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Friday, May 20, 2016

The Plan Comes Together....

Last week I tried to use the Listing Migration Tool that E-bay spent the last two months developing to help convert my non-compliant US dollar listings to CDN$. For those of you new to my blog, E-bay Canada had announced in March that it would be ending support for US dollar denominated listings by the end of August 2016. This means that any good-till-cancelled listings will not renew after that date and they will simply be lost forever. In my case, I have some 4,000 such listings that took 8 months to write and produce, so like a lot of sellers, this move by E-bay has me pretty pissed off. However, they have tried to soften the blow by developing a bulk editing tool that would allow us to edit our listings in bulk, to supposedly save us time.

Well, I went to use it last week and low and behold, the tool does not work and is a complete piece of garbage:

  • It only found 1,200 listings, even though I know for a fact that I have over 4,000.
  • It included many sold items in the list, so that if I used it blindly, I would wind up re-listing things that I actually don't have in stock anymore. 
  • It does not allow you to actually edit your existing listings, but instead requires you to prepare a duplicate listing in draft format, which you then publish. The problem of course is these new listings have a new number, so you have to go back and re-number all your inventory and you have no easy way to control the process of finding and deleting the old duplicate listings. 
  • After telling me that it had prepared drafts of the 1,200 listings it found, I could only see 250 drafts in my drafts folder. There is no way to re-set this tool once you have used it. 
So from where I sit right now, it looks as though I stand to lose over 3,700 listings unless they fix the many issues with the tool. Personally, I don't think that is going to happen. I have to admit that my confidence in E-bay's team is pretty low if the above is the best they could come up with. Hoping to gain some insights, I attended a one hour webinar on Tuesday this week, but much to my and everyone else's dismay, the presenters pretty well ignored any question about the limitations or bugs that we were encountering with the tool, so it was a complete an utter waste of time. 

So I am beginning to realize that our best strategy going forward is to rely on e-bay as little as possible. This is going to mean getting the store that I have set up on Auctiva to work properly, get the old e-bay listings into that store, rather than wasting time trying to make them compliant on e-bay and then only listing items on e-bay that I can also list in the store at the same time, in other words, items that I have in quantity. Developing a really effective Google Adwords strategy is going to be critical. 

With that in mind, I spent 2 hours yesterday watching all of Google's Adwords tutorials and I can see very clearly that setting this up properly is going to take a lot of thought and work if we are going to avoid wasting money on ineffective ads. The good news is that stamps are very specialized and specific so that my keywords are not going to be difficult to pick out. But there will be a lot of them, and it looks like you really do have to have a separate ad for each keyword if you don't want Google to clobber you with a low relevance score. Having a relevant landing page for each keyword will be tricky and not possible in some cases. Coming up with a good list of negative keywords will be tricky. The good news is that it looks very much like we could do very well if we re-direct the money we are paying E-bay now towards an effective Adwords campaign that runs on both the search and display networks. I have to say that the new store is starting to look very nice indeed - much nicer than our e-bay store. So if we can get the bugs worked out regarding shipping and the shopping cart, then I think we're in business. 

I'm nearly finished organizing the pre 1951 Canada, with a small number of issues from 1930-1934 to go. Then I am ready to start listing en-masse. I don't mind doing this on E-bay through Auctiva, since I have a copy of everything on Auctiva and can migrate the listings to my store easily if something blows up at E-bay. 

Bonanza appears to be a bust, which is too bad because I really like their site. However, without a single sale in 3 months, it is hard to justify paying them any more money. I think we will keep the store as a testing ground to see how effective Adwords is and then after that I'll probably close it down, or at least downgrade to free service. 

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