Holiday Sales: Are You Mobile Ready?

Online sellers should have a reason to be joyful this holiday season, Forrester (a global research and advisory firm) is predicting $68.4 million in domestic online sells this year. That’s a 15-percent increase year-over-year. As online sellers we can all agree that we want our slice of that big piece of pie, but the question remains —  are you mobile ready?

A few weeks ago, I discussed the importance of making sure your listings and website were viewable from your mobile device. If you didn’t heed my warning then, listen to me know. According to Prosper Mobile Insight, their research is showing that 62-percent of holiday shoppers are likely to use their smartphone or tablet to make a holiday purchase on Black Friday and Cyper Monday. They also said that many shoppers this season will be using their mobile devices to research the gifts they want to buy before they purchase them. Some researchers also report that by the end of the year, 135 million U.S. adults will own smartphones and around 60 million will own tablets. That is a lot of potential mobile customers!

Keep in mind,that although shoppers are still price conscious, the ability to easily view your items and read the critical information about your descriptions is actually going to be the deciding factor that will determine whether your item gets bought or not. People are in a hurry and if it’s too much of a hassle to see your eBay page or view your website, the customer is just going to move on to someone else that sells the same type of items. That’s what makes checking those listings now so important. Also, pay attention to the photos and how they show up on your listings. If you have placed them near the bottom of your listing, go ahead and get them up closer to the top.

Finally, as a seller, remember that you can always take advantage of this mobile revolution too. You might not have considered it, but when you are out shopping for your own Christmas gifts, you can use your own smartphone to find merchandise to actually sell. Download and use smartphone Apps, such as Red Laser and Shop Savvy to scout out the best deals and if you run up on a clearance item or two before or after Christmas, you can even research what similar items are selling for on eBay and Amazon.

That Kat Radio Episode 1

The first episode is ‘in the can’ as they say and we had a great time today.
First Beth Cherkowsky, my long time friend and co-worker from Depression Glass Warehouse did me the honor of turning the tables on me and interviewing me. It was fun being on the other side and Beth made me promise to answer the rest of her questions here so here goes!

  •  Are you working on any more books? Oh Yes! Coming Next is ‘Top 20 Questions About FBA Selling’ and a few others in the background.
  • How do you manage to do all the projects that you are working on? I couldn’t possibly di each project all by myself. Out-Sourcing and VA’s are my super secret!
  • What conferences do you think are worth attending and which ones have you spoken at? I’ve spoken at the SCOE (Amazon Seattle) event and the Kansas Jubilee I think they are both worth attending but it always depends on where you are in your business and where you are wanting to go next. I also strongly recommend the Atlanta ICE Ecommerce Conference with John Lawson and the eBay Radio Party. Go to the one you can afford and plan to come away motivated!
  • What made you decide to have another podcast, you had 2 successful podcasts before? Growth! Nothing ever stays the safe. The needs of the audience change, the speakers on the podcasts move on and it’s time to resettle and retool to meet the audience current needs.
  • What is your favorite part of your business? Watching people succeed and realize they can take care of their families without fear.
  • Where are you working on now? Retooling my eBay store, and branding my consulting and teaching under the That Kat Umbrella brand.

Next section was with Danni Ackerman that Denizen of eBay who teaches her brand of ‘For Fun and Profit’ through the behind the scenes at The Danni App. Check out exclusive Behind the Scenes training with Danni – two week free trial ends soon! Last but not least, we heard from Scott Henshaw of Nanette’s Variety Store on eBay and the web. Recently Scott has expanded an automotive of department name Motor Del Sol Sports on the Amazon platform. To get this up and running he hired spreadsheet guru Karen Locker from Solutions4eCommerc.com to take the 3,000 parts from the wholesale catalog and get them uploaded to Amazon. There are many ways of listing prodcuts on  Amazon and this is one of the more unusual onesl  Be sure to join us for more chat in the Facebook Group and send in your suggestions for the program or the Ask That Kat segment on the show (send to kat@katsimpson.com)! Thanks to the eBay Green Team for today’s prize!  I picked this up from the eBay Green Team at the recent eBay On Location and today’s winner (still waiting for your email Guest 10!) is a fantastic T-shirt and shoulder tote with the newest eBay Green Team logo!   Don’t forget next week we’ll be starting with eBay Andrew on Pinterest and Jake Jacobson and his Amazon story! Sign up over on the left for the Radio Newsletter so you don’t miss an episode!

