By Kate Hornsby | October 2, 2015
If you were a child of the 60s or 70s you may remember the excitement of receiving Christmas toys designed with the latest in technology, such as a doll that could talk or “eat”, or a robot that would roll forwards or backwards. Flash forward to this year’s selection of holiday toys and those simple battery-operated toys from the past not only seem a bit dated, but almost downright antiquated. You see, this years hottest toys aren’t just the latest in technology, they are actually what you might call high tech.
Yep, that’s right. This year’s hot toys are not only electronic, they have all the bells and whistles. Many are interactive, can connect to the cloud and even have Smart Touch Technology. As an example, for the young kids, there’s Fisher-Price’s Smart Bear. This toy not only can learn your child’s name, but also recognizes books and cards. For older kids, there’s the Spin Mast Meccanoid G15 robot pal. It has some 550 parts, two motors and four servos. Interestingly, this one is designed for children to actually construct themselves, but once it is finished it will mirror their movement in real time, say thousands of different phrases and even can tell jokes.
There’s also some returning toys this year, but all (of course) are new and improved. There’s Guitar Hero, that features an upgrade called “Guitar Hero Live from Activision.” This allows it to sync with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, as well as Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360. Once synced, kids (or adults!) can play along with music videos available through a music video network. There’s also Legos Dimensions Fun for Xbox One and even Barbie returns bringing her very own battery-operated Saddle N Ride horse. Once Barbie is aboard her trusted steed, the horse actually trots in place!
My favorite toys for this season, however, really bring me back to my own childhood. As a huge fan of the first Star Wars movie, I had my very own R2D2. While mine merely moved around, the new and improved version quite literally has the bells and whistles (well, beeps and whistles), plus it’s head spins and it’s interactive. There’s also a Jedi Master Lightsaber by Hasbro that comes complete with lights and sounds.
Are you on the hunt for any of these or other hot toys this year? Leave a comment below. If you would like to see the complete Toys “R” US list – you can view it here.
By Kate Hornsby | September 30, 2015
First there was Uber using a network of drivers to transport people around, now Amazon appears to be using a similar program to transport packages around. According to The Wall Street Journal, the new service is called Amazon Flex. This service allows individuals to sign up for shifts through an installed app that tells them when a package is ready for delivery at an Amazon warehouse. The driver’s job is then to pick it up and deliver it to a customer’s home, all in as little as an hour.
The program, which sounds a little bit like the concept behind the one-hour pizza delivery, pays drivers about $20 an hour to make these types of runs and is apparently already in service in Seattle. It is just one of the many ideas Amazon is testing as a way to not only shorten delivery times for its customers, but also as a way to lower shipping costs as well.
As you may recall, some other ideas that Amazon is either working on or already implemented includes the use of lockers in places like office supply stores or gas stations, and of course, the proposed drone delivery system that became big news earlier in the year after the FAA somewhat gave its stamp of approval to the idea.
Although the program seems like a good way to help Amazon provide quicker service for it’s customers, it does also put them in the center of yet another controversy. As Uber has grown and other companies have taken on to the idea of using an “on-demand” workforce, the question remains as to whether the practice is fair to workers who are then excluded from receiving benefits and pay raises since they are considered independent contractors as opposed to employees.
Regardless of the outcome of this growing battle, this appears to be the wave of the future for Amazon as they go forward on their quest for getting deliveries out faster — well, at least until the drones arrive anyway.
What do you think of Amazon Flex? Leave a comment below.
By That Kat | September 29, 2015
In this episode, Kat spoke about the recent eBay Anniversary Event and Seller Updates with Tim Chapman
Tim has been a full time ebay seller of 13 years with username Mr.customerservice. He buys and sells almost anything as long as it is not offensive and he LOVES to hunt for treasures.
In the first segment Tim and Kat discussed the recent eBay 20th Anniversary Celebration in CA and the Future of eBay. We talked about Cliff Ennico’s column when eBay and Paypal first announced their split and his hopes from the company. When I chatted with Cliff about the upcoming episode he quipped “my talents as a prognosticator are well documented . . . :-)” and I think he is right! Here were the four suggestions Cliff hoped to see eBay pursue and you can listen and see how most of them are coming to pass!
- Stop Chasing Amazon
- Get Back to Your Roots as the World’s “Flea Market”
- Become the World’s Leading Online Auctioneer
- Empower – No, Worship – Your Sellers
In segment three we started discussing the new Seller Standards that will go into effect for eBay Sellers on February 16, 2015. We spoke about what will no longer count as a seller defect and what will. We discussed what late shipping would be going forward and what checkpoints eBay would be using.
In our last segment, Kat & Tim continued discussing the new Seller Standards and more about how late shipping would be calculated, and more about the checkpoints.
