Tag Archives: eCommerce

Ecommerce strategies, Marketplace Information and tips for ebay, Amazon, SEO, Express, Google Base, froogle.

Building trust on your ecommerce website

building trust on your ecommerce website

Building trust on your ecommerce website is essential to its success. Here, we share some key points on creating a website that lets customers know that they can buy from you with confidence.

Contact information

The biggest way to reassure customers that you are a trustworthy business, is to make it immediately clear how they can contact you. Email and phone number should not need to be searched for. Social media and chat functions on the website are also valuable. The more methods you offer customers for contacting you, the better. Making your customer service as easily accessable as your products is a massive part of building trust on your ecommerce website. To be extra customer friendly, put a note of your customer service hours, so that customers are not dissapointed if they have to wait for a response.

Be consistant

Keep what was on your landing page visible on your product pages: contact information, credibility markers, live chat options, etc.

Add a personal touch

Add a blog or an about us page, to tell your story and show your expertize. Write in a consistant tone, so that customers can feel that they know your company and what approach to expect from you. Avoid using stock photos. It’s better to post a real photo of your team and humanize your interaction with your customers.

secure ecommerce

Be open

A major key to building customer trust is the option to exchange or return the product in the event of something being wrong.Make sure that your shipping and returns policies visible and easy to find.

SSL certificates

Having an SSL Certificate confirms that you are who you say you are. This is a key point of gaining customer trust and showing the customer that your site is a trustworthy one.

Delivery info

Display a delivery calculator to help your customer understand how much the total purchase will cost. Offer several secured payment and delivery options to give your customers as many choices as possible. Never hide the delivery costs at any point

Be mobile

Trust and security concerns are the main barriers to purchase for customers on mobile. Ensure that your site appears well on mobile, has good load time and has a short check out process, with security badges.

Improving the customer experience and making your site more informative with clear pictures, policies and contact details is a massive part of building trust on your ecommerce website. Following through on these with consistant service, smooth delivery and returns, will secure customer trust and win you their loyalty.

Why cross selling is so important – and how so many eBay sellers are getting it wrong.

According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.

When a customer is making a purchase, they are already in the mind set to buy.  It is the best time to sell them other products. Increasing average sale this way is what successful online entrepreneurs often refer to as “making all the profits on the back-end.”

In 2006, Amazon reported that cross-selling and upselling contributed as much as 35% of their revenue. Both techniques are important to customer experience and maximising sales.

The difference between cross selling and up selling


Cross selling a tent to camping gear  up-selling-1

Which is right for your business?

There is no reason not to use both.

McDonald’s ask “would you like fries with that?” as the cross sell, then “would you like to go large?” as the upsell.  Predicting customers’ actual needs is the secret to successful cross and up sales.

Amazon have done particularly well with their cross selling, because they always keep it relevant. The phrase ‘customers who bought this also bought’ cleverly works social proof into the sell too.

Take your time to develop a range of problems and opportunities based on your customers’ priorities. If you’ve done enough analytics-based research, you should have a fairly good idea about what your customers want.

offers should make sense while providing a clear benefit to the customer. The goal is always to create a win-win situation, not to browbeat your customer into buying something they don’t necessarily want or have no interest in.


Linda’s stuff have used the right hand promotion box within the listing for this sweater to show other sweaters which are the same size and a similar colour. For a customer who is searching for a smalll, gray sweater this is improving their experience and increasing the chances of them buying from Linda’s stuff.

Customization is a huge part of upselling. The price of your product, its uses, and why people commonly buy them should all be factored into when and how you employ it in an upsell.

When cross selling goes wrong

Cross selling features in eBay designs can be dynamic, or hard coded. There is a very non technical reason why it matters which you use.

Dynamic cross promotion scans through your live listings, and automatically shows related products, based on the rules you set. The rules could be size, colour, any relevant feature. It will only connect listings which are relevant and live.

Hard coded cross promotion solutions need to be updated every time a product sells out. A seller would need to go through and update every listing, or they would be cross promoting to a dead listing.

Cross promoting to a dead listing is pointless, and will very likely lose you sales. Frooition have worked with eBay to  develop dynamic cross promotion features which are active content free. The above example of Linda’s stuff is one of our many active content free custom listing designs. For people who have a template rather than a custom design, we have a dynamic cross selling app which is also active content compliant.

