The Biggest Problem with Datafeeds from Wholesale Suppliers

September 10th, 2013

Pen and PaperDatafeeds, in theory, are great! You can automatically upload the wholesale suppliers product information onto your website without having to go through the process of adding all the products one by one.

However, there is also a big problem when using the same information that all of their other retailers are using. Duplicate Content!

All of these other retailers online are using the same descriptions and images over and over. The consumer searching for the product to buy will come across the same description in the search engine too, so where do they go? The cheapest or the most trustworthy looking site will get their money.

Duplicate content is something to be completely avoided at all costs. Google will punish you for using duplicate content because the way that they look at it is, which website should I serve up for this search query? Avoiding duplicate content will help you get higher results in the search engines. That’s a fact!

So how do you get past this big problem? Writing your own unique targeted descriptions is the best and only way to combat this.

Tips for writing compelling targeted product descriptions:

1. Who are your targeted customers?
Don’t try to market to everyone, that is a mistake and makes boring descriptions. If you are selling a niche product geared towards a certain demographic, write down a list all the things you know about that customer. For example; if you are selling products geared towards new mothers, think about their age range, their worries and fears, who are what is influencing them now?   Do some research, look at lists online, host a poll somewhere….

2.  What is the product going to be used for?
What exactly will your customer use the product for? Cleaning their home? Decorating their home? Using it for work? Using it for school? Ask yourself all the ways that someone could use that product and make a list. Then list out, WHY they need the product to help them accomplish their task.

3. List out the features of the product.
Does this product have something that a similar product doesn’t? Does it have cool features or smell wonderful? List all of the features and write short descriptions on color, smell, size etc.

4. Draw a lot of attention to the benefits of the product.
Describing the benefits of a product will help the customer decide to purchase from you. How will this product benefit them? How will it improve their life?

5. Don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your online store!
Non-compelling descriptions are boring. Bring some life and character into your store by injecting your own personality into it. Are you a funny person? Don’t be afraid to joke if the product deserves it! Are you a loving and caring person? Bring some sentimentality into your store if you are selling products that could benefit from loving and caring words!

So, once you have your lists together, then you are ready to start talking about the product on your website for the product description. Look online and find examples on how to lay it all out. There are some really fantastic websites out there, some you probably already shop at that have compelling product descriptions.

Make these examples an influence, but don’t copy!

photo by: kdinuraj

How to Prevent Fraudulent Orders and Chargebacks for Your Online Store

August 20th, 2013

Accepting Credit Cards in your online storeThere are many practices put into place in order to ensure customer safety with credit card companies when someone buys online. Unfortunately there isn’t much that the credit card companies offer to help merchants, but what they do provide will be a big help.

Keep reading to learn about how to prevent Fraud & Chargebacks, how to recognize problem orders and how the security features that the credit card companies DO offer are important and how to use them.

This is important, because ignoring the problems and receiving a large number of chargebacks will create issues with your  merchant account provider and could ultimately end up with your merchant account cancelled and your reputation ruined.

You need to take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your business.  Remember, you take on this responsibility all to yourself since you will not get outside assistance from your merchant provider or from the credit card companies if you blatantly accept fraud orders.

First, you need to learn how to recognize potential fraud. Here are some signs to help trigger you into action;
1. The order is LARGE or totals a HIGH dollar amount.
Large orders that contain several quantities of the same products or orders that are made up of mostly high ticket items are a good indication of fraud. Anything that is out of the norm is something to watch out for.

2. Orders placed with free email addresses, like Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail…etc.
Free email accounts cannot be verified. But if someone places a high dollar order and their email address is JohnDoe@comcast.net, then that particular order may be OK. But you should always implement the steps that will be provided later on down this article for these situations.

3. Orders shipped to the same address but used multiple credit cards to order multiple times.
Pay close attention to all previous and following orders if you suspect fraud. Many fraudulent buyers will place multiple orders one after another and then move on to attack another website.

4. Shipping Warnings
Many fraudulent orders are from international consumers. So be mindful of all international orders. Another shipping warning is the customer used a different shipping address and billing address for the order.

