Checking Out the Competition

August 22nd, 2014

checking out the competition

As a retailer, it is very important to check out your competition and stay on top of what they are doing. Understanding your competitors marketing strategies, product selection, customer support, policies, websites & pricing can be used to help you improve your sales.

First, you need to determine who your top competitors are. You may already know a few of them off hand while you were searching on the internet deciding what to sell. But if you don’t know, do a few search engine searches with the keywords you want to focus on to see who comes up on top.

Take a look at these competitors and ask yourself the following;

Websites:

Does this retailer have more than one website?

How is the general feel of the store? Is it easy to navigate?

Does the site look good? Would I buy from them?

 

Products:

Do they have more than one type of product or several?

Do they have clear pictures and detailed descriptions?

Are the products priced competitively?

Do they offer free shipping?

 

Customer Support:

Do they have a phone number clearly posted?

Do they offer live chat?

Do they have their email addresses posted?

 

Search Engines:

Where is this company located in the natural listings?

Are they using ads?

What do their ads say?

What keywords are they focusing on?

 

Social Marketing:

Are they on Facebook and post often?

Are they on Twitter and post often?

 

Other Marketing:Do they attend trade shows?

Do they also have a brick and mortar store?

Do they have a blog & post regularly?

 

You can chart these things out to analyze your competition and to narrow down your main competitors. Plus you can always get ideas on what you SHOULD be doing if they are dominating the search engines!

What are Wholesale Products?

July 8th, 2014

Graph on computer in Coffee ShopWhat are wholesale products and how can I find some?

If you retail products online, then buying wholesale products is an important factor for you, because ultimately you need products to sell. Look around you, every single product you see that you bought from a retailer, was purchased at wholesale from a wholesaler or the manufacturer of the product first.

Let’s start at cost.

When you manufacture products, you have to calculate how much each individual item costs you to create. That is your overhead. Materials, Labor, Expenses etc. all get calculated into overhead. Then the manufacturer will add an additional percentage to each product so they can actually make a profit, keep their doors open and continue to pay employees & grow.

Cost + Percentage = Wholesale Price.

If the manufacturer doesn’t wholesale the products to retailers, and you have to work with factory authorized distributors or wholesalers then you have an additional cost.  Manufacturer Cost + Percentage + Wholesalers Percentage = Secondary Wholesale Cost per item. So for retailers, it’s best to buy directly from the source whenever possible to get the better wholesale prices.

Let’s create an example…

BlankiesRWe (made up name) makes soft baby blankets. They determined that it costs them approximately $5.00 to make each one and they figure that the blankets can retail for $19.99 each. So BlankiesRWe, will take that $5.00 and add an additional 40% for their wholesale price. $5.00 + 40% = $7.00.

Now, BlankiesRWe doesn’t wholesale to retailers, they have a factory authorized distributor that does. So the distributor needs to add an additional percentage on top of the $7.00 to cover their costs and valuable warehouse space. So let’s say they add an additional 40% on top of that. $7.00 + 40% = $9.80

So the retailer can buy the product for $9.80 from the distributor, and list the product at the manufacturer suggested retail price of $19.99. So their potential profit could be; $19.99 (MSRP) – $9.80 (wholesale cost) – 2% (average credit card processing fee) = $9.99 retailer’s starting profit.

If you are not stocking the inventory, and you are using dropshippers to fulfill the orders, then you don’t have as many overhead costs than if you had a warehouse. As a retailer though, you still need to tally in your additional costs, such as store hosting, credit card fees, labor and etc to come up with the actual profit numbers. But my example above gives you a good idea where to start.

So how do you find the best wholesalers to use for your store? Shameless plug warning! 

With us here at WorldwideBrands.com of course! Our WBI Certified Directory of Dropshippers and Wholesalers has thousands of wholesale suppliers (most of them manufacturers) that work with online retailers. We have taken each and every supplier through a verification process to ensure they are the real deal. Our members know that each supplier in our Directory has been Certified by us to be the legitimate manufacturer or factory authorized distributor of the products they are offering at wholesale.

We add new suppliers, brands and products every business day for our members, so there is always something new to look at and to help avoid saturation. With millions of products at your fingertips, there is a large diversity of products for every type of online store.

Check us out!

photo by: ota_photos

Wholesale Affiliate Programs

May 8th, 2014

MoneyWhat is a wholesale affiliate program and how does that differ from dropshipping?

