The Perils of Vacation

As full-time entrepreneurs and resellers the opportunity to vacation comes with a major downside. Our family recently took a 7 day Caribbean cruise. We planned for this vacation for well over a year and honestly, desperately needed the break. As a true bred entrepreneur I often have a hard time unplugging and being completely present. My husband has said the only way to get me to relax is to put me on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no internet connection. (Little did he know that I would figure out a way to access the internet from the Atlantic Ocean but more on that later).

We sell on multiple platforms and some were easier than others to set aside for a week. Our Etsy store was easy, I clicked vacation settings from the mobile app and set up an out of office email. The Merch by Amazon t-shirt business is self-running by Amazon so there was no need to do anything there. Both of those businesses represent a very small portion of our monthly income, so walking away wasn’t hard. Ebay was an entirely different beast. Ebay represents the vast majority of our monthly income with sales averaging around 20k a month. One week of lost sales would be around $5000.00, certainly more than I wanted to walk away from if we didn’t absolutely have to.

If you run an Ebay store you have a couple of different options of how to handle a vacation. You can put your store in “vacation” mode choosing to hide all of your listings or choose to have Ebay tell your customers that you are away. The second option is to simply leave your items as they are and to change your handling time. If you change your handling time you do lose your TRS discount on any item you sell while your handling time is greater than 1 business day. After speaking to a CSR about our options we decided to change our handling time. I had seen others have success with this and thought it would be an interesting experiment. Would people still purchase items if they knew they had to wait 10 days before the item would even ship?

Here are the results…. We sold just over $2000.00 worth of merchandise while we were on our cruise. I did pay to access the internet through the ships wifi to monitor our store while we were gone. It was spotty and incredibly slow, but did work for what I needed. We took best offer off of all our items so to limit the amount of messages we would receive. I also set up an out of office reply that simply told people to give me a little extra time in replying to questions and also reminding them of the handling time. Then twice a day I would send a message to anyone who had made a purchase thanking them and reminding them of the handling time. We had 0 requests to cancel orders. I had anticipated a greater than normal return rate since people had to wait so long to receive their items. Only one item was returned and that was for a normal fit issue. So, upon return I was thrilled with our results. That is the good news, here is the bad.

Ebay sales are greatly determined by your items placement within search. The search algorithm is a highly guarded secret and one that has been debated for years. This is what I found out has been true for us. When we went on vacation our items fell in search due to the handling time. This makes sense and was expected. We then fell further due to the dramatic decrease in overall sales. Our items were no longer as relevant to the Ebay buyer in the search algorithm. Again all of this makes sense and was expected. The surprising part has been how that has impacted our sales since we have been home.

While we knew we would slow down while were gone we had assumed that once home we would quickly return to our normal rate of sales. What we didn’t count on was that since our impressions (the amount of times our items are viewed within search) had fallen so dramatically simply coming home, correcting our handling time and listing new items wouldn’t automatically bring those numbers back. Ebay’s traffic impressions are evaluated on a 30 day look back. Since, our vacation was still in our 30 day look back it was still dragging us down. The first week back was better but will still drag us down for 30 days after that. The second week got a little better but will impact us for another 30 days, and on and on. It will take quite a while to get those numbers back to where they were.

We know see vacations as a necessary evil. You have to get away for your mental health and the health of your relationships. There will be an impact on your business that you have to prepare for, you need to be ready for the outcome. In the end the vacation was amazing and we will vacation again. Next time we will be better prepared for outcome!

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