Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Do You Sell Internationally on eBay? And Why - Sometimes - I Recommend You Don’t!

The benefits of selling your products worldwide are obvious, the disadvantages much less so.

Sell internationally and you’ll target more buyers and increase your sales and profits, as well as maximising the number of people likely to buy from you again outside of eBay and so grow your future profits and minimise your selling costs.

Just perfect!

Or not, as the case might be, because selling internationally is a major source of frustration and loss of profits for some sellers.  Me included.

Putting things into perspective, it isn’t all overseas buyers who cause sellers sleepless nights.  For many of us in the UK, the biggest problem is overseas buyers who don’t understand the English language and are not prepared to use a reliable translation tool to make sure they know what your product is and how it works and whatever else a savvy buyer needs to know. 

So they buy a product having an English language eBay title and description and send back a SNAD complaint - product ‘Significantly Not As Described’ - and claim a refund and force you to send money in advance to pay for your item to be returned.  They know the fact they live outside the UK makes it unlikely you will retaliate when your product doesn’t come back. 

The question is how do those people know the product is significantly not as described when they do not understand the language used in your listing?  And that being so, why does eBay almost always find in their favour?

Those people won’t always be wrong and some will deserve a refund, but many will be using their place of residence to defraud overseas sellers and some will be too lazy to interpret foreign language listings because they know eBay is likely to support their complaints and force sellers to refund.

I’m not alone in my belief that selling overseas should be a last resort - even for countries matching the seller’s own language - and only offered for products that belong naturally in some other country, such as antiques emanating from a specific country and likely to attract higher prices from buyers in that location.  Vintage view postcards, for example, my own particular specialty, invariably attract more bidders and higher prices from collectors in whatever countries they depict.  Sadly, and call me a coward if you like, but I’ve given up buying items more likely to sell overseas - in English and non-English speaking countries - and focus instead on targeting UK only buyers.  That’s entirely because I’ve had it up to the eyeballs with overseas buyers failing to return my goods and forcing a refund through eBay or sending me empty packages purporting to contain my goods because I’m unlikely to sue them for damages outside the UK.

Now, good or bad, eBay has introduced a tool to translate listings to suit overseas sites, as already happens at Etsy, but which Ina Steiner of eCommerce Bytes - http://www.ecommercebytes.com - suggests might ‘increase the incidence of misunderstandings and claims.’  Her views are supported by numerous other eBay researchers I studied today.

In an eCommerce Bytes forum populated by eBay sellers in mainly English-speaking countries, I found numerous people who agree with Ms. Steiner that eBay’s new tool may generate more problems than solutions. 

As one forum member puts it: ‘It’s bad enough the bozos (Avril: I think this means all eBay buyers) here don’t read a description and I can’t imagine what kind of translation eBay is giving the foreigners’. 

Numerous other forum members complain about translations currently offered by eBay causing messages to be distorted or end up antagonising or insulting their recipients.

A major fear is that common and uncommon terms used in one language may be translated incorrectly or have various alternative meanings in other countries, as explained at: http://inktank.fi/10-english-words-mean-something-else-languages/, where you will read that:

‘In German, the word gift is not quite as pleasant as in English - it means poison! And gift in Scandinavian can mean both poison and marriage.’

and

‘Kiss has a more juvenile meaning in Swedish - pee.’

So should you or should you not sell internationally on eBay, or might you instead focus on UK only sales and possibly all countries using English as their main language?

These tips will help you decide:

*  Choose from:

-  Sell worldwide.  Recognise and anticipate communications problems and do your best to prevent them.  Something like this in your descriptions might help:

‘Please note I am based in the United Kingdom and my titles and descriptions created in English may have been translated by eBay into wording more appropriate to buyers outside the UK.’   This alerts foreign language speakers to go easy on messages that might otherwise raise their hackles. 

-   Sell only in the UK or in the UK along with some or all other mainly English-speaking countries, especially for products likely to attract bigger profits outside the UK.  You’ll suffer fewer communications problems but be prepared for some long distance frustrations, such as having to refund buyers who retain your possessions.

You can set your eBay listings to avoid selling in certain countries, due to communications problems, for example, or because certain goods are illegal in some locations, such as alcohol in many middle eastern countries, or because delivery can’t be properly tracked or you’ve encountered more problem buyers in some areas than others.  The place to do so is inside your eBay listings where it says ‘Post to’, at which point you highlight locations you want to avoid.

*  Problem translations typically present themselves when eBay turns its own foreign translation back into the seller’s language, or as one eCommerce forum member put it ‘I can spot the buyers who don’t speak English from the appalling translations eBay offers up.’ 

When that happens, the same seller suggests using Google’s translation tool, apparently much more efficient than eBay’s, to write a response in the seller’s own language which Google then translates into the buyer’s main language.  This person warns against using slang terms and words with more than one meaning - such as build (to make, physique), bypass (to ignore, an alternative route), and so on. 

Sellers should then copy Google’s foreign language version and translate it back into their own language and edit ambiguities and misleading words and phrases.

You’ll find Google’s translation tool at:
https://translate.google.co.uk/

*  Focus exclusively on products likely to sell fast and attract good prices in the UK and having no obvious superior alternative marketplace.  That way you should almost always speak the same language as most of your potential buyers.  For me, that means selling postcards depicting locations in the UK and avoiding all overseas topographical areas. 

In the end, however, the choice is yours, and you may not be deterred by problems not of your own making.  But someone like me who lets minor problems ruin their entire day might use one or more of those tips to circumvent the problem just mentioned.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Buy at Police Auctions and Resell on eBay

Police auctions are a prolific source of goods that have been lost or more commonly stolen and have not been subsequently reclaimed. 

