Saturday, 18 November 2006

eBay for charity

pudsey bearWith BBC Children in Need yesterday I got to thinking about eBay for Charity. Along with the official Children in Need auctions where you can buy anything from a Pudsey Bear to Dr Who memorabilia, thousands of other sellers support the cause with their own auctions in conjunction with Mission Fish

Mission Fish now have over 1000 charities to choose from so if you want to support a charity there's sure to be a cause close to your heart. In fact many people sell purely from the good of their hearts passing auction proceeds to swell the charities funds. All eBay for charity items are easily distinguished by the charity ribbon logo which appears in search and browse results and on the auction itself.

There is however a more mercenary reason for supporting charities, many buyers search only eBay for charity when looking to buy and listing your item there will undoubtedly attract buyers who may not normally browse the categories you sell in. Much as some will say that profiting from charity isn't the "done thing" at the end of the day charity auctions attract more bids then other similar listings so it's quite possible to donate a percentage of your sale price to charity and yet still end up with a similar amount at the end of the day.

Of course serious sellers will look at the commercial benefits of attracting buyers to their auctions and may even donate 100% of the auction price to charity knowing that it will bring traffic to their other auctions and eBay shop to more than compensate for the item they donate.

If you haven't looked yet eBay for charity is well worth investigating!

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PS3 madness

As of 9:23 AM Friday, 174 PS3 consoles have sold for an average selling price of $2,618.47. A quick search of eBay's completed listings reveal even sillier prices, with a unit with a Buy It Now price of US$50,000 having sold within seven hours of listing.

It's certainly safer to stay indoors and buy on eBay than risk stampeding and shooting in the shops. But is it actually worth all the hype?

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Friday, 17 November 2006

Wanna box?

One of the most wonderful things about eBay is the opportunities we get to bid on things that money can't normally buy. Up for sale this week is a square metre of empty space in the Museum of London: display whatever you like, so long as it relates to London life. We'd like to see a stuffed pigeon, some tarts' cards from phone boxes and a slice of doughy pizza from one of those shops on Oxford Street on display. And as if the display opportunities weren't enough, your money will go to help the Museum in its work with 100,000 school children every year.

Via the BBC.


"It's not get rich quick, you have to work at it"

That was the message from eBay's Jim Griffiths on this evening's Money Programme.

The programme looked at three UK eBay sellers: Simon, aka godblessthismess, fitted the traditional image of the eBay seller of rather bizarre collectibles. Trying to expand his business, he has a problem that many of us have: falling in love with his own stock. Sadly his love for and bidding on an item he was selling for a friend cost him a week's suspension from the site: a salutory lesson for him, but a positively managed demonstration that the site does not tolerate artificial bid inflation ("shill bidding") by sellers.

Wilmamae Ward, trading as Gathering Goddess began her business in the same way many sellers do: selling off her own excess eBay purchases. Her vintage clothing collection is just to die for, though I couldn't help wondering why she was showing her new employee how to take parcels to the post office, instead of paying less than a pound a day to Royal Mail to arrange a collection. Also rather worrying was her eBay Live mentor, the Australian millionaire CD seller who couldn't ship more than 150 CDs a week by himself. Sure, "low cost, high volume" eBay selling isn't easy: anyone who's ever phoned me when I'm in the middle of doing my daily packing will tell you just how stressful it is. But 150 CDs a week seems a rather low target to be complaining about.

The Bid Easy represents a new breed of eBay seller: big business with financial backers arriving on the site. Selling luxury goods on behalf of larger brands and with six employees already, the programme followed Jameel Verjee through his ambitious project to sell six hundred diamond rings a month on eBay.

Watching eBay selling portrayed in a positive but realistic way on the BBC was a wonderful and refreshing change. The highlight, as always, and the true star of the show, was eBay Live: corporate spectacular the way only America can do it. Doug's right: we still love the fun-ness of eBay.


eBay move to stop PS3 scammers

Do you remember the great PS2 shortage of Christmas '04? So do eBay, and that's why they've placed severe restrictions on the sale of the PS3. Sellers may sell only machines in their actual possession, pictured with their sales receipt, and must accept Paypal, which offers buyers protection against non-receipt of goods.

There is no question that this was the right decision for eBay to have taken. Though some sellers have criticised the company for everything from "allowing itself to be bullied by Sony" to not having ended items listed before the policy was announced, it was absolutely correct and reasonable to expect eBay to ensure that this year's hottest Christmas present didn't become an excuse for scammers to wreak havoc across its site. With riots taking place in Walmart amongst those desperate to get their hands on the new machine, eBay don't need to be the Grinch that stole Christmas from hundreds of over-optimistic gamers.

