As you may already know, I love a good holiday!

In fact I’m going on holiday in a couple of weeks time to get a bit of rest and relaxation after an extremely busy first half of the year. Don’t worry though, I’ll still be writing and sending out my weekly articles – I’ll just be writing them in the sunshine rather than holed up in my study watching the rain lashing at the window.

Next week sees the start of the school holidays and there’s suddenly a lot more juggling to do between work and family life. I do like to take some quality time off to spend with my husband and two girls and in fact, by working from my home, I am very lucky that I have the flexibility to do this. It’s at times like this I realise that taking the plunge and deciding to work for myself really was the best decision I ever made!

If you are also planning on taking a holiday – which I hope you are because everyone needs a break from the routine at some point – have you thought about what you might do with your eBay listings whilst you are away?

How to take an eBay holiday

It’s all very well having a two week break but if you don’t think about what to do with your eBay listings before heading off, you could end up spending most of your time worrying about what’s happening back at home, or even stressing out trying to find an Internet connection to send emails to buyers explaining why you haven’t posted their items yet. This will not result in a very relaxing holiday let me tell you!

Part of the reason why an eBay seller’s lifestyle is so great is that it grants you the freedom to go on holiday whenever you choose to. But, to take full advantage of this you will need to be aware of the different options that are available to you regarding your eBay listings when you are away. The last thing that you want is to receive a bunch of negative feedback because of orders not being dispatched whilst you were away.

So, as it’s almost officially the start of the holiday season, to give you a helping hand if you are planning a getaway in the near future, I thought that this week I would give you some information about the different options open to you to keep your eBay selling at its most successful. You’ll be pleased to know that you have a few options available to you:

1. Shut up shop completely

Sounds a bit scary doesn’t it! Although, this first option is perhaps the safest one when it comes to avoiding any sales of items that you will be unable to post while away.

By ending all your listings you can be sure that no one will accidentally stumble across your items, as they simply won’t appear in any searches. If you have an eBay shop you could also leave a message there to explain that you currently have no products available but will be re-stocking soon.

Although this option will most definitely prevent buyers making purchases, unfortunately it can also lose you business as anyone searching for your products in the meantime will be unable to find them or buy them!

What’s more, once you return you will have to re-list everything which is not ideal if you have an inventory of hundreds of products. So this option is really only suitable for you if you have very few product lines.

2. Close your Buy It Now listings

eBay offers some ‘holiday settings’ for your listings if you have an eBay shop and one of these settings allows you to make your fixed price (BIN) listings invisible to potential buyers.

This setting will not affect any of your normal auction-style listings if you have them, so you will need to ensure that these auctions are set to end after the time that you are back from your holiday – for example you could list on a 10 day auction if you are going on holiday for 7 days.

This way you will still have some stock listed and won’t have to shut up shop completely and by preventing possible buyers from seeing your fixed price listings you won’t suffer from any negative feedback from anyone wanting to make a purchase right away but not receiving their goods for a good few days.

The advantage of this option is that you won’t need to recreate your Buy It Now listings when you return from your holiday, as they will simply be waiting there for you. All you need to do is turn off your holiday settings to make your listings visible again. You can access your holiday settings by going to ‘My eBay’, ‘Manage My Shop’, ‘Holiday Settings’.

You may also wish to consider that there is the chance that you won’t be able to reply to any questions regarding your auction-style listings while you are away (unless you have regular access to an Internet connection or have a laptop with you and a dongle). While this is unlikely to cause you negative feedback, it could potentially frustrate buyers.

3. Display a holiday message

Another method that can be found within the holiday settings of your eBay shop is to leave a holiday message on either your listings, within your shop, or both.

This message will tell visitors when you will return so that they can still make a purchase, but will know not to expect to receive their products until after a specified date. As your auctions can still gain publicity through searches this option does have certain advantages.

The settings for your holiday message can be found by clicking through from the ‘Holiday Settings’ link as before and scrolling down to ‘Shop Holiday Settings’.

Here you can turn on or off your holiday message and create a personal message to display in your shop. If you decide to do this you can create some custom information for your clients for your shop front, however in your actual listings you will be restricted to eBay’s default message filled in with the date that you return.

I know that this might sound like the best option so far; prospective buyers can still see your listings and make purchases knowing that they will receive the product upon your return.

However, I must point out that things aren’t as simple as this because unfortunately not every buyer reads listing descriptions carefully. Bearing in mind that the message that eBay display is quite small and situated at the very top of the page it could be easily missed.

To counteract this though, you can always add a larger message within the body of your item description just to reiterate that you are unable to post until a certain date.

Just a very quick note on security here:

Since eBay have insisted on your address details being displayed on your listings I know that some people are concerned that if they state they are away and they work from home it makes their address vulnerable to opportunist burglars.

This is a very valid worry, therefore I would suggest that you never actually state that you are away on holiday in your listings, but instead state something along the lines of:

Please note: Due to new products arriving and stock takes taking place, all orders placed between XXXX and XXXX will be dispatched promptly by 1st class post on XXXX.

Thank you for your patience.

This way you are informing buyers that there will be a delay but you are not saying that you are away – much safer all round!

4. Leave your listings as they are

The fourth and final option is simply to leave your listings running as they are. This could be a reasonable solution if you are only away for a few days, but remember that your buyers may get frustrated if they pay for an item only to be forced to wait for two weeks before receiving it and with no prior contact or warning.

The alternative is to keep posting whilst you are away! Now I know this is not an option really – especially if you are abroad, so what you can do is draft in the help of a friend or relative to post your orders for you.

In other words leave your business in the hands of someone else that you can trust. This is a sensible option if you have someone who is willing to help you – and quite honestly, if you are reluctant to turn your eBay and PayPal passwords over to anyone else you can always log in a couple of times a week whilst you are away and then send the orders over to your helper who can then print the address labels off and dispatch them!

So which option should you choose?

I am aware that none of these options are absolutely perfect and I wish I could give you a definite answer as to which will be the best option for you, but as I’ve explained there are positives and negatives for each possible solution.

You know your own eBay shop better than anyone else, so have a think about the best possible solution for your own buyers taking into account the length of time you will be away and so on.

Personally I favour the holiday message in ‘holiday settings’ solution but I do also always make sure that I add a line or two to my description in bold type so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding and potential buyers understand that there will be a delay in dispatch.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you really shouldn’t be constantly worrying about eBay when you are meant to be having a nice relaxing holiday!

If shutting up shop completely will help to put your mind at ease then don’t be afraid to go for this option. If your listings are taken down for longer than seven days you may drop your place in the search results slightly when you relist – but you should be able to regain momentum within a few days, especially if you are listing well researched hot products.

If you are going on holiday shortly – have a good one!