Amazon 101: Should you become a professional or individual seller?

Amazon Packaging
If you’re like many eBay sellers, you’re probably wondering about the future of the company now that it has separated from PayPal. If you haven’t already taken a plunge and joined other sellers in “the river,” or rather, started selling on Amazon, this time of uncertainty may be an excellent opportunity to give Amazon a try.

Before you venture into deeper waters (last one, I promise!), there are some thing you need to know.

Amazon offers two plans for sellers. There is the professional plan, which is recommended for sellers who typically sell more than 40 listings a month and is $39.99 per month along with other seller fees. The other selling plan is for individuals who sell less than 40 items a month. There are other selling fees involved too, but no monthly fee. Instead, you pay .99 each time an item sells.

Although the plan for individuals is excellent for those who sell part-time or those who want to…get their feet wet…try it before they commit, there are some limitations as to what you can sell.

The available categories for individual sellers are listed below:

• Amazon Device Accessories
• Amazon Kindle
• Baby Products (excluding baby apparel)
• Books
• Camera & Photo
• Consumer Electronics
• Electronics Accessories
• Home & Garden (including Pet Supplies)
• Kitchen
• Music
• Musical Instruments
• Office Products
• Personal Computers
• Software & Computer Games
• Sports & Outdoors
• Tools & Home Improvement
• Toys & Games
• Unlocked Cell Phones
• Video Games & Video Game Consoles
• Everything Else

Although it says “everything else” there is a bit of a caveat to this. You see, sellers must have approval to sell in some categories. To sell in these categories, you must be a professional seller. As an example, you must be a professional seller and get approval to sell coins on Amazon. You also must have approval and be a professional seller to sell new clothes.

Professional sellers on the other hand have a wider variety of items that they can sell, but many of these other categories do require approval.
Amazon Device Accessories

• Amazon Kindle
• Automotive & Powersports*
• Baby Products (excluding baby apparel)
• Beauty*
• Books
• Camera & Photo
• Clothing & Accessories*
• Collectible Coins*
• Collectibles – Books*
• Collectibles – Sports & Entertainment*
• Consumer Electronics
• Electronics Accessories
• Fine Art*
• Gift Cards*
• Grocery & Gourmet Food*
• Health & Personal Care*
• Home & Garden (including Pet Supplies)
• Industrial & Scientific*
• Jewelry**
• Kitchen
• Luggage & Travel Accessories*
• Music
• Musical Instruments
• Office Products
• Personal Computers
• Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses*
• Software & Computer Games
• Sports & Outdoors
• Tools & Home Improvement
• Toys & Games
• Unlocked Cell Phones
• Video, DVD & Blu-ray*
• Video Games & Video Game Consoles
• Watches*
• Wine*
• Everything Else
*Sellers must apply to Amazon for approval to sell.
**Not reviewing new requests at this time.

Regardless of which you choose, you can always switch to the other if you discover you’re selling more or less than what you had planned.

Are you selling on Amazon? Which plan do you have? Leave a comment below.

How to clean thrift store and yard sale treasures


Before we start talking about how to clean your thrift store and yard sale treasures, let’s first start by talking about what you should not clean. Basically, the best rule to follow is that if you’re not sure whether you should clean an item or not, the obvious answer is: No! Don’t do it!

You see, what you may think of as “dirt” may actually be what attracts buyers to your item. If the item is really old, it may even have what antique collectors call patina, which is a highly valued trait. Patina, often looks like dirt, but is actually a brown or green type of film that is produced through oxidation and over time covers the surface of a metal like bronze.

Patina is also sometimes used to describe a glossy sheen that develops on wooden furniture through the act of polishing it over a period of years. While some people don’t like patina and prefer even their antiques to look shiny and new, for others it is a deal breaker and if you mess with trying to remove it, you will most likely lose a sale.

Now that we’ve established that there are some things you won’t want to clean because it detracts from its value, let’s talk about things we can clean and how to do it.

