When we hear Amazon sellers talk about their million dollar businesses, it’s pretty impressive. They tell stories of buying tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from a factory in China. Maybe even traveling to China to make a big play on some private label merchandise. Or maybe they are sending employees out to buy retail arbitrage at big box stores all over their region. They have a busy warehouse and multiple employees. We imagine a person sitting in front of several computer screens, pouring over spreadsheets that has everything laid out to the last decimal place. They’re basically mini-CEO’s competing with larger corporations.
This isn’t us. We’re scavengers and have more in common with the guys at the flea market who sell out of their cars. Only difference is that we sell online. We know how much we spend each month and how much we need to make. We are frugal and save extra money to invest in things that will make us more money (like rental property). We have often said that we’re probably don’t have much in common with a Harvard MBA graduate, but we do have imagination. Even though we are not masters of spreadsheets and P/L reports, we do know how to turn trash into cash.
Imagination is our biggest strength because we can walk into any situation (flea market, thrift store, auction, estate sale, yard sale) and see where the money is. We’ve learned that we make money by constantly changing. Instead of going out into the world searching for specific items, we just see what is available and then imagine how we can sell them. Finding these overlooked objects is where our business lies. Some eBay sellers seem to want to find a formula to know exactly what they should buy, how much it’ll sell for, and then never deviate change course. Having imagination when scavenging is what excites us and makes us money. We never know what we’ll find, but we know we’ll always find something. Sitting in front of spreadsheets won’t help us. We have to go out and scavenge!
This is why we love the weekly “What Sold” thread every Wednesday. We love seeing what other scavengers are finding and selling. We see how people’s imagination have sometimes run wild and paid off.
Here are the links we mentioned on this podcast:
–eBay is going to roll out a voluntary program of guaranteed three day shipping.
–An interesting series of short portraits of how different Americans get by.
–Here is that embed code for videos that you can copy and paste (hope it works!)-
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Hope you had a good week!
Our Store Week March 19-25, 2017
Total Items in Store: 5,667
Items Sold: 72
Cost of Items Sold: $110
Total Sales: $2,260.12
Highest Price Sold: $125 (Set of sheets)
Average Price Sold: $31.39
Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $20
Number of items listed this week: 20
Sold 1 items for $?
Total Items in Store: 1228
Items Sold: 11
Cost of Items Sold: $25
Total Sales: $544.20
Highest Price Sold: $135 (Leather purse)
Average Price Sold: $51.21
Number of items listed this week: 40
In over 20,000 items we’ve sold on eBay since 2008, we’ve never had an eBay Scammer™. A scammer is someone who buys an item knowing full well they’re going to cheat you. It involves pre-meditation. Maybe they exist and we haven’t run into them? Maybe the Scammers don’t buy the kind of weird, vintage stuff we sell. Maybe the scammers exist for the people who only sell new electronics? We know there are long time eBay sellers who will swear and testify to the numerous times they’ve been scammed, but it hasn’t happened to us.
However we certainly have our share of Grumpy Buyers™. Why is it important to be careful about not labeling a Grumpy Buyer with the label, Scammer? Because Scammer is a loaded word that brings way too much emotion into a business transaction. It assumes that the person is coming after us personally to do us harm. Instead, we get buyers who are just upset and need t be treated professionally.
Grumpy buyers include:
- They just changed their mind ie (Buyer’s Remorse) and don’t want to pay for return shipping.
- They want to keep the item but are fishing for a partial refund. Usually tied to buyers remorse.
- Buyers who are unreasonable and most likely unhappy and angry about their life circumstances. We just happen to be in their line of sight on a bad day.
- Buyers who have untreated mental illness or addiction problems. Yes, these people use the internet and we always hope they seek the help they need.
We never answer any question sent to us outside the eBay system. We are always professional and brief in our conversation. We never accuse or argue or get into long conversations. We always ask for further information where the buyer often ends up admitting there really isn’t a problem. Or we offer choices that the buyer must take action on. We control the conversation following eBay’s rules.
Heres how we handle all returns:
- We turned on Hassle Free Returns with a 30 day return policy for any reason. It’s important that everything happen through eBay’s system so its documented.
- We auto accept any return where the buyer just changed their mind. The buyer pays for all shipping.
- If the buyer says we have done something wrong, they must open a case to allow us to respond.
- If the buyer’s complaint is valid, we take responsibility and give a full refund on the spot. If we disagree, we ask for photos of the issue. This is important because it makes the buyer take an action and provide proof.
- After we get the photos, we then may take responsibility and give a full refund on the spot.
- But if we still disagree, we immediately accept the return to move the process along.
- The buyer has 5 days to print a label and provide tracking. If not, the case can be closed on the phone in our favor.
- Once we get the item, we inspect it. We then may take responsibility give a full refund (including all shipping) on the spot. Having the item abd seeing our mistake helps us learn how to avoid the problem.
- If we still don’t agree, we escalate the issue. Since we’re in eBay’s Returns Program “Beta”, we can refund the buyer for the item but not the shipping. The buyer then has to open a case if they want to further fight it. Usually buyers are just happy to have their item returned and given a refund. Before the beta program, we would call eBay and plead our case. We often won because we offered the buyers choices and had plenty of evidence that the item was not defective.
- Worst case: eBay just disagrees with us. So we refund the cost of the item and shipping. Just a cost of doing business. If the person was a scammer, we are taking away their ability to keep the item so foiled their devious plot.
One thing we NEVER do is ignore the buyer who has a complaint and wants a return. When a seller ignores a buyer, this is the only time we’ve seen eBay take money out of the seller’s account for a refund and let the buyer keep the item. The seller has chosen to ignore the system.
And let’s be clear how rarely returns happen for us. In the past 90 days, we have a return rate of 3.26%. That’s 19 out of 582 items. This is high for us since we just got out of the holiday season when buyers are more prone to returns. (Big retailers can have as high as 20% return rate during the holidays.) Out of those 19 returns, only 2 were grumpy buyers. If you have a much higher return rate and a higher rate of buyers you think are Scammers, I would look at your process and ask why so many buyers seem unhappy. Our experience has shown that a wide majority of buyers order an item and keep it.
Because we have a system in place to handle any and all complaints, we sleep well at night. Some frustration pops up every now and again at a particularly grumpy buyer, but they just get fed into our system and processed to eBay’s satisfaction. The main goal is to treat customers fairly and be seen as a good seller in eBay’s eyes. If we have to pay $30 a month in return shipping fees (which would be very high for us), it’s worth every penny for the peace of mind.
These are the forum conversations we mentioned in this podcast:
–A seller found a hat for $1 and sold for $1000: http://www.scavengerlife.com/forums/topic/turned-1-into-1000-in-1-day-scavenge-of-the-week
–If you want to quit your job and sell full-time, you must budget your expenses: http://www.scavengerlife.com/forums/topic/personal-budgeting-and-financial-planning-planning-for-full-time-ebay
Hope you had a good week!
Our Store Week March 12-18, 2017
Total Items in Store: 5,660
Items Sold: 59
Cost of Items Sold: $150
Total Sales: $2,039.03
Highest Price Sold: $135 (old iPad)
Average Price Sold: $34.55
Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $8
Number of items listed this week: 100
Sold 0 items for $0
Total Items in Store: 1231
Items Sold: 14
Cost of Items Sold: $56
Total Sales: $717.02
Highest Price Sold: $150 (Vintage faucet)
Average Price Sold: $51.21
Number of items listed this week: 10