A recent policy clarification now allows sellers who have more than one unit to sell all of them. From what I've seen, this is clearly eBay listening to sellers and amending policy accordingly: it's very nice to be able to say that.

Of course, one effect of this has been to advertise to the entire world that PS3s are available on eBay. With supply short even in Japan, is anyone really very surprised that a PS3 just sold on eBay for $9,000? Nice stock, if you can get it.

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Win £25,000 on PayPal for Christmas

PayPal Christmas Promotion
Loads of chances to win
Shop at eBay and pay with PayPal
Shop elsewhere (other than eBay) on a site that accepts PayPal
Send money by email
Buy, donate or send money by mobile phone
Get your PayPal account verified

1st Prize £25,000
2nd Prize £10,000
3rd Prize £5,000
Plus ten £1,000 prizes

Now that has got to be worth a punt!

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News from Gordon Brown

More news from Gordon Brown today! He has announced “I am delighted to be hosting the inaugural meeting of Britain’s International Business Advisory Council and to be following this with a summit meeting with the leading figures in British business. We will be discussing how business and government can work together to make the case for globalisation and how to make globalisation work better.”

The Government is committed to working closely with and listening to business leaders and this includes Meg Whitman of eBay who he is with now

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Meg Whitman meets with Gordon Brown

Back in March it was announced that the Chancellor was establishing the International Business Advisory Council for the UK comprising some of the world’s leading business people including Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay. The Council will advise the Chancellor and the Trade Secretary on global business to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the top locations for international commerce.

The outcome of this meeting will affect all UK eBayers in some shape or form, if in no other way than that Meg Whitman is influencing government policy. For eBay sellers it's good to know we're all being represented at the very highest level of government and whilst it may take some time for details of the meeting to become available we'll be watching with close interest and bring you the story as it happens.

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BBC positive about eBay shock!

Yes, it's true. After the fiasco of Watchdog, this evening's Money Programme is featuring some great eBay success stories.

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Thursday, 16 November 2006

Buyer's Eye : classic-quality-collectables

buyer's eyeI have this weakness for the unloved and unwanted, and over the last two years have indulged in it by buying the ugliest vases I can find. Only two rules:
• They have to be from my friends Mark and Philomena's eBay shop
• They have to be ugly.

It's been so successful that my collection has been jokingly named "The Berkshire Museum of Ugly Vases" Anyway here I was this evening wondering how to pass the time so I took a quick look though the classic-quality-collectables eBay shop and I found this

Now I have to admit it's no where near as ugly as some of the others I've bought, but it's the worst I could find in their shop so the good news is if you take a look all you'll find are some beautiful antiques and collectables that would make the perfect Christmas present for some one special.

Now the reason for posting this is to let you know what Mark and Philomena do well which could help you with your sales on eBay.

Firstly they use a program called clic*pic for displaying superb multiple images from all angles of their products. Buyers love great pictures and it can really bump up your final selling price but if you use eBay hosting additional pictures really starts to cost. Host them yourself and use clic*pic to display them in your auctions for great galleries!

Next their communications are superb, not only do you receive the normal "Item won" and "PayPal Paid" emails, but Mark and Philomena send you an email thanking you for your custom and letting you know what day your item will be despatched.

Next (and the reason I *really* love shopping with them) their packaging is superb! We all love opening parcels but they take it to a whole new level. Items are carefully wrapped in bubblewrap and then packed in a brand new box filled with peanuts to ensure your item arrives safely.

Finally when you open the box you'll find a packing slip detailing your purchase along with a classic-quality-collectables business card to remind who you dealt with. So many sellers miss this opportunity to remind buyers who you are and prompt them to shop with you again.

All in all a great buying experience and classic-quality-collectables are highly recommended... just one thing, if you spot an ugly vase please email me so that I can buy it!


I have to buy one of these!

I keep telling myself I don't need one, I promised I wouldn't blog about them, but they have them on eBay so how can I ignore them? Called the hydrofoam they are just the coolest remote control toys you've ever seen! Not cheap but certainly at around £100 they're not over priced compared to other remote control toys.

Go on... spend five minutes watching the clip and then try telling me you don't want one! :-p


For local people

Today I discovered Star Bidz, an auction site run by a local newspaper for Wolverhampton residents. When I was a kid, everything but everything from ice skates to Scalextric came out of the "£15 and under" section of the local newspaper. The Express and Star have brought that concept right up to date, with online bidding, but free ads and local collection.


