big obstacles that sellers who have low sales never consider.

Same here. I see it all the time. This person sounds like a new seller.

He does, yeah.

But something I see on the boards quite regularly is sellers who sales have decreased and when you check their items they're just not items that are in demand anymore.

Or they're priced too high.

Right? They don't review the competitive marketplace that often, so oftentimes there'll be a competitor come along and undercut them on price and they're just not aware of it. They just don't check. So they're blind to that.

There are tools in Seller Hub that can help you with this research with both demand and sale price. And the first one you're going to check is you're going to go to a Seller Hub and you're going to look for your traffic report under performance and you're going to look at each one of your items at the bottom of the list. On the top there's aggregate data for all your listings and at the bottom, every single item you had listed in the last, I believe it's like a month or so, you'll see impressions, page views. impressions are how many times your item has shown up in front of a buyer in a search result and page views are how many times the buyers actually clicked on the item to view it and that can give you an idea of the current interest in your items. And then you're going to use Search to actually look for sale prices by searching for identical items and making sure that yours is showing up and it's attractively priced. It's not too expensive. Then the second thing you need to do is, you only listed 50 items last month. You didn't tell us how many items you had in total. I'm going to assume it was 50 that's not enough to make sales on eBay. 50 items is just not enough. So my second recommendation is to list more items. You have to always be listing, always increasing the amount of inventory you have up on the site. It's really difficult to make sales and or a living with just 50 items listed.

Okay. You could also try something like Promoted Listings as well.

You could, but I'd do these steps first.

I suppose if you're promoting something that's more expensive than the other items on eBay.

That can actually be a bad experience.

And buyers are gonna go usually with the one that has the lowest sales price. All right. Excellent advice. Griff, are you ready for question number two?

Yes, I am!

This one comes in from Nicole and Nicole asks, I've noticed this problem for awhile. Lately when I sell a one off, just have one item on eBay the listing does not delete. For example, I recently sold six items and even after shipping them and leaving the buyer feedback, the listings remained active. This sometimes results in someone else will buy the item that I no longer have and then I have to cancel it, which is bad for my account. Nicole goes on to provide some examples. She said she sold the following items, shipped them, but still had to manually go back and end the listing. They're still there but they are listed as zero in quantity so I still have to manually delete. But that's okay since at least they can't sell when I no longer have any left. Thanks Nicole from Florida.

Hello Nicole. First off, you don't need to delete them. It's not an issue or a bug. If you ever notice a listing that shows up in your active view on Seller Hub with zero quantity but it's still showing as active, it's a clear indication that the option for Stock Out has been set to yes in your site preferences. Those listings that were listed when it was checked Yes do not appear on the site once the quantity reaches zero and for a single quantity items, the minute it's sold, it's off the site. However, what may be confusing you is that you as the seller can still see them and you can still find them, but no one else including me can. So when she gave those examples, I couldn't look them up.

Oh nice.

No one can actually buy another one of these items. Now you can change this setting if you like, and if you're only selling one of a kind items and not utilizing quantity, this might be a good idea. So you go to my eBay, you click the account tab, you click on site preferences under account preferences, locate the stockout option and uncheck the box for yes.

Nice. I didn't know to thank you Griff. This one was tricky. If you don't know about Stock Outs, you might miss the reason and instead blame, a ghost or a bug or a ghost bug!

Agreed. You should always go to site preferences. Whenever you notice something odd like this seller noticed. The solution, Alan is going to most likely be found there.

Great! Onto our third question this week. We're on a roll. This one comes in from seller Fittobetied.

Do you know my user ID is at the end of my rope so we should meet for coffee. I think I can meet your needs so to speak.

Yes, you too should. You need all the friends you can get Griff. But not just yet. Let's address the question first. The question is, if 90% of my items are buy it now on eBay, why when I sell a similar item does the mobile app always default to the seven day auction? Is there a way to change it to buy it now as a default? By the way, love the podcast!

Yeah, I'm with you Fittobetied. I hate this default on the mobile app and for those wondering, this is indeed a default setting in the mobile app, so it's not something that you can reset or change and it just drives me crazy. I now use the mobile app for a lot more than I ever did before, but if I'm creating a listing on the mobile app in the listing flow, it defaults to a seven day auction. And there should be a setting there for sellers who are experienced to say, I'll select that option if I want it. Cause I never use it. I'm all fixed price.

Just remember my last one. Yeah. If you're doing good till canceled then just leave it good till canceled.

In the meantime, the just remember to change that default.

Okay. That's a no, thank you. Okay. Our last question of the week comes in from eBay seller Sean. Sean writes, hello and thank you for the great podcast. How do buyers see your combined shipping discounts if they are available? Is it best to make a disclaimer in the item description or does eBay give the buyer notice during checkout while viewing the item? I offer free shipping on all of my listings and would love to know the best way to offer combined shipping discounts and incentives for buyers. Am I correct that offering free shipping trumps calculated shipping when trying to achieve and maintain Top Rated Seller status and being at the top of search results? Thank you very much Sean.

Yeah, this is a really confusing one and it took me some while to work through it, but let's address your last question and statement first. So free shipping is not a requirement for Top Rated Seller. To become a Top Rated Seller, you need to have an eBay account that's been active for at least 90 days and you also have had to have had at least a hundred transactions and $1,000 worth of sales with US buyers over the past 12 months. You should also be in full compliance with eBay selling practice policy, but we're just going to assume if you're listening to the podcast you are. Now, you can find that requirement's on the help pages. If you search for Top Rated. Now as a Top Rated seller, you can qualify for some exclusive Top Rated Plus benefits if you offer same or one day business handling with the 30 day or longer free return. Free shipping is not a requirement and free shipping might give you a boost in Search, but it's not a requirement for Top Rated Plus. Now let's get back to your question about combined shipping. There are two different tools for providing combined shipping discounts. One is the old tool that's been around for almost 20 years and the other one is the newest tool, which is one of the promotions option and promotion manager on Seller Hub. I don't recommend the old one. You can find it. You can still try to apply it. It's really clunky, it's kludgy, it's outdated. It was primarily built for people who have auctions and they would wait to invoice a buyer before they would send payment and that's just the old way of doing things. It doesn't really work on eBay anymore. We recommend use the new. We'll include in the transcript the URL that'll take you right to the Seller Center page that's all about promotions. Because it's a long one, I'm not going to read it on the air. You can also get there by going to Seller Center at the bottom of any eBay page. Scroll down the long page that you see next and there's a whole section where one of the links is promotions. The shipping discount tool in promotions doesn't work on listings that have free shipping. So in your case you might want to consider using another one of the promotion options and it sounds like maybe order discount or even Markdown Manager sales event would work for you with these. These are great ways of giving an incentive. Unlike with the old tool, when you have listings that are being offered and one of the promotion tools, whether that's order discounts or if you're charging for shipping for shipping discounts. That's really clear on the listing page. Really clear. It's up there in a big, big banner so that the buyer sees it that can spur them on to making more purchases. You can read about all of these in Seller Center. Let me direct you there. Bottom of most any eBay page, there's a link for Seller Center. If you've never been there, go now and read everything so that you become as smart as Alan.

Don't know about that. You do know you want to be as smart as me.

You do!

Well, thank you Griff. You deserve a break now. That was a lot. That was a lot of info to take in. Thank you. I've learned so much and that's all of the questions I have this week.

That's too bad. I was just getting on a roll.

