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2018 Winter Sale

Has eBay finally jumped the shark? New eBay Policies May Eliminate Some eBay Sellers

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ June 2018 ~ Volume 19, Issue No. 11

Tips, Tools, News and Wholesale Resources for eBay and Amazon Sellers
by: Skip McGrath

In This Issue:

Musings from and about eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. Has eBay finally jumped the shark? New eBay Policies May Eliminate Some eBay Sellers
  2. A Better & Faster Way to Build Feedback and Increase Product Reviews
  3. Sourcing Assessment: Wholesale vs. Retail Arbitrage
  4. Source Now, and What To Source for Back to School
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." ~ Herman Melville


Musings

Reminder: My Book Sale runs from Now to June 30 - From now, through the end of June, I am having a 40% off sale on all my books and training courses.

Please click here to see all my books. To get your discount, just use the Coupon SKIPSAV40 at checkout. Be sure and hit the button that says Apply after you enter the coupon so it will take effect.

I apologize to those of you who just purchased a book over the past few weeks, but unfortunately, I can not backdate my sale price. This was a fairly sudden decision brought on by slowing summer sales and was not planned.

Important Please read before you order. Whenever I have a sale, I get folks who order multiple books. Both the Complete Amazon Marketing System and the eBay Marketing System already include all of the information in The Wholesale Buying System -so please do not purchase one of the Marketing Systems, and the Wholesale Buying System.

One more thing , both the eBay and Amazon Marketing Systems contain a large amount of duplicate information -so again, I do not recommend purchasing both of them. My suggestion would be to buy the Amazon System, and my published book - Three Weeks to eBay Profits - Third Edition.


If you have a website or blog, you need to get in gear with GDPR.

GDPR is a European Union law on data protection and privacy that went into effect on May 25th. If you have a website or blog - not following GDPR can have major negative consequences.

Because the Internet is worldwide, it affects you even if your website is not in Europe. Most articles about GDPR, are pages of legalese and jargon that most folks can not understand. Instead check out 6 Myths about the GDPR and Email Marketing.


What is more important - Overall sales rank or sales velocity?

Both are related, because recent sales increase sales rank and that is still an important factor in determining search rank position on Amazon (and eBay).

But, sales velocity (more sales per day) may be more important in getting good search position on both.

The actual search algorithm on Amazon, and how it works, is probably Amazon's most closely guarded secret besides who Jeff Bezos is secretly fooling around with.

However, my research has shown that products selling several times a day come up higher in search than those with technically higher sales ranks. And the latest version of eBay's search engine really rewards sales velocity.


There's a service I have been using for just over two years now that has recovered lots of money for me from Amazon. During that time, they have found and processed 168 refunds from Amazon in the amount of $5,053.50. Last month, (May 2018), they recovered just over $150.

The company is Refunds Manager. What they do is audit your FBA account for discrepancies or mistakes made by Amazon, then submits cases to claim your money back from them. They only get paid if you get paid back by Amazon. Refunds Manager charges 25% of the money you get back through their service. Get no money back, and you won't owe them a dime.

Here are the types of cases Refunds Manager opens:

  • Unit lost report - They track all transactions per item, amount received, orders, returns, reimbursements, and removals found, and reconcile with the actual stock to make sure they match. They also check for items destroyed by Amazon without your request

  • For orders returned after 30 days, they make sure you got 20% restocking fee

  • Orders where customers were credited more than they were charged (This happens more often than you think)

  • Orders debited but never actually returned

  • Items damaged by shipper inbound or mis-received, and older than 30 days

  • Orders in which weight fee or dimensional fee was overcharged

Amazon is actually pretty good with tracking orders, returns, refunds and payments to sellers, but with millions of sales per month, it is inevitable a few mistakes happen. This is where Refunds Manager comes in. They have developed systems and processes to catch these mistakes.

Unlike other services that can get you in trouble with Amazon for opening cases for you, Refunds Manager only opens casers in your name. So if you sell on Amazon (FBA or Merchant Fulfilled)give them a try.


Amazon has been in the news recently over its policy of cancelling accounts from buyers who return an excessive amount of items. As a seller who finds returns costly, I am all for this.

