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eBay Will Change Their Feedback Program

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News, May 2015 - Volume 15, Issue No. 9

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

In This Issue:

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

  1. eBay Will Change Their Feedback Program
  2. Are Dimensional Weight Charts Eating Your Profits?
  3. Using Reviews to Uncover New Product Potential
  4. How to Source Products in Small Quantities to Determine Sales Potential
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." ~ Anonymous


Musings

An article in eCommercebytes last friday revealed that eBay Confirms it is hiding seller feedback as part of a test. Here is a link to the article.


In the last issue I mentioned Ryan Reger's and Jenni Hunt's new private label-mentoring program - "Private Label The Easy Way" Mentoring Program.

Ryan and Jenni have created a complete mentoring program that will not only help you develop your own Private Label product... but will enable you to apply the principles over and over again. There are other PL training programs out there, but with them you are pretty much on your own.

The "Private Label The Easy Way" Mentoring Program opens on May 1st and the lessons start on May 15th. Jenni's groups tend to fill up quickly but Jenni told me they still have a few openings.


Also in the last issue I had a story about buying liquidation products. Robert Cyr told me he would keep the special offer open for a few more days. This year's guide is bigger and better than ever and this year's guide includes two new bonus items - Bonus #1 Manifest Analysis Tutorial...Value $19.00 and Bonus #2 Brand Protection Analysis...Value $19.00. Click here to get The 2015 Liquidators Guide.


One of the best places to buy bubble pak and other shipping supplies is Bubblefast. I have had a deal in place for my readers for the past year where you can get a 5% discount by using the coupon code Skip at checkout. Well, Mark the owner just emailed me and he is raising the discount for my readers to 10%. Don't forget to use the code Skip at checkout to get your discount.


Jim Cockrum's fabulously successful CES conference is coming up soon. This year its in Louisville KY, Sept 10-12. The event sold out in hours last year. This year we expect the same. Even though it will likely sell out quickly, it still makes a lot of sense for you to promote the "hottest ticket in town". Tickets just went on sale. Click here to read about this wonderful event.


When PayPal splits off from eBay they have announced new terms of service. Visit this page to see what other sellers think about the new changes. There's some controversy and uncertainty about the new language. 


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. eBay Will Change Their Feedback Program

During the recent eBay shareholders meeting, a shareholder who was also an eBay seller complained about the eBay feedback system. This prompted the eBay executive to announce that eBay will soon be releasing new changes to their feedback system.

I think a little history is in order for those of you who were not around eBay in the early days. Up until 2007 both eBay buyers and sellers could leave feedback for each other. About that time eBay's business started falling and they began loosing market share to Amazon. eBay performed some customer research and focus groups and became convinced that when a new buyer received a bad feedback from a seller, they left the platform -never to return.

So eBay instituted the current system whereby a seller can only leave positive feedback for a buyer. Before that, buyers were careful about leaving negative feedbacks because they knew they could get one in return. With the old system I had a lot more customers contacting me when something was wrong (or perceived wrong) and we could usually work something out before either of us left feedback.

Once that changed I experienced more customers no longer willing to work things out - they just vented and left their negative feedback (which was often inaccurate) and when I tried to contact them to work something out and get the feedback removed -many of them would never answer the email.

I know there was also a recession shortly after that change and eBay's business fell -and of course they blamed it on the recession instead of their own shortsighted policies. But a lot of eBay sellers left the platform after that change.

One of the common practices by eBay is while they claim to care about sellers and want to hear from them -but as far as I know, when they were doing their research on changing the feedback they didn't bother to include sellers in the research.

What will the new changes bring? As eBay grew they did what most large bureaucratic companies do - they went out and hired a lot of airhead MBAs. These folks have no experience as sellers -and on the rare occasions I have had a chance to speak with one of them -instead of just listening to me -they always argued. So I do not have any confidence that the new changes will be good for sellers.

One of their executives said that the median feedback score on eBay was 99.7. Median means that one-half of eBay sellers are below that and one-half above. I am fairly sure that eBay thinks that is too high, which is another reason I don't have any confidence that the new changes will be good for sellers.

At the same meeting eBay said it would also be revamping the DSR Star program. Currently the program allows buyers to leave anonymous ratings and some of the ratings are so subjective that its not really a good system for buyers or sellers. eBay has made a few seller-positive changes to the DSR program so maybe there is some hope for us sellers there.

