Seller Spotlight: Less Than Three Records
The concept for this blog originally came from the idea that eBay sellers are often each other's most valuable resource. I'm grateful for the support and encouragement I've received from fellow sellers and wanted to turn the spotlight over to them for a bit.
Thanks to Troy at Less Than Three Records for kicking things off!
Tell me about your business? How long have you sold on eBay?
My name is Troy Elliot Tyson and I go by the name "less than three records" on the sites where I sell. I based the name on the <3 (less than three) symbol for a heart/love.
I sell mostly collectible music and art including colored vinyl records, audiophile vinyl and CDs, autographed CDs, art prints, gig posters, movie posters, and more. I probably sold my first item on eBay sometime around 2004, and started selling online as my sole occupation in early 2010.
What do you like most about selling on eBay?
My favorite part is the type of products I deal with. I always loved music, and initially, that was most of what I sold. After selling an occasional gig poster, I slowly got more into selling art as well. I really enjoy all the art I get to see because if I wasn't re-selling, I could never afford to buy and keep all the prints I buy now for re-sale.
I source almost all of the prints I sell online, and while I see the image on the screen, the prints almost always look much better in-person, so I really enjoy getting to see all the great art in-person.
As a related aspect that I enjoy, it's particularly rewarding when a buyer asks some questions that makes it clear that they are new to collecting and then they make a purchase. I enjoy knowing that that purchase may be what starts them on a hobby that could last a lifetime.
What is your favorite item you’ve ever sold on eBay and why?
This is a tough question, as I've sold a lot of really interesting items. But one very unique/unusual item that sticks out in my mind is the "Space Waffle" by street artist Invader.
Invader is known for public installations of tile mosaics that form pixelated images, often of the alien creatures from the classic arcade game "Space Invaders." He also makes prints of similar pixelated images that are highly collectible. The "Space Waffle" was an actual waffle that was vacuum sealed and enclosed in a clear display box. The waffle was shaped like one of the artist's signature pixelated aliens and the squares on the waffle replaced the tiles for the pixelated-type look. It was also signed and numbered by the artist, just like an art print would be!
What do you find the most challenging about selling on eBay?
The answer to this question has definitely changed over the years, so I will answer based on the current time. I would say the most challenging aspect at the moment is the difficulty in figuring out what the rules are. When I say "rules," I am including things like fees, restricted items, time-frames for payouts, factors that effect search standing, and so on.
Learning from experience is fine, but when there are changes announced that may require me to change prices or other aspects of a listing, it is often necessary to know in advance. The problem I run into frequently is that eBay's terms often say one thing, an eBay representative may say another thing that conflicts with the terms, and sometimes another eBay rep comes up with a third viewpoint that conflicts with both prior answers.
I have expressed to them many times that I can deal with a lot of policies that I don't necessarily "like," but I do need to know what the policies actually are, and in many cases, figuring that out is nearly impossible until the policy is rolled out and you start dealing with it first-hand.
Which eBay seller tools do you find most useful to your business? Least useful?
To be honest, I really don't use a lot of the tools very often. I would say the most useful one is the Terapeak product research section, although I admittedly don't use it that often.
I use completed listing searches a lot to gauge the value of items I'm considering purchasing for re-sale. However, for items that sold as a "best offer," the actual selling prices are no longer revealed. I find that the Terapeak section gives a little insight into that.
I wish it was laid out more like the simple completed listings search where each sale is listed by date rather than multi-quantity listings grouped together with an average selling price as opposed to each actual selling price, but still, it does give some insight into value that a normal completed listing search no longer provides.
The least useful I would say are the payments "reports" spreadsheets. The information that is supposed to be on them would be very useful, but it displays completely jumbled on my computer. I once showed a screen capture of one to an eBay rep, and they admitted that it should not look the way it does, but unfortunately, they weren't able to provide a fix. I think the problem may come from being on a Mac and not having Excel, but I have another spreadsheet program that works perfectly fine for spreadsheets from every company besides eBay.
Where else do you sell? What percentage of your sales come from each channel vs eBay?
I make the vast majority of my sales on eBay (probably about 90%). This is strange, since I have higher prices on eBay than the other sites I sell on, but I guess people don't always know about the other sites.
I also sell on Discogs (music), ExpressoBeans (art), and eCrater (both music and art, but I haven't listed my entire inventory there yet - I am trying to at least list all new items there).
Out of those sites, I sell more on Discogs than the others, but again, I sell very little there compared to eBay. I also offer a 15% discount on my eBay prices to buyers who contact me through social media (Facebook or Twitter) or via e-mail. I send them a PayPal invoice and include the discount in the price. I make very few sales that way, but I have had a few repeat customers that have purchased that way and gotten the discount.
If you could have 10 minutes of CEO Jamie Iannone’s undivided attention, what would you most like to tell him?
I would focus on customer service, which I feel is lacking. This goes back to the prior question about the most challenging part of selling on eBay - the mixed messages.
While I have occasionally had a rep that is just flat-out rude, I really feel that most of them genuinely want to help, but they just don't have the information they need. The first and most obvious solution to this would be training them better, which I do feel needs to be done.
However, I think there also needs to be a better system of communication between eBay staff members. I can't count the number of times a rep has told me that they have never heard of a particular issue. Meanwhile, I see countless other sellers complaining about the same exact issue and claiming that they reported it to eBay.
Another customer service related observation is that their priority seems to be on an immediate answer rather than an accurate answer. While I don't want to wait months for an answer (which I do, far too often), I would much rather be told they will find out and get back to me in a few days, rather than give me an answer immediately that proves to be incorrect.
Related to that, when I am promised a follow-up, I need that follow-up to actually be made. I would say 80-90% of promised follow-ups are never made (I don't mean they are late, but rather that they are not made at all).
Maybe that would take more than 10 minutes? Well, I would get as much of it out as I could, and I would try to impress on him my feeling that if customer service was improved, a lot of the other issues would likely fall into place on their own.
Make sure to follow Less Than Three Records on Twitter and Facebook and check out Troy's excellent selection of collectible music and art!
Are you an eBay seller who'd like to be featured on the Value Added Resource blog?
Drop a comment 👇 or contact me 📧 with your store details!