Monday, December 30, 2013

Thank You, Amazon, for a Prosperous 2013

Looking back over 2013, I must say how much I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the Amazon Marketplace. I sold just shy of 3,400 items this year for gross sales of $69, 483. There are many sellers who sell much more than I do, however, Amazon is just one of many streams of income I have been able to establish and grow over the last 4 years.

I like to look back over the year and determine what worked and what didn't. Refining any business is an important part of growing and taking it to the next level. Refining is also important to step away from what isn't working and let things that no longer serve us go so we can move on to new ventures.

As I was doing my year-end evaluations, I saw some interesting data on keyword searches that might help other sellers.

223 orders for cereal, or an average of 18 orders a month. Isn't that amazing? People can buy cereal anywhere, but 223 people bought it from me on Amazon.

140 orders for coffee, or an average of 11 orders a month. You can buy coffee (or get it free) pretty much anywhere. 140 people chose to buy coffee from me on Amazon and have it delivered to them. Coffee I bought in my own neighborhood and shipped to Amazon.

90 orders for lemon flavored items. I'll refer to a quote from Mad Magazine, "We live in a world where lemonade is made from artificial flavoring and furniture polish is made from real lemons." And leave it at that.

67 orders for condoms. (Many were for more than 1 box.) Possibly hundreds of unwanted pregnancies prevented and helping prevent the transmission of STDs. Providing a product for people who want to be responsible, and are maybe too embarrassed to buy this product in a local store. I'm glad to be a part of that.

10 years ago when started selling online (because I went through a divorce and lost my job at the same time), I never dreamed earning a living could be this fun and rewarding. I'll be the first to say this type of business is work, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Amazon has really evolved and offers a lot of opportunities for the at-home seller. If you aren't taking advantage of the Amazon platform, why not make 2014 the year to learn?

If you are on the fence about getting started on Amazon, here is an easy road map. First, download my FREE eBook about selling books on Amazon. If you are brand new to Amazon, I suggest you start with books since most people have plenty of them around the house (or they are really cheap to purchase used for resale), and books don't require a lot of extra packaging like other products. Books are easy.

After you have mastered books, move on to retail items. Check out my downloadable course, "Amazon Recipe for Success" which is a self-paced tutorial about how to buy items in retail stores to resell on Amazon.

If you are already selling on Amazon and want to learn more about the grocery niche (my specialty), check out my downloadable course, "The ABCs of Selling Groceries on Amazon."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas - And Give Yourself a Pat on the Back!


I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas - we made it!

Whether you sold on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or any other site,  you helped make someone else's holiday a little more special, a little brighter. We can get caught up in the buying, listing, shipping cycle in our own little worlds secluded in our homes. But remember that someone is on the receiving end of that item and the work you did, the time you spent, and your effort makes a difference for somebody else.

Maybe you sold toys, health and beauty items, sporting goods, or food items on Amazon. You could have helped a busy single working mom get the perfect hard-to-find toy for her child - something she may not have been able to find where she lives and didn't have time to drive around and search for.

Maybe you sold unique handcrafted items on Etsy. Your work and creativity is going to brighten someone's day and make them feel special.

Maybe you sold a gently used item on eBay, that was exactly what someone wanted. (Like the year I gave my brother a vintage Evel Knievel action figure to bring back memories of our childhood and his smile was priceless.)

Not only did you help the gift-giver find the perfect item, but your effort is going to make someone smile on Christmas morning. All because we have a computer, the internet, and the desire to do what we do every day.

So tomorrow, when you are enjoying the day with family and friends, think about how many other people you impacted around the world because you chose to do this thing called "ecommerce." You are part of something bigger, something that matters. Now doesn't that make you feel good?

And for heaven's sake, take the day off! You will need to rest up for all those after-Christmas clearance sales.

Love you all and Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 23, 2013

New Podcast - Baby Items to Sell on eBay, Amazon, and Etsy

When people say "baby items" are good sellers, maybe you don't know exactly what they are referring to. There are lots of baby products on the market beyond clothing, toys, and blankets. Learn what you might be leaving behind in thrift stores, garage sales, and consignment stores that can be sold online for good profit.

