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eBay store franchise

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Saturday 29 January 2005 2.34pm
This hasn't come to the UK yet but by all accounts is taking off in the US. Instead of selling stuff yourself on ebay, you take it to a drop-off point and they do the work and send you the check. Mind you, when you look at their charges -- 35% of the sale price for items under $500, I think you might be better off at a car boot sale. There seems to be more 'cons' than pros.

I suppose you could start a similar scheme from home and charge your friends and neighbours 20% of the sale price for stuff they drop off to you and you do all the work on ebay. There are people who make a living selling on eBay .
Sunday 30 January 2005 10.10am
Actually (inevitably) these eBay support services are up and running although still quite embryonic. Trading Assistants and Sellers Assistants do just what you describe, doing all the ebay stuff and taking a cut of the proceeds, but as you say there is a more commercial version developing. It is established in the US but getting going in the UK with a few dozen across the country - see below for a list of those in London already.

In the USA has a few branches in Tennessee, has hundreds of franchisees already across California and others and claims 3,700 locations across the USA.

This article in Springwise (a newsletter spotting new business ideas and trands) shows how this is spreading to Europe:

There are some existing UK services, all promising huge expansion, but just a very few branches so far. It seems like a good idea, but for the money required to open and fit out a smart high street location (small industrial estate unit might actually be better, although a shop front is tempting too - as long as there parking, storage etc for larger items - it'd be nice to be making use of my 600+ feedback 100% rating but it calls for quite smart premises to reassure the walk-in customers I would think. Still I'm sure there is a market for it, given the seemingly unstoppable growth of eBay, especially in a part of London with not many car boot sales or junk shops to walk to! The attraction to the customer is that they see who is dealing with their goods, and the sense of certainty of payment and delivery is enhanced (although I've managed to avoid any problems so far, amazingly).

Combined with some added value services for those quiet days (Webdesign, training, PC repairs, ancilary sales) and you might just have a simple model for a semi-techie business there. And then there's the advertising and marketing budget - remember it'd be aiming at the people without the time, technology or knowledge to do this themselves, which may mean mostly non-internet marketing... still a nice little business opportunity - perhaps even a community co-operative. I suppose you could also sel related items - digital cameras, postal materials (and services) - the sky's the limit. Damn, now I'm thinking about it again... The US web sites have so much information it's almost like they've written a business plan for you... looks the best developed so far in London with locations in Olympia, Notting Hill, Kew and Richmond has locations in Earl's Court and Finchley Road (their web site was down for maintenance when I went to have a look this morning though) is up and running in Dalston seems to be a bit pre-launch, promising hundreds of drop-off points, but no actual addresses or maps. It explains the idea though, and would sem to be home-based rather than high-street-shop-based

So the idea is out there, but still wide open for someone with the time and resources to corner the SE1 market!

The main downside from the customer is a minimum charge and high-ish commission (no point getting 30% of a 1.99 sale), so only items over 30-50.00 are worth selling this way, so as usual it's better to do it yourself. But if you are time-poor, or just don't know, then this is the 21st Century version of second hand shops selling on commission.

Oh well, back to the day job (which includes delivering occasional half-day courses on Internet Auctions if anyone cares...) Just Google for 'auction management ebay London'...
[James - delete that last paragraph if it offends anyone's commercial sensitivities]

Sunday 30 January 2005 1.24pm
Cheers Mark, some useful info and observations there. I'm dying to get out of the daily monotonous
grind and always on the lookout for a fun 'be your own boss' way of earning a living.
I was going to go for a MailBox franchise a few years ago, but I always seem to see more
downsides than ups. MailBoxes were a good idea in areas with a high turnover such as
Earls Court ( where there is one ) but with the internet and mobile phones their revenue has taken
a nosedive.
Franchises also have a habit of promising they won't give out too many close together, but just
look at Costcutter as an example. How many are there in SE1 on top of each other.
My brother in NY is always dabbling in similiar ideas such as RFID tagging. Soon every item on
the market will be tagged and traceable as soon as the tags and scanners are as cheap and
versatile as barcoding. Even domestic fridges will have a scanner installed during manufacture
so you can view the contenets of your fridge/freezer on your computer and very likely tesco will be
able to view the contents of your fridge also.
The Dragons Den on BBC is an good programme for inspiration.
My idea of helium filled bubblewrap for reducing the weight of parcel postage never got anywhere.
Sunday 30 January 2005 6.03pm
Hi Phoney,

I like the helium filled packaging idea!

Franchises are fine if you're the one owning and selling them - just see how the Dragon's Den mob spring to attention when someone mentions possible franchising, and thet get furious when there isn't a viable pilot to prove the concept. Amazing how many go in to this without any sort of business plan or financial projection. Fun to watch in a nasty christians-thrown-to-the-lions sort of way... But of the Franchisor doesn't market brilliantly, you're just paying a percetnage of turnover to save the efort of working out your own logo and operating pattern. They still charge you for the van, the equipment, the supplies usually, even if they can source things better.

