How should you write your sizes to suceed selling fashion on eBay

Fashion sellers, here is to you. If you’re serious about making money selling on eBay, you have to make sure your products are searchable by size. It does sound pretty self-explanatory but you would be amazed by how many sellers don’t follow this simple rule.

At WebInterpret we help thousands of online retailers sell abroad and a fair chunk of them are selling clothes. It’s the UK fashion sellers in particular who seem to be quite successful abroad, especially now that the pound sterling is relatively week compared to other currencies. According to our data, UK fashion sellers succeed mainly in Germany, in the US and in Australia.

However, if you believe you can tap into the German market just by adding postage to Germany to your UK listings, you may be wrong. You have to remember that sizes are very different in continental Europe than they are in the UK and, to make matters worse, they are different from one European country to another.

With clothes, what’s generally known as the EU size will work for your buyers in Germany, Scandinavia and in Poland. Unfortunately, your average French shopper will probably return her order as too big – EU size 34 generally equals French size 36. Things get even worse in Italy where the same EU size 34 equals size 38… Monica Bellucci admits wearing Italian size 44 which, if it was the same as EU 44 could be a plus size but in reality converts to EU 40…

How can sellers cope with this mess? Many choose to provide all the possible compatible sizes in their eBay listings. This leads to listings which are cluttered, provide a poor buyer experience and – and that’s the most important point – are not searchable on eBay.

wrong sizes

The above listing is a perfect example of an item that can’t be found by buyers who filter the search results by sizes. eBay’s selection of available sizes simply doesn’t allow you to choose a size called “US L – EU XL”. What’s more, the seller is still not on the safe side as far as returns are concerned – EU XL size will work for her German buyers but not for the French and Italian ones!

Now, many sellers tell us they don’t really care about getting their Item Specifics right because they still end up making sales regardless of whatever they write in there. You can argue that the above item still has 9 watchers meaning there are some buyers who managed to find it.

selling-fashion-online

Our data however shows that it does make an impact on your sales volume if you manage to crack your way around sizes on each eBay site. Just check the below chart based on an example of ten fashion sellers using WebInterpret for whom we corrected their sizes in Australia.
So what should you do to get your sizes right and grow your sales by 48%in one week?

  • check if your items show up in eBay search results when filtered by size
  • if not, check the items that do show up and write your sizes in the same way as your competitors who mastered eBay’s search engine
  • when selling abroad, create a separate listing for each main eBay site with only one size per market
  • convert the sizes taking into account that they differ per European country
  • don’t write anything in front of your sizes, type only the numeric value
  • once done, you can relax and watch your sales soar – online fashion shopping is still bound to grow fast over the years to come!

How eBay missed it on Skype acquisition and sale

meg_whitman

Whenever I read about the Facebook Marketplace and see accounts of millions of Facebook users buying and selling goods among their connections, I cannot help thinking about the eBay Skype mistake. Had eBay kept Skype and had they known how to use it, they might have by now become the social commerce platform that the Facebook-Messenger combo is aspiring to be.

In 2005 when eBay’s CEO Meg Whitman decided to buy Skype, many shook their heads in disbelief. Analysts had no clue what eBay would need Skype for and the check she had to write to acquire the unprofitable Estonian startup was considered too high.

From today’s perspective this decision makes perfect sense. Ever since its humble beginnings eBay has drawn its strength from its community. Amazon sellers don’t hang around together to chat – eBay sellers will use every possible venue to exchange their opinions, be it eBay’s own forum or a LinkedIn group. To leverage the strength of their community by giving it a new tool was an ingenious idea to attach eBay sellers and buyers to the platform and drive adoption. eBay could have become a part of the Skype app, allowing Skype users to buy and sell goods while holding a conversation. It could have also included Skype in the eBay platform so that sellers’ customer service reps handle buyers’ queries via live chat or even calls without ever having to leave eBay. It could have become the ultimate place for social networking just as it was, back in 2005, the preferred destination for selling and buying goods.

None of this ever happened. eBay’s executives didn’t seem to have an idea as to why they bought Skype in the first place or what they were supposed to do with it. It has become a very expensive toy that they readily got rid off in 2009. The acquisition of Skype and its later sale have become synonimous with eBay’s decline and lack of vision.

Think about these same executives now as they have to watch sellers and buyers bleeding from their platform to buy and sell via Facebook and Messenger thus bringing to life the dream that Meg Whitman had and buried when she first bought and sold Skype years ago.