Ceramic pottery, glass, porcelain. First, it’s generally best to start the cleaning process by using warm water and a small amount of a gentle cleaner, such as Ivory soap. Always try the soap and water on a small (tiny!) inconspicuous place on the item and if you observe any hint of damage, immediately stop.

Interestingly, the biggest problem you will usually encounter with these types of items is that if you buy them at a thrift store or yard sale, they will often have unwanted stickers attached to them. If you’re lucky, you can generally let the item soak in water for a bit and the sticker will loosen up and come right off. If not, lemon juice may help do the trick. Since lemon juice is acidic, take care not to use it on porous objects though, since it could cause discoloration or other types of problems.

Wood toys, trunks and other items. Although water and a damp cloth are a good way to clean most wood items, you will generally want to avoid using soap since it can it may sink into the wood and discolor it. You also need to watch the amount of water that you use. Wood that gets too wet can easily warp and once that happens, the value of the item tends to go way down. Instead, you may want to try adding a bit of shine. Use a wax that is formulated for wood products and after it is applied, finish cleaning the piece by wiping over it with a soft clean cloth.

Valuable items and really, really old stuff. If you’ve ever watched a movie that involved the restoration of an item in a museum, you probably saw the people who were cleaning the item used white gloves and dusted it with gentle stroke from a soft paint brush. While the gloves may not be necessary for the item you wish to clean, the paint brush actually is the way that you will want to go. Gently remove the dust from the item with it and after that — leave it alone. If it needs more cleaning than what you can do with the paint brush, you will probably do better to have it cleaned by actual professionals who know the ends and out of restorations.

Do you have any cleaning tips? Leave a comment below.

Ten Ways to Kill Your Business

cliff ennicoAh, summer. A chance to lie on the beach, do some camping or outlet shopping, and . . . do some “big picture” thinking about where your business has been and where it’s going.

Getting away from the day-to-day grind and distancing yourself from your business actually helps you run your business better. I find that when I’m not spending my day answering phone calls and e-mails from clients and my mind is free to wander I often come up with some pretty darn good ideas. I also see lots of things I may be doing wrong.

Here’s something to think about: are you trying to kill your business? I’m serious. Some business owners are their own worst enemies, looking at the world in ways that almost guarantee failure down the road.

If you really want your business to fail, here are 10 surefire ways to do it.

  1. Look at the world the way you want it to be, the way you think it ought to be, or the way your schoolteachers or professors told you it would be – not the way it really is. Believe people when they tell you your idea is terrific, and don’t listen to “negative nellies” who criticize you. Don’t be “cynical” because nobody likes cynical people.

Believe everything you see and read in the news media. After all, they’re professionals, so if they’re saying something that contradicts your personal experience, they must be right and you must be wrong.

  1. Don’t be aggressive in pursuing your business goals. Spend lots of time researching and thinking before you take any action, and be so nice to your competitors and your customers that they walk all over you. Being pushy and demanding (especially of yourself) is not normal, and people will think you are crazy, antisocial, or, even worse, “ruthless”.

You should worry a lot about what other people think about you – after all, as Willie Loman says in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, success in life is always about being popular.

  1. Choose a business because it is interesting; you are an educated person and must use that education to be successful, or else you are a failure. Never mind that many successful people in business never finished high school (or in some cases grade school).

Given the choice between a personally fulfilling business and a lucrative one, choose the former. The personal satisfaction you will get by being creatively stimulated all the time, and/or knowing that your daily suffering and sacrifice is helping to make a better world, are far more important in the long run than paying your bills.

  1. Don’t bother to learn anything about accounting or financial management, and never measure your results. You can hire accountants to do this for you, and success in business doesn’t really depend upon the numbers anyway.
  2. Go it alone; because it is your business you must do everything yourself. Do not bother even getting started in business until you are comfortable you can be your own lawyer, accountant, engineer (or designer), marketing and financial expert.