You are! Sellers if you want the podcast team to answer your eBay question, email us here at podcast@ebay.com or call us on the exclusive hotline at 888-723-4630.

And we'll repeat that email address and phone number again in a few short minutes.

First we'll listen to some nice segue music.

And that's our show for this week.

On our next episode.

Yeah, that's episode 65.

Yeah, 65 thanks. On our next episode, episode 65 we'll start the month of November off with a new topic.

Yay. Phew.

Shipping for the holidays and beyond.

Oh Shipping. My favorite topic.

I thought photography was your favorite?

Well it is, but I have many favorite topics is that so wrong?

During the month we'll explore how to maximize shipping speeds while keeping shipping costs at a minimum.

We'll review the cutoff dates for different shipping services and classes of service as we move closer to the holidays.

We'll have in depth interviews with members of the eBay Shipping Team.

And if you industry experts as well, including a chat with a rep from UPS.

And much more on topics like ideal packaging for economy, safety and buyer delight.

I can't wait. And don't forget our number.

Of course, if you want to join the fun here on the eBay for business podcast, you can be a part of the show when you call us on 888-723-4630.

That's right. (888) 723-4630. You can call that hotline anytime of the day. Any day of the week where you can leave a question or comment and we just might put it on the air if it's appropriate.

We have our very own email address where you can send your questions if you prefer. It's podcast@ebay.com that is podcast@ebay.com.

Hey Alan?

What's up?

You know what's fun?

Yes. Though I suspect what I consider fun differs from what you call fun. Perhaps, but you know what every eBay seller can agree is fun.

No, what? Oh wait. I think I know.

You know it's coming right?

Meet Ups!

I don't think that's how you say that. Whatever. If you want a fun night out, you need to sashay over to a local eBay seller meetup. Where you could meet up with other eBay sellers just like you!

Like me? Well maybe not exactly like you Alan, but close. At eBay seller meetups.

Wait, I know this spiel. May I?

Okay, be my guest.

Oh, cool. At Seller Meetups. Sellers, share tips, selling stories, learnings, insights and even a little gossip.

And Kvetches. Don't forget, the kvetches.

Those too! You can see upcoming meetups on our special eBay community page from meetups at ebay.com/meetups.

And don't forget to tune in to our weekly live video stream on the eBay For Business Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:30 PM sharp Pacific time. Go to facebook.com/eBayforbusiness.

And right after the live stream, Hop on over to the eBay community page for our weekly chat. It starts every Wednesday at one o'clock Pacific go to ebay.com/communitychat and we'll see you there.

That's our show for this week. Alan. The eBay For Business Podcast is brought to you by the following posey. Head of community, Brian Burke, our Special Correspondent Jen Deal. Associate Executive Segment Producer Doug Smith, Marketing Strategist, Liz Austin. My esteemed, co Host, Alan Aisbitt. Editor in Chief and our good friend Griff. That's me. The eBay For Business Podcast is produced and distributed by Libsyn and podCast411.

What If we did no ad Lib Alan?

Oh, I'd miss it.

You would?

I think people like it.

You think so?

I haven't seen any input or feedback recently.

No?

No. Just somebody who said those two guys think they're funny. They should stop.

Oh my God.

I hope he is. Do we know who it is?

I don't know. Somebody left a review on, on Apple podcast. These two guys think they're funny. They're not funny. Well I agree, but that's not going to stop us! (laughter).

We have to have some fun. Come on.

Yeah, I mean it would be, should we just do one episode that is totally dry?

We're trapped in this closet. We have to have some fun.

Are you warm in here?

It is very warm.

Yeah. I gotta have them to turn the temperature down cause there's the B studio for videos is actually really nice and cool. So I'll talk to the facility.

I can see it through the window.

Now we're getting boring.

No.

You don't think so?

What is your plans? What have we got going on for the rest of the week?

Uh, nothing. I don't. I have no, I have no life outside of eBay.

Come on.

None seriously. Nothing.

Are you going to play some music?

Probably not. Maybe.

Learn some new skills? Read a book, watch a movie.

I can learn some new engineering software. A friend of mine turned me onto something. It's might make editing this dang podcast a little easier.

Well I'm still unpacking my boxes from my move. You know, I just moved houses recently, so that's what I'm doing and I have a sore back from moving. So.

I think this is about all the self-indulgence our audience can stand.

If anybody wants to help me unpack boxes, give us a call on 888-723-4630.

That's it. We're now, we're definitely not getting any more calls. Thanks Alan.

Episode 58 || The Perfect Holiday Listing

doug@ebay
Community Team
08-27-2019 05:00:00 AM
Last Edited 09-03-2019 10:20:10 AM
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 podcast@ebay. com.
eBay for Business- Episode 58 — The Perfect Holiday Listing
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 podcast@ebay.com.
Links
#ebaypodcast
Hosts
Griff, Alan Aisbitt
Guests
Don Vigeant (eBay Seller), Louis Rodriguez (eBay Seller), Richard Cooley (eBay Seller), Glen Zubia (eBay Seller)
Show More
Transcript
Yeah before we start, I am just gonna check my 401-K.
Ok.
They’re we go.
Ouch.
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.
Don't panic.
No? Should I sell everything?
No. Don’t sell everything.
Jump ship.
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 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.
What?
Yeah. A couple of CDs, a shirt. I sold a bottle of Cologne.
Oh Nice.
I'm flying.
I need some Cologne actually. Is there any for me?
Check out my listings and see if there's anything you like.
Griffville?
Yeah.
Okay.
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.
I'm 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.
What?
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.
You're kidding?
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.
Wolla.
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?
That's 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.
What Griff?
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.
Thank you.
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.
Welcome Don.
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?
Yes.
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.
Yes, yes.
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?
Yes.
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.
Really?
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.
Yes.
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.
Yes, definitely.
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?
Salearea.
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.
Right.
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.
Exactly.
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?
Yes.
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.
Oh really?
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?
Yeah.
So you can’t rely on a skew and one description.
Exactly.
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.
Yes.
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.
Yes.
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.
Exactly.
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.
10 wow.
I’d have to count. I might have to use my fingers.
And you started out by yourself?
Yeah. Yup.
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.
I do.
And it’s based here in Campbell.
Yeah.
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.
They did.
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?
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.
Yeah. What?
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!
No!
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.
Why?
Cause I'm not the host of the week.
Host DePermanente.
Yeah. Do you ever see the movie Bel De Jour?
No.
Oh, you got to look that up.
Okay.
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.
Nope.
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
Show Less

Episode 55 || Lean Into Holiday With Seller Tips and The Buzz

doug@ebay
Community Team
08-27-2019 05:00:00 AM
Last Edited 09-03-2019 10:20:10 AM
Our Lean Into Holiday theme continues this week, with the second of a two-part series. We’ll visit with four eBay sellers who share how they get ready for the biggest selling season of the year, and as always we’ve got The Buzz. To have your questions answered on eBay for Business, call us at 888 723-4630 or email us at podcast@ebay.com.
eBay for Business- Episode 55 — Lean Into Holiday With Seller Tips and The Buzz
Our Lean Into Holiday theme continues this week, with the second of a two-part series. We’ll visit with four eBay sellers who share how they get ready for the biggest selling season of the year, and as always we’ve got The Buzz. To have your questions answered on eBay for Business, call us at 888 723-4630 or email us at podcast@ebay.com.
Links
#ebaypodcast
Hosts
Griff, Alan Aisbitt
Guests
Don Vigeant (eBay Seller), Louis Rodriguez (eBay Seller), Richard Cooley (eBay Seller), Glen Zubia (eBay Seller)
Show More
Transcript
Perfection. (Singing) I just can't get no perfection. All I want to do is be perfect for you... Buyer. Know that tune?