The changes will be announced in the annual Fall update.

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2. Are Dimensional Weight Charts Eating Your Profits?

This is a guest article by Robyn Johnson from Best of the Nest. Here contact info is at the end of the article.

As soothing as peeling Tuesday Morning and Big Lots labels can be, that isn't the reason most of us started our Amazon business. We deal with scanning endlessly through the aisles, going through spreadsheets, and carefully bubble wrapping and polybagging our merchandise because we are looking to make a profit. But there is something fairly new to the Amazon FBA seller's world. One that I find more and more is causing people to LOSE money without even knowing it.

You might have heard that there was a change in the charges for dimensional weight. You might even have changed your buying habits so you stay away from bigger items to avoid having to think about the whole thing. Unfortunately, if you (or whoever is packing for you) is/are not thinking about dimensional weight you can easily lose part or even all of your projected profit on an item.

Back in the good ole days of 2014 and earlier if a box was less than 3 cubic feet then you were only charged how much the box weighed. It was wonderful! However, as of this year all that changed. No matter how small your box is you are now being charged the dimensional weight of your box.

Dimensional weight is basically a way of charging for the amount of room an item takes up in the truck. Before, shipping a box of shoes and a King Size pillow could have been the same- but now they are charging for the extra room that pillow is taking up.

So how much could this really be costing you? A lot more than you think!

Let's say you find these really great penguin pillow pets on sale for a mere $6.99. It's rank is under 5,000 in toys and your favorite scanning app lets you know you will make 13.33 including $0.50 per lbs. for inbound shipping before your costs of goods. Woohoo! Before you start loading up that cart…. Once you squeeze two pillow pets per small Home Depot box your profits will drop from 91% down to around 51% when you add in the extra $2.50 you will pay in dimensional fees (before any labor or the cost of the box itself).

Penguin Pillow Pet 21.14
Amazon Fees 6.81 6.81
Inbound Shipping 1 3.5
Cost of Goods 6.99 6.99
Profit 6.34 3.84
ROI 91% 55%

Want to look at an even scarier example? Too bad- we are going to anyway. You find a giant bag of Popcornopolis Naked Popcorn. The bag is 27 x 6 x 12 inches. Let's say you find the perfect size box for free. The popcorn is selling for $23.97 and your buy cost is only 4.99! You run it through the FBA calculator or your favorite scanning app and it looks like a win- 156% ROI assuming the same $0.50/lb. for inbound shipping. When you adjust the numbers to include the dimensional weight (14 lbs. for this size item) your profit is reduced to a small $1.79 about a 36% ROI.

Popcornopolis 23.97
Amazon Fees 10.19 10.19
Inbound Shipping 1 7
Cost of Goods 4.99 4.99
Profit 7.79 1.79
ROI 156% 36%

So does this mean the end of selling on FBA? Should we be watching for the sky to start falling? No - it just means that we need to make sure we are thinking about dimensional weights when we are sourcing and packing.

Here are some things you can do to keep dimensional weights from eating your profits:

Watch for large and light items-

Popcorn, pillows, and potato chips- oh my! Does this mean you can't sell these items? No! Just make sure you are taking into account dimensional weight before you send them off to Amazon.

Cut it out

- Instead of filling that box with air pillows and Kraft paper- use a carton re-sizer or box cutter to size your box to fit your products.

Aim for perfection-

Use the chart below when packing your boxes. These weights are for Home Depot size boxes. . If you use different boxes make your own target chart - using the calculator here - http://www.fedex.com/gb/tools/dimweight.html

When boxes are packed try to aim to have them weigh as close to or over the dimensional weigh for the box. (i.e. You should try to get all small Home Depot Boxes to weight at least 14lbs, mediums should aim for 32lbs, and large should be as close to 47lbs as possible.) It is fine if they are over the dimensional weight target below, but avoid sending in boxes lighter than their dimensional weight.

Home Depot Box Size L W H Dimensional Weight
Small 16 12 12 14
Medium 18 18 16 32
Large 18 18 24 47
Extra Large 22 22 21 62

We all want to keep as much money in our pockets as we can. Hopefully this guide can help. Have questions? Contact me at www.BestFromTheNest.com

We also have links to some of our projects including our ProvenWholesaleClass.com, which is on sale for only $37.00 for a limited time only!