{TKR} That Kat Radio – Episode 1 – Who is That Kat, Selling on Amazon with Spreadsheets, The Danni App

My Podcast is also available on iTunes here.

THIS WEEK’S SHOW WAS ABOUT . . .

  1. Finding out who ‘That Kat’ is and how she got here through an interview by Beth Cherkowsky of Depression Glass Warehouse.
  2. Last minute money-making tips for the Christmas Season by Danni Ackerman of The Danni App.
  3. Uploading inventory to Amazon using spreadsheets by Scott Henshaw of Nanette’s Store and Moto Del Sol on Amazon.

Other Links & Resources:

That Kat Facebook Grouphttp://www.facebook.com/groups/ThatKat – click on the “Join” button and I’ll add you to the group ASAP!

Do you have a question about eBay, Amazon, Website Selling, FBA or any of other eCommerce Topic? Send your question via email kat@katsimpson.com for inclusion in an upcoming podcast or post on the Facebook Group or Page and immediate input from several sellers.

REVIEWs From Listeners – please add one on talkshoe or itunes

This is THE place to learn about FBA – 100% Feedback 🙂 5 Star Seller etc 🙂 – Reviewer:kellyloach 05/01/12 12:33 PM EDT
Full Comment: I have been an FBA seller since the start of the program and although I feel comfortable with my understanding of FBA, Chris always brings new ideas that I had not thought of before. Recently I began listening again after a few months off and I forgot what a wonderful resource this is to all FBA sellers. Everyone (Bob,Chris Lisa, etc) brings something to the table and does not fill the show with mindless banter like other radio programs. Make sure you have a pen and paper when listening so you won’t miss anything. Kelly

Next weeks show…..eBay Andy, Pinterest and Holiday Sales!

Choose Abundance by Stephanie Hester

Stephanie HesterWith Thanksgiving being celebrated tomorrow(ed note – Thursday!) I want to share my heart and a few things that are on my mind.

 

As you know I am a firm believer in listing your blessings … sitting in a quiet place and physically writing out the ways in which you are blessed. There is something powerful in the act of writing your blessings down and seeing them listed on a piece of paper. I do this often and every time I am overwhelmed with enormous thankfulness.

 

A few weeks ago my husband and I hosted our networking event. Normally the event is free of charge, but we did things a bit differently this last time. We suggested a $5 donation at the door as a way to raise money for a great charity … Soles4Souls.

 

Soles4Souls does amazing work around the world. Among other things, they provide shoes for people who don’t own a pair. There are over 300 millions orphans around the globe who have never owned a pair of shoes. 300 million! That number is staggering to me.

 

Even on our worst days – when we were unemployed and had lost our home – I ALWAYS had shoes to wear, always. In fact, I had several pair. Oh, I have so much to be thankful for!

 

One of the things I am most thankful for, however, is our ability to choose. Each and every day, moment by moment, we have choices. For many of us, we choose what we eat, what we wear, where we go and what we do. But more importantly all of us, no matter our situation, have the ability to choose how we respond to situations.

 

We may not have control over the circumstances that are impacting our lives, but we do have control of our responses. And ultimately it is our responses, our attitude, that determine our quality of life. We have all seen either in person or in documentaries people who have nothing – no worldly possessions to speak of – and yet they are amazingly happy. That is a choice, a powerful powerful choice.

 

I am also thankful that we have the ability to dream, to plan for, and strive toward a future we desire. As I have been hit with health issues over the past several years, I’ve taken stock of my life and what I want to do with it. The reoccurring theme that has shown up in my journals time and time again is that I want to live abundantly. I don’t want to grasp the abundant life that is promised to us, but I want to aggressively seek it and pull it to me. I want to be active in pursuing it, not just sit and wait passively hoping it will come my way.