Now, if Amazon would just crack down on buyers who abuse the return system by marking perfectly good items as not as described or defective just to get free return shipping.


eBay to Sellers: All Your Listings Are Belong to Us

eBay announced it is updating its User Agreement effective June 21, 2018. One provision eBay pointed out stands out to sellers. Read the full story at eCommerceBytes.


This announcement came in from Amazon just as I was wrapping up the newsletter and it's good news.

The restrictions on sellers listing the following brands have been removed as of April 10, 2018:

Alex and AniHue, Kipling
Alexis BittarLauren Ralph Lauren
American TouristerMerrell
AsicsOdema
Audemars PiguetRoberto Coin
BulovaRockland
CrocsSamsonite
DanskoSkechers
Delsey PairsTimex
DickiesVionic
Hairbows Unlimited

You may start listing these brands immediately, and if you participate in FBA, you may begin shipping products associated to these brands to our fulfillment centers. Amazon did not explain the reason for the change, but I heard from my sources, it was in response to seller lawsuits.


Lets get started with this month's in-depth articles:

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1. Has eBay finally jumped the shark? New eBay Policies May Eliminate Some eBay Sellers

New eBay Policies May Eliminate Some Sellers

Has eBay finally jumped the shark?

If you are like me, you have probably learned to dread the frequent eBay announcements. Well, here we go again. One of the factors in this announcement will most likely eliminate many sellers like me, who use Amazon to fulfill their eBay orders. In fact, this policy will cause me to cancel almost 300 eBay listings. See below for details.

This announcement is so large, what I am going to do is just show the announcement here, and then add my comments in italics below each item.

1. Inventory Optimization - New categories in the product-based shopping experience, category and classification changes, and item specifics to help buyers find your items.

As announced in the 2018 Spring Seller Update, eBay is transitioning to a product-based shopping experience. The first phase started with an initial list of product lines which will now be expanded to full categories.

The new shopping experience makes it easier for buyers to find your products wherever their search journey begins, so they can make purchase decisions quickly and easily. Listing with the eBay catalog reduces your listing time, and improves the accuracy and value of the competitive pricing guidance we provide so you can manage your business better.

With the expansion to the categories below, we invite you to contribute your expertise by suggesting edits to the eBay catalog, which will help ensure that product information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date.

You will also have the ability to add new products if you have relevant inventory that is not represented. Seller Hub and My eBay (note: these links require account login) will show recommendations on your existing listings that need to be updated in order to comply with the new requirement of below categories:

  • Cardio Equipment
  • Cell Phones & Smartphones
  • Computers/Tablets, Networking Tablets & eBook Readers
  • Humidifiers
  • Internet & Media Streamers
  • Major Appliances
  • Portable Fans
  • Small Kitchen Appliances
  • Space Heaters
  • TV, Video & Home Audio: Internet & Media Streamers
  • TVs
  • Voice-Enabled Smart Assistants
  • Programmable Thermostats

Starting mid-August 2018, we will provide you with the ability as you list to suggest edits in the catalog to products that you may feel are inaccurate or missing critical information. You will also be able to suggest a new product to be added to the eBay catalog. We strongly encourage you to begin updating your listings to comply with the requirement so that there will be no interruptions to your eBay business when we require catalog adoption starting mid-September 2018.


This policy will further eliminate the ability to sell name brand products because most of the popular brands do not permit sales on eBay unless you are an authorized reseller. And this statement is really disingenuous: "Listing with the eBay catalog reduces your listing time, and improves the accuracy and value of the competitive pricing guidance we provide so you can manage your business better." What they really mean is it will make it easier for eBay to show buyers other listings and advertisements that compete with your listing.


2. Selling Metrics & Shipping - Stay on top of your after-sale requests, keep your delivery promise and upload tracking, and provide your shipping location zip code.

As we announced in the 2018 Spring Seller Update, we will provide you with additional visibility into the status of your buyers' after-sale requests, which will help you identify any listings that aren't meeting buyer expectations.

