eBay Account Flagged? Here’s what to do…
At Salefreaks, we talk to hundreds of dropshippers.
Yet over time, we’ve noticed the most successful dropshippers possess one trait, much more than others: the ability to adapt to changes.
Like every business, the eBay dropshipping industry encounters new changes all the time. eBay introduce new policies, suppliers introduce new policies and new methods of finding items are constantly discovered.
Today I want to talk about one big policy change from eBay – the so-called dropshipping “flag”.
With the help of Karim Ahmed, a highly successful eBay seller, in this article we’ll show you the changes you need to make to your business and the strategy you should follow to succeed if your eBay account is flagged for dropshipping.
- What is an eBay flagged account?
- About Karim Ahmed – his journey and performance
- Common questions about flagged eBay accounts
- How to make money if your eBay account is flagged
- The 3 main item strategies to use in the flagged accounts era
What is an eBay flagged account?
Starting from 2018, eBay decided to display the listings of dropshippers lower in the search results. This so-called “dropshipper flag” is automatically applied when eBay detects you’re dropshipping and will usually lower your impressions (or views) by around 70%.
You can see this in the seller graphs below:
But can you still make a good income with eBay dropshipping? Yes!
We talked to Karim Ahmed, a successful eBay seller that is one of Salefreaks mentors to find out his strategy for making money in the new eBay flagged account era.
About Karim Ahmed – his journey and performance
Karim is just 21 years old and lives in Egypt.
A year and a half ago, Karim dreamed of having a second income so with $200 in the bank he started his eBay dropshipping business. Fast forward to today, and with the help of Salefreaks software and a team of employees, he’s automated his business to the extent that he only spends 30 minutes/day working on it.
His latest eBay US store is just 2 months old but makes $60,000/mo in sales from 50,000 listings.
Karim is one of Salefreaks’ exclusive mentors, mentoring anyone on a platinum plan for free. If you want to be mentored by Karim, simply signup for a Salefreaks platinum plan here. He currently helps around 50 students, with most seeing their sales increase up to 10x after implementing his advice.
This article was written based on all the helpful information and advice that Karim has given us.
Common questions about eBay flagged accounts
Before we get into talking about item strategies and the changes you need to make, here are some common questions about flagged eBay accounts.
How can I check if my eBay account has been flagged?
The easiest way is to go into your eBay seller account and look at the graphs showing the number of impressions and views your listings have. Everyone can have a day of slow sales, but if you notice a large drop in your views and impressions that is sustained over time then the chances are that your account has been flagged.
How does eBay detect that I am dropshipping and flag my account? / Did eBay flag me due to the item location of my listings?
While there has been much speculation on Facebook groups about this, no-one really knows the method that eBay use to detect accounts (other than eBay!).
The truth is, most people that ask this question do so because they want to avoid being flagged – which is the wrong approach. If you are dropshipping your account will eventually be flagged, but as we’ll show in this article, it’s not the end of the world! It just means you need to change your strategy.
Can I get my eBay dropshipping account “unflagged”?
No, eBay will not do this.
How long does it take until eBay will flag me for dropshipping?
eBay usually takes around 1 month from when you start dropshipping to flag your account.
How to make money if your eBay account is flagged
Change #1 Play with bigger numbers and scale quicker
Karim’s logic is simple.
If your eBay account gets flagged and your impressions fall by ~70%, then to get back to where you were you need to increase your amount of listings by ~70% too.
The big change here is that in the past you may have been able to build a decent dropshipping business with a small number of listings, but in 2019 and beyond, you need to shift your focus on being able to scale quickly.
One such way that Karim does that is by employing a team of assistants that spend around 25 hours/day working on his store. That way, when he opens a new eBay store, he can scale very quickly by outsourcing all the tasks. For helpful tips on hiring and managing virtual assistants, check out Dropship Tyler’s advice on creating training videos.
Change #2 Improve your mindset
Karim feels that you could have the best software in the world, and even the right strategy too, but you won’t succeed in the eBay flagged account era without a bullet-proof mindset to match it.
