By Kat Simpson | September 20, 2014
By Kat Simpson | September 19, 2014
|Rosemont, IL, October 17-18, 2014 — The Chicagoland Area eBay Sellers Group is proud to announce that it will be presenting eCom Chicago, an exciting eCommerce Conference on October 17th and 18th at the Holiday Inn Express in Rosemont, IL.
Whether you are an eCommerce “Newbie” or a Successful Seasoned Seller there will be so much to learn! The 2 day conference will feature an incredible roster of eCommerce presenters including John (“Colder Ice”) Lawson (world renowned speaker and author of “Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-Preneurs”), Chris Green (founder of Scan Power and author of “Retail Arbitrage” and “Online Arbitrage”), Danni Ackerman (“the Danni App”), Kat Simpson (Talk Show Host – “That Kat Radio”), Sandi Garcia (aka “Social Sandi”), Brandon Dupsky (founder eCommerce Money for Nothing & OnFair), Ryan Grant (FBA enthusiast), Michael Yublosky (Chicago SCORE speaker) , Anna Barnes (Photography for eCommerce) Mark and Robin Le Vine (Shipping Tips and Tricks) and More………
The conference includes 2 full days of learning. Continental breakfast and lunches are included in the conference package. Also included is a DJ party on Friday night with appetizers and cash bar. Cost for the entire package is only $149. But sign up early – from now through September 30, 2014 there is a $20 Early Bird Discount available. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to jump-start your holiday selling season. Learn, network,share and be inspired . Sign up now to reserve your spot.
Conference Bonus from Bubblefast
An additional opportunity is available for those who want to extend their stay through Sunday. Bubblefast (vendor providing shipping supplies to online sellers) is located in Gurnee, IL, 32 miles north of the conference venue. Gurnee is home to Great America, Key Lime Cove Water Park, Gurnee Mills Mall, The Gurnee Antique Center and several quality thrift shops. Any treasure hunters who journey up to Gurnee on Sunday can take the Bubblefast tour, enjoy some refreshments and explore the many shopping opportunities in the area. Bring your treasures back to Bubblefast where Mark and Robin will be happy to help you pack them up (free bubble wrap!) and arrange to ship them home for you.
Come to eCom Chicago and tell all of your friends about it. It is going to be a great conference for learning, resources and fun!
By Kat Simpson | September 18, 2014
By That Kat | September 18, 2014
This is just an update on the new required approval to sell DVDs over $25.
I sent in the application to see the process. I told them that DVDs were not a major part of my inventory, which is true, and I also told them I purchased from yard sales and thrift stores.
I received a call from them, which I missed as I am still in CO with grandson. Then I received the email I’m posting below. It appears to me, from this letter, that Amazon is really wanting expensive DVD sellers to have wholesale accounts. What do you think?
Here is the text of the email:
Greetings from Amazon Seller Support,
Thank you for your interest in selling on Amazon.com. As part of your application to sell in the Video, DVD, & Blu-Ray category, we require additional information.
Please submit the following documents:
• Three legible, scanned, or clearly photographed invoices or purchase orders for the products you intend to sell in the Video, DVD, & Blu-Ray category
• A brief summary of processes you have in place to prevent inauthentic goods from entering your inventory
Note: All pricing information should be removed from the invoices or purchase orders. We are not currently accepting store receipts for review.
Your invoices or purchase orders must (i) be dated within the last 180 days or show an item delivered or purchased within the last 180 days and (ii) include the following:
• Your name and contact information or your company’s name and contact information
• The name and contact information of the company that provided the invoices or purchase orders
• The names of the products you purchased and the quantity of each product
Please attach the required documentation to your email response (e.g., as a PDF file or an image file). We reserve the right to verify all submitted documentation including contacting any vendors identify in your application.
Please note if you are unable to provide the invoices by 11/17/14 you will still be able to sell DVDs with an MSRP less than $25.
We will respond to you within 48 hours after you provide this information.
