No More Saving Money With Coupons From eBay!

eBay sent an email out to some sellers last week explaining that there were some very strict restrictions being put on the sale of coupons via the site. According to the email, eBay is now limiting coupon sellers to $100 per month in coupon sales, or a measly 25 coupons a month. I’m not sure if you use coupons, but there are some out there who are very big into coupons.

Most extreme couponers go to eBay to purchase their coupons in bulk since it is faster and cheaper than buying newspapers and cutting them by hand. Up until recently, there were no limits to the number of coupons you could buy or sell via the site. If you have ever seen TLC’s show, “Extreme Couponers,” then you can understand how these folks operate. They match up a sale item with a coupon to achieve maximum savings. Sometimes, they even get paid to shop! I have been witness to my daughter starting to do some extreme couponing of her own, and it’s a great way to have fun and save money at the same time. In order to stock up on goods while they’re at their lowest price, you have to have a large amount of coupons, and the best way to get that many specific coupons is to go through eBay.

EBayers across the board were very unhappy with this change in policy, and they took to the boards to voice their opinion. Coupon buyers and sellers alike were very upset by this change. EBay gave them less than 60 days notice, since the change will be taking effect on September 1st, 2013. I’m guessing the reason behind this is because they have had problems with people buying and selling fake coupons. Coupons are big business, and with all that money to be had, companies have to monitor the coupons they accept very closely. If a forged coupon is turned in, they follow the paper trail and I’m guessing the paper trail may have led back to eBay and they don’t want to deal with the risk any longer. This is just speculation. The statement issued said nothing about the reason why they would no longer allow the sale of large amounts of coupons, all they said was that they couldn’t do so anymore. What about you? Why do you think eBay took the stance that they did on this issue? Have you ever purchased coupons via the site before?

July Monthly Focus Show 31 – FBA Manager and Social Sandi

 [audio:http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-112441/TS-769920.mp3]

 

1 – Guests This Week

 

2 – Chat Room Chatter:

  • Today Kat was first in the room and very soon she was joined by fun loving people who are living the dream selling on-line on Amazon FBA and eBay
  • There was some great information on dealing with mosquitos – yep you read right and you just thought we talked business here, to get some of these great tips you need to be hear early
  • There was some great information from the guys at FBAManager and how they are dealing with the challenges over at Amazon and how they can help us get sour money money back
  • And Sandi from Social Sandi gave us some fantastic information on how to use social media to our advantage

3 – Chat Room Links

 

Meetings – 

  1. SCOE coming up soon! Sept 19 – 21 in Philladelphia – space available http://www.SCOE.biz/Philly

  1. ICE Retailer is still accepting registrations.  Sept 21st in Atlanta. You NEED to hear the amazing keynote speaker at www.iceretailer.com – Coupon code THATKAT for $249 savings

  1. Kansas Jubilee is coming up fast! Oct 25 – 26 this year with some great new ideas and speakers coming! http://www.KansasJubilee.net

 

Other Links & Resources:

  • That Kat Facebook Group: http://Facebook.com/groups/ThatKat – click on the “Join” button and I’ll add you to the group right away
  • That Kat Blog http://ThatKat.com Sign up for my newsletter here!
  • Do you have a question about selling on Amazon, FBA or any of the topics discussed in this podcast?  Best place to ask is on the Facebook group – see the link above. Over 400 folks willing to help!

Next Show, August 5th, Kat will be back with more eCommerce information, hints and tips

– See more at: https://www.thatkat.com/#sthash.VLJ4NRe9.dpuf

Are You Giving Advice, Guidance, Feedback or Something Else?

cliffAs a columnist, expert and blogger on legal and tax issues affecting small businesses and entrepreneurial companies, you can bet your bottom dollar I get a ton of e-mails, phone and text messages asking me for my opinion on various matters.  Just about every day.

 Whenever I receive a question – either from a reader’s e-mail message or from the audience at one of my “live” events throughout the country — that I think will be a worthy subject for this column, I write about it.  Most of the time, however, I can’t respond to someone’s message because:

  • the question was answered in a previous column;
  • the question isn’t of enough general interest to write about; or
  • the question is so fact-specific that it would take up the entire column just to describe the reader’s problem, with no room for the answer.

One message, though, always gives me the heebie-jeebies:  a message from someone requesting actual legal, tax or financial advice.

If you question that the Internet has changed our lives forever, consider this.  Twenty years ago people paid professionals such as lawyers, accountants and investment advisers for advice.  And they paid for it.  The idea of someone walking into a lawyer’s office and demanding she give “free advice” on a complicated legal or tax matter was absurd.  No one even thought of such a thing.  Anyone who tried it was promptly shown the door, or given an introduction to the local police.