I don't know that tune.

It's a Rolling Stone song actually.

Perfection?

Yeah.

How do I not know that? Rolling Stone song?

It's not called Perfection. It's called Connection. An early, early Rolling Stones.

But I'm sure I've heard it.

The topic is on my mind a lot.

Well with perfect listing coming up.

Well yeah. Plus...

Perfect life that you've lived?

I don't. Yeah. Do you have a perfect life?

Well, I have three children.

Is perfection even attainable?

Absolutely not.

Not on this planet.

So what's the point?

Right? So you just have to enjoy yourself.

Maybe striving for perfection, knowing you never get there. Very Buddhist, very zen.

Is that Buddhist? Is that what they strive for?

I don't know. Strive for perfection that you know, you never get.

Not everything can be perfect in life.

Well we gotta strive for it. At least when we're doing business.

Exactly. And when we're doing the podcast.

We lost that battle a long time ago. And when you're creating the perfect listing.

Which sellers will hear more about. I'm Brian Burke.

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 marketplace. Hey, thanks for filling in for Alan this week. Brian.

My pleasure Griff. He's down in Austin at a community conference, so our listeners get me this week.

Should be interesting. So Brian, what's up for this week's episode?

The theme of this week's episode is The Perfect Holiday Listing. And to that end, on our Main Story this week, we have eBay seller, Monica Gamboa. Many of you heard Monica in the past and eBay, Vice President of Seller Experience, Harry Temkin. Monica and Harry will have a conversation on the topic, The Perfect Holiday Listing.

Ahh, perfection! But we should mention here that any advice or best practices for The Perfect Holiday Listing will work for any eBay listing all the year round.

Correct Griff. And I believe you captured some best seller tips and advice on the same topic at the Chicago eBay Upfront last week. It was so busy. Yes, in fact I did. We heard from a lot of sellers. They sat down and talked to us and we'll hear a few of those interviews in the second half of The Main Story.

What else do you have for us this week?

Well Brian, you remember that we recorded a lot of great interviews with sellers at eBay Open. Yes?

I do. Griff. You were chained to the podcast table for over two days interviewing attendees and I have to say, I think we barely gave you chance for a bathroom break.

Yeah, but I did take a few bathroom breaks thankfully for everyone involved and a few snack breaks. And we were situated near the food court so I could run over and grab lunch.

You were a trooper that whole week.

Well, it was well worth it and this week we'll talk to eBay Shine Award Winner, Alijah McCloskey about his passion for vintage bicycles and how we leverage that interest into a business on eBay that ties in perfectly with his charitable organization. It's a really good interview. Don't miss it. And did we get any calls this week, Brian?

Yes, we did. A big thank you to the sellers who called in on our hotline and left their questions. We picked three questions to answer this week. That's coming up later in the episode, but for now it's time to review the news with the segment we call The Buzz.

This week on The Buzz we have community reactions to the recent Seller Update. The Fall Seller Update for 2019 and I believe community is your wheelhouse, Brian, isn't it?

It sure is Griff.

So in the community, what's a buzzing?

There wasn't a lot of volume on the discussion boards for this Seller Update, at least not as much as past Updates. Wow. We had about six discussion threads and only about 21 replies, which is really low.

And that's just regarding the Update itself?

Just the Update.

There are some topics we'll talk about.

We get 2 million users a month coming into the community. So it's a, it's a buzzin place there too.

By the way. Where do you go to see all this?

community.ebay.com.

So if you're interested in partaking in the community and you never did it before, that's where you go.

Exactly. And a place to go get information as well.

Okay. So what do you got?

Along with those threads, here are the topics of the week. The User Agreement Update has generated some confusion within the community as changes are not outlined specifically.

Where does one go to find and read the eBay User Agreement?

So in this particular case, because it was a change, we included it in the Seller Update so they can go to eBay News on community.ebay.com and get to it there. They can also find it at the bottom of the homepage. There's a direct link to the user agreement.

Right. So if you want to get more detail, you should always read the latest version anyway.

Definitely.

Okay. So what about Managed Payments? What about that? Is there discussion about Managed Payments in the community?

There's been discussion about Managed Payments, I think since we introduced it a year ago and you know, and as more and more sellers come on board to Manage Payments, I think we'll continue to see some buzz there. Some community posters have asked us for a timeline for Managed Payments enhancements with details like you know, how will they use Managed Payments for purchasing, shipping labels using the funds from their sales.

That's all in the works, right?

It is. And those announcements will also be announced on Seller News as they come forward. Some of the other big ones we've heard is, when is it going to support Global Shipping Program? Those things are coming later this fall or early next year.

Just to read the Seller News and you'll get all of this when it happens.

Yes, definitely.

What else?

We also had some posts regarding the new growth tools.

That's in Seller Update we talked about it.

In Seller Update. Yeah. And the growth tools you can find within Seller Hub as well. Sellers mostly expressed positive sentiment around the seller tools, but there's still some confusion around how promoted listings will appear in search. Cause we did announce a change to how promoted listings will appear with the organic listing being removed when the promoted listing is present. Sellers are concerned that the reduced visibility result in lower sales and. some misinterpret what this part of the announcement means. Seeking clarification on how this impacts non promoted listings.

Let's just talk about it. Your listings are never not available. There are always there. There will always be one instance of the listing.

It'll either be promoted or it'll just be where it naturally lands and appears in search.

And this is dynamic, this change. Moment to moment. This can change. So sometimes your promoted listing, depending on the ad rate, it'll appear at the top of a search result page. And in that case it's at the top. Your organic version of the listing in search will not be there. But if the buyer then refreshes the page and they get a different sort and your listing is not sponsored at the top as promoted listing. Now it appears in organic search.

Where it naturally would have appeared. And as most sellers probably know. If you've chosen promoted listing, it doesn't mean you're always going to have promoted listing because you can imagine other sellers are also using promoted listings and so we rotate those promoted listing slots.

And that's what the sliding ad rate is all about. The more you put up for a percentage of what you'll pay for a fee, if the item sells, the more often that item will appear at the top of a search. It's random. There's no way to game it. There's no way to know exactly when, but the more you put for an ad rate, the more often it will appear. But for those instances where it doesn't appear, your organic version of the same item will appear in search. So your items are never invisible. There'll always be one there.

Correct. And this'll alleviate some confusion that we actually saw on the buy side. Where buyers didn't understand why the exact same listing was, oftentimes if a sellers done a really good job there on the first page in the search results and all of a sudden their item was number two in promoted and then it was number six also on the page and it just caused some confusion.

It caused a lot of confusion.

So this just alleviates that and makes for a better buying experience.

And a better selling experience. You will not see a decrease in sales!

Well, and the other thing I would say there is if you do have some fear around that, we have 180 million buyers. So test, test, test, test, test.

There's a lot of discussion when we have a Seller Update.

There always is. And even though this was light, there still is a lot of discussions. We also saw some discussion around the Update topic of Inventory Optimization with the sentiment being mostly neutral. Some sellers were requesting guidance when determining a new category for listings where category changes have or will occur and concerns about where that item will show in the new category structure.

