Are Amazon and eBay Making it Easier for Sellers to Ship Internationally?

If you haven’t noticed, recently it seems like it’s getting a little easier to ship internationally through both Amazon and eBay. Amazon’s FBA has a new “global export program” and eBay has a “global shipping program” that they’re currently testing. It seems both companies have decided the only way to expand globally is through their sellers, and if the benefits are being passed onto us in the form of savings and easier shipments, I’m all for it!

Amazon FBA has had their global shipping program, but it was only available for books, music, movies and other media until recently. Recently, they have expanded the program to most categories (except grocery and gourmet food) within your inventory. All you have to do to become eligible is change one setting on your FBA account…it doesn’t get much simpler than that! On your FBA inventory page, at the top right, you will see a button with an option to click to sign up for global export, select fba global export from the next page, upload your signature, and you’re good to go! You will want to keep more inventory on hand though, because with shipping to a much bigger market becoming par for the course, you’re very likely to see an increase in sales.

As far as the eBay global shipping program, I’m sorry to say that I cannot tell you how to sign up for it yet because, well, it isn’t an option yet. Technically, it hasn’t even been announced, even though most folks know it’s coming soon, thanks to our favorite blogs and the site itself, which ran a blog about it, then pulled it a few days later. Our friends over at EcommerceBytes were able to get a copy of it and were so kind as to post it here. Supposedly, with this program, a seller can ship items to buyers in other countries with little to no concern over issues like customs, duties and taxes, shipping regulations and restrictions. The main benefit to this service that I can see is that eBay will be working with Pitney Bowes for the international shipping and once the package is out of the country, it’s their responsibility. They are in control of everything from the cost, customs, delivery and reporting back to eBay. Hopefully, this new service will launch soon so that we can all reap the benefits. Until then, I guess we will just keep our fingers crossed and pray that only people within the US order from us.

I’m all for companies making it easier on us to ship internationally. In the past, the hassle of having to deal with all the complications made it almost not worth it to ship internationally. Here’s hoping that these changes will be effective in taking away some of the stress involved in the process. What are your thoughts?

 

Congratulations to Kabbage!

First they get tons more money and now they make an amazing hire!

 

Congrats to Kabbage – it’s fun to watch you grow!

We’re pleased to announce the latest addition to Kabbage’s board of directors, Scott Thompson, CEO of ShopRunner and former president of PayPal.

Because Scott successfully led PayPal through its most formative and highest growth years, we will definitely be benefiting from his knowledge and expertise as we continue to grow.

Scott currently heads up ShopRunner, a leading shopping network that enables merchants to bring the best shopping services to consumers. Scott served as the president of PayPal from 2008 to 2012. He was also PayPal’s chief technology officer before becoming appointed president of the global e-commerce business.

ShopSmart – Save Money Shopping Your Favorite Stores

I love finding like-minded folks online! I’ve recently co-written a book on how to save money shopping your favorite stores, and it seems like every time I turn around lately I find yet another author or blogger who is writing about the same thing. Let me just say for the record that if you haven’t checked out ShopSmart magazine, now is the time to do so. The sole purpose of the magazine is to find ways to save money…and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! In their October 2012 issue, they ran an article on how to score big savings on clothing, accessories and tips for saving even more at your favorite retailers. While I love finding a blog or article geared towards saving money, what I love even more is when they tell people what I’ve been saying for years. Some of their top tips include: loyalty cards, following your favorite stores on social media, coupons, scouring the clearance racks (both online and in the store) and signing up for email alerts from the stores you frequent.

Folks, these tips and tricks are repeated by everyone as a way to save because they are ways that work! Don’t ever be caught paying full price when you could get away at a huge discount! Check out my book, Savings By Store, for more details on how to save big while shopping!

We R Here – Online Retailers Helping Each Other Out

Recently, I received an invitation to join a video launch of a new company. This new alliance is one that promises to “ensure that government policies create a fair marketplace for all retail businesses to thrive.”  This is an idea which I give my full support to. All too often, as the “little guy,” our businesses are subject to unfair tax collection burdens belonging to the much larger businesses we compete with. Even right now, Congress is trying to pass new sales tax legislation that would dramatically affect us and our businesses. The We R Here coalition believes that small businesses like ours must be protected from unfair sales tax collections like this, and are taking steps to fight it. You can check out their site for yourself here. There is also a replay of the video conference they just held.

