Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don’t Panic! It is Just the July Slump!

Have your sales been slow this month? Excruciatingly slow? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. July is notoriously the slowest month for online sales. It is important to understand that sales occur in cycles. Right now we are in a valley. Everything comes to a screeching halt in July – home sales, car sale, and retail sales. It is the nature of the beast. Understand that this too shall pass and avoid going into panic mode.

I see many sellers panicking right now. They are drastically marking down their inventory as if buyers will never come back. They have stopped shopping for inventory. Some have even contemplated quitting their online business altogether. This is not necessary! Take a deep breath and repeat, “This too shall pass.”

Your panic is understandable if you rely on eBay and Amazon to earn your living. The best course of action right now is to regroup and get ready for fall and holiday sales. Also, remember this time so that next July you will be prepared and know that the slowdown in sales is only temporary. There is really nothing we can do to make buyers purchase our items. But, we can use this time wisely to grow our businesses and prepare for the busy fall season. Here are some suggestions on how to pass the time while you are waiting for those “Your item has sold!” emails:

1. Organize your inventory. Are your shelves and bins a mess? Use this time to get organized so that when you start shipping 10-20 packages a day, everything will be in order.

2. Stock up on supplies. Go to USPS.com and order free Priority supplies, look on Craigslist for ads for free bubble wrap and boxes, make sure you have plenty of shipping labels and printer ink. Take an inventory of your supplies and restock for the busy months ahead.

3. Investigate or read about something new you have wanted to try. Maybe you have been thinking about selling on Amazon but don’t know where to start. (Now is a great time to learn about selling on Amazon – come join my Facebook group and chat with us!) Maybe you have wanted to try international shipping but need to learn how it works. Expand your horizons. Take this slow time to learn and grow, rather than waste energy worrying and fretting about not getting sales.

4. Explore consignment arrangements. There are many benefits to selling on consignment. The most appealing (to me) is the fact that you don’t have to buy inventory. You sell things for other people for a commission. You put in the time and work, but it doesn’t cost money out of your pocket. Click here for a complete course on how to expand your online business to include consignment clients.

5. Shop for inventory. Stock up on items to sell whether you are selling on eBay or Amazon. Regardless of if people are buying now, you are going to need inventory to sell in the coming months.

6. Read books that will improve your business skills. I recommend:

  1. How to Sell at Margins Higher than Your Competitors
  2. Why we Buy
  3. Barcode Booty

Keep yourself busy doing productive tasks over the next 2-3 weeks and don’t worry! Back to school and holiday shopping time is just around the corner.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Beware of eBay Trading Assistant Scam

I’ve seen this scam several times with my clients, and last week, they hit me. The scam goes as follows:

You will receive an email like this, usually from a web based email account like Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail. It is usually in broken English with incorrect grammar. Below is the exact email I received:

I found your profile using eBay Trading Assistant Program and I'm offering a long term cooperation to you. I've agreements with different outlet stores in different states, that allows to get the brand new products for a much lower price. I've many business partners in different states, they help me to buy / ship off stuffs and they check its condition for some % from my profit that I get when I sell all this stuff using Ebay service. We ship completely different types of products (from ice skates to binoculars), the average price of the items is $300-$600. We usually use FedEx delivery service to ship off the packages and USPS (rarely). I'd like to know what is your fees structure. I usually choose money transactions through MoneyGram or Western Union as a payment method, because it's the most effective way for me and it's easy to send. It would be great, if you could provide this money-sending service for me. I'm really interested in cooperation with you. Let me know, if we can start immediately.


Basically this person wants YOU to list items, send them money for the inventory, and then they will ship the items when sold. What’s really going to happen is that unsuspecting sellers will send them money and list items, then when a sale is made, there is no item shipped. Sellers will have to refund money to the eBay buyers. Another red flag is the use of Western Union or Money Gram. Never ever transact business with someone you don’t know using this service.

I knew what was going on here, so I sent the following reply, not expecting an answer:

Dear Sir,

Wow, this sounds like a fantastic business opportunity! I just need a few things from you before we go any further.

Your full name, address (street address, no PO boxes), and social security number or EIN, which ever you do business under.

A copy of your current driver's license.

A landline phone number where you can be reached.

We run a background check on all consignment clients and must be able to verify your identity, business address, and telephone number.

The business name you operate under, what city and state you are registered in, and a copy of your current business license.

We charge 25% of the sale price, and your eBay fees and Paypal fees will be deducted separately. The fee structure differs based on the sale price of the item. This usually comes out to about 60% of the sale price.

As soon as I get the requested documents from you, (you can just scan and email them, or fax to XXX), I will have my attorney draw up the paperwork / agreement and have it Fed Ex'd to the address you provide.