Listen To Business Internet Radio Stations with Online Selling with Suzanne Wells on BlogTalkRadio
Related Podcasts:

Trash that Sells on eBay 

 Kitchen Items

Perfume Bottles and Cosmetics

Friday, December 20, 2013

What's the Best Camera to Use for eBay?

This question is asked frequently in different eBay groups and forums, so earlier this year I took a survey on my Facebook Group of online sellers to find the answer. Looks like most sellers use the camera on their mobile phone, which is understandable since that is a free option and the photos can be good enough for eBay.

Many sellers start off on eBay as an experiment to see how the platform works and don't really want to invest a lot of money up front buying supplies and equipment. In fact, many sellers are now listing directly from their mobile phone or tablet so that's why they are using the camera built into the device they are listing from.

This discussion had quite a few comments about different cameras and pros and cons of each. Read the full discussion here. 

A few photo tips:

1. Make sure you zoom in as close to the item as possible, all the way to the edges. This is especially important for mobile customers who are looking at them on a small screen.

2. Use a solid background.

3. Make sure nothing distracting is in the background, like a child, dog, pile of laundry, etc. Details matter! (Avoid reflectoporn! Google that word if you aren't familiar...)

4. Consult the eBay Photo Guide here - it is free and full of tips to help improve photos, which will improve sales.

Related Articles:

Turn eBay Watchers into Buyers

5 Ways to Rank Higher in eBay Search

One-on-One Help for Your eBay Business

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

eBay CEO John Donahoe's Response to Amazon Drones

Interesting interview with eBay CEO John Donahoe and his reaction to the news story about Amazon delivery drones. Also an interesting conversation about how John and his wife are "working parents."

Monday, December 16, 2013

eBay Seller Success Story - Tiffany Nabors

I met Tiffany Nabors, also known as Reseller Girl on Facebook, a few months ago. (Well, we haven't actually met, but are virtual friends.) She is truly a success story and chose to do eBay because of the freedom it allows her to be available for her special needs son. Here is Tiffany's story.

She started her business with $20.  She didn't have all of the bells and whistles ( nice camera, lights, backdrop, etc.) but with the strong desire to make it work so she could make money at home while fulfilling the demands of being a mom. She had a solid white sheet and laid items out flat on the floor to take photos. After a few sales, she reinvested the earnings into inventory and basic supplies instead of spending a lot of money up front.  Tiffany makes it clear to other sellers, "eBay isn't a get rich quick business, but it can be very lucrative if you spend the time learning what to look for." Here is Tiffany's work room and photo area.

She started back in 2003 when the responsibility involved with caring for her special needs son no longer worked with her "regular" job. She sells mostly women's clothing and shoes. She is a one-woman show at this time. Like other sellers, Tiffany tried hiring other helpers in the past but it hasn't worked out yet. She says, "It is hard to find other people who will love your business as much as you do."

She finds her items at thrift stores, consignment stores, and Goodwill. She currently has 1370 items listed. Last year she had 1700. She moved to a new area recently and took some time off for the move and to get settled.  Tiffany says, "That is the beauty of eBay, I can still take time off while providing an income for my family!" Her monthly profit has been as high as $3,500 a month. She admits sales are down right now and she is still learning Cassini and working on reformatting her listings. Here is her storage area:

Tiffany's best tip you for other sellers who are struggling:  "Research!  Things change constantly.  When I first started one of the items I always looked for was BCBG, it sold quickly and for a big profit.  It still sells, but not as quickly or for as much."

Visit Tiffany's eBay store at Round Robin Boutique.

Do you have an interesting eBay story to share? Do you sell something unusual, or maybe run your eBay business in a unique way or from an unusual location? I'd love to feature your story here. Just contact me using the box on the sidebar and let's talk. The more we share with each other the more successful we can all be.

Other eBay Success Stories:

From Librarian to eBay Top Rated Seller

Karen Wilson - Family First

eBay Basement Boutique

Friday, December 13, 2013

eBay for Business on Facebook and Twitter

Have you liked and followed the new eBay for Business pages on Facebook and Twitter? eBay has reached out to sellers on social media with real people who engage in conversation and networking. According to the About page on Facebook, "Get the tools, tips, and inspiration to grow your business on eBay." The page is managed by Audrey Tracy, the eBay Community Manager.

