By Kate Hornsby | March 31, 2015
As you may recall, last year eBay was having an issue with fake eBay listings that would redirect buyers to a spoof account where cyber crooks would attempt to lure buyers into “logging in” so that they could obtain their user ID and password. These listings usually featured an irresistibly low priced item that buyers couldn’t help but want to purchase. When successful, these phishing scams would then allow the scammer to access an eBay member’s account.
Fast forward to today and now we learn that eBay has patched not one but two security vulnerabilities on their site that were allowing individuals to upload executable type files that on the outside appeared initially to be benign, but actually contained a malicious file containing malware.
Once these files were uploaded to eBay the malware could then be sent to buyers who were innocently viewing the pages via a direct link. This would result in what is known in the tech world as a “drive-by download attack,” which basically means that the malware would end up on the page viewer’s computer, but since it was running in the background and not visible to the user, it would go undetected.
Oddly, the reason for this security vulnerability was the simple fact that eBay hadn’t taken steps to check headers that contained uploaded image files. This allowed the perpetrator of the malware the ability to hide it in the picture files where it went unnoticed.
While the security threat has been fixed, it does bring up the fact that even when visiting what most would consider a safe or benign site, there is still the need to keep that virus software updated and running. It also doesn’t hurt to run a weekly check with an anti-malware program such as Malwarebytes or Superantispyware.
Truthfully, you just can’t be too careful out there, so stay safe.
By Kate Hornsby | March 27, 2015
Although many online sellers work from the comfort of their home, keeping the productivity up can sometimes be a challenge. It’s easy to get distracted and before you know it, the day is gone and you have little to show for it. Fortunately, there are some tips that can help you stay productive.
It’s all about structure
One of the biggest problems about running an online business from home is that you no longer have a boss keeping an eye on you to make sure you get all your work done. A little Facebook here, a little watching television there and at the end of the day you’ve done very little listing and have no idea where all your time went.
The secret to keeping yourself on track is to create a structure that is similar to what you would experience in the workplace. Structure your day so you have both a start and stop time along with certain hours during the day that you perform certain activities. As an example, many online sellers like to use the morning hours of each work day to get the items they have sold ready to ship and then either run them to the post office, or even better yet, have them ready to be picked up by the postal carrier when he or she comes to the house. Once that is taken care of they know that the next couple of hours are ready to be spent taking photos or listing items they are ready to sell.
Create a separate work area
Just as it is hard to separate work from home life, it can be hard to separate your work area from the rest of your house. When you don’t have a designated area to work in, however, it makes it harder to put on your business hat and settle down to getting everything done. If your home is small or the space in your residence is at a premium, you may not be able to devote an entire room as your workspace, but you can still choose a certain spot that you use only for work. In some cases, you may find that the area still has to do double-duty, such as an area in the living room is your work area by day, but becomes the place where the kids play at night.
When this is the case, you may find it helpful to store your work items in a specific place where they are easy to obtain when your work day begins. In example — you could have a shelf in a closet where you keep your shipping scale and packing supplies so that it is simply a matter of bringing them out each morning as part of your daily routine instead of having to run around the house looking for everything.
Set some goals
Most companies have a quarterly review to see how they are doing and how things are measuring up. Setting some goals for yourself and your business not only helps to keep you on track, but it can motivate you when you are having one of those days when you want to slack off. Concentrate on the bigger goals to keep you moving in the right direction.
By Kate Hornsby | March 25, 2015
If you sell on Etsy, you probably know that they have been playing around with their Listings Manager again and gave it a bit of what they call a “ramp up” last Tuesday (March 17). Now, they’ve made a few more tweaks based on seller feedback.
First, you can now Quick Edit your tags. According to the Etsy announcement: Click on Quick Edit which is located in the upper right-hand corner on the Listings Manager page. There, you will see all of the listing tags displayed. Click on “Edit” and you can easily remove or add the tags you need.
Second, Etsy listened to their sellers and added back the in-line editing. This means that you can now edit your listing’s price and the amount you have in stock just like you did before the latest change. You can also continue to make these types of changes while in the Quick Edit mode, however, if you have decided that you prefer to do it that way.