Thank you for selling with Amazon,
Amazon.com Seller Support
By Kat Simpson | September 18, 2014
Fifty years ago, the U.S. Congress did something smart for America (yes, it does happen sometimes).
It authorized the creation of a volunteer organization called S.C.O.R.E. (the letters initially stood for “Service Corps of Retired Executives”) under the umbrella of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The idea was that struggling small business owners needed information, education and coaching in order to survive. Rather than providing such advice “top down,” through government publications, seminars and the like, Congress decided that such advice was best provided “peer to peer,” by seasoned business owners and executives who could pass their experience in the “real world” on to younger business people.
Boy, has this thing worked.
Today, SCORE is the largest small business consulting organization in America, if not the world, with over 350 chapters nationwide, and some 13,000 consultants with an average of 30 years of business experience each. Those counselors have worked with over 10 million entrepreneurs over the past five decades.
Needless to say, the last 50 years has brought a lot of change to SCORE.
First of all, the idea of a “small business” is a lot different than it was in 1964. Back then, a “small business” meant a basic retail or service business with a local market – dry cleaners, restaurants, hardware stores, and so forth.
Today, many if not most of SCORE’s clients are technology entrepreneurs developing mobile smartphone applications (“apps”), video games, and so-called “software as a service” (SaaS, or “cloud”) products. Even those SCORE clients engaged in basic retail or service businesses are often conducting them online in a national, or international, marketplace.
Also, the public perception of entrepreneurs and business owners is a lot different than it was 50 years ago. Back then, someone running a small business was considered an “also ran” in society. If you were studying for a MBA (Masters in Business Administration) degree, you were training to work as a midlevel executive in a Fortune 1000 corporation, or perhaps a giant bank or insurance company. That’s where you found money, status and prestige in the business world.
Even in high school, the “business track” was considered second rate. My high school guidance counselor called me into his office once to inform me that he thought I was taking too many courses in accounting and business math – he felt that not having classes like sociology and 20th century American literature on my transcript would put me at a disadvantage in the college recruiting process! One of the courses I took which worried him was an “Introduction to Computer Math” course – can you imagine that?
Today, entrepreneurs are America’s heroes – every high school kid you meet who doesn’t want to be a rock star on “American Idol” wants to be the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Every MBA program at America’s colleges and universities has an entrepreneurship track, and it is usually extremely competitive.
Finally, SCORE counselors are a lot different than they were 50 years ago. SCORE is no longer an organization of “retired executives,” with the image that calls to mind of tired, burned-out old white guys looking to get out of the house and away from their spouses for a few hours each week (although, seriously, I believe SCORE has probably saved more marriages than just about any other nonprofit organization in the U.S.).
Today’s SCORE counselor is much younger, more vital, more dynamic and more in tune with the times than his earlier counterpart. He is much more likely to be female, or from a culture that can readily identify with the Asian, African and Latin American immigrant communities that generate many of today’s small business owners in America. That is one thing, by the way, that has not changed in 50 years: if you want to meet someone who truly understands what this country is all about, and what it takes to build a successful business here, talk to a recent immigrant.
Yes indeed, a lot has changed in the last 50 years. But some things have not changed, and will never change:
- there will always be business people with excellent ideas for products and services but who don’t know how to make them a reality;
- there will always be business people with really stupid ideas who need to be talked out of them and discouraged from throwing their retirement savings away on phantom dreams, but in such a way they don’t give up on entrepreneurship altogether; and
- there will always be people who are not suited for a traditional corporate career or who are cast aside by corporate America and need to learn to become entrepreneurs in spite of themselves.
For such people, SCORE is an invaluable – often the only available – resource.
Happy 50th birthday, SCORE! As the Italian people say, “cent’ann” – may you live 100 years!
Cliff Ennico, a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.
By Kate Hornsby | September 17, 2014
No doubt about it, eBay is having a rough year. First, their website was hacked back in February and again in March. Next Google decided to penalize eBay in the search rankings and sellers had to watch their sales drop like a rock.