What elseBrian? Most of the conversation was about the Seller Protections and Policy Updates.

Of course.

Of course. This is something sellers have been asking for. This topic always drives a lot of volume with many sellers, passionately discussing how protections will be applied fairly to sellers of various business sizes and across different categories. One of the more popular threads was one discussing the upcoming $6 credit for top rated sellers who report a false SNAD. And this is to help support the shipping costs the seller has to pay. Many sellers made it clear that this would not cover the average shipping cost.

Of course the point is, it's not meant to cover the entire shipping cost. This is a, you average this cost out. When you run a business, it's about profit and loss and occasionally you will take a loss on a transaction, jot it down, look at the next transaction. Remember. It's not, we say this over and over. On the show, it's about the transaction. It's about your entire business over a period of a year, whether that's a quarter,, a half annually. If you start getting mired down transaction to transaction, you'll harm yourself, your own mental wellbeing and you will harm your business.

Yup. So were there discussions unrelated to the seller update, Brian?

Yes, and as you can imagine there were a lot of discussions around Hurricane Dorian. Conversations primarily focused on the progress of this storm, projected areas of impact and members sending well wishes to those in its path. I should point out that eBay's recent announcement on the announcement board in Seller News addresses protection concerns and has been shared by many members to address some of the questions raised. Hearts go out to those in The Bahamas.

Yeah. Anything else, Brian?

Yes, we saw some great feedback around eBay's latest advertising campaign. Most are pleased to see eBay ads on TV as it promotes the eBay brand and brings more buyers to the site. But a small group raised critiques of the Ad.

Oh really?

Yeah. Mainly the one around promoting lower prices makes it feel like they cannot compete with sellers that are able to discount items lower than retail.

Well, how, what are we supposed to do? Advertise higher prices? We charge more than anyone!

I don't think Susie in our advertising team will ever go there Griff.

No, I don't think so. I don't think it works ultimately. Right?

Yeah. Ultimately. Instead of solely focusing on new items, some would like to see a variety of used and new being advertised. And we've heard this in the past as well.

Okay. Oh, you know, before we end, you mentioned The Bahamas, Brian, And we should also mention that there is an ongoing humanitarian crisis unfolding in The Bahamas. And you can help us help them by donating supplies or cash to the relief effort and you can do that by going to www.ebay.com/e/charity/Hurricane-Dorian-relief. Again, another wonderful e-bay URL.

Yes, a little too long.

It could have been ebay.com/Dorian.

Yes.

That would have been good. But no. Instead it's www.ebay.com/e/charity/Hurricane-Dorian-relief. The one nice thing about this one is that you can see what kind of inventory they need and you can actually purchase it from other sellers on the eBay platform. So you're not only helping someone in the effected area, but you're also supporting an eBay seller.

Good cause. And by the way, I've seen photos of that area of The Bahamas. They need every, it's basically nothing there. It's scary. Nothing. Well thanks again Brian. This is all great information. Thanks again for filling in.

My pleasure. Up next an eBay seller and an eBay VP. discuss what makes up the perfect listing.

Today on The Main Story, we're going to talk about the perfect listing for holidays and we have with us Harry Temkin. He's the Vice President of Seller Experience. Welcome Harry.

Thanks so much. Griff. Great to be here.

And also joining us is Monica Gamble. She's a seller under the user id, The Posh Hanger. Welcome Monica.

Thank you. I'm so glad to be back.

We're going to talk about the perfect listing and we say for the holidays, but actually the perfect listing is important all year round.

Absolutely.

So Harry, why is the perfect listing even more important for the holidays?

Well, as you said, I think it's not just the holidays, it's all season long, but look, there's 1.3 billion listings on the platform and so you want to make sure you have the best quality of listing possible, right? So that you appear in many searches when buyers are looking for your product. There's four main components to a perfect listing as we like to say. One is title, obviously. The next is item specifics, just as critical as title. The next is high quality photos of the listing and finally really having the right price.

Monica, how important do you put on creating the perfect listing? I know that you take a lot of pride in your selling on eBay.

Absolutely. It's everything. The perfect listing in my eyes is the accurate listing. And we want to create the accurate listing because we want to product match the right product to the customer. The more relevant and accurate the listing is, the easier it is for our buyers to find the right products.

I've always said the perfect listing is the one that the buyer, there's not a single question they need to ask. Everything about the listing is right.

That's right, and you know what that means Griff?

What does that mean?

It means you've given us the perfect title. You've given us all the item descriptors, great photos, right? So all of those things.

Let's talk about title. Why is it so important and how should sellers approach it Harry?

That's the first thing that buyers see. Titles, what shows up in SRP, Search Results Page. It's what shows up in view item. It's like the best descriptor of your listing before they get to any other part of the listing. It's crucial that you really do the best that you can in describing your product. The challenge is you only have 80 characters, so you have to make the best of the 80 characters. I use an example, my son and I sell a lot of the Adidas easy sneakers and in the title obviously you want brand, you want Adidas, you want the style, which is the easy three fifties or seven hundreds. And then after that it's critical to have the color and the size and the gender. Now you might ask why? Well particularly in sneakers or shoes, size is critical. You don't want to buyer having to literally do lots of clicks to figure out if that's the right size or the right gender of what they're looking for. Putting those key item descriptors in the title is better for you, better for search and it makes it easier for the buyer.

Monica, how do you create a title based on these important components of the, of the title? What's important to you and like what do you put first when you're selling fashion?

Yes, I look at it like your title is prime real estate. There's 80 characters. I am not going to be using filler words. I'm going to be using actual descriptive keywords that a potential buyer is looking for. So I try to front load all of the most relevant keywords, which is generally how people search. So it is the brand, the size, what it is and the gender, and then everything else after that, I kind of call it the supporting cast, which would be like the style. If it's a dress, the fit and flare. The color. Lace trim, the style of the neckline. You want to make sure you are using those 80 characters to make sure that it is providing the most accurate listing.

You mentioned something about filler or fluff words. What are some examples of those?

Amazing. Great. Stunning. Glamorous. Because most people aren't gonna type in search, stunning.

Exactly. Yeah. They're not going to search by those words.

Do you know what happens if you search on something like glamorous?

Now you got me wondering?

You get tons of, you get millions of listings. There's nothing that ties them together. Right?

So it's impossible searchwise.

Exactly. Right. And that's why you know, you're just burning up valuable characters in the title by using words like that, you're better off using purely descriptive, we call aspects to describe your product.

I like this change by the way, cause we used to say specifics, now we're using the word aspects.

Anyway. We used to call them aspects, now we are calling them specifics.

Oh we used to call them aspects.

Either way they're one in the same item descriptors aspects, you know, whichever you prefer.

By the way, that's Liz in the background. I may not edit her out.

She's great. She is great. And she's right. I mean look, either way, item specifics or aspects, whatever, however you want to refer to them. They are just as critical as your title. And we're going to talk a little bit about that, I think.

They're describing words.

Exactly.

So why not get into that? Because we've got an idea. The title, I love the idea that things you should leave out. We've been saying this for years by the way. So things like look or rare or lots of punctuation. Like people search on fives exclamation points.

Correct.

Hey Griff, Let me just take a second. So when you talk about look actually, which is in item descriptor, right? For fashion, the reality is that's the fifth most searched item specific by buyers in fashion.

Are we talking about the l@@k?

He's talking about the actual word.