The other big change is that Etsy will soon allow you to set your listings where they will automatically renew once the four month listing period for your items comes to an end. Since they charge twenty cents every time a seller renews a listing, they are also giving sellers an opportunity to either use the option or not. Your choice.
If you want to use it, you can access the feature a few different ways. First, you can do it by editing an existing listing or when you add a new listing. You can also put it in that mode when you are manually renewing the listings you already have, or you can do it in bulk by selecting just the multiple listings you want to change or you can elect to change them all by clicking on the little square to select all the listings. Once you do that simple click on “More Actions” while in the Listings Manager.
Since Etsy is also aware that not everyone may want to do this, remember, it’s completely optional. They realize that in some cases you may prefer to manually renew, such as if you want to tweak your listings a bit when they come to an end or make some other changes before you make them go back live.
Will you be using Etsy’s new features? Leave a message below.
By That Kat | March 24, 2015
Mark Faggiano is the founder and CEO of TaxJar, a service built to make transaction sales tax compliance easier for multi-channel ecommerce sellers. Mark’s passion is solving complex problems for small businesses. He previously cofounded and led FileLater to become the web’s leading tax extension service for both businesses and individual taxpayers before being acquired in 2010.
The team at TaxJar has what it takes to have your business hit the mark with sales tax. TaxJar can pull together your sales records from all the channels on which you sell, organize that information into sales tax return-ready reports, and then deliver it to the state(s) in the way they need to have it. Plus, we keep track of which state has been paid and when you paid them.
The issue with sales tax is that it is not only tedious, it also can be baffling. It is especially when it comes to due dates. The state gives you these dates once you are registered for a sales tax permit.
Regrettably, these dates vary by being monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. They also can vary state to state. Not to mention that one year you could file annually and the next year you could be filing monthly. The term ‘quarterly’ can also vary because some states use different sets of months as their ‘quarters.’
Not to mention if you sell on FBA or another fulfillment service, you could find yourself remitting sales tax to 18+ states.
April Sales Tax Due Dates- A Storm Brewing
No matter whether you are an online seller or not, April is usually a big month for taxes. Even if you didn’t collect a penny in sales tax, remember often states will require that you file a “zero return.” If you neglect to file, be mindful that the state will most likely give you a penalty. A $50.00 penalty when you didn’t owe tax to begin with is no fun!
To help you be in the loop, we have gathered a list of April Sales Tax Due Dates for each state. Take a second read about your requirements when you have some time.
While you’re there, think about getting a free trial of TaxJar for 30 days. Let us take the work out of taxes for you. This way, you get to do what you do best – running your business!
By Kate Hornsby | March 20, 2015
Although I normally try to do a little bit of eBay writing and a little bit of Amazon or ecommerce writing on Kat’s blog every week, this week, you get a double dose of eBay from me since eBay snuck in it’s Spring Seller Update on March 17 and it’s just too interesting of a story for me to not go ahead and comment on.
First — the big news. EBay is finally trying to revitalize auctions again. Here’s what Jordan Sweetnam, the new eBay Vice President of Seller Experience is listing as the highlights for the seller update:
-Unlimited insertion fee credits for listings that sell in auction. As an incentive for using the auction-style format successfully, sellers will be credited for the insertion fee on auction-style listings when that item sells†.
-Adjustments to monthly allotments. eBay will update the monthly allotments of free listings*—zero insertion fees—for both eBay Stores subscribers and sellers without an eBay Store.
-The 10-day duration on auction-style listings will no longer have an added feature fee. Sellers can maximize visibility and enjoy our longest auction-style duration.
-A $1 special duration feature fee per listing for sellers who choose 1- or 3-day auction style listing. Charging this fee will help discourage the use of shorter durations where they are least successful.
-Fixed price listings in media categories will no longer have a different insertion fee.
-Reserve price will increase. This feature fee will increase in price to the greater of $3, or 2% of the reserve price (the minimum price that must be met for your item to sell), with a cap of $100.
-For eBay Stores subscribers: We’re introducing a new final value fee cap of $250 in select Business & Industrial categories, including Heavy Equipment.
