Product Sourcing Ideas – Dropshipping

When you are beginning your ecommerce business, one of the first hurdles is deciding on what you will sell.

There are a variety of places and means to source product – you need to decide which one will work best for you and your business. Today’s blog post will address a low cost way to enter the market: dropshipping

Sometimes this is the easiest and lowest risk way of getting into an ecommerce business. Simply put, drop shipping is the process of listing merchandise for sale that is owned and warehoused by a third party. Once you sell the merchandise, you notify the drop-shipper who will ship out the product to your customer for you. Sounds easy, right? The secret here is finding a RELIABLE and TRUSTWORTHY source with a product line that is IN DEMAND.

Most legitimate drop shippers will not require a minimum purchase or charge a monthly fee, but there are exceptions to even that rule. Do your homework – research potential drop shippers by entering the dropshipper’s name into a search engine and add the words “complaints” “sucks” “reviews”. Also research what the fees are and figure out if there is a market for their products and what the going rate is. Take a look at private web sites, ebay and Amazon to start. Figure out if it is worth it to sell their products after you factor in the fees that each marketplace charges, the fees from the dropshipper and the cost of the merchandise.

Next up: distributors

Tips for Increasing Traffic to Your eBay Listings

By Dan Caplan

The eBay message boards are filled with posts by sellers about how eBay’s new Best Match has taken  seller’s items and made them nearly invisible to buyers. The result, of course, is a decrease in sales.

Trying to adapt to Best Match is a challenge for sellers and although time and energy should be put into maximizing Best Match results another essential course of action for eBay sellers is to rely less on eBay driving buyers to your listings and figuring out ways to drive buyers to your listings yourself.

I have compiled a list of ways to drive buyers to your listings to supplement Best Match.  If any readers have any additional methods, please add them to the list.

Google Base Store Connector
Use Google Base Store Connector to get your listings indexed in Google Search results.  Here is a link to the free program that will send your eBay listing info to Google.

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Feedback – Is it even necessary anymore?

Written by Cyn

Feedback is an issue that causes much angst to sellers both on eBay and Amazon.  Many times the negative feedback left is irrelevant to the transaction especially when the buyer has not even contacted the seller.  So I ask you – Is feedback even necessary in 2009?  How many buyers even review a seller’s feedback?  On Amazon the seller’s feedback is pretty much hidden, especially if the seller has the coveted “buy-box”.  It is also extremely lopsided since so few buyers actually leave feedback on Amazon.  On eBay many buyers do not understand the feedback percentages and don’t take the time to review the comments.  This is obvious when you see a seller with 89% feedback, yet all their 99 cent junk auctions have bids.

So what other mechanisms could replace feedback and help reduce scam sellers?  Both eBay and Amazon already have the mechanisms in place, they just don’t publish the information derived from these mechanisms to the buying community.

Amazon has the A to Z Guarantee and eBay has the Paypal SNAD and INR dispute consoles.  Just these programs could be used to guage a seller’s trustworthiness.  Yes, I know there are claims that are decided against the seller unfairly, but truely, if you are a professional seller what is going to be your percentage of these claims?  It should be extremely low.  By publishing the sellers number of transactions, as well as the number of claims decided against them, should be enough for a wary buyer to determine if they want to do business with the seller or not.

Or to take it one step further, the venues could be more responsible for their sellers.  Amazon tracks A to Z claims, amongst other criteria, and supposedly takes steps to limit sellers who do not meet their criteria.  eBay is attempting to do the same thing, but not with very good results.  If eBay would focus more on their seller relations instead of on Worst Match, they could come up with a logical and fair way to rate sellers and determine which ones are not performing to expectations.

To sum it up – What do buyers want?  They want to shop on eBay and Amazon and buy what they want and know they will receive what they bought in a timely manner.  They want to trust that eBay and Amazon are offering them products from reliable, honest sellers.  They don’t want to have to spend 2 minutes researching the seller before making a purchase.  I believe that buyers want the venues to vet the sellers, not make the buyers do that themselves.

So do away with feedback, monitor the sellers, and let the buyers do what they do best – BUY!

Too MANY Payment Options?

Written by Cyn

With the launch of Checkout by Amazon  I have to ask myself – is there such a thing as too many payment options?  When a buyer comes to my site, what are they looking for as far as payment options?  Currently I offer Paypal, Google Checkout and a merchant account.  50% of my shoppers choose the merchant account, 25% Paypal and 25% Google Checkout.

Would I not be shooting myself in the foot by adding another payment option?  Considering each payment processor offers reduced fees based on volume, by having too many options, and spreading that volume among 3 processors, I am paying higher processing costs.

When I only offered Paypal, I had a lot of abandoned shopping carts and even a few potential customers email me that they canceled their order because they couldn’t use their credit card directly.  So I’ve added a merchant account and have had no more abandoned carts.  I may even experiment with deleting Paypal and Google Checkout for a month.  See if I get any requests for them, or if my abandoned carts return.  If I were to process all payments through my merchant account, I could save quite a bit of money on processing fees with the reduced percentages.