Here are the things that credit card companies offer to help deter fraudulent transactions and to help you decide to decline an order;
1. CSC, CVV, CV2, CVC, CCV
It doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s all the same thing; Card Security Code, Card Verification Value, Card Verification Code, Card Code Verification. It’s the little 3 numbers on the back of your Visa, MasterCard or Discover Cards, or the 4 numbers on the front of your American Express card. Requiring your customers to enter these numbers while placing an order will give you a match or no match result. Non-matched CVC’s are a good indication of fraudulent orders and the order should be auto-declined.

2. AVS
Address Verification Service is an important feature from your merchant provider. If the billing address that the customer provides doesn’t match what is on file with the cardholder, that is an indicator of a fraud purchase. Discover card will auto-decline any order that has a no match for AVS, but the other credit card companies will not, so most fraud customers will use the other types of cards.

Things you can do to prevent fraudulent purchases:
1. Simply do not accept international orders.
The AVS, doesn’t check international addresses. As a result, the address cannot be verified for the order. Not accepting international orders all together will help prevent fraud orders. However, if you do decide to accept international orders, keep in mind the location of the purchase. There are about a 20 countries that yield the most fraudulent orders and should be avoided completely. Then of course there are the US sanctioned countries that you shouldn’t be selling to at all. You can find lists of these countries by going a Google search. One important thing to note, AVS will check Canada orders.

2.   Call the customer!
The easiest and most effective way to deter fraud is to call the customer! Simply call them to verify the purchase and their shipping address for their order.

3. Check your customer out!
Not only do your customers need to understand and know who you are, you need to know who your customer is as well. There are free sites online to help you do a couple of things… Reverse telephone lookup. Take the customers phone number and put it into a reverse phone search. Check to see the location of the phone number, and if the number is listed, it will even give you with names and a portion of their address so you can verify the telephone. Do this before calling the customer! http://www.whitepages.com/reverse_phone is a free service you could use.

With all of the social sites online, most people have a Twitter or Facebook account. Search your customers name with their location, and see if you can narrow down the social sites that may belong to your customer. You can then check them out there too.

Google Maps! Entering the customers address into a google search will give you a satellite view of their home address. If the address provided is a mail service or points to a non-residential address, that will help in determining fraud as well.

Yes, this may make you feel a little bit like a stalker! But, you are just protecting your business! Remember, you don’t have to do these things with all of your orders, just ones that you feel may be non-legitimate.

The dreaded chargeback! What you need to have in place!
1. Contact Information
Have your contact information, including a telephone number easily accessible by your customers or non-customers. Make is as easy as possible for them to call you, instead of immediately calling their bank. One of the biggest reasons for a chargeback is that the customer doesn’t recognize the charge. Make sure that their credit card statements will show your store name and telephone number so they can reach you about the order.

If you are under the situation where your registered business name and store name do not match, then always communicate to your buyers, and multiple times, that the charge on their statement will read XYZ Company, Inc as that is your registered business name, that owns and operates CandlesSmellAwesome.com

2. Policies
Make sure to post all your shipping and refund policies on your site and provide them to the customer in many areas. On their receipts, on the checkout page and etc.

3. Confirmations
Always email a confirmation of their order. If the email bounces back, that is a sign of fraud.

4. Shipping Reasons
Another big reason for a chargeback is the customer claiming they didn’t receive what they ordered. To help deter that, always have tracking on all packages and in some cases pay additional for a signature required upon delivery.

The above items will help you with deterring fraud, but it also gives you fuel to fight a chargeback. When you receive a chargeback, it will be for one of two main reasons; 1. the customer doesn’t recognize the charge and 2. the customer didn’t receive what they ordered. What you respond with will help the merchant provider determine whether the claim is valid or false. Always respond with what they ask for, but provide more if you can too. The more information you give, the better.

We have a set way that we respond to chargebacks and you can follow our guideline that will help you put together what you need;

1. Customer name, address, telephone number, email address, date of order, cost of order and what they ordered.
We list this information first when responding to a chargeback.

Example Statement: Customer John Doe, located at 123 Main Street, Anytown, FL 123456, telephone; 555-555-5555, purchased on 7/19/2013 a set of vanilla bean candles from our store at CandlesSmellAwesome.com. After purchase, we immediately sent a confirmation of the order to the provided email address; johndoe@comcast.net

2. Merchant Receipt
Provide a copy of the merchant receipt that shows AVS Matched.

Example Statement: Following is a copy of our merchant receipt that shows AVS matched. The AVS helped us to determine that this wasn’t a fraudlent charge.