Looking forward to doing business,
Suzanne Wells

Of course, by adding words like “background check, business license, and attorney” you won’t hear from them again. Maybe if these crooks get enough of these types of emails they will go away. And in the event you get a response with any information you can verify, contact the authorities who handle fraud.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011 Fall Seller Update

Did you receive your eBay seller update via email? If not, here are the highlights:

Get 25 extra characters in your title. The number of characters will be increased from 55 to 80. Remember, keywords in titles are how buyers find your listings. You will still need to follow the rules about keyword spamming, but a little extra room will allow for more descriptive words and hopefully, more visibility.

Return policy guidelines will be changing. Starting in 2012, you won’t be able to use the words “merchandise credit” or “exchange.” The verbiage will be changed to “money back, exchange, or no returns offered.”

Buyer Protection Cases will be handled differently. Beginning in August, if a buyer does not contact the seller before filing a claim, the case won’t be included in your performance rating. This is great news. How many times has a buyer filed a claim against you, and you didn’t even know there was a problem and could have quickly resolved it?

Click here to see the full 2011 Fall Seller Update.

Related Articles:

Keyword Spamming on eBay

Optimize Keywords for Search Engines

Know when to sell on eBay

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Make More Money on Amazon – Stop Undercutting the Competition!

Attn FBA Sellers: In case you were not aware, you do NOT have to be the lowest price to get the sale. (Kim and I will be going into detail on this in our book coming out in a few weeks.) We can all make money and share the sales at a higher price. Here is how.

Look at this product listing.

On the landing page it says, "Sold by Pillypaloo and Fulfilled by Amazon." Customers can buy the item directly from this page - it is called the page with the "buy box" - because you can buy it from here. Pillypaloo will get those sales. BUT......

What many Amazon sellers don't realize is that the seller featured on this page ROTATES. It isn't always going to be "Pillypaloo." It will rotate between however many FBA sellers have this item and are within 9 cents of each other. Even if it is 10 sellers all within 9 cents of each other. Any FBA seller will get a shot at being on the "buy box page" if they are within 9 cents of the lowest price.

Click here to look at how many FBA sellers have this product, and how they keep undercutting each other by a few cents. Undercutting by pennies is a silly marketing strategy and not necessary to get sales on Amazon. This thinking causes a race to the bottom and eventually, nobody wins.

If you are selling on Amazon, please stop playing "the penny game." You don't have to! I am selling a product right now with an $18 profit, and thankfully, I am assuming, my competitors know about the buy box. We are all holding firm at the same price. I am getting sales every few hours and so are my competitors. We all win.

Amazon is NOT eBay. You don't have to be the lowest price. This is especially true if Amazon does not have the product. Slow and steady wins the race - don't be in such a hurry to sell something!

If you don't understand, please ask questions on my Facebook group. This is really great information to help you make more money - to help us ALL make more money.

More Amazon Resources:

Understanding the Amazon Customer

Amazon FBA Recipe for Success

Make Money Selling Toys on Amazon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looking for Inventory? Check Out a Black Friday Sale…in July!

Here is an event that will be a great way to stock up on inventory for eBay and Amazon stores!

During the summer, the “Back to School” sales are usually the ones to watch for. Target has decided to get a jump on the August/September sale season by adding a black Friday sale…in July! The “Back in Black Friday” is an online summer sale that will be held this week.

Beginning at 12 am PST Friday, Target will be marking down more than 1,500 items with discounts ranging up to 50% off. The sale ends at 11:59 pm Friday night. The online sale will have limited quantities of each sale item just like a Black Friday sale at an actual store. Like the traditional Black Friday sale, the early shopper gets the deal! You can preview some of the items that will be on sale by visiting Target.com/BlackFriday.

Since Target offers free shipping on more than 500,000 items with a $50 or more order, you can combine the great deals from the “Back in Black Friday” sale with the free shipping offer to save even more. For more details on this offer, visit the Target Free Shipping Offer page.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Niche Product - Zumba Dance Accessories

One of the newest exercise fads is Zumba. It is a workout that combines a variety of music with dance steps that tone your body and provide a great cardio workout. Zumba targets your arms, legs, and abs while you burn fat. Plus, it’s easy and fun – always a plus for exercise!

Zumba uses mostly Latin music, similar to the type you would hear in a dance club. It also mixes Latin dancing such as Salsa and Flamenco with aerobic moves, making Zumba exercise more fun than just using weights and a treadmill. Zumba is low impact as well, which means it is great for beginners and people with a more advanced fitness level.

Although Zumba was only developed in 2001, Zumba’s website states that their program is not only the largest dance and fitness program around, but that it is also the most successful one. They have over 12 million people in weekly classes all around the world.

