Get ready for this year’s online Christmas buying frenzy

PLUS: Sell military badges on eBay

PLUS: Turn public domain postcards into hot sellers on eBay

PLUS: Sell children’s annuals on eBay

Top-level research reveals how people in the UK are likely to do their Christmas shopping this year, based on statistics gathered from seasonal selling online and on the high street over the last few years.

This is what you need to know to make this your most profitable Christmas ever…

  • Adobe – http://www.adobe.com/technology/about.html – says just under half of people surveyed say product reviews impact on how and where they spend their money. That means buyer feedback for a product will influence sales, as might eBay product reviews and guides to choosing and using products you are selling. So it’s more important than ever to keep customers happy, generate positive feedback and ask for revision of neutral and negative points. Also write and place your own guides and product reviews on eBay. High-frequency search terms in titles and in the body of your guides and reviews will respond to searches made on and outside of eBay.
  • Exterion Media – http://www.exterionmedia.com – reports that more than 90% of shoppers will use mobile devices to research products online and complete their purchases off the Internet.

Two ways to profit from this information:

1. Sellers should focus on products that can’t be researched online and bought on the high street. The Internet-only seller must market products that can only be purchased online.

Ideas: Collectibles, antiques, bundled products from various different sources and unavailable in the same format elsewhere, items with a free gift that isn’t available anywhere else, and unique products made or sourced exclusively by the seller.

2. A slight variation of researching online and buying offline is ‘Click and Collect’, where people buy products on eBay and pick them up at their chosen Argos store.

The closer Christmas becomes, the more buyers worry about delivery deadlines: it’s more important than ever to prove orders will arrive in time. ‘Click and Collect’ is one way to do just that.

Note: ‘Click and Collect’ will improve sales of mass-market products on eBay, but is unlikely to impact one-off and unique product listings.

  • Apart from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Give as You Live – http://www.giveasyoulive.com – says last year’s biggest Christmas spending days were Tuesday 2nd December, Monday 8th December and Monday 15th December. History repeats itself – well, usually – so it makes sense to source and list products with sales likely to peak round about Tuesday 1st December, Monday 7th December and Monday 14th December 2015. Give or take a few days either way!
  • Retail Research – http://www.retailresearch.org – tells how in 2014 the growth in Christmas spending in the UK was higher than any other European country, as well as revealing that many retailers make more than half their annual sales and profits in the three months before Christmas.

Retail Research defines the peak selling season as ‘the six week period between mid-November and end of December’. That means right now, in mid-November, you still have more than four weeks to grab your share of 2015’s seasonal big spend.

  • A good deal of shopping takes place on Christmas Day, especially during the Queen’s Speech, when in 2012 more than 1.2 million searches were made on eBay UK. Maybe that’s why Phuong Nguyen, eBay UK’s head of eBay advertising, says sellers can not afford to ‘take their foot off the gas’ between Christmas and New Year.
  • Last year Amazon was the biggest online retailer by number of purchases, followed by eBay, and closely afterwards by big-name high street stores like John Lewis and Argos. So if you sell on eBay and Amazon, it might be a good idea to focus your main efforts on Amazon.

Sell military badges on eBay

Auction research company Terapeak say military badges are among the hottest sellers on eBay – as these finishing prices show:

  • BEF 1914 Sterling Argyll & Sutherland Glengarry Badge – £445.95
  • Silver Plaid Brooch 1 Renfrewshire VB Argyll Sutherland – £415.00
  • Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Cased Medallion – £260.00

Badges from the Argyll & Sutherland regiments regularly appear among the top prices paid for military badges on eBay. That makes it a good idea to look for badges from this regiment at boot sales and flea markets, and also in offline auction saleroom lots – but don’t expect all A & S badges to fetch such high prices.

However, it is usually worthwhile spending a pound or two on early military badges, not only from the Argyll & Sutherland regiments – by using a price catalogue or mobile Internet access to check current prices on eBay.

The reason I personally recommend you buy and sell military badges, especially as lifetime collections in local auction salerooms, is that so many very different badges exist from many thousands of regiments all over the world. That means no one but a real expert can identify every badge in a really big collection.

That, by implication, also means non-specialist staff in general salerooms won’t always recognise badges worth hundreds of pounds among a multitude of very common designs in big-bundle lots. So those lots will often be poorly described and illustrated in auction catalogues and fetch low prices as a result.

The secret to making big money buying badges at low prices off the Internet and maximising profits from them on eBay, is to list badges separately, using clear images and a low starting price – £4.99 is good – then let common items make you a small profit each, and allow expert collectors to determine the finishing price of their rarer counterparts.

Turn public domain postcards into hot sellers on eBay

Postcards represent a wonderful way to make money from items that are in the public domain. The public domain typically describes items that are not covered by copyright, usually because their legal copyright protection has expired or no longer exists, or perhaps copyright never existed at all.

The really good news for public domain enthusiasts is that a great many people buy vintage postcards, not because they collect postcards, but because they like early images depicting a favourite topographical area (not just on postcards but also on prints and calendars and other ephemera).

That means many people who can’t afford the original postcard or photograph or other original image will buy a reprint.

Rules regarding copyright are not complicated, but they are important, and you must ensure your view is in the public domain: never assume you are free to make and sell copies. Many thousands of items published in Victorian or Edwardian times will be in the public domain and just waiting for you to make money from them.

Ideas

  • Have firms like Café Press and Zazzle turn your best-selling postcards into hundreds of different items.
  • Sell reprint copies of the postcard to topographical view collectors.
  • Start a line of vintage greetings cards and other stationery types, based on your most popular designs.
  • Create templates for wedding and Christening invitations, where the current best-selling eBay and Amazon listings feature vintage and shabby chic designs.
  • Gather postcards by theme or topographical area, such as all of one village, all from the same artist etc, and compile an ebook to sell in downloadable format or on CD.

Sell children’s annuals on eBay

Children’s annuals are perennial Christmas bestsellers, designed to be read and scribbled in: very few from earlier times remain in collectable condition today – with perfect corners, no bent pages, all pages intact.

Time wreaks havoc on condition of most books, especially children’s titles, explaining why you should snap up annuals you find published around the middle-1900s and in decent condition.

Because few quality early annuals remain in good condition today, they often fetch record-breaking prices on eBay. Surprisingly, however, that doesn’t make it difficult to find quality vintage children’s annuals priced in pennies at boot sales and jumble sales, which go on to fetch high prices on eBay.

Some amazing second-hand bargains are possible, especially in the run up to Christmas, when families are clearing bookshelves to make way for next year’s annuals. Innocently, many will also deplete their shelves of valuable vintage specimens.

Annuals to seek from the early-to-middle 1900s feature the likes of Rupert the Bear, Bonzo Dog, Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat.

Tips

  • Store annuals somewhere safe away from damp and out of strong sunlight, both of which cause foxing and fading.
  • Writing and scribbling in books reduces their value considerably. A notation, usually in the front of books, such as indicating the book was given as a gift or mentioning the original owner by name, is usually acceptable.
  • Look for and exploit reasons a book normally worth about £10 might fetch £1,000 plus, such as autographs, limited editions, or a notable owner. As an example, a friend’s Beatles album autographed by the group in 1965 sold for $2,000 on eBay.com.
  • Don’t look too enthusiastic when you find a bargain at boot sales or flea market, or you will give the game away and the seller could remove the book from sale.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here