As most of you know, I just released a book that I co-wrote with tax expert Michael Rice about sales tax and the FBA seller. I used to be the kind of person who found tax law absolutely boring, but what we have to realize is that knowledge is power, and the more we know about issues like sales tax, especially about legislation that affects us and our businesses directly, the more we will be able to do about taking steps to protect ourselves and our business. I know that this is a group I fully support. You can join the coalition as well, once you decide if this is something you would like to be a part of, but my suggestion is to at least check out the site and see what they’re about. Check out the site and let me know your thoughts. I believe you can never be too informed! http://werherecoalition.org/

Plum Alley – Women in Business Site!

Plum Alley: a site spotlighting women in e-commerce

As a woman in the industry, I love to see other women out here in this crazy world of e-commerce, doing our thing and being successful at it. But what do I love even more? A site or company dedicated to recognizing and helping female founders to be successful. PlumAlley.co is a site doing just that. Every week on Tuesday, the site highlights a different female founder by tells her story and showcasing a small quantity of the products and/or services that she offers and offering them at a sale price. All of the items offered vary in price and description, but they are all exquisite and most will be exclusive to the site. Plum Alley also archives every female founder that they feature for future reference. The site states that they “hope that every time you visit the site, you will feel a sense of admiration for the female entrepreneurs we feature”

I hope to see more sites like this popping up in the future. I know that I personally am inclined to spend with a company when I find out that it is run by a fellow woman and I believe perhaps others women out here feel the same. What about you, folks? Fellow women in e-commerce, is this something that you enjoy seeing, or does it make no difference to you what-so-ever who is running a company?

Passengers, Please Leave Your Electronic Devices on During the Flight

In a recent blog post from The Hill, I’ve read that in the future, we may be allowed to keep our portable electronic devices open and running during flights. I have to give props where they’re due, and it seems that the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, have noticed that the society we live in has us all plugged in. It seems like they don’t enjoy the constant criticism they receive from maintaining their strict policies. I know that I would definitely feel my day spent traveling was more productive if I were able to continue working on my laptop while in flight.

As of now, you are able to use these devices, but only after the plane take off and before final approaches, and without an active internet connection. There is no word as to when the study group is set to meet, but here’s hoping it will be sometime soon. The FAA has also stated that even if this rule were to change, we would still not be allowed to use our cell phones for “voice communication”, but then again, who doesn’t enjoy having an excuse to turn off their phone from time to time? I know that some days, I welcome the moment when I have to turn off my phone and tell people I can’t be reached. I know one thing for sure: if folks were able to keep their children busy by streaming live videos and books to their devices, perhaps at the very least, our flights would be nice and quiet. J

What do you think? Is this a change you would welcome?

(photo courtesy of Air & Space magazine, September,2004)

EbusinessAtlanta – “Success online starts here”

Ecommerce Experts to Give Insider Tips on Winning in $327 billion eTail Industry

On October 5, 2012, experts from across the United States will converge in the ATL to both attend and speak at the Internet Commerce Entrepreneurs (I.C.E.) Group’s first-ever ICE eBusiness Conference in Atlanta, GA.
The event will bring together thought leaders and successful professionals in the fields of Multi-Channel Marketing, SEO, PPC, Social Media, Merchandising, Promotions and Cross Border Trade for a comprehensive overview of the rapidly expanding arena of Internet Commerce and Online Retail Trade.
The Conference is scheduled for October 5-6 at the Hilton Atlanta Airport Conference Center, 1031 Virginia Ave Atlanta, GA 30354.

