Tag Archives: eBay

MarketPlace information specific to ebay strategies, shops, listings and more….

How to word terms & conditions and avoid eBay/PayPal Disputes

Terms and Conditions are one of the hardest parts of online selling to get right. Ignorance of the law is no defense and there are two main pieces of legislation which all sellers need to abide by – the Electronic Commerce Regulations and Distance Selling Regulations and the Sale of Goods Act.

In general these pieces of legislation are intended to protect consumers, so unsurprisingly they appear weighted against merchants, however by following their guidelines it’s possible to limit your liabilities so it’s worth spending the time to become familiar with them.

There are four main things a buyer is concerned about when considering a purchase:

What does it cost?

What will the shipping cost?

Can I return the item if it’s not what I wanted?

Is there a warranty, what happens if something goes wrong?

The first two are easily solved – the price of the product is either the BUY IT NOW price or the winning bid on an auction. Shipping costs should be clearly entered for each country that you ship to and for each delivery service that you offer at the time of listing so that the buyer knows exactly what they’ll be paying.

Returns are something that no retailer likes, but online consumers don’t have the opportunity to examine the goods prior to purchase. The Distance Selling Regulations set out their right to examine the goods in their own home and return them for any (or no) reason. As the merchant you are obliged to offer a full refund including postage costs, but you can if you wish specify that the buyer pays the return carriage costs. You can also limit the period of returns to 7 working days from receipt of the goods but only if this is specified in your Terms and Conditions.

Warranties and the goods being fit for purpose are covered by the Sale of Goods Act, and in this case buyers have up to 6 months to request repair/replacement or refund. They are also covered up to 6 years but in that case it’s the buyers obligation to prove that the goods weren’t fit for purpose, for the first 6 months it’s the sellers responsibility to prove that they were of merchandisable quality, although of course manufacturers warranties cover many items for a year or more in any case.

There is nothing more off putting to consumers than rafts of small print, so it’s worth keeping your Terms and Conditions of sale out of your main listing template. On eBay this has been made easy as eBay provide separate sections for Returns Policy, Sellers Payment Instructions, Pricing and VAT, Shipping Costs and Terms and Conditions of Sale. If you use Froo templates they provide tabbed content boxes where you can add additional information for buyers if they wish to view it.

“There is nothing more off putting to consumers than rafts of small print, so it’s worth keeping your Terms and Conditions of sale out of your main listing template.”

Although from a legal standpoint it’s important to publish your terms and conditions in general buyers are more interested in knowing that if something goes wrong you are there to help them. Make sure that your full contact details are available including your name (or business name), your address, your email address and of course your phone number. Nothing is more effective in avoiding PayPal or eBay dispute than simply giving your buyer the opportunity to communicate.

This doesn’t just stop on your eBay listings or website, whenever you ship an item include an invoice with your contact details and/or a business card. If there is a problem and your buyer has your number to hand they are much more likely to telephone and give you the opportunity to assist than to log onto eBay to open a dispute.

In general the shorter your terms and conditions the more buyer friendly they are so as well as publishing your full terms and conditions it’s worth summarising them with a link to your Terms and Conditions on a separate page.

Ultimately your terms and conditions are there to protect you legally, and to ensure that buyers are provided with the information proscribed by law. In reality there are very few buyers who will invoke their legal rights – most simply want to receive their goods or if there is an issue to have the problem resolved. This means that your Terms and Conditions are there to protect you as the seller but like insurance hopefully they are something you will never have to use.

If you think like a buyer and act towards them as you would like a company to treat you, and especially if you give your customers the ability to contact you, almost all problem can be amicably resolved resulting in a happy customer without recourse to eBay or PayPal disputes.

Making the Most of your eBay About Me Page

Lots of eBay sellers don’t even know about their About Me page. Even fewer actually take advantage of it and make sure it is working hard for them. Building a successful eBay profile is about using all the tools eBay makes available. If you’re not using your About me page, you’re missing a trick.

What IS an About me page?

It’s exactly what it says it says in the tin! A page for you to tell other eBayers about yourself, your business and the things you sell. You can make and edit your About Me page via My eBay. You don’t need any special skills but if you have some coding or design experience, so much the better.
Unusually for eBay, you can have a link on your About Me page that links to your personal website or blog but be careful. You are not allowed to link to commercial websites, promote off-eBay sales or link to items that are prohibited on eBay. You’re also not allowed to link to a search engine or site that aggregates the eBay sales of multiple sellers.  eBay have a full list of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed on the About Me policy page.