Starting in July 2018, we will provide competitive insights with service metrics and peer benchmarks that will help you assess your performance. You can find the insights in a new section in Seller Hub called Service Metrics.

The metrics will show you:

  • How often you receive return requests for "items not as described."
  • How often you receive buyer requests for "items not received."
  • Peer benchmarks-comparisons to sellers of similar items.
  • Insights into why buyers are making after-sale requests, and tips to reduce requests.

These metrics can help you reduce after-sale buyer requests, which are time-consuming, costly to service, and often result in refunded sales.

Starting in September 2018, if you have very high occurrences of these poor buyer experiences, you will be notified via email and may be subject to extended estimated delivery times and additional fees.

To make sure you're meeting eBay's minimum selling requirements, read our selling best practices and check your seller dashboard regularly.

Starting July 31, 2018, you will be required to provide a valid zip code for your item's shipping location when you list. Valid zip codes help us provide your buyers with more accurate delivery estimates.

If the item you're selling is located in multiple locations, outside of US, or you use freight, you will not be required to provide zip codes in your listings.


The paragraph in red is the real killer for Amazon FBA sellers (like me) who use Amazon to fulfill our eBay orders. The next paragraph does seem to provide an "out," but I called support and they claim a new Sell your item form will have to be developed and they have no idea how that will work. In fact, the support folks did not seem to know much about the changes. Based on past experience, I do not have any faith in eBay's ability to implement the exceptions.

My guess is that eBay wants to do away with goods arriving from Amazon, and that is the real goal here as opposed to the reasons they claim.

The other issue has to do with being punished for poor account metrics. The problem with that is the days of the eBay community are long gone and many eBay buyers just don't have a clue and complain when they misunderstand something -even when sellers do everything correctly.


3. eBay Stores - eBay Stores feature changes, subscriber benefits and discounts, and new markdown sale event requirement.

In May 2018, we started moving Stores without custom content to the new Stores experience. These Stores will be updated to a new URL: www.ebay.com/str/StoreName. Your previous Store URL will automatically redirect to the new URL with no action required on your part. We recommend using this new URL when linking to your Store to reduce page load times.

Stores with custom pages will be updated to the new experience later this year. Stores with custom storefronts will be updated in 2019.

Starting June 2018, we will provide eBay Stores subscribers new features that will help you manage your Store. They include:

  • New merchandising opportunities

  • Enhanced mobile experience

  • HTTPS security

By Late-June 2018, these Store features will only be accessible in Seller Hub at the following locations:

  • Marketing tab

    • Stores Management
  • Performance tab

    • Sales reports
    • Traffic reports

You will continue to have access to eBay promotional tools through the Stores experience including Promoted Listings, Promotions Manager, and Global Shipping Program.

New eBay Stores subscriber benefits and discounts

eBay offers Stores subscribers exclusive benefits and discounts provided by our partners to help you manage and grow your business. We have added three new benefits and discount programs with no additional cost to all Stores subscribers. They include:

  • Marketing support. Free co-branded promotional material for your physical storefront from eBay Always Open and support to help drive online traffic to your eBay Store.

  • Payroll benefits and HR. A free 3-month trial with Gusto™ Built for the modern business, Gusto helps you onboard and pay employees and contractors, and automates payroll taxes, deductions, and time off.

  • Accounting services. Discounts on Bench Accounting services for both regular and catch-up bookkeeping-ideal for small to medium businesses. If you already use Bench, get more ongoing support. Bench can also help you get your finances back in order.

Starting Late-June 2018, we will remove the following features because the functionality is either outdated, or included in the new Stores management experience.

  • Recommendations
  • HTML builder
  • Search Engine Keywords
  • Promotional flyer
  • Favorite Seller Top Picks
  • RSS feeds
  • Promote similar items

Starting June 25, 2018, you must list your item for 14 calendar days at the same price before you can create a markdown sale event with Promotions Manager.

We recommend that you list your item at a competitive price before you create a markdown sale event. For many products, pricing recommendations are provided as you list and under the Growth tab in Seller Hub.