Guidelines for the Facebook page:

Welcome to the eBay for Business page. We’re glad you’re here.

This page provides a way for sellers to interact with and gain knowledge from eBay and each other. It is intended to be a useful exchange of information regarding all things eBay. As such, we encourage any and all questions and commentary, including criticism.

We won't allow any forms of hate speech (personal attacks, profanity, racism, etc.), harassing or SPAM comments and this content will be removed immediately.

We will also remove any posts containing personally identifying information regarding a transaction including usernames, item numbers or case IDs.

We reserve the right to block individuals from posting to our Facebook page who violate this policy.

I think this is a great idea for eBay Corporate to provide real people for us to engage with online. Sometimes we just want a real person at eBay to listen to us, and really HEAR what w are saying. Keep in mind this Facebook group is not the place to come with your specific account problems or issues, but more of a networking zone where you can keep up to date with current eBay events and changes, as well as meet other sellers to learn from.

Learn more about eBay for Business at these links:

Audrey Tracy of eBay for Business on eBay Radio

Like their Facebook page

Follow them on Twitter

Visit the eBay for Business web page

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top 3 Grocery Items to Sell on Amazon

Selling groceries on Amazon has proven to be a profitable and interesting journey in my eCommerce career. I started selling groceries on Amazon in 2010 and quickly learned that the opportunities are endless. The most difficult concept about selling groceries for my clients to grasp is that not everyone is seeing the same grocery products that you are. Regional and specialty products continue to gain popularity on Amazon and it just takes some time and research to figure out how to make it all work.

I've noticed some patterns with my own grocery business that may be helpful to others looking to start selling grocery items on Amazon, or to expand your current product line and think outside the box a bit. So here is my top 3 list.

Coffee. According to Food, "Overall coffee consumption jumped by five percentage points this year, according to the NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) market research study. With this increase, 83% of the U.S. adult population now drinks coffee. At the same time, daily consumption remained strong and steady at 63%, while those who drink coffee at least once per week was up slightly to 75%." Coffee is an extremely diverse product line with many options. The variations range from brand, flavor, packaging, and caffeine level. Have you ever looked at how many different ways coffee is sold? Beans, ground, instant, pods, K-cups, discs, single serving packs, tea-bag style, capsules, and even ready-made beverages. Coffee usually has a long shelf life so you don't have to obsess over the expiration date, and it travels well, (no breakage). Amazon shows 62,000 offerings for coffee, only 8,200 are Prime Eligible - or 86% that are NOT Prime Eligible.  Remember, it is estimated that Amazon has over 10 million Prime customers - they are waiting for items to become Prime Eligible and purchase them. Lots of opportunity in this category.

Cereal.  Another diverse product line with many variations. There are 7,700 offers for cereal on Amazon, with only 1,675 of them Prime Eligible. In August 2012, The NPD Group reported that "Cereal has a penetration rate of about 90% in U.S. homes (97% in homes with kids)." It would be impossible for Amazon to stock every single option - there are just too many. Variations include hot vs. cold cereal, kids vs. adult cereal, regular size boxes vs. individual serving size, wheat / corn / rice / oat varieties, gluten-free, organic, Kosher, vegan, vegetarian, low fat, sugar-free, non-GMO, with or without dried fruit, the list goes on and on. Cereal travels well (no breakage) and it is a common household food in most American homes. My best tip here is to avoid selling cereal in single boxes because they can go into Add-On status and sales will stall. (Learned that the hard way.)

Nuts and Seeds. Amazon shows over 27,000 listings for nuts in the grocery and gourmet food category, but only 4,000 are Prime Eligible.That leaves a lot of room for FBA sellers to add these offerings to Prime Customers.  So let's talk nuts - another category with lots of variations - peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds are sold in bags, cans, boxes, and single-serve packs. They travel well, usually have a long shelf life, and are a popular healthy snack.

When you consider the research, and how many products in the Grocery and Gourmet Food category that are already listed on Amazon and are not Prime Eligible - it just makes sense to make them available for Prime Buyers. What are you walking by in the grocery store every week that you could be selling over and over again on Amazon every month?

Check out my downloadable course, "The ABCs of Selling Groceries on Amazon" to learn more about this fun niche.

