Going to do something a little different. I’m going to share a little known tactic used by Taobao sellers to gain sales. If you’ve never heard of Taobao, you should as Alibaba, their parent company just recently went public. Taobao is the eBay equivalent in China. Having used it a couple of times when I stayed in China, it’s pretty much the same deal. If you’re a seller starting out on Taobao, there are two things you could do. These are just tactics I’ve heard from fellow Taobao store owners and there could be more.
1. Sell your goods at a severe discount, like 80% off, practically giving it away, in order to generate buzz and sales and ultimately, reviews. Most Taobao sellers do this as they take a loss initially to build their store and ratings. This is the legit way to go about it. What’s the other way you ask?
2. Gather a bunch of people to “buy” your stuff, but send them empty boxes so the purchase and shipment is registered with Taobao. For their efforts, you return their money + a reward, like 10 RMB or something. This way you don’t actually need to store inventory nor take a loss in order to generate buzz and ratings. I know a Taobao seller doing this with great success. Of course, this is not exactly legit and downright deceitful.
Now, today I was looking on eBay for yoyos as my kid decided he wanted one for Christmas. I’m actually a yoyo fan myself and have quite a bit of knowledge so what I found on a particular listing shocked me. Here’s the screenshot of the item:
Now, to give a bit of background on yoyos, there are the cheap kind made of plastic from companies like Duncan and Yomega. These are the brands you see at your local toy store. They go for around $10 to $20. They also make some metal yoyos ranging $30 to $50. Going a step higher, you get your performance level yoyos from companies like One Drop, CLYW, and YoyoFactory. These companies produce yoyos mainly for the professional level players who enter competitions, with prices upwards of $150 is not unheard of.
About a year ago, there was this popular yoyo among the yoyo community when someone discovered a $1 yoyo at Dollar Tree. Yoyo enthusiasts went out and bought them in bulk, looking to give away, mod, and just have fun with them. I know because I bought several myself. These are yoyos made of rolled tin metal, very cheap stuff, with plastic response, but they did have a metal bearing, which was surprising. Here’s what it looks like:
Anyways, back to this eBay listing. The yoyo featured in this listing is almost an exact duplicate of that $1 yoyo, same rolled tin metal, same printing on the side, same plastic starburst response, but yet they’re selling it for $105! Insane right?! What’s even more shocking is the listing says 109 of these yoyos have been sold. Checking the seller’s rating, he sets them all as private. I wonder why. This seller is using the same tactic #2 I’ve mentioned above. Even if most of those 109 sold are fake, there could be one or a few who aren’t and guess what, they just made over 100x return on each sale. This is just plain wrong, to deceive folks like this, generating fake sales so it looks like it’s a good deal. Anyways, here’s another shot of the item. It looks like it originated from China.
It’s such a shame for people to resort to this. But really, it’s the way of life for China. Having lived in China for a while, you kind of just get used to stuff like this. Anyways, this post has turned into more of a rant, but I hope you enjoyed it.