Although increased sales are the main focus and average order size, it’s equally important to also consider the customer experience. In fact, these two things are mutually dependant. Offering customers seemingly random products will just leave customers confused, and won’t sell anything. Carefully look at your store, and  the range of products you offer and consider what makes the most sense to offer the customer. Improve their experience, and your revenues will follow.

How presentation affects value perception – and how to use it to increase your sales.

Burger with meat and French fries in serving basket on dark background

Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The perfect example of good advice none of us can take.

The burger above looks like it would cost more than the average fast food burger served in a polystyrene box. Being wrapped in brown paper and served on a chopping block, the basket for the fries, the slate table. It is all very artisnal looking. None of these elements affect the taste or quality of the burger itself, but they absolutely affect our perception of its value.

“There is no truth. There is only perception.” – Gustave Flaubert.

When you eat at a Mcdonald’s you are expecting food that is fast, but without any real care put into it. When you eat in the Gourmet burger company, you are expecting something prepared with thought and attention. The name of the restaurant tells you to expect that, the menu descriptions and presentation of the food would tell you to expect that, the presentation of the restaurant itself and the price would tell you that too. All of these elements are key to value perception. And they are exactly the same, no matter what you are selling.

A well presented brand is perceived as a
quality brand, a trust worthy brand.


Apple are a brand that capitalises on our love of aesthetics. Their adverts show you beautifully stylised images of products, but tell you very little about them. Good clear product photos are one of the best ways to instantly increase your sales.

The description of your product is the second most vital factor to its selling online. Try to include as much information as you can. Be honest, and focus on the benefits of the product. Zappos are great at describing products. The image below is one of the products on their site. You can see they have lots of good clear photos of the product, in all colours, so customers can feel confident that they know how it will look. The description is set out as a bullet point list and is very short on adjectives. Instead, they focus on stating each feature and its benefit. I have highlighted the benefits. You can see that the points that are not benefits are just specification facts.

Every adjective is an unsubstantiated claim that may spark skepticism.

Instead of saying “high quality leather lined footbed” they say “leather lined footbed moulds to your foot for ultimate comfort and support.” This is because vague statements like “high quality” are opinion based. When you describe something as high quality or beautiful, you are expressing your own opinion, rather than giving the customer information they can use to make their own opinions.

Zappos shoe description

No one trusts the salesman.

Customers now are more skeptical than ever before. And winning trust is key to not just sales, but building customer loyalty. You can see that at the top of the image, right under the product name is a star rating and a link to customer reviews for the product. That is because customer reviews are the most valuable kind of social proof, and will certainly influence sales. Zappos have done something clever at the bottom of the image too, using information collected from customer reviews to answer customers most common questions about fit. They do not need to tell you about the quality of the shoe, because their customers are doing it for them.

The fact that Zappos have formatted all this information so well, that they have professional product photos and a sleek looking website which is easy to navigate, tells you that they are a professional company and that you can trust them. Using the right hand side promo area to offer free shipping and make it clear how to contact them with any further questions shows that they value customer service, and this add value. People are far more likely to trust what they perceive to be an established, professional company. Through surveying our customers, we have found that eBay stores experience between a 10-30% uplift in sales after having a professional design installed.

The majority of online purchases now involve a mobile device. You could have professional images, focused descriptions and lots of glowing reviews, but if your site is not built to be mobile responsive, it will look awful to mobile customers. Poor presentation and navigation makes customers feel distrust, and even doubt the value of your product and service. Value perception is so effected by website presentation, that all Frooition designs are mobile compatible as standard. Making sure that every customer gets the best view of your store.

Look at how you are presenting your products. Could the photos and descriptions be any better? Does your website look professional and instill trust? Does your mobile site look as trustworthy as the desktop version?

Please comment if you have any further points, or you have implemented any of the changes covered.

eBay Shop Bot – Customers new online shopping BFF?

ebay robot

Facebook messenger had zero bots in February 2016. By November it had over 34,000.

We already use bots to get an uber, to book a flight or to check the weather. In China, selling through messaging apps is already massively successful, with brands answering customer questions through conversatons, minimizing the need for searching and return rates.