Enter the Internet, the billions of pages of information available there, and the people without law, accounting or financial degrees who are routinely dispensing “free advice” on all sorts of matters they are simply not competent to talk about.

Now, please don’t get me wrong: I’m all for free speech, on the Internet and everywhere else.  And there’s no law saying you can’t express your opinion on something – especially political or social matters — even though you have a third-grade education and have difficulty reciting the letters of the alphabet without a smartphone prompt (don’t laugh – I’m sure there are people out there who think the first five letters of the English alphabet are Q, W, E, R and T).

But the easy availability of free information on the Internet is leading millions of people to the wrongheaded idea that advice from professionals should also be free.  And that’s just wrong.

There is a big difference, legally and otherwise, between giving out information (“here’s what the law says about X”) and giving out advice (“here’s what you should do in thus-and-such a situation”).  The former can be given out by just about anybody, as long as they take care to make sure what they are saying is accurate.  The latter requires knowledge, experience, judgment, and familiarity with the specific client and his or her situation.

No lawyer, accountant or professional can give advice blindly to someone they don’t know.  No two situations are exactly alike, and it takes time to familiarize yourself with the facts of a particular client’s situation, his personality (what is his tolerance for risk?  How combative will he be in defending his interests?), and other factors that part of the “calculus” involved in telling a client what to do.  If the matter is particularly “tricky”, some research of the law may be necessary.  This is why lawyers and accountants charge for giving advice, and it’s entirely justified.

If someone e-mails me asking for advice on a particular problem, and I don’t already have a lawyer-client relationship with that person, I will usually send a response message that will look something like this:

“Hi, ________ —

Thanks for your e-mail message.  This is an interesting topic, and I may address it in a future ‘Succeeding in Your Business’ column.

This is a column of general marketing, financial, legal and tax information for small business owners and entrepreneurs.  It is no substitute for advice you would get from a local attorney, accountant, consultant or tax advisor.  Should you need specific, one on one advice on how to effectively run your business, please consult with a local attorney, accountant, consultant or tax advisor.  It will be well worth the money you pay these folks.

Thanks for supporting “Succeeding in Your Business”, and good luck with your business!”

Also, if a professional gives someone advice that turns out to be wrong, he is liable to be sued for malpractice.  Nothing – I mean nothing – is dumber than getting sued for bad advice you didn’t get paid for.

So if it’s just general information you want, please send me a message and I’ll be only too happy to do a column on your problem if I think it’s of interest to my readers.  If it’s advice you need, please consult a local lawyer, accountant or financial professional, and be prepared to pay their price.  It’s worth it.

And remember:  legal, tax and financial advice is tax deductible.  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.

EBay Gives Sellers a Hand with New Updated Shipping Calculator

I can’t say that I am always pleased with all the changes that eBay has made in the past, but today I have some great news about a change that I think everyone is actually really going to like. Last week, eBay announced that they are revamping their shipping calculator. It will not only be easier to calculate how much it is going to take to ship a package, but the calculator also allows you to easily visualize and compare the rates between different shipping services.

In other words, you can quickly and easily see whether it is better to ship your package through the post office, FedEx or UPS. Plus, you can compare the in-store rates as well as eBay rates. While a lot of people prefer to print their postage and mailing labels through PayPal or Stamps.com. If you haven’t used eBay shipping lately, you may want to give it another try. Not only is the shipping process a whole lot easier, but eBay is giving a nice little discount for members who ship through their site instead of somewhere else.

 

How does the shipping calculator work? Well, it’s incredibly simple to use. You do have to know the weight of your package, so eBay suggests packing the item, but not sealing the box. You then fill in the information on the calculator page and when you click on “Calculate Shipping,” you can compare the rates between the big three (USPS, UPS, and FedEx). It also shows you the “In-Store” rates and the eBay rates so you can tell just exactly how much money the eBay discount is going to save you.

You get to see all the different options for shipping per company, so you know immediately whether Priority or parcel post is best and what the delivery time is estimated to take. But wait! There’s more! Once you see the options, you can click on your choices and they will appear in your listing in the exact order that you choose (or you can drag them into the order that you want). Plus, it calculates your handling fee into the shipping cost as well.

 

I think if you sell a lot of items at about the same weight, you probably already have a fairly good idea of what it takes to ship and item, but I do see this as a huge time-saver for those who want to ship an assortment of items with free shipping, but are scared of paying too much in shipping costs.