I dove into some of the details on eBay Stores, and this one is actually no all that bad. Some of the changes are actually positive and many of the discounts for store-owners are beneficial


4. Simplified Returns - Enhanced and streamlined returns automation, partial refund guidance, and customization of your international return policies.

Enhanced automation for a faster returns experience

Starting July 2018, eBay will automate two steps in the returns process for buyers and sellers. The changes will save up to a week of processing time for you and your buyer.

We are increasing automation to save you time and give you quicker access to funds on hold. It also delivers a streamlined returns experience for buyers by providing them immediate access to return labels and faster refunds. There are two changes to the returns process:

  1. We are expanding our returns automation and may immediately accept a return request by providing a return shipping label to a buyer when you receive a return request.

  2. You will have two business days to review a returned item and issue a refund. If no action is taken, eBay may automatically issue a refund on your behalf two business days after the tracking number shows a confirmed delivery status. At that time, we will close the return for you with no impact to your seller performance.

You can continue to control the efficiency of your returns process by creating rules in your Return Preferences (login required) to automatically approve returns or send immediate refunds without requiring the buyer to send the item back.

Partial refunds

As we announced in our 2018 Spring Seller Update, when you offer free returns, you can decide to issue partial refunds to buyers when the item is returned in an altered condition. We have created a new Condition of Return Policy to educate buyers that the returned item must be in the same condition in which it was received.

If you do not offer free returns, you will still be able to issue a partial refund for items returned in an altered condition in select categories including Business & Industrial, Parts & Accessories, Collectibles & Art, Cameras & Photo, Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment, Home Improvement, Furniture, Musical Instruments & Gear, and Yard, Garden & Outdoor.


OK - Automation and saving time is great - but this is obviously an attempt to be more like Amazon and like Amazon, this policy will lead to higher return percentages. Also, over the years we have seen eBay do a poor job when it comes to automating features. The fact is, they are not very good at it.

If this part works: "If you do not offer free returns, you will still be able to issue a partial refund for items returned in an altered condition… could actually be a good thing.

The last part of the announcement was a link to something called Seller Vision that was obviously written by their public relations specialists. It was full of self-serving Pablum designed to convince you why all the changes were done with you (sellers) in mind and not eBay. Right!

If history has proven one thing it is that eBay rarely does anything to benefit sellers. Back to my original question, has eBay finally jumped the shark? I believe that these changes, combined with eBay's poor overall competitive performance will drive more sellers to Etsy, Amazon, Jet, Wal-Mart and other platforms

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2. A Better & Faster Way to Build Feedback and Increase Product Reviews

For the last few years, I have been using and endorsing FeedbackFive as the service I used to increase my Amazon feedback score and increase the number of product reviews.

Well, there is a new player in town - Kibly. (They are actually not brand new -but newer than many other similar services).

Before I go any further, let me say that the people, and the support at FeedbackFive are excellent. Unfortunately, it just wasn't working for me anymore.

The problem I had with FeedbackFive was that my feedback was falling. Lately, I was averaging less than one feedback per week. Over the past year, my 365-day feedback score fell from over 900 to below 300. We are selling fewer SKUs now than last year, so that accounts for some of it. But, since signing up with Kibly, I am already seeing positive results.

So, if you want to increase your feedback, and get more and better reviews, I suggest you check them out. Best of all they offer a Free 14-day trial. Click here to claim your 14 Day Free Trial!

Many sales follow-up systems allow you to do lots of things, because they have a bazillion features.

So, why is Kibly The Fastest Growing Review service for Amazon 2 Years in a Row? Because…All They Do Is Maximize Reviews and Feedback!!!

Kibly has split tested literally MILLIONS of emails! And now, they boast the highest open rates, click rates, and review rates in the industry!

If you want the oldest, the biggest, or the most options for a sales follow-up system, then Kibly isn't for you. However, if you would like to increase your feedback and reviews -then try the FREE 14-day test drive.

If you would rather have a 99% or 100% seller rating and higher review ratings on your product like 4.5 or even 5 stars --Then Kibly may be for you. With Kibly's 1-Click Set Up, you can get started in just 3 minutes.

