Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's not stalking - it's research!

Whether you sell from a brick and mortar location or online, one way to increase sales is to get to know your customers. As online sellers, we are at a disadvantage because we can't talk to our customers face to face to find out how to better serve them. We have to rely on clues left in feedback comments, questions, or learning to recognize buying patterns.

One easy way to find out more about your customers is by using Google Maps. Just enter the customer's address in Google Maps and you can see where it is located. Sometimes you can see an exact photo of the building. I have recently started to closely examine the addresses of where both my eBay and Amazon items are being shipped to. This is a very enlightening exercise. I'd like to share a few interesting sales I've had lately.

Amazon shipped 6 of a baby product to an address in New York. My first thought was, "Why does somebody want 6 of these?" The address is for an office building. After searching Google for the name of the building, I also learned that there is a day care center in the building for the employees. Aha, makes sense.

4 units of a coffee product went to a New York address. This buyer bought my last 4 units. Their address is 524 West 57th Street,New York, NY 10019. Look who it is:

Based on these two examples, we can conclude that businesses like to order products online just as much as individuals do. And they will order more than an individual would order. Understanding this can be a game changer. Businesses have deeper pockets than consumers and need more supplies. I have started to stock more of these kinds of products now that I understand that businesses utilize the Amazon Prime Account. What if CBS News wanted 8 of the product, and I only had 4? You are leaving money on the table by not having plenty in stock.

Here is another interesting situation. I sold my last few units of a product to a weird sounding address in California. After finding the address on Google Maps, I can see it is in the San Bernardino National Forest. 

The product isn't a camping or sporting goods product so I was surprised to see it going to this type of address. Note to self - buy more! Maybe someone is camping there for an extended period of time and ordering supplies from their iPhone or satellite computer hookup in an RV. Maybe the lodge is buying it to resell to guests. Maybe it is a park ranger living there. Who knows! This example enlightened me because I had no idea people out in a National Forest would be using this product - or ordering so much at a time.

Another example is APO or FPO military addresses. You can find out where the item is going by searching Google for the APO or FPO zip code. These might not show up on Google Maps but you can find out on the web where the location is. I saw this one today: 

FPO, AP 96650

Right now this aircraft carrier is located in the South China Sea. What's also interesting is the number of crew. Over 6,000 people. All these service people have access to the internet and can receive mail on the ship. Pay attention to what they are ordering. And it will come in an Amazon box so other people might see this person receive his order and understand that he / she can order products this way, too.

My teenage daughter comments that I am stalking my customers online. I argue that it is research. The better you know who your customers are and where they are, the better you can serve them. So pay attention to your orders on eBay and Amazon, especially when multiple units are ordered. This is valuable information. And it is totally free! You don't need a special tool or subscription to look up an address on Google Maps. Just pay attention.

What are some interesting locations you have shipped items to?

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Tuesday Morning’s Redesigns Its Customer Rewards Program

Tuesday Morning recently rolled out its new Tuesday Morning Perks program for its shoppers. The program replaces the E Treasures/Preferred Customer program the company had been running for years.
The new program is free to join. Once you are a member, you will receive:

  • Priority notice of all Tuesday Morning clearance and sale events
  • Exclusive promotional events
  • VIP private shopping previews
  • Special pricing on selected products
  • Automatic entry into a quarterly sweepstakes such as a vacation getaway for two, a shopping spree and more
  • 60-day return policy
  • The program is still under development and the company is telling its Perks members to watch their email because there are “more exciting rewards to come”.
    Currently, you cannot sign up for the program online as with many other retailers. To help make it a little easier, the company has posted a sign-up form that you can fill out at home and take by your local store to pick up your card.
    To grab your sign-up form and for more information on the program, click here.

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    How eBay Helped Me Pull $62 Out of Thin Air
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    Friday, September 21, 2012

    I am Not Ashamed to be a Thrifter!

    Thrift store shopping has been a part of my ecommerce business since I started selling on eBay in 2003. I had never set foot into a thrift store until I had sold most of my own junk and needed to find more items to sell. Back in those days, only a rare few of us used eBay to earn our living full time - as a way to support our families. So thrift stores became my office! I got to know them well.

