Online Selling 101: It’s all about the brand

Edgethreesixty branding

One of the first things you will start hearing about when you decide to sell online is that you need to create a brand. While the first inclination for most people when they hear this is that they need to create a name for their store, creating a brand actually goes much further than that. A brand not only tells who you are, but also what you do and how you do it.

Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people get stuck. They might be able to come up with a cute name or a name that will help them sell their products, but that’s often about as far as they get with it. If your struggling with your branding, here’s some things you can do that can help.

Create a mission statement. A mission statement is actually the goal for your business. While you might want to say that “making money” is your goal, the purpose of your mission statement is to go beyond that. It explains to people who you are and why you have decided to sell the items that you sell. As an example, your mission statement could say that you want to provide affordable handmade jewelry using all organic materials in order to help the environment while providing beautiful, high quality jewelry for people to wear.

Describe the items you will sell. Using the example above, you might use keywords, such as organic, handmade, environmentally friendly, and high quality. These are the words that will help set you apart from your competition.

Think about your target market. This is a part of branding that trips many people up. You want to sell to everyone, of course, but when you narrow down who you actually want to sell to, you can then create marketing that specifically will appeal to that group of people. In turn, you will often sell more than if you used broad marketing terms in an attempt to sell to everyone. So, you might target teenagers for your jewelry or millennials that are just entering the workforce.

Creating the business name. Now that you have an idea of what you are selling and who you are targeting, you can create a business name that reflects your mission statement and the items you will sell. Look for keywords that embodies the spirit of both your mission statement and what you are selling.

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

Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) are not “BOILERPLATE” By Cliff Ennico

cliff“I’m starting a consulting business and have been asked to sign a ‘confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement’ with my first client, a large multinational corporation.

The agreement seems straightforward enough, and it’s my understanding that these are pretty much ‘boilerplate’ agreements that you don’t want to spend a lot of time negotiating for fear of sending the wrong signals.

There is no noncompete clause in the agreement – which is good – but two sections of the agreement cause me concern:

  • a clause saying I cannot solicit business or employment from any of the client’s customers for a period of two years after our relationship terminates; and
  • a clause in which I assign to the client all ‘intellectual property rights’ to any work product I may create for them.

Should I sign this agreement ‘as is’ or attempt to negotiate it?”

First of all, there is no such thing as a “boilerplate” agreement.  In 35 years of practicing law, I have never – not even once – filled in the blank spaces on a preprinted form and handed it to a client as a finished product.  All agreements are unique and need to be tailored to the specific client or transaction to which they relate.

Having said that, most nondisclosure agreements (“NDAs” for short) are pretty benign.  Your client does have the right to prevent you from blabbing about their trade secrets at cocktail parties.

Some NDAs go much further than that.  You need to look closely at the definition of “confidential information” in the NDA and make sure it makes sense given the services you are providing.  If you are designing the company’s website, you should be obligated to keep their “marketing plans” confidential, but not their “computer software source code” as you will not have access to that.

Some companies want every possible type of information listed in the NDA for fear they might miss something.  The problem is that much of that information isn’t really confidential.

There are two ways to limit the scope of an NDA.  First, at the end of the laundry list of information they want you to keep confidential, add: “which information is not generally known to the public and either derives economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known, or is of such a character that [name of client] has a legitimate interest in maintaining its secrecy” – this language limits the NDA to the client’s “trade secrets”.

Second, add language saying that “Confidential Information as used herein does not include any information which:

  • is or becomes generally available to the public other than as a result of a disclosure by me; or
  • becomes available to me on a non-confidential basis from a source other than [name of client], provided that such source has represented to me (and which I have no reason to disbelieve after due inquiry) that it is lawfully entitled to disclose the information; or
  • is developed by me independently without the use of or reliance upon Confidential Information as herein defined.”

That way if your next client asks you to work on a similar project, you will not be “haunted” by your obligation to your first client (unless, of course, you divulge your first client’s trade secrets to the second client which clearly would breach the agreement).

Now, let’s turn to that “assignment of work product” clause.  While seemingly harmless, this clause can cause a lot of problems when you are working for multiple clients on the same or similar types of projects.  If you are not creating any intellectual property (such as artwork, graphics, customized reports, inventions or computer software) for a client, you should resist signing such a clause.

