What’s All this Renewed Talk About Optimizing for Mobile?

What’s All this Renewed Talk About Optimizing for Mobile?

You might have noticed some talk around the water cooler about adding a viewport meta tag that has to be added to your eBay listings. And you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about. You've been listing for mobile optimization as recommended. Everything is size 14 font, left aligned with bullet points. No images are embedded in the description and all of your Policies are taken out. So what's new?

The viewport meta tag assures that your listings are optimized for any device they are viewed on from the desktop all the way down to the smart phone with a simple line of code that communicates to the browser how to render the listing. The object is to be sure that every listing can be easily read without horizontal scrolling, one hand only for vertical scrolling that we are all used to at this point.

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If you want to check to see if your listings are mobile friendly, even if you think they are just click here for eBay's mobile friendly test.  Mesha Travesser, owner of Classy Soles did a great video to show you exactly how to add the code to your listings. I am thrilled to be able to post this with her permission for your benefit. And after you're done updating your listings, or before even, take a peak at some of the great items she has listed. You can check them on your smart phone or your tablet, or even your laptop and they are sure to render just right for your browsing pleasure.

You'll want to keep this code handy <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no"> Going forward you will want to include this code in all of your listings. It is best, according to eBay to have it right before your description, but will also work at the end. For me I just saved a listing as a template in eBay with the code inserted at the beginning. No need to remember if you always use the template, I actually made several, one for each category. 

It might sound intimidating but it's really not and will certainly benefit you in terms of search results.

Feel free to leave a comment or if you have questions you can message me through the contact link or look me up on Facebook.

Are Your eBay Listings Optimized?

Are Your eBay Listings Optimized?

Change...It's certain and necessary. What was is no longer. It is simply the way of the ecommerce world. Instead of lagging behind, get a head start and be ready for the fourth quarter. This simple infographic is a simple view of what the new best practices are as outlined at the workshop eBay Open in July. The entire event is now available On Demand, so you can watch them all at your convenience. Not sure how to navigate through the Virtual Scene? Watch this quick video to find your way around. Navigating eBay Open On Demand.

These are recommended and are not mandatory but while your deciding whether to make the change or not, think about what your goal is. Are you happy to sit on your item for months or years or do you want to get it sold right away? Are you interested in mobile shoppers who now make up a large portion of sales on not just eBay but every ecommerce site? Do you want the best fourth quarter ever? My thought has always been that eBay is in a much better position to do the research than I am, they have the resources, employees, and know how...I don't. So why not take advantage of their work that is being done for the sellers (you and me) and optimize our listings for better search results which translates into more traffic which translates into more sales? It really is a no-brainer in my opinion. If you have the best listing possible your potential to sell more rises, but ultimately that choice is yours.

eBay Listing Best Practices

HTML What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

HTML What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

With some of the new changes on the eBay selling platform, there are many questions about html. It is typically not something that is needed when selling on eBay, but is always helpful to know at least the basics. These slides are just that, basic. What is it? What does it do? HTML is language that defines the text on a web page. This is done with tags. Generally there are start and end tags. Different attributes can be defined with html. Attributes such as a url in a link or inserting an image in a listing with attributes for alternate text, size, and of course the actual url of the image. If you want to know just the basics and get a little better understanding of what Html is and how it works, take a look at the slides below.

Customer Service is Key!

Customer Service is Key!

 

Customers Deserve the Best!

I've noticed a lot of discussion about customer service lately and more specifically, returns. It's a fact, returns are part of running a retail business and as such should be figured into your pricing. This is the easiest and most painless way to cover this cost. I don't know about you, but I almost never will buy from a seller who does not offer a return service. That being said, I have never returned an item that I have purchased on eBay in over 12 years. When the seller has a return policy in place, it eases my mind that they are a professional seller who takes their business seriously. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but nonetheless it is reassurance as a buyer.

Why Don't You Offer a Return Policy?

