Feedback - How to get more of it!

So one of the biggest hurtles as a new reseller is feedback. If you are a new seller on eBay, not too many buyers are willing to purchase from 0 feedback account. Most eBay OGs will tell you the best way to up your feedback is to become a buyer first then, after about ten or so positive feedback, your selling will be easier. That’s genuinely good advice, but seller feedback and buyer feedback are different. Once you get that initial feedback, making the switch to primarily a seller account, many get frustrated that their feedback is reduced to a trickle.

There are a few reasons why receiving feedback as a buyer is easier than as a seller. Most large established sellers have feedback set to auto, meaning that as soon as you pay, they auto rate you. This is to save them time, because they are selling a lot of items everyday. In addition, you cannot leave buyers negative feedback, so many sellers just view this as something easily automated, since the them “it doens’t really matter”. As an established seller this mindset makes sense, but if you are new to eBay and trying to grow your resell business, I would actually recommend against this.

Picture of my Thank You card before wrapping and shipping out a Rae Dunn Mug.

Picture of my Thank You card before wrapping and shipping out a Rae Dunn Mug.

My feedback return fluctuates between 42-48%. Since eBay doesn’t release these metrics, I’ll have to go off of a general consensus in the reselling community that typical feedback return is 20-25%. I attribute my higher than average return to consistently doing two things:

I put a Thank You business card in every item.

I wait until the item is delivered to leave the buyer feedback.

To be honest, the business cards are from my other side hustle and I had over 1000 of them, so this was a way to upcycle and show a person is behind the eBay account, and not a big company. I believe this adds a more personal touch that buyers appreciate. By waiting until the item is delivered, giving feedback is a gentle push, while the purchase is fresh in their mind, to return the feedback favor.

As far as my other selling platforms, I have a 89% on Mercari and a 43% on Etsy. On Mercari, in order to receive your funds you have to have the buyer review you. If they haven’t three days after receiving the item, Mercari will auto positive review you, which is how I calculated the 89%. Technically 100%, but I don’t count the auto feedback.

One of my summer seasonal polymailers.

One of my summer seasonal polymailers.

If possible, I would also recommend upping your packaging game. All my clothes are put in a clear plastic polymailer with the Thank You card, and then in a seasonally relevant polymailer for final shipping. Careful packing for breakable items is a must, but instead of just wrapping in a blank paper before putting it in bubble wrap, put one piece of colorful tissue over the blank white for a bit of flare, while not having to worry about the color transferring on the item.

Note: Do not wrap things in newspaper. One, it’s cheap looking, and two, if your package gets wet at all or is transported to a humid area the new print can transfer onto the item, essentially ruining it.

I would recommend not messaging your buyers about leaving you feedback. No one likes a pushy salesperson. If you are selling quality items and take care in your packaging, buyers will leave you feedback. Try some of my recommendations, and let me know if they work for you!

Summer Slowdown - What is it? How do I avoid it?

Recently you may be hearing whispering of the dreaded “Summer Slowdown” from your favorite resellers or within your reselling groups and communities, but are new to reselling and don’t quite understand what it is or may be experiencing a slow down in sales over the past couple of weeks and you want to know why. The “Summer Slowdown” typically takes place after the U.S. Memorial Day (last week in May) to mid-August, and is marked by a significant decrease in sales in the reselling community. Sales slow down, because more people are on vacation, traveling, outside and just are not online as much. New resellers that have never been through a summer season, may get discouraged when their sales suddenly dip in June, but do not worry, there are ways to mitigate the “Summer Slowdown”. Here are ways that I have found that work to help keep sales up during the summer months.

Great 4th of July specific item.

Great 4th of July specific item.

Stock seasonally relevant items. If you are a reseller in the Northern Hemisphere, stock summer items. If you specialize in clothes, pick up sundresses, shorts, bathing suits, sleeveless or short sleeve items. If you do hardgoods, pick up things like picnic baskets, lemonade sets, gardening tools and planters.

Stock items that do not require a season. Electronics, appliances, video games and shoes are all items that are used year round.

Take advantage of sales holidays. In the US that would be Father’s Day and Fourth of July. Buy items that would be considered traditional “gifts for dad”, and American’s love their Red, White and Blue.

Diversify your selling platforms. I sell on Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Mercari. If you are worried about fees, I highly recommend Mercari, as it’s free to list, they have easy to understand shipping, and it’s a flat 10% fee when the item sells; however, you do have to wait for your money until up to three days after delivery.

Do Not Stop Listing! Even if you have items that are not seasonally relevant and you don’t feel comfortable purchasing items that are not in your area of expertise, keep listing. Almost every selling site uses an algorithm that prioritizes active accounts. I’ve sold sweaters, jeans and heavy jackets when it’s 100 degrees out, so you never know if what you have happens to be what someone is looking for that day.

Someone paid to have this plastic Gfuel shaker sent all the way to Australia through the GSP.

Someone paid to have this plastic Gfuel shaker sent all the way to Australia through the GSP.

