Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting Ready for Q4

Okay, eBay has made their announcements and so has Amazon (oh that's right they haven't said anything). So now sellers need to get down to work.

As an online seller, you get paid for selling product, not debating Feedback, DSRs, INRs, NPBs and a host of other acronyms. Sure, you have some very valid concerns about the future of eBay and the changes that have been made this year, but it is now time to concentrate on your business, or more accurately on the part of your business you can control.

Leave the protesting and complaining for January of 2009. Take a break to concentrate on the most important things. Commit today, to fine-tuning your business for the 4th quarter. If you sell on eBay do your best to come up with a business plan through the rest of 2008.

What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Don't change your business because eBay wants you to, change your business becasue it will make you more successful.

I'm not really a "How-to" guy (Skip McGrath is much better at that than I am) but I'm going to make some suggestions to help you develop your 4th Quarter 2008 plan on eBay:

First off, if you sell on multiple channels, I would suggest you button-up the final touches to your Amazon, Overstock, Buy.com and web site plans. More than likely, you will have a good feel for what you need to do with each of those.

Now look at the recent eBay changes and develop your plan for the 4th Quarter:

  1. Develop a listing strategy for your eBay business and test it during the early days of the new fee change. Take a good look at your inventory and identify what product is best suited for Auctions, for the new 30-day FP listing and lastly for Stores; yes I said stores.
  2. Tread lightly with auctions during the early days of the fee changes, make sure you have a good feel for the way the new Best Match works before committing to an ambitious auction listing strategy.
  3. Next, identify the items in your inventory that sell at least once a month and add them to your new 30-day FP CORE listings. eBay says they will surface the most successful listings, so make sure each listing has plenty of inventory. Do not throw the whole kitchen sink into CORE because you will just be waisting money on a good number of those listings.
  4. Put the rest of your inventory in stores, so it is available for the occasional buyer or the one who wants to add something to their auction or FP purchase.
  5. Identify the things that are working and maximize them -- stop the stuff that that doesn't work.
  6. Be aggressive with your pricing on the items that sell well and less aggressive with the long-tail items. Use the same strategy Amazon does -- fastest movers = lowest prices. With 30-day listings you can play with the pricing throughout the 30-days, so dial in the right amount.
  7. Stop worrying about eBay and start worrying about your business.
  8. Be nimble enough to change things when they need to be changed and concentrate on managing your inventory so you don't have problems.
  9. Fine tune your processes so that they run flawlessly.
  10. Bring on additional temporary staff if needed to help you handle the business (adding staff means you are very busy)
  11. Smaller sellers, make sure you have some support to help you as well.
  12. Lastly, do not do any of this for eBay! I repeat, do not do this for eBay! Do it for your customers and for your family and for your business. Determine right now -- today -- to make your business a success in spite of all the turmoil in the marketplace.

Are you ready for this upcoming 4th quarter? Well you better be, because your success is in your hands.

We can all go back to bitching about eBay in January!

Just my 15%

10 comments:

Jim S. said...

Stop worrying about eBay and start worrying about your business.

AMEN to that suggestion!

egnatz1 said...

I agree Randy we should worry about our own business and not Ebay.

However its very hard to have a long term business plan or even a short term plan when the landlord changes the rules and keeps raising the rent every other week or so it seems..

Anonymous said...

Right on target Randy! While the traffic is wonderful at eBay, we all have a choice ... adapt or leave. We all need our own storefront where we can control the details.

It's easy to dump inventory in an eBay store, leave it, and post auctions and fp items to drive traffic to it. But oh what a pain when you have to update thousands of listings.

Thanks for your insight.

Dave

Randy Smythe said...

egnatz1,

It is difficult to develop a gameplan when the goal posts keep getting moved but eBay has laid out their changes for the rest of the year and as soon as the new fees go into effect you will be able to test what works best for you.

Let me do the complaining about eBay and you guys concentrate on your business. I already have my plan set in stone for Amazon so i can still point out the areas on eBay that need work.

Anonymous said...

I can....

"Stop worrying about eBay and start worrying about your business."

IF

You are sure that "eBay has laid out their changes for the rest of the year".

That was the last big change? Are you sure? Part of the problems with the turmoil with eBay is we never know when they will blindside us with a new policy/fee change. Does Amazon continually create so much drama with their sellers?

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

Very valid points, just don't set your plans in stone, leave some eBay wiggle room.

Tony P. said...

My business lives and dies by way of visibility of every single listing that I post on ebay.

Between glitches, ran-off potential bidders and the actual operational impediments of ebay policies (past, present and future), it's all I can do, to not be thoroughly depressed about the whole damn thing.

BITCHING seems to be the only thing that provides a brief respite from the overwhelming feelings of doom and gloom.

But, if you think it is best to put the focus elsewhere, Randy, then I will try. It won’t be easy, but I will try…


Hello, my name is Tony and I’m an ebay-basher addict.


:-)

Randy Smythe said...

Baby steps Tony, baby steps!

Tony P. said...

Damn! I can't even get a one day token!!

http://seekingalpha.com/article/92808-how-much-of-ebay-s-sales-are-fixed-price


Back to Step 1 for me. I is so pitiful. (head slunk-down emoticon)

I promise to work on my ebay stuff for this upcoming 3 day weekend. It will be a Labor (Day) of Love.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Everyone have a great holiday weekend!

Tony (the reformed)

Randy Smythe said...

Tony,

You will be fine. Take a deep breath.

I'm hearing that the mix of auctions to fixed price listings in any SRP (search results page) will be based on demand. I also heard from Scot Wingo's seminar that they are rolling back the de-duping for Auction items. Haven't received confirmation on that yet.