Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

Making eBay auction listings with HTML templates

Creating HTML listings gives you a great advantage over other dull and chaotic looking auction listings by giving the listing more flair and structure. They can make your listing stand out by create a lasting impact on the buyer and persuade them to buy your items.

So here I give an introduction of how to make an html listing using HTML and CSS. Don’t get scared, it is really simple as you will see below. The code explained below will generate a listing that looks like this (which will be embedded within your eBay listing):

HTML auction listing

HTML auction listing

First we define the styles that we will be using in the listing. You don’t need to understand this completely now, you can have a look, and as you move along this article, you will have a better idea of what it means.

So here’s the CSS styling.

<style>
#template_design {font-family:”Trebuchet MS”;}
#template_design .section {font-size:14px; padding-bottom:15px;}
#template_design .section h2 {font-size:18px; background-color:#eeeeee; padding:3px;}
#template_design .section h3 {font-size:16px;}
#template_design .section p {margin-left:5px;}
#template_design .section p.imagesSection {text-align:center;}
#template_design .section p.imagesSection img {margin-right:10px;}
#template_design .section .red {color:#ee0000;}
</style>

The CSS styling is enclosed in <style>…</style> tags. Headings are represented by <h2>…</h2> and <h3>…</h3>. 2,3 represent the levels of headings, so h2 is a higher level heading (bigger text) and h3 is a lower level heading (smaller text). Colors are defined in a particular code called HEX code preceded by a # symbol. A list of color codes can be found here.

Lets have a look at a small piece of HTML code now. (Note: Text enclosed in <!– xyz –> is a comment and will not show in the actual HTML page.)

<!– Begining of a section –>
<div class=”section”>
<h2>Photos</h2>
<p class=”imagesSection”>
<!– replace the src and alt atribute values below this line –>
<img src=”sony_vaio_1.png” alt=”replace_with_image_label1″ />
<img src=”sony_vaio_2.png” alt=”replace_with_image_label2″ />
</p>
</div>
<!– end of section –>

The code above defines a section of the listing. This could be the “Photos”, “Description” or any other section. You can change the section heading by replacing the text between the <h2>…</h2> tags which says ‘Photos’ in this case. You can add you own images by replacing the src=”” attribute’s value which says “sony_vaio_1.png” . This will a url to an image that you have uploaded either on eBay or somewhere else on the internet using one of a number of sites. You can remove images by removing the <img /> tag completely or you can add more by adding more <img /> tags.

Let’s have a look at another example, this time of the ‘Description’ section:

<!– Begining of a section –>
<div class=”section”>
<h2>Description</h2>
<!– replace the text below this line, remove if not required –>
<p>Replace this with some description of your product, line 1.</p>
<p>Replace this with some description of your product, line 2.</p>

<!– add class=”red” like below to make the text red, remove if not required–>
<p class=”red”>Add class=”red” to make the color red, line 3</p>

<!– make a section of a line red, remove if not required –>
<p>Make a <span class=”red”>section of a line red</span>, line 4</p>

<!– you can add subheadings like this, remove if not required –>
<h3>Subheading</h3>
<p>Some text under the subheading</p>

<!– you can add lists like this, remove if not required –>
<h3>List heading</h3>
<ul>
<li>List item 1</li>
<li>List item 2</li>
<li>List item 3</li>
</ul>
<!– end of list –>

</div>
<!– end of section –>

You can add new paragraphs in your description by adding text enclosed in <p>…</p> tags. If you write <p class=”red”>…</p> then the enclosed text will be red in color. You can define other colors also by adding the color definition to the CSS code at the top, as it has been done for ‘red’. If you want to make a part of a paragraph red, then enclose the text between <span class=”red”>…</span> tags.

You can add lists to the listing as shown in the code here by enclosing the whole list in <ul>…</ul> tags and then each list item in <li>…</li> tags.

Using the principles above, you can create the rest of the listing. Look at the complete code by downloading the file below.

Download the sample template which includes all the text given above together with the images in one zipped file here.