A visionary is worthless if he or she can’t master every little detail of the business. And detail people are worthless if they cannot appreciate the strategic vision of the business. Strive to be both a visionary and a detail person.

  1. Give away lots of stock in your business to everyone you know – it doesn’t cost anything, and isn’t it better that lots of people have a piece of the action?
  2. If you learn something about your business that will give you a competitive advantage, tell the world about it, especially at an industry conference or “networking” session.
  3. Choose a business that requires skills, money, other resources or a personality that you do not currently have. You can always get these from other people. Besides, isn’t that half the fun of small business – doing the impossible?
  4. Confuse your business and your personal lives – don’t bother distinguishing the two because you are simply too busy. Actually, what are you even DOING going on a vacation? Bring all of your technology along and check it every few minutes. If an employee is “watching the store” while you’re away, text him every hour or so. You can never trust these people, and they will never develop if you don’t ride herd on them every minute.
  5. Forget what it was that made you want to start a small business in the first place – in the long run it doesn’t matter what success means to you as long as you’re successful. If you even have the time to think about your personal goals, you aren’t working hard enough.

I see businesses fail every day because the founders have adopted one or more of these attitudes. If you find yourself agreeing with any of these statements, make a commitment to change your thinking. Now.

Cliff Ennico ( is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’.  This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state.  To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at  COPYRIGHT 2015 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

EBay: The Art of the Flip – Part Two

Thrift Store

Last week, I began telling you about the art of thrift store flipping. Thrift store flipping, as you may remember, is the practice of buying an item from a thrift store with the actual intent of reselling the item to make a profit. It can be a lucrative business, if you know what you’re looking for and many sellers use thrift stores to help keep their eBay stores stocked.

If you’re interested in thrift store flipping, here’s some more tips that can help:

Finding the makers mark. Although some items are clearly identifiable as soon as you look at them, other items may require a bit of detective work. This is where knowing “makers marks” comes in handy. A makers mark is usually a stamp located somewhere on an item that a manufacturer has placed there to help to identify their products. These marks can be very useful to sellers when they are trying to discover an item’s resale value.

If the item is a type of pottery or china, the makers mark will generally be on the bottom of the item. If it is a doll, you can usually find the item on the back or behind of the doll and if it’s something like jewelry, it will generally be etched onto the clasp or back of the piece. Keep in mind, a makers mark may be nothing more than a symbol etched into the material or even an actual stamp or sticker.

To clean or not to clean. Deciding whether to clean your thrift store find is a tricky business. While buyers typically expect items, such as clothes and baby toys (that are going to be used) to be clean and free of stains or marks, some items, such as those that are antiques are actually more highly valued if they are left in their original state.

As an example, cleaning old silver can make it look like new, but many collectors actually want flatware left alone and in its original state. Before you make the decision to clean an item, it’s usually best to do a little research or at least look to see what other sellers are doing with similar items. You may find that just a good dusting is all that is needed before you put the item up for sale.

Markdowns and coupons. Although you are shopping in a thrift store, it still pays to ask whether the place you are visiting has any coupons that you should be on the lookout for, or whether the store has discount or markdown days.

One thrift store I frequent, typically sends out coupons a couple of times a year or hands out flyers on certain days that let you get 10% or 20% off. When it comes to buying items for resale, this can really help put a little extra money in your pocket and help the bottom line on your flip.

Do you have any tips for flipping your thrift store finds? Leave a comment below.

It’s All In The Mind: Pricing Strategies to Help Your Bottom Line

brain power
If you’re like most sellers, one of the hardest decisions you have to make when you are listing items is the price point. Price it too high and the item may sit and gather dust. Price it too low and you may leave money on the table.

Pricing can make even a seasoned Powerseller second guess themselves sometimes, but it doesn’t have to if you know a little secret. You see, pricing is really all about psychology, or rather, it’s all in the mind.