Now, eBay is not only dealing with the departure of their Chief Technology Officer, Mark Carges, but this past Sunday the site had another outage. This one even managed to take down the entire site as both buyers and sellers found they couldn’t login to their eBay accounts. The outage even lasted throughout most of Sunday morning.
In fact, quite a few couldn’t even get onto the main eBay homepage. Adding insult to injury, those who tried to get eBay’s customer (no)service for help with the matter, found out that part of eBay was down too.
Although eBay was quick to blame this one on a technical issue stating “ we believe it may have been the result of unexpected power issues with storage arrays linked to some of our databases” on their announcement board, some eBay sellers are wondering if these constant outages are going to drive buyers further away from the website since there was already concern about the unreported hacking issues in the earlier part of the year.
As mentioned, this isn’t the first time for an outage on the site either. There was reportedly one in July that eBay didn’t even want to comment on until early August when they finally admitted there was a “small technical issue.” There was then another outage in Europe after that and yet another outage on September 3rd.
Put this with some unconfirmed reports that some buyers were being redirected to strange websites during the outage and it’s no small wonder that sellers are a bit on edge. After all, we’re about to enter that holiday buying season again and if the site keeps going down or stays other hacking threats, it’s not going to take much to make buyers go elsewhere.
One positive note to this latest outage though, eBay has reached out to some sellers who were affected by the seven hours (!) of downtime and tried to make amends by crediting back certain fees for listings that ended during that time. It may only be a small consolation for those who missed out on sales for what is normally the busiest sale day of the week, but simply the fact that they did acknowledge there is a problem seems to be a step in the right direction. After all, simply knowing what is really going on is the main thing that most sellers say that they really want.
By Kat Simpson | September 17, 2014
Ecomdash announced the winner of Occupy eStreet, an annual contest for small business owners to win software and services from multiple ecommerce software providers. Ecommerce website platform Shopify, social sales manager AddShoppers and postage solutions provider Endicia partnered with ecommerce newcomer ecomdash to provide six months of free software. Ecomdash provides multi-channel inventory, order, and shipping management software. Public voting narrowed the field, then partner teams nearly unanimously selected Jon Smejkal of Pier28 Inc., as the winner.
Contestants were required to submit a future business goal with an accompanying photo. Smejkal submitted a photoshopped image of his dashboard camera company Pier28 in its own vendor booth at the CES International Consumer Electronics Show in 2015. Currently selling on multiple marketplaces and websites, Smejkal acutely understands how technology can help him quickly scale operations. Smejkal anticipates the “dashcam” industry to explode in the US as it has in other parts of the world. Remember the numerous YouTube videos of a Meteor that hit Russia in early 2013? Those memorable images were caught on vehicle dashboard cameras. He refers to the industry as an extension of our digital living, providing elements of both fun and safety.
Over the next six months Smejkal will document and share his experience starting a new ecommerce company and growing it into a successful business. His excitement for the dashcam trend and creating his own American Dream is infectious. In Smejkal’s own words, “I could turn into a millionaire from this thing, and I was like, Hell yeah!” His company is fully backed by investors who expect him to do just that.
Ecomdash is a web software application enabling ecommerce sellers to run their business from anywhere at any time in a fraction of the time they spend today. The automated inventory, sales order and shipping management tool is designed specifically for businesses selling on multiple marketplaces and websites. Ecomdash gives online retailers the ability to save time, grow sales with an expanded online presence, and increase customer satisfaction. For more information visit ecomdash.com.
AddShoppers is the premier all-in-one social marketing and analytics platform for ecommerce companies. Over 10,000 online merchants including the Economist, O’Neill Clothing, and NCR use AddShoppers to accurately attribute revenue to social networks, identify purchase influencers, run refer-a-friend and retargeting campaigns, and more. The company was founded in 2011 by two former online retailers and has offices in Charlotte, NC and New York City.