While this mostly seems like good news for those who still want to run auctions, I think most of us will be saying goodbye to those 1 and 3 days. There’s also bad news for non-store owners as those free listings appear to be dwindling down to about 20 with another free 20 if you list in a Collectible category.
There’s also been a change in the media category. Instead of the 5-cent insertion fee that we all loved, it’s hoping up to 30-cents, which is about a 500% increase (ouch!). Of course, this doesn’t hit until you’ve worked your way through your free listings.
The other big news is that if you have a new item, you will be required to use those pesky product identifiers in your listings. That’s where you enter the UPCs, ISBNs, and MPNs and the item information fills in for you. The problem, of course, will come in when you have a new product but it has no tags or info number that you can input.
What do you think about eBay’s Spring Seller Update? Leave a comment below. Want to read the full announcement. You can see it here.
By Kate Hornsby | March 17, 2015
Once upon a time, eBay judged a seller’s performance by the amount of positive feedback that a seller would receive. Last year, however, they decided to somewhat do away with that idea and instead gave sellers what is known as a “defect rate.” This rate is used to measure the aspects of the transaction between the buyer and the seller and looks at certain key points involved in the transaction to know how well a seller is doing.
Unfortunately, anytime something goes wrong during a transaction, it is counted as a defect on a seller’s account. EBay then gives a “grade” to your performance and that score determines your defect rate. If you fall below their minimum requirements, it could cost you big. You may lose your Top-rated sellers status, lose your ranking in eBay searches, or worst of all, you can actually be suspended from even being able to sell on eBay.
So, what are some reasons you might get a defect?
-You have an item returned to you because the buyer doesn’t think it is “as described”
-You shipped your item late
-The buyer never received the item you shipped
-The buyer uses eBay’s “Money Back Guarantee” or PayPal’s “Buyer Protection” because the item was not as described
-The buyer gave you Negative Feedback
-The buyer left you Neutral Feedback
-You had to cancel a sale because the item you sold was out of stock
As you can imagine, sometimes you can do everything right and still get a “ding” on your defect rate. You can also get a ding if you don’t ship an item because you lost it (been there – done that) or broke the item you sold (ditto!).
While you may just have to bite the bullet when some of these things occur, you can on occasion save yourself from getting a mark against your rate by working with the buyer to see if you can make it right. If you can’t ship the item because it broke or you noticed something was wrong with it, you can ask the buyer if they would like something else in its place. You can also simply refund the money, hope for positive feedback, and let the seller keep the item.
Fortunately, one or two bad marks on your defect rate won’t shut you down, but you can take a few precautions to help avoid them. First, check and recheck to ensure that you are describing the item correctly since this is one of the key reasons things get returned. Second, make sure that you actually have or can find the item that you are listing. EBay really frowns on sellers saying they are “out of stock” on an item. Finally, make sure that you reply to customers concerns as soon as you can. EBay expects a 24 hour response Monday through Friday, so if a seller sends you a query on an item it’s important that you reply promptly to them.
It still may not be possible to avoid the occasional Defect Rate, but taking some steps such as these can help you keep the marks against you to a minimum.
Have you ever encountered a problem that affected your Defect Rate? Leave a message below.
By That Kat | March 16, 2015
Tim Chapman 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. Tim talks about where he finds his inventory, finding home runs and the difference between those and bread & butter Items. This month Tim’s Home Runs included: Food Processor blender, Yellow Gold 10k Crest Ring, Bose Wave Radio, Table lamp, Canon macro lens, Ice Axe, Coffee Grinder Mill, Motorcycle helmet, Steak knives, Chef and carving knife, Oakley sunglasses
Questions that were asked and answered were:
- Weather impact on buyer’s and shipping
- Free listing promos.