About Me Page Benefits

“There are two significant benefits to building an About Me Page. The first is SEO. The second is branding.”

There are two significant benefits to building an About Me Page. The first is SEO (search engine optimization). The vast majority of your buyers will come to you via eBay’s search but some will find you via search engines such as Google. It’s well worth remembering that anything you can do to attract more buyers from search engines is good news for the bottom line. You can also link to your About Me Page from other sites as you like, to improve the ranking of your About Me page in Google.
The second benefit is with branding. Ensuring that everything you do looks good and alike and is clearly identifiable as your business is vital when it comes to attracting repeat buyers, inspiring trust and providing a first class buying experience. Don’t forget that Frooition can help you with design and implementation of your About Me page and make sure it looks great!

Five things to include in your About Me page:

The good news for sellers is an About Me page is very flexible and can easily be personalized using HTML. eBay can help you build a basic About Me page but to get the full impact, pull out all the stops and make it a fully integrated part of your eBay brand. Here is an example of a great About Me Page.  

  1. Auto-generated components: eBay allows you to display your current sales, recent Feedback and even recent bids. So use the auto-generated elements to populate your About Me page easily.
  2. Pictures: You can include images and photos in your About Me page to bring it to life. You can host these images yourself, or eBay will do it for you.
  3. Words: To get the full SEO benefit of your About Me page make sure you have some text talking about your sales. Cram the text full of relevant keywords that will aid your findability on Google.
  4. Video: You can easily embed a video (hosted on Youtube, for instance) using HTML and that is certain to attract attention. It could be a showcase of your stock, a tour around your business or just you talking to camera about your business. It’s surprisingly easy to make a video, even with your digital camera.
  5. Your philosophy: In your item listings and also other eBay pages, you’ll talk about what you’re selling and how people pay and get a refund. An About Me Page offers the chance to be a bit less formal and more personal. Talk about why you got into eBay selling, spin a yarn about why you do it and how you like to trade.

How long will an About Me Page take?

Not long. And if you’re clever and reuse content like pictures and text that you already have elsewhere you could be up and running in a matter of minutes. If you want something more professional, it will take longer.
And the good news about your About Me page is that it’s a one-off job. There’s no need to constantly tweak and tinker: once it’s up and running you can just leave it be. Of course, if you change your brand or want to make changes, you can.

The Impact of Professional Branding Online

Branding is possibly the single most important thing that you can do for your online business. Apart from price and availability of product there is little else to distinguish you from any other online merchant but strong branding make the difference between getting the sale or not. Service only comes into play once the buyer has made a purchase, and until that point the only way to set yourself apart from other sellers is with a strong brand.

Your own brand tells customers that they are looking at one of your eBay auctions or your online shop. A memorable brand and colour scheme sets you apart from your competitors. Your brand will help customers remember the great service they received from you in the past and give them the confidence to shop again.

If you look at many experienced eBay sellers shops you’ll see that they tend to have very individual colour schemes, undoubtedly they’ll have a logo, but importantly the same colour scheme or “branding” carries through from their eBay auctions to their shop home page, their About Me page, their custom shop pages and even on their email marketing and end of auction emails.

Branding shouldn’t stop at your eBay shop though, if you have a website or sell on venues other than eBay your branding should carry across so that buyers who have made one purchase from you recognise you wherever they find your products for sale. Your branding should carry across all the sites you trade on as well as your flyers, packing slips, thank you notes, business cards, invoices.

“A professional logo not only tells your customers that you’re serious about your business, but also acts as the basis for all your other branding”

The easiest place to start your branding is when you create your logo. A professional logo not only tells your customers that you’re serious about your business, but also acts as the basis for all your other branding. Whilst it’s easy to create your own logo either in a graphics program or using software such as http://www.aaa-logo.com/, it’s worth investing the money to get a professional designer to create it for you. There are many companies on eBay who will design you a logo, or a company such as Frooition will design your logo in conjunction with branding your eBay listings, eBay shop or your own website.