Ebay also has some advice on making HTML listings.

UPDATE: Please note that our blog has moved to http://blog.scrobbld.com/

How to avoid unwanted item returns from buyers on eBay?

You wake up one morning, you decide to list an item and make sure it is working and add a description. The item sells and everything looks good. A few days later you receive an email from the buyer accusing you of listing faulty goods or that the item is not as described. You say that the item was actually working when you sent it and it was probably damaged in the post. Subsequently, the buyer says that they wants to return the item, though refuse to pay the postage since ‘it is not his fault’ and ‘they are being patient over the matter’. He also mentions that he is willing not to leave negative feedback if everything goes fine. If you are a professional seller you probably send a prepaid envelope or pay for the postage and send another item or refund him. What a headache, Right?

But what can a seller do to avoid this. If you are already locked into a similar experience you might have to bite the bullet and take it as experience but here are a few guidelines to reduce the risks in future:

  • Cover yourself with your description: State the condition of your item and clearly mention the return policy if you have one, time limits, restocking fees, shipment responsibilities, and fees (that can be import tax fees).
  • Always watch your buyers, look at their feedback ratings and if there are any questionable ones contact the sellers to ask for their experience. Take advantage of eBay tools to block unwanted buyers and cancel bids.
  • Report the suspicious buyers to eBay.
  • If you think a buyer is registered under a false identity or address you can also report that specifically.
  • After the buyer is suspended open an unpaid item dispute.
  • Keep documents and pictures of your item and provide proof to eBay, PayPal and credit companies if required.

The sellers community can very much reduce the number of such events if they take the above measures, and discuss issues with other sellers. In general, just be careful and the selling experience can be a profitable and enjoyable experience.

Increasing Conversion Rates on eBay

The question is do you really want conversions? No you don’t, you only want conversions at the prices you want. So here are a few hints:

Provide Accurate Descriptions: As you may have noticed from previous posts, clear descriptions are the key for successful sales. The rule of thumb for marketing is that an online seller has an average of 3 seconds to convince the buyer. So if you have to make a professional HTML template, then do it as soon as possible. Divide your descriptions into sections for postage, payment, return policy and specifications for your item. Be nice with your policies and think of yourself as a customer when writing them.

Category: List your items in the right category. It’s really a big turn off to see some items listed in unrelated categories.

Pictures: Try to take your own pictures if you can. Buyers are losing more and more confidence in nice studio pictures downloaded from manufacturers’ websites and prefer to know what they are actually buying.

Promotions: If you think it’s worth it, try promoting your item on eBay by highlighting your item and adding subtitles and so forth.

Combined Postage: Offering combined postage (sending more than one items in one postage) not only attracts customers to buy more of your items but gives you a fair advantage over the competition.

International Selling: This one is somehow obvious. Offering items on international markets will give more exposure and traffic to your listings. However it is important to note down a few things mentioned in our previous post on international selling.

SEO for Listings: For detailed descriptions on this please refer to the previous post on SEO for eBay listings.

SEO for eBay Stores: If you are also listing your items on eBay store read the guidelines on SEO for eBay stores.

Good Customer Relations: Your customers are your long term investments. If you offer good service, not only do you get your customers come back again and again, but they will also recommend you to their friends and family.

Greed is good, but be ready to take risks: It is a good idea to do the research on the market and optimize your pricing, but if you think you can get traffic by low price auctions, do it. You may lose once but you will definitely win later.

Offering Available Payment Options: Buyers prefer various payment options so try to offer as much options as possible. Though obviously you now have to offer PayPal by default.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for eBay Stores

Here a few things you can do to boost the ranking of your eBay store in search engines.

1. Carefully choose your store name: The store name is important firstly because it may give an idea of the primary field of the business and products to customers. Secondly the store web address is your store name which then appears in search engine results. To update your eBay store name click here.

Tip 1: Use Google trends to compare the importance of keywords. For example, a comparison between ‘computer’ and ‘computers’ in Trends shows that former is a more popular keyword for searching and hence a better term to describe your store.

