Have shoppers dodged the tax dodgers?

The channeladvisor blog released some figures comparing 2011 and 2012 with respects to Mega Monday (first Monday in December) showing eBay preforming better than Amazon.

Amazon: +14.3%
eBay: +21.9%

*based on Channeladvisors UK customer base.

Money is still super tight in the UK with confidence in ANYTHING seemingly dire, but these results show growth for UK business on marketplaces.

However, Amazon has been all over the news together with Starbucks and Google as evil tax dodgers robbing the UK economy of money, even though eBay does the SAME by being based in Luxembourg. You know when you buy off eBay you buy off a SELLER, who pays their tax (we assume). eBay doesn’t sell anything.

Amazon does… and it is sometimes confusing about who you are buying off when you shop on Amazon. This can be a good thing, but it can also hinder when the company itself it at the middle of a scandal.

Lets not forget the 15,000 people Amazon employs in the UK who pay ALL their tax. It is just corporation tax they are NOT paying a lot of.

The damage hasn’t been that great for Amazon, sales still grew 37% over November as a whole for UK sellers and a lot of my clients sell the same on eBay and Amazon at this time of year.

But these figure do suggest marketplace trade is GROWING first and foremost, and if you are not on eBay/Amazon you are missing out, or simply don’t exist for most shoppers.

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Finance your eBay design project with ezbob and createyourtemplate

A while back CYT posted this in their news section. It is TRUE! You can get finance for projects in this sector and NOT just for stock.

After Christmas, you maybe flush with all that Christmas cash but you also have an entire new year to finance and grow your business. Still using the same tired design? Need a brand? Need a touch of finance?

EZBOB’s system is focusing specifically on e-tailers.  The entire hassle free application process is automated,  easy and takes a few minutes to complete.  Thereafter EZBOB makes the e-applicant a customised financing proposal, based on both, the merits of their online shops and the personal payment history.

Core facts:

Unsecured (personal or director guarantee)
Short-term  (3 – 6 months)
Up to £20,000 per seller
Cost 2-7% per month
Clear repayment schedule, without early repayment penalties
No hidden fees
No covenants on a sellers business

You deal direct with EZBOB for finance and get a £250 discount on the store setup up fee for cutting edge eBay design to boost your sales.

Check the ezbob website and then take a look at Createyourtemplate

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Did Loki need an army? Or just the power of social media?

Following Tom Hiddleston on twitter he has smashed the 100K follower record with the help of the hashtag #LokisArmy which begs the question, did he need to bother with bringing Aliens to earth at all?

Sometimes the e-commerce underdog (not quite so full of death and hate I hope) is royally smashed into the floor by those big ‘retailers’ whom your buyers seem to instantly revere as the ‘good guys’

Even though you have been around for a while, carefully understanding your customer base and what they need (not quite subjugation I hope)……along come the ‘Avengers’, or as some know them ‘the outletters’ who completely wade in and become the law in your category.

But don’t forget even the underdog has fans and social media is one way you can get this loyal following. Even if your not the one in the shiny red iron suit.

Twitter is a great way to get quick messages across and start trends. If you are unsure about twitter and how to play it take a look at one of my favourites:


Being in F1 they know about fans, what they want and how to get purchases made.

Facebook is great for brand development. Sometimes you have to play the same game as these big branded retailers and carve yourself in the the conciousness of the people. Don’t be afraid to become a brand.

One of my favourite clients is becoming just that: http://www.facebook.com/Passion4italianfashion

Great giveaways, showing who they are as a company because they are a group of dynamic women who source and provide great fashion and discounts unmatched by outlet retailers.

So use the power of social media to create your army and take over your category! You were MADE to RULE!

On the flip side if you are one of the Avengers or eBay outlets if you don’t ‘bring it’ you will be trounced by the younger brothers in your category who could ‘outfox’ you as your swinging around the hammer of power.

It doesn’t always work, being the biggest and strongest…especially if you are late to this party.

Some of the big retailers had the foresight to integrate themselves into online marketplaces from the beginning (thinking of Littlewoods and Schuh) and like Iron Man and the Hulk have had plenty of story lines and incarnations to work with. Already loved by the public before the outlet programme was assembled.

Take a good look at how THEY use social media to engage. Schuh retweet their followers comments on purchases. I’ve had two re-tweets myself so with over 8000 followers (remember e-commerce business don’t have scream-y fan bases like actors so don’t expect 100K from a retailer too often) they still manage to read and retweet.

