By Cliff Ennico
Last week over 200 top-level eBay sellers attended the 12th annual eBay Radio Party and Conference in Las Vegas. This event, sponsored by the eBay Radio podcast (www.voicemarketingradio.com), has become the must-attend national “meetup” for people who sell on eBay.
I always look forward to this event each year (my talk this year was on “Social Media Marketing and the Law”), as I get to catch up with the latest developments and resources for eBay sellers.
The big item of discussion at this year’s conference was eBay Seller Release 15.1 (http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2015/index.html), warning that unique product identifiers – such as Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) – must be included in new listings of branded items in “new” and “manufacturer refurbished” condition within many categories starting June 29, 2015. Sellers of antique, collectible and one-of-a-kind goods will not be affected by this change.
Up to now, sellers have not be required to include product identifiers in their listings, but only suitable “keywords” to help buyers find the products they want. As pointed out by eBay spokesperson Jim “Griff” Griffith, the host of eBay Radio, while this makes life easier for newbie and inexperienced sellers who may not be familiar with product identifiers and how they work, the process is often frustrating for buyers. Someone searching for a particular Versace® product (for example) will see lots of unrelated and irrelevant items in the eBay search engine results. Requiring product identifiers in all listings will, in eBay’s view, lead to more accurate search engine results and a better buying experience.
The new rules will, however, pose a challenge to new or inexperienced sellers who will have to add product identifiers to their “learning curve” when learning to sell on eBay. Release 15.1 does not say what resources (if any) eBay will make available to sellers to help them identify the correct product identifiers for their merchandise.
The new rules will also (although this is not stated anywhere in the eBay release) make it a lot easier for eBay to identify sellers practicing “retail arbitrage” – buying branded or trademarked goods at retail stores and then reselling them at higher prices on eBay without permission or authorization from the product manufacturers – and shutting down their listings if the manufacturers complain about the practice.
Here are some other new things I learned about at the conference:
Many eBay sellers are fans of the cable TV reality show “Thrifting With the Boys” (www.thrifting-with-the-boys.com), which teaches folks how to identify best-selling secondhand merchandise at local thrift stores, bargain shops and other venues. The bad news is that the show has not been renewed for another season (although I suspect it will continue on YouTube® and other online venues). The good news is that co-host Bryan Goodman has written and self-published one of the best – and hands down the funniest — book on negotiating I have ever read that I have not myself written. The title is “Everything is Negotiable”, and it’s available wherever books are sold (even, maybe, on eBay).
So, you found an interesting collectible item at a local thrift shop, garage sale or flea market and have absolutely no idea what it is, much less what it’s worth? WorthPoint Corporation (www.worthpoint.com) has created “Worthopedia” – “the largest online database of antiques, collectibles and other one-of-a-kind items in the antiques business” — featuring full access to “sold for” prices dating back eight (8) years and unlimited access to millions of sale recods with item details and images.
eBay auction expert Lynn Dralle (www.thequeenofauctions.com) offers these tips (among others) to new sellers:
- You should make at least 10 times your purchase price when selling on eBay;
- List at least 50 to 100 new items at auction each week;
- Always auction first before selling at a fixed price (otherwise you’re leaving money on the table);
- When selling fixed-priced items in your eBay Store, price “super high”;
- Use eBay’s “Markdown Manager” feature consistently so you will not be grossly overpricing the market; and
- Always use eBay’s “Best Offer” feature on every item in your store.
Marsha Collier, author of the best-selling “eBay for Dummies” series of books (www.coolebaytools.com), introduced the audience to Periscope® (www.periscope.tv), a mobile phone app owned by Twitter® that allows users to capture streaming video in real time, post it instantaneously to social media and get immediate feedback from users around the world. It’s available for both the Apple® and Android® mobile platforms, and is guaranteed to increase the income of copyright lawyers throughout the world.
A number of software products offer to help eBay sellers automate and manage their listings, control their inventories, and handle bookkeeping chores. The latest entry is CampaignGo® (http://campaigngo.com).
It’s no secret that success on eBay depends on building a profitable niche – the narrower, the better. The “nichiest” sellers I met at the conference are:
- Barbara Baur, vintage auto license places (www.thelicenseplateguy.com); and
- Leslie Ann Batistich, hoof care products for horses (www.hoof-it.com).
Cliff Ennico (www.succeedinginyourbusiness.com), a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of Small Business Survival Guide, The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book and 15 other books. Follow him at @cliffennico.