 

One of the wonderful things about abundant living is that what defines abundance to me may not even resemble your definition of abundance. But that is of no consequence. Each one of us can pursue our own abundant life. And wonderfully abundance is, well, abundant. There is more than enough of it for everyone.

 

Another wonderful thing about abundant living is that it is a constant pursuit. What I enjoy today in no way constitutes “arrival.” I will always be pursuing abundance, learning more about it and how to gain more of it in my life.

 

I will share from my journal what abundant living means to me. Thankfully some of these things I am able to enjoy today while I seek to further develop them for tomorrow and some of these things I have not yet achieved, but am excited as I make progress toward them.

 

Abundant living:

 

• Laughing, playing and enjoying my way through life
• Truly choosing a better life and sharing that with others via books, speaking engagements and the web
• Standing under God’s spout of revelation and abundance – wherever that is
• Paying it forward every day
• Giving to others out of my abundant joy
• Micro financing
• Living with optimum health
• Loving with abandon knowing that rejection on Earth has no bearing on my identity or future
• Traveling to meet people and listening to their stories
• Financial freedom and flexibility

 

What is your definition of abundant living?

 

Choose a Better Life by being thankful for your blessings, embracing your choices, and choosing to live abundantly no matter your situation.

 

Stephanie Hester

An Attitude of Gratitude by Stephanie Hester

Stephanie Hester“An attitude of gratitude” that phrase has been thrown around a lot over the years and with our having just celebrated Thanksgiving the phrase is in the forefront of my mind.

 

So, what is an attitude of gratitude? In short, it is a frame of mind, a way of thinking and looking at life and it can be summarized in one word … thankfulness.

As I’ve posted before, there is a direct correlation between our level of thankfulness and our quality of life. Thankfulness increases our quality of life while negativity decreases it. Think about it, when we are thankful, our overall mood is upbeat, fun, joyful, and well, thankful. When we are ungrateful and negative we tend to be grumpy, bitter and angry.

 

There is no doubt in my mind which of these I’d rather be. So, in an effort to cultivate a continual attitude of gratitude I take time to recount my blessings and bless others. I have also been disciplining myself to speak out loud something positive about every challenging situation that comes my way. A perfect example occurred this past holiday weekend.

 

Saturday afternoon my family and I returned home after having run errands. I walked into the garage looking for a yard rake and heard what sounded like a waterfall. As I looked around I discovered we had a pipe that had broken in the ceiling and pouring out of it was steaming hot water.

My husband began shutting off valves and I got on the phone with our home warranty company. Eventually we had to have the water to our home shut off in order to stop the flow of water into our garage. In the few hours of chaos it took to get the situation under control I noticed several boxes of books, pictures, office paraphernalia and my husband’s Monopoly collection were showing signs of water damage.

 

After several calls to our home warranty company we realized that a plumber was not going to be able to make it to our home until the following day. We had a choice to make, we could be angry and upset about the situation, or we could have an attitude of gratitude and enjoy the rest of our weekend. We opted for the later.

What did we have to be grateful about regarding a broken water pipe? Plenty… the pipe that broke was in the garage, not the house, many of the water damaged items in the garage were at least somewhat salvageable, we had just renewed our home warranty four days earlier, a friend gave my husband and me a great rate at a hotel for the night, my daughter stayed the night with another friend and had a great time, the pipe was fixed the next day, and the plumber gave us great information on preventative maintenance for the rest of our pipes. All in all it was a good experience – a good experience because we choose to look for the positive things for which we were thankful.

 

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday I was watching a morning talk show. The topic of discussion was this very thing, how can we be thankful and show gratitude for our challenges. One of the experts in the discussion said this, “A great way to express gratitude is to find a need of yours that has been met and meet it in someone else’s life.” Her examples included a cancer survivor sitting with a cancer patient who is undergoing treatment or a formerly homeless person serving meals at a rescue mission.