Here’s what you need to know:

Higher price = better quality. You may think that slashing prices will mean more sales, but the reality is that pricing items at a higher price will often attract more buyers who are concerned about the quality of an item rather than getting the best deal. They don’t mind paying more as long as they think the value is there. Try increasing the price of items to help create a perception of higher-value.

Use a smaller font. It may not make much sense, but displaying the price in a smaller font can trick the brain into thinking that a price is lower than what it actually is. Use a larger font for titles and descriptions, then make your price visually smaller next to it.

Round those numbers up. If you’re like most sellers, you’ve probably been taught that the best way to price an item is to use .99 to make an item’s price seem smaller than it actually is. This means instead of $10.00, you would price the item at $9.99. This is typically what most sellers do. Research has shown, however, that when buyers need to make a quick decision about an item, it can actually work better to use a round number instead. This is because the brain doesn’t have to do as much to analyze the price and can therefore make a quick decision, which is often to go ahead and buy the item.

Keep in mind, however, that this rationale only works on items that one might buy based on emotion or impulse. When selling items where the buyer is more likely to rationalize the justification of the price, it is generally better to continue using the .99 or leave the cents in.

Finally, when raising prices it is best to do it in small increments. Buyers typically won’t notice if you add a few cents here and there, but if the price shoots beyond what they consider a reasonable percentage all at once, they will sit up and take notice.

Do you have a pricing strategy? Leave a comment below.

Are You Ready for July Sales Tax?

TaxjarMark Faggiano is the founder and CEO of TaxJar, a service built to make sales tax compliance simple for eCommerce sellers. Try a 30-day-free trial of TaxJar today and eliminate sales tax compliance headaches from your life!



Not only is July a time to celebrate the country’s independence and maybe hit the beach, it’s also a time when many state’s departments of revenue require that you check in about a little thing called sales tax.


We know nobody likes to think about filing tax forms and sending in payments, so we put together this quick guide on how you can make sales tax painless this month… and all the months going forward!


Check Your Sales Tax Due Dates


One of the frustrating things about sales tax is that every state is different. While one state may want to hear from you on the 20th of the month another might have a due date on the last day of the month. So we’ve put together a handy list of July Sales Tax Due Dates for online sellers. Just go and find your state (or states) and you’re all set!


Report How Much Sales Tax You’ve Collected


The taxable period ended on July 1st, but now you have to figure out how much you collected over that period. You can do this by pulling reports from all the different channels you sell on, plugging them into spreadsheets, triple checking your math, and wasting a whole lot of time, or you could just sign up for TaxJar and let us do all that work for you. Not only does TaxJar connect with the shopping carts on which you sell, we also organize each state’s info in a return-ready format. That means no puzzling over zip codes to try and figure out how much you collected in each city, county and district on those difficult states like Washington, Florida… and most of the other ones.


File and Pay Sales Tax


From here, take your TaxJar reports over to your state’s department and revenue and you can quickly and easily fill out your return and remit your payment.


Don’t forget a couple of key things here.


First, some states require you to file a “zero return” even if you didn’t collect any sales tax in that state. Here’s a list of states that require zero returns.


Second, some states offer discounts for filing early or on time. Are you one of the lucky ones? See a list of sales tax discounts here.

And that’s it. You’ve put July’s sales tax behind you. Do you have questions about sales tax? Start the conversation in the comments, or join over 3k online sellers and sales tax experts in TaxJar’s Sales Tax Community!

EBay: The Art of the Flip – Part One

Cookie Jars

Never has the old saying “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” been more true than when you find yourself rummaging through a thrift store. I mean, think about it. All the items that are there are something that someone somewhere decided they no longer wanted. What many eBay sellers know, however, is that thrift stores can provide real-life treasures for those who are willing to do the work.

