Employee Access Made Easier

Is your Amazon team growing? When business begins to boom, it’s essential to begin to build a team of people to help with your business. You can hire virtual assistants, family members, friends or other professionals to grow your team. These folks will need access to your Amazon account in order to take care of some of your daily business chores. Amazon has taken the steps to make this possible for you! You can now add users to your Amazon account and limit their access, so that your employees can change minor things without having access to your full account. Talk about a great idea!

To take advantage of this great feature, simply login to your Amazon FBA account and click “settings.” From there, select user permissions. You can edit your secondary permissions and invite others to have access. When you edit your permissions, there are now 3 permission setting you can adjust based on the employee’s level of clearance. There is a setting to let users manage your FBA inventory and shipments, one that lets them access your fulfillment reports and one that lets them access your fulfillment settings. You can choose whether your employees have no access, read only access or full access.

Amazon Seller Central

Would you give your employees access to your account? Why or why not? Do you believe in hiring people to make your business run more efficiently? I used to believe that I was the only one who could do anything the “right way” for my business, but I have found over the past few years that you can only grow to a certain level by yourself. If you don’t allow others to help, your business could reach a dangerous plateau in its growth cycle. That is a position you do not want to be in. If you aren’t yet to the place where you need employees, then by all means, keep flying solo. But don’t ever be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. There are tons of cheap options out there now for workers. You can find out more by listening to my webinar about hiring an international VA here. Good luck!

Sell Your Car…On eBay?

With all the recent changes from the eBay fall seller update, one of the most interesting ones was definitely the rollout of the eBay Motor selling program. Those of you who have sold a car know exactly how exasperating it can be. All the work that goes into it and all the letdown that can come when it doesn’t sell. I wonder if the program works? I checked it out a little bit to get an idea of exactly how it works.

First, just like with the eBay site itself, you must register. If you are already a seller, you can skip this step. From there, you must print a checklist that serves as a place to record all your car info. You must know your vehicle’s history and provide the VIN so that potential buyers can check to verify that your car hasn’t been in a ton of accidents. You must locate your title and have it prepared to transfer it. Then it’s on to the photo session. Once you have completed all those steps, you start your listing, just like you would with any item you sell on the site. You fill out a description, upload photos and set the terms of sale. You can accept bids for your vehicle, answer people’s questions and change your price to keep in competitive in the market, again, just like any other listing. If your vehicle sells, you accept payment, arrange shipping or transport and then transfer the title.

They truly make it seem like such an easy process. I guess in the scheme of things, it is just like posting your car for sale on AutoTrader.com or Craigslist.com. To be honest, it makes me want to sell a car to see the type of traffic these listings receive. There are some great cars on the site already and it’s been fun going through the listings and having some eye candy. I can’t imagine ever having that much money in my Paypal account at one time, though. And if I did, I would probably spend it on inventory…what about you? Would you sell or buy a car on eBay?

August Monthly Focus – Show 35 – Paul Cole of SellerEngine & Sydney Kohen of KIOUI Apps

 

Use player above, or CLICK HERE to LISTEN via flash free link on any smart phone or device!

1 – Guests This Week

 

2 – Chat Room Chatter:

 

  • Kat was quickly joined in the chat room by several listeners
  • We listened to a few commercials and then it was on to the first interview
  • Kat was interviewing  Paul Cole of SellerEngine.
  • Kat asked Paul Cole about repricing and why it was so important for online sellers.
  • Paul discussed how quickly prices can change on Amazon and why we should have a repricing tool to keep our site up to speed, even when we can’t be there to manually change our prices.
  • The SellerEngine Plus App and the Sellery App from SellerEngine both have the capability to reprice your inventory.
  • Kat and Paul discussed how even a price difference of a few cents can keep you from selling items.
  • Kat recently downloaded Sellery and has noticed a big difference in sales because it is automatically keeping her items in line with market value.
  • With the SellerEngine apps, you can set your preferences and the apps do the work for you!
  • After a short commercial break, Kat began the interview with Sydney Kohen from KIOUI Apps.
  • The folks over at KIOUI Apps have released two more incredible apps for your eBay or Amazon business.
  • The new applications are called Ki Social Pages and Ki Social Links and they help you turn your Facebook account into a virtual store by allowing you to create custom pages and add links to other sites that help your customers with things they need. Jean Charles sells wigs, for example. He links uses his Ki Social Links app to link a wig maintenance page to his listings so his customers know how to care for his products.
  • You can link customers to any type of page, including your business social media pages! Talk about multi channel selling! Kat and Sydney discussed how now you can gain customers through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest by sending them to your eBay page, or you can send customers from you eBay page to your social media pages to create fans.
  • Guests in the chat room were concerned that setup would be difficult, but Sydney reassured them that there was a wizard who guides you through the entire process and makes it super easy!
  • Jean-Charles from KIOUI Apps even jumped on the line for a moment to say hi and answer a few questions, as well as to tell people everywhere they could reach him.
  • We listened to one last commercial from our sponsor.
  • Kat wrapped up by telling everyone she knew they had very busy lives in this world of ecommerce and she hoped they had a very productive week.