Selling the Ruby Slippers

This is a great article on the cathartic process of selling off a disliked step-grandmother's clothes on eBay. And her remark that "knowledgeable customers have educated and helped me along the way" ought to be inscribed on every seller's wall: buyers can teach you almost everything you need to know.


3, eBay, Google to revolutionise mobile internet

Mobile network operator 3 publicized an agreement with top internet companies - including Google, Skype and eBay - which the firm promises will revolutionise the rapidly emerging mobile web. ... 3 will allow its customers to make free internet phone calls ... to watch their home television via their mobile handset and even access their personal computers whilst on the move.

Watch television on your phone, surf the net on your phone... this all sounds very similar to the old promises of 3G phones, which have largely been ignored by consumers. Let's hope that this partnership with two of the internet's biggest players can create something a bit more exciting.


Treasure Trove on eBay

People who find treasure may be breaking the law if they do not report it to the authorities, eBay and the British Museum are warning.

Experts from the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) will now monitor all antiquities sales on eBay, reporting any illegal activity to the Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Unit.

I spent too long sitting in university lectures with archaeologists not to sometimes feel concerned by the antiquities being sold on eBay. I'm glad to see this double approach: education for those who might be acting illegally from ignorance, and prosecution for those who deprive our society of its heritage for their own profit.


eBay Seller Rewards bolster Share Price

The launch of the Seller Rewards program on has had far reaching impact throughout the corporate world. Analyst Robert Peck notes "This is significant because eBay is "finally" trying to create incentives for its sellers to dole out more goods which is something it's failed to adequately do so far."

It's great to see strategies that benefit sellers who are growing their businesses also underpinning eBay's share price! A real 'Win Win' situation.

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CLD 5p with free gallery if you give free P&P 20-21 Nov

For the 20th and 21st November you can list for just 5p with gallery if you offer free postage!

eBay wouldn't do this for fun so I suspect that they've done a lot of research that shows that buyers like free Post and Packing so why not give it a whirl!

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Spotlight on Women in Business

Traditionally women who have been mums have had their careers held back when they became mothers. Although in recent years this has improved, there is still a dilemma for many mothers on how to balance work and family. Mumtrepreneurs is great article in the Sun newspaper though, which feature Kirsten Dudley of Postal Supplies who with husband Andrew look after their family of six but set up Postal Supplies selling packaging to eBay sellers. Kirsten now runs a multi-national business yet still has time to care for her six children. Also in the article Lisa MacKenzie who started out selling her baby's clothes as he grew out of them says she "would thoroughly recommend eBay as a way for at-home parents to pay off bills" although that's an understatement for what she's achieved.

It's great to see these successful women proving there doesn't have to be a choice between family and a successful career, and it's going on all over the country. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of speaking at the Tycoon Idol 2006 award ceremony in conjunction with Take a Break magazine which promoted women in business and gave them the opportunity to receive help and mentoring as they set up their own businesses.

Chris Dawson Speaking at Tycoon Idol, Oxford July 2006.
Event produced by Business Boffins and Communities in Business. Photography by Mazz Image.

eBay of course is an ideal vehicle for setting up a sales business due to the low start up costs and the ability to reach a nationwide or indeed worldwide audience from day one. However to make a success doesn't come easy for those with no previous business experience but help and support is close at hand with eBay University, eBay educational specialists, the help forums and projects such as Tycoon Idol and the organisations that support it.

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Wednesday, 15 November 2006

CLD Motors 18th & 19th November

Well what a week for CLD's as one finishes another starts! Free Listing all weekend on eBay motors. Ok so listing on Motors is only six quid, but six quids add up if you're a trader with a bunch of motors to shift!

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Waggle What?!

Via Blogging Stocks, I've discovered another contender for eBay's throne, the daftly-named Wagglepop. Boasting just 151,000 items listed, I thought the site might be worth a quick zip through: sadly, it seemed to run at the speed of porridge.

Because it's what I know about, I trudged over to the Bead Art category, which boasts 361 listings this evening, and appears to be largely dominated by two sellers. The largest of these has 65 feedbacks: that's right, 65 sales in the last six months, and unlike eBay, repeat buyers count again on Wagglepop. It looks like it translates into about 22 transactions at an average value of about USD8.00. Forgive me if I don't close my eBay shop just yet.

The pricing looks great though: I love the idea of one fee for all listings, gallery and shop, and I do wonder if this sort of pricing isn't a direction eBay could take: it's not dissimilar to the Pack Options available on where Gallery, Subtitle and Listing Designer bought all together are cheaper. How about upping my Shop fees in return for unlimited Gallery on SIF items? Just a thought.