 

Keep in mind, however, that if you pack the item in a Priority box from the post office and then someone prefers you ship it to them per UPS — you will have to find another box and repackage the entire thing. Still, that’s a small price to pay for knowing the absolute exact amount that you will need to get for the shipping costs right up front!

 

Amazon’s “New” Used Goods

Amazon has recently come through in a new way for many sellers. One of the biggest draws to their competition, eBay, is that they accept used goods. Not only do they accept used goods, but the market practically thrives on it. You can take photos of the items so that buyers are sure of what they’re getting, and it helps to speed the process along nicely. You can now do the same with Amazon. I’m a big time Amazon fan, but I also love ebay. Now that Amazon is doing this, I may not even need to sell on both sites.

 

 

 

 

This newest ability is available to all third-party sellers who sell through the site. Most users are familiar with the main product listing page, which pulls up Amazon’s catalog and you can select your new item, cutting out tons of work with uploading photos and adding descriptions and other info. There is another page you can now pull up from the main product listing page that is called the “offer listing page.” Apparently, the offer listing page has been around for awhile but I wasn’t aware because I haven’t listed any used items. Now, they have added a feature to the page where you can add a full description of the items flaws and upload photos so that customers can see what the product looks like.

 

 

 

 

I’m sure the majority of folks are very pleased with this new process. It means that a whole new market has opened up, in a sense! There will be those who will complain that it takes too long to upload photos and write out full descriptions…obviously they have never had to sell on eBay. I think this is a great advancement for Amazon and a great score for all of us. Now I will be able to list thrift store finds as well as new merchandise. All those collectibles that had to be listed on eBay or Etsy can now be listed through Amazon. Perhaps I’ll turn into a one stop shop kind of gal…or maybe not. Only time will tell! What do you think about Amazon’s newest feature?

July Monthly Focus Show 30 – Brett Bartlett And News From TaxJar

[audio:http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-112441/TS-764519.mp3]

1 – Guests This Week

  •  Brett Bartlett – Brett has built a large online business from having never sold anything online and within two years has built a million dollar business. But Brett is also a husband, dad, and business owner and he he always puts them in that order. He has a passion to help others succeed online
  • Eric Nash – http://www.stamps.com listen in as Eric shares the latest news from stamps.com
  • Mark Faggiano – http://www.taxjar.com Mark shares on what action we can take on the Markplace Fairness Act.

 

2 – Chat Room Chatter:

  •  Remember to join the call early, and join in the fun, banter and also get to hear some great flips people have done over the past week.
  • There were questions for Andrew if there was any news on the Royal Baby
  • There were lot’s of questions for the guest callers today, and despite storms and bad connections the calls all went ahead.

3 – Chat Room Links

 

Meetings – 

  1. SCOE coming up soon! Sept 19 – 21 in Philladelphia – space available http://www.SCOE.biz/Philly

  1. ICE Retailer is still accepting registrations.  Sept 21st in Atlanta. You NEED to hear the amazing keynote speaker at www.iceretailer.com – Coupon code THATKAT for $249 savings

  1. Kansas Jubilee is coming up fast! Oct 25 – 26 this year with some great new ideas and speakers coming! http://www.KansasJubilee.net

 

Other Links & Resources:

  • That Kat Facebook Group: http://Facebook.com/groups/ThatKat – click on the “Join” button and I’ll add you to the group right away
  • That Kat Blog http://ThatKat.com Sign up for my newsletter here!
  • Do you have a question about selling on Amazon, FBA or any of the topics discussed in this podcast?  Best place to ask is on the Facebook group – see the link above. Over 400 folks willing to help!

Next Show, July 28th, Kat will be back with more eCommerce information, hints and tips

 

EBay’s Newest Venture

If you’re a seller on eBay, no doubt you have received numerous emails by this point asking you to become part of the newest venture by the company. Yes, you guessed it! Managed returns! I would venture a guess to say that eBay is trying to become more, ahem, Amazon-like. Their CEO John Donahoe says he wanted to make their return process “a more retail-like experience.” The key component to this program is sellers offering free shipping and accepting returns. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not the company will be able to persuade their millions of sellers to go along for the ride. I have yet to decide, although I know many sellers who are adamantly against it, for reasons I can’t seem to figure out.

eBay claims that there are three things to be gained from opting in to managed returns.  1. “Set your own rules” – Their site says you can set your own return policy and choose which listings offer returns.  2. “One-click refunds” – The site says you can relist the returned items for free and issue a refund with just one click, then your seller fees will be returned to you as well. 3. “Built in protections” – Supposedly, eBay will monitor customers’ “returns behavior,” take corrective action against those who would take advantage and protect your feedback from those people as well. EBay also states that if you opt in now, any purchase from here until July 31 will be covered for free, should you have to issue a return.