If you are creating something for a client that has value as “intellectual property,” be sure to include language in the contract saying the definition of “work product” does NOT include any “forms, templates, tools and materials” you have developed independently and use to serve your clients generally.  If the client insists you can give them the “license” to use these, but not ownership.  Otherwise you might be precluded from using these materials for other clients.

Finally, let’s talk about that “nonsolicitation” clause.  While your client has the right to know you will not communicate with their customers behind their back, Murphy’s Law for consultants says that the minute you finish a project for Company A, one of Company A’s customers will call you out of the blue asking for similar work.  You don’t want to be prevented by contract from returning that call.

Rather than sign an agreement saying you won’t “solicit” customers, say instead that you will not “cause a customer of [name of client] to terminate its relationship with [name of client], or induce any such customer to breach or terminate any agreement in existence between such customer and [name of client].”

That way you can work for anybody you please as long as it doesn’t hurt your client.

Cliff Ennico (cennico@legalcareer.com) 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 www.creators.com.  COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

10/13/15 That Kat Radio SCOE Report and is it The End of Retail Arbitrage with Karen Locker of Solutions4ecommerce.com

We currently provide a wide variety of support services needed for growing businesses.  From customer service, to listing creation, we free up your time so you can focus on what makes you money the sourcing. Assisting e-commerce sellers to be successful is our passion.

In the first segment Karen and Kat discussed the history of the SCOE (Seller Conference for Online Entrepreneurs) and the most recent event in Seattle WA, where Kat was a Keynote Speaker. Many other speakers at SCOE had talked about the difficulties for Amazon sellers, the recent rash of suspension notices and several, including Cynthia Stine, cautioned about using liquidation and retail arbitrage as sole sourcing methods. Is this the end of Retail Arbitrage? No, but there are some big warning signs.

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In segment two Kat and Karen discussed the definition of ‘Private Label’ selling, along with the opportunities and liabilities it brings. Kat quoted e-commerce lawyer Cliff Ennico from his SCOE sessions on Copyright and Trademark law, along with Rachel Greer who spoke of the need for  regulatory compliance for Private Label sellers.

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In segment three Karen and Kat talked about Amazon account suspensions, Amazon Product Quality, a ‘Bezos Escalation,’ and more. Author Cynthia Stine’s book, ‘Suspension Prevention’ was also introduced along with quotes from SCOE speaker Chris McCabe, who spoke on Amazon Product Quality.

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For the last segment Kat and Karen focused on things Amazon sellers can do to guard their accounts, best practices for Amazon sellers, your ‘Seller Risk Score’ and Amazon Leadership Principles.

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Etsy Backtracks on Seller Details After Privacy Issue Concerns

Etsy!

Etsy found itself in a bit of a pickle this week after sellers begin discovering that their personal information and addresses were being automatically generated in their Seller Details fields, allowing their personal information to appear to buyers whenever someone visited their Shop. Although the change was initially made to help sellers comply with a new European law that requires transparency for sellers, many shop owners were upset when it appeared that rather than use their business information, the new format was instead picking up the personal information of the sellers.

Interestingly, not only were sellers concerned by their information appearing on their page, but as some sellers noted where Etsy was getting the information from them was also a concern. Apparently, programmers took the easiest route to fill the fields and had the program pulling data from the information that sellers initially provided when they opened their shops.

Unfortunately, this information apparently violated Etsy’s privacy policy, which states in part that “Etsy will not sell or disclose your personal information to third parties without your consent, except as specified in our Privacy Policy.”

Adding to the frustration of sellers, who were more than a little concerned about the possibility of a data breach, Etsy remained almost completely silent about the problem for almost two whole days before finally addressing the matter. The response finally came from Dilani Kahawala, an Etsy product manager, who addressed seller’s concerns by stating that the idea initially had been to make things simpler for sellers by pre-populating the fields, but that due to concerns they would remove the auto-populate function so that sellers could fill it in themselves.

Although Etsy now considers the matter as having been addressed and fixed, some sellers are still wondering how Etsy was able to publish the information, which was actually information associated with their credit card information. It had many sellers wondering how secure their accounts were and how the incident was even allowed to occur in the first place.

Was your personal information displayed on your Seller Details? Leave a comment below.

Should your LLC be Managed by Members or Managers? By Cliff Ennico

cliffWhen setting up a limited liability company (LLC) for a new business, one of the hardest jobs is figuring out how the company should be managed.