2. Store Description: First of all use a template that contains a header with few descriptive keywords. Be descriptive enough for the audience and search engines and include the keywords relevant to the buyers search. To update your eBay store description click here.

Tip 2: Do not try to flood your pages with keywords. Use them sparingly.

Tip 3: Using irrelevant keywords might get you some temporary traffic but since it is useless traffic, it decreases your conversion rate and will lower your ranking.

3. Custom Pages: These are the pages where you can showcase of your items, have special promotions and more importantly describe your business history. Use it to your advantage to build reputation, to talk to your customers and increase your ranking in the search results. To create your eBay store custom page click here.

4. Custom Categories: Have your products be divided into customized categories. Search engines (specifically Google) will only index the eBay store pages if the store has at least 5 categories of products with subcategories[2]. Besides that it will be much easier for customers to browse your products with relevant categories.

5. Listing Headers: The same story of selecting keywords applies to your ‘listing headers’. Choose them carefully to show your item, where you are selling and if there are any promotions for the items.

Tip 4: Yahoo overture is a good tool for trying out different possibilities of keywords.

Tip 5: eBay pulse is another tool which shows the popular eBay searches.

6. Submit your products to Google: Use site connector to submit your products to Google.

7. Keep watching your stats: Keep track of your site stats on eBay Traffic Reporting or for more detailed stats use sellathon.

References:

1. eBay.com: Optimize your eBay Store.
2. Lycos.co.uk: Search Engine Optimization for eBay Stores.

How to increase ranking on eBay search results?

March 3rd 2008, Jamie Lannone: “As most buyers and sellers know, eBay’s Best Match sort option is an important Finding innovation that helps buyers find relevant items quickly and easily.”

The question is why “Best Match” is the default search method on eBay, what is it and how sellers can use it to their own benefit. That is the theme of this post.

What is “Best Match”?

eBay “Best Match” does something more than just comparing the similar titles to the search terms. “Best Match” sorts the listings based on several cues gathered with two main aims of “conversion” and “good buyer experience”.

Why “Best Match”?

eBay introduced “Best Match” to its search results to:

  • Increase conversions: The main aim of eBay is to increase successful visits. This is calculated by using a ratio of search results to conversions (or ‘successful hits’). The more a listing is successful, the higher it is in the search results.
  • Provide a good buyer experience: Furthermore eBay buyer/customer satisfaction is taken into account in the search results (this will again result in higher conversion rates). eBay’s means of measuring buyer satisfaction are mentioned later in this article.

What are the cues that eBay uses for “Best Match”?

  • Search history to conversions ratio: As eBay says “This is tailored for each buying situation”. That means eBay takes advantage of all the stored historical data from age, gender, location, purchase history of all the buyers for the best conversion rates in the search results, and consequently make more money. In essence, if buyers running a particular search often end up viewing, bidding on, and/or buying a certain type of item more often, it will bolster the search rankings.
  • DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings): This is the second most important cue for eBay search sorting system. Basically the sellers that have DSR of over 4.7 and overall feedback of 98%, they stay higher in the search results. For those of you who don’t know DSR, it is a score from 1-5 rated by buyer comprising of four areas: item as described, communication, delivery time and postage, and packaging. In some cases eBay gives more weight to some of these factors which I will discuss later in the post. Only last 30 days are considered in this factor.

In the event that the decision cannot be made based on the above factors to break the tie, eBay considers the following factors:

  • Feedback: The overall feedback is used from the last 90 days.
  • SNDA (Significantly not as described): The number of ‘significantly not as described’ disputes/complaints.
  • INR (Item not received): The number of ‘item not received’ disputes/complaints.

It can be assumed that eBay gives more weight to SNDA than to INR and feedback. Statistically, if eBay received SNDA 9 times more than the other two, finally eBay will:

  • Degrade a listing if shipping and handling in DSR is less than 4.5

One might ask if the powerseller status will increase the visibility. eBay is not giving more attention to powersellers in the search results but as a result of higher sales the search results will automatically be biased to powersellers.

