Archive for the ‘eBay’ Category

What makes a good eBay title these days?

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

This is a bit of a story as it was prompted by a question from a client and some information they were given. The way eBay search & ranking is changing as Cassini responds to buyer behavior. So naturally, clients are curious about improvements to be made.

A client emailed though some advice given from a “Global Consultant” working with a large company steeped in eBay ties who had offered advice on ‘How to improve’ their eBay operation. This client had been working domestically and internationally with superb consultants so their eBay operations, down to the last listing were pretty spot on.

The advice given was ‘Add your eBay Shop Name’ into your eBay listing title to aid in optimization & buyer recognition, he asked if this was good advice.

My gut feeling was no. This was sounding like strange advice from a consultant that maybe could NOT find fault with the clients eBay operation but felt the need to chime in. Be wary of this.

I consulted internally and we came up with the conclusion that:

1. Adding in your eBay Shop name takes up title characters for a word or words people on eBay aren’t searching for.

2. If it is Google you want to optimize for, why send them to eBay and not your own website?

3. It could be seen as keyword spamming by eBay.

But of course, this begs the question what IS a good title for eBay? Lets start with eBay’s own advice:

Here are some elements of an effective title:

  • Use descriptive keywords to clearly and accurately convey what you are selling. You can use up to 80 characters. You don’t have to use all 80 characters.
  • Include the item’s brand name, artist, or designer.
  • Include item-specifics. For example, include size, color and condition.
  • State exactly what your item is, even if your title repeats the category name.
  • Don’t use multiple synonyms or plurals. It’s not needed for search and may make your title less attractive to buyers.
  • Omit punctuation marks and asterisks
  • Don’t include ‘wow’ or ‘look’. Buyers don’t search for words like these.
  • Use correct spelling.
  • Don’t worry about creating a grammatically correct sentence.
  • Don’t overuse acronyms.
  • Don’t use all caps.

So, lets say I want to sell a mobile phone. I would use this formula:

CONDITION + BRAND + COLOR + ITEM NAME/MODEL + OTHER ATTRIBUTE = EBAY TITLE

In real terms:

Brand New White Samsung Galaxy S4 Android Mobile Phone 4G Ready – This is 63 Characters so you can pop in more if you NEED them. Maybe the phone is sim free!

So in conclusion, even though this advice came from a reputable company, their employees might not be eBay experts suited to give advice to already successful sellers. The seller thought it was really odd advice which is why they popped it through to us for a second opinion. If the client HAD taken this advice and it did go against eBay policy, a good seller could have easily turned into a suspended seller.

Not all advice is good advice :)


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eBay Stores and SEO

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

We’ve received a bunch of inquiries lately from people who want us to design their eBay Stores and help them with eBay SEO. When I ask for clarification, they often reply that they want to use our “program” for getting to the top of eBay search.

When I see this many emails asking the same thing, I can only assume some new scammy person is telling people they need to get a program for their eBay SEO. So let’s look at the truth here.

  1. No matter who you hire, we NEVER suggest just designing an eBay Store. That’s not where the sale is made or killed. The sale happens on your listing, so money is best spent designing and organising listings. You can design your Store, but people might never see it. You don’t have to shop someone’s eBay Store to search eBay, find items, and buy one. Do an eBay Store design to match a listing template, but I wouldn’t spend money just designing an eBay Store as it won’t pay off as much as you think.
  2. eBay has mostly killed SEO especially for Stores. You can see this by searching products you like on Google. Search for a car part. A dress. An iPod. Do you see any eBay Stores coming up in Google search results? Probably not. You might see one link to all matching items on eBay, but I haven’t seen a link to an eBay Store in years.
  3. Getting to the top of eBay search results is something you earn, not something you buy. And it’s not something you can “game” either. It’s not like if you type NEW twice, you will end up higher than the person who typed NEW once. There aren’t really tricks that work anymore. Follow eBay’s rules and suggestions.
  4. If you are putting time, effort, or money into SEO, why send people to eBay? eBay is a place where you have lots of competition. Some of it is direct (people who sell what you sell) and some may not be direct (people who win your shopper’s money because they decide to buy something they stumble on). Why create competition for yourself? If you are driving traffic, drive them to your own website. Period. Set up an eCommerce website like Volusion (we can design the heck out of it), and drive people there.
  5. The same is true for driving people from outside of eBay to your eBay Store… like having your dot com point to your eBay Store. Instead of giving eBay more customers, keep those customers for yourself. Setting up and running a shopping website just keeps getting cheaper, so you ahve no excuse to NOT do it! Keep your customers and focus on connecting with them through your own website (and then other good marketing ideas).

Yes, As Was can do wonderful designs! We have a great reputation for increasing eBay sellers’ businesses. But that’s because we focus on the listing where the shopper decides if he/she wants your item or not. We focus secondarily on the Store. And we don’t bother with eBay SEO. We focus more on your website (which we can also design) and the SEO you should be focusing on there.

