How to avoid a disappointing Christmas 

Each day I always try and make time to have a quick browse of the news online just so I can escape my ‘sourcing and selling bubble’ and to catch up on what’s going on in the world!

So earlier this week I was browsing online and chanced across an interesting article in the Daily Express that was actually published last month and was basically a counterfeit goods warning for Christmas shoppers. The article stated that Greater Manchester police had recently seized 50 tons of fake goods and the huge haul was worth more than £2million.

Now that’s really bad news for the re-sellers who purchased these goods with the thought that they could make a packet from unsuspecting buyers – because they will now find that these goods will be destroyed and there will certainly be no compensation – that’s money down the drain. It’s good news for buyers though because last year one in five online shoppers mistakenly bought fake goods whilst looking for the best deal and so that’s £2million less of goods they won’t be scammed out of their hard earned cash for this year and fewer disappointed faces on Christmas morning!

And it’s not just on eBay and Amazon that counterfeit goods might be available. According to fraud advisors MarkMonitor, this year “…more than 8,000 illegal websites peddling copies of designer brands have already been identified by experts. Counterfeit toys, computer consoles and games, handbags, shoes and beauty products are a goldmine for the bootlegger gangs.

Most counterfeits fall into four categories: CDs and DVDs; accessories, watches and footwear; tobacco products; and textiles. So with only 19 shopping days to go, if you are starting to buy your Christmas presents online this year, bear in mind that you may not be purchasing exactly what you think!

If you would like to read the short Daily Express article it is here

Now I’ve talked about counterfeit goods before in my eletters and so you’ll know that it’s an absolute big no-no to attempt to sell these fake goods online – it’s illegal for a start and extremely dishonest and sooner or later you will always get caught so it’s just not worth it – unfortunately though it does go on, and typically on eBay and even Amazon –the problem being that sometimes the fakes are really hard to spot…

I was browsing eBay very recently and I happened to be looking at clothing. Several nice items caught my eye by a famous name designer – one which was in the official designer outlet on eBay plus a couple more being listed by other sellers including several sellers based in China. Now I have been buying and selling online long enough to know to avoid Chinese sellers listing designer goods at silly prices, so ignoring those, the item I actually liked the best was listed by a seller who had a feedback score of over 250 and a 99.7% feedback record.

The listing description was good, the item looked nice close up, the seller was selling it due to weight loss – so there were no alarm bells ringing, it all looked absolutely fine to me. I added the item to my ‘Watch List’ and I sat back to bide my time until I could put in a last minute bid as the auction was ending.

Over the next few days I revisited the listing several times and couldn’t quite decide whether I really did want to bid or not. So I decided to take a quick look at other items the seller had sold and check the feedback. A score of 99.7% is absolutely fine, but where had the other 0.3% gone and for what reason? So I clicked on the feedback options and saw a negative feedback there.

One negative feedback is not the end of the world. Everyone is capable of making a mistake or dealing with an unreasonable customer so I was not unduly worried by the red dot. I was worried about the comment though. ‘FAKE’ it screamed. Not once, not twice, but three times! Fake, fake, fake! Oh dear.

And from there it didn’t take me long to notice that the seller had actually sold over 20 of this same item over the past few days – all on auction listings. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, however looking closer I saw that the same reason for the sale had been used on each occasion – weight loss – nothing extraordinary about that either in normal circumstances…. but the hilarious thing about it and the thing that had me shaking my head in disbelief was that each of those 20 plus items was a different size – ranging from a size 8 to a 16. Now either this seller had got a serious yo-yo dieting problem or there was something odd going on!

I plumped for the latter explanation and didn’t bid! Having investigated further it appeared that this seller had bought a job lot of the item (most likely from a Chinese supplier) and was passing them off as the real thing. So you see, even seasoned online buyer/sellers like myself can almost get taken in!

It’s not all bad news though! Everything you’ve just read above is easily avoided if on the buying side you always check the seller’s feedback thoroughly and on the selling side if you follow my strategy of selling unbranded goods online rather than trying to get into designer markets.

The key is to sell ‘similar but better’

There are far more advantages to selling unbranded products (which I will explain in just a moment) than there are if you go down the ‘branded’ route. Of course if you really want to sell ‘branded or designer’ then please do feel free, but make sure you’ve sourced the real thing. I always concentrate on un-branded products – particularly for eBay selling – and my home study courses, along with The Source Report  deal mainly with un-branded products with a little bit of branded thrown in!

If you really want to make a proper income online then you need to find some hot products that you can source easily and at the best price and list correctly that will then give you an income almost on auto-pilot with no hassle and this is where selling un-branded products comes in to it’s own. ‘Unbranded’ products are generic items that you can source and sell that come with no brand name or at the most just a number, so your un-branded product might have packaging that says: Digital Photo Frame HS-2087 – just what it is and then a kind of product reference number.

So, what’s so great about that? Well, to start with, all manner of un-branded products can be sourced from almost anywhere in the world at extremely competitive prices. I’m talking about electronics items, car accessories, baby products, pet supplies and fitness accessories to name just a few. Anything goes and you should be considering China and the USA particularly as suppliers of these items. Unlike when you are sourcing branded or designer goods from China, you will find that you will get excellent prices, usually quality products and obviously you have not got the worry about the prospect of receiving counterfeit goods.

The great thing about un-branded products is that buyers cannot easily compare like for like and this is a huge advantage for you as it means you remain competitive at all times with whatever product you are selling. Contrary to popular belief, not all online buyers, again particularly eBay buyers, are looking for designer or branded bargains. Yes, of course many people do visit eBay to specifically search for that must have SuperDry jacket or the latest Apple iPod or whatever, but many more just want to find the item they want at a good price and that’s where un-branded products do well.

You will also discover that there are no listing restrictions on un-branded products – apart from the usual new seller listing limits if you are a newbie (but you can contact ebay to get your limits raised). You can usually list as many un-branded items as you like in as many different niches as you like, another immediate advantage for you.

So just to summarise; if you choose the unbranded products route:

  • You will have a wider product choice
  • You will find better wholesale pricing
  • You will encounter a larger number of suppliers
  • You will have less competition online
  • You will not encounter any selling restrictions (apart from new seller limits)
  • You will not have to deal with VERO restrictions
  • You will always know that you have the genuine article

Like I have said, I have absolutely nothing against selling branded or designer goods on eBay and if you choose to do so that is your decision, but un-branded is my main chosen route and it continues to consistently bring in the profits and so that is why I believe that it is a sure-fire way to success.