Looking retrospectively – It’s the accumulation of all the tactics together that creates the synergistic effect and raises the business above the competition, here are 4 more tactics we utilized to grow our sales beyond $100K/ month.
1. Sell on international eBay sites (for higher prices)
The “Big Mac index” is regarded as an indicator for the purchasing power of an economy.
For example – The average price for a Big Mac burger in Ukraine was $1.55 in July 2015, at the same time it was $6.82 in Switzerland.
What if you could sell burgers on eBay, shipping them from Ukraine to Switzerland?
Here is how we used the “Big Mac index” idea to increase our sales and margins –
Last week I discussed one of the first items we ever sold on eBay, a car gps device. Besides eBay US, we also listed on eBay UK, Australia, Germany, France and Spain.
We were selling on the International eBay sites for prices 10-30% higher than on eBay US. Therefore utilizing the “Big Mac index” idea I explained above.
The US has a very developed economy with a huge market. Competition in the US is fierce, thus driving the prices down. We sold more gps devices for $120 in Australia, than we did for $90 in the US.
We fell in love with the Australian market (Aussie people rock! G’day mate), later on we sourced leatherman multi-tools from a US eBay seller and sold them on eBay Australia. It amazes me. Two guys from Israel, are selling products in Australia, from a US vendor. What a fascinating world we live in!
Selling on non-English eBay sites presents barriers that deter most sellers – Language, shipping, taxes, different eBay interface and policies…
These barriers are also guarding a “secret garden”. Once you overcome them (i’ll be talking about this in a dedicated post) you’re entering low-competition, high-priced markets, where margins are much higher.
Takeaway: eBay’s presentation to investors shows ~59% of transactions on the platform are international. eBay US may be the biggest, but it’s far from being the most profitable market. Do some quick research. Find the products sold on International eBay sites. Take a look at the prices, is it worth getting past some barriers to list in these markets?
2. Shorten the gap between the product and the customer
Buying stuff online is frightening. While you are able to use at least 4 senses such as sight, touch, smell, hearing (some people like to taste their gps devices, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog) to inspect a product offline, you can at best use only two of these senses to inspect a product online – sight and hearing, and usually it’s just the sight.
This means that as eBay sellers we have to work really hard to “compensate” for the lack of possibility to inspect the product.
While studying our competitors eBay listings, we noticed that they list the content of the box as a text, e.g –
In the Box:
1. GPS device
2. USB Cable
“Studies show our brains not only process visuals faster, but they retain and transmit much more information when it’s delivered visually.”
Tom More, in the The importance of visual content
We decided to “shorten the gap” between the product and the customer. We did this by presenting the box content in images –
This method is also great for selling internationally, language may be country/ eBay specific, but both German and Australian customers now easily understand what’s inside the box.
Takeaway: Remember that your customers usually only have one sense to asses your product – sight. Use images in your eBay description to help them. This tactic also relates to the “You have 6 seconds to grab the customer’s attention” point from last weeks post – Our brain process visuals 60,000x faster than text!
3. Convey trust and authenticity
For the first several years on eBay, we constantly tried to hide the fact that we were actually 2 students from Israel. We even came up with imaginary customer support personnel to try and impress our customers – showing that we have a big team behind the scenes. Retrospectively it was a lot of energy spent in the wrong direction.
eBay is a C2C (consumer to consumer) platform in it’s essence. It’s a marketplace for people to trade with people (not for companies to trade with companies).
“There is nothing more powerful than truth” Amaka Imani Nkosazana
I can’t agree more, trying to be who you are not (a big enterprise) only drives business away from you. There is nothing more authentic and trust building than the blunt truth.
Analyzing listings created with CrazyLister we noticed this one –
At the top right corner, the seller added a photo of himself and his family. One might claim that that’s too much to share, but he is definitely getting my vote for confidence. I would feel completely comfortable buying from him, would you?
Take a look at a snapshot from our own eBay listing –
Max and myself. We build trust by showing that we are real people.
Remember the video from the previous post? There is no doubt that it’s a badly done video, but again – it’s authentic and it builds trust.
Takeaway: Be proud of yourself and your business, even if you’re a one man show, selling part time from your garage. Share photos and videos of your storage, yourself, your staff etc..
Authenticity and truth builds trust, trust grows sales.
“What is social proof? Put simply, it’s the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.”
Aileen lee, Founder & Partner @ Cowboy Ventures
In the previous post, I mentioned us adding this heading to our listings. “You can stop searching! This is the best GPS deal on eBay. Guaranteed by 1000’s of customer’s feedback”
The idea behind this message is to convey “social proof” – if 1000’s of customers are happy with this seller and product, most chances i will be happy too! It is like telling the consumers to jump on the bandwagon! Everyone else is doing it.
There are numerous ways in which you can build social proof in your eBay listings, here are some ideas –
– Quote great feedback from your customers
– Point potential customers to the number of sold items
We were constantly updating the listings, mentioning “sold” milestones, e.g: “More than 400 units sold to happy customers!” – that’s the core of social proof.
– Add any honors & awards you’ve received
– Mention your feedback and achievements from other marketplaces / social media.
Say you have an Amazon store or a facebook page for your business, brag about these in your eBay listings. Let your customers know that customers on other platforms are pleased with your products and service.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting an awesome Israeli startup – eRated, that automatically integrates all your ratings and reviews from all marketplaces and social networks (they offer it for free).
Writing about social proof, they have naturally jumped into my mind. I had asked for a quote from their CEO, Boaz Cohen-
“Everyone knows that great eBay feedback is critical for growing sales, but what about all the feedback you have from the other marketplaces you sell in as well as your social media data? You can leverage your social data and feedback from other platforms as well – it deepens your profile and makes buyers trust you even more. Besides, it’s your data, so why not use it?”
Be sure to check them out.
Have you ever noticed those long lines in front of night clubs? It’s not like they don’t have enough room for everybody, what they’re doing is purposely creating the line, so that it will seem like a lot of people want to get in because it’s so cool inside – that’s social proof.
Takeaway: Make your customers feel like it’s the most natural decision for them to buy from you, show them that others chose you and it will make them feel confident about “joining the line” of your happy customers.
Building a business is as much about failure as it’s about success. In the early days, when I had some early success selling a few items on eBay, several friends of mine got interested and asked me to teach them how to sell on eBay. They quit after less than a month because of the first signs of struggle. Over the years I’ve met a lot of successful eBay sellers. They all had one thing in common – all were determined to succeed. No matter how tough it got or how bad things seemed, they always found the strength to get up and push forward.
Next week i’ll be writing about – 3 Early Fails That Nearly Killed Our eBay Business.
Feel free to comment and share your eBay fails and wins!