Archive for February, 2013

eBay Design, a cautionary tale….

Monday, February 11th, 2013

In talking to eBay sellers all over the world, you get to be an agony aunt when it comes to design troubles. These are some cautionary points based on stories from REAL sellers.

1. Don’t get locked in

A lock in is something you might find at an Irish bar and shouldn’t be something you find with eBay design. You need to be able to take your eBay design and use it with ANY listing tool with a template system or just though eBay alone. Say, you were an inkfrog seller for a while and wanted to move to solid commerce. In an ideal world you would take your template, change the place holders to match the new system and VOILÀ!

However, BEFORE you sign contracts and pay make sure this can happen. There are those companies who make it difficult or completely impossible to do this. Either with bad coding that only ‘works’ with certain systems or if they offer a design service as part of a selling tool you could lose your design investment if you move.

As Was templates can be moved by just changing place holders within the HTML and changing image URLs if your image locations change. Our templates also work with multiple platforms and still work on your iPad :)

2. The people in charge of your design have never sold on eBay

…and even worse, don’t even BUY off eBay.

Would you trust a driving instructor who had trained in the test center but never driven on actual roads? So why do this with your eBay design? I am surgically attached to the eBay app on my phone and have been a seller on eBay, this is WHY I make good decisions about your eBay business.

Check the experience of the person responsible for the concept. Question their decisions and put yourself in the position of your customer. The layout of your eBay template is EVERYTHING!

3. The design company is just a business, they don’t care about design…just $$$

Design is an art, a passion and so is eBay. You need to make sure you employ people to design for you who care about your business and not just about the money. When you investigate a company you need to make sure they are INTERESTED in design all the way to the core. If the Managing Director of a company has never been involved in design and their other business is insurance, then they are not for you. The culture of a company always starts at the top.

I hope this will help you make better decisions when it comes to choosing which design company to work with.

 

 


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Shipping prices change and we change with it!

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Shipping prices never go down do they? It has been all over the news that a first class stamp has risen to $0.46 but what seems to be MISSING from most reports is that shipping internationally has more than doubled in some instances.

So lets look at the headlines:

On average, sending packages via Express Mail will cost sellers around 5.8% more than it does now, just over 6.3% more if they go with Priority Mail, 9% more when they choose Parcel Select and 3% more if they opt for First-Class Package Service.

It doesn’t sound like much, until you look at the predicted inflation for this next year is set at around 2.3%.

But lets look at those international rate increases. Don’t read on if you have history of a heart condition and happen to sell on eBay internationally….

Priority Mail international has risen by 15.1%, but don’t worry Express Mail International has only increased by 13.2%.

However, to pretend the world isn’t ending USPS are RENAMING their most popular service (First-Class Mail International) to First-Class Package International Service™ to hide the fact that these rates are effectively doubling across some weight bands. Across the board the increase here is 60%, but for the 3-7oz weight band more like 100%.

But lets take a look at how competitive these rates are globally before we start writing letters or reaching for the defibrillator!

So I sell an item of clothing and pack it up to send to the UK. The Brits have had postal rises too, they know our pain and might be a bit more comparative. My item is 0.5lbs and with a flat rate envelope/box the cost is $23.95 international priority, 6-10 business days.

So, lets look at the price on the way back from the UK to the US. I picked Airmail Small Packets by Royal Mail, takes about the same time and it costs £4.98! (approx $7.81)

Well, hold on there…the British are patient, I will send it through this renamed First-Class Package International Service™ it only costs $12.75 and as the USPS website states one of it’s key features is that ‘Delivery time varies by destination‘ – really? Who thought that would sell this service!

So if you sell on eBay please make sure you adjust your international shipping prices, as mistakes here could effect your bottom line. Feeling that these changes will hurt your eBay business? Make your listings work harder and smarter for you by speaking to us about eBay design. We don’t bite and haven’t raised our prices for 2013!