In the West, AI chat bots had a baptism of fire back in 2014 with Microsoft’s Tay. Designed to learn from other’s conversations and speech patterns on Twitter, online troublemakers managed to manipulate it into tweeting racist slurs and hate speech. Microsoft quickly removed the bot, but many criticized their lack of foresight, for not including content filters.

Since then, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have all been racing to build systems that not only recognize, but truly understand natural language. Whoever can put technology that understands natural conversation not only in your living room, but in your pocket too, can become the hub of everything you do online.

This fall, Microsoft released a paper claiming that its speech recognition has reached parity with humans. Though the research comes with caveats, it represents the current state of the art, at least among publicly available work.

Debuting today on Facebook messenger is eBay’s very own shop bot, designed to help customers find the perfect gifts for their loved ones.

eBay’s shop bot is powered by AI to help it better understand the context of a shopper’s needs, and it has machine learning capabilities that will be improved over time. Like a Furby. The more people use the bot, the better it will get.
One particularly interesting feature of this bot is that you can show it a picture of a product you like, and it will find you similar products from eBay’s massive inventory. I very briefly tested this feature, by finding a picture of a product I liked on Pinterest, and asking eBay shop bot to find me ones like it.


eBay shop bot screen shot


eBay shop bot screen shot

The bot asked questions to narrow down the search, and used good conversational language, but at times obviously completely lost the thread. Asking me if I would prefer unisex costumes or men’s t shirts. I have not a clue how it got to men’s t shirts from cat ears umbrella.
Going away from the shop bot, and instead just going into the eBay app and searching “cat ears umbrella” these were the first results:

eBay app screen shot

Immediately much closer. On this occasion, it was easier to just use the search on their app, but this app is not designed as an exact match product finder, but more a way to get suggestions on alternative ideas for gifts. And in that respect, it performs well.
This is only the first day of launch and it will certainly be interesting to see how the app develops and improves with use.

Fro sellers, This is certainly a positive development, as the shop bot will introduce new customers to products they may have never considered searching for. As the shopping bot develops, it should be able to anticipate your tastes and suggest not just one product you will love, but a whole range of items to compliment it. The sales potential is huge.
If you use the eBay shop bot, please tweet us and let us know how it worked for you @frooition.


The active content design solution chosen by eBay.

eBay Active Content Compliant design

In business, proper planning and preparation is often the difference between success and failure. Future proofing your eBay business, avoiding penalties and getting the best ranking for your products requires you to follow eBay policies. Currently, that means having an eBay active content compliant design before June 2017.

As an eBay certified provider, we were informed of the planned changes to active content policy before they were announced to the public. We were bound by non disclosure until eBay made the announcement, but from the moment we knew about the planned changes, creating a solution to help sellers move through smoothly was our biggest priority.

Ecommerce moves fast. So as ecommerce specialists, we don’t procrastinate.

Ebay asked us to help them with a design for their global shipping supplies page.

eBay shipping supplies page. Designed by Frooition.

Since then we have provided eBay active content compliant design  for sellers of all sizes. So far, we have converted over 20 million live listings to being active content free. No listing downtime and no loss of sales history.

“I would recommend Frooition to anyone serious about eBay business.”

– Universal Gadgets

Frooition eBay active content compliant design is supported by our unique CMS, updating live listings and automatically syncing cross promotion bars to show related items.

Using our automated system rather than hard coding cross promotion gives customers active content compliant cross promotion that can  be updated in just a few clicks. No links to irrelevant items when stock changes, and no links to dead listings.

We are trusted by some of the biggest brands on eBay, and have seen clients grow from small sellers, to eBay giants. We are currently working with top sellers such as Linda’s stuff, Universal Gadgets and World of Rare Books to ensure that their designs are active content compliant. Our UK based, in house design and development team are bringing that same high functioning level of design to countless smaller sellers too, who we are pleased to be supporting on their journey to eBay success.

Our website has more information on our eBay active content services, as well as a contact form to have an eBay specialist call and talk you through your individual options.

Ecommerce plugins: 10 of the best

It’s never been easier to start an online business. With plenty of ecommerce platforms to choose from, it’s fair to say your foundations have already been laid, regardless of what it is you want to sell. The one you choose will depend on your own needs and preferences, but popular examples include Shopify, Magento 2.0 and BigCommerce.