 

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

  2. CES Conference in Orlando will be happening November 9-10 in Orlando, Florida!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/ceswithjim/

 

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, September 1st, Kat will be back with Mark Faggiano of Tax Jar and Andy Dew of It’s Dewable! Until then, may you have tons of fun, laughter and success!

 

Protecting Your Online Business With “Exclusive” Agreements

cliff“I buy a fashion accessory at the full retail price, directly from the manufacturer’s own retail store, and then resell them on Amazon and eBay where, believe it or not, I make money. The only official way to get this product as ‘new’ in the United States is through the manufacturer. They know exactly what I am doing, as this is not a product a customer orders hundreds of at a time every two weeks. In fact, on their Facebook page, when they are out of stock or need shipping to Canada, they direct customers to my eBay or Amazon pages.

Of course I have asked them a million times for a volume discount, but they will not give me one. To be honest, I started selling a half dozen of these on eBay to make some beer money, but it has grown beyond my wildest expectations and now about one in 20 of these sold in the United States goes through my hands (judging by the order numbers I get).

The money is great; it is not hard work, and I am good at it. But I’m always looking over my shoulder for either the manufacturer pulling the rug out from under me, or worse, a lawsuit by the manufacturer.

Neither the manufacturer nor I make any warranties, express or implied, on this product. The manufacturer does offer the product from its own website, but my return policy is significantly better than the manufacturer’s own (and its customer service gets awful reviews online).

I know I can grow my sales easily. With a little advertising, I can direct more customers to my Amazon store. I have also considered setting up a separate eCommerce site and selling them there to avoid commissions from Amazon/eBay, but that may put me at greater risk of trouble with the manufacturer.

If you could comment on what my risk is and anything I can or should do to protect myself I would appreciate it.”

Folks, if you don’t yet believe in the power and potential of “retail arbitrage,” please re-read the above message.

 

I  wouldn’t worry too much about a lawsuit here; if the manufacturer is directing buyers to your online stores, they will have a hard time proving that your activity damaged them in any way.  Your online activities have been pretty notorious, and they can’t seriously argue they didn’t know what you were doing when you are buying hundreds of items every week.

Your biggest risk here, as you correctly point out, is that the manufacturer is offered a better opportunity for online distribution and cuts off your source of supply for this product, rendering you unable to sell it.

What you need here is not so much a “volume discount” as an “exclusive distributor” relationship with the manufacturer.  This would guarantee you a steady source of supply, and enable you to build your business with confidence, at least for a while.  You would buy the product for an agreed-upon price, in agreed-upon minimum quantities and at agreed-upon times (thereby guaranteeing the manufacturer a certain volume of sales), and resell it for whatever you can get online (legally the manufacturer cannot dictate your resale price).

The toughest negotiating point with the manufacturer will be the scope of your “exclusivity.”  Your exclusivity could cover “all online sales” or only “online sales to customers in North America”.   In either case this will force the manufacturer to cease selling the product online from its website, which it may be reluctant to do, especially if it has other merchandise.  You might, however, be able to talk them into forwarding all inquiries for the product to you for processing.

As for the term of the agreement, I would ask for five years, with automatic renewals.  Be sure the agreement covers any new “versions” of this product, and any complementary products the manufacturer may offer as part of the same product “line”.

If you want to be really aggressive, you can ask the manufacturer to grant you a license to the products’ patent or other intellectual property, which would give you the right to have it manufactured by someone else if this manufacturer decides to discontinue the product for any reason.

If the manufacturer won’t agree to an “exclusive” distribution agreement, you might want to consider buying large quantities of the product at regular intervals of time anyway so that, as a practical matter, the manufacturer becomes dependent on your business.  You are, after all, paying full retail price plus sales tax for each purchase.