 

Acts of gratitude don’t have to be this dramatic. They can be as simple as being thankful for the location of a broken water pipe. It is not how we show gratitude that is as important as the fact that we recognize our blessings and are genuinely grateful for them.

 

Choose a Better Life by adopting an attitude of gratitude.

 

Many thanks to Stephanie for this guest post. 

Bio: Stephanie Hester is the Author of Choose a Better Life: Common Sense for Uncommon Living – now available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere. You can also sign up for her newsletter at www.chooseabetterlife.com

You can purchase Stephanie’s Book ‘Choose A Better Life’ here.

The Six “C’s” That Should be In Every Business Plan by Cliff Ennico

There are at least 1,000 books in print telling people how to write a business plan.  The problem with most of them is:  they’re wrong.  Or at least they’re not practical for the vast majority of business startups.

Unless you are a high technology startup looking for venture capital, you do not need a 50-page book with dividers and index tabs to start a business.

You do, however, need a business plan.  As a frequent judge in business plan competitions around the country, and as an advisor to “angels” and other professional investors, I review hundreds of business plans a year.  Most are terrible.

So how do you catch the attention of someone like me when writing a business plan?  There are six things I look for in a business plan, each of which conveniently begins with the letter “C”.

Concept.  You must be able to communicate your business idea in a single paragraph (two at the most) “executive summary”.  This is the first thing I look for when reviewing a business plan.  If I don’t buy the concept, I don’t even look at the rest of the business plan.  So make it perfect.

Customers.  I want to know that people will actually buy what you are selling.  Who are the customers you are targeting with your products or services?  What are their fears (the things that keep them awake at night) and passions (the things that “turn them on”)?  How do your products or services address those fears and passions?

Competition.  A business plan that says “we have no competition; our product or service is unique” goes immediately into the trash can.  Every business has competition.  If you’re convinced yours doesn’t, you haven’t looked hard enough.

If your product or service is too expensive for the market, what other products and services can people buy to help deal with the same fears and passions?  Are there any “big box” retailers, chain stores, or franchises out there that could get into your marketplace and wipe you out with their economies of scale?  Are there any new technologies that could make your products or services obsolete?

When reading your business plan, I want you to be realistic about your competitors.  I want you to identify them, convince me you have a compelling advantage over them, and tell me how you plan to crush them under your boot heels.

Cash Flow.  Too many entrepreneurs spend too much time projecting profit margins in their business plans.  That’s important, of course, but what’s twice as important – especially for a startup or early stage business – is cash flow:  will there be enough money in your business checking account at the end of each month to pay your operating expenses next month?

Sooner or later, a successful business reaches a point at which revenues from operations are sufficient to cover the monthly operating costs of the business – that’s called the “break even point”.  How long is it going to take your business to get there?

If you have “broken even” already, or plan to do so very soon, it will actually be quite easy to convince people to invest in your business and help it grow.  But if you are looking for money to pay the electric bill each month, you are not ready to you’re your business plan to investors.

Don’t tell me what you “hope” will happen, or what is “going” to happen.  Tell me what’s happening, or what has already happened, and make me feel this rocket ship is leaving the launching pad.

Credibility.  I will look at your management team’s resumes very closely, to make sure you have the “know how” to make this business plan happen.  I want to see people who know your technology cold and can adapt quickly to market demands.  I want to see people who know your customers so well they can crawl inside their heads and make 100% sure sales will happen.  I want to see people with operations and financial experience who can help the business “break even” as soon as possible.  I want to see people with experience in the industry.

I will also be looking for seasoned entrepreneurs, so don’t try to impress me with your “Fortune 100” credentials.  Thirty years of running a large company with an established business model and tons of cash is no qualification for running a startup.

Caution.  I want you to warn me about the risks involved in the business, and explain your strategy for managing them.  I want to see you working with good lawyers, accountants and insurance professionals.  If you are a one-person business, I want to see a “succession plan” to ensure the business will survive your death or disability.

Because if I bring an investor to the table, and things go wrong down the road, his money’s gone.  He will blame me, and you do not want to know what I will do to you.

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.