Thrift store flipping, or rather, the practice of buying an item from a thrift store with the actual intent of reselling an item, is the cornerstone of many online businesses. In fact, some eBay sellers make a full-time income by simply making the rounds of their local thrift stores every one to two weeks.

How do you find this buried treasure? Well, it’s all about the art of the flip.

Do your research. Several years ago, if you didn’t know the value of something you were buying you either had to make a guess and hope you didn’t pay too much or run home and research the item, then hope you got back to the store before the item got gone. Today, the process is a whole lot easier and your smartphone is your best friend.

Use your smartphone to research eBay and see what the item you are interested in is going for. I’ve found that looking at completed sales is usually the best way to get an accurate idea of value. Keep in mind, however, that you also need to look at the condition of both the item you have and the item that already sold. Sometimes this can make a huge difference.

Guard your treasures. There is no worse feeling than leaving an item on the shelf while you can research it, then having someone pick it up and wander off with it before you are able to make a decision. While some thrift stores frown on people putting items in their cart that they may or may not buy, most places will turn a blind eye to the practice as long as you don’t make a big production out of it. I found it usually works out best to get a few items and check them, decide, then move on to the next few items.

Consider the shipping costs. I learned my lesson on this one a while back after I bought a huge ceramic cookie jar that looked like a giant teapot with a colorful floral pattern on it. While eBay was telling me that cookie jars like that typically sold for $35-$50, what I didn’t pick up on was that the shipping was way on up there too, since it had to go in a huge box and (at the time) you had to pay for the full insurance. I failed to realize that most sellers were offering free shipping, so when I gave $10 for the cookie jar, then later had to either eat the shipping or add it to the cost of the item, I wasn’t losing money, but my profits were almost nil. Ironically, I also overlooked a hairline crack in the thing, so the value wasn’t even there either. I still have this cookie jar and the next time I’m de-cluttering, it will most likely find its way back to the thrift store.

Do you shop at thrift stores for your eBay merchandise? Leave a comment below.

Ecomdash Unveils New Low Price Option, Now Even More Affordable for Small Businesses

New Low Price Helps Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Access Comprehensive Integration Software
13 July, 2015. Charlotte, N.C.
Inventory and sales order software, ecomdash, has an all new low price option for its award-winning ecommerce offering. Businesses will be able to sign up to streamline and manage ecommerce operations for as little as $25 a month – that’s half of the original entry price of $50.
With such low barriers to entry and great potential for scalability and success, entrepreneurs are coming in droves to try their hand at ecommerce. Ecomdash intends to be the perfect solution for this market, maintaining an extremely low barrier for anyone trying to sell online. Even very young businesses can afford a $25/mo investment for software that has been recorded to net returns in the thousands percentiles.
This new low price grants small businesses access to comprehensive inventory management software from the very beginning. Businesses with less than 100 sales orders per month are eligible, and can get set up in minutes to grow and scale. Regardless of what customers pay, all receive the same quality support through phone, email, chat services and an extensive knowledge center, for free. This level of support is unlike anything offered in the integration software space for small-medium businesses today.
Next, ecomdash will unveil a completely redone pricing structure that promises an even more flexible payment system for ecomdash customers and more gradual fluctuations between tiers. Ecomdash understands the speed of ecommerce and how delays can make or break online sales. The software automatically makes the appropriate shifts in scale without slowing or stopping a user’s service, and users are charged solely based on how many sales orders they process each month.
Ecomdash is committed to its small and mid-sized business customers, and wants users to reach accelerated success. “We believe all small and mid-sized ecommerce businesses should have access to affordable, comprehensive multichannel integration software,” said Nick Maglosky, chief executive officer of ecomdash. “Our new pricing structure enables even the very smallest businesses to efficiently manage their ecommerce supply chain and quickly scale operations.”
About Ecomdash
Ecomdash is a web software application enabling ecommerce sellers to run their business from anywhere at any time in a fraction of the time they spend today. Ecomdash automates and integrates omni-channel retailers’ inventory, sales orders, product listings and shipping processes across marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Etsy as well as ecommerce-ready website platforms like Bigcommerce, Shopify and Magento. Ecomdash gives merchants the ability to save time, grow sales, and increase customer satisfaction. For more information visit

Is your online store back-to-school ready?