Most goods sold by the police are auctioned in local high street salerooms and promoted in the local press approximately seven to ten days before the sale.  Some amazing bargains are possible with many lots fetching around ten per cent of their possible resale value.  Goods are usually auctioned without reserve and sold to the highest bidder. 

The fact they are poorly advertised explains why few people know about police auctions and why some lots sell at a pittance and generate high profit margins on eBay.

However, you won’t find rare antiques and high class jewellery selling at most police auctions or stored in a dirty garage waiting to be reclaimed.  Expensive items are usually stored in bank vaults or in high security lock ups and displayed on police websites until their owners are found.  Valuable items are never sold off cheap!

Because many goods have been confiscated from criminals, you won’t be surprised to see police auction lots matching items commonly targeted by thieves, such as computers and jewellery, garden furniture and spare parts from cars.  Lost items are typically the kind of things people leave on buses and trains, or in parks and nightclubs, for example, and include the likes of umbrellas and purses (without money inside them), costume jewellery and toys. 

So you’re likely to find mainly low value items selling at police auctions, with market value ranging from a fiver or so to a few hundred pounds. 

Low value they might be, but for many resellers police auctions represent the bulk of their sales, including on eBay.

Now you know how they work, let us talk about turning police auctions into a profitable source of goods for your eBay business. 

These tips will help:

1.  Learn about police auctions in your area.  You’ll find them by contacting high street auctioneers listed in local telephone directories and asking if they organise sales on behalf of the police.  Write down phone numbers for auctioneers performing police auctions and telephone every few weeks for information about scheduled sales and others held at short notice.

2.  Ask to be placed on police auctioneers’ mailing lists for information about forthcoming sales.  Give saleroom staff your telephone number, as well as your email and street address.  This is because some auctioneers send details by email or telephone and others send their catalogues by post. 

3.  Make a note in your diary about auction dates and where sales will be held.  Telephone auctioneers a few days before the sale to check for changes to date or location, and to make sure items you want to buy have not been removed from the sale.

4.  Do not bid on items you have not inspected beforehand.  Many times faults and blemishes are hidden behind other auction lots, or camouflaged with lot number stickers, and you could end up buying something that looks good in the catalogue but is badly damaged and unsuitable for reselling later.

5.  Find out when viewing day is and arrive in good time to inspect lots from all angles.  The best time to view is the day before the sale or an hour before the auction begins, preferably both.  Last minute viewing will reveal damage caused to goods part way through the viewing period, as well as highlighting lots withdrawn from the sale but still showing up in the catalogue.

6.  Study the auctioneer’s terms and conditions; you’ll find them in the catalogue and displayed on a wall in the saleroom.  Many salerooms require intending bidders to register before the sale and some charge a small registration fee to deter time-wasters.  The fee is usually refundable against winning bids.

7.  Check what the rules say about paying, namely when payment is due and by what method.  Take plenty of cash because many salerooms lack merchant facilities, and some salerooms refuse to hand over goods until cheques have cleared.   

Big problem: waiting seven to ten days for cheque to clear gives plenty of time for your goods to be damaged in storage, and auction companies are not obliged to compensate you for breakages or loss.

See if any constabularies in your area promote their own sales by keying something like ‘police auction Durham’ into the search box at google.com

Note: Do not pay to join sites offering information about police auctions until you have tried locating that information by yourself.  Many of those sites offer a very reliable service, at low cost, but some services are over-priced and sometimes out-of-date.  Try searching for yourself and making notes about websites listing police auction dates free of charge.   Do a search for ‘police auctions free information’ and you’ll find all the information you’ll ever need to make police auctions you main product buying source.  A similar search today took me to free information and links to sites detailing police auctions. 











How to Avoid Selling Dangerous Electrical Products on eBay

eBay takes great care to protect buyers from goods that might prove harmful, and will ban sellers who consistently promote potentially dangerous items.  This applies equally to sellers who know their goods are substandard, as to traders who innocently buy and sell products that can cause injury and death.  We’re looking now at electrical items like televisions and refrigerators, and specifically second-hand electrical products that look good on the outside but are dangerously defective inside. 

Selling faulty electrical goods can have serious repercussions, such as death from fire or electrocution for buyers, and a prison sentence for sellers.

Faced with losing their eBay accounts, not to mention imprisonment, sellers might choose to steer clear of electrical goods, or learn how to identify and disregard potentially dangerous items. 

It is not illegal in many countries, including the U.K. to sell electrical items without having them inspected by a qualified electrician.

Here are more tips to stay problem free:

1.  Take a time-served electrician on buying expeditions to identify faults and estimate cost of repairs.  Preferably choose someone qualified to repair and refurbish electrical goods to a professional standard at a reasonable price.

2. Buy from commercial sellers with a good reputation they want to maintain, making it unlikely they’ll sell goods they know are dangerous or beyond repair.  Potentially good buying sources include family firms trading from the same address over several generations with few derogatory remarks made against them. 

Possible bad sources are flea markets and car boot sales populated by sellers you may never see again if their goods prove defective.  The exception is traders at itinerant events who are sometimes obliged to display their trading names and street addresses, as well as offering a cooling off period for buyers to inspect and retain goods or return them for refund.

3.  Have electrical goods tested at point of sale and sold with a guarantee they are in safe working condition.

4.  Avoid buying electrical goods from firms lacking experienced electrical staff, where items returned for refund may be resold without adequate checks for damage or faults.

5.  Study legal rules and regulations covering the sale of electrical goods.  Consumer and safety laws vary worldwide, and sellers must abide by laws applicable to all locations where their goods are offered for sale.

The rules are strict and sometimes complicated, but they’re essential to keeping customers safe.  Additionally, keeping those tips in mind when you buy second-hand electrical goods will help you enjoy maximum profits with minimum hassle.