I'm talking about the actual word Look.

Oh there's an actual brand?

There is an actual aspect called look, right? When you are describing fashion. And it is the number five most searched aspect and it's so super critical. Important. And when you look at what we announced at eBay Open and talking about how we redesign the listing flow, look used to be at the bottom of item specifics, right? We didn't organize the item specifics in any relevant order.

Yeah, I remember that.

Right? And so now what we've done is we've exposed all the buyer demand data to sellers, we're showing them how often buyers have actually searched for those aspects or item descriptors in the last 30 days. And data shows us that look is number five. And so instead of it all, it would be being at the bottom of the listing flow. We've moved it right to the top.

So what's an example of look cause that's the label, but what's the actual item specific someone would say? Like look as a type of dress?

It could be used with an occasion maybe, which is Summer.

Oh a summer look.

A Summer look, something like.

Right because people would searching. But especially when it comes to things like apparel, women's apparel like dresses.

And style.

Yeah, style.

Style Is a big one. For example, in dresses fit and flair, sheath, shift. So that is really important.

There were recent announcements, Harry, that you talked about at eBay Open and they were about items specifics or aspects, especially how they're going to work for the holidays. But why are they so critical now?

Well, they've always been critical. Right?

Now they're hyper critical.

They're hypercritical because there's things that our sellers need to understand of how these affects search. So when you put aspects in your title, obviously they're fully indexed in search, but if you think about other ways that buyers are using the site to search for listings, as in say the left hand navigation or the aspect guidance or the new features that we announced called pivot in the mobile app, none of those actually will return your listing unless you provide the item specifics as well. So a great example is let's say that you put color in your title but you don't put color in the item specific itself. If a buyer searches using the left hand navigation and filters by color, your listing will not appear in those filtered results. So this is critical even though you've put them in the title, you also have to give them to us in the item description section of the listing flow. And here's another really, really important fact. When sellers are giving us their item specifics, these descriptors, the dropdown menu has a preset list of defined attributes and a lot of times what you're listing isn't defined in that list. It's called custom. We want you to give us that custom aspect, that custom item descriptor, but here's the thing, it doesn't get indexed in search today unless you put it in the title as well. So for any item descriptor that is not in that already defined list for whichever aspect it is, you must also give it to us in the title if you want it to be further indexed in search. Now over the course of the next several months, we're going to do what we call graduation and we're going to move those custom defined values into the defined list. All of them are just the ones that are most popular. We are going to take a huge portion of them today, the most popular, and then eventually index them all. Oh, okay. But in the first couple of months it'll be the most popular ones. We you have to do things like eliminate not available and n slash a and things like that. Yeah. But again, I just want to repeat this for our sellers cause it's so, so important to further index your listing and ensure that you have every possible ability to show up when buyers are looking for your listing. Whatever you put in your title you want in the item specific section as well. And you want to be sure to give us other item specifics, the ones that the highest ranked ones have the most buyer searches on them because again we're showing you what's relevant to a buyer and then if you are providing a custom aspect, you want to also make sure that's in your title as well.

Monica are you using item specifics pretty much across the board?

Yes. I've been using them consistently ever since they populated there, cause I've been selling for a long time. And I've always looked at it as and. My title and the item specifics and not either or. Which I know kind of those of us that are eBay OG's that have been listing from back in the day. Item specifics came up later. So I think there's this feeling that, oh it's either or. I've got it in the title so I'm covered. I think what eBay is doing a great job of is really relaying to us that no, it's not, or it's and. This is a marriage. Both have to happen.

And to Harry's point, I was talking about my experience this morning as a buyer, if I'm searching for blue, green and red shirts for example, which I do every day and I'm wearing a blue shirt that I got off of eBay and the buyer hasn't put a color, they end up in a place that I call not specified Hell, which means it may be the perfect blue shirt I'm looking for, but I am not going to go and click, not specified in the item specifics. I'm only clicking those colors and I'm not seeing your shirt. You've got an active customer with money who may want to buy your shirt and you've just locked me out.

And I think a lot of times the sellers are in repeat mode and they're going so fast. They're thinking, oh, I want to get out 20 listings today. It's 10 o'clock. I'm going to go fast and then the quality suffers. And you want the quality listing so you're better off doing two or three higher quality listings than 20 where you're skipping through the item specifics.

Could not agree more. Monica and listen, we recognize that the listing flow has a lot of item specifics. In some cases there could be 40 there and that is overload. We're going to show you what the most relevant to buyers are. We're going to move them to the surface. We're going to separate them from the others, so there is going to be a required section than the recommended section. We know the time is valuable for you and the rest of our sellers. We don't need all 40 or whatever the number is. If you just give us the required and recommended, that alone will give you much better search visibility.

But the fact that it's now auto-populating based on making a strong title, when you get past the photos and down to the item specifics, you can pretty much almost all the time hit accept all. So it's not like you're even having to go in there and spend five seconds per item specifically. You're literally just clicking accept all.

Yes, we are now effectively automatically looking at your title and where we can ascertain that there is an aspect in there or an item descriptor. We will automatically populate it in the correct item description fields in the listing flow for you.

I'm selling off my vast Cologne collection and fragrances. I have 2,500 bottles. I hope to have just a hundred within a couple of years, it will take that long. If there's an earthquake in our neighborhood, you'll be able to find my house in a moment. But I've discovered with this automatic fill in, you know the auto fill for item specific, that how I put my title together helps eBay determine whether those are accurate. So I've seen where they've said, well, here's the brand and the brand will say spray. And I'll say, no, it's not spray,, wait, wait a minute. Spray is too far to the left in my title. I need to make sure that it's the brand, than the make of the Cologne. And then the size and when I make my titles like that, I see the auto fill is accurate.

You're absolutely right. If you align your title correctly like that, putting brand first, then style, then gender, then color, then size. It does make it easier for the what we call the automatic extraction or the aspect extraction capability to work better. And I want to point out to sellers, look, we recognize that sometimes it's not going to be perfect. It'll get the majority of them right, but the ones that it doesn't get right, we are asking you effectively, please go down to the item specific section, check your specifics. We'll get a lot of them right. The ones that aren't, you have the ability to easily fix them.

Something you haven't spoken about is the numbers of searches that you are appearing.

That's a great call Liz. See that's why we have Liz to remind us.

We should just get an extra mic.

I know!

So yes. What Liz is talking about is the lightening bar. It's effectively showing you that as you fill in each of these items specifics, how many more searches your listing is eligible for. How many more searches are you exposing your listing to? And as an example, Look I think was maybe a couple of hundred thousand searches. So when you fill in, look, you'll see your lighting bar, add that number at the end of adding all these item specifics. You could be eligible for 500,000 or 600,000 more searches than you were before.

Check current listings that you haven't updated the item specifics and then see what your traffic is. Now, Go update them and see if your traffic changes.

And I'm glad you brought that up because that's one of the tasks that I do every day. I go and I look at what I call my stale listings. You can sort them by views, which would be zero, why doesn't this have any views? So I go in and I edit and if it's a listing that I haven't touched in maybe a few months, cause now we're all good till cancelled, since the admin specifics have rolled out, it will then auto-populate suggestions. So then I go, okay, I'm going to add this, I'm going to add this and update it. Maybe I need to tweak the price while I'm there. So it definitely gets you more things to look at, update your listing. And now I don't have the search, the lightning thing there yet. What do you call it?

The lightning gauge.

