April was the worst month for us so far in 2011. I realize there's only been 4 full months this year, but we'd have to go back to October of last year to find a month where we ended up with less money than April. Now, April wasn't the worst month this year by much - we took in literally only a few dollars less than in February, but February was a shorter month, and included a holiday.
A quick word about how I measure things. eBay and I disagree on when an actual sale occurs. For eBay, when a buyer commits to buy an item, that's a sale and they charge the final value fee. But the buyer may not pay immediately - a few times in the past year they didn't pay at all. So I don't count it as a sale until I actually receive payment, and I don't track it on my spreadsheet until I ship it.
What this means is that in reality I track money and expenses on things we ship, on the day we ship them, as opposed to the day they sell, or even the day we receive the money. We ship items every day the post office is open - Monday thru Saturday. April had 26 shipping days, February had only had 23.
April 2011 was significantly lower than March 2011, literally within dollars of the February totals, but much higher than April 2010. In fact 2011 has been MUCH better than 2010 up to this point.
I compared the April spreadsheet with February's. The gross was almost the same and eBay listing and Final Value Fees were within 25 cents of each other. What made the difference was our business expenses (packaging material, printer ink etc) and postage costs were each a few dollars more in April. That was the difference. Otherwise it was February all over again.
We made a change in how we do business in April, un-announced and un-advertised. In May of 2010 we started offering free shipping domestically for postcards. We still charged shipping for the photos, because they are more expensive to ship. Well last month we begin offering free shipping on just about everything. We've kept the shipping charge (for now) on any old listings, but new listings of antique photos, cdvs and such will be listed with no shipping charge. I'll be writing a whole other post about this later on.
If possible I want to know why things happen as they do. We expanded our free shipping, and coincidentally, the post office increased it's postage for many things. It makes a difference. At first glance that could appear to be the culprit, and perhaps it did play a role, but I want to know for sure. So I looked a little closer, tried to figure things out and what I found leads me to believe that free shipping wasn't responsible for this little April income dip.
I know how many items we shipped, and how many "shipping days" there were in April. So I determined the average number of items shipped per day for April, and found that on average we shipped .9 items less per day in April than in March. I also know what the average price we received for an item sold, so I multiplied the avg price by .9, then multiplied that result by 26 (the number of shipping days in April) and came out with HOLY CRAP it makes a difference. It wasn't free shipping at all - it was the fact that we shipped (and by extension sold) almost one item a day less in April than in March. It makes the difference between a good month and an average month.
The bigger question, which I can't really answer, it why sales were down in April. That's something I'll have to think about and keep an eye on.