All good things come to an end
It was around 2011, and we were doing great on eBay, sales were high, margins were good, feedback was awesome, we were on the top search results for our most popular products, leaving dust to our competition with the awesome product pages we created after going through an optimization process (before CrazyLister existed) that started with “where the hell do we start” and evolved to “Yay, the last modification increased our conversion rate by an additional 30%”.
We were on a roll and nothing could stop us, well…almost.
One wonderful morning I woke up, turned my laptop on, signed into my email and saw the one message every eBay seller dreads, it was something along the lines of “your account has been suspended, all listings were removed” (I don’t remember the exact wording but I’m sure that many of you have encountered the same message sometime along the way and I’ll be happy if anyone could post a print screen or the exact phrase in the comments area).
The difference between selling on a single channel vs. multiple channels
At the time, the only source of income we had was eBay, our one and ONLY sales channel.
We were completely, 100% relying on our eBay sales to make a living.
Now, imagine that one day someone pulls out the plug on your business
Just like that
No heads up
Going from $100K a month to $0 in a heartbeat
Now, if eBay was just one more channel we sell on, then I guess my heart wouldn’t have been missing so many beats that morning.
I’ll give a short example to explain what it means to your bottom line:
Scenario #1 – single sales channel:
You sell only on eBay and you make $5K monthly income. One glorious morning you wake up, open your email box and discover that eBay have suspended your account.
In a heartbeat, you went from $5K to $0K.
You are left with no income, no way to pay the bills, and no money to buy the most basic things to live.
Scenario #2 – multiple sales channels:
You sell on three channels which make up 100% of your income in the following manner:
- eBay – 40% ($2K)
- Amazon – 40% ($2K)
- Your own website – 20% ($1K)
One glorious morning you wake up, open your email box and discover that eBay suspended your account.
In a heartbeat, you went from $5K to $3K.
You are left with $3K income, which will still pay your bills, buy food, and support your family.
That’s a big difference, and it’s one that might save you in darker days.
What can you learn from this?
For those of you who really want to know how this story ended, I can say that we spent tons of hours with eBay’s support on the phone to convince them to reinstate our account.
The entire thing was caused due to one image that was used in our listings and was under restricted usage licensing, and it eventually turned out that we were eligible to use it.
This incident opened my eyes and I realized that no matter how successful you are, how much money you make, you can never rely on just one source of online sales income which is not under your complete control.
The last part is key (the “not under your complete control” part), let me explain:
As an eBay seller, you do not own your store on eBay, you are a guest at eBay’s home and you have to play by their rules, otherwise you’ll be kicked out.
They own everything happening under their domain, not you.
They get to decide who sells and who doesn’t.
And I cannot blame them, they are trying to create a safe environment for both sellers and buyers and they put in place a set of rules of enforcement. The problem with some of the rules is that not all cases are taken into account and you might find yourself in a difficult spot, even if the whole thing is some misunderstanding.
Now think about it, you work extremely hard creating your eBay listings, put hours upon hours on customer support, logistics, managing expectations and all the rest of the things that go into running your own online sales business just to be allowed to come into eBay’s home, because at the end of the day, it’s one of the biggest marketing platforms that gives you access to millions of potential customers.
From the online marketplace seller survey conducted by Feedvisor and Web Retailer, we can see that over 37% sell on multiple channels (beyond marketplaces), this is despite the fact that being successful with your own website is much more difficult these days than selling through marketplaces.
This also implies that a higher percentage are selling on more than one marketplace, thus reducing the risk of dependency on a single marketplace.
My top eBay selling advice is that if you sell on just one channel today, you must make a plan to expand your sales into at least one more channel in the coming year.
Staying on a single channel is too risky nowadays, especially with all the eBay policy updates (active content ban, new links policy, https vs. http changes).
Over to you
We’ve conducted our own survey in the past 2 weeks and have received an amazing amount of insightful replies from you guys, we’re analyzing the data to bring you the most recent state of mind of eBay sellers and this should be live in about two weeks.
In the meantime, you’re welcome to share your single vs. multi-channel experience in the comments area, I’ll be happy to discuss this further and offer my two cents.