Pier28 is a provider of vehicle dashboard camera equipment and accessories. Dashcam technology is attached onto and embedded into vehicles in order to record and store live video content. Pier28 is emerging as an industry thought leader and well-known as a respected contributor on the popular DashCamTalk forum. Pier28 has a team of experts to help customers research and purchase the perfect dashcam solution. One moment of truth incident pays for itself! Pier28 is located in San Franciso, California.
By Kate Hornsby | September 13, 2014
If you sell online, you are probably familiar with the social media sites that most online sellers use, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. What you might now know, however, is that there are some lesser-known social platforms out there that could help your online business as well.
Medium is what you might call a blogging platform for the younger crowd. They bill themselves as “everyone’s stories and ideas.” It’s not a place to advertise. Instead, it’s a place where you can blog about the items you sell and help build your expert status. As an example, you can give tips on collecting old books or buying vintage clothes. A word of warning though – this is not your parent’s blog. Language on the Medium blogs is pretty much uncensored and if you’re easily offended when someone throws the F-bomb around you might not like the site. In other words, if you’re old school this one might not be for you.
Speaking of old school. Did you know that Internet forums are still alive and well? If you get to searching for them, there are actually still a ton of them out there on almost any topic you can imagine. Once again, this isn’t a place to sell your items but rather a way to show you’re an expert in your niche. Most forums allow people to have a link to their website in their signature or have a special section of the forum where you can actually advertise. Don’t fill up the section with advertising on your first visit though, the members on forums generally expect you to participate in conversations first so that they can get to know you before they will even consider buying from you.
Reddit is kind of an odd duck. It has more than 113 million monthly unique visitors, yet online sellers rarely think to use it as a way to market themselves. Think of it like a cross between a forum and a type of social bookmarking site. People vote content up and down depending on their likes and dislikes. It’s also a bunch of small communities inside of one big one, so it’s another great place to build yourself as an expert in your chosen niche and get the word out about your brand.
Keep in mind as you explore these three social platforms that you will be the new kid on the block and there’s a lot to learn. Just as you discovered that there is etiquette to follow on Facebook and Twitter, there will be unspoken rules of etiquette on these social platforms as well. Take some time to learn the ropes and learn what’s what before you start posting. It may take a while to get the hang of things, but you might find that it’s actually worth it.
By Kat Simpson | September 13, 2014
Where do they all go when the owner dies?
A friend of mine told me recently that if he were to “kick the bucket” right now, his assets would include:
- an account on Paypal.com with a balance of $10,000;
- approximately $2,000 in Bitcoin®;
- 500 copyrighted photos on Instagram®;
- digital invoices to clients for about $30,000;
- “points” earned on a number of online shopping sites; and
- credits on several online video games entitling him to purchase digital goods to upgrade his online avatar (if your character has the Magic Sword of Shambala, hey, that’s worth something to somebody).
In my own case, virtually all of my client files over the last decade are in electronic form, consisting of thousands of e-mail exchanges on Gmail and other e-mail accounts and tens of thousands of Microsoft Word documents.
Who would have access to those if I were to die tomorrow? To whom would they be transferred, and how? Who decides whether the account can be terminated or the content erased? Would my Internet hosting service co-operate and allow my account to be transferred?
Up to now, the answer to these questions lay in the fine print of the “terms and services” document you signed with your Internet hosting service, Paypal, or website when you first opened your account. If that document did not contain specific language dealing with the transfer of your account (and its contents) upon your death, 19 states have adopted laws allowing your executor (the person responsible for handling and disposing of your assets upon death) to access your digital accounts upon the presentation of a death certificate to the website or hosting service where the account is maintained – for an excellent state-by-state summary of these laws, see https://www.everplans.com/tools-and-resources/state-by-state-digital-estate-planning-laws.