- Home runs:
Tim talked about his home runs:
- Antique 1930s Fraternal BPOE Elks Solid Yellow Gold 10k Crest Ring Mens 12.5 Vtg
- Bose Wave Radio / CD AWRC1G W/ Aux base nice
- Mid Century Modern Danish Wood block Table Lamp 23″ tall
Tim talked about his home runs:
- CANON 50mm F/2.5 MACRO LENS EF Japan made Nice
- Vintage 1944 Schweiz Swiss made Ice Axe Schwelz Climbing 33 1/2″ Nice
- Vintage ELMA Coffee Grinder Mill Spain made Cast Iron 7 3/4″ wheel nice
Tim talked about his home runs:
- ARIA Motorcycle Helmet model RX-7 CORSAIR Size XL W/ bag Japan made nice
- (4) NEW #1759 CUTCO Pearl handle steak knives W/ Gift box nice
- Vintage F.DICK Germany made Chef & Carving knife Carbon Steel Full angle tang
- OAKLEY SPIKE Polarized sport Wrap Sunglasses nice
Links from the show:
http://bidonfusion.com ; use “THATKAT” to get 10% on your auction
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By Kate Hornsby | March 13, 2015
There’s an old saying that goes “do what you love and the money will follow.” While this may be true for following your bliss or passion, does it apply to selling online?
Well, yes and no.
By picking a niche in a category that you love, you typically have more knowledge about the item so you know the value and you usually know whether or not an item in that niche will sell. Note, however, that I use the word “usually.” You see, in some cases, we may be in love with an item so much because it’s in a niche that we love, we overlook that although we may love it –- not everyone else will.
As an example, I once bought a piece of Carnival Glass in marigold that had a grape pattern that I absolutely loved. I had bought a lot of Carnival Glass with a similar pattern but in another color, so I felt certain the piece would sell and at a pretty high dollar amount. Unfortunately, even though I knew that it was a newer piece and didn’t have the value of other older pieces in other colors, I assumed since I loved it, another buyer would as well.
I not only couldn’t get what I wanted for it (to make a profit), I couldn’t even get anyone to pay me what I had initially paid for it. Today, it sits on a shelf upstairs where I admire it when I walk by, but (for now at least) I’ve given up trying to sell it.
In this case, although there was a love of Carnival Glass and of selling it, I would have been a lot more objective about it and done a lot more research about how much I could sell it for if I hadn’t been blinded by my affection for it.
On the other hand, I have a friend who sells vintage clothing and also appreciates wearing it. She has an eye for it and even when brands appear that no one has heard of, she is almost always on the money as to whether the item will sell and also for how much. She also does a ton of research and unlike me, she can make a nonjudgmental decision about whether or not to buy the item.
The difference? She has a passion for all things vintage, but she can look at an item without the attachment when she needs to and make an unbiased decision. In her case, it’s a good thing. In my case, it wasn’t so much (although I have since learned!).
So, to answer my question and the title of this article — yes, you can sell what you love and the money will follow, but until you learn that you shouldn’t let your passion cloud your judgment, it’s best to sell something else or make sure you do a lot of research when you encounter something new in your beloved niche.
Are you passionate about the items you sell or is it just for profit? Leave a comment below.
By That Kat | March 11, 2015
By Cliff Ennico
for our business, which has a strong social mission. We realize these are very new, and don’t want to do anything that will cause trouble for us or our investors down the road. What should be doing to make sure things go smoothly and we actually have the positive impact on society that we plan?”
The benefit corporation or “B Corp” is becoming an extremely popular vehicle for
“social enterprise” startups (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefit_corporation). Basically a hybrid between a “for profit” corporation and a nonprofit organization, the dual purpose of a benefit corporation is (1) to create general public benefit, defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment, and (2) to generate a return for its shareholders. A benefit corporation’s directors and officers operate the business with the same authority as in a “for profit” corporation but are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on society and the environment. Benefit corporations, being “for profit,” have no exemption from federal and state taxes, and people cannot make tax-deductible donations to them.
As you can see, there is a built-in tension between these dual purposes. When making a specific decision, how will management weigh the corporation’s social purpose against its “profit motive”?
The reality is that most investors in a startup benefit corporation won’t be too concerned about realizing a return on their investment. They will share the founding entrepreneurs’ zeal to accomplish the B corp’s social purpose, and will view any return on their investment as “icing on the cake”.
At least they will in the beginning, when the corporation has no money, there’s nothing to fight about, and the investors can write off the corporation’s operating losses on their tax returns.