    Thrift stores are definitely a gold mine for products to sell online but it takes practice and and patience to learn what to sell. I enjoy selling clothing the best. For me it just comes easy. (I haven't hit my stride with coffee mugs or ugly Christmas sweaters yet.) Clothing as a product line appeals to me because it is easy to pack and ship, everyone around the world needs it (about 1/3 of my clothing sales are international), and it doesn't take up much space to store.

    My friend and ecommerce colleage Kim Tarrant joined me on this trip. Although we both have been selling online for almost 10 years, our business models haven't always been the same. Kim had never been thrifting, so my daughter and I gave her a lesson. You can see Kim has the "deer in the headlights" look here:

    Thrifting can definitely be overwhelming! Start with what you already know and gradually branch out to other departments. A good starting place for moms is children's clothing. Use the eBay app to check completed listings on items to get an idea for the sell through rate and possible selling price. Don't be afraid to experiment.

    What did we end up with? A new in the box Mindflex Game, about 20 cashmere sweaters, Nike athletic wear, vintage wool sweater with pewter buttons, vintage Woolrich flannel shirt, a Canari cycling jersey, some cool t-shirts, and some Chico's clothing. We will both profit a few hundred dollars from this one thrifting expedition.

    For a quick tutorial, check out my book on Kindle, What to Buy at Thrift Stores to Sell on eBay. The book showcases my 40 items commonly found in thrift stores that you can sell on eBay for profit.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Celebrity Chooses Etsy TO Support Charity

    Image courtesy of Rose's Etsy Shop
    Many of us use online selling sites as a way to create income or support causes we support. I have written in the past about stars who have chosen eBay to run auctions to support their favorite charities. Now a celebrity has chosen Etsy to support her latest cause.

    Comedian and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell is now using the site to help raise money for a charity that is important to her and her family. The charity O’Donnell is supporting is The Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation. Her partner, Michelle Rounds, is battling the rare condition. Three in one million are affected by the condition that can be life threatening or even fatal if it grows undetected near vital organs.

    The listings are original pieces of art that Rosie created. In the past, Rosie has used eBay to sell these items but currently there are no listing attributed to her eBay account. Rosie has used Etsy in the past to support her charity, Rosie’s Broadway Kids (now known as Rosie’s Theater Kids), which helps to fund arts education to low-income children in New York City.

    To view Rose’s listings, visit Etsy. To find out more about this rare condition, please visit The Desmoid Tumor Foundation.

    Related Links:

    Olympic Item on eBay Funds Charity

    Looks Like Cher Has Joined the eBay Craze

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    Friday, September 14, 2012

    How Much Is That Apple iPhone In the Box?

    Images courtesy of eBay

    With the upcoming release with the upcoming release of the new Apple iPhone 5, I am sure some of us are wondering what to do with the old one (if we upgrade). You may be wondering what you will get for that used iPhone 3G or 4S.

    What if you had a 1st generation iPhone 3G that was new in box? Have you ever wondered what you could get for that? Well, one seller on eBay thinks it should be $10,000. Below is a screenshot of the actual listing.

    Top-rated seller Samsonbible has listed his new in box Apple iPhone 1st Generation with 8 gigabytes of memory for that amount. Photos show the phone in a cellophane-wrapped box that appears to have never been opened. The seller has called the item a “Crown Jewel for any collection”. So far, no buyers agree with him unfortunately. The item was recently relisted.

    Related posts:

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    Bakelite – What Is It and Why Is It Collectible?

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    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Etsy Gets Ready For the Holiday Season

    There are a few changes going on at Etsy that are in the working to make the Holiday season more successful for Etsy shop keepers.

    Recently, Etsy began offering shopkeepers the option to accept credit cards (and not just PayPal) for purchases made in their shops. The direct checkout option is seen as a way of getting more customers to buy on Etsy by using a direct checkout that does not involve PayPal in any way. Many crafters are seeing increases in sales in the few weeks since the credit card option has been available.

    With the credit card payments, the money is held in the shop’s account and is scheduled for disbursement to the shopkeeper’s bank account each Monday. Shopkeepers do have the option to schedule a deposit more quickly if they wish. The processing fee is 3% + $0.25 per order.

    To help those who are looking to try out the direct checkout for their shop, Etsy is waiving all credit card processing fees for the month of September. To find out if your shop is eligible to sign up for direct checkout, please click here.