How can you increase your visibility on eBay?

Considering the factors above, here is a list of what you can do:

  • Communication: Try to communicate with your buyers, let them know when you receive the payment, send the package and just try to be helpful. (Scrobbld we will take care of this for you)
  • Good listings: Write an accurate description, take pictures of your items and try to make it look as nice as possible. Tip: Use HTML to customise the look and feel of your listings.
  • Return policy: Offer a return policy even if you don’t have one.
  • Reasonable shipping and packaging rates: Avoid charging customers on postage. Charge reasonable postage fees, this will increase your visibility. Also consider offering free shipping and combined shipping (sending more than one items as one package).
  • Shipping options: If you can offer more shipping options or international shipping, put them on your description as well as the shipping options section of the listing.

Good luck and see you on eBay!

UPDATE: Please note that our blog has moved to http://blog.scrobbld.com/

http://www.scrobbld.com: A new way to manage your eBay and PayPal orders.

References

1. ebay.com: Rewards and Standards

2. ebay.com: Rewards & Standards FAQ 2008

3. The Seller Sourcebook Blog: eBay Changing Search Results Again – Best Match Default

4. eBay Strategies: eBay Changes Strategies: DSR Best Practices

How to increase sales by selling internationally on eBay?

It is somehow obvious that going international on eBay increases exposure and therefore sales. However one might lose some time and money to be able to overcome barriers encountered. The objective of this post is to share those ideas.

Building the safety net

  • Write your descriptions accurately: An accurate description of the item saves a lot of hassle that might come later. Explain everything, be specific, missing components from the ones written on the box, has got scratches, condition is not new, one button is not working properly say it, and preferably say it in bold and capital characters ;).
  • Sell only presentable items: If you think your item is not in a saleable condition don’t sell it. It will save you time and money.
  • Decide on your return policy: Whether you accept returns or don’t provide a return policy. Explain in what condition you will be willing to accept the item back, if you are paying for the return postage, etc.
  • Research the restrictions in countries: Before you sell an item it is your job to find out if the item is not against the import policies of the country or the postage company you’re using, and let your buyers know of possible taxes/duties involved.
  • Research the postage prices and be fair: Find the postage prices for the postal companies you would like to offer, add the packaging prices and leave a safety margin for your costs (a small charge on the top). What I do not recommend is trying to make money on the postage. It will affect your exposure on eBay and it doesn’t project a good picture (eBay search results are based on many terms and one of those is fair postage price).
  • Find out the estimated delivery time: Go to the carrier’s website and find out the estimated delivery times, add it to your handling time and give the buyers an estimation of when the item will be delivered. Many buyers are looking for the fastest service rather than the cheapest.
  • Signed delivery: In comparison to local shipping the chances of items getting lost or damaged are much higher. Use a signed delivery for your items.
  • Use safe payment services: Use PayPal, Escrow or other payment services that cover you for unauthorized payments and deliveries.

Marketing Tips

  • Market Research: Terapeak offers eBay market research solutions for US, Canada, UK, Australia, France and Germany at the moment. The annual subscription is about $200.
  • Experience of international sales: If you have any experience of making international sales say it and win over competition.
  • Use eBay marketing tools: There are marketing tools such as email marketing and newsletters available on your eBay, use them, it’s free!
  • Offer a fair postage price: As mentioned previously this affects your ranking in eBay search.
  • Customer Feedbacks: In addition to previous point, customer feedbacks directly affect your visibility in search results.

Reminders

  • Communication: The winning point on eBay and basically any online business is the customer service. Notify them that you have received the payment, when you dispatched the item and send them the tracking number and the receipts (We take care of all this for you on Scrobbld).
  • Customs forms: If there is a any customs forms (tax) fill it out. Customs forms are available in post offices and on carrier websites.
  • List your item on eBay websites for specific countries: eBay allows sellers to list their items on sister eBay websites for different countries and offers to be paid via PayPal.
  • Specify postages in the listing: Other than the description, setting postage prices in postage section of the listings is important to attract buyers.

http://www.scrobbld.com: A new way to manage your eBay and PayPal orders.

