Have you ever wondered what it takes to be successful on eBay? What listing tools should you use? Should you pay for a professionally designed custom eBay shop and listing template?
I wondered too, so I looked at the top UK sellers to see what they were using. From the Nortica eBay 500 list from December 2007 I selected the top UK eBay sellers by number of feedback received. Out of the top 500 sellers worldwide, this gave me 32 UK sellers of which four were excluded – three are NARU (no longer registered users) and one has private feedback.
The top sellers are based on total lifetime feedback, the data is not necessarily reflective of the current top sellers on eBay. It excludes sellers such as aceelectronics_uk who have accrued 56130 feedback in the last year but still just outside the top 500 worldwide. However I believe it does reveal some interesting trends.
Top Seller Feedback
First of all feedback, with DSRs affecting search placement how are the top 28 UK sellers stacking up? The average feedback rating is 99.3% ranging from a low of 98.1, to two sellers with an astounding 100% record. More interesting some of the sellers with the highest feedback percentage have the lowest number of withdrawn feedbacks. The average feedback withdrawals per seller is 207, with the highest withdrawn feedback for a single seller being 1079.
Average DSR scores for the top currently trading 28 sellers are:
|Item as described||4.84||4.9||4.7|
|Postage and packaging charges||4.53||4.7||4.0|
These figures put the average top UK seller into the average/bottom 25% of all sellers for DSRs based on latest eBay information.
I was interested to find out if the top UK sellers all used the same listing tools and how they used their eBay shops and listings. The first and unsurprising discovery is that all 28 have an eBay shop. What was somewhat surprising is most appear to have a basic eBay shop with no frills or customisation. Just five users had a Frooition shop template, four had customised their shop or had a custom shop landing page. 19 out of 28 of the top UK sellers have no customisation at all although four have inserted a shop header.
One thing I find off putting is landing on an eBay shop where the products aren’t the first thing I see. If I want to know a sellers terms and conditions or more about them I’ll visit their about me page. Four of the top sellers however have shop landing pages that don’t display products.
I expected to find custom templates designed for the top sellers, and in most cases I wasn’t disappointed. Top UK sellers had complex HTML designs with the one common theme being links to their other listings and eBay shops. Just two sellers appear to have used Frooition templates (five have Frooition shops). What was surprising was that five of the top 28 sellers (17%) have no template and use simple text based eBay listings. Even one seller who has invested in a Frootion shop has simple text based eBay listings. It would appear that it is possible to be a prolific seller without complex HTML skills.
Sadly out of 28 top sellers three have HTML scripts classed as site interference risking their listings being cancelled.
Eight of the top sellers use ChannelAdvisor to power their eBay listings. Fifteen use eBay Tools (either TurboLister or Selling Manager Pro). Four sellers use Auctiva/Sellathon with just one using Vendio. It would be interesting to know if there’s a correlation between the sellers using ChannelAdvisor and those that also sell on Amazon or their own websites.
The most noticeable feature of feedback is that the sellers with the highest feedback percentages have some of the lowest numbers of withdrawn feedback. Conversely sellers with the highest numbers of withdrawn feedback have some of the lowest feedback percentages.
If the withdrawn feedback was added back into the mix those with the worst feedback would have a much lower feedback percentage. Sellers who give the best customer service definitely appear to be rewarded with better overall feedback.
The top UK sellers don’t all have complex shop designs, a basic eBay shop works just fine. Although links to sellers other listings and eBay shops are favoured you can be successful with a basic text based auction. Many top sellers rely on simple eBay tools such as TurboLister, Selling Manager Pro and even the Sell Your Item form. If a third party tool is used ChannelAdvisor is the favoured choice.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt from the top UK sellers it’s to include more links to other products in my auctions. I’m not going to run out and pay for auction management services or expensive listing templates, if the top sellers don’t need them then neither do I.
non of the above means bugger all
PROFIT is what makes a top seller
Nice post. I agree it would be interesting to see if the top sellers referenced were also selling across other channels such as Amazon or their own site via paid search or CSEs. It would also be interesting to see if they were selling individual items or multiples of the same item(s). The pain points of selling online can be very different depending on your business model and this is where the decision to employ (or not) a third-party solution can make or break a business.
I would be more interested in what they sold, and where they get stock, and their profit
this is just based on feedback, and items sold, they may just be busy fools , being top fee payers to ebay, rather than top sellers ,
I know sellers we are lucky to sell 50 items a month on ebay yet make a good living
Hi North, don’t get me wrong – this post isn’t a receipe for success. It’s simply an indicator of what’s required to sell prolific quantities of stock on eBay. The important thing to take away (and probably one that you’ll appreciate 😉 ) is that it actually doesn’t take very much in the way of tools and fancy gizmos.
Simply listing the stuff seems to do the trick 😀
Helps also to give great customer service as the more post sales problems you have to rectify the worse overall your feedback will be even after sorting out the issues for those you’re aware of.
Great article, and being slightly obessesed with stats and numbers, I found it very interesting! Thanks!
It’s reassuring to see that even the high volume sellers are using techniques and tools available to everyone – turbo lister in particular is ideal for all levels of sellers. The other interesting point is that the high volume sellers are not necessarily shifting volume based on lowest price either – a lot of their products are available cheaper from other sellers, but this proves that service levels and reputation can command better margins. I’ve always believed that good service can easily justify an extra 5-10% in price.
Nortica also has the fastest growing members listed, but it does not show the site they are registered on, but it’s intersting to see how some sellers can suddenly raise turnover from a few hundred per month to a few thousand, and the product categories they list iin. It’s rare to see one of these sellers with their own niche, rather they are selling in popular categories.
It gives encouragement and inspiration to sellers everywhere!
too right chris,
administrating, is the single biggest problem we have, if you dont restrict problems , they have a nasty habit of restricting your business
Very interesting post, Chris – thanks for taking the time to work out the numbers! Rather you than me! 😉
It’s true that Turbolister and SMPro are great tools for ramping up to large volumes on eBay (after all, anything with the word ‘Turbo’ in the name has got to be good for listing a lot…..!)
But I also agree with North – that what you’re seeing here is only the surface of the story. I wonder how things would change if you scratched the surface and dug a little deeper into the profitibility of each of these sellers and the ‘health’ of their online business strategies?
Long term online success comes from watching your margins, finding buyers (wherever they shop online) and delivering a buying experience that keeps those buyers happy and coming back for more. Crack those three nuts and you have a business that will be around for a long time whilst delivering good returns to you, the owner.
eBay is a great place to learn the lessons required for wider success online. These lessons can then be applied to other marketplaces (such as Amazon and Play.com) and to your online strategy in general. Our clients tell us that this is where software like ChannelAdvisor’s really helps – enabling them to build a sophisticated multi-channel online business without losing sight of the basics like margins and buyer experience.
James I’d love to dig below the surface and examine the profitability and health of the businesses of these sellers. Sadly I think they’d be about as willing to divulge these facts as I would be about my business though 😛
As North has said profitibility is king, and ways (and tools) to measure that will have to wait for another exposÃ©
Turnover is vanity , profit is sanity
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