How eBay Sellers Cope With The Summer Slowdown on eBay
Tips for cutting your eBay fees and expenses during the annual summer slowdown
By: Skip McGrath
It’s not new. The summer slowdown comes around every summer. The weather is better, parents and teens are focusing on graduation, people are spending more time in their gardens and in general there are more things pulling people away from their computers. What is different this year is that the economy continues to slow.
All consumer spending has been effected and eBay is no different. So what to do?
Well first of all, don’t give up. Yes, sales are down but there are still sales. They haven’t gone to zero. Here is the strategy I am using to cut my costs and keep my profits up:
1. Manage Your Listings – The first think you notice during a slowdown is that your conversion or sell-through-rate (STR) falls. This means that fewer listings close with a sale. eBay has lowered listing fees, but if you have a large number of listings they can add up. When STR drops your average fees go up. Remember, you pay a listing fee whether something sells or not. So if fewer of your listings are selling then you need to reduce the number of listings to reduce those fees. The trick is figuring out which ones to cut.
The simplest way to do this is to stop listing items that are not selling. This doesn’t mean you have to stop selling them. Instead of paying expensive auction-style listing fees, you can move them to an eBay Store or Fixed Price Listing format where the listing fees are lower. Then concentrate your auction-style listings on your best selling products.
2. Raise (or hold) Your Prices on Prime Merchandise – This may seem counter intuitive. When business is slow, most people cut prices and for some products and you may have to do this. In general, when you raise prices you may get fewer sales but you make more money on each sale. I would rather have fewer more profitable sales than lots of unprofitable sales. If there is one thing I have discovered is that there are always people who will pay for quality and good service. If you can convince those buyers you can deliver that, then they will buy.
3. Cut Prices and Get Rid of Nonperforming Inventory – If you are like most eBay sellers, you have goods that sell well and goods that don’t. In a period like this cash is king. You want to raise as much cash as possible and put that cash into inventory that is selling well. If you have nonperforming inventory (i.e. stuff that sells slowly or just doesn’t sell at all), then cut the price to the bone and get rid of it. Yes, you may take a loss, but if it’s just sitting on a shelf in your closet and you are paying listing fees over and over, then you are already losing money. This is why stores have sales –they want to raise cash to put into goods that do perform well.
4. Cut Your Optional Feature Fees – If you look at your eBay statement at the end of the month you will see that all those little optional feature fees (extra photos, bold, subtitle, scheduler, listing designer, BIN, etc.) can really add up fast. Many of these features can help, but you need to really look at your auctions to see if they are working. I find that they do help for some products but don’t for others. I was able to save over $60 per month by removing them from listings that weren’t performing.
5. Use an Auction Management Service to Save Time and Cut Fees – There are about a dozen auction management companies that all provide a different level of services and fees. I have been using Vendio for a number of years, but there are many other services. For example, another popular service is Auctiva. And if you use a Mac, give Auction Genie a try.
Here is how these services save you money. If, for example, you use Vendio or Auctiva you will pay $9.95 per month for the service. But you will save the 15˘ per photo for extra photos, 10˘ per listing if you schedule your auctions (which most people do) and 10˘ if you use listing designer. All of these features are included in the $9.95 month Vendio fee.
In my case, I list about 300 auctions per month –each with at least three photos. So that saves me 30˘ per listing X 300 listings = $90 per month. I also use a template to make my listings look good. That saves another 10˘ per listing or $30 per month. And then I also save another $30 when I schedule my auction listing times instead of paying eBay. That totals $150 month savings less the $9.95 fee so my total savings are $140.05 per month or $1,608.60 per year. On top of all that, these services save me a lot of time. They are much faster than listing items through eBay. So take a look at services such as Vendio, Auctiva, Auction Genie and others to save time –and money.
6. Add Additional Selling Channels – Multi-channel selling is a way to expand your business, sales and profits and it reduces risk. When I started selling on Amazon and from my website, one of the first lessons I learned is that some items that sell poorly on eBay, sold very well in these other channels. Amazon’s fees are a little higher than eBay, but I still make money. Over the Independence Day holiday weekend, my eBay sales virtually dried up, whereas I sold 11 items on Amazon and 3 from my website. It also works the other way. Amazon is best known for selling books, but I find there are many types of books that sell on eBay faster than they sell on Amazon. Facebook is also growing as an ecommerce channel. So use the summer slowdown to take a look at additional channels, including building your own website.
I talk about these tips and many more tips to increase your eBay sales and profits in The Complete eBay Marketing System.
© 1999- Harry McGrath, Inc., DBA Skip McGrath, Auction Seller's Resource and Vision-One Marketing. All Rights Reserved.
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