I've heard all the reasons that for what I'm sure are personal reasons that a seller won't take returns. These range from "I want to get rid of this, I don't want it back" to "I'm not Wal-Mart, Macy's, Target, etc. I'm just an eBay seller". Just an eBay seller is certainly no small thing. It means that you own a business that is yours. It may be small and that is okay too, but no matter what the size, it is a business and should be operated as such, returns are a part of that, a normal part. Another common reason is "I put all the measurements, flaws, great pictures, and a great description. It's not my fault they (the buyer) can't read them." While you may be great at describing your items including the measurements and pictures, that is not a guarantee that the item will work for the buyer. If it's clothing, I honestly don't think most people know what their measurements are. And though they know their size, every brand is different. In fact it's not uncommon for the same brand, style, and size to have discrepancy in measurements. As a buyer you are unable to feel the fabric, tell what the fit is, and in general how it's going to look on you. I use clothing as that category typically has a higher return rate. Electronics is another category that has a higher return rate for various reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as the buyer doesn't know how to operate something. A lot of times a message or even a phone call if the circumstance indicates that is the best way to handle it can resolve the issue and prevent the return.

But even if it doesn't, taking a return shouldn't be painful. The reality is most returns will be initiated within the first week that the buyer receives the item. Starting in fall of 2015 eBay has made it simple to set up your return policy and take care of all of your return requests directly on eBay, including providing a return label to the buyer. The process is simple for both the seller and the buyer. eBay follows the policy that you have set up. If you want the buyer to pay for returns, you state that in your return instructions. Keep in mind that if an item is damaged or significantly not as described, then you, the seller are responsible for return shipping. You can read the full policy here http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/returns-on-ebay/index.html#faq=faq-7 . This page has all the necessary information and walks you through setting up your policy and the entire flow of the process from start to finish.

When you accept returns, your buyers have a lot more trust in you! More trust translates to more sales. It hasn't been my experience that it leads to more returns, in fact quite the opposite. My belief is that you actually protect yourself by setting your own return policy versus the buyer having to jump through hoops and ultimately opening a case. Which would you rather have, a return that you will list again and sell again or a case opened? It seems pretty straightforward to me.

Customer Service

But now starting on May 1, 2016 I have to offer a 30-day return policy if I want to maintain my TRS status.

This is a true statement and one that you should have no concern over. Personally I've offered 30-day returns for a couple of years now and the reality is that my return rate dropped when I increased the time from 14 days to 30 days. In fact my returns dropped from an average of two a year to about 1.4 per year. And I sell a variety of items that include clothing and collectibles. With collectibles I think it is fair to day that buyers know what they are looking for and I can't actually remember any collectibles that I have ever had returned. Within this year I will be changing my return policy to 60 days on everything except my consignment items. Why not? If the rate went down when I went from 14 to 30 days, it might just drop lower going to 60 days. For sure it will give my buyers a reason to shop with me and feel comfortable.

Think about how you want to handle this going forward. If you don't offer returns seriously consider setting up a return policy. Give your customers the security of knowing that they can return an item if they need to, they don't have to "fight" or go through any hassles in order to do so. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you see a difference in your sales. If you offer a 14-day return and are concerned about changing to 30 days, get out your calculator and find out exactly what your percentage of returns has been, my guess is it is less than 2% (which is somewhat of a normal percentage). Figure out how to cover your returns by spreading them over all of your listings, and take the plunge to a longer return time. See if your return rate doesn't actually decrease while sales could even increase.

Make your customers feel good about shopping with you! Treat them exactly as you would expect to be treated by any online retailer. Hassle-free is definitely the best way to be. Offer customer service and see how your customers show their loyalty by returning to you on a regular basis. 

You’ve Got a Blog and You’re Wondering What’s Next!

You’ve Got a Blog and You’re Wondering What’s Next!

You Installed your WordPress blog and that was pretty easy, right?

Before you go too much farther, there is some back office work to take care of. You want to make sure that your site is safe...Safe from hackers and safe from spammers.

If this is your first blog it's a pretty good bet that you haven't installed plug-ins.

Necessary plug-ins for your WordPress BlogWhat's a Plug-In?

Plug-ins are a piece of software that contains functions to your blog. They most often add features to your blog and extend the functionality of your blog. They are what makes the blog function the way you expect it to! There are thousands of WordPress plug-ins that are free. There are thousands that are premium which you pay for. These generally include support for any issues that you may have.