Zumba’s popularity has led to the creation of a large variety of products which are sold in brick and mortar stores and internet stores such as Amazon and eBay. There are Zumba books, toning sticks, clothes, CDs, DVDs, shirts, shoes, and even dumbbells designed specifically for Zumba exercise. The amazing popularity of Zumba means that these products are hot sellers right now.

According to Terapeak, the word “Zumba” results in a 69% sell through rate over a 30 day period. You will see Zumba items in the categories of clothing, sporting goods, video games, and DVDs. A 69% STR indicates an item is very popular and will sell quickly.

Related Articles:

Thrift Store Item to Sell on eBay - Gymnastics Leotards

eBay Seller Success Story - Weight Watcher's Slow Good Cookbook

Monday, July 11, 2011

It Takes Money to Make Money

In order to succeed in online sales you have to spend money. While you can try to find free items to resell on sites such as Freecycle and Craigslist, it’s difficult and very time consuming. Unfortunately, there is no way to get around the need to purchase inventory in order to sell online. But, there are some guidelines that you can follow to save yourself money and still build a successful business.

Start by selling items that you have in your possession already. This lets you build up some cash to buy more inventory without creating debt. It can also motivate you because you won’t be able to keep any of your profits until your business grows. You’ll have a great reason to keep expenses low and stay focused.

Don’t quit your day job. By working during the day, you can pay your living expenses while building a replacement income on the side. This allows you to put all your initial profits back into your business. Be fair to your current employer though - don’t situate yourself as their competition and always make sure that your job performance isn’t affected.

While you may need cash to put into building your business, it’s always a good idea not to borrow from your friends and family. They may be happy to help, but getting money involved in your relationship can cause problems quickly.

If you are interested in a loan, the SBA’s Microloan Program can be a great option. The loan is administered through lenders in your local area. You will likely be required to put up collateral, and you will also need to make a personal guarantee. Most loans are for around $10,500; however, there are loans available for up to $35,000. If you are interested in finding a participating organization in your area, check out the Small Business Association’s website.

Related Articles:

Free and Confidential Mentoring for Your Small Business

Does Your Home Based Business Need a License?

Small Business Networking, What it Means and How to Do It

Friday, July 8, 2011

eBay Apps for the iPhone

As iPhones become more and more popular, apps are being developed for just about everything. There are even apps that can help you with your online business.

One great option is the Terapeak app. Instead of buying inventory blindly, the Terapeak app will let you research the item to determine if it’s worth buying. You have the ability to search by time period, search by region, and even sort by price. Terapeak also lets you view similar items on eBay so you can easily tell which category you should list your item in. Click here for more information on Terapeak for eBay research.

eBay has also developed their own application for the iPhone. It lets you list and buy items directly from your phone. Plus, the app offers alerts so you know when an auction is about to end or someone has outbid you. You can also research items to find out the current selling price on eBay – this makes it easier to make purchases in stores and to buy inventory. You can even start your listing with information available online, and add pictures from your iPhone. Then you can share the completed listing on Twitter and Facebook.

Half.com has also developed an app that lets you scan a barcode to research prices on books, video games, DVDs, and other items. The majority of items that Half.com sells are textbooks, which makes the app especially useful for students and online book sellers. The Buying Wizard feature lets users sort their results by seller feedback and the condition of the item. It also offers the option to post items to Twitter and Facebook.

Related articles:

5 Best iPad Accessories to Sell on eBay

What Opportunities are Available to You?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Photo Placement is Important on eBay

If you are using a third party service to host your eBay photos, you may want to reconsider having eBay host your photos as well. When you upload your photos directly to eBay, they appear in the top left corner as one large photo and several small thumbnail photos underneath. What you may not realize is that if your photos are hosted on another site, they will not appear until lower in the page in the description area. Buyers may not scroll down to see photos, or even realize additional photos are present in the listing if they don’t see the thumbnails at the top. This is called placing your photos above the fold.

The term “above the fold” originated in the newspaper business. It was used to describe the section of the paper that everyone saw when it was on display. Newspapers designed their papers so that the most eye catching and important headlines were easily visible.

If you pay attention to the websites of big online stores, you’ll notice that the majority of them follow this principle. They place information about specials, marketing information, and any promotions currently available at the top of their webpage – above the fold. People have learned to look in this area for important information, and their reaction is no different when they’re shopping on eBay. If photos and other information aren’t immediately visible above the fold, many potential buyers may leave your listing and not bother to look any further. Making sure your listing has a good “headline” can entice potential customers to look further at your listing and ultimately make a purchase.

More eBay Optimization Tips:

Optimize Titles with Keywords

Naming Images

Using 30 Day and GTC Listings to Appear in Google Searches