    With direct checkout as an option, Etsy is bringing on a new selling tool. This fall, Etsy Gift Cards will become available in the US. The gift cards will only be available for use in shops that have the direct checkout option available. Etsy will also use the gift cards as promotional tools for the site this holiday season. The ability to accept gift cards is a feature Etsy sellers and buyers have been requesting for quite a while. The gift card will be a promotional code that can be emailed to the buyer.

    In order to develop the system that would allow gift cards to be accepted at any store on its site, Etsy had to add the direct checkout option to its site. PayPal does not allow a central checkout. PayPal checkouts are unique to each seller and cannot accept gift cards. To see what experiences some Etsy sellers have had since adding direct checkout to their shops, click here.

    Related posts:

    How to Sell on Etsy – Part One

    How to Sell on Etsy – Part Two

    Improve Your Listing Photos with This Free Tool

    Friday, September 7, 2012

    New eBook on Kindle - Thrifting for eBay


    It is finally here! My first book on Kindle. Originally written in 2008, I have recently updated my best selling ebook, "What to Buy at Thrift Stores to Sell on eBay for Profit." Throughout my eBay career which began in 2003, the most frequently asked question I hear is, “What do I buy to resell?” This ebook contains a list and short description of items I have found in thrift stores that sold for good profit on eBay. There are countless “What to Sell on eBay” lists for sale out on the internet. Many of these lists contain rare items that sell for insane prices. Most of us will never find these rare items such as an authentic autographed baseball card, rare coffee mugs selling for hundreds of dollars, or one-of-a-kind authentic Star Wars collectibles.

    This eBook is a practical list of items commonly found in thrift stores that sellers can find repeatedly and sell for at least $10 or more profit. This eBook is about using the resources available in your community, rather than the rare score that will result in several hundred dollars profit. It’s my personal list of best sellers. These are items that I have found in thrift stores regularly that have sold within a few months, and produced a 50% or higher profit margin. From 2003-2009, eBay was my full-time job and I learned to sell thrift store items as a way to support my family. $10 per item profit may not sound like much, but when you learn to source and sell 300-400 items a month, the pennies and dollars add up.

    With some effort and persistence, the average person can find and sell these items repeatedly. Making money on eBay as a business is about consistency, repetition, and perseverance, not so much the huge occasional scores you see on the news. This list does not include everything I’ve ever sold or every possible item you could find to resell for profit on eBay as the possibilities are endless. Remember, eBay is constantly evolving and trends will change. Continue to do your own research to stay in touch with the latest “hot” items on eBay. These are my personal best selling items since I started selling on eBay in 2003. Consider this list a starting point that you can then add to as your knowledge and experience grows.

     If you do not have a Kindle reader, you may still be able to read the book using one of several kindle apps. Click here to see a list of Kindle apps , including the Kindle reader that can be installed on your desktop computer. I am thrilled and honored to be a part of the Kindle community. Check out my eBook here, and find out what good sellers you might be leaving behind in your local thrift stores!

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Setting up an Assistant to Help With Your Amazon Account

    Have you found yourself wishing that you had more hours to the day to work on your inventory? Do you wish you could use an assistant with your Amazon account? Well, you can!

    While it may be against the rules to login to your Amazon Seller Central dashboard from more than one location, you can give others the permission to log into your account. If you’re working with an assistant, this would be a good setup for you.

    What could this person do for you and your business? The new user could be a new business partner you have added to your business. The person you set up an account for could help manage inventory or enter shipping confirmations on merchant filled items. The choice is yours. You can control what the person can do and what they can see by changing the permissions for their user account.

    In order to add users to your Amazon Seller Central, there are a couple of requirements that are needed:

    1. You must have a pro merchant account

    2. In the beginning, only the original account user can setup new user accounts (After you have added others, you can give another user on your account the ability to add users if needed.)

    In order to set up new users on your account you will need to visit the “User Permissions” page on Amazon Seller Central. You may find that page by clicking the”Settings” tab and choosing “User Permissions”. Once you are on the “User Permissions” page, you can enter the email address of the person who will be assisting you. This will send an invitation the invited person will have to accept before they can access your account. You can easily add or remove users as needed.

    To find out more about adding users and how to do it, please visit Seller Central.

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    Hiring Help for Your eBay Business

    Make 2011 Easier – Outsource It!