Archive for February, 2009

Somedays (2)

One of the most difficult things about trying to make a living and sell successfully online is motivation.  I have had some difficult days recently.  However, sometimes something happens to make life online a whole lot better.

My Amazon sales have followed the general trend of the world economy, down and then a bit further down.  In the last week 2 items sold through eBay to Italy have gone missing in the post and required free replacements (and yes, John, free replacements can be expensive to the seller).  I may have to rethink whether I sell to people in Italy, the post is notoriously unreliable.  All in all, not a good couple of weeks.

Then, out of the blue I find that the subscription opt-in rate for the newsletter associated with this blog has increased amazingly over the last 2 days!  It is not much, and I do not make money from the blog or newsletter but the increased number and the support I receive from readers has really cheered me up.  My thanks to you all.

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More About Selling on AtomicMall

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

One of the keys to selling successfully online, or anywhere else is to understand your market.  Here are a few facts about the sales site that is beginning to make waves.

Free signup and the basic level of membership is free.

Free listings (charges only sales made)

Free shopping comparison sites and search engines

Bulk uploading for listings

Free shopfront with search tools

Payment options include PayPal, Google Checkout, personal cheques.

Each customer carries their own shopping cart with them across various vendors (like Amazon).

Perhaps I should start a series of blogs comparing eBay and AtomicMall (see my ongoing comparison of eBay and Amazon).  If I were to start a 3rd party sales site I would want to include all of the options above.  Add to that a very happy buyer and seller community, if the community boards are anything to go by and tell me, what is not to love?

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Selling Successfully Online Needs Lots of page Views.

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

A seller only needs one visitor to buy one item however it is obvious that the more people that look at your item the better the chances that that buyer will be among them.  One of the challenges to those of us that sell successfully online is to find listing sites that have a lot of traffic.  Until a year or so ago there was only one real choice, eBay.  Since then more of us have realized the benefit of listing items on Amazon (hence the growth in third party sales on Amazon).  Now there really may be a third option for those of us who strive to sell online,

AM is now known to generate more page views per item than anyone else and that must be good news for online sellers.  Add to that a policy of no listing fees unless a sale is made and you can understand why sellers are looking at AM seriously.  What lies ahead for AM could be their biggest challenge, how to make the buying public look to them before the big 2.

The jury is still out on AM but only the foolish online seller would overlook this site.  There is nothing to lose and a lot to gain for all us who sell online.  It is well worth looking at AM as another income stream, and maybe more in the future.

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Profit Margins

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

Sam from Hong Kong has asked me about my last post.  He wonders if I ever deviate from my rule that I want to make 200% profit from goods I sell on eBay and Amazon.

He thinks that I am looking for too much profit and that if I bought with a lower profit margin in mind I would sell more and so make a greater overall profit.

I do deviate from the 200% profit rule if I know that the goods will sell easily and quickly.  I have to take a lower profit on my main ebay line as it is price sensitive.  Others are selling the same line of goods as me and I beat them on price and my feedback alone.  So my margins are lower but the stock turn around is quicker.

Assume that a widget costs you £100 and that you stand to make £5 gross profit but it takes a year to sell.  If you had that money in a bank you could have made £5 in interest and it would have been safe, no risk of losing the money (assuming that our governments continue to underwrite the banks).  In this case why bother risking the money in stock that you may not sell?  You would be better advised to leave the money in the bank (remember, you need to deduct all shipping and fees from the gross profit).  If your gross profit was £200 for stock that costs you £100 then, obviously, buy the stock and try to sell it.

However, if you can buy 20 widgets at £5 each selling them all for a net profit of £3 each in a week and keep buying new ones to sell every week then a lower profit margin makes sense.  That is about turnover and I will talk about that in a later post.

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Condition is everything!

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

The other week Jane and I went away for the weekend (it was lovely, thanks for asking).  While we were enjoying a very brisk (i.e. cold) weekend on the North East coast of England I found a copy of a book called The Letters and Diary of Kathleen Ferrier that was in excellent condition, except for one thing.  The frontispiece had been torn out of it.  If it was intact it would have been worth £40, with this damage it was worth £6.  As I paid £1 I still made a nice profit on it (at least in percentage terms).

However, it got me to thinking.  My two general rules of thumb are never to pay more than 1/3 of what I think I can sell any item for and only buy items in the best possible condition.  This ensures that I make a reasonable profit and that I do not have too much of my working capital tied up in slow moving stock.  It also ensures that a collector interested in what I am selling will always consider my stock and come to trust me as a seller.

Selling goods in good condition helps to build both my profit and reputation.

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Amazon and eBay the Race Becomes Closer – selling online

Sell successfully online

I read a couple of interesting things recently.  The first is an article on about John Donahoe the CEO of eBay and the driving force behind the recent (and dramatic) changes to eBay.  Read it here. The second thing I read was about some research done by Channel Advisor.

We all know that times are hard, we have seen the recession coming from the first time the scandal of people who could not afford it borrowed from those who did not have it broke.  So it comes as no surprise that the rate of growth in online sales has declined.  Channel Advisor says that in the third quarter of 2008merchant sales at Amazon was up by 45% (year on year) and eBay’s by 7%.  Time says that eBay has 84.5 active users and Amazon 81 million customers.

What does all this mean?  The my main conclusion is that Amazon is catching up eBay very quickly (remember that that 45% growth comes from a smaller base line) but that eBay is still ahead, at least for now.  Now more than ever can you really afford not to look at selling on Amazon as well as eBay?

My second conclusion is that the Channel Advisor figures explain why Donahoe has been acting so quickly to change the cost base and direction of eBay.  Will his changes work? we can only wait and see.

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Divergence (What’s that?) – How to Sell on eBay

Sell successfully online
The excellent Oliver Goehler (AKA The Auction Kommando) has been talking about divergence for quite a while now.  The basic idea is that you look for a divergence between buying and selling prices buying low and selling, well high.  For example.  If you buy a job lot of books can you sell them separately for a profit?

As an example, I recently bought 50 DVDs about steam trains……….  I paid £10 for the lot.  I have listed half of them on Amazon, most for 99p some for £10 and a couple for £25 and £50!  The first sales were for £5, £10, and 99p – I am in profit already.

Divergence is such a simple idea that Oliver explains very well in his books.  The one thing that is necessary is an open mind and an ability to imagine.  When I bought the DVDs I thought that there was value in them.  My partner, Jane thought OMG more rubbish!  It is all in the eyes of the beholder.

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