Seller Confessions: My Biggest eBay Fails

September 24th, 2018 Comments off

Nobody wants to lose money, but even the most experienced eBay seller makes mistakes.  Here are three of my biggest eBay fails.  Read and learn.

 The Trader Joe’s Nightmare

About 8 years ago, I bought $1,000 worth of Trader Joe’s sea salt caramels to sell on eBay.  I’d never sold food before, but I looked them up, and they were in demand.  I soon realized that I had purchased too many.  Before I knew it, summer arrived, and I had stacks and stacks of these tasty treats sitting in my garage.  Although we were still getting orders, they were melting in transit.  People were not happy.   Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait until winter to get rid of them because they had an expiration date.  We started eating sea salt caramels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  What else could we do?  I gained five pounds trying to get rid of those suckers.  Eventually, I gave the rest away as presents.  Remember: If you’re going to sell food, always check expiration dates, and be careful buying items that cannot be shipped in hot weather.  Lesson learned.

The Shoe Emergency

Many of our biggest fails involved shoes.  Years ago we did not understand the importance of inspecting preowned shoes before listing them.  Shoes can look brand new but may fall apart the first time they are worn if they have been sitting in a closet for years.  For example, some manufacturers produce soles that do not stand the test of time and will disintegrate or even split in half if they get old.  When we first started selling on eBay, we listed a pair of name brand clogs.  The woman who bought them worked at a hospital and thought they were an amazing deal!  Unfortunately, the first time she wore them to work, she left a trail of rubber wherever she walked.  The soles were literally disintegrating all over the emergency room.  Uh, oh.  Instant refund.

The Fashion Fiasco

In another instance involving shoes, a buyer purchased a pair of beautiful designer heels.  She wore them to work with her favorite outfit.  A few minutes after she got to work, one of the heels fell off – the entire heel.  So embarrassing!  She hobbled around the office for the rest of the day.  Luckily, she thought it was funny.  We quickly issued a refund, and offered to send her a pair of shoes for free.   We now know the importance of closely inspecting all preowned shoes before listing them on eBay.  In addition, we have purchased a one million dollar insurance policy that covers us if anything goes wrong with the products we sell.

Selling on eBay is an adventure, but, like anything, it does come with some risks.  Luckily, each of these fails taught me an important lesson and made me a more successful seller!

 

About the Author

Kathy Terrill is an eBay educator, consultant and in demand speaker with over 25 years of experience in NYC brick-and-mortar retail. eBay selected Kathy as the recipient of The Small Business Advocate Award for 2017. Proven tips and classes for eBay sellers are available on her eCommerce website  www.ilovetobeselling.com

Gearing Up For Back-to-School Season: 5 Tips to Increase Revenue

August 6th, 2018 Comments off

Back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year – both for e-commerce as well as retail. The only season that doesn’t beat back-to-school is the Christmas and Holiday season. The average back-to-school shopper spends more per household (estimated $510 per child) than the average shopper spends on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day COMBINED!

Pretty amazing, right? That’s why we thought it’s the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into Deloitte’s recent 2018 Back-to-School Survey. The report closely examines the shopping habits of 1,200 parents of school-aged kids (in grades K-12). Let’s take a look at major insights you can use to win the back-to-school season!

#1 Pull Out Your Best Promotions

Parents will be spending about $510 per child this year. Pull out all the stops to make the most of the season. Use your most effective promotions and incentives on these big spenders. Back-to-school shoppers tend to love the hassle-free convenience of free shipping. It’s also the perfect time for that once-a-year BOGO (Buy One, Get One) that makes your products irresistible to shoppers!  Added Benefit:  having these valuable customers make a purchase will keep your store fresh in their mind for the holiday season!

#2 Don’t Ignore Mobile

More back-to-school shoppers are going mobile. In 2018, 49% of shoppers will use a desktop computer to purchase school goods, down from 57% in 2017. Conversely, the number of mobile shoppers is rising year-over-year, with 53% of shoppers planning to use their mobile phones to make purchases in 2018 vs. only 49% of shoppers in 2017. If you’ve been waiting to gear up for mobile e-commerce, now’s the time to kick your mobile presence into high gear! Don’t forget to increase your mobile bid modifiers in your paid search campaigns and test your mobile landing page experience to make sure the customer can easily find what they are looking for.