But once the benefit corporation grows and generates millions of dollars in profit, it’s likely these socially-motivated investors will want to see some money coming back their way, and later investors in these successful companies may balk at seeing all of the profits being plowed back into the corporation’s social purpose. That will put the corporation’s officers and directors in an extremely uncomfortable position if they don’t take several actions early on. Here are some things I’m telling my B corp clients to do.
Don’t Take the “S” Election. I think a B corp should be taxed as a regular or “C” corporation rather than an “S corporation, even if it legally qualifies for the S election. Since shareholders in an S corporation are required to pay taxes on their percentage share of the corporation’s income regardless of the amount actually distributed to them, successful B corps that take the “S” election will generate a huge amount of “phantom income” for their owners if they devote all their profits to their social purposes. If a B corp is established as an “S” corporation, the by-laws should clearly require an annual distribution of cash to the shareholders in an amount at least sufficient to cover their tax liabilities.
Look at Your State’s “B Corp” Statute. B corps are recognized in only about 28 states, so it’s possible your state doesn’t allow B corps yet. That needs to be looked into. Also, while Section 301 of the model B corp statute (www.benefitcorp.net/storage/documents/Model_Benefit_Corporation_Legislation.pdf) exonerates directors from any liability to shareholders for the decisions they make, some states have made significant changes to the model statute. If your state has watered down or qualified Section 301, you need to know exactly how.
Get Signed Affidavits from Your Shareholders. Until B corps are more recognized in the marketplace, I recommend that shareholders be required to sign a sworn affidavit saying (at least):
* that they recognize a B corp, although legally “for profit,” has a social and environmental purpose that may take precedence over its obligations to shareholders;
* that decisions regarding dividends and other distributions to shareholders are in the sole discretion of the corporation’s directors and officers;
* that it is possible the shareholder will never receive a return on his or her investment if the B corp’s directors and officers view its social/environmental purpose as paramount;
* that any return on the shareholders’ investment will be subject to federal and state income taxes;
* that the shareholder will not sue the corporation, or any director or officer, because of any decision made by the corporation’s management (except for criminal activity and “willful misconduct”); and
* that any person to whom the shareholder transfers his/her shares will be required to sign a similar affidavit.
Let People Know You Are Not a Nonprofit. To the untrained eye, a B corp looks an awful lot like a nonprofit or charity. When putting together a B corp’s marketing
materials and website, it is important to state (using all capital letters and boldfaced type) that the corporation is not exempt from federal and state taxes, that investments in the corporation are not tax-deductible, and that investors should consult their legal and tax advisors before making an investment in a B corp.
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 | March 10, 2015
Today’s news comes from the silly side, or rather, “why didn’t I think of that?”
The Telegraph states that last week, an enterprising eBay seller attempted to take things up a notch when he put a bag up for bid on eBay that contained — air from Kanye West’s Yeezus concert tour. Yep, you read that right — air.
The bag, which was initially started at the selling price of $5.00 on Sunday, worked it’s way up to $60,100 in bids before eBay decided to step in and take the auction listing down.
The listing, which had a description of “Kanye West Yeezus Tour Air For Sale” didn’t take much work to aquire. The seller described the item saying that he “held bag open and sealed air in.”
While the seller didn’t actually state which concert he was at when he collected his specimen of air, it apparently didn’t keep other sellers from joining in on the fun and soon bags of promised air from a Yeezus show were flooding eBay.
Although many of those items were eventually removed from the website, eBay apparently hasn’t gotten them all. A quick search just this moment resulted in at least five bags of Kanye West Concert Air still up for auction with bids (yes, people are bidding!) ranging from 99 cents and all the way up to $1,000.
One entrepreneur named ‘carbonite233” even went with truth in advertising and got a watcher (no bids…yet…) by offering:
“This bag is from the Kanye West Yeezus Tour at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The bags were handed out at the show to catch air for music memorabilia. Item includes one of the actual bags distributed at the concert. I posted a picture of my ticket for authenticity purposes. Best offers are welcome. All sales are final. No refunds.”
As you can imagine, this has not only brought out the copycats, but imitators as well. A Ziploc bag filled with air from Garth Brooks concerts also has made an appearance on eBay.
Have you ever sold or tried to sell an unusual item like a bag of air? Leave a comment below.