So for me, Amazon Checkout is a non-event.  Too many hands in the pie.

How to Fix The eBay Feedback Fiasco

Written by Cyn

I applaud eBay management for taking steps to “fix” feedback on the site. The changes are in the right direction, but there are still some things that could be fixed to make feedback more fair for both buyers and sellers. After much thought, I agree with the proposal that sellers should not be able to leave negative feedback for buyers, IF the following changes are also implemented.

First, I propose that eBay do away with “neutral” feedback as it doesn’t do anyone any good. It is unfair to call something “neutral” that really doesn’t have a neutral effect. I understand that eBay feedback percentage is “Positive Percentage” which is why neutrals now effect the score. However, many neutrals are left as a form of communication rather than showing dissatisfaction on the part of the buyer, and therefore should not be used to penalize the seller.

Second, I propose that non-paying buyers be banned from leaving feedback at all. Isn’t feedback supposed to be only for members involved in a transaction? If an item is not paid for, that is NOT a transaction and therefore that buyer has no right to leave feedback. I understand that eBay cannot tell if a buyer has paid unless that buyer pays via Paypal. However, I propose that sellers be on the honor system to mark an item Paid in their My eBay when a buyer pays with a payment form other than Paypal. If an item is not marked as paid, the buyer would be unable to leave feedback. Should a buyer choose to pay with a method other than paypal, they will risk not being able to leave feedback if the seller does not mark the item paid. However, this would just be another risk a buyer takes when paying with other methods. In addition, it would encourage more buyers to use Paypal – and isn’t that what eBay wants anyway?

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Best Match – Podcast with IMA Member Larry

In my opinion, Best Match is one of the most significant changes that eBay has introduced in the last few years. It is designed to change the Buyer experience in a big way. And every time the buyer experiences changes, it presents a challenge for sellers.

There are three types of people in the world of ebay; those that watch a change, those that complain about a change, and those who find a way to make that change work to their benefit. For those of you in the third category, I strongly suggest you listen to a podcast that I had the pleasure to record with Ina Steiner of AuctionBytes. Here’s a link to the article, which will allow you to connect to the podcast:

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y08/m04/i11/s01

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The eBay Dictionary

You may have noticed that recently eBay has been making up definitions for words that have been in the English language for hundreds of years.  Only eBay’s new definitions only apply to Sellers, the traditional definitions still apply for buyers.

For example, the word Satisfied in DSR ratings means satisfied to buyers, or at least eBay doesn’t tell them otherwise.  However, if an eBay seller has all “Satisfied” ratings, versus “Very Satisfied” ratings, eBay is not satisfied.  No, if your buyers are only satisfied, you will lose Powerseller status and be downgraded in search.

The other word is “neutral”.  A buyer can rate a transaction as Positive, Neutral, or Negative.  The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines the word “Neutral” as “ not decided or pronounced as to characteristics”, which would mean the buyer has no opinion either way.  However, eBay, in their dictionary, has decided that “Neutral” means a buyer had a negative experience.  When eBay figures a sellers perfomance rating they figure any neutrals as negatives.  However, once again, eBay does not tell the buyer about their new definition of Neutral.

Feel free to contribute more new definitions from eBay!

Cyn

Katy, an eBay Pink, Passes

If you are an eBay “old-timer” you will remember Katy.  I just read the news of her passing.  For full details please see the eBay Chatter blog here.

You can read more on the eBay Memorial Thread. 

I’m sure there are many IMA members who remember Katy, so I thought it was only fitting we should start our own memorial post to her, on our blog.  Please post your remembrances of her in the Comments section below.

May you Rest in Peace Katy, the Pinkest of the Pink.

Cyn

eBay: Custom Template Designs & Digital Downloads

Anyone who sells items that can be sent by email or delivered through eBay/Paypal’s download service has certainly had a rough week.  eBay announced earlier this week that sellers of digital goods would no longer be able to list those items in auction format.  Sellers of digital goods would be required to list their wares in the classified ad format that costs $9.95 per ad and doesn’t receive any on eBay feedback for the transactions (since they would all be completed off eBay).

The main reasoning for this rules change was stated as FEEDBACK MANIPULATION.  Many of the digital downloads are easily replicated and any seller could quickly generate thousands of listings and pump up their feedback.  Unfortunately all goods that can be “shipped” digitally do not fall in this category of items, eBay listing templates and store templates come to mind.

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eBay Says That New Sellers Must Specify S&H Costs

Yesterday Kristina Klausen from eBay’s Shipping Team announced that starting this week eBay will begin requiring all new sellers who are listing for the first time to specify their shipping costs using the Shipping Details section. By the time eBay Live arrives specified shipping costs will be required in most listings on eBay. Click here to read the full announcement.

What does this mean for me as a seller?

If you use USPS or UPS then you can take advantage of the eBay Shipping Calculator, if you prefer FedEx or DHL then you will have to enter a flat rate when listing.

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