Is there a hint of a ‘chill’ in the air?

Like everyone, I do enjoy a good holiday in the sun, but it’s a few weeks yet until I’ll get to enjoy my own summer break. Even so, holiday season has already started. With just a few weeks to go until the long school holidays begin, there’s a noticeable hint of ‘wind-down’ in the air with many people preparing themselves for some chill out time!

Not for me though! The next few weeks are going to be very busy for me. I’m currently working on a brand new project for later this year, continuing to research and upload great content to The Source Report and working with my E-Seller Mastery students.

As I hinted last week, I’ve also got a great opportunity coming your way very soon which will ensure you are properly prepared to sell online in the coming months and beyond, so please look out for an email from me in the next few days…

So, back to the present and depending on what types of products you sell online, the summer months can see periods of peaks and troughs much more than other seasons, and this is simply to do with the fact that many people take off on their annual holiday, take days out because the children are off school, the weather is better (allegedly) and also right now we also have the World Cup taking place – something else that takes people away from their computers! So generally a normal routine can be disrupted as life becomes a bit of a juggling act.

Firstly, you should not worry if you do see your sales dipping at this time of year – they will come back – and you can use this time to research new products, add some seasonal products to your inventory or if you can’t beat them, join them…take a well earned holiday yourself. Everyone needs a break from routine occasionally! And this brings me on to a point that you may be wondering about. What should you do with your eBay and Amazon listings whilst you are away?

It’s fabulous jetting off on a two week break but if you don’t think about what to do with your product listings before you go, you could end up spending most of your time worrying about what’s happening back at home, or even stressing out trying to find an internet connection to send emails to buyers explaining why you haven’t posted their items yet and this will not result in a very relaxing holiday for you.

Part of the reason why an online seller’s lifestyle is so great is that it does grants you the freedom and flexibility to go on holiday or take a day off whenever you choose to. But to take full advantage of this you do need to be aware of the different options that are available to you regarding your listings when you are away. The last thing that you want is to receive a bunch of negative feedback because of orders not dispatched whilst you were lying in the sun or sightseeing.

So, to give you a helping hand if you are planning a getaway in the near future, and to ensure you are prepared I want to give you some information about the different options open to you to keep your online business ticking over. You’ll be pleased to know that you have a few options available to you.

Shut up shop completely

That sounds a little bit scary doesn’t it! Although, this first option is by far the safest one when it comes to avoiding any sales of items that you will be unable to dispatch whilst away. By ending all your ebay and Amazon listings you can be sure that no one will accidentally stumble across your items, as they simply won’t appear in any searches at all. If you also have an eBay shop you could also leave a message there to explain that you currently have no products available but will be re-stocking soon.

Now, although this option will most definitely prevent buyers making purchases, unfortunately it can also lose you business, as anyone searching for your products in the meantime will be unable to find them or buy them. You will also lose any sales history you’ve built up and what’s more, once you return you will have to re-list everything which is definitely not ideal if you have an inventory of hundreds of products.

This option is really only suitable for you if you have very few product lines.

Close your Buy It Now listings

eBay offers ‘holiday settings’ for your listings, only if you have an eBay shop, and one of these settings allows you to make your fixed price (BIN) listings invisible to potential buyers.

This setting does not affect any of your normal auction-style listings if you have them, so you will need to ensure that these auctions are set to end after the time that you are back from your holiday – for example you could list on a 10 day auction if you are going on holiday for 7 days. This way you will still have some stock listed and won’t have to shut up shop completely and by preventing possible buyers from seeing your fixed price listings you won’t suffer from any negative feedback from anyone wanting to make a purchase right away but then not receiving their goods. The advantage of this option is that you won’t need to recreate your Buy It Now listings when you return from your holiday, as they will simply be waiting there for you. All you need to do is turn off your holiday settings to make your listings visible again. You can access your holiday settings by going to ‘My eBay’, ‘Manage My Shop’, ‘Holiday Settings’.