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3. Using Reviews to Uncover New Product Potential

Amazon product reviews can contain a wealth of information that sellers can use to uncover new product opportunities. Take a look at the first item – a Norpro Espresso thermometer.

This item had a high sales rank and over 50 reviews - most of them positive. But even the positive reviews have some information that you can use. Here are some comments that were buried in the positive reviews that you can find by reading them.

The dial is a little small…it's also a little bit hard to read

I think a digital thermometer would be better.

And when I looked at the critical reviews I found this:

I noticed the lens over the dial was getting deformed. After heating some water to boiling (212 degrees) I realized lens over dial was completely clouded up and I was unable to see the dial. I discovered that this lens is actually made out of PLASTIC!!!!

The face of the thermometer is a bit confusing, though. There is a lot of red shading and extra lines that just make it hard to read.

Good for the price but I'd love if they didn't put the unnecessary crap on the face of it.

So what can you learn from this? If I wanted to sell a similar product I would look for thermometers that had a larger viewing area, a glass lens and a nice clean look with just the temperature numbers. Then once I found the product I would stress these facts when doing my listing.

Lets look at another item:

This product had over 5000 reviews, which is a lot of reading so I just scanned the first few positives, and then clicked on the critical review.

Here are some comments from the positive reviews that I came across:

I enjoy making zoodles with this easy to use trinket, but the suction cups are not very strong so it can be challenging to spiralize thick veggies such as carrots.

One tip, ALWAYS use the metal skewer to hold the veggie being sliced. This keeps it in place therefore you avoid getting your fingers impaled by the spikes on the turner thingy. Before I did that, blood was let; operator error no doubt.

And some comments from the critical reviews:

I was so disappointed. The suction cups did not hold at all, so it slid forward as I tried to use it. The counter was clean and dry, so it wasn't that. Also, unless you have a dishwasher you might as well forget it. Such a pain to clean. I do not recommend this product.

Returned item unused. Simply too big to store....especially for a "single" use item - at least for me.

"The suction cups on the feet don't work"

With light usage, plastic crank handle broke after about 1 year (poor design/material for a component intended to transmit torque). Rather than throw spiralizer out, replaced broken handle with a casement window crank ($5 - Home Hardware). Simple, cheap, effective fix

So what can we learn from this. First a Spiralizer is a very popular product that sells well. The vast majority of reviews were positive so in general it's a good product with some shortcomings.

The first thing I would look for is a product with larger suction feet or perhaps a clamp to clamp it to the counter so it doesn't move.

I would also look for something that is beefier and will stand up to constant use and one that comes apart for storage and is dishwasher safe.

Now you might not be able to find a similar product from a different manufacturer but that gives you another opportunity - Private label. You could hire a designer to design one that meets the criteria you are looking for and private label it.

Lets get out of the kitchen and look at something different.

Here is one of the top selling gun holsters on Amazon.com. (The sales rank is in the top 1% of the Sports and Outdoors category)

It's a pretty simple product and would be easy to copy and adapt to private label. And there are about a dozen manufacturers who make similar holsters that you may be able to find one the meets the needs you are looking for.

This first one was from a positive 4-Star review:

It does fit inside your pants but the one thing I noticed is that once you take the pistol out of the holster, its somewhat clumsy to get it back while the holder is in you pants.

Update: 2/212/2013 (the reviewer updated his review a few weeks later).

I did have to return this holster because the plastic belt clip snapped off. While I do think it is made well, they need change the plastic into a metal clip and that would make this holster really outstanding. Be careful with that plastic clip.

And here are some comments from the critical reviews

YOU DO NOT WANT TO WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS HOLSTER.

I am an avid shooter and own lots and lots of brands of holsters, and the reason this holster is cheap is because it IS cheap...

The problem is that the plastic belt clip has no "hook" at the bottom (on the inside) to secure it to your belt. Consequently, more often than not, when you draw your pistol expect the holster to come with it. Ooops.

All of those tell me quite a lot. First of all it would be easy to find (or have made) a similar holster with a sturdy metal clip and perhaps a more durable material. Actually I sell these from another company that come with a metal clip and its one of my best selling holsters. Here is a look at one of the models I carry.