Your bigger long-term problem with this business is that you have become too heavily dependent on one product, and one manufacturer.  The safest way of managing this risk is to diversify your product offerings online to include similar merchandise that people might want to buy along with this product, but that doesn’t compete directly with the manufacturer’s other product offerings.  If, of course, that’s possible.

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.

Some Copyright Questions from Web Retailers

  cliff        “My friend and I are considering spending $800 on teeshirts and selling them online.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal right now, just a fun project.  It has crossed our minds to consider an attorney to cover copyright issues and develop a limited liability company (LLC) for this business.  If the business goes anywhere, an attorney is a YES.  But at this point it seems like an attorney would cost more than the teeshirts.  Do you have any advice?”

            No question about it, lawyers and other professionals can be expensive, especially for a startup business.  Most startup businesses want to be sure the business will be successful before they start spending money on legal and tax compliance.

But there are times when you need to spend money on professional advice even before you start your business.  And as it happens, this message illustrates both situations.

There are two things this reader wants an attorney to do:  give copyright advice, and form an LLC.

Let’s take the easy one first:  forming the LLC.  I totally agree that this reader shouldn’t spend money to have a lawyer form his LLC until he knows for sure that he has a “real” and viable business.  He will know the time is right when people are clamoring for his teeshirts, traffic on his Website, eBay and Amazon pages are taking off, and he is beginning to generate a positive “buzz” for his merchandise in the marketplace.  At that point, lawsuits are more likely to happen (because there are now assets a plaintiff can go after), and forming an LLC will become a critical priority.  But not today.

I would not, however, wait until then to get the copyright advice.

If all this reader is doing is buying and reselling teeshirts that have copyrighted logos already printed on them, there is no copyright issue.  The “first sale” doctrine in copyright law protects sellers of used and secondhand merchandise from copyright infringement claims, as the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in a key decision earlier this year.

If, on the other hand (and as I suspect), this reader has proprietary graphic designs which he is imprinting on the shirts before he resells them, then he should consider speaking to a good “intellectual property” attorney today, for two reasons:

  • if the graphic designs are truly original and genuine, he should obtain copyright protection before someone rips them off (which is highly likely to happen once his merchandise gets into the marketplace and the graphics become visible to the entire world); and
  • if someone else has copyrighted a similar design, that is something you want to know about before that person’s lawyer sends you a nasty letter accusing you of infringing their copyright and claiming thousands of dollars in royalties on the teeshirts you have already sold.

The key question here is:  does this reader want to use these graphic designs on other merchandise if the teeshirt business doesn’t take off?  If the answer is “yes,” then he should hire a copyright lawyer now and do everything possible to protect the design.  The total cost of this should be in the $500 to $1,000 range – more than the $800 he will be paying for the teeshirts, certainly, but well worth the peace of mind he will have when his designs are world-famous and (inevitably) copycats spring up like weeds in August.

“I recently created a ‘screen scraper’ app for my mobile phone that will pull prices from Wal-mart and allow me to comparison shop for my business purchases.  Is taking the price a copyright violation?  I am reading many conflicting answers.  Is this a worry I should have or is this just Web talk?”

If you have ever been to a warehouse store or an antique show and seen someone swiping price tags with their smartphones, then you know what a “screen scraper app” does.  Many eBay and Amazon sellers use these to find out if they can get a higher price for the item online than they are paying at the store (a process called “retail arbitrage”).

I am not aware of any U.S. ruling that the mere price of an item is copyrightable.  In a 1991 case involving telephone directories, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that copyright cannot apply to the raw data contained in publications (such as names, addresses and telephone numbers), but only to the “creative aspects” of data collection, such as the creative choice of what data to include or exclude, or the order and style in which the information is presented.  The design of the Wal-mart tag may be copyrightable, but I doubt the price would be.

Having said that, 1991 was a long time ago – well before e-commerce became a multibillion dollar industry — and a judge today might reach a different conclusion.  So “keep your eyes open and your mouth shut”, and don’t do anything that would cause Wal-mart to sue you.

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.

Amazon Offers Discounts…You Reap the Rewards!