#3 Get the Timing Right

Parents spend more than 50% of the entire school-related budget for the whole year within the back-to-school season. Don’t let shoppers who will be spending half their budget within a small window of time slip through your fingers. Build urgency into your offers to make the most of the season. Then plan to take a final run at late shoppers who might have been late to make purchases. Let them know there’s not much time left!

#4 Back-to-School Means It’s Computer Buying Season

Back-to-school used to mean buying new clothes, some pencils and notebooks. For today’s students, heading back-to-school in the fall means having a new computer for their schoolwork. 23% of shoppers with school-aged kids plan to buy a computer or other hardware device. The average spend for these shoppers was $299. That’s great to know for computer manufacturers. It’s also important for sellers of laptop cases, computer backpacks, and all the essential accessories that go along with computers.

#5 Pens, Pencils, Plus So Much More

According to Deloitte, more than $27.6 billion will be spent in 29 Million households on 54 million children in 2018. The biggest categories for these back-to-school shoppers are school supplies, but there are a number of related important items they’ll be buying. They’re also looking for apparel, sporting goods, electronics, books, music, plus other related items. The key here is looking broadly enough at what back-to-school shoppers want and thinking about it from their point of view. Yes, that’s notebooks and pencils. But it’s so much more!

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Big Ways to Improve Your Google Shopping Campaigns

May 21st, 2018 Comments off

Have you ever noticed those little picture ads near the top of a Google search page? Those are Google Shopping ads. They’re unique in what they can do – and great for increasing online sales. So, let’s run down a few ways to make the absolute most of a Google Shopping campaign.

Optimizing Your Google Shopping Data Feed

To begin your Google Shopping campaign, you’ll need to upload a data feed in CSV or XML format. Your data feed document should have all the info that appears on your ads: Price, Taxes, Title, Description, Product URL and Image URL. Depending on what kind of product you have, there may be optional fields you can add. For example, you can add color and size for apparel items.

Which additional details need to be added? Make sure your feed is optimized with all the relevant details. Imagine if someone asked if you wanted to buy a “Sweater”? The first thing you’d ask is… what kind? Then if you liked the description of the sweater, you’d want to know if they have it in your size.

The important thing to remember here is that unless the product info is part of your data feed, it won’t make it to your ad. Give your prospects everything they need to buy.

The Right Titles and Descriptions for Your Shopping Ads

Now, let’s look at a few ways to juice up your ad. Make sure to include relevant keywords in the title and description, which will help your product get matched to a query. It’s not enough to just list the model number, which will only attract people looking for that exact model. You’ll be losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Let’s play a little good product title/bad product title to get it right:

  • Bad product title – “Black Shoes”
  • Good product title – “Black High Heel Pumps – Size 8 – Women’s Shoes”

See how much more targeted the second option is? A good title has specific keywords like “high heels” and “pumps” to perfectly match anyone looking for a pair of shoes like that.

Next, be sure your description also has keywords, plus the selling points that would make someone want to buy. The description is where you can put your best selling points. Think of it this way… the title is the “what,” and the description is the “why.” Once someone clicks through, give them your best sales pitch to convince them to buy.

Successful Bidding Strategies for Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping works the same way as an auction. When a user types in a search like “floral throw pillows,” Google checks all of the prices bidders (retailers) are willing to pay. The highest bidders will win the opportunity to be shown to the consumer looking for “floral throw pillows.” That’s how the system works, now we’re going to give you some tips to make the system work for you.

Don’t Set the Same Bid Across Your Campaign

One of the biggest mistakes is to blanket the same bid across an entire campaign. Determine the bid by looking at the value and profit margin of each product.

Start with Best-Sellers

You’ll have enough variables to deal with when beginning a Google Shopping campaign. Start with your best products, where you have a strong competitive advantage. Some products with low profit margins may never make sense to include in your feed.

Use Custom Labels to Create Bid Groups

Custom labels can be applied to your data feed to create price groupings. Try putting higher converting products together, and giving them all higher bids. Put lower bids on the group of products that don’t convert as well.

Optimizing your campaign is a continual process, but following these tips will give you a big head start.

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How Google’s Search Console Tool Can Help Webmasters

May 4th, 2018 Comments off

Google Search Console is one of the best resources for webmasters out there — and it’s absolutely free. While many site owners and webmasters may currently use some of the tool’s features, they might not be taking full advantage of everything it offers. If you are in charge of your company’s website, you can maximize its marketing potential by becoming a Google Search Console expert.

What is the Google Search Console?