Special Discounted Tickets to the event are $149.00 (SAVE $100) can be purchased at: http://iceatlanta.eventbrite.com/?discount=daybook

“This year’s conference is particularly important,” said conference co-organizer John Lawson, and CEO of both ColderICE which provides eCommerce education and consulting and the ICE Group, a trade association of powerful and successful online e-tailers.  “As advances in eCommerce and online marketplaces rocket forward, online retailers are on the threshold of phenomenal growth and even traditional retailers are seeking ways to expand and increase their bottom line via the internet.”

With more and more shoppers in the United States turning to online buying, it is predicted that consumers will spend $327 billion in 2016, up 45% from $226 billion this year and 62% from $202 billion in 2011, according to a report released by Forrester Research Inc.
The conference is aimed not only at eCommerce company founders and other ePreneurs but any business owner, corporate CEO, President, Vice President or General Manager who is responsible for online marketplaces or is leaning toward online retail.

Industry experts predict that over the next few years, eCommerce is expected to undergo a profound change as technological developments and enhanced security measures in online payment systems and digital wallets pave the road towards mass acceptance of these practices. “If you have a business and you’re not selling your goods and services online, you’re missing out on an extremely critical marketplace” says Brandon Dupsky, CEO, OnFair Inc. and conference co-organizer.  “eCommerce is that treacherous terrain that every business must learn to dominate if it’s going to survive the Tech Age.”

Keynote Speakers
·    Colin Sebastian – Senior Research Analyst, Robert. W. Baird & Company
·    Rick Watson, eCommerce General Manager, Barnes & Nobles

Featured Speakers
·    Eric Yonge – President &Creative Director – EY Studios
·    Al Loise – Marketing Director, Vayu Media.
·    Chris Green – Author of Retail Arbitrage and founder of FBA Power
·    Troy Nalls – CEO, Third Cousin Media

MC/Featured Speaker
·    Jacqueline Knight, Managing Partner, Knight Owl Communications, Hoot n’ Holla Online Communications

Hosts and ICE Co-Founders
·    Brandon Dupsky, eCommerce Multi-millionaire (10 successful online businesses)
·    John Lawson, ColderICE Media, ColderICE eCommerce Education
Special Discounted Tickets to the event are $149.00 (SAVE $100) can be purchased at:

http://iceatlanta.eventbrite.com/?discount=daybook

 

 

Help With Your FBA Packing From Amazon!

I’ve learned what I know about packing through lots of trial and error. (Some errors more expensive than others, unfortunately) Many times, I wished I had some help, or someone to tell me what I was doing. Amazon has published a cheat sheet for packing for their FBA sellers which is awesome! Be sure to print it out for yourself.

 

 

Here is a basic breakdown with the highlights. Here’s hoping this will help you avoid some expensive errors.

For glass or fragile products: (examples: glass, china, picture frames, mirrors) the key with these items is to use lots and lots of bubble wrap! The product should be able to be dropped on a hard surface and survive without breaking or chipping. It also helps to place the item in what’s called an “over box,” which is a smaller box placed around the item after the bubble wrap that you can place into the main box with the rest of your inventory. Place the scannable label for FBA on the outside of the box

For liquids: (examples: soap, lotion, cleaners) Tighten the lid on the item, then place it into a sealable bag. I like to add another seal, even if it’s just a piece of tape over the seal of the bag for extra measure. (If the item leaks, you could possibly lose ALL your inventory in the box!) Make sure your label can be scanned from the outside of the bag

For soft items: (examples: clothing, linens, purses, plush toys) Place your clothing, linens, etc in their own sealable bag, place your label on the outside, and place in your shipment

For sharp items: (examples: knives, scissors, tools) Wrap the item in bubble wrap or place within an over box, place your scannable FBA label on the outside, and place in your box with the shipment

For small items: (examples: jewelry, key chains, flash drives) Place the item within a sealable plastic bag, affix the FBA label and place in your box

 

 

Vendio – Big Changes and Improvements

I’ve been a fan of Vendio for a long time and it has been interesting watching their growth and changes. Yesterday they rolled out the latest upgrades and there are some significant announcements here. I hope you’ll read through and comment. I think the FBA integration and the ‘match and publish’ items are the ‘big deals’ in this release but I’d love to know what you think too!