In July 2014, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, a highly influential nonprofit organization of legal professionals, published the “Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act” (“USADAA” for short). So far only Delaware has adopted the USADAA, but it is being introduced in many state legislatures this fall and is likely to be adopted by most states within the next year.
The USADAA does not determine how your digital assets will be disposed of when you die – that is left to traditional trusts and estates law. So, for example, if you die intestate (without a will), your digital assets will be distributed to your heirs under your state’s intestacy law, the same as your physical assets.
What the USADAA does do is enable your fiduciaries to access your digital assets upon your death, so that they can dispose of them as the law requires or as you designate in a will, living trust, or similar document. In addition to executors, “fiduciaries” include:
- conservators appointed by a court to handle your affairs if you are mentally incapable of doing so; and
- agents under a general power of attorney (although there are some restrictions here – under USADAA an agent cannot view the content of your e-mails without a specific instruction in the power of attorney to do so).
The law defines “digital asset” as “a record that is electronic,” but does not include “an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself a record that is electronic.” So, for example, under USADAA your executor could access your PayPal account upon your death, but would not have the ability to withdraw the $10,000 cash balance in your account. The USADAA also applies to “electronic communications” such as e-mail accounts and the “catalogues” (records) of your e-mail or online activity.
The USADAA specifically provides that your fiduciary can access all of your digital assets, e-mall accounts, social media pages (even private ones), and all other online presences. The law also voids any terms in a website’s “Terms of Service” or “User Agreement” that limit a fiduciary’s access to your online account, you are allowed to make a separate agreement with the website that is outside of the boilerplate “Terms of Service” as long as you do so after your state enacts the USADAA.
The USADAA does not require you to prepare a list of all of your online accounts, although it’s a good idea to do so (along with username and password information).
As states adopt the USADAA, it will be more important for you to specify in your will how you wish your digital assets to be treated when you die, and limit other people’s access to online content that may be – er — controversial. Try not to be too specific, however – an instruction in your will that your fiduciary “terminate my account at www.incrediblysexyvixens.com and erase all content therein” may be more problematic in the long run than simply not disclosing the existence of that account.
Cliff Ennico (www.succeedinginyourbusiness.com), a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.
By Kate Hornsby | September 12, 2014
If you’re like most online sellers, when you first started thinking about selling online, you probably envisioned being able to work when you wanted to and play when you wanted to. As you settled into selling on eBay or Amazon (or both), however, you probably found yourself going in one of two different directions. Either you haven’t been able to find enough time to actually work or you can’t find enough time for the rest of your life.
I bring this up because since the last part of July, I’ve had some weeks recently where my life kept getting in the way of my work. Then there were other times when the work kept getting in the way of my life. When this happens, I usually have to step back and see how to get my life back in balance.
Here’s what I’ve had to remind myself about over the last month or so:
Take a step back
Although you may “think” you can have it all, trust me, you can’t. If you’re starting to feel like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate. This is where you may have to make some hard choices.
Choose what your priorities are for that particular moment of time and let the rest of it go. This may mean that if your business is struggling, you have to forgo some of the things you enjoy doing and concentrate on the work side of things. If your family is having trouble remembering what you look like because you’re listing all the time, you may have to put some restrictions on how many hours you are going to work.
Remember, it’s about finding balance between the two.
Set some boundaries
Sometimes it’s hard to find balance when you work from home because no one around you seems to respect your time or that you’re working. Family members want to talk (and talk…and talk…), friends know you’re home so feel they can rely on you when they need help with something, and the list goes on and on.
At that point, the only way to find some balance between your work life and family life is to have an honest conversation with the people in your life and set boundaries for your work time and your personal space.
You will have to be firm when you do this, however, because even though you may love your family and friends, you will find that they will push these boundaries at first because they always have been able to in the past. Be gentle, but remind them of your conversation.
Once they understand you are working the hours you are now so that you can join them in an activity later, they will usually begin to respect your work time and you can begin to achieve balance between your work time and family time.
Image courtesy of [ponsuwan] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net