To stay on top of our suggestions and eBay news/announcements, join our mailing list or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


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Are you breaking policy on eBay?

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Working with eBay sellers I get asked about eBay policies on a day to day basis. There are a few that keep cropping up and are causing some pain for sellers.

Links in listings

The links policy was updated in 2011 on eBay.com but we are still seeing sellers break this policy. One that seems to occur frequently concerns email addresses. Email addresses (clickable and non-clickable) are NOT allowed on eBay. The ONLY exceptions to this rule are the Business & Industrial, Motors > Vehicles and Real Estate categories. Listings should have been revised to comply by early 2012. It took a while but we are now seeing enforcement of this rule.

eBay want you to use eBay messages so that communication is tracked. This is to help in dispute resolutions as you could have been a 5 star seller via email, but eBay customer support would not see this. It means that you are not at the mercy of your antivirus software either and won’t miss buyer communication. This is a good policy change for the seller.

If you notice you are doing this still on eBay, we can help bulk revise your listings. We blogged about it way back in 2011!

New picture standards

This is a relatively new policy change that was announced fall 2012 but we are seeing enforcement already. eBay now complains bitterly if you try to break the dimensions part of this policy. All pictures must be at least 500 pixels on the longest side. This also means EXISTING listings need to be revised. We are seeing listings removed and wrists slapped OFTEN.

Pictures may not include added borders, text, or artwork except for watermarks for ownership and attribution according to eBay. Many sellers are complaining that the borders and text ARE their watermark. Watermarks should be used in a non obtrusive way and not for marketing purposes. Digital watermarks are also a great alternative to protect intellectual property.

So what EXACTLY is needed?

Watermarks should never obstruct the product in the picture. It needs to be no bigger than 5% of the total image area and have an opacity of no more than 50%. Links are not allowed in watermarks either!

For example a 500px x 500px image must have a watermark no bigger than 25px x 25px.

Skirting around eBay policy is never a good thing. The penalties are high and the policies are there to protect buyers and sellers. Some of the new eBay policy changes are actually forcing sellers into best practice rather than just recommending it. We all want eBay to be the best place to shop!

Have you tripped over a policy on eBay lately? Need help with changes? We are always OPEN.

 


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eBay Spring Seller Update 2013 – Focus on efficiency and sales!

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

It is that time of year for eBay sellers when they look forward (and also slightly dread at times) to the eBay Spring Seller Update

Lets have a look at the key features:

Free listings for ALL sellers!

Every seller will get up to 50 free listings per month with no insertion fees for auction and fixed price listings. eBay Store sellers can get even more so set up that store if you have not already. You get a ton of other benefits too. Keeping with the FREE though, store sellers get up to 2,500 free listings per month.

New Store Plans

eBay have moved towards a simplified store subscription plan for sellers. So check if you will now SAVE money by upping or subscribing to eBay stores. Here is the breakdown: eBay Spring Store Fees Simplification

The snazzy eBay fee illustrator will help you with this process.

Feedback removed if case is resolved in your favor

Yep, buyers can’t get tasty with you via feedback if they lose a case. More detailed information here: Feedback Protection when Seller Wins a Case

New style immediate payment to reduce unpaid item cases

In theory this sounds FANTASTIC, however as a buyer it might upset me a little as I like to buy MULTIPLE items and then can’t checkout on mobile. Normally, the next day I have to get to my PC and combine there. If it has sold out by that time, well that equates to an angry buyer who wanted to combine shipping. This might force more sellers down the free shipping route and having to manually combine single mobile checkouts.

Many fixed price and auction-style items purchased with Buy It Now not sold until the buyer pays

This will also happen with eligible best offers.

Picture quality is being ENFORCED

eBays words not mine. They mean business when it comes to cleaning up pictures. You have till JULY to clean up those images. See the detail here: Quality Pictures Count

There is a LOT going on in this update so check out the Spring Release eBay Seller Update Checklist and get on PLAN!


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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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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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As Was Doesn’t Compete With ChannelAdvisor

Monday, February 13th, 2012

With so few of our clients using ChannelAdvisor, they’re not a company I’m normally thinking about. But they got my attention recently. First, a number of my non-CA customers contacted me to tell me that CA was aggressively cold calling and emailing them. Then, I got an email from CA trying to sell to someone who isn’t me. The email was addressed to one of our former clients (from MANY years ago) with like 10 people CC’ed. I think aggressive tactics like that tend to look desperate.