3. Shipping & Tracking Information
Keep all tracking numbers and shipping addresses on file. Go to your shipping provider’s site, and use the tracking number to get a screen shot of the delivery information.

Example Statement: We shipped the customer’s order to the same address that was provided as the billing address. On 7/20/2013 we shipped via UPS with the tracking number 123456789. This item was sent and delivered to 123 Main Street, Anytown, FL 123456. Following is a screen shot of UPS’s site at ups.com that shows the order was delivered. 

4. Tracking Customer Communication
If the customer at any time contacted you via email or phone, document it. Keeping records of your customer communication will assist you with fighting a chargeback. Also see if your shopping cart provider has IP tracking. Having an IP address for all your customers will also help in determining fraud and fighting fraud. You can use IP lookup services online to verify the customer’s location.

Example Statement: Additionally, we have communicated with this customer on 2 occasions. The first occasion was via email when the customer asked us about the vanilla bean candles they ended up ordering. Please find a copy of that communication below.

The second occasion where we communicated with this customer was when we called the number provided on 7/19/2013, and verified the order and ship to address.

We also use IP tracking for all orders. The customer ordered with the IP address; 123.45.6789 which matches their location in Anytown, FL

As long you as are mindful of all orders, keep good records & communicate the important things to your customer, and often. You won’t receive many chargebacks. The ones that you DO receive, may be valid fraud orders that slipped through, and no one can be faulted for that but you and you will have to pay for it.

photo by: 401(K) 2012

Why Junk Information Damages Your Business

August 13th, 2013

pile of sprinklesStarting a business, ANY business, takes time, money and a commitment to learning. Those things are all investments you are making in yourself, and in your future. Anything that slows down the progress of those investments is a BAD thing!

One of the most important things you’ll need for your business is information. How to use eBay. Who are the best web hosting companies. How to collect money from your customers’ credit cards. Where to find products to sell. Etc., etc., etc. Nobody is born knowing all this stuff! You have to learn it, which means you have to rely on someone else, somewhere, to teach it to you or to write down the information that you need so you can read it and learn it.

In our opinion, one of the lowest, sleaziest things one human being can do to another is prey upon their hopes and dreams for a better life, in order to cheat that other person out of a few lousy dollars. Yet, this happens all the time on the Internet when it comes to Information.

In our Information Market, which is Product Sourcing, there is an absolute human cesspool of scammers and lazy profiteers who are more than willing to lie to your face, promise you riches beyond your wildest dreams, and then leave you with information that will not only not help your business, but will actually damage your business. Bad information can actually cause your business to fail completely.

Many of the people who do this are outright scam artists who are actively and purposely trying to cheat you. Some of them are simply lazy, and are looking to make a fast buck selling substandard, outdated information, not caring who they hurt in the process.

Some others actually think it’s “ok” to cheat you, because “everybody else does it”.

Then there are a very few of these small operations in Product Sourcing Information (only two or three, actually) who do try to put together halfway decent information, but they don’t have the time and manpower to maintain that information, and it quickly becomes outdated and useless. That cheats you and your business as well, although it’s not malicious, it’s just irresponsible.

How can bad information damage your business?

Mostly in the form of lost time. The money you spend on the information isn’t really the thing to worry about here. Most of the bad information is cheap to begin with. Some of the scammers have realized that cheap information is recognized as bad, though, and will actually jack up their prices and charge you premium money for the same worthless piles of cow flop.

However, still, it’s really not the money. The problem, as we said, is lost time.

Let’s use an example.

Lionel decides he wants to start a Home-based Internet Business. His full-time job doesn’t pay all that much, creditors are always calling, it costs money to raise two kids, and his wife hasn’t been able to find work in a couple of months.

Lionel’s not broke, but he’s not making it all that well either. Beside that, he really doesn’t like his job to begin with. So, he takes a leap of faith, and decides to invest what money he does have, in his ability to start a Home-based Internet Business.

Lionel decides he wants to sell on eBay, because of the low entry cost. It doesn’t cost him much to get started. He starts out by selling a few things out of his attic, and from garage sales around the neighborhood. He quickly realizes, though, that if he’s going to make real money in the long run, he needs to find a steady, reliable source of the products he wants to sell, and pay genuine Wholesale prices for them, so he can make a good profit.

