Can you profit from a 25p item?

So, let’s talk about ‘Easy Food Store’. It’s a rather grim looking building from the outside, it’s orange (goes without saying) and was recently opened in London by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou – most famously known for Easy Jet – and his love of bright colours obviously!

The idea behind Easy Food Store is that it will be competition for Lidl and Aldi – both of which have become known as great value stores and for stocking some pretty good products to boot. But Sir Stelios decided he didn’t want to just take these stores on, he wanted to trounce them in every way possible. And so every product in his new Easy Food Store was, on opening day, priced at just 25p.

Noodle Snack Curry anyone? Perhaps some Poppadoms? Mini Shortbread? Maybe some Mixed Vegetables? Everything was priced at 25p. So what happened next?

Well, chaos ensued. The store was swamped with customers, some of whom queued for hours to get even one foot through the door, and the shelves were emptied within hours. By 4pm on day one the store was forced to close simply because there was nothing left!

In fact, the store was then forced to stay closed for a further day to give them time to order more stock from their suppliers and restock the shelves.

By Friday the store was open again with huge queues once again being reported as people waited desperately to get inside! My initial guess was that some of these customers were actually other retailers craftily picking up stock for their own shops at half the price they would usually source it for from their own suppliers and of course that is very enterprising and you can’t blame them for trying.

But it seems I was correct in my assumptions as most recently, Easy Food Store have been forced to add some ‘rules’ that their customers must abide by.

From next Monday, all customers will be limited to purchasing a maximum of 10 units of the same food. So for example, I could toddle along and buy 10 packs of jaffa cakes, 10 tins of soup and 10 jars of strawberry jam, but no more than that.

This probably won’t actually stop small shop keepers from doing just that, then sending a second person in to do exactly the same to gather the stock they need, however, there’s not much Easy Food Store can do except limit the number of units per person even further.

Anyway, the point is, that although there was carnage and although it all got a bit messy and the stock ran out and they only had two people on the till in the busiest store in the world, and the store had to close temporarily…the concept was a huge success. But this is hardly surprising.

If you’re going to sell products at ridiculously cheap prices and those products are in huge demand then of course you’re going to entice customers and make sales. It stands to reason. I don’t think there’s a person on this planet who doesn’t like to think they’ve got a bargain.


  • Could this ‘bargain basement’ concept be applied to your products?
  • The products you sell online?
  • And if so what advantage could it give you?

The idea of selling something is to make a profit on your products – we all agree on that one. Sometimes though, when you’re a start-up and you haven’t got an online reputation, reviews, feedback and so on it’s very difficult to gain momentum, particularly in a crowded market.

So this is when you could potentially use a similar strategy to Sir Stelios to generate interest, create a following and importantly make sales so that your products are ‘out there’.

And unfortunately, this is where the idea of profit goes out the window. Not for ever – just short term to allow you to gain some leverage and set your business off to a good start.

Let’s say you have a newly opened eBay shop and you currently have six products listed within that shop. Your title keywords are relevant for each product, your descriptions are spot on and your images are up to scratch. The problem is, you don’t have any sales history for any of these products – simply because you have only just started marketing them. This is normal – we all have to start somewhere.

The thing is, a history of sales helps you in a variety of ways. Firstly, the more sales you have the more popular your product is deemed to be (by eBay and their weird algorithms) and so the higher you appear in the best match search rankings.

Secondly the more sales you make the closer you become to Powerseller Status and Top Rated Seller status. Together – sales history and TRS – your visibility in search results dramatically improves. The better your visibility, the more sales you will make.

So, it’s fairly plain to see that ‘sales’ are what are required with some urgency for your business to take off. And this is where the Easy Food Store strategy can come in rather handy.

Remember I said that your profits will go out of the window short term? I’m pretty certain that Sir Stelios made very little, if any profit during those first few days of trading. But that wasn’t his aim. His aim was to get the Easy Food Store name out there, to get customers in, to make headlines in newspapers for publicity, so ensuring that he created something too good to miss. And he did exactly that.

His prices will be increasing in March – to 29p – that’s a rise of 4p per item, and eventually to around 50p per item according to the website. That’s a very slow, barely noticeable increase in price that won’t affect whether customers come back to the store. They will come back, because 4p makes no real difference to the customer, neither does 8p, nor 10p. Even if he put his prices up to 50p right now he would still get repeat and new custom simply because the name is out there, the seed of hype is sown and people will want to come, see and buy for themselves.

You can do this with your eBay or online store.

I’m not suggesting you reduce your prices to 25p, or even 50p. What I do suggest though is a strategy to kick start sales – helping you reach TRS status and to form a sales history, ensuring better visibility.

There’s two ways to go about this.

Let’s say, as before, that your eBay shop has six products listed, each currently priced at, for arguments sake, £9.99 on Buy It Now. Drop the price on three of those to a price that your potential customers will deem to be a bargain – so let’s say that’s £4.99 in this case. Now, I am not an advocate of ‘cheapest is best’ however there are a proportion of eBay buyers who will always go for the cheapest product – and this is where you will do well.

At ‘silly’ prices, sales will start to come and so a sales history will start to form and you will start to see your search ranking rise. Then slowly, gradually increase your prices, little by little. By doing this gradually you won’t lose your search ranking because your new, continual sales history will make up for it and in the meantime you’re also on the way to Powerseller Status and TRS. So, increase your price by £1.00 the first week, then add another 50p the second week, and so on until you are back to your original profitable price.

Yes, you’ll make a loss initially but in my opinion it’s well worth it for the end result. A sales history and better visibility at your original price.

The second way you can apply this eBay marketing strategy is to use auction listings.

So, take your remaining three products and list them at auction starting at 99p. The advantage here is that for anyone searching using ‘time ending soonest’ your listings will appear in front of them earlier than with a Buy It Now listing, and with your rock bottom pricing, who can resist a bid when there’s the chance they’ll win the item for 99p!

You should do this until you have a decent number of completed sold auctions for those products (around 10 to 15). Then relist but this time on a Buy It Now listing using the exact keywords you used in your auction listings, because eBay will recognize them as keywords used previously on popular sold products. Your new Buy It Now listings should now appear higher in the search results and generate more interest and sales.

If you want to take it a step further, use auctions and Buy It Now’s simultaneously and link from your auctions to your same product listed also at Buy It Now to achieve more traffic. I’ve uploaded a video to my You Tube channel that shows you how to use ‘hyperlinks’ to do this, which you can view here

Again, you will likely make a loss, but look at it as an investment in your future profits.

Eventually, Sir Stelios is likely to see a profit from what was built on a base of 25p items. You can do the same. There’s food for thought!