Vendio Fall Seller Release

Vendio is very excited to announce the release of several NEW Features and Enhancements that will increase efficiency and help merchants sell more inventory across channels.

The 9/18/12 Fall Seller Release includes the following:
• Integrated USPS® Postage Printing
• Enhanced Inventory Sharing
• Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) for Vendio
• Improved Amazon Match & Publish
• Scrolling Gallery for Mobile

New Features and Enhancements

   Integrated USPS® Postage Printing
Integrated USPS® postage and shipping label printing is now available directly from the Vendio interface! You can purchase postage, print labels, insure packages, communicate tracking numbers to buyers, and automatically sync the information with eBay and Amazon – AND you can save up to 15% on postage, just by using Vendio!
We have partnered with DYMO Endicia for the most integrated experience available.

   Enhanced Inventory Sharing
This enhancement modifies inventory allocation strategies and enables sharing of an item quantity across multiple channels—with automatic adjustment of quantities on each channel to minimize the risk of overselling.
We have also made the quantity history log visible from My Items.

   Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) for Vendio
You can now monitor changes in Amazon FBA inventory within the Vendio interface along with your merchant-fulfilled inventory.
We will continue to identify new projects to increase efficiency within FBA support, and we invite FBA sellers to contact us with feedback on how we can support you further.


Scrolling Gallery for Mobile

Vendio has created the first mobile-optimized Scrolling Gallery that will work on mobile phones and tablets such as iPads. Eight years ago our team of innovators created the first-ever scrolling Gallery, and our new Scrolling Gallery for Mobile now enables cross-selling on mobile devices as well as browsers.

Times are changing—today millions of eBay buyers use mobile devices like iPhones and iPads to shop. Catch on-the-go buyers with the Scrolling Gallery for Mobile!

Improved Amazon Match & Publish

Amazon Match & Publish already makes bulk-matching items to the Amazon catalog and publishing them on Amazon a breeze. Now you can get your items published on Amazon even faster. Optimized search and results display, as well as improved error handling makes Amazon Match & Publish truly a best-in-class feature.

 

Amazon Lending – I’m In – Are You?

Recently I’ve been hearing about some sellers getting invitations from Amazon to apply for a loan to source inventory. I thought that was very interesting and then didn’t think about it any more until I got one of those letters. Now, I am a happy Kabbage customer and have been using their short term loans to help me expand my business so I was familiar with the concept and happy with my growth. But when the opportunity came from Amazon Lending I decided to explore that also and share the journey. Here we go!

I received the letter telling me I had the ‘opportunity’ on September 10th. I thought about it for awhile and decided to do it and dedicate that amount strictly for new inventory. So on September 15th I applied.

Something I found interesting was that with Kabbage you are never asked what the funds are for, with Amazon you must Promise that all funds will be used to directly support your Amazon business. How they would enforce that I have no idea but I had to check to agree and found that proviso interesting enough to share with y’all.

I am sure that all sellers are offered different amounts and very possibly different interest rates but for transparency’s sake, here are the terms I was offered.

Another negative vs Kabbage. With Kabbage you know in MINUTES, but Amazon told me they would let me know in a few days. Now, in fairness, this application was submitted on Friday, the 15th.Surprisingly to me, I had my letter approving my loan on Monday, September 17th. So much for it taking 5 business days.

Now I was concerned as I only can draw my Amazon payments every two weeks and the letter said it would take at least 2 business days to get into my account. My payout was due the next day, Tuesday. So if it hit my account in 2 business days it would just be sitting there untouchable for 2 weeks. Surprisingly again, the entire $3,000 was in my disbursement that took place on Tuesday and should be in my account by Saturday. Now, to spend $3K on inventory. Ya know, I don’t think that will be a problem! I’ve already lined up $460 worth of closeout infant items and $447 worth of hair pieces. NEXT!

Stay with me for the lessons I learn and will share with you on this process. As far as I know (AFAIK) however, the program is still invitation only and you can’t ‘apply.’ Maybe that will change soon, who knows?

Here’s another cool thing – all the information about your loan (you can even make advance payments) is available now in Seller Central!