The lightning gauge yet.

Or our B to C users, we're at 50% ramp actually based on seller feedback. We made a couple of modifications to the extraction service and so we've opted to roll that in before we roll out the rest of the users. And that should be happening in the next week or two.

Yeah. But I have noticed that. So I go in and I revise them, update them, add those extra item specifics and some of those now have more views than they had before or watchers.

Any sales?

I do get sales off of them.

Yeah! Same here. I had some old shirts, old Hawaiian shirts that were just there and I went in last week and did this very thing. I did adjust the price a little bit, but I noticed the traffic went up for them and I made sales.

Yes, you will. And and look, I think this relates directly also for those of you that use promoted listings, listing quality is huge. Particularly when you want to promote a listing because there you're paying to promote it additionally, and before you do that you want to make sure you have the perfect listing. You want to make sure you have all your items specifics cause it'll help it's positioning for sure.

The other things we wanted to talk about were photos and pricing. Those are two important attributes to the perfect listing as well. And I know we're going to talk about these attributes in more detail in the coming weeks. How do they all work together to create the perfect listing?

Well, photos is obviously what allows your buyers to see your product. And when I am buying, I zoom in on every photo and I can tell you that again, the experience of my son and I selling sneakers, he knows exactly what position to put the sneakers in. He takes pictures of the inside of the sneaker, he takes pictures of the sole because there's specific patterns that people look for. So he takes very high quality photos of that. For your title photo, we suggest doing a really high quality photo with a white clean back ground. Because the title photo is what shows up in the search results pages, it's what shows up on view item. It's the first photo also for searching on eBay. You know, we announced several years ago about using image search for our buyers that they could take a picture of something and easily find it. So having a higher quality photo we can identify what that product is, works better with the image search for buyers and then outside of eBay, as you know, a lot of the search sites like Google want a white background to be able to index that in their search. Having those high quality photos, the title photo with a white clean background ensures that it maximizes your search engine optimization.

Yeah, I find that nothing instills trust more than knowing that the photo was as professional as possible.

A buyer has more trust in the seller when they can see very vivid, clear photos of what they're buying.

They're verifying the information.

Absolutely.

Perfect. Yeah, that's so good.

So look, the fourth point, which is price. I mean you can have the best title, you can have all the items specifics and you have great photos, but if it isn't priced right, you're obviously not going to sell. So the key is to understand how to price your listing competitively. We recently announced the launch of Terapeak with inside Seller Hub. This year we announced that all store subscribers above basic have free access to Terapeak now. It makes it really easy to do all of your price competitive research, be able to look at listings for the past year now, so not just 90 days but a full year of history. Having it all right there natively embedded into Seller Hub and to easily go between that and your listing to figure out how you want to price competitively is key. Again, it all goes to that efficiency play.

I'm seeing when I'm listing an item in some categories that eBay is suggesting a price based on not just the title but on item specific. If I have a CD and I say it's very good, not, not new but very good, it'll show me all of the lowest price for very good CDs. And instead of me having to do the research, I could say, oh, I'm just going to be a few pennies below that cause I'm always undercutting on my CDs.

Exactly right and in Terapeak we have a really cool feature called the Title Optimizer, which effectively is showing you the value of key words in the title, how other listings have sold when they've had those words in there. All the work that we're doing around item specifics, it's a natural play to now make Terapeak available to the item specifics as well. So not only will it be able to search all listings on title, but it will be able to search listings on item specifics as well. And that's coming in the fourth quarter. It's going to open up a tremendous amount of content and data when you're searching in Terapeak and not just be able to help optimize from a pricing perspective with keywords in your title, but also the value of giving us the item specifics as well. So very powerful stuff.

You don't want to end up in not specified Hell.

No, you do not.

This is the specifics of item specifics as we like to say.

Well. I want to thank you both Monica and Harry for stopping by to talk to us on this episode, which we were talking about the perfect listing.

My pleasure. Great to be here.

We've been listening to Harry Temkin, Vice President of Seller Experience and Monica Gamboa. Monica, Harry, again, thank you so much.

Back in July at eBay Open 2019 we had the pleasure of speaking to quite a few eBay sellers who stopped by our podcast booth in the main hall. Let's listen into one of those interviews now with 2019 Shine Award Winner, Elijah McCloskey here at eBay Open. We're talking with all of the Shine Award winners and we're going to meet a new Shine Award winner. His name is Elijah McCloskey and your user Id. Elijah is… freewheel_bikes_madison.

Madison?

Wisconsin.

Wisconsin! Of course, I just want to be sure. Great College town.

I love it.

Little cold in the winter, but...

You know if you sell on eBay you can go travel to Florida or Croatia.

And do you?

I do. I do. If you've got a good team you can, You can definitely travel a lot and when you're selling, because you can work anywhere, there's Internet, you can work remotely. If you've got a good team taking care of your shipping and like day to day stuff in your store, you can totally travel for a month.

Elijah, what do you sell?

I sell vintage bicycles and we use them in order to pay for giving away bicycles to those in need. We've given away over 13,000 bikes to those in need in the last 16 years.

Wow. Largely paid for by eBay sales. And this is your charity then?

Absolutely, yes.

Is the business totally charities a 100% charity or do you also...

I mean we make money like we make an hourly wage, we make a salary, like we pay the bills, things like that. So we do for profit activities and people do get paid for the work that they do.

How many people work for your business?

There are nine employees.

Nine?

Yup. And we have a brick and mortar location and we're opening a second location in the fall of this year in partnership with the city of Madison, which we're very excited about.

Now you've piqued my interest. Vintage bicycles aren't all that easy to find these days. How do you source vintage bicycles?

That's actually one of the easiest parts. I do a lot of trainings and I talked to a lot of people about how to succeed on eBay and the biggest tip that I can give you is become an expert in your field. Take the five years, the 10 years, the 15 years to really know a topic or a vertical that you're passionate about. And once you have that, people just bring product to you.

Oh, they do?

Absolutely. They'll, they'll call and say, hey, I'm moving. I want to sell all this stuff. You buy a garage full of bikes for $600 and then that'll turn into six thousand, ten thousand in sales over the course of a couple of years with your labor and everything built into it. People just drop off literally hundreds of bikes a month out of fun.

Now, how did you get interested in this charitable cause?

When I was 16 I was homeless because I had problems with my family and I came back to this organization actually. It had existed for about a year and they helped me build a bike for free. And then I used that in order to get a job. And then I used that job in order to get an apartment and the stability from the apartment eventually led to me getting a business degree from UWMadison ,starting a bunch of businesses doing consulting. I came back and became the Executive Director, started them selling online, got them the 501C3 and everything like that. The other piece was when I was in high school, before I became homeless, I was in a bunch of like AP economics classes and I really had this like intuitive understanding of the supply and demand. Where some people are willing to pay a lot more than something is worth. And some people were willing to sell for a lot less than something's worth. And so I got into Craigslist kind of in early days, you know, doing, doing good work there. And I worked with Craigslist for about, you know, maybe 10 years. And then they became very hostile to professional sellers. So I stopped using it. And so those two pieces, like the economic side of things and then also the personal experience that like, transportation access can have a really radical effect on people's lives. It gives them the opportunity to do well in school. It gives them the opportunity to succeed at work, to find housing, to make it to their probation appointments, you know, whatever it is that then leads to a path of personal and professional success.

And you seem quite young and you said this started for you when you were 16.