In most states, LLCs can be set up in one of two ways, managed either:

  • by its owners (called “members”), similar to a general partnership; or
  • by one or more managers (who may or may not also be members), similar to a corporation or limited partnership.

Like so many issues in this area, “one size” seldom fits all situations.  You and your co-founders have to think long and hard about how you will be working together, who will have responsibility for what decisions, who can devote more time to the business than others, and other political issues before you come up with the right solution.  Generally, the “right solution” is a structure that reflects how the company founders will make decisions in real life.

Here are some common startup scenarios, and how I normally advise clients in these situations.

Scenario # 1.  The LLC is a tech company formed by three graduate students.  The students (being Millennials) all want to be “equal partners.”

I have no problem setting up a member-managed LLC with equal ownership, but in this situation I would insist on a “supermajority voting provision” in the company’s Operating Agreement requiring the vote of 75% or 80% of the LLC members to approve any management decision.  That way the members are “joined at the hip” and have to agree on everything.  Otherwise, you have an unstable “shifting two-out-of-three majority” where members A and B approve one action, members B and C approve the next, and so forth.

Scenario # 2.  The LLC is an online retailer formed by a US citizen, but with two minority partners based in India and China.  The US citizen will be the majority owner and the LLC will be set up in the US.

Since the LLC will operate in the US, the US citizen should be able to make management decisions with a minimum amount of oversight from his overseas partners.  I would set this up as a manager-managed LLC.  The US citizen would be the sole manager with broad and expansive powers.  Major decisions (as in Scenario #1) would require a “supermajority” vote of the members so that at least one of the foreign partners would have a veto over major decisions such as mergers, venture capital rounds, and bankruptcy.

Scenario # 3.  The LLC is a Web-based business that wants to attract venture financing.  The three founders are family members – a father and two sons.  The two sons are going to run the business but the father has all the money and wants to protect his investment in case the business fails.

I would recommend a manager-managed LLC, with all three family members as managers.  Yes, the two sons could outvote their father, but as a practical matter if he doesn’t like being outvoted the father will hold back the money so there’s an incentive for everyone to be on the same page.

I would also allow this LLC to issue “preferred equity membership interests” (similar to preferred stock in a corporation).  The father would make capital contributions to the company either by purchasing preferred shares or lending money to the company via a “convertible note” which would convert into preferred shares if the company is successful (or if a later investor insists the company wipe this “founder debt” off of the books).  Either way, if the company goes under, the father will be able to get his money out before anyone else does – although I wouldn’t want to be invited to this family’s Thanksgiving dinner afterwards.

Scenario # 4.  Two companies want to form an LLC “joint venture” to engage in a particular project.  One company will provide the marketing and talent, the other the capital, with management decisions being made jointly.

This will be a manager-managed LLC, but there’s no way to avoid 50/50 ownership of the LLC and a “board of managers” with an even number of members (one or two from each company).

In this situation there needs to be a “deadlock” provision in the company’s Operating Agreement stating clearly and unequivocally what should happen when the two companies disagree on a course of action.  I am not a big fan of arbitration clauses, as arbitration these days can cost as much as a court case, and finding an arbitrator who knows what he or she is doing . . . don’t get me started.

            Unless the client has a better idea, I normally include a provision requiring mediation of any dispute with a third-party mediator acceptable to both parties, with a clause requiring the LLC to be dissolved and liquidated if a satisfactory resolution isn’t reached within a reasonable amount of time (say, 90 or 180 days).

            Then I sit back and hope and pray the client doesn’t pick me as the mediator.

 Cliff Ennico (cennico@legalcareer.com) 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 www.creators.com.  COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Amazon places inventory restrictions on sellers

Amazon Dealfinder

They say that all good things must come to an end. In the case of Amazon, it appears that for some sellers it’s the end of using Amazon as a long-term storage warehouse, even if as a seller you don’t mind paying all those long-term storage fees.

Although the news of Amazon refusing to allow some sellers to ship certain Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) to the warehouse seemed to have only started going viral among the Amazon community last week, it appears that the practice of refusing to allow shipment for some items has actually been in place since at least February. That’s when some sellers initially began complaining on the forums that they were receiving an error message about shipments they were trying to send in.