Can a seller/buyer win a PayPal dispute?

The past few weeks I frequently received two main questions:

  • Can a seller win a PayPal dispute?
  • Can a buyer win a PayPal dispute?

PayPal offers both buyer and seller protection. Although sometimes inconsistent, with enough persistence, honesty and most importantly proof, you can win the case.

Can a seller win a PayPal dispute?

Most definitely, these steps can help you through the process:

  • Take the necessary precautions: A detailed discussion on precautions can be found in my previous article, I just received a PayPal dispute, What should I do?
  • Communication is the key: A vast majority of disputes can be resolved by communication.
  • Use all the tools to win if you had to: Collect all the documentations, contact PayPal by phone, fax and email, all of them.
  • Read the footnotes: Before using a postal service or method of delivery (cash on collection), find the relevant information or contact PayPal to make sure they accept it.
  • If you lose the dispute you can appeal: You can go back to your resolved disputes section and appeal against a lost dispute.

Can a buyer win a PayPal dispute?

Most probably. It is general knowledge that PayPal is on the buyers’ side. That means that if hard evidence cannot be provided by the seller, it is almost certain that the buyer will win the dispute. For buyers:

  • Communicate: Try to talk to the seller, don’t escalate, that is your last shot.
  • If you are sending the item back, make sure you use a reasonable signed postal service.
  • You don’t need to do much, just open a dispute and wait.

If you have anything to add, please drop me and email or comment.

http://www.scrobbld.com: A new way to manage your eBay and PayPal orders.

Avoid buyer scams, fake buyers and frauds on eBay/PayPal : Part II

On the previous blogs we briefly discussed the protection for PayPal purchases. “Buyer requirement on eBay” is another useful tool to filter the users based on history/profile. Although this reduces the number of allowed users to purchase your item it takes a lot of hassle out of your transactions and saves a great deal of time and money that you may lose later.

To edit your buyer requirements on eBay, do:

  1. In My eBay, under the ‘My Account’ column, click the “Preferences” link.
  2. In the Seller Preferences section, click the “Buyer Requirements” link.
  3. Click on the edit link.
Let us start by changing the “buyer requirements” step by step (The recommendations below are based on experience):
  • Buyers without a PayPal account (Recommended): With this selection you will block the users who do not have a PayPal account. This is basically because most PayPal users will pay faster than the others or because of sellers protection introduced by PayPal. Also, more and more buyers are using PayPal so it is an attractive choice for buyers too. Please don’t forget that when you can receive the payment faster then you can also send the items faster and therefore you can maintain a better customer experience.
  • Buyers with Unpaid Item strikes (Recommendation: 2 Disputes/1Month): This is to avoid the buyers who have not paid for a number of items in a period of time.
  • Buyers in countries to which I don’t ship (Recommended): Unless you are offering your service worldwide you might want to consider selecting this one. I have seen sellers who forgot to change this setting and later on received a negative feedback because the buyer expected them to ship the item.
  • Buyers with policy breach reports (Recommendation: 4 breaches/6 months): To block the buyers who have been reported. This is not necessarily negative but may be 4 times is enough to get the taste.
  • Buyers with a negative feedback score (Recommendation : -1): To block buyers who have received more negative than positive feedbacks.
  • Buyers who may bid on several of my items and not pay for them (Recommendation: 5 items unless feedback is over 5): To block buyers who are bidding or buying your items in a period of time without having enough history to credit their purchase.
  • Buyers with no credit card on file: This basically gives a hint if the buyer account is a serious account or just a normal account made in 5 minutes. The buyers are verified in this case.
If you know more ways to protect sellers from scams, frauds and fake buyers please do comment.
Please also see the Part I.
http://www.scrobbld.com: A new way to manage your eBay and PayPal orders.

I just received a PayPal dispute, What should I do?