I am by no means going to cover the multitude of plug-ins available, but I am going to outline what I feel to be the important ones that every blog should have. There are many different plug-ins that do the same exact thing. Everyone claims they are the best or better or upgraded. My list contains those plug-ins that I personally use and those that I include in the set up of every single blog I install for clients. You are always free to choose your own based on your preference, as long as they have the same functionality.

These are the Plug-Ins I consider the nuts and bolts of a WordPress Blog  Stop Spam on your WordPress Blog

  • Akismet - This is a free plug-in that does require you sign up for an account (also free). This is always the very first plug-in I install. Why? Its function is to block spam. There are many other spam blocking plug-ins and quite honestly this is not the only one I use. It definitely catches a considerable amount of the spam contents that are posted (usually from bots).
  • Clean Talk Anti-Spam -  This is a paid plug-in and well worth the $8.00 a year that it costs. If you have more than one site, the rates go down (per site, per year). This is by and far one of the best plug-ins that I have ever used.  It blocks all the spam that other plug-ins miss! It eliminates the need for CAPTCHA plug-ins for any form on your blog, log-in, comment, contact, etc. Easy to install and set up, works continuously and catches everything that shouldn't be there including the function of censorship of abusive comments. Messages containing not normative lexicon, cursing and calling for ethnic hatred are automatically sent to manual moderation.

Now I don't use both of these at the same time. I personally think that would be overkill and I'm not sure that these two plug-ins would play nice together. I do use one of these on each and every wordpress installation. I started off alternating to see which was worked the best and was the most effective. Bullet Proof Security "looks" very intimidating to set up, but it isn't 🙂 I'm sure there is a difference, what that is I am not able to determine. Both work extremely well and thus far are compatible with other plug-ins that I use. The most important thing here is to be sure and install security on your site. In fact I recommend that be one of the first plug-ins you install.

  • Word Fence - This plug-in offers virus protection & a firewall for your blog. The free version is amazing so I can only imagine how the paid version must be. You set the rule - easy to follow instructions along the way. Direct from the Word Fence Site "The Wordfence WordPress security plugin continuously prevents, patrols and protects your WordPress websites against today’s ultra-advanced cyber attacks, hacks and online security threats."
  • Bullet Proof Security - Free or Premium. Free is great and super powerful! WordPress Website Security Protection: Firewall Security, Login Security, Database Security... Effective, Reliable, Easy to use...

 

  • All In One SEO - The free version is fine especially at the beginning. Taking a few extra minutes once this plug-in is installed and activated definitely helps get your posts seen by the Search Engines maybe a bit sooner. It automatically optimizes your blog for search engines.
  • Fast Secure Contact Form - Again free and a multitude of choices to choose from. You definitely want a way for your readers to contact you. You can put in an email link, but then every spammer who visits your site is able to add you to their list. Contact forms are very easy to set up with easy to follow instructions. You just paste a code on your Contact Me page and you're good to go.
  • UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore - This again has a free and a paid version. I recently started using the free version after using the WordPress Backup plug-in for years. I have it linked with cloud storage (you can link to Dropbox) and it saves the backups automatically. This is probably as necessary as the security software. If something happens to your blog, you are able to restore it with the backup. Without the backup, you have to start at the beginning and all the hard work you have done will be lost. Whether you choose this particular plug-in or another backup plug-in, it is important that you have a backup, you just never know when you will need it. Hopefully you will never need it. But as the saying goes, it's better to have and not need than to need and not have! In this case, months or even years or decades of work could be lost without a backup.   Backup Your WordPress Blog

Above are the plug-ins that I feel are necessary before you actually launch your blog and will save you tons of time and headaches later on. Feel free to check around and choose the plug-in that will fill your needs. The functionality is what is the most important thing with all of the above.

Later on I'll cover some of the other plug-ins that I wouldn't launch without, but those don't have anything to do with safety per say, but are important just the same. I've been installing and managing WordPress sites for a number of years and can say from experience that the plug-ins listed above (or the majority of them at least) are a necessity. Having you blog hacked and taken over is a headache you don't want to deal with. Having to manually delete spam after spam after spam is a pure waste of your time.