This past week, however, even more sellers began receiving this specific message while attempting to process their FBA shipments:

You are already at the maximum inventory allowed for this product, due to capacity or other restrictions. This product must be removed from this shipment.

When discussing the error message with Amazon Seller Support, sellers were apparently told that Amazon was restricting certain ASINs that the company feels don’t have a high enough volume or sales ranking to warrant taking up storage room in one of their warehouses.

Unfortunately, the thing that is upsetting so many sellers is that Amazon chose to give no warning at all to sellers that the refusals were about to occur. They also aren’t currently providing any guidelines to sellers, so when it comes to sourcing item, sellers have no way to know whether what they want to send in will even have any chance of being accepted. At the moment, sellers are stating there’s no obvious clues as to what criteria they are using to form the rejections. As an example, even items that have high rankings and fast sales are sometimes getting rejected for shipment for no apparent reason.

Obviously, Amazon has to do something. They encouraged sellers to send in their items through Fulfillment by Amazon and sellers did by the masses. The problem is, even with stringent storage fees many sellers are choosing to leave items in the warehouses for long periods of time. This means that there’s no room left for any new items and basically Amazon needs the space.

Have you had an ASIN shipment restricted by Amazon? Leave a comment below.

Your April Sales Tax Cheat Sheet from TaxJar

taxjarlogoMark Faggiano is the founder and CEO of TaxJar

Though it doesn’t get nearly as much attention compared to that other “Tax Day,” April is what we here at TaxJar call a “sales tax perfect storm.” Not only is April the big day when it comes to filing your income tax, it’s also holds a sales tax due date for nearly every online seller.

I know you’re busy pulling together all your income tax info and don’t want to tear your hair out over sales tax, too. So I’ve put together a quick cheat sheet so you can quickly and easily get those April sales tax returns off your plate.

April Sales Tax Cheat Sheet for Online Sellers

  • Remember that every state is different – Each state gets to make it’s own laws and rules when it comes to sales tax, so don’t think that just because New York wants to hear from you by the April 20th due date all other states follow suit! Here’s a list of April sales tax filing due dates by state to help you out.
  • Know your sales tax filing frequency – When you registered for your sales tax permit, your state assigned you a filing frequency. April is a “sales tax perfect storm” because monthly filers and quarterly filers in most states have sales tax returns due. Be sure you know your filing frequency so you know whether or not you have a due date this month.
  • Report sales tax the way your state wants to see it – Wouldn’t it be nice if you could tell as state “Hey, I collected $155.33 from buyers in your borders” and be done with it? Unfortunately, the vast majority of states want you to break down how much sales tax you collected from buyers based on their location. And this includes figuring out their state, county, city and other “special taxing district” tax. Ouch! But never fear, TaxJar will connect with the channels you sell on and break those numbers down just the way your state wants to see them.
  • File and pay the right way – Make sure you pay on time to avoid penalties and interest. You can login and file online, or let TaxJar file for you with AutoFile. Be sure to file a return even if you didn’t collect any sales tax over the taxable period! Some states will levy a fine or even cancel your sales tax permit if you fail to file a “zero return.”
  • Don’t discount sales tax discounts – About half the states realize that collecting sales tax is a huge hassle, and they will offer you an (admittedly small) discount for filing on time. Check here to see if your state has a sales tax discount and make sure to take it. Otherwise you’re leaving free money on the table! If you AutoFile with TaxJar, we always make sure you keep your discount in your pocket where it belongs.

I hope these tips have helped you navigate the April sales tax perfect storm. If you have any questions about sales tax, check out our Sales Tax 101 Guide for Online Sellers or ask away in our Sales Tax for eCommerce Sellers Facebook group!

TaxJar is 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!

 

 

The 12 Biggest Small Business Mistakes [Part 2 of 2] By Cliff Ennico

cliffLast week we covered six of the 12 biggest mistakes most small businesses make.  Here, in my humble opinion, are the other six.

#7: Working “in” the business rather than “on” the business.  Many self-employed people think they are entrepreneurs when they really aren’t.  They are working full time in the business, without any partners, employees or assistants.  They take care of everything themselves, from dealing with customers to keeping the books to running to the office supply store every time the printer needs a new ink cartridge.