Take advantage of eBay’s Global Shipping Program. Every time I mention eBay’s GSP, I get flak saying that it’s more expensive than if you figured out shipping yourself, and it excludes some countries. If you are a new US seller on eBay, and don’t feel comfortable trying to figure out international shipping yourself, GSP takes all that guesswork out for you. They handle customs, paperwork, and calculating shipping cost to the buyer, all you have to do is mail it to the facility. To go from no international sales to GSP, will open up your store to millions of potential customers while mitigating a lot of the time and risk.

Sell local. If there are community yard sales, flea markets or craft fairs in your area, give them a try. If you have some heavy items that maybe you don’t want to ship, FB Marketplace, Offer Up and Craigslist are also good options to sell local. If you feel uncomfortable about a stranger being in your home, most localities will allow you to arrange for a meet up at a local police station or courthouse.

These are some of the things I do to keep my sales high year round. If you have any tips I didn’t mention above that you think would be helpful, please comment them below!

Getting Rid of Musty Smell

Some vintage items come complete with a not so great vintage smell. Linens, clothes and books sometimes have a musty or mildew smell, but they are too amazing to leave behind. If it is something that you can put the laundry, I would first recommend trying to wash the item first; however, some vintage pieces are dry clean only. Unless you have a serious dry clean hook-up, it’s expensive to get something dry cleaned, and will cut into your profit margin, so here is what I recommend to get the smell out of a variety of items.

If the item is clothing or linens and the smell did not go away after washing (not dry-clean only), soak the item in water, wring out the excess, fold and place in a freezer bag. I recommend these 60ct gallon Ziplock bags as they will fit most items, save large linens. For larger linens I’d recommend the 2.5 gallon bags here. If you have a big blanket or quilt you may have to tight camp roll the blanket and tape two of the larger 2.5 gallon bags together. The reason for the freezer bag is to help minimize freezer burn and to protect your item from your freezer’s food stuffs. After you have your damp musty item in the freezer bag, put it in the freezer. Leave it in the freezer for two weeks.

After two weeks are up put the item, still in the bag in your sink to thaw to room temperature. The reason for the thawing to room temperature is that vintage items can be delicate, and may become brittle if there is a quick temperature difference, say for example 31F in your freezer to 100F in the hot humid Virginia sunshine. Leaving it in your sink to thaw will help it slowly adjust, and also depending on the temperature of your house, won’t make a big mess on your counters in case condensation forms on the outside of the bag. Once the items has thawed enough you can unfold it, take it outside and let it hang to dry. While it is recommended to put the item in the sun to dry for the best effect, if the item is too delicate to handle direct sun, or if the outside temperature is too hot, hang it in a shady area outside.

Photo May 21, 3 34 50 PM.jpg

If you have a dry clean only item of clothing, linens, blanket, or something that should never get wet like a book, do the same thing as above except wet the item before putting it in the freezer bag. Place your dry items into a freezer bag for the same amount of time, and then place in sink after two weeks to thaw. It will take less time to thaw, since the item was not wet prior to freezing, but you should still air it out outside. Never put books in direct sunlight. Not only will it age and yellow the paper, but the heat of the sun can break down the book binding. Make a little teepee like this in a dry elevated shady spot, and let it sit outside for a couple of hours.

Depending on how old the item is and how strong the smell is you may have to do this more than once, but most of the time the mustiness is gone after the first time. This advice will not work if the item has an active visible mold or mildew problem (green or black spots in places where it shouldn’t be). This also works really great if you every put a load of laundry in the wash, forget it and go on a weekend trip, and then comeback to some icky smelling clothes. I hope this was helpful, and thank you for reading!

A Lessoned Learned - Always Open the Box

I live in an area of Virginia called Hampton Roads. In my area, the thrifts stores that carry the highest of prices are the DAV and Salvation Army. When I go to those two stores, I normally only hit the hardgoods, because they have a tendency to retail price their clothing and shoes ($6.99 for used LulaRoe anyone?). As such, I have yet to find a Harley piece (even a t-shirt) priced less than $10.00. So imagine my surprise when I found this Harley Davidson coffee mug new in box at the DAV for less than $10.00 (paid $3.98). Now while I did open the rim and feel the top to make sure there were no chips, I never took it out of the box.

I get it home I clean my items and get everything prepped for listing. I get to the Harley Davidson Mug, thinking I’m going to get $20.00 for it (I offer free shipping), and I’m excited, because it would be my first piece of Harley Davidson for resale. I take all the pictures of it inside the box, and then I take it out.

box.jpg
HD upsidedown.jpg

It’s upside down. The graphic printed on the mug is upside down. That’s why it was donated. That’s why it was still there new in box at the DAV for $4.

I decided to put it up for auction, with the hope that the novelty of it being a misprint would sell it. I put the starting bid at $14.97, free shipping. Sometimes misprints in products make them more valuable, sadly that was not the case in this instance. While it did sell for $14.97, after fees and shipping, I still ended up losing money on this purchase. Paypal and eBay fees were $2.25, shipping was $10.00 (it was a heavy stoneware piece), and the original purchase price was $4.22 with tax. All in I lost $1.50, and this is the only sale I have every lost money.

