John Stokoe runs Uncle Buckles, which sells clothing, home, garden and outdoor products on his eBay channel and website. As a high-volume seller John has wise words of advice on maintaining a good reputation, dealing with suppliers and staying on top of fine margins in the highly-competitive world of eBay.
Why did you start selling online?
After my Father died I sold my business to be closer to my elderly mother, I also had a teenage and baby daughter and my wife had a demanding job.I wanted to be at home but also needed to occupy my time and earn a living.
What have been your biggest challenges selling online, and how have you overcome them?
Competition, supply and delivery.
You can't always be the cheapest so building a good reputation helps to compete, I never take problem sales personally. Deal with them, make the customer happy and move on.
Supplies can be a nightmare. If I have a popular product I try to have more than one supplier and if I can't source from multiple suppliers then these are the items I stock in large quantities.
Delivery is a most dynamic aspect of online selling. I never underestimate the value of investing time to research the many delivery firms available and be creative with packaging to take maximum advantage of each one's different weight and shape costing bands.
Why do you use Zenstores?
I tried to use the Royal Mail gateway to migrate my ebay sales into their new 2d barcodes system but it proved to a be highly time consuming and not 100% accurate process.
Zenstores does it seamlessly for me. I am also branching into multiple selling platforms and Zenstores has the flexibility to allow me to grow.
On a basic level Zenstores allows me to print all the information I need such as invoice, postage label and return address all on one sheet and one pass through the printer. No paper jams, wasted ink and labels.
Most of all Zenstores saves me the most valuable thing of all, my time.
What are your top recommendations for people starting out selling online?
Know your margins. Include everything in your costs from goods purchased right down to merchant charges, paper and ink. If you don’t get your costs right you may not be making as much as you think and don’t forget, the HMRC was also want theirs at the end of the year.