Archive for online business

Accurate and Honest – The Bywords for Good Feedback (Feedback 2)

Sell successfully online

Feed back is one of the most important things that will propel your eBay business forward.  In fact goodwill, a business’s reputation, can form a significant part of its price when it it up for sale.  You need to protect and promote your feedback.

One sure way of receiving business killing bad feedback is to be less than open and honest about your goods.

Think like a buyer.  What does he need to know? What would he like to know? What should he know?

I sometimes feel that it a waste of my time to write full, long and time consuming descriptions.  Surely the buyer knows that I am a good seller, that I am honest and that all my goods are fantastic?  Sadly, they don’t.  I have to tell them.

Fill out those annoying item specifics, those drop down boxes on the listing page.  We all know that the make of widgets that you sell are the best on the market because the innovative design, the comprehensive guarantee, the rugged build quality, that ‘Which?’ has listed them as a best buy since Adam was a lad.  However, you have to tell your prospective buyer.

In fact, tell them more than once.  In the specifics you say the item is new and measures 20x20x20cm.  In the body of the listing tell them again.  You know that the measurements are important because your widgets are smaller than the competition’s which means that they are neater, fit better (whatever).  But, tell the prospective buyer.

The aim is to turn the prospective buyer into an actual buyer – but more than that into a satisfied, he will buy from you again, save you as a preferred seller, buyer.  Make it easy for the prospect to buy from you.

That is the task.  Make it easy to buy from you.

If there is something your widget can not do tell the prospective buyer.  What you do not want is for feedback to say “I bought this to do so and so, but it doesn’t”.  Not only will the buyer not remove the feedback he will not buy from you again.

List all the positives of your product, emphasise every reason why someone should buy yours, and yours alone.  Remember a description is not a reason to buy by in and of itself.  The size is an attribute, what that means (how, where it can be used) is a reason to buy.

As always think like a buyer, think like a picky, pedantic buyer.

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The Importance of Feedback (1)

Sell successfully online

A few months ago I had a disaster.

I received six (yes, 6) negative feedbacks in a period of 2 or 3 weeks!

I had prided myself on 6,000 positives and 0 (zero) negatives so it was a shock, to say the least.

What had gone wrong?  Well, I sell a small item, lots of them, and I had always used the Royal Mail’s normal letter rate.  For 2 days the Royal Mail decided that they should have been sent as ‘large letters’.  They were wrong.  I had letters checked at the local Post Office, they were ‘normal’.

However, the damage had been done.  There was an immediate reduction in sales and it took a couple of months for the position to improve.

How we react to negative feedback is important.  Once the damage has been done, and if the buyer will not withdraw it (2 of mine did) all you can do is to try to minimize the damage.  These are true examples of negative feedback from fellow sellers and how they reacted;

Feedback; Did not say in the item description anywhere the ******* was a minature version

Reaction; Er Nothing.

Another one.

Feedback; No ******** DVD the case was empty!!!! heartbroken, Fraudsters

Reaction; THIS WAS ADDRESSED AT THE TIME. GET A LIFE!

Another;

Feedback; I needed to pay extra postage!

Reaction; Refund given, excess postage came as a surprise, after 4 years without a problem

Which reaction gives you the best impression of the seller? (Hopefully, the last one as it was mine…..)  I happen to know the product in the first case.  There are 2 sizes and the model number in the listing was fopr the normal size. i.e. the seller was selling the wrong product! The second reply is just awful!  At least with mine I showed what I did to rectify the problem (a full, no quibble refund) and tried to explain that it had never happened before (but then it did, 5 times as I said) .

However peed off you feel at the feedback, however unjustified think about what you need to do.  If you can not get the feedback withdrawn with the agreement of the buyer then your aim has to be to reduce the damage to your reputation and reassure potential buyers.

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The Value of a Good Host

If you visited this blog over the last week you will have found nothing here!

I am massively stupid sometimes and last Friday I managed to ‘kill’ this blog………….. :-(

Luckily, I am with Blue Host.  They were supportive, sympathetic and efficient.  After I had exhausted all my options (which really consisted of turning the PC off and swearing – well, a bit more than that, but not much) they stepped in and got the blog back in 24 hours.

I can not recommend Blue Host highly enough.

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Avoid TIM WOOD – At all costs!

Tim Wood is a dreadful chap.  We should all avoid him at all costs, for the sake of your sanity and bank balance.

Tim, of course, is not a real person, it is an acronym for the 7 wastes as identified in the Lean Manufacturing philosophy.  Although LM is directed at manufacturing, obviously, we can all learn from it, even selling.  These are the wastes.

T is for Transport.

When selling it is obvious that you need to reduce your transportation costs.  Use the cheapest reliable delivery method you can.

I is for Inventory.

If you sell 10 widgets a week and your wholesaler supplies with a 2 week lead time then why ever hold more than 30 widgets?  Holding lots of inventory is bad for your cash flow.  Businesses fail through not understanding cash flow, understand yours and hold the correct inventory levels.

M is for Motion.

Hold everything you need to complete the sale close together.  If you are working from home then you need your stock, postage labels, wrapping paper, envelopes close together to avoid wasting time and motion.  Make completing sales a chore and it will not be long before you stop selling.

W is for Waiting.

In selling terms this is close to Inventory waste.  Understand your suppliers’ lead timescales so that you are not waiting for inventory to complete sales (a sure way to get bad feedback – and bad feedback kills on eBay).

O is for Over Production.

There is an option when using Paypal to create postage labels to print 2 sheets (the label and certificate) or just the label.  Unless you need a certificate of posting don’t bother.  Do not add anything to your product that does not add value, in the eyes of the customer.  You may like the special packaging, but does it add anything for the customer?

O is also for Over Processing.

What records do you need?  I rely on PayPal and eBay records for order details.  I do not need another ledger full of old orders.  I do need a stock list that is updated asI make sales.  That is because I need an easy way of seeing what my stock levels are, and when I have to reorder stock.

D is for Defects.

Obvious but bears saying again.  Defects are deadly, especially if you offer free replacements as I do (and I would recommend you to).  The offer of a free replacement should a product be faulty is good for business, unless you do not keep an eye on the quality of your stock.

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The Importance of More Than One product Line

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Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

About a month ago someone asked me to see if I could get them a camping knife. I do not sell camping knives but I know a wholesaler that does. I found the knife he wanted and passed it on to him. If I had sold him the knife at cost the RRP was 65% above cost. It occurred to me that this was a nice margin and so I thought about selling them in eBay.

The trouble is that eBay.co.uk banned the sale of all knives except for cutlery on 10th March 2009 . It is a shame that I missed out on a reasonable market but spare a thought for anyone who had their business based on selling camping knives on eBay. Their business was gone overnight.

I can not emphasise that if you only have one core product or one supplier that you are at risk of having your business swept away from you at a stroke.

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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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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, AtomicMall.com

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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