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By That Kat | September 28, 2015
You’ve probably heard by now that Amazon is closing its webstore in 2016 and is moving over its users to Shopify’s platform. And if you’re an Amazon or Shopify user, you’re probably trying to make sense out of this news and figure out how exactly it affects you! So we put together a short list of how this change affects Amazon and Shopify users.
- The partnership will allow you to use Amazon services such as login with Amazon, Pay with Amazon, and Fulfillment By Amazon. This means that you can take advantage of Amazon’s fulfillment centres in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan to ship your products more quickly and easily around the world.
- You will also soon be able to access Amazon’s marketplace through the Amazon Sales Channel, which means that you’ll be able to sell your products on Amazon’s website! You can sign up here to get on the waitlist.
Amazon web store users:
- When you move your store from Amazon webstore to Shopify, you get an extended 30 day free trial on Shopify.
- Shopify has also put up a dedicated portal for helping you migrate to your products and customer data directly into your new Shopify store in just a few clicks.
When you do open your new sales channels on Amazon and Shopify, don’t forget to install eRated, a widget that lets you import your reviews from the different platforms you’re selling on to your Shopify store. Starting new stores doesn’t mean you have to leave your reviews and credibility behind! So make the best of it.
eRated is a free eCommerce app that allows you to import your existing ratings and reviews from other marketplaces you’re selling on (like Etsy, Amazon, eBay) as well as your social media accounts (your FB, Twitter, Linkedin) and displays them on your beautiful Shopify store. Try it now.
Payal works as a marketing and business analyst at eRated. She enjoys writing, travelling and startups. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kate Hornsby | September 25, 2015
It may be hard to believe, but the beginning of Fall has arrived and you know what that means! It’s almost time for the pumpkins, skeletons, and things that go bump in the night to come out. Yep, Halloween is just around the corner and for savvy eBay sellers it’s a great time to make some extra cash.
Although a lot of Halloween decorations have gone high-tech with lights and spooky sounds, it might surprise you to learn that for many people, the old-time decorations are still the only way to go. Whether it’s the retro style cut-outs or the old plastic pumpkins that trick or treaters use to carry, if you discover you have a growing collection of Halloween decorations that’s gotten out of hand, you can often find some of them a new home by selling them on eBay.
Selling Halloween decorations is really no different than selling anything else in the eBay marketplace, but it does pay to take some time to research the items you want to sell. Look to see what titles and keywords other sellers are using to sell similar things. Note that while the word “vintage” isn’t really recommended anymore for people that sell antiques, it does often appear for Halloween decorations since buyers want to know that they are buying the older traditional decorations and not newer reproductions.
While you’re probably more likely to have vintage Halloween decorations on hand to sell, that’s not to say that some newer Halloween items won’t sell good too. Scented candles typically do well and you can often find higher-end special edition Halloween scents at discount places like Marshall’s or other discount home stores.
You may also find that Halloween plates, cups and napkins do well, but make sure to research before you buy, since while some brands tend to have big followings, others don’t and you could find yourself stuck with unsold un-returnable Halloween items that nobody wants once the holiday is over.
Finally, don’t forget to scout for clearance items after Halloween is over. That’s when a lot of sellers buy Halloween costumes and other items that they can then list and sell next year.
Do you sell Halloween items? Leave a comment below.
By That Kat | September 24, 2015
A lot of behavioral research and tons of your hard-earned tax dollars have been spent trying to figure this out, and the overwhelming consensus among business scholars is that there are two reasons, and only two, why anyone buys anything:
Needs and wants.
But I respectfully disagree. About a year ago I posted a video on YouTube called “How to Sell (Just About) Anything to (Just About) Anybody” (to see the video, go to www.youtube.com and search for “how to sell”). In that video, which has had almost 78,000 views in the last year, I make the argument that what really motivates buyers are their “passions” (what turns them on and gets them excited) and “fears” (what worries them and keeps them awake at nights).
The vast majority of viewers think I’m on to something there. But quite a few readers don’t. Here is a typical response from a recent viewer:
“Fears are understandable for sure but I can see passions as just a subset of ‘wants’. To me people buy when they have a discrepancy between what they perceive as ideal and what they currently have. A BMW is a passion but more people buy Chevy’s or Toyotas than BMW’s or Porsches by a long shot. A Toyota is not a passion but a practical method of getting around relatively cheaply.
What about food at the supermarket? Potatoes and lettuce are not a passion but more a wanted thing. What about gas for the car? Oil is the biggest business around. What about computers? Not a passion for a lot of people but they buy them to do certain wanted things for business or home. Cleaning supplies for the home? Furniture? Same thing. People also buy things to improve their circumstances rather than passion. Can you clarify these areas?”
At a basic, existential level, people do “need” things. If you don’t eat, sooner or later you starve. If you can’t get to and from your place of employment, sooner or later you will lose your job.