These tools are immensely useful, even in their most basic form, but there are ways to really maximise their potential. For us, the key lies in finding the right plugins and extensions. Thankfully, you needn’t traipse through the thousands available in each respective marketplace – we’ve brought the most useful together in the handy list below.

We’ve focused on the three platforms mentioned above, with some of our favourite extensions listed for each. Happy downloading!

Magento 2.0

Magento says its growing extensions marketplace “helps merchants do more with their online stores,” and it’s difficult to disagree.

MagecheckoutDesigned to make the checkout process a whole lot easier for your shoppers, this popular extension is a great way to stop shoppers leaving before they’ve finished buying. It puts everything your customers need on one page, from address, through payment details to delivery options. It also integrates various payment options.

It comes with some pretty impressive success stats, too – the company claims an average conversion rate increase of 30 per cent, sales growth of 60 per cent and a decrease of 66 per cent in cart abandonment.

Magento Connector (Bronto) – As we said before, anyone can open an online store nowadays, so it’s important that your marketing is on point. Bronto’s automation wizardry will help you achieve that, and this tool makes it possible through Magento.

Plug it in and you’ll be able to seamlessly import a wealth of valuable purchase data from your store into Bronto’s own platform. You can then develop ultra-targeted email and promo campaigns to really engage with your target audience.

Product QuestionsIf you’re going to build valuable relationships with your audience members, you need to be open, honest and approachable. Product Questions allows you to maintain dialogue with the people who are buying or who may soon buy your products by adding a question and answer thread on each product page.

You’ll get notified whenever a question is asked, but other customers may also offer help if they know the product well. Every response is rated for usefulness, so it’s easy for users to find the most helpful answers.


Shopify is a great tool for building attractive ecommerce sites that ooze with functionality. The wealth of extensions on offer only make the prospect more appealing.

Order PrinterYou can do most things online these days but when the order’s complete and the customer has paid, you can’t get around having to actually send the product. You can make the process a whole lot easier, though.

Order Printer is a free tool that allows you to print everything you might need when sending things out to buyers – from invoices and packing slips to returns info and address labels. It keeps all of it organised, and offers bulk printing options to keep your costs and time investment to a minimum. The result is a more efficient delivery process for you and your customers!

Plug in SEOIf you want to be seen by your audience – the majority of whom will be using search engines – you need to consider search engine optimisation (SEO). This is the act of making sure your site shows up for relevant searches on sites like Google and Bing.

It’s a complex world, SEO, but this extension makes everything a lot easier to understand. Plug it into your site and it’ll highlight all of the little things that need fixing – it could be a case of missing meta tags, for example, or poor loading speeds. Heed its advice and you should see pretty quick results.

eBay Importer – Gone are the days when eBay was seen only as an auction site. Now, retailers of all kinds use the platform to sell new goods, and there’s every chance you are too. If so, eBay Importer will be massively useful.

It allows you to copy your eBay catalogue over to your Shopify store, so the two are properly integrated. It’ll automatically handle all of the little details too – including images, variations and listing categories.


American firm BigCommerce was only founded in 2009 but its ecommerce software has already been adopted by some of the world’s biggest businesses – Toyota, Ubisoft and Gibson included. It, too, has some extremely useful extensions.

Mento – Social media provides a huge marketing opportunity for your business, and Mento will help you capitalise. It’s designed to eliminate the time-consuming task of manually posting promotional info on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts – it’s all taken care of automatically.

You can make use of pre-generated social posts covering your various products, publishing them across all of your relevant channels as and when you feel necessary.

InStockNotify – This handy little tool gives customers an option to enter their email address and receive stock updates when the product they want isn’t available.

It might sound like an extremely simple idea, but it’s one that really can help to boost sales in the long run. Rather than leaving customers disappointed with not being able to get hold of the things they’re after, you have a chance to start building relationships. They may even opt in to other promotional correspondence.

LiveChat – Speaking of building relationships, LiveChat will allow conversation between you and your customers to flow. It gives your site basic instant messaging capabilities, ensuring visitors can get in touch quickly and easily when they have questions to ask. Unlike email, this works in real-time, so as long as you have someone there and ready to talk, it should speed up the process of turning prospects into brand advocates.