If you need any help or you just want someone to install a WordPress blog and get you set up to post or if you just need your blog updated with some of the necessary plug-ins, themes, etc., be sure and visit me at KathyKeefe.com or use the contact form to give me a shout!.

The Postage Increase 2016 Part 4

The Postage Increase 2016 Part 4

USPS Increases for International Shipping Rates

Not only have rates gone up for Domestic shipments but a significant hike is seen for International Rates as well. These might be the largest hike this update.

Re-Think Using GSP for International Shipments

If you are using the Global Shipping Program (GSP) through eBay for international sales, congratulations! This is a wise choice and provides built in safety for international sales. If you're not using it, it's definitely time to reconsider it. With GSP you are responsible for getting the package to the domestic hub in Kentucky. From there, eBay/Pitney Bowes takes over. You only bill for the domestic leg of the shipment, eBay does the rest. There is no need to worry about an item getting lost or tied up in customs, eBay takes that worry for you. If an item is damaged in shipment, eBay takes that worry for you. No need for you to buy international insurance, eBay has you covered.

The GSP is perfect for items that are over 4 pounds (this is the cut off for first class international shipping), items that are fragile, and definitely for items that are expensive.

Below are the price charts for International First Class Shipping and for Canada Priority. For the entire rate chart for International Priority you can download it from the USPS site here. On the bottom of the sheet there are tabs. You want to look at PMI Commercial Plus and PMI Commercial Base. (Sadly these appear to be the same price for both)

First Class Package International Service (Commercial Base Non-TRS)

Price Groups

Weight Not Over (Ounces) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
2 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
3 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
4 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
5 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
6 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
7 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
8 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
12 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
16 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
20 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
24 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
28 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
32 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
36 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
40 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
44 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
48 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
52 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03
56 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03
60 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03
64 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03

 

First Class Package International Service(Commercial Plus - TRS)

 

Price Groups

Weight Not Over (Ounces) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
2 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
3 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
4 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
5 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
6 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
7 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
8 9.03 11.16 13.06 12.59 12.83 12.59 12.59 12.35 12.83
12 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
16 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
20 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
24 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
28 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
32 14.73 19.71 21.61 21.14 21.38 21.14 21.14 20.90 21.38
36 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
40 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
44 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
48 23.28 30.16 32.06 33.49 32.78 31.59 31.59 29.45 31.83
52 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03
56 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03
60 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03
64 34.68 43.46 48.21 54.39 47.03 50.59 54.39 48.45 47.03

 

International Priority Shipping Rates

Canada - Priority Flat Rate

Flat Rate Non-TRS (Commercial Base) TRS (Commercial Plus)
Flat Rate Envelopes 22.75 22.75
Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes 23.70 23.70
Medium Flat Rate Boxes 43.65 43.65
Large Flat Rate Boxes 56.95 56.95

This is not an error - There is only one price (online) for the Flat Rate Canada Rates.

Priority International Flat Rates

Price Groups
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Flat Rate Envelopes 28.45 29.40 31.30 30.35 32.25 30.35 31.30
Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes 29.40 30.35 32.25 31.30 33.20 31.30 32.25
Medium Flat Rate Boxes 63.60 64.55 63.20 66.45 72.15 65.50 68.35
Large Flat Rate Boxes 82.60 84.50 82.60 86.40 91.15 85.45 89.25

 

Priority Rates (Canada)
Discounted eBay Label Price

 