Another feature I like about Kibly is preventing bad reviews. Their system detects bad reviewers, via built-in filtering parameters, to avoid them ever finding a review link in the first place

Kibly must work well because they have a better than 95% retention rate which is excellent for any online service.

Kibly is 100% compliant with Amazons Terms of service (TOS), so you have no worries on that score. They also have an optional service that can find and send follow-up emails to buyer's regular email address (and yes - Kibly does not violate Amazon's TOS to do that).

Sorry, if I sound a bit enthusiastic -but I can't help it. Kibly is really getting it done for me. I hope it will work for you too.

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3. Sourcing Assessment: Wholesale vs. Retail Arbitrage

The following article is a guest post by Erin Alexander from BULQ. I have written about BULQ before. They are a prominent supplier to eBay and Amazon sellers for liquidation and surplus merchandise. What separates them from other Liquidation sellers is their focus on online resellers and ability to supply small lots in reasonable sizes.

The BULQ Blog is a great resource of information for eBay & Amazon sellers. If you are interested in reading more about souring and liquidation, check out the BULQ Blog for helpful resources!


Resellers live by the "buy low, sell high" motto. But they also know that some investments can be risky and backfire. Bearing this risk in mind, resellers must be well informed about the industry and know what to source and when.

Top resellers are always hustling. To turn a profit, their turnover must be quick. Inventory prices fluctuate and items can depreciate quickly. Unlike a property investment that appreciates over time, inventory sitting on a shelf can mean money lost.

Therefore, finding the right merchandise is the most essential part of a reseller's investment strategy. Calculating that investment is contingent upon two important factors: the risk associated with each item purchased, and the amount of time spent sourcing for and listing that merchandise.

Based on those two factors, we've put together an investment assessment of the two most common sourcing methods: purchasing wholesale and retail arbitrage.

Wholesale Sourcing. Buying wholesale is one common method of sourcing. Wholesale goods often arrive in a Gaylord - one large box on top of standard pallets. Resellers can buy wholesale inventory online in varied quantities depending on their business needs. Wholesale prices also vary based on the pallet contents. You can sometimes find a pallet for as low as $50, whereas more expensive pallets generally fall in the $800-1,000 range.

  • Risk Assessment: Medium to High. Wholesale sourcing can be a risky endeavor because of the general lack of transparency. The quality of merchandise is never fully certain and many resellers take a shot in the dark when sourcing wholesale online. The best way to mitigate this risk is to spend time researching different vendors and sourcing solutions. Ask other resellers for their sourcing tips and start small by testing the waters. Even better, look for a vendor that offers merchandise lists or manifests upfront. Bonus points for those vendors who go one step further and offer manifest guarantees. If you find a reliable and trustworthy solution, you can always scale up and feel confident that you will turn a profit.

  • Time Assessment: Low to Medium. For many resellers, the time commitment involved in wholesale sourcing is generally low. Once a reseller has found a wholesale vendor they trust, the time it takes to find the right inventory and make a purchase is quite low. The most time-consuming part of wholesale sourcing is the sorting, labeling and listing. However, there are several ways to streamline the process and save time along the way.

  • Overall Assessment: Wholesale sourcing is an ideal solution for those resellers who are thinking of scaling their business or have already established a steady stream of sales. In short, sourcing wholesale pallets can certainly be high-risk, but it can also lead to a high reward.

Thrifting or retail arbitrage. Buying products for individual resale is a tried-and-true method for many resellers. For many resellers, their main source of inventory comes from brick and mortar stores. Stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army serve as a great source of one-off unique finds. Other big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart consistently offer great value for deep-sku inventory.

  • Risk Assessment: Low. Retail arbitrage is a great opportunity for resellers to hand pick their inventory and vet for quality. And with smartphones, resellers have additional opportunities to conduct research in real-time and determine potential resale value and profit.

  • Time Assessment: High. Retail arbitrage can be a time-consuming endeavor. Resellers have to drive to the store, dedicate time to research, and ultimately decide on which products to purchase.

  • Overall Assessment: Retail arbitrage is a low risk and time-consuming commitment. Generally speaking, this method of sourcing works best for those resellers who are selling lower volumes of inventory or who are looking to supplement a larger wholesale purchasing strategy.