Related Articles:

How Kraft Foods Made a Mortgage Payment for Me in 2012

Using Grocery Stores as an Inventory Source

Sunday, December 8, 2013

eBay Seller Success Story - From Librarian to Top Rated Seller

Meet Guusje Moore, a librarian since 1976 who turned her passion for books into a thriving home business by learning to sell on eBay and Amazon. I've had the pleasure of knowing Guusje (pronounced hoo-sha - it's Dutch) for a while on different Facebook groups. She is the go-to person for book questions and is always eager to share what she knows to help other sellers succeed. 

Guusje has been selling on eBay since 2000 and has over 7,000 feedbacks. She started selling on eBay because her twin girls were accepted at colleges whose tuition was not affordable on a teacher’s salary. She needed to earn more money. She didn’t want to tutor or work at a department store and had a house full of extra books and along with two Bachelor’s degrees and a Masters. She decided to retire early to sell online on a full time basis. 

Guusje sells on both Amazon and eBay. She started out and still considers herself a book seller and Amazon is her venue of choice for books. I enjoy watching Guusje post her book finds on Facebook, like these - what looks boring to the average person is really quite profitable.

She uses eBay for books and uses multiple pictures on those listings. When out thrifting for books, she will also pick up odds and ends to sell on eBay. In her eBay store she offers Vera Bradley, mugs, books, clothing, Starbucks memorabilia and kitchen items.  She will sell just about anything that will reward her with a decent profit. She acquired some square-dancing dresses and bloomers a while back - now there is something you don't see every day! She paid $31 for 5 crinoline petticoats, 10 sets of bloomers, and 25 dresses. The petticoats sold for between $60 and $80 each. Below is a screenshot of a dress sale.

Guusje worked as a one-woman show until June of 2012. She was still working full-time as a librarian but made time to grow her on-line business. Once profits allowed she hired a twice-a-month housecleaning service. Once Amazon started filing a 1099 with the IRS, she hired a bookkeeper and a CPA.  She feels that’s one of the best decisions she ever made. Guusje is like many at-home eBay sellers, she is not "a numbers person and I’m happy to pay someone who enjoys that sort of thing."

In June of 2013 she decided to ramp up eBay again and hired a couple of teenagers to help her create listings. This proved to be very effective and now a friend joins her for between 3 -8 hours a week in writing listings. She went from 0 eBay listings in June 2013 to 50, to a store, then graduated to a Premium Store. She now has about 425 active listings, most of which are fixed price with Best Offer.  Guusje feels that "eBay 2013 is totally different from E-bay 2000."  She recently hit $10,000 in sales for 120 days on her dashboard summary and was thrilled.

Guusje calls herself a "bottom feeder" and everything she sells comes from thrift stores, garage and estate sales.  She loves the thrill of the hunt and has zero interest in wholesaling. Right now, she has 425 items on eBay, and about 800 on Amazon. She keeps "a lean and mean Amazon inventory."Her profit varies throughout the year, but is usually between $3,000 - $4,000 a month.

Her advice to newbies or those struggling:

Scout every day if you can or at least 4-5 times a week.

Don't waste time on things that sell for less than $8, even if you got the item for free. Your time is never free.

Be selective in what you buy and list, it's not about how many listings you have but how many good listings you have.

Guusje's final thoughts:
"For 12 years I worked full time and built my business.  It was hard work, especially the last couple of years when I basically had 2 full time jobs.  I didn’t want to retire from the day job till my on-line business plus my very small pension equaled my day job salary.  I’d seen several people retire thinking they would build their business and then running into cash flow issues and not being able too.   As hard as those last few years were I’m glad I chose that route"

Friday, December 6, 2013

Etsy for Beginners Course Now Available for Download

According to the Etsy BlogSeptember 2013, Etsy experienced a "42.6% increase in dollars of goods sold compared to last year (September 2012), and a 39.3% increase in items sold. The Etsy community continues to be a vibrant source of new growth."

Etsy has more of a boutique atmosphere and attracts customers who will pay for items at higher price points than on eBay. Etsy's fees are much lower than eBay's, and listing is faster and less complicated than eBay.  Take a look at all the different kinds of vintage items for sale on Etsy here.