First, let’s explain what an affiliate program is. Let’s say you have a blog online where you talk about coffee and a couple times a month, you post about how much you love coffee and you even mention your favorite brands and flavors.  Those brands probably have an affiliate program for you to sign up for. Most major companies & retailers do! You would sign up for that affiliate program, and put your special link on the words in your blog posts to send people to that place to buy or you place “ads” on the page for people to check out what you like and maybe buy it to try it out.

When a person clicks that ad or link, they will go to the brand or retailers website, and you will earn a set commission amount for every sale that is made. Commission amounts vary across the board for every company, so you can either shop around for the best commission or only promote your favorite places to buy from.

So with an affiliate program, you aren’t the one processing the orders and charging customers. The company you are referring people to will.

A Wholesale Affiliate Program is the exact same thing. You are promoting products, but not necessarily selling them.

So how does that differ from dropshipping?

With drop shipping, you are the one that is offering the products for sale on your website or chosen selling platform. You have a merchant account and will charge the customers the retail price + shipping/handling costs. Once you collect the funds from the customer, you then place the order with the wholesaler that dropships and pay the wholesaler the wholesale cost + shipping/handling. The Dropshipping Supplier will then ship the product to your customers location for you.

So with drop shipping, the wholesaler is your fulfillment center. With an affiliate program, the retailer handles everything and will pay you every month for sales that you generated.

Which is better?

It depends. If you only want to blog about your favorite things, then an affiliate program is better. If you want to control the retail prices, directly communicate with the customers, and actually have a store online, then you need to setup accounts with wholesalers that drop ship to fulfill orders for you.

Which earns more?

Again, it depends. If you get fantastic wholesale prices, you can actually earn more by having an online store than referring people to other websites. So shop around and figure out what’s best for you and what level of involvement you want.

photo by: 401K 2012

Middleman Explained

April 29th, 2014

warningwarningwarningwarningCaution TapeThere is a common misconception about what we (here at WorldwideBrands.com) mean when we say “middleman”.

Websters Dictionary (full definition) states that a middleman is; parties; especially :  a dealer, agent, or company intermediate between the producer of goods and the retailer or consumer

Synonyms: Broker, go-between, intermediary etc.

This full definition is what we mean when we talk about middlemen and what retailers should avoid. You see, the important thing here with the definition is that it says the middleman is what is in between the producer of goods and the retailer or the consumer. A middleman doesn’t have a warehouse and doesn’t deliver the products they are representing. They are only passing the orders along to the real company that will deliver the products to the retailer or to the consumer directly, so they are an intermediary.

Another definition of a middleman is that they are purchasing products from the manufacturer and then wholesaling them again. But we disagree with this definition. A company that purchases from the manufacturer and wholesales them to retailers is simply a wholesaler or could possibly be the factory authorized distributor if the manufacturer won’t wholesale to retailers directly.

The important thing here is that we do not consider any company that actually holds inventory as a middleman.

However, we only list manufacturers and factory authorized distributors in our Wholesaler and Dropshipper Directory. If the manufacturer won’t work with retailers, we contact their factory authorized distributors. We do not list plain ol’ wholesalers or sub-wholesalers (which are wholesalers that purchase from other wholesalers).

When you work with a middleman or a sub-wholesaler, you aren’t getting the best wholesale prices, because these “wholesalers” raise the wholesale cost, when you could be buying it cheaper by going to the source of the products directly. This is why so many online retailers love our Directory at WorldwideBrands.com. We only provide those top-level wholesalers to our members for the best prices & superior service, because we cut out the middleman that run rampant on the internet. It’s all part of our wholesale scam protection.

We take our time verifying the information that we gather from these wholesale companies and we turn down listings in our Directory often because a company doesn’t meet our criteria. We only want to protect our members and their consumers by providing them with the best sources of products we can. Which of course means, No Middlemen Allowed!

How to Have a Good Wholesale Supplier Relationship

April 3rd, 2014

HandshakeHere at WorldwideBrands.com, we are all about working directly with the suppliers. Many don’t understand why this is so beneficial! This post will explain that a little bit as well as give some tips on how to have a good wholesale supplier relationship.

When you have a great direct relationship with your supplier, you become privy to extra special care. Better prices, good terms, potential buybacks and better communication. So it is worth your time to get to know your suppliers.

Your suppliers are the life blood of your online retail store. If they weren’t there to supply products or drop ship products for you in a reasonable time frame, then you wouldn’t have a business!

So how to get that good relationship? Here are some tips….