Sourcing wholesale and retail arbitrage are just a few of the very defined sourcing options out there. Many resellers choose some combination of the two and may even rotate depending on season or their specific business needs. Do what's best for your business and keep in mind the costs and risks at all times so that you can make the most informed decision

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4. Source Now, and What To Source for Back to School

This year eCommerce sales during the 5-week Back-to-school season are expected to hit just over $2 Billion just during the month of August.

The Back to School selling season starts the last week of July, but really gets going first week of August. That means you need to have your listings created, and be ready to sell and ship goods less than 60 days from now. eBay and Merchant Fulfilled sellers should have their listings running and be ready to ship by July 25th. If you are an Amazon FBA seller, you will want your shipments on their way to Amazon no later than July 10th so they have time to arrive, be received and appear in your inventory ready to sell.

Back to school selling covers a wide variety of students. Remember to target students of all ages and types from preschoolers to grad students.

  • Preschool and Elementary school
  • Junior high school and high school
  • College students
  • Grad students
  • Trade schools

Products to look for cover several categories including:

Various types of bagsSchool MaterialsWriting Tools
KnapsacksSpiral notebooksBallpoint pens
Laptop cases and bagsComposition booksFelt-tip pens
Messenger bagsLined paperHighlighters
Gym bagsRing BindersPencils
Lunchboxes and bagsStaplers and staplesMechanical pencils
Arts & Craft MaterialsFoldersErasers
Colored pencilsTechnologyOther BTS Products
CrayonsCalculatorsBooks
MarkersScientific calculatorsClothing
ScissorsVoice recordersShoes
TapeLaptops & TabletsToys
Construction paperHeadphonesSporting Goods
RulersTablet & phone casesCell phone holsters

The other thing that happens during the season is that sales of other products increase just because people are online. A mom may be shopping for her kids when she remembers she needs a new saucepan or more diapers. This means you want to have a good stock of all your best selling items on hand

The start of Back-to-school selling season marks the end of the annual summer slowdown. The season ends on Labor Day which is when you should start getting ready for the 4th Quarter Fall and Holiday selling season.

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Bulq Liquidation has a large supply of back-to-school items ready for immediate shipment.

Blu School Supplies sells a wide range of school supplies of all types in bulk wholesale quantities. The prices listed are for small quantities. Call 888-234-7274 for QUANTITY DISCOUNTS

Sydney Paige is a leading supplier of school backpacks and other back-to-school merchandise

Precision Products offers wholesale hobby tools, sport knives, magnifiers!

Two's Company is a wholesale houseware and giftware company focused on creating their own unique products.

D'Lusso Designs sells a wide range of giftware and decorative accessories.

Rebel Jane makes and sells an innovative line of shoe accessories that allow you to instantly transform any basic flat or heel into fashionable footwear.

Carpe Diem Hardware sells very unique and beautiful cabinet knobs, pulls and other hardware.

Ingrid Press makes and sells blank greeting cards, made and packaged in the USA. They use eco-friendly materials and are printed from hand painted designs

Sashka Co. imports and sells glass beaded bracelets handcrafted by artisans in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal

Naturally Vain is a Canadian company that makes a line of unique hand made soap products.

Mary Meyer Corporation makes a line of unique and high-quality stuffed toys

Intrada Italy makes and imports Italian ceramics and pottery including Italian hand made and painted ceramics, pottery, dinnerware, glassware, pewter and Florentine wood trays

Pam Branch Designs makes fashion wood and acrylic jewelry designed with inspirational phrases. Others are hand-painted and contain tassels and/or laser-cut patterns

Deck Towel sells a line of soft luxurious linen beach towels woven in the USA

Crooked Brook sells a line of Wholesale Fleece Blankets, Fleece Throws and Personalized Fleece Blankets

Gogh Jewelry Design is a woman-owned company with a unique line of medium-priced fashion jewelry.

Jon Hart Design makes a high-quality line of custom and personalized bags, totes, and various travel goods and accessories. All made in America, in the State of Texas.

That's all for now. See you again in two weeks.

Skip McGrath
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.







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