With this concept there is no need (even no point) to be franchisee though - and there's not much evidence that the few existing UK operators I mentioned are spending enough to achieve brand awareness.

Anyway it's *eBay's* brand you'd be riding on, anything else is almost superfluous I think. That's the brand that the customers are trying to use.

I did actually think this through a few months ago, but my combination of mortgage, current job and lack of capital to invest kept me safely on this side of the leap in to the unknown! I used to run a courier parcels firm (up North) and still regret not spending the 2-3k I should have to be a TNT franchise, kicking me up from small-town delivery service to virtual front desk for the biggest in the market. eBay is exactly that now, and totally unchallengeable, so if you could get past the set-up costs and the first couple of months I do think there is a real chance for a few operators there.

In today's Sunday Times business news, eBay announced 10 million UK users, doubled just in the last year!

Lots of revenue extras too:
- sale of packaging to 'normal' ebay people
- commission or even direct delivery charges
- your own ebay sales, to keep a constant flow of things happening
- interesting the local businesses as a trade surplus outlet
- if you're capable then PC and camera support, fixing, training etc
- spinning out your own franchise operation if you get the branding right

The main downside is protecting the feedback against dodgy goods, so you need some strict rules and clear policies, avoiding anything you feel risky (vehicles for example, too much scope for complaint, unless you are a mechanic, and far too hard to store during the sale!).

And the great thing is you don't need to ask anyone's permission, unlike 'qualifying' to be a franchise. You can start tomorrow, if you can find premises (which with this business you could rent on a short lease, after all with 10 day auctios the max time comitment to your customers, after a few months, you can just stop and do something else if you want to! Now where is that shop with a monthly licence?

Tuesday 1 February 2005 11.07am
I was just browsing on the Spacia web site - this business idea would be just lovely in a nicely tidied up railway arch...

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 1 February 2005 11.07am by markandjoan.
Tuesday 1 February 2005 11.07pm
Helium-filled bubble wrap - genius!

Do you have any inventions that help the post actually reach its destination?
Wednesday 2 February 2005 1.44pm
The Unladylike Ms. Jo Wrote:
> Helium-filled bubble wrap - genius!

So you can pop it & do Pinky & Perky impressions at the same time! Brilliant!

Thursday 17 February 2005 1.30pm
Saw your thread and thought I'd come and say hello. I'm one ofthe Directors of Stuff U Sell (our website is working for you to see now). We do pick-ups all over London - including a few from around SE1. I won't make this a commercial post, but if anyone is interested in finding out more, do get in touch, or if you've got any questions about the industry, I'd be happy to answer them as best I can.

One from above that I'll pick-up on is why the charges are so high. We're charging 30-40% of sale price, including eBay and paypal fees. When you run the numbers through, these fees that we pay out are often about half of our commission so we're not looking for much more on top.

* * *

A item is listed twice with a good number of photos at 30 start price and sells second time round for 50. The buyer pays on Paypal and completes the transaction. There is 10 P&P charged direct to the buyer.

For this, eBay charges 4 listing fees, 2.22 final value fees and 2.24 eBay fees. A total of 8.46 or 17% of the total selling price.

* * *

As for helium bubble wrap, it's a tempting thought, but you'd need several hundred cubic feet to get the weight down to a lower postage band and I'm not sure my local postie would like that at all...



Tuesday 25 October 2005 3.47am
As i currently work for the very first ISoldIt store now which is still corporate owned the fee we charge is 30 percent of the final auction selling price which the percentage goes down as the selling price goes up. The 30 percent which is reasonable dont forget goes to (1) Stroage of the item while it is being auctioned off (2) taking of the 8 pictures to go into the auction (3) Listing the item for sale on Ebay (4) Answering any and all questions a potential buyer might have and do we get hundreds of Emails and half as many phone call a day (5) If item sells we then we professionally package and ship the item to the winner. Now if the item didnt sell customer can come and pick up their unsold item and we charge nothing but we still eat Ebay's listing fees for the unsold item. It not all that easy trust nme and as far as ISoldIt is still new they themselves have a few bugs to still work out in the software end. I have been there for only 3 months and i soley do their shipping in that store and still do customer service. But due to management concerns i have turned in my 2 week notice. They need more customer oriented workers. Possibly would get them if it were not for the pay scale. Anyway look at our feedbacks as i am the shipper of those items we do a heck of a job.
Tuesday 25 October 2005 10.20am
Dbrackin I think you're being somewhat disingenuous with your fee calculation - or downright incompetent with your business model.

Listing fee: For 29.99 - 75p. Gallery - 15p. Total listing 90p.

Relisting fee - free, provided it sells.

So it appears to me you have overstated your costs by 3.10 and your fees are only 11% of the selling price.

(And if indeed you do list at 30, not 29.99 (thereby costing yourself 75p), and if you do use eBay hosting for your pictures instead of a rather cheaper - and TBH more reliable - hosting service, then I certainly wouldn't be trusting you with my goods!)
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