If you received a PayPal dispute, don’t worry. It may not be the last time so let’s see what we can learn about it. Online sellers are not perfectly protected but there are always precautions to avoid the disputes or win the cases if it happens.

Why did I receive a PayPal dispute?

Basically disputes are for two reasons:

Non-receipt: In the case of tangible items there is a chance that the buyer might not receive the items.

Not as described: This is when the description of the sold item is not the same as what was sent to the buyer. PayPal only provides this service for tangible goods.

What happens when you receive a dispute?

PayPal will send you an email and let you communicate with your buyer. However the conversation will be archived on PayPal website if it needs to be reviewed later. A PayPal dispute has no negative effect on your account unless it is not resolved in a timely and professional manner.

What should you do if you receive a PayPal dispute?

In the first stages of a dispute the best thing is to log into your PayPal account and try to see the problem from buyer’s perspective, pinpoint the problem and try to resolve it between yourselves.

How can you as a seller win a PayPal dispute?

In the case that the dispute is escalated:

Non-receipt: PayPal introuced the seller protection policy to protect sellers but you should consider a few things before sending the item if you want to be protected:

  • Sellers should have a verified account.
  • Item is shipped to an eligible address (Can be checked on the transaction page).
  • Proof of delivery (Copy of shipment record).
  • For items over a value (differs by country) you need a signature from recepient or in other words use a signed delivery.
  • Send the items in 7 days of payment (this can be checked through proof of shipment and tracking).

Not as described: To avoid not as described disputes a seller should try to describe the item accurately and detailed to avoid any misunderstanding. There is no specific policy to protect sellers in this case.

PayPal dispute escalated: Now What?

If a PayPal dispute is escalated by the buyer or seller it means that the parties could not resolve the dispute through communication therefore they would like PayPal to supervise the conversation to resolve the dispute in a timely manner. In case the buyer and seller do not come to a resolution PayPal will decide which party gets to keep the money.

There are a number of choices when a dispute is escalated:

Non-Receipt: If the seller has the above mentioned (seller protection policy), e.g. proof of postage and tracking, he can add the tracking number to the transaction. It is always a good practice to check the status of the order (delivered or not delivered) in the courier page.

Important Note: If you are not qualified for seller protection (e.g. you have not sent the item in 7 days of payment), it is very likely that you will not get your money back. Then it is a good idea to contact your postal company and ask them to return or pick up the item.

Not as described: In this case you have multiple choices to resolve the dispute:

  • Refund the buyer.
  • Ask the buyer to return the item for a full refund. In this case the buyer should provide a tracking number for the returned item or he/she will not win the case.
  • Try to resolve the dispute with a partial refund.
  • Disagree with the claim. You should be able to provide sufficient evidence from your online description (e.g. on eBay) or any other documentation that the buyer was aware of the description prior to the purchase or prove that the item was in the condition described (here you can be very creative but I don’t know if it works).

At the end of the day, the best way to resolve a dispute is to communicate quickly with the buyer and pinpoint the problem. It saves a lot of your time and trust me it will pay off when the buyers come back to you again.

‘Not as described’ policy is biased to protect the buyer, if you have ideas to contribute to prevent/resolve such issues, please follow it up in the comments.

UPDATE: Please note that our blog has moved to http://blog.scrobbld.com/

http://www.scrobbld.com: A new way to manage your eBay and PayPal orders.

How to define your own export template in Scrobbld.com

“Scrobbld.com is a new service specifically designed for eBay and PayPal users.”

Previously mentioned Scrobbld.com captures and stores data regarding the orders (at the moment only PayPal). Later the seller might need to use the data in other accounting softwares (import) or might want to for example print the address labels from their label printer. Export setting allows the sellers to define the suitable template for their work. The following is the screenshot of export settings page.

Export Settings Main Page

Grouping options (No Grouping by Default) provides more flexibility to group the customers (e.g. for combined postages) or to group by products (e.g. to simplify the packaging process). Here is the screenshot of groupings.

Grouping Settings

And finally a simple demonstration of how to define your custom templates in the software shown in the thumbnail below:

Custom Template