Should I Pitch Lifestyle as Opposed to Age Group?

"As I said, I have not launched my brand as yet, but in my studio I have been "trying it out" with my clients. My must-have piece so far, has attracted 25 year olds, 30 year olds and 50 year old. It has confused me because my target audience was set for 25 to 35.

Should I celebrate this unique edge and adjust how I target my audience or should I tweak design? I'm concerned about confusing ads and it makes me think I should "pitch" lifestyle as opposed to age group?"  - Fashionpreneur Group Question

This was a fantastic question asked by a wonderful member of my exclusive Facebook group Fashion Sellers Selling on Ebay - a group of dedicated fashion sellers who strive to improve their own and each other's Ebay stores and Online Boutiques. Its such a great question, I decided to post this here for all my dear readers. This is a compacted version of my full response. 

Loved this question so much as it covered a lot of serious and valid questions for those starting a new venture, and thats getting to know your target market and how to sell to them. Lifestyle is always key with promoting to women, you gut is spot on with this, and that is what I would focus on right now, creating a brand with a lifestyle to it- lets unpack :)

The fact that you have 160+ fans on your Facebook page gives you a solid edge, you can market to them- and even start asking questions on your Facebook. Blog posts (2-4 times a month) and almost daily Instagram posts are critical for fashion, and the best part of these you can easily add to your Pinterest business account when you generate both of those marketing tactics. You need to start creating the image/brand/lifestyle you're developing from now, not when you launch. You have beautiful items, so its time to preview them to the world. Your story of being a pattern maker, your family roots, and creating your fashion line is something you should definitely write about - and in doing this buyers will find a connection to your brand and they will want to support you.

With a handy blog, they will also do the next important thing, with is giving you their email address. In the next steps to creating your advertising, is change your "coming soon" on your homepage and make it so visitors can submit their email address to you- when you launch you can message them. A great way to inspire them is with a coupon/discount, and keeping them updated on your blooming business. You want the audience before you fully launch to ensure a successful launch. I am unsure who is handling your website, but currently I use Squarespace, which does allow blogging and e-commerce, and is easy to build if you don’t have any experience with developing a website.

As I stated earlier DO NOT change your designs to suit your younger based audience. The fact that you can sell to that many age groups speaks volumes. Do not forget, older women are always more likely to pay more for high quality items. A 25 year old recently out of college/just married isn't going to be as open to spending more money on a dress or well made top, but a 40+ year old woman who is financially stable is more likely to open her wallet.

Global Shipping Program, GSP and Shipping Internationally

Global Shipping program international shipping selling online

Shipping is one of the most critical aspects of successful selling on Ebay. One of the most popular questions I have gotten since starting this blog is if I use the GSP (Global Shipping Program) and what my opinion is about it. Before we unpack the whole discussion and subject, I would like to let you know that before GSP I wasn't selling internationally. On 3 separate occasions I had international shipping issues. I have to mention that these situations all happened between 2009-2011, when shipping wasn't accurate if items were heading outside the US. You would see it leave the USA but since USPS tracking only within the the country there would be no updates (with the exception of Canada if I remember correctly).

On 2 different occasions I lost money and the item as well. The first was a woman in Germany who sent me a message saying she changed her mind on the duty, and rejected the package. I told her when the item would arrive back I would refund her. It never came back so she opened a case against me - and since I couldn't prove that it was "delivered", I lost the case, and the package. The second was a woman in France who purchased a beautiful Free People coat from me. It was cozy and warm. It also never arrived, so she filed and I lost. The final straw was a buyer in Canada who said the item was "damaged" due to shipping, so she opened a case and I had to pay international shipping both ways, and did that hurt. I got lucky that I at least got the coat back (perfect condition of course). I stopped shipping internationally because I wasn't Ebaying super often and it wasn't worth the hassle. I didn't ship internationally for years, until the GSP happened. I definitely think its one of the best programs that Ebay has come up with, and without it I wouldn't be selling overseas. Lets break down the process of GSP and how it works.