But when you buy food, you don’t buy it in the abstract. You buy something very, very specific to satisfy your hunger. And whether you buy organic Brussels sprouts or a Big Mac hamburger with bacon and melted cheese has everything to do with your passions and fears. If you buy the Brussels sprouts, you are nervous about your health (or perhaps passionate about losing those extra 20 pounds before bikini season). If you buy the Big Mac, you are passionate about meat and savory flavors.
The same with cars: you can get to work each day driving a beat-up 20 year old Toyota (as I do) or a shiny red Maserati. Both will get you there, but the one you pick has everything to do with your fears and/or passions. If you drive a Maserati, you want everyone to be jealous and envious of you (at least people with Y chromosomes). If you drive a 20 year old car of any make and model, you are either concerned about saving money for other things that are more important to you than your car (fear) or you are passionate about reliability, dependability and relatively low maintenance costs (20 year old Toyotas are truly amazing cars – if properly maintained they will rust away to nothing before they wear out).
Most products and services can be sold using either “fear” or “passion”. A bottle of perfume or cologne can be sold to people who want to appear more attractive sexually, or they can be sold to people who don’t want to smell badly. Viagra® products can be sold to people who want to enhance their sexual performance, and to people who are afraid they won’t be able to perform at all if the opportunity arises.
Marketing professionals have a very large word for this – “segmentation” – but what it really boils down to is looking at a certain demographic of people and determining whether a “fear sell” or a “passion sell” will be more effective with that demographic. Look closely at any ad on television, online, in a newspaper or magazine, and ask yourself two questions:
- what type of people is this ad targeting?
- is it using a “fear sell” or a “passion sell”?
You will almost always be able to do it, and when you can’t, the ad probably isn’t very effective because it’s “message” isn’t clear enough.
As a lawyer, I can tell you that people do not call their lawyers when they are having a nice day – it’s all about fear. Or perhaps, if someone feels they have been wronged, the desire for revenge (“I want to sue the b—-“), can be driven entirely by passion.
If you have trouble thinking of passions, think about the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, lust, greed, envy, anger, sloth (laziness) and gluttony (eating and drinking too much). We all have them to one degree or another, and entire industries have been built on each one. Which one are you trying to satisfy in your business?
Cliff Ennico (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
By Kate Hornsby | September 22, 2015
Creating a blog to accompany your online store can be a great way to not only build an audience, but also allow you to maintain contact with your former buyers. You can use it to build SEO, increase your name recognition and (most importantly) improve your overall business.
Unfortunately, a lot of people start a blog, but then have no clue what to focus on or they know that they want to talk about their market niche, but then can’t really find their “voice.” The problem is that your voice, or rather, your writing style needs to reflect the real you, yet some people have trouble making their true voice come out. If you’re having troubling finding your blogging voice, here’s some ideas that can help.
1. Write what you know. While it’s true you can research and write a credible blog post without actually having a full range of knowledge over your chosen topic, in most cases, your voice won’t shine through and it can make your blog post seem like it’s not authentic or that you’re trying too hard.
2. Don’t always try to sell something. Although the purpose of your blog is to ultimately send people to your online store, constantly filling up your blog with what you have for sale will not only turn your readers off, but your posts may be considered as spam. Just as you need to find a balance when you use social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, you also need to find a balance with what you post on your blog.
3. Reveal the true you. It’s okay to play it safe when you are first starting out with your blog and learning the ropes, but at some point you need to let the real you shine through. Take a stand, give your opinion, make your voice count. Even if you typically write about somewhat mundane subjects, such as vintage clothing, you can still give your blog personality and reveal the true you by telling what your favorite vintage pieces are or why you believe it’s okay (or not okay) to mix modern clothing with the older vintage styles.
4. Write first – edit later. One of the mistakes that many online sellers make when they start their blog is that they end up spending way too much time attempting to draft perfect blog posts. Instead of trying for the perfect post, let your creative side take hold and write the blog post, then come back later on and edit it. With a little experience, you will usually be able to tell what is working and what isn’t, you can then edit your work accordingly without spending a whole bunch of time.
5. Fill a need. One of the easiest ways to make your blog stand out and your readership grow is to find out what people want to know about your niche and then provide them with the answers. As an example, if you sell antiques, you may discover that people want to know how to clean them or how they can find out what the value of their item really is. Since your ultimate goal is to sell items from your online store, you can also tell people about the items you sell in your niche giving them the history, why they may want to collect the item, and proper care of the item once they own it.
Do you have a blog? Leave a comment below.
By Kate Hornsby | September 19, 2015
As the holiday season approaches, it’s often tough to find a balance between family and work. Although it’s important to set aside “family time” even during the busiest part of the season, when that’s not really practical you can still have some together time by involving the children and making it (at least temporarily) a “family business.”
Of course, how much your children will be able to do will depend on their age and maturity level, but here’s some ideas to consider.