Once you have a logo choose your eBay shop or website colours to complement it. On eBay this is fairly easy as in the shop designer you can customise the colours to match your logo – you don’t even need to know any HTML to do so. Choose colours, logos and symbols that reflect what you sell to make your eBay shop unique and create your own brand.

Unless you’re an HTML expert you’ll probably want someone to create and brand your website for you. Most ecommerce packages will allow you a certain amount of customisation, but this is normally restricted to selecting a set theme from a restricted set of options. Almost all ecommerce packages can be fully customised using HTML Style Sheets by a professional designer and if you want strong branding it’s worth investing in your business.

Your branding needn’t stop at your eBay listings, shop or website, it’s possible to extend your branding into eBay search results and even onto Google Product Search and other shopping comparison sites by branding your images. Consider putting a border on your eBay gallery pictures using your brands colours, or if your logo can be reduced in size include your logo in each image and it’ll appear on the thumbnails that eBay display in search. Equally on product comparison sites your branded images will let buyers know that it’s your product that they’re looking at.

When considering branding think about large companies such as Nike or Vodafone. As soon as you see the Nike slash you instantly know it’s a Nike product or website even if you don’t see their name. Vodafone is equally recognisable from their red quotation mark logo in a circle. If you can create an icon from your logo which is as instantly recognisable you’re well on your way to creating your brand.

Once you or your designer has created your brand you can build a consistent appearance across all the channels you sell on. Your brand will become more important over time in building customer confidence and help with faster customer acquisition and retention.  Branding delivers customer awareness and loyalty and plays a vital role in the speed that a company grows. Once you have built your brand make sure that it’s used in every contact with a customer, whether it be on eBay and your website or in any email or mail communications that you send.

Raising your Ratings: eBay Top-rated Seller Programme

Securing and maintaining eBay’s Top-Rated Seller status should be high on any seller’s to do list. eBay education specialist Mark Buckingham offers a few top tips to help you bolster the fortunes of your eBay Empire …

 

Introduced in October, the Top-rated Seller programme distinguishes the cream of eBay sellers. There’s little proof thus far that not having it will significantly hurt your eBay sales, but it’s well worth going the extra mile to attain such hallowed status. Arguably, eBay have raised the bar a little too high for certain sellers – there are mixed feelings in the Powerseller community, especially amongst those selling large, heavy, or fragile items more prone to delivery complications – but TRS is here to stay and it is achievable for the majority:

  • Strive for 5 stars: Avoiding low 1 and 2 stars is key to the Top-Rated programme, so communicate to your buyers the importance of Detailed Seller Ratings and feedback. Use your custom emails in Selling Manager Pro to keep your customers apprised, add compliment slips to remind your buyers where they bought the item from and highlight other special offers, and don’t hesitate to pick up the phone if a buyer isn’t happy.
  • Get to grips with Best Match: From meeting eBay’s basic seller standards, to understanding recent sales score and impressions it’s well worth doing a little homework to get to grips with exactly how Best Match sorts matching listings. I’d go as far as to say this is the single main area most sellers I’ve talked to continue to neglect, to their disadvantage. Get Best Match savvy, and you’ll reap the rewards.

  • Pick your ‘carrots’:  Top-Rated Seller is partly calculated by number of transactions, so consider adding cheaper cost-neutral lines that will sell in volume and could help pad out your feedback, and help absorb any low scores. It will also help generate extra footfall into your shop. Don’t forget to use Good-til-Cancelled multi-quantity listings to save you re-listing the item and jeopardising your sales-score.
  • Manage buyer expectations: setting and exceeding expectations is all-important. In my experience, a buyer won’t mind waiting a week if they know in advance. If you’re shipping an item that will be pre-booked by the couriers using a 2-man delivery, ensure your buyer doesn’t expect it yesterday. It’s best to lower expectations and exceed, than promise a turnaround time you can’t realistically fulfil.
  • Anticipate problems: LLook at your Detailed Seller Rating and feedback history and see where low scores and non-positive comments have been left, and look for trends. Perhaps particular lines in your shop catergory are more problematic than others? If so, take time to give those buyers extra-special customer service.
  • Offer free P&P: this is part of the Best Match algorithm – eBay have announced that they give a boost to listings offering free P&P. Of course, there’s rarely such a thing as free carriage, but it pays to build it into your unit cost, or subsidise it as best you can. It simplifies the buyer experience and means less risk of buyers leaving low feedback for perceived high carriage cost. And anything that can help raise your sales can’t be a bad thing.
  • Beat thy competition: Frooition customer’s already have an advantage over most sellers who don’t have a professional setup. But it still pays to know your competition and to be creative. Get into the habit of scouring eBay’s Completed Items searches and other research products like Terapeak, to see what your competitors are fairing. Look carefully to see what value other sellers are offering and see how you can add more value and stand out from the crowd. Be creative. Consider embellishing your gallery thumbnails and consider adding a subtitle if you haven’t already. Even stating the RRP and amount saved might mean the difference between a winning a loyal buyer or giving your competitors the upper hand. And we don’t want that.