Let’s look at the positives of this loss. I learned to always check inside the box, unless it is a sealed item. I learned that auctions are better with calculated not free shipping, and to start the bid with the purchase price with fees. This means I should have started the auction at $6.49 with $10.00 shipping. Another positive is, I made an auctioned listing and a sale, which is activity on my store keeping it healthy and in eBay’s algorithm. The mug also made it out of the DAV where it could have been broken or tossed, and hopefully into the hand of someone who will love it for being different.

Best Offer Can Be Your Best Friend

BO.jpg

I’ve seen a lot of mixed feelings about the Best Offer feature on eBay. It’s no secret that eBay wants you to have it as an option on all your fixed price listings, as it is auto selected in most cases when you draft a new listing. Even if you deselect the option on listing, they will add it for you later, and then send you an email about it. While that may be a little off putting, I actually think the best offer feature is great for your store.

As I stated, eBay wants you to have Best Offer available on your listings, so your listings that do have it enabled will rank higher in their algorithm. Every offer, even low ball offers, count as activity in your store. More activity in your store, the higher your items rank in the algorithm. If someone submits a low offer, you can always counter it. They have up to five counter offers, but each back and forth is, you guessed it, more activity for your store. It’s about 50/50 for me whether or not I will accept a first offer or counter.

I will accept a first offer if it’s only a few dollars off my asking price, because I build that into all my listings. That’s my first tip, to take advantage of Best Offer list your item 20% higher than your base price. If you get it, heck yeah, but that makes it so you have room to negotiate. I’ve also found if you take a Best Offer from someone, they are more likely to leave you positive feedback, because everyone likes feeling like they got a deal. If someone is offering half my asking price, I will counter with something more reasonable. So far I’ve only had one instance where I just outright declined after a few back and forth offers, because they were only upping their counter by a dollar every time.

You can also set a minimum and a maximum offer to save time. You can set Best Offer to auto-decline any offer less than a certain dollar amount, and auto-accept any offer above a set dollar amount. I personally only use the auto-decline feature, because I feel like using the auto-accept could leave money on the table.

My second tip, is to not take it personal. If you receive a low ball offer, don’t take it to heart. All of the items in my store are priced well above what I paid for them, so I keep that in mind when I respond to an offer. I will stick firm to my 20% buffer, and most of the time we reach a fair price for both parties. Try to be kind and professional in your response, and counter them with something more reasonable to you. My go to is, “Thank you for your offer. I would be more than happy to meet you somewhere in the middle, as I do offer free US domestic shipping.” About 75% of the time my counter gets accepted, and the rest of the time, declined. My store gets activity, most of the time a sale, and sometimes positive feedback!

My third tip is to take all reasonable offers. If you use my first tip, please also take my third tip. Accepting reasonable offers, means you are turning over your inventory faster, recouping your initial investment, and building capital to invest in more inventory. People that feel like they got a deal, are more inclined to leave positive feedback, and every offer, counter and sale is activity for your store to appease the algorithm. If you care to look at my feedback, you’ll see the majority of my positive feedback was left on Best Offer buys.

I hope this was helpful, and that you all feel better about taking advantage of this feature in the future. I would love to know your own experiences with Best Offers in the comments below!

Reselling is a Marathon Business

I know a lot of new resellers, come into the business after seeing a viral post on Facebook, or watching tv shows like Storage Wars and American Pickers, or by viewing a video from one of the many amazing resellers on YouTube, like Ralliroots or Crazy Lamp Lady. YouTube and TV are edited versions of what is normally a long process. Take the TV shows I mentioned, they only showcase “expected” sales or profits, rarely actual sales. YouTubers are more transparent, with many of them putting up regular sold videos; however, the time from listing to the time an item sells is almost never discussed unless it’s a fast sale. This can give a false impression that reselling can be a way to make quick cash.

With that assumption, new resellers commonly jump into the business and after the first week, will get very discouraged when their items are sitting and not selling. Some of that has to do with being a new seller and not optimizing their listings, some has to do with possibly not picking the best items for resell, but most of the time it’s because reselling is a marathon, not a sprint business. Let me give an example.

aff.jpg
aff2.jpg

I listed this Affliction thermal shirt on my eBay on February 23, 2019. I listed it for $17.77, thinking at a low price and it still being cold outside it would be a quick sale. I paid $4.23 at the GoodWill with tax. This shirt sat in it’s bin until April 20, 2019, when it finally sold for full price. The fees for the sale were $2.67, ) $3.85 shipping (I offer free shipping), and after original cost of $4.23, I made $7.02. It took nearly two months from listing to shipping. I’ve been reselling on and off for a decade, and my normal break down is 15% sold within a week of listing, 65% sold within 2-8 weeks of listing, and 20% 8+ weeks.

If you are just starting out, don’t get discouraged if you don’t sell anything right away. Start small but keep at it. Do a little research and see how successful resellers list their items and take their pictures. Make some adjustments to titles and photos. It may take awhile, but if you develop your thrift eye, and list regularly, things will start to sell.