1. Become Friends
Everyone wants to enjoy what they are doing and who they work with. Your wholesale suppliers, vendors and service providers are no exception. You have to work with these people quite often to ensure that everything is working properly. So don’t be rude, open up a little and listen. You could end up with a long lasting fantastic friendship, and everyone knows that a good friend will do extra things for their friend. So with a good starting and lasting relationship with your supplier will mean faster response times and maybe even give you access to things that no other retailer gets.

2. Pay Attention to the Supplier’s Requests
If the supplier wants you to order from them, contact them and pay them in certain ways, comply with that! It’s that simple. If they want you to order through their wholesale portal, you should do that. If they want you to email the orders, then that’s how you submit the orders. Going against what they want, will throw a wrench in their process, and cause delays for everyone involved. So pay attention.

3. Pay on Time
Not paying your bills on time is always careless, but when it comes to your supplier, they may re-think about working with you. If you don’t pay on time, or your payments decline often, the supplier can drop your re-seller account at any moment. They reserve the right to do that. So pay on time, and don’t get into that type of mess.

4. You’re Not the Only One
Most Wholesale Suppliers have many retailers selling for them. So keep in mind that you aren’t the only one who works with them. Patience is a virtue.

5. Don’t Play the Blame Game
Like with every business, there will always problems. Everyone makes mistakes, that is human nature. Blaming and complaining will not get you anywhere fast nor help the situation. Instead, work with them to try to find a solution.
For example, say that you ordered a product from a supplier because it sold, and the supplier immediately told you that the item was out of stock. Oh no! Your customer is waiting for that product! Don’t blame the supplier and get into a bout with them. It’s easy to rectify this situation.

First, ask when they will get more in stock. Then contact your customer, and explain that unfortunately you are out of stock on this particular item, but you will have access to more in X number of days or weeks. Then see if the customer would like to wait and you will expedite the shipping at no extra cost or perhaps you can suggest other items that are similar instead. If the customer wants to wait, then contact your supplier and tell them that your customer would like to wait for them to get the products back in stock and request if they will expedite the shipping to this customer and you will pay the extra shipping cost.

Being professional and friendly about the situation will make a mark on the supplier (as well as your customer), and in the future, they will remember how you treat them.

So remember, you get what you give. So always be professional.

photo by: blu-news.org

Why You Should Sell Products Online

March 25th, 2014

Online sales are constantly climbing. More and more shoppers are on the internet looking for good deals, and unique products that they can’t get in their local stores.

So why should YOU sell online? I can give you a couple of good reasons…

You can make money. Online retail is a billion dollar industry and it is always growing. The internet isn’t a fad; it’s not going away any time soon. There is always room for more retailers if you are smart about it.

The customer base is already there. Billions of people are “surfing the net” every day. So the customer base is already there and waiting for you.

It’s easy! Selling products online isn’t hard and many store platforms and selling platforms make it easy to create a store or list something for sale.

Of course with any new business, there is a learning curve and there will be trial and error in order to find the things that work for you. But there are some important things to keep in mind…

1. You must be a registered business. You must get your business legal before selling products online from wholesale suppliers and you need it for a business bank account. That means a registered business name and a tax ID. The Sales & Use tax ID allows you to purchase products without being taxed, because ultimately, it is your customers that pay the tax.

2. The internet is full of scams. Scams are all over the place when you search online for business opportunities. So you have to be careful about who you trust to help you with your business. Don’t fall for get rich quick schemes, because that’s what they are… Schemes! The ones offering it get richer off of your hard work. So be careful and do your homework!

Here at WorldwideBrands.com, we have been helping online retailers find legitimate wholesale sources for their online stores or auctions for over 14 years now.  We love what we do, and we love helping people. If you are unsure about where to start, I recommend reading our Free eBook “Starting Your Internet Business Right“. This popular free eBook has helped so many online retailers get their businesses started out the right way. Learn about getting legal, about legitimate wholesale suppliers, how to conduct parts of your business, learn about scams to stay away from and more.

It’s a free eBook. No strings attached. We won’t ask you for your email address or a credit card. Just go the above link and download it to get on the right path to success.

 

Manage Costs – Competing with Big Online Retailers

February 11th, 2014

MoneyDon’t let your money management get out of control. You need to track all money coming in and going out. In the beginning stages of your online store, you will need to invest in your business to get all of the things you need to get started and once your site it built and tested and ready for shoppers, you can splurge a little on ad campaigns to start driving traffic.

But once all your initial costs are out of the way, be conservative with your cash. Strive to constantly work on minimizing your costs and always have cash on hand for any emergencies or opportunities for your business that you can’t pass up.