When a buyer in a foreign country is looking at your item - say Germany for example, they see the cost of your item, the duty, as well as the ship cost all totaled together. If they decide to purchase then the seller is now responsible for making sure that the item arrives to a ship center in Erlanger, Kentucky run by Pitney Bowes. The item is processed through the shipping center, with a NEW international shipping label (which updates on your listing), that tracks the item to the final destination and thats it. What I love MOST about that whole process is the seller is only responsible for getting it to the Kentucky ship center. As soon as your tracking hits arrived there, you the seller are NO LONGER RESPONSIBLE for this item when it comes to shipping, even if it doesn't arrive to the destination after its arrival in KY.  This past summer a buyer from Denmark purchased a pair of Helmut Lang shorts from my store. 3 weeks later she attempted to open a case staying that the item never arrived - this happened in the middle of the night, so I woke up to 2 emails, the first was a case had been opened against me, and the second was that it was closed in my favor, since it showed delivered to the Kentucky ship center. For once, I was safe. A lot of sellers do not use the program because it is more expensive for buyers internationally - some say A LOT more expensive, but for me I would rather be secure and lose a few sales, than risk it and lose a few items. The best part about GSP is that it also prevents negative feedback if an item doesn't arrive to its destination, assuming it did arrive to Erlanger. Also- Pitney Bowes does inspect your items. Sometimes they are repackaged, and other times left as is, but they are checked to ensure you are sending an item that is approved for shipment.

There are two “downsides” to using GSP. First- a much higher cost to your buyer. Some sellers have stated they have seen a drop in international sales because of the customs and duty fees, but I would rather have less sales and secure shipments than the latter.

The second downside is you cannot combine shipping. If a buyer bids or purchases more than one item from you, you must ship and they must pay for them separately.

Certain items are restricted, such as fragrances, smart watches, electronics, furs, and certain lot/group shipments. Also, there is weight limitations that range anywhere between 66-150 lbs depending on the country. Certain countries are not eligible for the GSP program as well. Click HERE for more details about the GSP and click HERE for an easy pdf with some helpful tips about the program. 

If you have more questions or feel like I missed something, shoot me a message at admin@thestylelister.com

 

Strictly Style - Why I only sell fashion on Ebay

Clothes hang on a shelf

As someone who has a seller store one of the constant questions I am asked by friends and other Ebay sellers is why I don't branch out and sell other items besides clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry. Though I have sold the occasional vinyl record and band poster I really believe that one of the reasons I am most successful is because this is my niche. Consider walking into a consignment store or boutique, how would you feel if this store was also selling teapots, DVR players, car parts, and lightbulbs? You probably wouldn't stay too long and find yourself going somewhere else, especially if you're looking at a high end item. My followers (and repeat customers) know that when they look at my shop it will always be within the fashion industry. My niche is clothing, and I do my best for it all to be fashionable and wearable. What I mean by wearable is something that can be promptly worn (as all my items are washed/drycleaned) or repaired to be worn quickly. I try to make my shop be like an actual store so that buyers are comfortable purchasing an item from me that is $16.99 or $369.99. 

I must emphasize that this is my business model, and doesn't necessarily need to be yours. I have purchased many incredible items from sellers who are literally selling Ikea furniture bolts and souvenir shot glasses in the next listings. There is no wrong answer on Ebay as long as you're being honest with your listings. 

Love and Happiness

One of the most incredible aspects of being a seller on Ebay is you can have these beautiful unexpected moments. At the beginning of 2016 I got a question from a potential buyer asking me to confirm the measurements on a beautiful green velvet burnout Betsey Johnson handkerchief dress, because it was perfect for her to wear to her wedding. When I responded that my measurements were accurate, she replied she was very happy, she knew this was the dress for her, and she then purchased this unique item promptly.

Loving this unique idea, I let her know that I would waive the restock fee and I would personally pay for the return in case it wasn't the right fit. I know how expensive weddings can be, and I wanted her to feel really confident she can buy this worry free. When her dress arrived she immediately sent me a message stating that it fit perfectly and that she now had the perfect dress for her big day. Being a part of this experience brought tears to my eyes (and her reply was the same too). She also was very touched and let me know that she would send me pictures of her big day when it would happen!  