Successful small businesses grow over time, and you can’t grow a business with only one person involved.  As a business owner, you should devote most of your time to setting goals for your business and detailed plans for achieving them, with the occasional interruption to deal with an existential threat. If you are spending 14 or more hours a day doing other things, you will be too tired at the end of the day to even think about long-term planning and strategic thinking.

Read “The e-Myth Revisited,” by Michael Gerber, for practical advice on delegation, team building and managing your time.  And remember, “when you are up to your butt in alligators, it’s difficult to focus on your goal of draining the swamp.”  Let your staff deal with the reptiles – er, I mean customers – to give you more time to dream.

#8: Ignoring your legal, tax and regulatory environment.  Government has its hands in every business in America.  No one is exempt.  Stop paying your taxes (or play games on your tax returns), and you will lose your business on the first audit.  Hire an “independent contractor” and work him 50 or more hours a week and the IRS will come after you for unpaid payroll taxes and penalties.  Say things about your competitors that aren’t true, and you could be sued for libel or “interference with contract”.

Every small business needs a good lawyer AND a good accountant.  Hire good ones, and stay in touch with them frequently.  Legal and tax problems are always, always avoidable.

#9: Creating a workplace culture that alienates employees.  People used to say that successful businesses “first took care of their customers, then took care of their employees, then took care of their shareholders.”  Somehow over the last 30 years the “employee” piece has disappeared, and America’s big companies have suffered as a result.

Your employees are the “front line” of your business’ image and reputation.  When employees aren’t motivated, it shows.  The quality of your customer service suffers.  If you came to the entrepreneurial world after working in a toxic office environment, shame on you for making the same mistakes your former employers did.

These days employees, especially Millennials, want a purpose in their work.  They don’t just want a paycheck.  They want the opportunity to have a positive impact on the world, to make a difference somehow.  Treat them like “costs” and they will move on.  Or worse, join unions.

Treat them like “assets” and they will reward you with loyalty and conscientious service.  Help them grow and develop.  And make sure the good ones are well compensated.

#10: Lacking a succession plan.  Note to you Baby Boom geezers out there:  you will not live forever.  No matter how much yoga you do.  No matter how much organic kale you eat.  Sooner or later you will die.  Even sooner you will slowly, imperceptibly lose the ability to manage your business from day to day.

Who do you want to take over the business when you no longer can?  A family member who is currently doing something else?  A loyal employee who couldn’t afford to buy the business if you dropped tomorrow?  A neighboring franchisee who has always wanted to expand into your territory?

Make a list of potential successors and start putting things in place that will make it easier for your chosen successor to transition into the business seamlessly.  As the Bible says, no one knows when their hour will come.

#11: Worrying too much about what other people think.  Your reputation is important, but getting the important things done is more important.  Reaching your goals is more important than being nice to everyone you encounter along the way, especially people who are blocking your path.  See my YouTube video “Three Personality Traits Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Develop” to learn how to be ruthless and still like yourself in the morning.

#12: Not understanding what “success” really means.  Everybody has their own definition of “success in business.”  Here are mine, in order of importance.  A successful business:

  •  makes money;
  • survives difficult times;
  •  has repeat customers;
  •  grows over time;
  •  is competitive;
  •  has an impact;
  •  stands out from the crowd;
  •  is highly regarded (or at least grudgingly respected);
  •  attracts good people as employees, partners and investors; and
  •  is one you are proud to own.

 

Cliff Ennico (cennico@legalcareer.com) 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 www.creators.com.  COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS

That Kat Radio Episode 43 (eBay Homeruns with Mr. Customer Service) Tim Chapman

This week on That Kat Radio, Tim Chapman joined us to talk about eBay Homeruns.

In segment one, Kat and Tim talked about eBay news.:

  • First, Kat and Tim discussed about eBay’s highs and lows. Tim said that although it’s true that things have changed but there is still money in eBay. Kat added that you just have to be selective on what you buy to sell.
    Kat discussed eBay news about “List Good till cancelled.” Kat further explained that now, if you have good till cancelled listing and you don’t have the product identifier, if it renews it will not relist.
  • Kat and Tim talked about Homerun item #311544162494 or “Vintage Olympia Cremina Lever Espresso Machine Swiss made nice” It was sold US$860.00 and had 9 bids. Tim mentioned that, when he first got it in Swap me, it’s missing the main lever handle. He bought it for US$185.00, brought it home, welded up a new lever handle, polished it up and put it on eBay.
  • Kat and Tim spoke about Homerun item #311548691285 or “Olympus CH-2 Binocular Laboratory Microscope w/ 40x & 160x Objectives W/ Case” It got only 1 bid but sold for US$349.00. Tim said that he bought it in Swap me with his Dad for about US$100.00. He priced it high because he knows that very few people are looking for a microscope. He got the price the he wanted and sold it in just 1 bid.