It may still be July, but the start of a new school year is just around the corner. In fact, turn on the television or pick up a Staples or Office Depot flyer and you’ll see that the sell of school supplies is already in full swing.

When is the best time to get those items listed and ready to sale?

Well, according to a survey taken by Staples last year, the majority of parents report that one month prior to the beginning of school is considered the best time to begin shopping for school supplies. This means that as a seller, if you don’t already have a back-to-school sales promotion going on in your store, you’re actually running a bit behind.

So, if you’re trying to catch up, what items should you be looking at?

Well, a quick look at Amazon shows that as of right now (July 14), Crayola is dominating with what they are calling a supply pack. These packs are designed for first and second graders and then third through fifth graders. Items include, crayons (of course!), pencils, notebooks, rulers and more. One pack even has a box of Kleenex for those runny noses.

Other notable items are pencil cases (always loved those!), back packs and lunch containers. The Minions are showing up on a lot of back-to-school items too, but don’t get too carried away. A lot of their success for this years sales have to do with the fact that the Minions got their own summertime movie. When the fascination with the movie fades, the associated merchandise sales will start to fade too.

If back-to-school items aren’t really your thing, but you still want to cash in on the season, don’t forget that with a new school year comes a need for new school clothes. Leggings, hoodies, and skinny jeans appear to be popular and while it may be too hot at the moment to think about sweaters and jackets, keep in mind that the end of July is when a lot of fall merchandise comes into retail stores, so even if you’re not ready to list them in your store, it is a great time to be watching for those back-to-school sales and other great fall deals.

Are you ready for the back-to-school rush? Leave a comment below.

How to stay cool when you’re stressing out

Package Deal
Hearing that little “ca-ching” on your smartphone when someone buys something from your eBay store is exciting. It means buyers not only love your items, but are actually buying or making bids on them. Having a successful store also means you have to pack and ship all those items and also worry about getting replacements for those items that are selling from your store.

Unfortunately, as that to-do list gets longer and longer, the success can also cause a lot of stress. Too much stress not only can affect your health, but it can slow down your productivity and even cause you to make mistakes. Instead of letting stress get the best of you, the next time you begin to feel like it’s all too much, take a step back and try one of these techniques to help you stay cool.

Take a break. When you’re behind schedule, it may seem counterproductive to walk away for a moment, but in most cases that’s exactly what you need to do. Stopping for a moment to think things through or to simply think about something else can help keep you from stressing out. Take a 10 minute walk or go sit quietly somewhere until you can collect your thoughts and things feel a little less hectic.

Pack once – check twice. Sending the wrong item to the wrong buyer is one of the most common mistakes that sellers make when they get in a hurry. Work on one package at a time. If you are printing multiple shipping labels, take a moment to ensure that each label goes with the correct package and that the package contains the correct item. Some sellers find that it helps to write a note on the package with the buyers last name or the item that is within, right where they will stick the shipping label. This way they can double-check that the label belongs with the right package before they attach it to the package.

Change your handling time. Yes, eBay doesn’t like it when you don’t offer to ship the next day, but if you can tell you are getting in over your head, temporarily changing the handling time on your unsold items can help to ensure that if someone does buy something from, you won’t get even further behind on your shipping. As soon as you’re caught up, you can then change it back.

Use a to-do list. Writing down your plans for the day while you have your morning coffee can help you stay on track later when things start getting hectic. This not only helps you prioritize what needs to be done during the day, but can help you make sure that you aren’t forgetting something important that you need to do later on.

How do you handle the stress in your online business? Leave a comment below.