Putting Your Business on Hold

An eBay business is difficult to take on the road. The time will inevitably come for new sellers to take a break or a holiday eventually. But what to do? Doing nothing is not a good idea as impatient buyers and negative feedback are likely to greet a neglectful seller on their return. Most eBay sellers will also want to avoid relisting potentially hundreds of items, so deleting listings is not a favoured choice either. Luckily, there are ways to limit activity during your break using both eBay created tools and some DIY options.

eBay’s Vacation mode

eBay offers Vacation/Holiday settings for sellers to use when away from home. Found in the messages tab in My eBay, physically selecting which settings to take advantage of is easy. Choosing which of these settings work best for your store is the harder part. Note that ‘store’ is a key word here since eBay’s vacation settings are only available for sellers with stores.

Storefront message

The most straightforward feature of eBay’s vacation mode is the addition of a message to your storefront to let potential buyers know that you are away. This message can be customised, but HTML and script tags aren’t allowed. By default then, the message’s appearance is plain and very small – so small in fact, that it can be easily overlooked.

Out of office reply

The ‘out of office’ reply setting that eBay also offers for sellers on vacation can be similarly ignored by a buyer. After all, who says it won’t end up in the spam folder anyway?

Unavailable listings

A far more useful vacation setting is the option to make fixed price listings unavailable to view. Although it does not affect auction style listings, it does prevent buyers from finding item listings through eBay search results. If a purchase is attempted, the buyer will be notified the item is unavailable unless the ‘immediate pay option’ has been selected for the listing. This is an especially useful option for family emergencies or spontaneous trips. There are however a couple of catches.

Buyers who have a direct link to the item’s page or those who have purchased the item before will still able to see the listing. The biggest issue however, is that this feature can take up to 48 hours to kick in. This can cause conflict with a person’s Top Seller Status if an item is purchased within this transitional time period as the listed handling time will be incorrect. Once vacation mode has manually been turned off when a seller has returned, it will take 48 hours for listings to appear again.

Another major issue is that hiding listings in this way is not a default feature of eBay’s vacation mode – it must be selected, something that can be easily overlooked by new sellers assuming that a vacation mode would do this automatically. Hiding listings also gives the competition a chance to gain sales and a better search result placing.

Alternatives to eBay’s vacation mode

For sellers who do not want to hide listings or those without stores, here are a few suggestions to help minimise the impact of a holiday on sales and reputation:

  • Extend handling time – this is the easiest and most straightforward way to communicate with buyers that there will be a delay for shipping. Remember to edit again after your return.
  • End Buy It Now auctions before leaving with no penalty
  • Raise listed prices – a reasonably simple fix, this makes listings less appealing to buyers
  • Slowly wind down the number of items for sale before leaving to minimise active listings
  • Pre-write an email response for each buyer explaining that you are on vacation but will ship the item as soon as possible, mentioning the extended handling time as per the listing.
  • Give buyers the option to cancel if the wait is too long and also consider offering free shipping or a discount on a future purchase.
  • On return, email all buyers with a ‘welcome back’ message to check satisfaction and hopefully encourage positive feedback.

With some preparation, a holiday doesn’t have to be a stressful time for your eBay business. A bit of trial and error is essential to decide what technique works for you, whether it is using the  eBay offered services, a complete DIY approach or a mixture of both. Whatever you decide, communication with buyers is key.

Do you have any experiences or tips from putting your eBay business on hold? We’d love to hear about them – get in contact via the comment form below.