So I'm 31 and the organization had been around for a year when I came by.

Are you a part of the organization?

I'm the Executive Director of the organization and then there's a Board of Directors and like I said, you know there's, there's nine people who work with the organization and then about a hundred volunteers and then a whole city of excited bike people and then all over the world we have supporters. You know, I'm seeing donations coming in from Europe, from various parts of the United States. This week alone just because of the promotion from the Shine Awards, the visibility there and then also other media outlets that we've spoken with.

Can you think of a success story that comes to mind that you could talk about of how your charity has helped an individual?

Oh absolutely. I mean there were these two brothers who came in, they're in their mid twenties now. They came in just as kids, you know, there were 12 they were messing around with bikes, trying to learn how to do stuff. So we do free classes at the space. We had 12 classes this week. We teach about a thousand people a year, how to fix bikes. And they just came in and we're playing around with stuff, fixing bikes, figuring out how to do this and that. When the one brother ended up training up for years and then working with us as a mechanic and then working at another place as a mechanic and then starting to sell bikes on his own. And then the, the other brother, he started flipping bikes on his own and started selling on eBay because of the skills that he had. But he also started getting really interested in like small engines and machining and like things like that. And so he started a business that sold lawnmowers and repaired and service lawnmowers and snowblowers and things like that. Did that for a while and then eventually went to school for both automotive repair and welding. And then he became a welding tech at a theater control company and he's making very good, very good money.

That's Fantastic!

Based off of like all of these physical hands on skills that we were able to teach him coupled with like the customer service that you learn by being a seller on eBay. We always encourage people to sell on eBay because like sometimes people say like isn't aren't you building more competitors by doing that and what we do is really difficult and the more good sellers there are on eBay, the better off we all are because it keeps bringing the customers back over and over and over again. So I love to see new people getting on eBay and doing it right.

When you meet somebody who's new, who wants to start on eBay, what's your first bit of advice? I mean what's the most common question you hear and then we'll go to the advice.

I think there's a lot of questions. Time management. People can get into it pretty easily. Like what do I start selling? And a big advice there is, look at stuff around the house that you don't need. Put it up 99 cent auction, seven days, actual shipping and handling time and just get a feel for the experience. See how it goes. Make your mistakes on things where it's okay to lose money, get that first 50 sales or so, get your limits raised and then start thinking about, you know, play around with a bunch of different verticals, a bunch of different niches and start thinking about what you want to specialize in. Because all of the sellers that I know that have done really well, that have high margins, that have stable businesses, that can't be eaten by big competitors, that can't be eaten by people who are willing to devalue their time, are specialists.

So it's really important to, to find a field and just get to know it inside and out.

Absolutely.

And work for somebody else who really knows it, you know?

Are you passionate about bicycles in your personal life? Do you have small collection of them I assume?

I only have three actually right now, which is pretty low. I've been working on that. And plus one, you know, if you're a bike person, you know that joke. But yeah, I mean I do a lot of long distance touring. I rode the whole Blue Ridge Parkway. I've ridden to Madison to Detroit and back, Madison, Minneapolis and back, Madison, Chicago and back.

And so, you know, I really enjoy riding, you know, 70 miles in a day, a hundred miles in a day. When I get a chance, it helps clear my mind. It helps me get perspective on big decisions and it's great for physical fitness. And so I do really enjoy that aspect of bicycle.

There's a lot of interest right now in mid century, modern, mid century Americana, antiques, articles, items. What's hot right now in bicycles?

When it comes to vintage ,USA made is always going to be great.

Like Schwinn?

Like Schwinn or Trek. Absolutely. Really strong. You know, if you've got a USA made Trek, it's probably worth some money. Maybe a hundred dollars maybe $200 maybe $4,000. Do your research, look at solds, go into the forums, those sorts of things. Even Basic Schwinn Continentals from 1977 if you market them correctly with the date that they were produced and accurate information, you can get a hundred to $200 plus shipping.

Wow.

Basic entry level.

Because those were very expensive bikes.

No they weren't, but they're classic. They're made in the USA. They have good design. There's a a retro nostalgia to it. I mean one of the biggest tips that I tell I kind of mid level experience sellers is if you can put a date in your title, do so. Because people will buy it because it's the year they were born. It's a year their kid was born. And those people are going to be a lot less price sensitive. And then again, never compete on price. Don't compete on price, compete on quality of service, compete on information, compete on delivery time, compete on customer service, compete on the breadth of products that you have available. If you compete on price as a smaller seller, you will always eventually lose.

Words of wisdom. Elijah. Well Elijah, thank you so much and keep in touch with us and let us know how you're doing a year from now.

I will absolutely. I'll be here.

Elijah McCloskey and the business is a freewheel_bikes_madison. Thanks again.

Thank you.

You got questions? We've got answers and joining us again this week to help answer your questions is our Cohost Brian Burke. Welcome back, Brian.

Thanks for if I'm happy to assist. Between the two of us, we should have some answers to the questions.

You'd hope!

Yeah, Haven't what, 40 years of experience here at eBay? What do we have this week?

Well we have three questions, Brian. These are callers that called into our number at (888) 723-4630 add left their questions for us? Let's listen to the first one first. That makes sense.

Hey Griff, this is Paul with Real Cool Surplus. Doing bulk shipping, taking things to the post office or having the post office pick them up, since we're getting busier and going into the fourth quarter I would print the labels on all my packages and then take them to the post office to have them scan them. Is there a way that you can print all your labels on your packages and then have the post office just scan one label and it has all the batch in there? And if you could explain how to do that, that'd be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much and a great podcast!

Thanks for that question. So let's talk about this Brian.

Two things that they can do. Print out a scan sheet.

Right and that's when you're in the bulk label print flow. You can print out a scan sheet, but there's a little bit of change to that. We'll discuss in a minute. By the way.

You might know some details that I don't know.

I do.

And then the other thing, if they have enough volume, they really should consider contacting their post office for pickup.

Why go to the post office and stand in line?

Save that time to be listening or responding to your customers or thinking about what other inventory to list.

You can get free pickups if you schedule them a day in advance, but the time is when they arrive. So you'd have to have everything ready for when they arrive. If you want to schedule a pickup a day later and you want it at a specific time, then it cost $25. The postal clerk usually will come at the time they deliver mail, so if you know that you can have all your packages ready, just alert them the day before you want to pick up. They'll scan that scan form, pick up all your items and it's all free and then you don't have to make that trip. You can spend that time listing items, fulfilling items, enjoying your life and not standing in line in the post office.

Exactly. It's 50 listings for each scan sheet. Right, and that change I wanted to talk about, it's in the past, there are people who would have like a series of listings that would sell. They'd print out a scan sheet, but that was a scan sheet for just those listings and then they'd have to do another scan sheet if they sold more. Now if you want to have a compiled scan sheet at the end of the day, you can go back to the print label flow, find all the labels that you printed for the day and then print that one scan sheet for all those labels.

Does it still have the 50 max?

It's still 50 Max, but, but boy is that helpful because if someone thought they were gonna do all their shipments out at 2:00 PM and they print the scan sheet and they get another order in and they were able to fulfill it, now they can very quickly just add it and it's still on the single scan sheet.

Well, let's listen to our next question.

Hi. Oh goody sell. My question is how would you go about pricing with your team, paying them know how hourly rate? A percentage?

That's my question. Thank you.

Brian, what's your thoughts on this?