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In segment two, Kat and Tim discussed about eBay Homeruns:

  • Kat asked about Homerun item#311550574660 or “PetSafe Wireless pet containment system fence dog training Nice” This is something that somebody bought it and did not use it, Tim further explained. It was brand new. Tim said that he bought it in an estate sale for US$20.00. It was sold for US$195.50 and got 14 bids.
  • Kat and Tim explained about Homerun item# 201522103909 or “Nikon S2 Rangefinder Camera W/ 50mm F/1.4 lens (w/ issue) nice” The story behind it, Tim said that he bought it from a friend for US$150.00 but the lens was scratched. Tim said that this is one of those things that you know it’s going to sell. As long as you have the title correct and you disclosed everything so that you won’t have any problems later on, eBay will do it’s job and sell the item. Tim also said that he priced it low to get more action because he knows that it has a big market and that the item will sell. It sold for US$342.75 with 11 bids.

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In segment three, Kat and Tim talked about more eBay Homeruns:

  • Kat and Tim spoke about Homerun item#201520352400 or “Scuba Hookah 55′ Keene engineering hose & Oceanic Alpha 8 second stage nice” Tim explained that he got it in an estate sale and nobody knew what it was. He also told Kat that he was in the scuba industry for a few years that’s why he knew what it was. He bought it for US$30.00. It was sold for US$127.50 with 9 bids. Kat also added that unless you know the item, don’t buy it.

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In segment four, Kat and Tim talked about more eBay Homeruns:

  • Kat asked about Homerun item#201524391401 or “SoilTest Air Entrainment Meter Concrete Testing Meter White by Inmont Corp nice” Tim said that he didn’t know what it was when he found it in Swap me, but he bought it anyway for US$30.00. The story was Tim explained that he put it up for US$249.00 for the 1st week, but nobody bought it. So he lowered it down to US$95.00, got 16 bids and ended up selling it for US$117.50.
  • Kat and Tim discussed about the kind of buyers on eBay. Tim said that buyers are still out there. People are looking for good deals and they go to eBay. Kat added that if you’re looking for unusual items or unique products you can find it on eBay. Tim also said that people should not buy junks and sell it for too much.

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Are these common mistakes costing you online sales?

Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Starting an online business can often feel overwhelming. Not only is there a learning curve as you discover how everything works, but most sellers don’t really even have a business strategy when they are first getting started. Below are some common mistakes that can cost even a more experienced seller some online sales. Forutnately, a little know-how can help you to avoid them.

Not treating the selling like a real business

Since you don’t get in your car and drive to an actual physical store each day, it is sometimes hard to treat selling online like a real business. A lot of sellers tend to gravitate to doing only the part of the business that they find fun and ignore the rest. As an example, they may enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” when finding new and interesting things to sell, but then fizzle out when it comes to getting all those new items listed right away. Creating a written plan of all your duties and making a schedule to stay on traack can help keep you focused and remind you that you are running a real business.

Not developing an effective marketing plan.

Social media is such a big part of the online selling process, but many sellers ignore this type of marketing or go about it haphazardly. While developing an effective marketing plan does take time, it is one of the most important parts of building a following for your online business. Work at creating a brand that tells potential buyers not only what type of products you are selling, but who you are and what your online business is all about. Engaging your followers will take time, but showing there is a genuine interest in them can help convert them to buyers that will purchase from you time and time again.

Not paying attention to keywords

The keywords you use in your listings are what help buyers find the items you have for sale, but in the rush to get items listed, many sellers fail to use all of the available keywords they should and end up making things harder than they really need to be. As an example, a seller lists a billfold but doesn’t take into account that buyers may actually search for the item by calling it a wallet instead. The seller may also forget to provide valuable information, such as the item is new or that it is a certain color or style. If you’re in doubt as to what buyers might look for, ask friends how they would search for the item if they were going to buy one.

Do you know of other common mistakes that sellers make? Leave a comment below.