Amazon is now offering some great discounts, and you will be the one to benefit from them. If you are a media seller, you’re in luck. Amazon recently introduced promotion features in the categories of books, music, video and DVDs. These promotions are three distinct types: Money off, buy one get one and external benefits. The promotions started August 16th. Amazon broke down the promotions and gave examples of each. Here they are:

 

Money Off: Seller offers certain dollar or percentage off discount on qualifying items when purchase threshold (amount or quantity) is met.

Examples:
Spend $25 or more and receive $5 off.
Save 30% on this item when you purchase one or more qualifying items.
For every 5 pairs of socks purchased, save 20%.

Buy One Get One: Seller offers free item(s) when purchase threshold is met.

Examples:
Buy 2 lipsticks, and get 1 free.
Buy a muffin pan and get a box of muffin cups free.

External Benefits: Seller offers post-order benefits to customers.

Example:
Spend $500 and get 50 member loyalty points.

Sellers can specify other parameters for promotions, such as the dates the promotion will start and end, and which items the promotion will apply to, or whether it applies to their entire catalog.

 

 

To take part in the promotion, log into your account and click the “advertising” tab, then “manage promotion” and “create promotion.” You can decide whether or not to take part, which dates you want to take part in the promotion, which items you want the promotion to apply to or whether it will apply to your entire catalog or not. You can learn more over at Understanding promotions and creating a promotion.

 

I have to give credit where it is due and I learned of this promotion through my good friends over at EcommercBytes.com. Thanks guys! They always have the latest and greatest info for the ecommerce world!

Good luck!

Opting in…or being forced?

It seems eBay has determined that we all need to be accepting returns…again. There was a site-wide glitch back in February that opted every seller into a program called “managed returns.” It seems the glitch has happened once again, and sellers are no longer allowed to opt out of the program. Be sure to check your eBay seller settings to see if you are one of the lucky few that is afforded the option to choose.

The managed returns program is a program that eBay has begun that gives the company control over the way returns are handled. As a seller, you can choose whether or not to choose your own RMA number, choose stipulations for returns, choose whether or not the buyer has to return the item and choose whether or not to charge a restocking fee. But you must accept returns if you opt in to the program. Back in February, when the program came about, there was a glitch which opted everyone into the program. Sellers everywhere freaked out, but it was a simple fix, as you could simply log into your account and choose to opt back out. This time around, it’s not a simple fix. Sellers are all included in the program and there is no option to opt out.

It’s not a terrible program. I’m a seller who believes in allowing buyers to return merchandise. I want to protect my feedback at all costs and an unhappy customer is not good for business, on any level. I like the fact that instead of opening a case against me off the bat, customers must message me and receive an RMA number from me first. I also like that eBay is in charge of the return process and it isn’t on my plate anymore. I also like that you can choose a re-stocking fee, should you feel the need. If you are someone who does not offer returns, my guess is that you will need to wait this glitch out. EBay has commented, saying that a fix is between 30-90 days away. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that you have minimal returns I guess. Best of luck!

August Monthly Focus – Show 34 – David Gould of MShopper & Crystal Wells with Vendio

[audio:http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-112441/TS-769923.mp3]

1 – Guests This Week

 

2 – Chat Room Chatter:

  • Today Kat was the first one in the chat room, followed quickly by three others
  • We listened to a few commercials and then it was on to the first interview
  • Kat was interviewing  David Gould of MShopper.
  • David brings 20 years of senior management, entrepreneurial, and finance

    experience to mShopper.

  • David gave us tons of great info on how to make our websites easier to navigate with mobile phones.
  • David shared some great information that the majority of shoppers these days are using their mobile devices for online purchases.
  • Even Google owners have had to re-optimize the sites they send people to, since so many people are using Google via their smartphones.
  • David told us how MShopper can help your company become optimized for mobile devices. There is a full version and a quick, easy version for those who can’t afford the full version too!
  • After a short commercial break, Kat began the interview with Crystal Wells from Vendio
  • Kat and Crystal discussed “branding” and why it’s important to your business
  • Crystal shared with us that at some point, you may be unable to run your business via eBay or Amazon, so you should have your own business website up and running so that you will be able to fill orders regardless.
  • Kat and Crystal discussed whether we would rather be order-fillers for another company or order-fillers for ourselves. Everyone agreed that they would much rather be selling items for themselves!
  • The interviews were so informative today that we ran over and didn’t even have time to listen to the last commercial!
  • Kat wrapped up by telling everyone she knew they had very busy lives in this world of ecommerce and she hoped they had a very productive week.