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Don’t Be Part Of An Online Virtual Mall

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

eCommerce is now so easy and so inexpensive that it really makes no sense to be part of anything calling itself an online virtual mall. We love Volusion. They have so many excellent features, and the pricing is certainly fair. Unless you need extensive eCom customisation (which we can do), Volusion should be a great solution for most sellers. We don’t get paid by Volusion to say that. We’re just happy to design Volusion sites for clients.

But once upon a time, I incurred some wrath…

Years ago, a website came onto the scene. It was called Bonanzle, later changed to Bonanza. I didn’t think the model made sense, so I openly said that people should not spend their time trying to make a Bonanza “booth” or bring traffic to a site where you might have competitors. The site billing itself as the friendliest shopping site online (because of its active discussion forums) went on a campaign to try to smear me.

That was surreal. But didn’t distract from the truth. Every time I asked somebody how their Bonanza sales were, I got either no information, excuses, or the truth that it was nearly zero. People who were making sales admitted that they were mostly coming from other Bonanza sellers trying to support the site. They would tell me the site needed time to get shoppers. I said that without serious marketing, how will anybody know to shop there? Who has heard of it? What is Bonanza doing about that other than waiting for you to bring traffic to the site?

People told me I was just a hater, and I was just an eBay cheerleader. I was neither. I was and am someone who looks critically and honestly at companies’ business models, how they market, etc… Sorry but Bonanza never seemed like a winner to me, and I didn’t think it was worth my clients’ time and effort. Yes even after they installed a module to import everything you had on eBay into Bonanza. Many of my clients’ eBay listings link to their eBay stores and make references to eBay… that has to look awfully weird on a non-eBay site.

I don’t hear about Bonanza anymore, and that’s just fine. But I decided to pop by Alexa, which has stats on websites, to see how they’re doing. I got two 2-year charts. The first measures the estimated number of internet users around the world visiting this site:

ScreenHunter_30 Feb. 06 08.03

The second chart shows the amount of time users tend to spend on the site. This chart clearly shows a decline. People visiting the site are spending less time on it than they were before. Obviously, a website would hope that over time, MORE people come there and spend MORE time. These charts show stagnation if not drops. Can we call this one yet?

ScreenHunter_31 Feb. 06 08.03

What’s the lesson here?

If I had to give you a takeaway tip, it would be that not every eCommerce effort is worth your time. Focus more on the sites that have great traffic, or on how to generate traffic to your own site. Don’t send traffic to anybody else’s site, and that includes eBay. If you have control of traffic, send people to YOUR site. Forget online malls, and for now, forget selling from Facebook as it’s been a non-starter even for big companies (future blog post).

Your own eCommerce site at your own dot com. It’s cheaper and easier than it’s ever been, and of course, we can help. Just ask. :)


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Important Msg For Clients Using Our “Spacer” Product Image Placeholder

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Some of you (clients) are using our “spacer.gif” placeholder transparent image for some product pictures. This was a workaround for limitations in listing software like Inkfrog and Auctiva. If we build a template that shows 12 images, and this product only has 6, you will get 6 red X “missing image” icons if we don’t put SOMETHING in there. So some clients are putting spacer.gif files in. They are tiny invisible graphics that keep the “missing image” warnings from coming up.

eBay just changed their rules that all product images have a minimum size. Our spacer.gif is SMALLER than the minimum size, so you may get weird error messages and have trouble listing.

Please download the NEW spacer image here: http://AsWas.com/img/spacer500x500.gif Yes it looks blank. It’s totally see-through so that it doesn’t show an ugly box in your template where product pics would be. So when that comes up, if you can’t find a SAVE button, try right clicking in the top left of the browser screen. If one of your choices is “save image as…” or something like that, then you are on the image, and you can save it to your computer.

You may need to rename it to spacer.gif. You want to upload it into your listing software media/photo library and OVERWRITE the old one. If you don’t overwrite the old one, then your listing software might try to keep listing with that old, too-small image.

We’re sorry about the inconvenience, but when we created the spacer graphic in 2005, we had no idea eBay would think in 2013 that it was too small. We thought small was good when it came to optimising load time! Who knew.

If you have any questions, contact us or your As Was Account Manager for more help. Thanks.


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