Kristi kept her word and back in November I got these beautiful images. It is these types of moments as a seller that makes it all worth it.

Congratulations Kristi! May you have many wonderful years together! 

 

Kristi1
Kristi2

Winter Sales: Feast or Famine?

Here at TSL I recognize that selling clothing is a 12 month job. Unlike fashion sellers, some only sell seasonal items or feel serious slumps during the warmer months (see: 3rd Quarter post). Though there is a slight drop in sales during the summer, we really feel the slowdown in the final 2 weeks before Christmas. Ironically enough, this is when the major sales happen for most Ebay stores because many of them are selling gifts, games, and decorations for the impending holidays. But not to worry if you have a bit of a slump, because good times are coming, I promise!

Since sellers like us are selling items that buyers are buying for themselves, we don't get a lot of business during this brief time period. The only advice I can lovingly give is to keep on listing!! I've also noticed my items get ridiculously high amounts of watchers during this period, and then I hear that beautiful cha-ching/cash register sound from my Ebay app. As soon as Christmas morning I start getting sales. What I believe is sellers are watching items they want to buy when they get their holiday cash/giftcards. I always keep listing during this period, especially hats, scarves, and coats. They are always selling and always moving during the fall and winter months. Wrapping up the year with a ton of listings in your store is an incredible feeling as well. I always feel more accomplished posting a handful of new items when everyone around me is running around the stores buying those special gifts for their loved ones. Don't feel discouraged if you're feeling the slowdown, because I am too- but I assure you we are in this together! 

xo,
Maria

Winner of Survey Contest!

Special congratulations is in order to Hillary from the incredible Ebay store "Wallace and Co.". She was the lucky winner in our survey drawing. Everyone was an incredible help and I truly appreciate all the feedback I received on the survey. Your participation was priceless, and a special thanks is most certainly in order. 

Though our winner was selected at random, we wanted to share Hillary's Ebay shop to show you what a great store she has and a solid reference on those who are starting out. 

http://stores.ebay.com/Wallace-Co

Daily Habits for Ebay Sellers

Hello Dear Lister - I hope to find you well, with the 4th quarter upon us I am really looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the online holiday sales! As you know, these blog posts are a mix of what I believe we should be talking about, thinking about, and what people are asking us about. Today's post is about productivity, keeping good Ebay habits, and how I keep listing even when it seems time isn't on my side. Do not be fooled, selling on Ebay isn't my full time job, or even my part time job, its a fantastic hobby that I am excited to do. My love of fashion, making a little money, as well as the bargain buy has kept me a long time member on this incredible platform. After some self reflection and taking a step back, I realized there are a couple of steps, things I've done differently recently that have as of late changed the course of my store from fun change to getting some solid income. In my FREE Facebook group, Fashion Sellers Selling on Ebay I always be sure to stay positive and give the best advice I can when it comes to this part of the fashion industry. You can click on the link HERE and join.

First Habit: Designating an hour daily for Ebay and Ebay alone. Now I you're saying to yourself "Oh yea I totally do that", but I'm sure you don't, because I hardly do. You have to make this a habit, and a good one at that. To help with this I have a wall calendar up in my room, and when I work an hour on Ebay - I put a big fantastic X on that date, and if I worked on it a little, I get a line, and if I didn't do anything, I leave the day blank. It helps put you in the groove of selling everyday because you see a few X's in a row and you want to keep it up. I try to designate time every evening, and when I head to the remote to watch my favorite sports team or dramatic reality TV I always ask myself if I can put that X on my calendar. When the answer is no, I head to my computer or tablet and get to work, even if its for 30 minutes, every little bit helps. Most of the time I’m editing listing titles, adding measurements, or creating new listings.