With this trend in mind, you asked, and we listened! Etsy for Beginners is now a downloadable course. If you aren't listing your vintage items like clothing, home decor, kitchen items, or collectibles on Etsy, you are leaving money on the table.

Why not list on both sites and increase your chances of a sale? The instant download includes:

60 minute audio & video recording of the class

96-page ebook with the entire presentation, glossary of terms, and pertinent links

Insights on how to make the transition from eBay to Etsy

Purchase your download now and get started making money on Etsy!

Related Articles:

Vintage flip clock radios
 Chenille bedspreads

Vintage items to sell on eBay

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

eBay Success Story - Karen Wilson

Karen has been a contributing member of my Facebook Group for quite a while and I have seen her eBay business take off lately. She has overcome a lot to get her business to this level and her struggles may help someone else. Here's her story.

Karen's first sale was in February 2010. She played around with eBay for a year just to bring in some extra cash for the family. In 2011 her husband, Rick, experienced some pay cuts at his job so having an eBay business already set up came in handy. In August of this year, Rick took the plunge and became an entrepreneur with a new venture and Karen focused on building the eBay business. When Rick's business is slow, he helps Karen with some of the eBay tasks, like taking photos of items.

Karen and Rick's children are their motivation to succeed. In Jan 2007 their first-born child died suddenly. They know first-hand how precious time with kids really is. Rick fully supports Karen's eBay business and he wants so badly to be home for the kids as much as possible and will do anything to make that work. Karen sees how much their children are loving having their Daddy home and she wants to be able to keep it that way. 

Karen sells a little bit of everything in her store including clothes, shoes, toys, ornaments, and household items. She finds items to sell in her own house (kids outgrown toys and clothes), thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales. She also has four clients she consigns for. Since deciding to focus on their eBay venture as a business, Karen's monthly profit has increased from $1,000 to $2,000 a month. She currently has just shy of 800 items in her store, Karen's Crazy Closet. She is a Top Rated Seller with 100% positive feedback.

Karen's best advice to other sellers who are struggling:

"I try to stay as informed as much I can. I follow 2 Facebook pages and gain a lot of information and advice from there. I have a group of 3 other women who have eBay stores.  We help each other and learn from each other.  Roll with all of the changes that eBay makes instead of fighting the change.  Sometimes less is more. I had a little over 1000 listings just a month ago. I realized many of those were old and stale and not worth keeping on there. I’ve either donated them, auctioned them, or discounted them to get rid of them. I am really trying to clean up my store so that each and every listing I have is my best listing."

Great advice, Karen, and thanks for sharing!

If you would like to have your eBay story featured here, just drop me a note using the contact box in the right sidebar. The more we share with each other, the more successful we can all be.

More eBay success stories:

Check out this eBay sellers space!

eBay seller success- Smith Corona typewriter

Monday, December 2, 2013

Free Help for Your eBay Business

eBay Seller Outreach is a free service offered by eBay, available to any seller who wants to use it. eBay really does want its sellers to succeed, and a free short phone call can provide sellers with helpful information about their stores or listings. Many sellers are confused about how DSRs can affect their selling ability, how they can increase sales and traffic, and how to reach Top Rated Seller status so they can place higher in searches and receive a monthly discount on fees. An Outreach Specialist will help you understand eBay Best Practices and how you can refine your strategy to take your business to the next level. They will help you understand what is working with your business, and what isn't.

A 15-minute call with eBay Seller Outreach can shed valuable light on new ways to improve your eBay business, and best of all, it is totally free. Everyone has 15 minutes they can invest in improving their business, right?  Schedule your session here, and take advantage of this valuable free service.

Classes this Week

We have a light schedule for classes during the month of December. Join me on Tuesday evening, December 3, for the Pre-Owned Women's Clothing Class at 11 AM Eastern. Learn what you might be leaving behind in thrift stores that sells well on eBay. The class is 1 hour long. If you can't attend but would like the course material, you will also receive a recording of the class in addition to all of the other materials. Just sign up at the link above, and everything will be delivered to you via email after the class is over.

I am working on Level 2 of this class which will showcase more specific pre-owned clothing items that are good sellers on eBay. Level 2 is coming soon!