…And one for luck

To complete the 10, we’ll finish on a powerful tool that works across Magento 2.0, Shopify and BigCommerce.

MailChimp, as you may already know, is one of the business world’s leading email marketing services. Its goal is to help you reach your audience effectively and efficiently with automated, targeted email campaigns. Plug it into your chosen ecommerce platform and it’ll give you the power to recommend products to individual customers based on their purchasing behaviour – if someone buys a camera, for example, they might be sent information on compatible lenses.

It also covers follow-up correspondence to help you maintain relationships with customers and reporting, so you know what works and what doesn’t.

MailChimp links: Magento 2.0 / Shopify / BigCommerce

And with that, we’re at the end of our list. Be sure to explore your relevant app stores to experiment with the thousands of extensions out there – you’re sure to find something helpful, and many come with free trials. Good luck!

Frooition provide design for any of those platforms, click here to compare.

Introducing Magento 2.0 – the ecommerce firm’s new best friend

Magento, as you may already know, is one of the world’s most popular pieces of ecommerce software. Although it was originally built and launched in California in 2008, it didn’t take long for retailers across Europe to pick up on the platform’s potential. The user-base expanded rapidly and is now huge.

Now, approaching a decade later, we’ve reached another major milestone in the software’s story: the release of Magento 2.0.

A long but worthwhile wait

It’s fair to say the wait for Magento 2.0 has been a long one. The platform’s development actually began all the way back in November 2011, amid the release of various 1.X iterations. In the time since, we’ve seen the departure of co-founder Yoav Kutner as well as a major take over (and later sale) by world-beating e-retail giant eBay. A lot has happened.

The general consensus, however, is that the wait has been worthwhile – and we can’t help but agree.

What to expect

Magento 2.0 builds on its already-powerful predecessor in a number of ways. The main goals, according to the development team, were to: update the maturing technology stack, increase scalability, simplify external integrations, optimise the customisation process and improve overall performance.

Has this all been achieved? We think so. Let’s take a closer look at some of the exciting updates you can expect from this game-changing new release.

An interface built to save time – Let’s start by saying that Magento 2.0 is easier to use. The more intuitive and user-friendly interface includes a streamlined ‘Admin’ panel that allows users to handle everyday tasks with ease, saving significant time in the long- and short-term. This means as your business grows and the workload becomes heavier, you’re not forced to start hiring immediately.

When the time does come to expand the workforce, you can rest assured new staff will hit the ground running, with the added ease-of-use meaning only minimal training is required.

Invaluable integration credentials – Most Magento users rely on a wide range of technologies and applications to keep their businesses running, and the developers behind 2.0 have clearly taken this into account. Straight out of the box, it’s ready to work hand in hand with not just one but three of the most common payment gateways: PayPal, Authorize.net and Braintree. The Enterprise Edition also offers easy integration with WorldPay and CyberSource – and all come with improved security for maximum peace of mind for you and your customers.

Even more flexibility – There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all ecommerce solution. Every business is different, so customisability must be a key consideration. Thankfully, Magento 2.0 has it in spades. The software is powerful enough out of the box, but by delving a little deeper, users will find a range of ways to fine-tune their experience.

The open-source architecture that made Magento famous in the first place has been further developed to allow maximum personalisation. The result is a solution that fits your needs, not everyone else’s.

Futureproof and easy to maintain – Magento 2.0 has the power to increase your business’s potential today, but it’s also been built with the future in mind. The open-source, modular architecture allows for easier and quicker upgrades. This means when new functionality becomes available – and it will – you’re able to benefit immediately.

As a result, the state-of-the-art solution you put faith in remains that way for years to come. You always have the best, meaning your investment in futureproofed.

Great extensions = greater capabilities

The wrapping is barely off and already there are a host of fantastic extensions to help you increase Magento 2.0’s awesome power.

This goes back to our earlier point on customisability; you can do so much with the new Magento as it is, but if it doesn’t quite meet your specific needs, there will be a solution in the constantly expanding product and services marketplace.