With perks like these, I have to wonder what the drawback would be. Personally, I offer returns on all my items anyway. I figure that I take enough photos and describe my items well enough that whoever buys from me knows exactly what they’re getting, and if they happen to be one of THOSE people…well they get a full refund as long as the item is returned in the same shape it went out in. It isn’t worth the negative feedback just to keep a couple extra bucks. The only difference to my listings with the managed returns would be that they have added a re-stocking fee option to the returns form you fill out for each listing. (bonus!) The decision as to who pays the return shipping is completely up to you, as it was before. If you normally pay the return shipping for returns, it will be invoiced on your next eBay invoice instead of sent directly to your Paypal account.

Way to go, eBay! Way to step it up. It seems returns are now much easier for everyone involved. I get to add a re-stocking fee for those stinkers who try to say that the item “was not as described” (even though it always is) and we both win. Great idea and I will personally be signing up this evening. Just in case someone decides to return something…let eBay pay for it…for once! 🙂

When Your Intellectual Property Involves Someone Else’s

cliff“I am a professional photographer. For years I have included in my standard contract a clause that says I own the copyright to the photos I take.  While the customer has the right to use my photos any way they like, the photos must contain a ‘credit’ that says I am the creator of the photo and own all rights to it.  I think most photographers work the same way I do.

I was approached last week by a local landscape designer who wants me to take ‘before and after’ photos of all properties she works on, so she can use them in her portfolio.  I see this as a good and recurring source of business, and think I could use many of these photos in my own portfolio as well.

Here’s the problem:  the landscape designer doesn’t dispute that I own the rights to my photos, but she feels she owns the rights to the designs I will be shooting.

How can we structure this relationship so that both of us get what we want?”

People frequently confuse “ownership” of something with the “intellectual property rights” to that something.  The two concepts are quite different.

As the creator of a photograph, you own the copyright to that photograph the moment you take it.  You certainly can make prints of that photo and sell them.

Once you sell those prints, your customers own them. But they don’t have the right to reproduce them further, or to alter the photos.  Only you, the “copyright owner”, have that right.

Think of copyright as a hologram that hovers over each photo you take.  The hologram is an image that looks exactly like the photo, and represents the “right to make copies” of the photo (“copyright,” get it?), but is separate and distinct from the physical photo that lies underneath it.  When you sell the physical photo, your customer now owns the photo, but the photo’s “hologram” stays with you, and remains with you as long as you don’t assign or transfer it to someone else.

But what if the subject of your photo belongs to someone else?

Let’s start with the landscape designer.  When she creates and implements a design for one of her customers, the customer owns the physical results (the bushes, shrubs, plantings and so forth) the moment he pays for them.  The “copyright” of the design, however, remains with the designer, and technically she is correct in saying you cannot use that without her permission.

When you take a photo of her design, you have a copyright in the photo but not in the design.

What you need in this situation is a “cross-license agreement” giving each of you the right to use the other’s copyright.  It sounds complicated, but can probably be accomplished in a single page (and will take about one hour of an attorney’s time).

Here are the key provisions:

  • You have the “nonexclusive, perpetual, royalty free right and license” to use the designer’s intellectual property rights in taking photographs of each property and using those photographs for your own marketing and promotional purposes;
  • The designer has the “nonexclusive, perpetual, royalty free right and license” to use your intellectual property rights in using your photographs for her own marketing and promotional purposes;
  • All photographs you take shall be credited as follows:  “Photo by [your name]; Landscaping Design by [the designer’s name].  All rights reserved.”;
  • Each of you shall promptly cease using the intellectual property rights of the other if requested to do so by the other party or by the owner of any property which is the subject of any of your photographs (having spent a fortune on this project, I may not  want it blasted all over the Internet where other designers can freely duplicate it); and
  • Neither party shall allow third parties (except, in the designer’s case, for the owner of any property photographed by you) to use your photographs for any purpose without the other’s prior written approval, “which shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed”.

What if you are taking a picture of a building or other public landmark?  The general rules are:

  • if you are shooting a photo of a publicly owned landmark from a public location, you should be okay, especially if the photo depicts people, objects or events in addition to the landmark (if shooting from a private location, you  need the owner’s consent);
  • if you are shooting a photo of a privately owned landmark, you must get the permission of the owner of the landmark.