Second Habit: Always try to generate sales. Im blessed to have an eclectic closet with a variety of pieces that I no longer wear. I try to be smart and honest about editing my closet. If I haven't worn something in more than a year it goes on "probation", if it doesn't fit right, or I've bought it and haven't worn it in more than year, I list it, unless its special or I intend to wear it in the future at some point. I think to myself if I list and sell this, I could use the money and buy something that I would actually wear right now, or that is new and on trend. Its a solid incentive and my wardrobe is always evolving due to this mantra. I also put items for sale and discount pieces when I see little or no traction and I just want to unload them from my store. I try to be really objective when listing, and even more so when discounting. I also work on my social media accounts, liking things on my Instagram account, pinning on Pinterest, and engaging with other sellers in my Facebook group Fashion Sellers Selling on Ebay.

Third Habit: Being positive. I know this one sounds a little random, but its very true. I have had incredible months selling, and I have had dry spells like no other. It can be frustrating as a seller to not get people to buy your pieces or have a ton of watchers and the item isn't moving. There are times when I will sell an item and the buyer decides to return it for whatever reason and money I thought I was going to make- I wasn't going to make at all. Recognizing that there are always going to be those ups and downs is easy, making sure you stay positive and happy can be challenging, and I know this from personal experience. I do my best to smile and know that tomorrow is a new day, and you should too.

 

Utilizing Your Free Listings

 Each month Ebay grants every user 50 free listings if you do not have a seller store, with the seller only having to pay for the FVF (Final Value Fees) to Ebay when the item sold and the buyer has paid. It wasn't too long ago I had 50 free listings granted to me with a $5,000 seller limit. That meant I could only list 50 items whose total value wasn't over $5,000. Sometimes I would use all 50 listings, but other times I would list minimally and wouldn't hit the limit at all.  Most often my selling at the time was casual or I was posting something that I bought online or in a store and never got to wearing.

When I would get a 10,000 free listings promotion I would pretty much drop anything I was doing and take advantage of it since it would allow me to list any item without using my 50 given listings. It would give me a lot of extra leeway when listing or trying to be more active on Ebay. I really learned how to manipulate Ebay's free listings to the full extent by being critical of what I was posting. If I knew an item would likely not sell due to the season I would wait to list it for a free listing promotion, for example selling a heavy winter scarf in July is probably not going to happen, so when I would get the free listings I would relist my item at that time instead of wasting a needed free listing on something that would be more likely to sell. 

If you're really smart about listing on Ebay you can push your free listings to the limits and maximize your profits without having to pay insertion or listing fees. I strongly advocate a seller not pay to list their items, if you don't sell an item you lose money and that cuts into your profit. Before my store, I never paid for listings and I probably will do my best to not do so at any point. Final value fees are the only fees I am willing to pay to Ebay, and you should adopt this mentality as well if at all possible. If you have a swimsuit up for auction from the first week of November until the first week of May (when you sell) on a 7 day auction, and you've paid $0.30 per listing, you've paid $8.10 to Ebay thus cutting into your profit. Many sellers lower their starting price on auctions to entice buyers, but this can backfire. Take into consideration this swimsuit that is out of season, there are fewer watchers which means less bidders, and if your item does sell it will be for even less than usual. Not only you will make less profit on what you would have gotten for it in June, but you also lost that additional $8 to Ebay. If you are going to pay for an item, only pay for something that you are for sure going to sell, and your profit will definitely cover the cost of the extra fees.

If an item isn't selling, you shouldn't be paying. If you think your item SHOULD be selling and its not, take a critical step back and think to yourself what is wrong with the listing that is preventing you from generating a sale? Is it the listing title, the pictures, or possibly the description, or even the price? Be critical as each free listing is important and you want to utilize this free option.

Don't waste your free listings on items that aren't selling, and entice buyers by always looking at your listings to try to generate sales with changes. Think of that item you were watching in July and the description said "Perfect Christmas Present". The description looks dated, and the person doesn't seem to be hands on with their item. 

Each of these freebies can easily create more profit for you when you capitalize on them. Minimizing your cost by using these free listings is a great way to get started on your feedback, and started on selling on this incredible platform. If you can, always take advantage of this Ebay incentive.