Social media DOES take time and time is money but with patience and management can be a great way to communicate who you are to customers, as this is what they like.

Try not to become a megalomaniac though and take over the world. Because even though we love twiddleston as an actor of evil guys…in reality balls of hate trying to take over the world by force are not generally a good thing!

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eBays Unpaid Item Process and a Seller Dispute

I buy a lot from Japan on eBay. A lot.

However, one of my favourite eBay sellers ‘sold’ his eBay account to another and things have gone bad to worse.

The situation:

I bought two obi from said seller, each with a shipping of $24. As this seller inflates its shipping weights dramatically (previously I bought an item that cost them $4 in shipping but they charged me $17….that’s ANOTHER issue I won’t go into!) I went ahead and paid for both items adding on $24 for SAL shipping each item which takes around 2 weeks.

They refund me.


Now they are asking for $49 ($1 more) for combined shipping via sea mail which takes 3 months. 3 months is WAY outside feedback or seller protection on eBay and with Paypal. If I want to pay $89 they will use a quicker shipping service….(er..so not worth it mate)

So, basically I am not paying. So they have opened and unpaid item case.

This is actually the first time I have been on the receiving end on an unpaid item case in about 14 year of eBaying…so when did eBay start speaking customers like this?

We have opened an unpaid item case for 6602# Japanese KIMONO SILK / VINTAGE WEDDING MARU OBI / WOVEN SEIGAIHA.

If payment isn’t received by 21-Feb-12, the seller may withdraw from the contract and you would no longer be entitled to receive this item. Additionally, an unpaid item may be recorded on your account, which could lead to your account being suspended.

It’s like a credit agency threatening to take you to court. They use the same language. Looking at http://www.cccs.co.uk/ a debt collection agency would typically say ‘We may take action if you fail to PAY THE FULL AMOUNT YOU OWE WITHIN SEVEN DAYS.’

I know sellers want to be tough on unpaid buyers but most would agree that this threatening language is a bit much if out of the sellers control (and the buyer will just neg you out of spite most of the time, I kinda felt like doing it too when I read it but I know the language is from eBay)

Most sellers I know would like to forget unpaid buyers and not get into nasty disputes as the negative feedback and bad DSR’s is crippling to an eBay business and eBay don’t ever do anything to control THAT part of the transaction.

I won’t pay of course, as I already did. The seller has lost a valuable buyer (used to spend up too $200 per month with said seller) and many other buyers in my circle who do the same.

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Freakishly Narrow Shoes on eBay and knowing your MARKET…

I like shoes, nay…I am obsessed with shoes so I end up buying lots on eBay.

A friend of mine sent a link through from a Chinese seller of seemingly fabulous looking shoes and this was the link: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Show-Story-Shop

Oh dear, I thought – I am supposed to be saving money…oh well just one pair….

So I took at look at the size 7’s. I have wide feet as a general rule so always look for measurements on width and got a bit of a shock..

All of the shoes have a width of 7cm, regardless of being a size 3 or a size 7.5.

Unfortunately in the UK, length is the only standard for shoe size but these dimensions are crazy, but being a scientist I need to make sure this wasn’t just MY assumption. So upon going shopping I decided to visit Next and measure the width of a ‘normal’ size 7 shoe.

It was 9cm.

So upon getting home I started to madly measure shoe widths and yes, the smallest shoe width for a size 7 was just over 8cm for my rocket dog wedges.

Now, if this seller (and sellers similar) wanted to clean up with their cut price fancy shoes they really need to think about the product and sizing. These shoes are too narrow for the western market after a size 4 and they are limiting themselves to people with very narrow feet. My sister is one such person, however at a size 6, 7cm width is still too narrow to be able to feel comfortable or not stretch the shoes.

For comparison Japanese Zori at 23.5cm long (UK size 4) are about 8cm wide, smallest I have seen have been 7.5cm wide. Japanese kimono zori are suppose to be smaller as it is ‘iki’ or fashionable.

The moral of the story is to check your product is fit for your target market. No marketing strategy or SEO techniques will gloss over that one. If it looks like a shoe, it doesn’t mean it will function like a shoe for you. Another one is always read the description, I would have been red mad if I had brought a pair and missed the width sizing.

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