5 things you need to know when selling car parts online

Going online is not an obvious choice for many car parts sellers. Car parts tend to be heavy and bulky (just think about tyres!) and you may consider there aren’t so many buyers out there willing to purchase them online. 

Yet, buying a spare part for your car online is a much more obvious choice than touring the local shops – the selection online is definitely wider, thanks to bigger competition buyers are more likely to get a better deal and they don’t need to touch and feel the part before buying it, the way they may want to try out new clothes. As a consequence, car parts sellers not only easily get rid of some parts that have been waiting on their shelves for ages once they start selling online but also have an easier job than online sellers of other types of products – less returns, less complaints, less hassle.

With all this in mind, you will agree that online may be the best channel for car parts sales, both for buyers and for sellers. What else do you need to know?

  1. eBay is the right place for you

    • with their recent purchase of Cargigi eBay showed that they really want to focus on eBay motors, their cars and car parts section
    • Motors is actually the fastest growing part of eBay (or, the only growing part of eBay) so definitely they will keep investing in it and promoting it
    • with their separate eBay Motors site and a sophisticated car parts-specific search engine eBay is a better fit for selling car parts than other marketplaces
  2. Don’t limit yourself to your domestic market

    • it may sound counterintuitive to sell car parts abroad but at WebInterpret we have seen too many success stories not to believe it makes sense to do so
    • as a UK seller, make sure you sell at least to Germany and France, as a German seller, select France and the UK. eBay.it and eBay.es are not as strong but growing very fast!
    • it will especially make sense for you to sell to continental Europe if you’re selling parts compatible with European brands – unsurprisingly German car parts sell well in Germany, French car parts in France. Knowing the European currency is now pretty strong compared to the British Pound or US Dollar, you may actually end up being more competitive in terms of pricing than the local sellers.
  3. Make sure you know when to sell

    • car parts sales are highly seasonal – make sure you know when to list to reap the highest reward
    • in the UK we see strong sales of car parts in January, then from March till June (with a peak in May) and then again in November
    • in Germany the best months are January, March and from May till July
    • Germans change Summer tyres to Winter tyres from October and then Winter tyres to Summer tyres in March – make sure you have some of these online and that you allow delivery to Germany and you’ll be amazed at how many buyers are willing to shop for tyres abroad
  4. Use car parts compatibility tables

  5. Remember different brands sell on different markets

    • as mentioned above, German and French buyers are more likely to look for German and French car parts than for Japanese car parts
    • also, some brands have different names depending on the location – did you know that the car you refer to as Vauxhall is known as Opel in Germany?

If you follow the above guidelines, you will be amazed at how fast your business can grow once you start selling your products online and abroad. Make sure to get your listings ready before the sales peak in May!

Watch out for these eBay.co.uk changes that will affect your business

Have you seen your eBay sales drop over the past few months while your business on other marketplaces and your own website is thriving? Here is what eBay are doing to reverse this trend.

Mobile-friendly descriptions

 

Overview: From July 2016 eBay will show mobile buyers a shortened version of your listing description. To further improve the shopping experience for mobile buyers, eBay will wage a war on templates including active content (JavaScript, Flash) from Spring 2017.

Pros: The number of buyers coming from mobile devices grows much faster than the number of buyers shopping from their desktops and in some countries mobile shoppers are more numerous than desktop shoppers. It’s good that eBay wants to improve their experience. At the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference eBay’s CEO Devin Wenig stressed the importance of growing mobile in 2016 and admitted the company failed at mobile growth in Q4 2015. It’s also worth remembering that the new eBay app initially received very poor reviews and many potential buyers allegedly uninstalled it. eBay have learned their lesson and are trying to win these mobile buyers back. Regarding JavaScript and Flash in listings, at WebInterpret we have always warned our sellers against using active content and creating very long descriptions. We’re happy to see eBay align with this approach.

Cons: How will the shortened version of the description be generated? Will it really contain all the necessary information? I can easily imagine some words such as “is not waterproof”, “should not be used by children under three” or “is slightly damaged” not making it into the shortened version and generating very poor buyer experience (+ probably leading to sellers being banned from eBay due to no fault of their own). Also, if you have just finished relooking your templates with a web agency you will probably be disappointed to learn mobile buyers will never see the end result of all your efforts. Not even mentioning that if you’re using JavaScript or Flash you will have to redo your listings all over again.