Big online stores have accountants and financial officers for their companies to help them manage their cash flow. Small businesses typically only have one owner and you will have to do all of these things on your own. Of course you can always hire an accountant or get a program like Quickbooks to help you manage your money.

But the important thing here is to be mindful of what money you need for your monthly costs and what you are bringing in to balance things out.

photo by: 401K 2012

Customer Support – Competing with Big Online Retailers

February 4th, 2014

TelephoneBeing available for your customers questions is very important. Many small business owners don’t have a phone number on their website and prefer email support. This is a mistake, as many customers want the assurance they can call if they have any questions or problems ordering or questions about their order.

In order to compete with big online retailers, you must be able to provide the same level of support (if not more) to your customers. This will help them trust you.

RingCentral is a great provider for toll free numbers for your site. They are low cost, and you can setup different extensions, as well as route the toll free number to ring to any phone where you are located.

Make sure that your email address is available on the site in different locations or if you have one main email address that you want customers to use, you can post that near your phone number.

Always provide an About Us page. Simply provide your business story or why you are selling the products that you chose if they have meaning to you, or if you are solving a problem for customers. This will help your customers understand that there is someone real there on the other end of the order.

There is also social communication. If you create a Facebook Page for your business, or a Twitter account, place those where people can find them and like them or follow you. Then make sure to check those areas for customer questions.

Another way for communication is a chat on your site. However, for a small business, this is probably not feasible because it will be offline most of the time if you still hold a full time job. So you can avoid offering this, if you cannot give it at least 8 hours a day where you can check to see if anyone asks something.

Having all of this open and available communication with your customers is very important for competing with big online retailers. Big online retailers are available for their customers, so you should be as well.

photo by: plenty.r.

Better Website – Competing with Big Online Retailers

January 28th, 2014

smiley-faceYour website is the face of your company, because that is what people will see. A beautifully designed website with easy navigation and shopping procedures will go a long way to help you compete with big online retailers.

Take a cue from these bigger retailers as well by taking a look at how they arrange their websites and how the ordering process works. One of the big disadvantages that a big retailer has is they try to offer as many products as possible. With a smaller more focused site, you can make your navigation even simpler and keep your customers focused on what they should be buying.

I recently posted a series of blog articles called the 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design. These tips will help you understand the need for simpler sites along with ideas for how to design your store. You can see them by going to our blog home page and typing 7 deadly sins into the search the blog bar on the right.

After taking a look at the 7 Deadly Sins, take a look at your website again and see if there are improvements to be made. If you aren’t making the sales that you hope to, but you are getting traffic, poor site design should be one of the first things to look at and improve upon.

photo by: Dancing Tuna

Loyalty Programs – Competing with Big Online Retailers

January 21st, 2014

Shopping CartIt has been reported that around 80% of a online store’s revenue is from 20% of their repeat customers. So try to think of ways that will keep bringing them back to shop!

To keep consumers coming back to your store, something that many shopping carts offer are rewards. Whether it is a discount for purchasing over a certain amount or points for purchases or auto-shipments. Take advantage of what your store builder or shopping cart provider has to offer in the way of marketing and promotions, because they can be a big help in the long run.

A consumer that knows they have store credit, or that they are earning store credits, will be more willing to shop at your store as well as come back to use those points.  They are like coupons that never expire.

I’m a member of some sites like this. One of them charges me a monthly amount and that turns into a store credit. I can then use that store credit to purchase something each month. Another that I’m a member of, gives me reward points for every dollar spent. I enjoy shopping on these sites because 1. they offer products that I like and 2. the rewards keep me coming back for discounts.

Here are some examples of what some popular shopping carts have to offer:

Zen Cart, which has been asked about in our Member’s Only forum, allows a module for store credits. So for every dollar that the customer spends at your store, they will get a certain amount of points to use for future purchases that will discount their purchase. They also have a approved partner for this program that will email your customers their point balances and other features.

3D Cart, another shopping cart that has been mentioned in our Member’s Only forum, also has great marketing features. Coupons and promotions, affiliate programs, newsletter management, gift certificates and more.

Magento, that has also been talked about in our forum, offers rewards programs where shoppers can get points towards future purchases.

Yahoo Store, which has always been a favorite here at WorldwideBrands.com, offers promotions and marketing help as well.

Each of these providers will either offer their marketing and promotion for a fee or it is built into the service. If you don’t have a shopping cart or a site builder with a built in shopping cart yet, then make marketing and promotions part of your research to determine which platform is right for you.

photo by: Navicore