When your website is not working as it should, you risk losing potential clients and current customers. Identifying these issues quickly is key to ensuring your website ranks high in Google’s search rankings.

The Google Search Console helps identify certain technical issues that could impact your SEO rankings.  will send you notifications by email whenever there is a problem with your website. You can also monitor Google SEO rankings to make certain your site is at or near the top of the list of search returns. You can learn about spider crawl issues that can drag down your search rankings. This resource allows you to monitor, in real time, problems that can make your website a liability instead of a marketing asset.

3 Important Features to Use in Google Search Console

Google Search Console offers a number of features that allow you to identify potential issues and correct them quickly. The following are just a few of these tools:

1. Keyword Reports

You will have access to a report that tells you how many keyword searches on Google brought people  to your site. The report can be adjusted by month and the  information allows you to refine your SEO strategy to target specific keywords that will generate more profitable traffic to your website. You can adjust the reports to see important metrics such as impressions, click-through rate (CTR) and the average position of your site’s ranking for specific keywords.

You can also filter your data by device (i.e. mobile, tablet and desktop) and country to see if any traffic patterns exist.

2. Total Website Pages Indexed by Google

This data displays  the total number of indexed URLs (pages on your site) that Google has discovered and is showing in their search results.  These pages could be any page on your site, including pages that you do not want to show in Google.  If there are pages that are not indexed, a common problem with new content, the Google Search Console will provide options for site owners to add the URL to the Google search platform.  The system will also allow you to remove URLs or identify URLs that are being blocked by tools such as robots.txt or the XML sitemap.

3. Site Errors/Problems

Sometimes there are technical issues in the server that are preventing Google from properly indexing your website.  Google Search Console provides a “site error section” that alerts you to these technical issues and provides you with tips to correct the erros.. Google warns that a 100 percent error rate in any of the categories indicates your site is down or misconfigured. An error rate below 100 percent may indicate that the site is overloaded or not configured properly. In either case, the issues might be transient, but they will still require investigation. The Google Search Console helps you identify and address these issues quickly to minimize the impact on your client base.

The Google Search Console is an invaluable free tool that helps ensure your website’s success. Additionally, it makes your job much easier by continually providing the information you need to optimize your site’s search position

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The ABCs of SEO

February 17th, 2017 Comments off

Understanding SEO

 

Looking for more online exposure for your ecommerce business? Then you ought to be paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO). By helping search engines understand your site and what you’re selling, SEO in return does a better job of listing your site when certain terms come up in user searches.

Because an A-to-Z review of this topic would fill a book, here’s an abbreviated look at how SEO works, and how it can work for you.

  • A is for Algorithm. Search engines can’t think, but they can generate a list of the sites that they perceive to be the best hits for certain words.
  • C is for Content. Naturally, you’re going to make sure each page of your site takes full advantage of SEO. But what happens when visitors come to your page, and you no longer carry the item they’re looking for or are out of stock? Review every page of your site regularly to make sure shoppers don’t reach dead ends. If you don’t have the products they’re looking for, update listings with the expected date you’ll be able to fulfill orders, or offer alternative products to keep them engaged on your site.
  • K is for Keyword Research. When you understand the terminology your potential customers are plugging into search engines, the better you’re able to plug the same words onto your site. Think of keywords as shortcuts that sum up each page’s content.
  • L is for Longtail. Longtail keywords are SEO phrases that contain three or more words, and they account for 70 percent of searches. Longtails allow shoppers to be specific; for example, instead of searching for “doll,” they can narrow their results to “vintage rag doll.”
  • R is for Rank. Sure, your site may come up in a search, but is it on the first page? Better yet, is at or near the top of the first page? Recent data shows that the first hit on a page garners 32.5 percent of traffic; the second hit is a distant 17.6 percent and the numbers go downhill from there. Your goal is to keep your site ranked high, and that means reviewing your SEO keywords regularly.
  • T is for Technology. Nowadays, third-party apps and tools make it easy to come up with search words with minimal manual input. Use these services, but don’t let them be a substitute for your personal expertise or good old common sense.
  • U is for Unique. Search engines don’t like identical content from different sites. If your products come to you directly from a manufacturer, resist copying the original product information. Rewriting product descriptions and infusing them with your personal touch can help keep your listings unique and your site’s rank high.
  • V is for Volume. This is the data in your stats that measures average monthly searches. This information can help you assess whether the SEO terms you’re using are yielding the best results.
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