But be careful.  Taking a photo of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge during the day is probably okay.  But shooting the “Bay Lights” light sculpture, which will light up the bridge’s west span from dusk until midnight for the next two years and was created by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal, will get you in a heap of trouble.

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.

Square Market: Move Over Boys There’s a New Kid In Town

Although you may not have heard of Square Market (yet!), there is a pretty good chance that you’re aware of some of the other innovative ideas that its founder, Jim Dorsey has created; most notably, Twitter and Square Reader. While I’m confident you know what Twitter is, you may not be quite sure about Square Reader. Well, it’s the plastic credit card reader that attaches to your smartphone allowing you to take credit cards for your items or services no matter where you are in the world. I would guess if you haven’t heard of them yet, you soon will as this last week has seen them garner a huge amount of press coverage, which can only help their brand grow. First the LA Times did a story on Square Market. And then they popped up in eCommerce Bytes.   Never one to rest easy on his laurels, Jim Dorsey has recently upped the ante to his 1.1 billion dollar net worth by introducing us to Square Market (which operates under Square, the same parent company for the Square Reader). While eBay and Amazon probably don’t have to be too worried about the competition at this point, sources say that with Dorsey at the helm, this is one company that might be able to give eBay and Amazon a run for their money.   What exactly is Square Market? As you might have guessed, it’s an online marketplace. Their tag line reads “From bow ties to tote bags, pillows to posters, there’s something for everyone on Square Market.” Unlike Amazon and eBay, however, Square Market also invites companies to have in-person visitors too. In other words, you can not only create a store to sell your items in; you can also create a unique business page that will showcase your business along with its hours and location. You can even add photos! Before you shut down you eBay store or decide to move your items away from Amazon, there are some things you need to know.   While there is no fee for you to open your store and list your items, there is a 2.75% free charged when an item sells. Also — trust me, this isn’t the place for you to bring your used baby clothes and old Beanie Babies collection to. The look and feel of this online marketplace is more upscale. Think “Pottery Barn.” The item pictures all look professionally done and the items themselves appear to be somewhat more of a “one-of-a –kind” type product. Many of the seller’s appear to be offering handmade items. If you have been selling unique products on eBay or handmade items on Etsy and want to try somewhere new, then I think this is a place you should seriously look into.   It doesn’t appear to take much to get started either. You simply create a Square account, create your item library once, and then wait for your items to sync between your Square Register App and your online store. Once that happens — you are ready to start selling. There’s no one looking over your shoulder, so you also get to decide how much you want to charge to ship your item and how you want to ship it. Sounds like a nice non-hassle situation to me! Let me know if you give them a try!

Amazon Expands its UK-Based Operations Despite Tax Issues

A few weeks ago, Amazon announced that as its first step toward expanding its European operations, they would be opening a new office in central downtown London. The proposed new 12-story building would be located in Holborn and would employ about 1600 in staff. Due to be completed by September, this 210,000 square-foot office building would also become home to Amazon’s existing staff that are currently working out of office space in Slough, Berkshire.

Amazon-LogoWhile this press release would seem like a cause for celebration by both Amazon and the Londoners it will employ, Amazon is once again on the chopping block and being accused of not paying their taxes. Yep, it’s the same old song and dance we’ve heard several times before. This time, however, it’s United Kingdom lawmakers that are making the accusations.

As you may recall, this issue has come up recently in the United States where Amazon has been successfully avoiding paying taxes in states such as New York and Georgia. They, of course, claim that they plan to pay the taxes, but have negotiated to delay making any payments by offering to build warehouses in each of these states (and others) that would bring 1000s of jobs into the economy. You may be noticing that this seems to be their “get out of jail free” card.

Interestingly, lawmakers on both sides of the pond seem to be somewhat uneasy about actually pursuing Amazon for these unpaid taxes despite the fact that at times Amazon comes across as belligerent and even defiant about paying what the governments say they owe. In particular, is London’s mayor Boris Johnson, who stated that he was delighted that Amazon chose his country’s capital even though he was quite vocal about Google when they tried to buck paying their taxes as well.

So exactly how much does Amazon owe? Well, the IRS in the United States is pursuing Amazon for $234 million, while the French government’s tax authority hasn’t completely accessed the tax situation, but is estimating that it is around $250 million. Meanwhile, Amazon is disputing both tax bills and doesn’t appear to plan on paying either one of them (or any other tax they owe) anytime soon.

I’m not sure if I would call this a savvy business strategy on Amazon’s part, but the whole thing does kind of make you wonder, especially when Amazon has been so vocal and supportive of making its own buyers and sellers pay the Internet sales tax while they continue to fill their own coffers, yet don’t pay any taxes of their own.