Looking to boost audience engagement? Consider Facebook All in One, an extension designed to make your website an altogether more social experience. It’ll introduce ‘like’ buttons and comment boxes to your pages, allowing your customers to share their thoughts and, more importantly, share your products.

If your stretched team has little time to dedicate to marketing, take some help from Bronto Software. The Bronto Magento Connector allows you to harness the power of data – i.e. past-purchase information – to boost the effectiveness of your campaigns, all with minimal effort on your part.

You can even introduce LiveChat features to help you better connect with your customers. It gives you a simple yet effective new channel through which to answer questions and solve any problems the users of your site may have.

These are just three examples of the plug-ins, integrations and extensions you can expect to find for Magento 2.0. Explore the marketplace for the full, impressive picture.

Perfect timing

Sure, the wait has been long, but the release of Magento 2.0 couldn’t have come at a better time. With ecommerce playing a crucial role in supporting the economy both here in the UK and across Europe, web retailers need a powerful, streamlined and flexible website solution more than ever before. This is undoubtedly the answer.

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!


Mark Buckingham

eBay business consultant

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Useful Tools..

OK, so over the last couple of years, I’ve been asked many times what our clients can do to further optimise their ChannelAdvisor Stores, their eBay Stores and listings, and alas their existing ecommerce websites and blogs. Not a bad question, but there was a catch.. they all wanted this for FREE.

I found myself giving out the same websites and useful tools over and over, and realised there wasn’t an up-to-date reasonable list out there to suit this purpose, so decided I’d start one here…

What is it?
“A tool to check at-a-glance the link popularity of any site based on its ranking (Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, Technorati etc.), social bookmarks (del.icio.us, etc), subscribers (Bloglines, etc) and more!”

OK, so why would I use it?
I like this site as it’s very fast at giving you an overall “popularity” view of any site according to a whole host of different sites. This is great to find out how your site performs against your competitors too!

Overall Rating: 9/10


What is it?
“SnapShots are smart profiles of the websites we visit. Simply enter a domain (e.g. amazon.com) and SnapShot will provide traffic history, a trust assessment and a list of all available coupon codes.”

OK, so why would I use it?
A product from Bill Gross (founder of GoTo search engine, which then became Overture, created paid search and was acquired by Yahoo), which allows for an ‘alexa-like’ experience of site ranking and traffic data for both single sites and site comparison (again good for competitor analysis).

They also have a couple other features thrown in which I like:

First, it shows ‘Deals’ that a site may be offering. (Coupon Mountain who specializes in finding and collecting promotion codes and they gather the majority of deals available every day)

Second, it shows a ‘Trust’ element for websites, which is based on community trends and third party secutity services.

Overall Rating: 7/10


What is it?
“Website benchmarking is a score of your website’s performance within a large range of tests. The EC-Plus website benchmarking test is a free online website benchmark utility that allows anyone to quickly assess the performance of their website, without extensive knowledge of website development.”

OK, so why would I use it?

If you’re looking at taking out some form of SEO service, I’d recommend checking this out first to find out; whether you need it; what areas your current site(s) are falling down on.

The report is very detailed and will give you a good indicator of website strengths and weaknesses, and of course again it’s very useful to find out whether a competitors site scores higher than your own (i.e., if a competitor uses the same shopping cart software, and they’ve taken an SEO package to gain traffic, you could test to see whether it has made a difference..)

Overall Rating: 8/10


What is it?
“A sitemap is a data file which references pages of your website, and assists search engines in indexing / storing your pages in their databases faster and more easily. By placing a formatted xml file with site map on your webserver, you enable Search Engine crawlers (like Google) to find out what pages are present and which have recently changed, and to crawl your site accordingly.”

OK, so why would I use it?This is a great site, very fast to use, and of course totally free. I would recommend you invest 3 minutes in getting this done and dusted! Totally automated and makes creating a sitemap almost too easy.

Overall Rating: 10/10


What is it?
“The Keyword Tool generates potential keywords for your ad campaign and reports their Google statistics, including search performance and seasonal trends. Start your search by entering your own keyword phrases or a specific URL”

OK, so why would I use it?
A fantastic tool from Google that allows you to find relevant, high traffic keywords and key phrases for.. well, any form of online advertising, oh and of course maybe your Adwords campaigns?

Overall Rating: 9/10