Why? With eBay throttling and flagging dropshippers’ accounts, Karim believes you need to be prepared to work a bit harder than before and be willing to deal with a few more setbacks along the way. All of which is easier said than done.
Here are a few examples of mindset shifts you need if you want to be a success:
Important Mindset Shifts
Before: “I can list a few items in a few clicks and make money overnight”
Now: “If I’m patient, consistent and work hard, I know the results will follow”
The type of people that start dropshipping on eBay and wanted instant results are now even less likely to be successful. But for those that are patient and willing to work hard, it means less competition and a better chance of success.
Before: “I’m going to quit because eBay/Amazon/PayPal closed my account”
Now: “Any business has setbacks, I’ll learn from it and start another account”
The ability to deal with problems is now more important than ever before. To succeed, you need to be able to keep going without getting too disheartened if something unexpected happens. Karim mentions that to get where he is now he had to deal with some eBay account closures, and PayPal holding his money for 6 months. A lot of people would quit when faced with such problems but it’s only because he stuck with it that he became successful.
Before: “There are lots of tasks that only I can handle”
After: “I’ll outsource and automate as many low-value tasks as I can so I can scale quicker”
In the flagged account era, you’ll struggle to make a decent income if you want to do everything yourself and handle only a few hundred listings – instead, you need thousands of listings.
But scaling to thousands of listings means handling more customer service tickets, finding more items to sell, spending more time optimizing your store etc.
That’s why it’s now even more important to delegate or automate as many tasks as possible – otherwise, you’ll never scale, and you’ll never make any money.
Before: “I’ll keep my business to myself as much as possible”
After: “There are millions of items to sell online. I’ll learn quicker and scale faster by discussing my ideas and strategies and learning new ideas from other people”
With the eBay dropshipping business changing so fast, you need to be able to learn new ideas, methods, and strategies quickly. If you don’t, you’ll quickly find that the tactics you use don’t work anymore and become outdated.
It’s normal to feel a bit secretive about your business, but by getting a mentor, or engaging in a community you’ll start learning far more than if everyone just kept themselves to themselves.
Change #3 Increase the importance of back-end profits
When you start scaling and listing 10,000, 50,000 or even 100,000+ items on eBay, there’s a high chance that most of the items you list will have a few competitors.
So as you scale higher, Karim says you need to lower your front-end profit margin to around 4-5% to attract sales while making more money from back-end profits.
– – – – – –
Front-end profit: This is the profit made subtracting the selling price of the item, from the costs of supplying the item.
Your selling price on eBay: $50
The item cost from your supplier: $40
Other upfront fees (e.g. eBay fees) : $4
Front-end profit = $6
Back-end profit: Additional indirect profit – usually made after the item is sold
Your selling price on eBay: $50
The item cost from your supplier: $40
To pay the supplier, you use a 5% cashback credit card = $2 profit
When purchasing from the supplier, you use a cashback website offering a 3% rebate = $1.20
Total back-end profit = $3.20
– – – – –
There are 3 specific ways that Karim says you can increase your back-end profits (plus one bonus method!) :
- Cashback websites – Using sites like Mr. Rebates nets Karim an extra $300-$400/mo in back-end profit (with Salefreaks this functionality is built into the software)
- Discounted Gift cards – Karim pays for his orders using Amazon gift-cards which gives him approximately 2.5% extra back-end profit. This is because Karim has found a supplier that he can buy Amazon gift cards at a discounted price.
- Cashback credit cards – For sellers in the USA, Karim advises using the Amazon cashback credit-card to get an extra 5% back-end profit on Amazon orders. There are other cashback credit cards in different locations such as the American Express Platinum Cashback Card in the U.K. which can give 1-1.25% cash back on purchases.