Teach them to place items of a similar nature together so that it will make it easier for you to list them.
Put them on the lookout for “hot” items when you are shopping. If your children are old enough, you can even give each child a list and make it into a scavenger hunt.
Let them act as “chief operator” when you have toys to list. They can not only make sure that toys are in working order, but if you have puzzles or other types of toys with many pieces, they can help to ensure that all the pieces are there.
Most children love playing with stickers. Let them put FBA stickers over UPC labels and those pesky suffocation warning labels on your poly bags.
Put your children in charge of assimilating the boxes for shipping. USPS boxes are fairly easy to put together and can be assembled ahead of time for when you need them.
Have them cut out and organize coupons for your shopping trips. Organizing coupons and filing them in the proper envelopes or file folder slots can make shopping go much quicker when it’s time to get more inventory.
Although you will have to gauge your teenager’s interest in helping with your online business, you may find that you have a great employee living right in your own home. Some savvy sellers even turn over the gathering of inventory to their teenagers as they are out and about, all in exchange for use of the family car.
Teenagers can also help:
*Take and edit photos of inventory.
*Drop off packages at the post office.
*Prepare inventory for shipping.
*Play video games to ensure they are in working order and listen to records for scratches and skips.
Is your online business all in the family? Leave a comment below?
By That Kat | September 18, 2015
In this episode, Kat spoke with Sylvie di Giusto of Executive Image Consulting
Sylvie is a professional speaker, corporate trainer, author and image consultant for professionals who place great importance in themselves and their powerful appearance. She helps individuals and companies to explore how people make up their minds very quickly about you or your leadership potential, and either open the door for you or slam it shut. She has a multi-cultural background: Austrian by birth, French in her heart, Italian in her kitchen, German in her work ethic, and American by choice. Her life is rich with unique experiences, not to mention the added joy of raising her two wonderful children with her husband in New York City – this amazing place she is lucky enough to call home.
In the first segment Sylvie and Kat talked about the definition of ‘People Packaging,’ why your external ‘Package’ is so important, how to not present a false image and the similarities and differences between product packaging and people packaging. Some of Sylvie’s great tips in this segment were:
- You can’t BE it if you can’t SEE it.
- Wear Confidence; it is your best designer.
- Be Authentic
- Be Professional
- Be Controlled; if you don’t control your story someone else will.
In segment three Sylvie and Kat talked about how to evaluate the first impression you are giving now, the importance of telling your OWN story versus allowing others to tell it for you, the ABCs of your image and Sylvie’s book, “The Image of Leadership.” Sylvie’s ABCs of image are:
- Digital Footprint
In our last segment, we covered four of Sylvie’s core beliefs and her teachings about them:
- You must look, behave and communicate like a leader long before you are one. Act like a leader and it will be easier for you to feel like one and become one.
- You’re always setting an example for every single person around you at every moment. Leaders lead by example and always represent themselves and their company.
- Your clothes speak very loudly. What you wear says something about who you are, and whom you work for. People should judge you by your cover – just because it’s an excellent one.
- Your professional imprint is the sum total of your appearance, behavior, communication, and your digital footprint. Looking good is not enough!
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By That Kat | September 16, 2015
I recently attended the eBay 20th Anniversary Celebration and heard a lot of talk about whether eBay “Cares” about its sellers. eBay put a lot of time and money into the celebration and it was clearly a Seller-Based event. In fact, one seller I spoke with talked about how this could be seen as one big focus group for eBay to see how its sellers felt and get their input. I totally enjoyed myself meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. [Photo of the main stage area.]
I was blessed to hear directly from many of the executives and participate in some small group talks and Q & A’s. The emotional tide was overwhelming, bringing Pierre on-stage was just surreal and then going through the clapping tunnel (employee formed) right behind him with my dear friend Cindy was such a trip. Pierre was talking, remembering and shaking hands. He posed for an unknowable amount of photos that night and never seemed to tire of it. One friend was blessed to attend a private dinner with him and said he maintained the friendly, down-to-earth quiet humor the entire time. It was a great reminder of where eBay came from and Pierre’s original vision. [Photo of Hal Lawton and myself on the Seller Lounge Floor]
The executives admitted publicly and from the stage as well as in small private settings that they had ‘lost their way’ in the past years and were more committed now than ever to a ‘Seller-Centric’ platform, ‘partnering with the sellers’ and giving us more control over how our businesses are run.
From the beginning, I’ve maintained that eBay was the ‘original social media’ company and that the community was their strength. I am now a believer that the current leaders of the company (eBay Marketplace company) intend to come back to the original vision and empower sellers. I pray they are able to become the market leader as they were in the ‘boom years’ and I’ll be thrilled to watch. [Photo of Sarah Brubacher in eBay Hat by Stephanie Inge.]