Well first I'll say if he's got employees, I mean it's a nice problem to have as an eBay seller. I think there are a lot of our sellers that are just out there by themselves doing it all. Obviously how much you pay is dependent on a few things. What are your state laws or your local county laws around minimum wages and things like that? But then also, what's the competition? Think about what's the type of employee that you want and what are the tasks that they're going to be having to do and then think about what other comparable things would they be looking for jobs out there for. It's going to be variable by location and it's going to be variable by what you're going to be asking them to do.

There's a lot of sellers I've talked to who don't hire as an hourly wage. Some do, some hire by contract. What they'll do is they'll revert to the 1099 form, which is I need someone for the holidays to work for me for six weeks taking photographs. Or they'll hire on a contractor to do that job at a set price. I'm going to do a thousand photographs. Here's how much I'm willing to pay you and this is how long this is going to last. And that's easier to plan for because you can say, I have the budget to cover this and I have worked with this person or I've heard that this person can do the job. Sometimes they'll do a trial period of a week just to see if they can handle it. So there's various options.

That's a good approach. And you always have to plan out. Your business has to be able to absorb the cost and result in an efficiency and an increase in your business operation velocity that results in more profit, more gross sales. If you're going to ramp up for the holiday like that. Also think about what are you going to do the week or the two weeks after the holiday? Because we all know returns are part of ecommerce. You're going to have to manage those. So you have to think about has your velocity gone up so much that you're not going to be able to manage that? So do you keep them on for another week or two or is velocity high enough for you to manage it?

I hope we answered your question. I'm not so sure we gave you a specific, that's impossible, but these are some of the things you need to consider when you're hiring help for your business.

And planning ahead is a key one.

Oh yes it is. So here's our last question. Let's give a listen.

Hi, this is Damon in Kodiak Alaska. My user ID is patchyfogco. That's my eBay store. I have a question about eBay stores and when are you ready to get a store? When are you ready to get the more advanced versions of the store? Thanks. Love your guys podcast.

This isn't really that hard, Brian, is it?

No. First off, I would say if you're thinking about doing any level of like consistent sales on eBay, you should consider opening a store. You'd get some access to some other features. You can consolidate everything into your store. You can point people from your own website and such back to that store as well. So there's ways for you to more easily manage your business on eBay. Right? Each step of the store is dependent on, again, your velocity in your savings. If you're just starting out and your big and you think you need lots of support from eBay, boy, maybe paying us the the fees for anchor store makes sense.

If you know you're going to list thousands of listings.

And if you feel like you need a lot of support because you get a higher level of customer support with that level of store service, there's those trade offs. But ultimately you need to look at how many listings are you putting up and kind of a rule of thumb is if you're halfway to the next level, you're probably pretty close to a point where it's more cost effective for you just to go to the next level.

And the key here, as Brian said, is the number of listings you put up every month. If you're only putting up a few hundred like maybe one to 300 listings, a basic store is going to be economically your best bet. You don't want to pay the extra store fee for the number of listings you get that you never use. Could be cost detrimental to you. Pay attention to the number of listings you've got up. I'd love to have 2000 listings up on the site. That would be the time when I would think, alright, now I've got, I gotta save some money. I gotta go up to the next store level. I am assuming this caller doesn't have a store today.

No, he said he has an eBay store.

Okay, so probably a basic store then. The other thing to remember is for any listener who's out there who doesn't have a store yet, start at the basic or even start at the, what's the new one call ed?

The starter store.

Start at the starter level. You can always move up, but if you've subscribed for the year, for the store, moving down is harder, right?

So if you're going to subscribe to the next level as a test, always subscribe on a month by month basis to make sure it works for you. Because if you subscribe to the annual one and you get that discount, if you unsubscribed before the years out, there's a penalty for the lowering of the subscription.

Actually I liked your year suggestion on, you know, just go month to month. That's a little bit more expensive, but it allows you to test as a seller to see if that's the right store level for you.

Exactly. Well, I wanna thank everyone, all three of our sellers who asked us questions this week and if you have a question that you would like us to address on our podcast, just call our magic podcast hotline number and by now you must know what it is even though I forget it occasionally, (888) 723-4630. Call it, follow the prompts, state your question and we just might air it on an upcoming episode.

And it always helps to have your question ready before you call. Maybe even jot it down.

Oh, you're so organized, Brian. Hey, shall we wrap it up?

Is it time to close the episode?

Yeah, so soon.

Yeah. Yeah.

I was just getting warmed up. I don't know if I'm going to let Alan back.

You were finally getting warmed up Bria. Just took almost an hour.

And that's our show for this week. Thanks again, Brian for filling in for Alan.

Well, on episode 59 it's all about the details and we're going to take a deep dive into what does and doesn't work when it comes to titles, descriptions, terms of service, and of course especially photos when you're putting together the perfect listing for holiday or all the year round. We will also have a discussion with Casey Kempton of Chubb on the importance of disaster insurance for your small business. Now if you want to join the fun here on the eBay For Business Podcast, you can be a part of the show when you call us at 888-723-4630.

Or you can email if you prefer at podcast@ebay.com. That's podcast@ebay.com.

Don't wait for an eBay Upfront to come to your town. Go find a local regularly occurring eBay seller meet up in your area today. Right now. Just do it. At seller meetups, eBay sellers share tips, selling stories and small business insights all over a little nosh and beverage.

And sometimes even eBay employees visit as guest speakers. Like for example, Brian Burke.

I have gone to some.

A few I'd say. You can see upcoming meetups on our special eBay Community page for meetups at www.ebay.com/meetups.

And if you crave more eBay For Business infotainment, don't forget to tune into our weekly live video stream hosted by Audrey Tracy on the eBay For Business Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:30 PM Pacific Time. Just click over to facebook.com/ebayforbusiness.

And right after the live stream you can hop, hop, hop like a little bunny over to the eBay Community page for our weekly chat with eBay staff. It starts every Wednesday at 1:00 PM Pacific Time. Go to community bay.com and select weekly chat with the eBay staff in the drop down menu for discussions.

And that is eBay For Business Podcast episode for this week. And the eBay For Podcast team consists of Special Correspondent Jen Deal. , Associate Executive Segment Producer, Doug Smith, Marketing Strategists, Liz Austin, my Cohost this week, Brian Burke.

It was wonderful to be here.

It was great to have you.

Editor in Chief Griff and this is the eBay For Business Podcast, which is produced and distributed by Libsyn and podCast411.

Now we ad Lib. Brian.

Just like that again. We ad lib?

Yeah, we ad lib.

It was a really good show.

I thought you actually did really well.

Well, thank you.

I think you gave Alan a run for his money. Sorry Alan.

Oh yeah, but I don't have the accent.

Yeah, you can get it if you learn. Well, if you tried.

I'd have to go back to Ireland and drink a little bit more Guinness.

And then you'd never come back and you're too busy. You've got other stuff to do.

Yeah, but I enjoy coming on. So kind of like once in a while I'lll do the Facebook live or this.

So we can count on you maybe occasionally?

I don't mind. I think, you know, it gives my ego a boost.

Well, that's all what it's about.

That's why we're here is to get, never mind my ego.

I'm just trying for my perfect ego.

Perfection.

Exactly.

see, we're book ending the show Brian.

Very good.

We started with perfection. I just can't, and now we can say perfection. I'm striving to achieve perfection. The podcast perfection.

That's right.

Double P's.
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