 

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 26th, Kat will be back with Paul Cole of SellerEngine and Syndey Cohen of Ki App. Until then, may you have tons of fun, laughter and success!

 

What is MAP and Why Do I Care?

As an Amazon seller, one of the phrases you’ll get used to hearing (and not liking) is ‘Race to the Bottom.’  This refers to the tendency of sellers to “over-compete” a phrase I just invented. What I mean by that is that there is competition and then there is unnecessary competition.

Let’s try an example: Let’s say I have a bottle of lotion that sells regularly for $10. Seller B comes along and lists the lotion at $9.99. Seller C comes along and prices the lotion at $9.98. Now, what if I am one of these ‘over-competitive’ sellers and decide to lower my price to $9.97. What do you think Sellers B & C are going to do?  And the cycle begins. Lower and lower until no one can make a profit. Since I’ve been at this more than a few months, I refuse to participate in these price wars. I know that it only leads to no profit for all sellers and the ruin and loss of a decent product. Because of my established business and other items, I can usually afford to hold my price and let the others battle it out. Eventually they will either continue their business practice of selling for no profit and run themselves out of business or they will tire of this one product and move on. Sometimes this never happens and the price doesn’t recover.

Unfortunately, I’ve ‘lost’ several product lines to this. One line, however, I’ve been selling for over 6 years. That is a long time in Internet business.  The reason that this product has staying power is that they have MAP pricing and they police their dealers regularly. MAP stands for Minimum Advertised Price.  What this means in practice is that an authorized wholesale dealer of the company’s product line is legally bound (if they sign the company agreement) to sell at or above the MSRP for the products.  What is the consequence for selling below? You will lose your account.

That is why I was so happy to get the following letter from a large wholesale company recently.  And why I am giving them this little shout out. Way to go, Nic and may many companies follow your lead!

njcroce_banner

NJ Croce is instituting a long-awaited Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy to dealers who resell our products on eBayAmazonRakuten.comSears.com and Newegg.com. This policy does not apply to sales on regular e-commerce websites or bricks-and-mortar retail stores.

If you sell our products through any of the aforementioned channels, please download your MAP agreement here. Kindly fill out the agreement completely, sign and return it. You may fax it to909-596-7872 or mail it to NJ Croce Co., 1518-H Arrow Hwy., La Verne, CA 91750.

The reasons for MAP agreements are well-known, but to summarize:

1. NJ Croce needs to maintain the value of its licensed products in the marketplace.
2. Our dealers need to be able to make a good profit margin on NJ Croce’s products.

When dealers selling through the above channels undercut one another, everyone loses.

I cannot promise that rogue dealers will not arise, but this is where I ask for your help. If any dealers are undercutting the MAP, please report them. We will contact them and take appropriate action. Some vendors are difficult to locate, so if you have any additional information to assist us in our collective efforts, this would be greatly appreciated!

Please be patient as we make this important transition.

We thank you for your past, present and future support. We are all in this together to make a living for the long run. Again, your vigilance and assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Best regards,

Nick

 

 

Blessings of Working at Home!

Many times we focus on the difficulties of working for ourselves. I struggle myself with discipline, working alone, being responsible, setting a reasonable schedule and all the other issues. However, I’d like to encourage you today to take time to enjoy the perks!

There are many and I hope you can add your own to my list:

  • Sick Days – _I_ decide
  • Vacation – _my_choice
  • Hours – if I am a nightowl, that’s okay
  • Pay – I am in charge again. If I want a raise, it is up to me.
  • Priorities – _I_ set them
  • Business Philosophy and Climate? Again, within MY control
  • Office Politics? Nope
  • Dress Code? – No pantyhose here!
  • Family – ahh – the big one

I love having Family at the center of my business. It has always been so for me and will remain that way. While I advocate a schedule and a Daily List for productivity, nothing can measure the motivation from those little interruptions that bring joy to the day.  What has me in this reflective mood today?  A short visit from my grandbabies who played in the yard with their grandpa while I finished a coaching call and

 

bradenincar

then greeted me with shouts and hugs and love. Ahh, THAT is the point of all this. I took a few minutes to play, to walk to see the big tree that had fallen over, to find a stick bug that was soooo hard to find. THAT sends me back to work happier, refreshed and more motivated to make my time in here count so I can spend more time out there.

THANK YOU to my dear DIL Jamey and my beautiful ‘babies’ Avery, Braden & Bennett.