Maybe this is why CA is being more aggressive about trying to find more customers:

Or this from Alexa.com:

This was the email I and like 10 other people received (click to enlarge). Many of the other people did not receive it as it was sent to a dot com that is no longer registered by anybody. No website there. Certainly no email boxes at a dot com not owned by anybody. But nobody at CA noticed, and the email went out…

But what really caught my attention was when a client who got cold called told me that ChannelAdvisor told him we are competitors. As Was does not compete with ChannelAdvisor in any way. We do not offer software at all. They offer software. They fired their designers years ago, and have a web page on their site where they recommend “design partners.” We used to be on that page back when I was doing everything I could possibly do to support and recommend CA. Once I was hearing from so many unhappy CA clients, I could no longer recommend them, so they took us off their page. But we don’t compete. You can work with both of us as we supply different services and products.

We have supported CA customers since we first saw the system in 2001. We can install our fantastic eBay listing templates. We can do CA basic stores, though you’d never really want one. :) We can do CA Premium Stores, should you think you want one. If you are considering Channel Advisor, we suggest looking at Solid Commerce. We make no money from these recommendations. As consultants who live on our reputation, it’s important for us to make impartial and unpaid recommendations to match sellers with the right system for them. Most people looking at ChannelAdvisor would probably be happier with Solid Commerce, or so I’ve found. But then again, we had some clients leave ChannelAdvisor for Blackthorne and Auctiva! I have a British client trying StoreFeeder.com instead of CA. No idea if StoreFeeder is any good, but it sounds like they’re an option.

I also think Magento is a fantastic choice. It’s a GREAT eCommerce system that we’ve been designing for for years. You can list to eBay, Amazon, etc… It’s a real multi-channel system with a lot of flexibility. Magento was great before eBay bought them, and now, eBay appears to be putting nearly all their eggs in the Magento basket. This means we are (still) not recommending ProStores.

I can’t really make much sense out of ChannelAdvisor. I never understood why they told people they competed with us when they don’t. I never understood why they told people in 2008 that eBay was going to outlaw As Was templates. Wasn’t true then and certainly isn’t true now, but was really surreal. Any company that has to say these types of things to try to make themselves look like a better choice… well, I guess they feel like that’s the best way to try to compete. CA and As Was can happily co-exist.

It also never made sense to me that ChannelAdvisor had $75 million in venture capital funding, but had its first profitable quarter at the end of 2008. To get that profit, they had to cut 19% of staff. Plus it shouldn’t be missed that the profit came in Q4, which is holiday selling time, and CA takes a percentage of their users’ sales. It was interesting that they announced at that time that they’d stop innovating around eBay. I had always felt that they had stopped that around 2002. :) But their profit in late 2008 was on $10 million in revenue for that quarter. This means that investors gave them $75 million, and they used that to bring in $10 million of business in their best quarter to date. I think that’s a bad sign. Give me $75 million, and I promise to turn it at LEAST into $75.1 million. :) And I’ve noticed that CA has stopped publicly talking about their revenue or number of customers.

So in closing, we don’t compete with CA. We don’t recommend them. We think other options will work better and cost less for most sellers. Some sellers will still need CA, and we support them. We can design for CA’s stores and eBay features. If you sign with CA, my main suggestion is typically to mark in your calendar the day you need to tell CA whether or not you are continuing with them another year. The word on the street is that if you let that day come and go, your contract renews for a full year, and there’s no way to break the contract. Mark your calendars just in case you want to terminate with CA as you’ll need to play by the letter of the contract.


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Need Help Changing All Your Live eBay Listings?

Friday, September 16th, 2011

eBay has made some changes recently that require you to make changes to every live listing… unless you’re going to take all your listings down and relist them. But then you’d lose some of your nice search placement. So you won’t want to do that.

The types of changes I’m talking about include:

  • Removal of email addresses.
  • Removal of outside and social media links.
  • Removal of sizes from titles. I think this is mostly for Motors sellers.
  • Making sure you have a clear return policy INSIDE your listings.

Some of our clients have THOUSANDS of items on eBay, and it’s hard to use those bulk revision tools when you don’t know HTML. But now, we can help!

Even if you’re not an As Was client, we can run our own “find and replace” tool to get the nasties out of your listings, and put in the good stuff. We can change as many listings as you need changed, and we can make multiple changes. For example, you might need your email out, your sales tax percentage changed, and a link to your Facebook removed. We can do it!

Our charge is $200 for every 8,000 listings you have. So if you have 21,000 listings, it would cost $600. If you are interested, please fill out our contact form, and let us know what you need. This service is first come, first served, and we’re doing our best to get everybody changed before the deadline in about 2 weeks. Also, please note that we can only revise items that eBay allows to be revised. Still, that should get most if not all of your items, depending on how you list.

If you need your template changed, even if we didn’t do your eBay listing template, let us know. Prices for changing wording in templates starts at just $50.


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eBay Wants You To Do Business Like It’s 1899

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Today’s blog post is about eBay, but I’ve posted it to my other blog. Rather than dropping it in both places, please go enjoy it over there:

http://brassflowers.com/ebay-wants-you-to-do-business-like-its-1899/


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