But of course competitive pricing only means that you hang on a little longer waiting for the buyers. And there's only so long you can sit watching the tumbleweed roll past.


eBay UK, US seller promotions

If you can't increase your eBay sales above normal level over the next six weeks, you're doing something seriously wrong. But just in case you'd been fancying a holiday, eBay have rolled out two prize programmes to reward sellers who take advantage of the spendy season just started.

eBay UK's Seller Rewards programme measures success by increases in eBay bills. I like this very much because I'm not necessarily forced to list *more*, I can just list *smarter* and increase the FVFs I pay them. Sellers earn Paypal vouchers equivalent to a quarter of the difference between their old highest bill and their new highest bill, up to a maximum of £250.

Meanwhile, US Powersellers can win one of ten $5000 dollar prizes as well as listing fee credits, for beating their own personal sales targets.

I like both programmes, but I have to say that, though UK sellers often complain that the US gets better things and gets them first, this time, I think we got the better deal.

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Have you got anything without spam?

Up to 80% of spam may be generated by just ten people. May they all spend eternity in Hell trying to weed orders from amongst rubbish about pharmaceuticals and fake watches.


Two new sites for

Two great new sites are announced today, it would be nice to see them come to at some time in the near future!

Deal Finder
eBay Deal Finder is an easy to use new way to discover great deals on eBay. It searches the eBay marketplace and finds items that are within the total price range that you specify (including shipping) and:

* are ending soon (in less than 4 hours)
* have yet to receive a bid
* do not have a Reserve price
* have a flat shipping rate (including free shipping).

In addition to the search criteria noted above, eBay Deal Finder also presents search results in an exciting new way, including a dynamic countdown clock to let you know how much time is remaining for each item.

eBay Pop
eBay pop is a fun new destination to learn what's hot on eBay, with a dash of pop culture. Check out which items have been big "Movers and Shakers," cast your vote in "Head to Head," or play "How Much Is It Worth?", (perfect for fans of The Price Is Right).

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Put your prices up...

Too many eBay sellers are trying too hard to be the cheapest for what they sell. Generally, it's not worth the effort: someone, somewhere, will always be able to undercut you. Duct Tape Marketing's John Jantsch has a great take on this:

Look, competing on price is a tough strategy, there will always be someone willing to go out of business faster than you. When you raise your prices across the board you may find that some of your customers balk and even leave. Generally, as long as you give a solid reason why you are increasing your prices, the ones that leave are the ones that came to you based on price anyway. So do the math on this. Increase your prices by 25%, lose 10% of your customers. The magic formula of "do more with fewer customers" just tilted your way - and you increased the bottom line over night.

There are so many other ways to compete on eBay: excellent photographs can double your selling price, for example. Having all the necessary add-ons can bring in more customers: if you want a range of things, do you want to go to one seller or a dozen? Having terms and conditions that read like someone you might actually want to do business with is so important. And if your competitors think that all that matters is price and maybe feedback, all or any one of these things can give you the edge.


eBay Matchups (Or how to waste your lunch hour!)

Have you ever wanted to put two things side by side and determine which is better? That's a Match Up. And that's what eBay Match Ups lets you do: create a Match Up, vote for the winners, and interact with other eBay members!

This has to be one of the best ways to waste time I know with complusive voting on topics like under or over for loo roll :-)


Creativebay acquired by Frooition

Love em or hate em the creativebay shops have proved popular for punters that want to get away from the standard eBay look and feel so much so that UK services provider Frooition has acquired them. This gives Frooition a new base of customers to tap for solutions and may give them a boost against the more established well known services providers such as ChannelAdvisor and Marketworks.

Is the UK market big enough for more than one player in this space? Only time will tell but ChannelAdvisor has been making ground over it's competitors in the last year especially with the release of Channeladvisor Pro for smaller or new eBay businesses!


Mobile eBaying goes European

If you can't bear to be away from eBay even when you're out - and I have heard that some people are like that ;-) - Pocket Auctions now lets anyone with a Java-enabled mobile watch their sales, bid or buy through the phone handset. The service began in the UK last year and has proved so popular that local services for France, Germany, Italy and Spain have now been launched.


The real ads 2006 series

I'll post more as I come across them but the two that I've seen so far are:-
Get in there
I wanna box

Nice to see a totally new theme with some simpsonesh characters but the ads have caused controversy with sellers questioning whether they convey the right message. At the end of the day who cares though.... site traffic is up and that's gotta be a good thing for all of us :-)

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CLD Free Gallery and Subtitle on .ie on 16th November

I guess this explains why the 10p Listing Day on was unusually on a Monday. It was to avoid the Free Gallery and Subtitle day on on Thursday this week!