- Bonus Tip: Use HipShipper to ship international orders – HipShipper is a new way to ship orders to international destinations. The main benefits of using it compared to eBay’s Global Shipping Program include that it’s cheaper and available in more countries – therefore you can make a tidy profit on the shipping costs and sell to more markets! To use HipShipper you’ll need to signup for an account and link it to your listing software. Once set up, orders are sent to HipShipper’s fulfillment center who forward it on to your customer for you. See how Salefreaks integrates with Hipshipper.
3 profitable item strategies to use in the eBay flagged accounts era
With eBay lowering the ranking of dropshippers’ listings, certain methods that may have previously worked to find items are less effective. We asked Karim about the 3 main methods he uses to find items for his eBay store and for his students’.
The Salefreaks Item Locator
The first method Karim uses is the Salefreaks item locator.
The main benefit with the locator is that it’s very easy to start listing thousands of items at a time and scale quickly which are two very important things to succeed when you’re flagged.
Watch our video below on how the locator works:
A simplified step-by-step summary:
- Go to Amazon
- Choose a subcategory with 10,000 or less items
- Paste the Amazon URL into the Salefreaks Locator, and click scan now
- Sit back and let the locator scan the items!
- Filter the results – Karim advises selecting “hot” items or above and a front-end profit of 4-5% – then click “show results”
- Click “Export Results” and “Generate”
Karim’s advice for using the Salefreaks Locator with flagged accounts:
- List items ranked “hot” “very hot” or “super hot”
- Constantly list items, delete items and work on your store. Do not expect to just push 10,000 items in a day and instantly get a huge amount of sales. However, you will get sales when you delete items that don’t sell and continue to optimize your store on a daily and monthly basis. Karim advises deleting any item that hasn’t sold in the last 60 days and says his students have more deletion filters too.
- Allocate 35% of your listings to the Salefreaks Locator.
Not a member of Salefreaks? Click here to try it free for 14 days!
Amazon Warehouse Items
Amazon Warehouse items (also called open-box items) are quality used items that are returned by customers to Amazon and resold by them at a discounted price.
So why are selling these items now even more effective than before?
- eBay’s dropshipping flag means you’ll rank lower in search rankings, therefore it’s harder to compete with items with high levels of competition. At the same time, Amazon Warehouse items are listed by very few dropshippers so there’s very little competition for these items.
- Because you’ll appear lower in search rankings, it’s more important now to compete on price. Amazon Warehouse items are already discounted so represent good value for buyers.
Watch our video below on how to list Amazon Warehouse items:
To list Amazon Warehouse items with Salefreaks, you need a Platinum plan
Karim’s advice for listing Amazon Warehouse items with flagged accounts:
- Allocate around 30% of your items to Amazon Warehouse items
- There are 4 item categories “Acceptable” “Good” “Very Good” and “Like New” – Karim advises only listing the best quality “Like New” items as otherwise you might face a higher rate of returns.
- Aim for a higher profit margin on Amazon Warehouse items
- Don’t list cold items as they’re often out of stock
Using bulk scanning/sniping tools
The final method that Karim uses is a very simple sniping method where he finds any item that has been selling at least 3 times/month on eBay and lists it with his own profit margin, undercutting the competition.
To do this, he scans sellers using the bulk scanner tool from ZIK Analytics, and then exports the items and lists them with Salefreaks.
If you don’t have ZIK Analytics, you may wish to use the Salefreaks Sales Hunter instead. This is Salefreaks’ own sniping tool which you can sign up and try for free.
Karim’s advice for using a sniping tool with flagged accounts:
- Allocate around 35% of sniping items from competitors
- Before eBay’s account flagging, Karim used to use this method on a small scale and not list more than 10,000 items. Now, he uses the same method but the difference is he has scaled it up much more to continue to make high profits.
- ZIK Analytics integrates well with Salefreaks and other listing software so it’s easy to export and list items.
Want Karim as your eBay dropshipping mentor?
Karim is one of Salefreaks’ exclusive mentors, mentoring anyone on a platinum plan for free. If you want to be mentored by Karim, signup for Salefreaks here and then subscribe to a platinum plan. He currently helps around 50 students, with most seeing their sales increase up to 10x after implementing his advice.
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