I think those three examples give you some ideas of how you can use reviews to expand your product base.

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4. How to Source Products in Small Quantities to Determine Sales Potential

Many times you are selling items on eBay and/or Amazon where you know there are sales and a market potential. But sometimes you find new products that have not been tried and you want to be careful about buying too many items that you could get stuck with if they don't sell. That is what this article addresses.

One of the things I like to do before committing to a large buy, is test a product's potential on eBay and/or Amazon by purchasing a small quantity. I use three methods to do this:

  1. Buy single case lots - Many of the wholesale suppliers I deal with sell products by the case. A typical case might contain 10 or 12 items which I consider small enough an order for a test (Unless the product is really high priced).

  2. Buy small quantities of products on Aliexpress.com . Aliexpress is a site owned by Alibaba.com where suppliers sell in quantities as small as one or two, but at higher prices than when you buy a larger quantity. What I do is order the product, list it on Amazon and then if it sells I go back and order several dozen or even as many as 500 if it's a really fast seller.

    Aliexpress is also a great place to find products to private label. Basically I do the same thing -I buy a small quantity of items and then if they sell I have a box or package designed with my private label logo and order a large quantity.

  3. Buy Retail - If a product is too expensive to buy a case lot (I consider anything over $500 a case to be expensive), I have been known to just buy the product at full retail price and list it on eBay and/or Amazon. If it sells quickly then I will order a case from the wholesaler. If not -I know not to take the risk. Of course it costs you money to do this.

    Lets say you paid $49.95 for an item and listed it at that price on Amazon and it did sell. Your fees would come to approximately $7.50 if you were merchant fulfilling, or as much as $12.50 if you were selling in FBA. No one likes to lose money, but I consider that a small investment to prevent risking $500 to $1000 on a product of unknown sales potential.

There is another way, which is to request a sample from a manufacturer. Many manufacturers will give you one sample for free. Some manufacturers will give you as many as two or three samples if you pay for them. And the price will usually be somewhat higher than the lowest wholesale price but still below retail. In either case if you get just one free sample you will usually be asked to pay for shipping and if you buy more you will pay the product price plus shipping.

At a minimum always buy at least two each of any product you want to test. I have had products go into Amazon where one sold the first day or two and then it took as long as 6 weeks to sell the second one. But, if I send in two units and they both sell in the first week then I am more confident.

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Remember - Many of these websites are retail sites, so you have to use the contact form to ask for wholesale or reseller information.

Clean Run is a supplier of a wide range of Pet Products. When you get to the website scroll to the bottom and click on the link that says Wholesale Information.

Two's Company is a wholesale giftware company focused on creating products. Now is the time to order for Father's Day if you want to get your goods in on time to sell.

Hot Skwash by Daria is a family business that designs and manufactures high-end couture tabletop home décor.

Soundview Millworks makes and sells cleat boards, carving boards, serving boards, cutting boards and wooden accessories that are hand crafted in the United States. They use the finest American maple and Santos mahogany, both known for their durability and tight grain pattern.

The Young Scientists Club sells a large line of children's scientific toys for younger children (Under 8).

Hutzler Manufacturing sells a wide range of kitchen utensils and gadgets. They sell through a nationwide network of sales reps. So, email them from the website and ask for the name of your closest rep.

The Online Paper Airplane Museum sells Paper Airplane books, from easy to hard. Flying Postcards - postcards that create flying paper airplanes, and other toys.

Takobia sells beautifully designed light weight iron, brass and alloy jewelry with sterling silver and 14k gold-filled ear wires.

Scripture Candy - Provides wholesale and retail candy with scripture verses. Great items to bundle.

The Jerusalem Export House has been bringing Holy Land products to the World since 1969

Lifeforce Glass manufactures inexpensive gifts with meaning, socially and environmentally responsible. Made in USA from Lifeforce Glass. Imprinted glass stones, granite blocks, and seabeans that delight and inspire.

Toy Wonders is a wholesaler of 1/18, 1/32, 1/24 and 1/64 scale diecast collector model cars and children's toys. They only sell wholesale B2B (that's you).

See you again in a couple of weeks.

Those of you who are waiting on further information on the China Sourcing trip stay tuned as we are very close to finalizing all the costs and details and will be announcing them soon.

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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