You may also wish to consider that there is the chance that you won’t be able to reply to any questions regarding your auction-style listings while you are away (unless you have regular access to an internet connection or have a laptop with you and a dongle). While this is unlikely to cause you negative feedback, it could potentially frustrate buyers so if you are leaving auction listings running either make sure you state that you are away or plan ahead for access to an internet connection.

Amazon also offer a holiday settings option. Simply go to your seller account and click on the ‘Store Settings’ link under the ‘Settings’ heading. This will show you the status of your listings. Then you can edit the status. Click on the ‘Start Your Holiday’ button and this will remove all your open listings from sale within 36 hours. When you arrive back from your holiday, refreshed and ready to go just click the ‘End Your Holiday’ button and your listings will appear for sale again within 36 hours. Simple!

Display a holiday message

This is another option that can be found within the holiday settings of your eBay shop. You can add a holiday message on either your listings, within your shop, or both. This message will let visitors know when you will return so that they can still make a purchase, but will know not to expect to receive their products until the specified date. As your auctions can still gain publicity through searches this option does have certain advantages.

The settings for your holiday message can be found by clicking through from the ‘Holiday Settings’ link as before and scrolling down to ‘Shop Holiday Settings’. Here you can turn on or off your holiday message and create a personal message to display in your shop. If you decide to do this you can create some custom information for your clients for your shop front, however in your actual listings you will be restricted to eBay’s default message filled in with the date that you return.

I realise that this might sound like the best option so far to you. Prospective buyers can still see your listings and even make purchases knowing that they will receive the product upon your return. However, I must point out that not every buyer reads listing descriptions carefully. Bearing in mind that the message that eBay display is quite small and situated at the very top of the page it could be easily missed. To counteract this though, you can always add a larger message within the body of your item description just to reiterate that you are unable to post until a certain date.

Just a very quick note on security here. Since eBay have insisted on your address details being displayed on your listings I know that some people are concerned that if they state they are away and they work from home it makes their address vulnerable to opportunist burglars. This is a very valid worry, therefore I would suggest that you never actually state that you are away on holiday in your listings, but instead state something along the lines of:

Please note: Due to new products arriving and stock takes taking place, all orders placed between XXXX and XXXX will be dispatched promptly by 1st class post on XXXX. Thank you for your patience.

This way you are informing buyers that there will be a delay but you are not saying that you are away – much safer all round!

Leave your listings exactly as they are

The fourth and final option is simply to leave your listings running as they are.

This could be a reasonable solution if you are only away for a few days, but remember that your buyers may get frustrated if they pay for an item only to be forced to wait for two weeks before receiving it and with no prior contact or warning. The alternative is to keep posting whilst you are away! Now I know this is not an option really – especially if you are abroad, so what you could do is draft in the help of a friend or relative to post your orders for you. In other words leave your business in the hands of someone else that you can trust. This is a sensible option if you have someone who is willing to help you – and quite honestly, if you are reluctant to turn your eBay and PayPal passwords over to anyone else, if you have an internet connection whilst you are away, you can always log in a couple of times a week and then email the orders over to your helper who can then print the address labels off and dispatch them.

So which option should you choose?

I am aware that none of these options are absolutely perfect and I wish I could give you a definite answer as to which will be the best option for you, but as I’ve explained there are positives and negatives for each possible solution. You know your own online business better than anyone else, so have a think about the best possible solution for your own buyers taking into account the length of time you will be away and so on.

Personally I favour the holiday message in ‘holiday settings’ solution so that potential buyers understand that there will be a delay in dispatch.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you really shouldn’t be constantly worrying about your business when you should be having a nice relaxing holiday. I know this is easier said than done – and I am as guilty as anyone of thinking about work whilst I’m supposed to be chilling.

So, if shutting up shop completely will help to put your mind at ease then don’t be afraid to go for this option. If your listings are taken down for longer than seven days you may drop your place in the search results slightly when you relist – but you should be able to regain momentum within a few days, especially if you are listing well researched hot products.

If you are going on holiday shortly – enjoy!

As always I wish you the best of success,