Predicting when the next cheap listing day will be is never easy, but you can bet your bottom dollar if it's not on a Thursday it's to avoid one another eBay site has that would clash!

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Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Following on from tazmania with spoof ebaymania

Tazbar - ha!
eBay has more chutzpah

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In the seven years I've been selling online, I've seen a lot of things touted as "the next eBay". The current contender for the internet auction crown is Tazbar, a site that seems to be lacking many of the things that have come to plague the eBay site: scammers, fakers, buyers...

Tazbar's new TV advertising campaign began in the UK yesterday. Not only is the online auction format familiar, but the word "it" features prominently in the advertising. Oh dear. And is it just my imagination, or are those swirly boxes on the front page oddly reminiscent of eBay's design too?

For what it's worth, my own prediction is that "the next eBay" will be nothing to do with eBay. The things that have been really revolutionary (Blogger, MySpace, YouTube spring to mind) are bringing something new to the online table, not simply running with an existing idea.

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How to Buy, Sell and Profit on eBay

The subtitle of Adam Ginsberg's book promises to tell you "how to kick start your home-based business in thirty days". I'd argue with this: a more accurate title might be "how to stop selling off your own old tat and actually start running a business on eBay in probably about ninety days". If you've sold a few things of your own and are really looking to turn that into a business, this book might be useful for you, but if you're already running a business, online or otherwise, you probably know most of this very basic stuff without needing to read a book.

There's very little here that you couldn't figure out from the eBay help pages and your own common sense, but yet some of it manages to be downright dangerous. Mr Ginsberg's comments on international postage, that you might like to "choose" whether to send goods as gifts or not, fail to mention that declaring merchandise as a gift is, in fact, illegal. This is smuggling, not just a matter of personal choice!

If you want to buy a book about eBay, I'd suggest you choose something else.


VeRO overturned in High Court

A man who stopped a business selling children's quad bikes on eBay cannot continue to do so, the High Court has ruled. Dr. Colin Campbell claimed that children's bikes sold on eBay violated his design rights, and had sales ended under eBay's VeRO programme. But seller Quads4Kids counterclaimed against Dr. Campbell under the Community Design Regulations 2005, which stop those claiming to be rights holders from making threats that they cannot back up with legal action.

The Judge wrote "I consider that unsupported and unchallengeable allegations of infringement of registered rights of this description are potentially an exceedingly damaging abuse of registered rights". He also gave judgement quickly so that the bikes could be back on sale on eBay in the run up to Christmas. Lets hope that a few of those who use VeRO to assert rights they do not have are put off by this judgement.


More free marketing emails with Shops

Another improvement eBay have kept quiet about: email marketing free email allocations have just been massively increased. Basic Shop owners now get 1000 emails, Featured Shops 2500 and Anchor Shops a massive 5000 emails a month. As eBay tell us that only 18% of Shop owners use this feature at all, this is now a great way to keep in touch with more of your customers, more often.

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TurboLister V2 Beta

If you're not signed up for TurboLister Beta now is the time to do so. There are loads of new features such as viewing live auctions, ending auctions, editing live auctions etc.

Two fantastic features are the ability to sort by auctions eligible for free relist credit, and ability to see the remaining quantity on Buy it Now and Shop Inventory Formats - if the quantity is zero you just sold your last listed item and it's time to relist a new quantity!

Seriously the best tool eBay have released in years - a must have! :-D


Try Gallery Plus for half price

Between 14th and 16th of November, you can try Gallery Plus on for half the normal price. Definitely worth a try if you list on .com, this one: although the new feature isn't exactly cheap, for more pricey items I think it might be rather useful.

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Sunday, 12 November 2006

Fab University!

Postal Supplies and Tamebay stayed on in Exeter the evening after the eBay University at the Gipsy Hill Hotel. A quiet unassuming hotel on the face of it but with one outstanding bonus, the new head chef who is French and goes by the nick name "Fab". And fab he is indeed, the food is simply sublime, so much in fact that we couldn't resist taking photo's of the deserts that we chose!

Fab has only been with the hotel a week, and his stated aim is to gain a Michelin Star for the restaurant. If you're ever looking for somewhere to stay the Gipsy Hill Hotel is on the edge of town convenient for both the M5 motorway and just five minutes from Exeter airport. Deceivingly directions will take you through an industrial estate but fear not, the hotel is discreetly situated at the end of a lane. Regardless if it was in the middle of an industrial zone Fab the French chef would more than make up for it!

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