Here’s wishing you every success!

www.NetSeek.co.uk

Mark Buckingham

eBay business consultant

What is eBay Best Match?

Best Match is the process by which eBay sort search results, and the higher your listings appear in Best Match the more likely it is that a buyer will make a purchase from you.

It’s important to realise that auctions and fixed price listings are sorted differently. In general auctions are still sorted by time ending soonest, but are then combined with fixed price listings to produce the final sort order (often alternately auction, fixed price, auction, fixed price, but if there are more of one type of listing than the other the frequency may vary).

eBay’s initial sort order for fixed price items is according to “Best Value” or “Popularity”. eBay consider the measure of Best Value to be based upon how often a buyer purchases an item in comparison to how often it appears in search results. If an item title contains irrelevant keywords it may initially appear high in search results, but as it gains search impressions (as buyers view the item title in search results) if it doesn’t attract purchases it’ll quickly drop down the search results sort order.

An interesting by product of listing popularity is that some sellers have reported ending a listing with no sales and re-launching a brand new listing for an identical product often gives it higher placement in search results. This is because a listing with 100 views in search and no sales is viewed by eBay as less popular and thus less likely to sell than a listing with no, or few, search impressions and no sales. If the previously unsold item appears higher in search results it naturally stands more chance of being purchased, and the more purchases a listing attracts the higher in search results that it appears leading to ever more sales.

“eBay perceive items offering free postage to be attractive to buyers and listings that don’t charge additional postage costs get a small boost in search results.”

Once search results are ordered according to popularity there are two other main factors which can bump a listing even higher on the search results page. The first is if the seller is a Top Rated Seller. Top Rated Seller status is based on customer service, as measured by the four Detailed Seller Ratings for Item Description, Communication, Dispatch Time and Postage & Packing Charges. To qualify sellers need to ensure they don’t receive more than the maximum allowable low (one or two star) scores for any particular Detailed Seller Rating.

The second boost in search results is smaller, but is for offering free postage. eBay perceive items offering free postage to be attractive to buyers and listings that don’t charge additional postage costs get a small boost in search results.

There is one other important criteria which can affect your placement in Best Match search results and that is if your Seller Performance drops below standard as measured by Detailed Seller Ratings. Sellers who receive too many one or two star ratings will have their listings lowered right to the bottom of search results. This includes both fixed price, and auction listings. Even if you have an auction which is about to end it will appear on the last page of search results below a newly listed auction which still has ten days left to run if you’re listings are being demoted in search.

Although Top Rated Seller status is desirable to get a boost in search position, in comparison the demotion in search from being a below standard seller is devastating. In effect your items will be hidden from buyers and it’s likely your items will only be found if they’re particularly rare and there aren’t many alternatives on the site, or by savvy buyers specifically looking for a bargain.

Ultimately doing a good job as an eBay seller will get your listings to the top of Best Match. Avoid underhand tactics such as keyword spamming in product titles and keep customer service standards high to avoid demotion in search. You’ll still need to source products which buyers want to buy and offer them at a competitive price, but a good listing title and clear pictures and great descriptions to make sure buyers purchase when then view you listing will go a long way to ensure your items are placed well in search.

Finally many sellers are concerned that they’ve not qualified as Top Rated Sellers. If you’re not a Top Rated Seller don’t worry as although their listings are boosted in search recent sales and eBay’s measure of popularity are more important. So long as you’re not a below standard seller whose listings are being demoted it doesn’t matter if a competitor is a Top Rated Seller and you’re not – if you’re offering a great product at a good price and attracting more sales than your competitors then it will be your listing that is appearing at the top of Best Match search results.