A majority of online sellers are taking action in the face of soaring gas prices and are doing so numerous ways, with only 11% who took a recent EcommerceBytes poll reporting they had made no changes as a result of higher costs of gas and goods. Three percent of respondents said they had stopped selling online altogether.
The survey focused on fuel prices and inflation's impact on sellers' product sourcing (how they buy inventory to sell online). The poll went live on June 12th with an announcement on the EcommerceBytes Blog.
Higher Costs Impact Product Sourcing
The poll asked, "What, if any, adjustments have you made to offset the rising price of gasoline and goods?" and asked respondents to check all of the options that applied.
As the graph shows, a significant number of respondents (60%) said they were making fewer trips or refined their routes when sourcing products.
We also invited sellers to leave comments. Here are some comments about how some sellers said were changing their in-person scouting trips:
"I only travel within 15 miles, it used to be up to 50."
"I have gone to buying more on online auctions. And when I buy from the local online auctions I now schedule all my pick ups on the same day and make a route of it to save on gas. I used to go do my pickup on the day after winning. Now it may be a couple to a few days later after winning."
"Now we only source very close to home it's just not worth long drives. If you have to spend $20-$30 on gas and you only find a few things it's not profitable. Sourcing more online clearance and retail arbitrage near home."
"I do a lot of complaining about gas price. I still love sourcing, selling online and can pay my bills while enjoying a working lifestyle I never believed was possible."
"I have decided to stop buying at my favorite thrift store until I have all my items listed. This will take a while."
Numerous stated that instead of sourcing products in person, they turned to buying inventory online.
One seller said, "Though my primary source is online, I also frequent flea markets, estate sales, garage sales and antiques shops and malls. I have pretty much stopped going to all those venues. Even with the rising cost of shipping, it's still cheaper than paying for gas to go to all these outlets."
Other sellers left comments indicating they were sourcing less and instead were listing more of the inventory they already had on hand - or in some cases, were listing fewer items for sale.
"I tend to stock up heavily when the opportunities present themselves and now, luckily, have nearly an entire stores' worth of merchandise in storage in my basement and garage," explained one seller.
Others said they changed the type of items they sourced, with some indicating they were focused on higher priced goods or on lighter-weight goods (due to shipping costs). "I have stopped sourcing and selling items that would sell for less than $20," said one seller.
Another seller said, "The rising cost of gasoline hasn't directly affected my inventory sourcing. The rising cost of shipping has - I pass on larger, heavier items now, and focus on smaller things that cost less to ship."
When indicating how they *primarily* sourced inventory, 58% of the sellers who took the poll said they sourced primarily through in-person methods including from yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, and in-person auctions (49%) as well as from retail stores (9%).
*Note that less than half a percent of respondents said they sourced products primarily through storage units.
Nine percent said they sourced through liquidators and online auctions; 7% through wholesales and distributors; 7% through consumer online marketplaces and websites; 5% said they made their own products; and 13% said they primarily sourced through other methods.
Higher Costs Lead to Raising Prices
In answering the question, "What, if any, adjustments have you made to offset the rising price of gasoline and goods?" nearly 40% of sellers said they had raised prices of their own products. Here, the comments were enlightening.
"We are in an inflationary environment. We have raised prices with little push back as customers understand this is just a fact of life," said one seller.
Another seller wrote, "Real sellers raise prices accordingly to keep up with inflation. Race to the bottom sellers will fail."
While another said, "The high cost of LTL will hurt small and medium sized business but buyers are expecting the cost increase so as long as it's not too shocking to the buyers, everything should be fine."
One seller said their feedback and new products gave buyers confidence in shopping from their online stores, "but that feeling comes at a cost. It's my brand, and I charge for it. As long as buyers are desperate and lazy and comfortable with not shopping around, or stuck with using one venue due to familiarity with it and its Money Back Guarantee and/or A-Z Claims, I will continue to exploit those characteristics for my gain. I will continue to buy for cheap and inflate the prices as exorbitantly as buyers and their characteristics will allow."
But many others were not faring as well. "Given lower sell rates on eBay, higher cost to source materials, we are selling off inventory and will most likely close eBay account at the end of the year," wrote one seller.
"Between the gas prices so high and government wanting to tax more and everyone else raising fees and shipping, I'm reevaluating selling online and doing more local selling like Facebook," wrote another.
Other Ways Sellers Are Coping with Higher Costs
As can be seen in the first chart above, in addition to the 60% who said they were making fewer trips or refining their routes when sourcing products and the 39% who raised prices of their items, 31% raised shipping / handling; 29% made fewer trips to ship orders; 11% made no changes; 3% stopped selling online; and 17% selected "other."
One seller succinctly said how they were coping with higher gas prices when sourcing inventory: "electric car." A couple of sellers indicated they had taken to riding their bicycles, with one taking their electric bike to view auction products and another riding their bike to local garage sales and thrift stores.
Some said they combined trips in their automotive vehicles. "It's also important to be able to write off my mileage at every opportunity, so if I have to go someplace for an errand, I will also go to a thrift store in that town so that I can write off the mileage for that trip," said one respondent.
"My shipping increases are more a result of USPS increases and not gas," said one seller, while others said they relied on USPS package pick-up to avoid taking trips to ship their items.
Many sellers are adapting to higher costs in various ways, though not everyone sees their way forward. Let us know what's working for you.