Product reviewsCapture

Overview: Buyers will be allowed to write product reviews and not only seller reviews on eBay. Two kinds of reviews will be possible – verified reviews from users who actually purchased the item and unverified reviews from users who didn’t.

Pros: Adding product reviews makes perfect sense

Cons: A lot of things can go wrong with product reviews

  • buyers may review their poor buyer experience (such as late delivery) instead of the product itself
  • eBay will recognise matching products using EAN’s – have you added EAN’s to your listings yet? Are you certain they are the correct ones? Otherwise, you may find your product attached to a review of something completely different
  • eBay has been created basing upon a belief that people are honest but, sadly, quite often they are not! Sellers will end up buying fake reviews – positive for their products, negative for their competitors, buyers will write negative reviews to force you to refund their purchase etc. eBay will have to track fraud very carefully.

Category-specific changes

All of the above are genuinely exciting changes and I believe they are going in the right direction. Do you?

Will eBay’s growth finally pick up?

It has become fashionable to complain about the lack of growth of “the world’s marketplace” and various media eagerly reported flat top line, unsuccessful competition with Amazon, disappointing results during holiday season and what not.

Indeed, eBay themselves seemed disappointed with their Q4results and made very modest predictions for Q1 and 2016.

Our data so far, however, seems to indicate that the marketplace’s results can be better in Q1 than they were in Q4 and, indeed, better than expected.

YoY growth in eBay sales of e-merchants using WebInterpret was 11 percentage points higher in Q1 than it was in Q4. Moreover, WebInterpret using sellers actually earned more in Q1 on eBay than they did in Q4!

Some reasons why this might be happening :

  • Our sellers always see slower growth on eBay during Christmas than they do on Amazon. With its long delivery times eBay simply isn’t the right place to purchase Christmas gifts anymore
  • Q1 is a high season for car parts – with its sophisticated car parts search engine and huge selection eBay works better for buyers looking just for the right part that would allow them to fix their car
  • Q1 is also a high season for fashion in some countries – in Germany and Italy buyers search eBay for fancy dress so that they can enjoy the carnival season. With its wide selection of fancy dress and rather smooth fashion-shopping experience (as a buyer I find it easier to shop for fashion on eBay than on Amazon) eBay is the perfect marketplace for these shoppers.

Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, at least in Europe eBay sellers seem to be more successful in Q1 than they were in Q4. Is it also your experience? Did you see your sales grow compared to Q4? Did you see them grow compared to last year?

What works better for a buyer? eBay or amazon? Egg coddler hunt

Being a mom, I buy more or less every other product I need for my baby, my house and myself on amazon. Once you have a Prime account you hardly ever think about buying elsewhere. At work however, I have been brought to deal with eBay and eBay sellers. That’s why, while hunting for the perfect egg coddler I decided to give eBay a try.

1. Selection
Amazon give you an impression of storing more or less anything you would ever be willing to purchase, from corn flakes to electric guitars. However, when it comes to egg coddlers, the selection is surprisingly poor. I had a choice between three or four coddlers, which got even smaller once I activated the “available for Prime” filter. The coddler I finally chose was neither good value for money nor visually appealing.
Compare this with eBay with its awe inspiring selection of beautifully decorated porcelain coddlers! I didn’t have much time to look at all of them but still was very happy with the coddlers I chose.
Point for eBay!
2. Making a purchase
Whereas it’s easy to find a beautiful coddler on eBay it is not at all so easy to buy it! The purchasing process took at least three times longer than on amazon, with its (un)famously patented one click and required logging in to eBay and to PayPal.
Point for amazon!
3. Delivery
Quite a surprise here.  Whereas I expected my Amazon purchase to arrive faster than the eBay one, I was amazed to see it being delivered before the product purchased on eBay was even dispatched!
Point for amazon!
4. Product
The Amazon-purchased coddler was quite a disappointment. The lid broke after the first usage. My vintage china coddlers bought on eBay are beautiful to look at and still serve me well.
Point for eBay!
It seems that amazon is by far the most convenient place to buy anything online. However, when searching for some specific products I will keep in mind to check eBay (or Etsy?) for their wider selection. As of today I am a happy owner of three egg coddlers, enjoying my coddled eggs every Sunday morning while doing my Sunday morning online shopping.