Specializing in postcards and antique photographs

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our eBay business doing good in June. Why?

By June 20th, maybe even earlier, we already had more sales than we had in the entire month of  May.  That translates to $$, of course.  But the question is, why?  Is it just a random fluctuation, or are we doing something to help things along?  Hard to say.

We are doing some things differently.  Until recently we started every new item off as an auction, with the vast majority being moved to the store as a "buy it now" (BIN) if it didn't sell.  We used auctions to drive traffic to our store.  In March eBay converted the store inventory item type to fixed price (a different item type), which - understatement coming - changed the game a bit.  Suddenly, there were millions upon millions of extra items as part of the core search.  All those store inventory items which were not part of the core search, suddenly were.  Some people, according to the forums, are finding their items are buried behind hundreds of other similar items, making it very unlikely that they'd be found buy a buyer searching for them.

Well that's interesting.  eBay's default search is something called "Best Match".  Although it's possible to guess some of the logic that goes into the algorithm to determine Best Match search position, for the most part it is a mystery.   It's possible to change the default search - I regularly change it to lowest price or ending soonest, depending, but most people, maybe as many as 80% or more, do not.  They may not realize they can, or even care.  Anyway, search position is very important.

So these are some of our ideas and some things we've been doing.   I don't know if they make a difference or not.  June's been good, but who knows about July?

1.  We don't sell anything sold by the "superstores".  We're just two people, we can't compete and don't want to compete with a big business.  If "Buy" ever gets in to postcards and antique photos, I guess we're screwed.

2.  We've been making our titles more relevant.  We can see reports and find out which keywords are used most often to access our listings, and we're making sure those keywords are there.

3.  The only sort order we can control is the "lowest price + shipping" one, so I make sure our items are competitive price wise, should someone else be selling the same thing.

4.  We've been updating our item specifics - making them as detailed as possible.  Supposedly this will help in search.

5.  We list all our fixed price items as "good to cancel" because it saves a lot of work.  But for the last few weeks we've been manually ending some older items which were about to roll over to the next month & relisting them (checking the title & item specifics of course).  This gives it a new item id, eBay sees it as a completely new item, and I think completely new items will do better in "Best Match" than an item that has been sitting around for a few months.

6.  More and more we're offering Free Shipping on individual postcards.   I don't know, maybe it's psychological.  A $2.99  postcard with free shipping costs more than a  $0.99 postcard with $1.25 shipping.  But it has been drilled into my head by eBay powers that be among others that buyers want free shipping.  So free shipping it is, when it is economically feasible, because I suspect they may know what they're talking about.  I am a little cynical about it though - eBay does not collect fees on shipping charges, so an increase in price and free shipping benefits them.

7.  Although we still start most of our listings off as auctions, we're listing more directly to fixed price.  I suspect this is what the corporation wants us to do.  

So, June is doing much better than May.  Our best month of 2010 to this point has been January, and it's quite possible June will be better - we'll have to see.  The big question is why.  Is it a random thing? Or is it because of some of the changes we're making?  I wish I knew.

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