Holiday Mailing: When Free Shipping Isn’t an Option

The other day I was asked about my opinion on free shipping. Well, I can honestly say that when it comes to free shipping, I am a 110-percent for it. Not only do I think that it attracts buyers to the items you are trying to sell, I think most buyers are starting to expect it. I also believe that it’s going to be a big deciding factor for buyers this holiday season as both Amazon and eBay are expecting to see a large increase in online shoppers looking for the best deals.

 

Still, there continues to be a debate on free shipping. Some sellers think it’s a good thing and some sellers don’t. Regardless of how you personally feel about free shipping from a seller’s point of view, however, you have to admit that the buyers love it.

 

The problem I hear most often about free shipping is that it often isn’t practical when the item you are selling doesn’t have much of a profit margin to begin with. For some sellers, they say that by the time they buy the item, sell it at a reduced cost (to match other sellers), and then offer free shipping — they find that they are actually in the hole and have made almost no profit at all.

 

If this is your dilemma, you may find you can’t offer free shipping on all your items, but there are some other things you can do that might steer the buyers your way.

 

First, offer to upgrade the way you ship the item for “free.” Since the package will arrive there quicker, buyers may overlook that they are paying the shipping if they know they can get their item fast. As an added benefit, many savvy eBay sellers have realized that in most cases Priority Mail is not only faster, but it is also cheaper. Offer Parcel Post to your customers on your listing, but then upgrade them to Priority Mail and it becomes a win-win situation.

 

Take advantage of flat rate shipping. I recently learned that Bubblefast is offering a new box product called “The Scotty Stuffer.” This box fits as snug as a bug in a rug into the USPS flat rate padded envelope. Just put your item into the box, stick the box into the envelope and as you know —if it fits,it ships. If you sell coffee mugs this box is really a godsend, as it is just the perfect size for shipping a coffee mug and you can still give the mug a little more security by  wrapping it in bubble-wrap.

 

Shop around for the best price. Although I have found that USPS is generally the cheapest way to ship, keep in mind that eBay is now allowing sellers to print labels for FedEx right off the computer. You may find that heavier items actually ship cheaper when you use FedEx or UPS. Do some research before you list your item to find out which way is best.

USPS Lifts Ban on Lithium Batteries

Christmas is coming early for electronic sellers on Amazon.and eBay. Although the United States Post Office initially said it wouldn’t consider lifting the ban on the international shipping of lithium batteries until sometimes after  January 1, of next year (2013), it looks like they decided to give sellers an early Christmas present this week when they announced that USPS customers would once again be able to ship lithium batteries internationally after November 15th, 2012.

 

The lithium battery ban was first put into place back in May because batteries that are not fully charged or packed correctly have the potential to explode or catch fire. According to the website “Fast Company,” this has been a serious issue as lithium ion batteries have been suspected as the cause of at least two cargo airplane crashes dating back as early as 2006.

 

Unfortunately, this ban has been quite a burden to electronic sellers since lithium batteries power just about everything from iPads and MP3 players to laptop computers and smartphones. Even Bluetooth headsets are powered by this kind of battery as are almost all types of modern day electronics.

 

Since the ban became effective in May, the only way a civilian could ship electronic items (along with their batteries) was by sending the items through FedEx, UPS, or DHL. During the ban, the people taking the hardest hit in the pocketbook have been our folks in the military. Although the USPS  families were still able to send lithium batteries with electronics, they could no longer send them by way of Military Priority Mail. Instead, they were forced to send it to a civilian address in the host country where the family member was stationed. This had the rates increasing from $5.30 to over $20. Thankfully, with the ban lift this will no longer be the case.

 

Although I have yet to have discover the reason that the USPS decided to lift the ban (improved safety procedures perhaps?), I can say that I think it’s going to make a lot of Amazon sellers who can now sell electronics internationally very happy and probably the USPS will be very happy too. They are already estimating that they expect a 20-percent increase in holiday shipping this season compared to what was shipped in 2011 and the USPS expects 18 billion cards, letters and packages to be delivered between Thanksgiving to New Years. That news should bring a Merry Christmas to all.