Weight Not Over (Lbs) 1.1 & 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8
1 30.16 31.11 33.25 34.20 35.63 36.10 36.58
2 32.59 33.63 35.86 37.00 38.43 38.90 39.47
3 35.01 36.15 38.48 39.81 41.23 41.71 42.37
4 37.43 38.67 41.09 42.61 44.03 44.51 45.27
5 39.85 41.18 43.70 45.41 46.84 47.31 48.17
6 42.28 43.70 46.41 48.21 49.64 50.21 51.06
7 44.70 46.22 49.12 51.02 52.44 53.11 53.96
8 47.12 48.74 51.82 53.82 55.24 56.00 56.86
9 49.54 51.25 54.53 56.62 58.05 58.90 59.76
10 51.97 53.77 57.24 59.42 60.85 61.80 62.65
11 54.29 56.29 59.76 62.23 63.65 64.70 65.55
12 56.62 58.81 62.27 65.03 66.45 67.59 68.73
13 58.95 61.32 64.79 67.83 69.26 70.49 71.92
14 61.28 63.84 67.31 70.63 72.06 73.39 75.10
15 63.60 66.36 69.83 73.44 74.86 76.29 78.28
16 65.93 68.88 72.34 76.24 77.66 79.18 81.46
17 68.26 71.39 74.86 79.04 80.47 82.08 84.64
18 70.59 73.91 77.38 81.84 83.27 84.98 87.83
19 72.91 76.43 79.90 84.65 86.07 87.88 91.01
20 75.24 78.95 82.41 87.45 88.87 90.77 94.19
21 77.57 81.46 84.93 90.25 91.68 93.67 97.37
22 79.90 83.98 87.45 93.05 94.48 96.57 100.56
23 82.22 86.50 89.97 95.86 97.28 99.47 103.74
24 84.27 89.02 92.48 98.66 100.08 102.36 106.92
25 86.31 91.53 95.00 101.46 102.89 105.26 110.11
26 88.35 94.05 97.52 104.17 105.69 108.35 113.29
27 90.39 96.57 100.04 106.88 108.49 111.44 116.47
28 92.44 99.09 102.55 109.58 111.29 114.52 119.65
29 94.48 101.60 105.07 112.29 114.10 117.61 122.84
30 96.52 104.12 107.59 115.00 116.90 120.70 126.02
31 98.56 106.64 110.11 117.71 119.70 123.79 129.20
32 100.61 109.16 112.62 120.41 122.50 126.87 132.38
33 102.65 111.67 115.14 123.12 125.31 129.96 135.57
34 104.69 114.19 117.66 125.83 128.11 133.05 138.75
35 106.73 116.71 120.18 128.54 130.91 136.14 141.93
36 108.78 119.23 122.69 131.24 133.71 139.22 145.11
37 110.82 121.74 125.21 133.95 136.52 142.31 148.30
38 112.86 124.26 127.73 136.66 139.32 145.40 151.48
39 114.90 126.78 130.25 139.37 142.12 148.49 154.66
40 116.95 129.30 132.76 142.07 144.92 151.57 157.84
41 118.99 131.81 135.28 144.78 147.73 154.66 161.03
42 121.03 134.33 137.80 147.49 150.53 157.75 164.21
43 123.07 136.85 140.32 150.20 153.33 160.84 167.39
44 125.12 139.37 142.83 152.90 156.13 163.92 170.57
45 127.16 141.88 145.35 155.61 158.94 167.01 173.76
46 129.20 144.40 147.87 158.32 161.74 170.10 176.94
47 131.24 146.92 150.39 161.03 164.54 173.19 180.12
48 133.29 149.44 152.90 163.73 167.34 176.27 183.30
49 135.33 151.95 155.42 166.44 170.15 179.36 186.49
50 137.37 154.47 157.94 169.15 172.95 182.45 189.67
51 139.41 156.99 160.46 171.67 175.75 185.54 192.85
52 141.46 159.51 162.97 174.18 178.55 188.62 196.03
53 143.50 162.02 165.49 176.70 181.36 191.71 199.22
54 145.54 164.54 168.01 179.22 184.16 194.80 202.40
55 147.58 167.06 170.53 181.74 186.96 197.89 205.58
56 149.63 169.58 173.04 184.25 189.76 200.97 208.76
57 151.67 172.09 175.56 186.77 192.57 204.06 211.95
58 153.71 174.61 178.08 189.29 195.37 207.15 215.13
59 155.75 177.13 180.60 191.81 198.17 210.24 218.31
60 157.80 179.65 183.11 194.32 200.97 213.32 221.49
61 159.84 182.16 185.63 196.84 203.78 216.41 224.68
62 161.88 184.68 188.15 199.36 206.58 219.50 227.86
63 163.92 187.20 190.67 201.88 209.38 222.59 231.04
64 165.97 189.72 193.18 204.39 212.18 225.67 234.22
65 168.01 192.23 195.70 206.91 214.99 228.76 237.41
66 170.05 194.75 198.22 209.43 217.79 231.85 240.59
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