Lionel has heard that Drop Shipping is also a low-entry-cost solution for getting a real wholesaler to ship brand new products directly to his customers for him, so he doesn’t have to buy a bunch of products up-front and ship them from his home. That sounds pretty good!

He’s now a fairly experienced eBayer, so naturally he turns to eBay to search for information on Drop Ship Wholesalers.

He enters a search on Drop Shipping in eBay. What he finds looks exciting to him! Auction upon Auction for all kinds of “Guaranteed Genuine” lists of Drop Shippers and Wholesalers!

Better yet, many of them are only $5! What a great deal!

So, Lionel spends a few bucks on something called the “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide”. The name sounds so impressive, that it must be a wonderful source of information! Besides, the Auction promises him Guaranteed, Genuine Sources that will make him thousands of dollars in a matter of days! The owner of the Auction claims to have built this and used it himself, and it works wonders!

Lionel gets his hands on the information, and lo and behold…there are hundreds of listings of “wholesale” company names there, categorized by the kinds of products they “wholesale”!

Lionel is anxious to jump right in, so he goes to the Sporting Goods category, and sees a listing for what sounds like a large Sporting Goods “wholesaler”. There’s a phone number there, so Lionel calls it. The number rings a couple of times, and then Lionel gets a recorded phone company message telling him “this number is no longer in service.

Hmm. Well, thinks Lionel, companies do change their phone numbers. Or, maybe it was printed wrong in the information. So, he sends an email to the Email Address listed in the “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide” for this Sporting Goods “wholesaler”.

Lionel waits a couple of days for a reply, then decides to send another Email. In the meantime, he’s busy getting other aspects of his business ready to go to selling brand name products on eBay. A week goes by, and Lionel still has no reply. By this time, he’s getting frustrated. So, he calls the Chamber of Commerce in this city where “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide” has told him that this Sporting Goods “wholesaler” is located. He asks about the Sporting Goods company he’s been trying to contact.

The nice lady at the Chamber of Commerce tells him that the company went out of business nearly years ago. (That, by the way, actually happens. There was a Sporting Goods drop shipper in Pennsylvania that went out of business, and is still listed in many of the junk drop ship lists on eBay, as are tons of other useless listings).

Okay, now Lionel is getting a bit upset. He’s just wasted a week of his time, that he could have used creating Auctions for Sporting Goods products.

He’s not going to give up, though, so he goes back to the “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide” and finds that there are several other Sporting Goods “wholesalers” listed. This time, he calls them all.

He gets two more disconnected numbers, one number is answer by a lady who says “Sherri’s Hair Salon, can I help you?”, and one answering machine that tells him that Jo and Bill are not in, but if he’s calling about the 1983 Buick for sale, it’s still available and they’ll call him back.

At this point, Lionel realizes that he’s been the victim of a Junk Information Scammer.

You see, it’s not good enough to simply have information. The information must be honest, accurate, and up to date, or IT IS USELESS.

Many people buy one of those junk lists you find for sale for a few bucks on eBay, for example, thinking that even if the information is mostly bad, there are bound to be a few gold nuggets in the cow flop. Some of that information must lead to real wholesalers, right?

Let’s give you another kind of example of how that kind of thinking will hurt your business, even if there are a few gold nuggets.

A couple of months ago, my Family Physician made a referral appointment for me to see another Doctor for a minor checkup. I hadn’t been to this other Doctor’s office before, but my Family Physician’s receptionist gave me an address that was way on the other side of Orlando. The address she gave me was in Altamonte Springs, about a 45 minute drive for me. So, on that day, I set off to go to this Doctor’s office. I drove all the way out there, got there about 10 minutes before my scheduled appointment, found the office building, and discovered that this Doctor’s name was nowhere to be found in the building’s registry.

I got on my cell phone and dialed 411 to get this new Doctor’s office number. I called his office and told them where I was. His receptionist told me that they had recently moved to Ocoee, Florida, which was actually only about 15 minutes from my house!

There was no way I could make it all the way back from Altamonte Springs to Ocoee in about the five minutes I had left before my appointment, and the Doctor was tightly booked, so they made me reschedule for another day.

So, because I had gotten outdated information from my Family Physician’s office, I used a quarter of a tank of gas, and wasted nearly two hours of time that I could have used much more productively.

Now, I know that doesn’t sound all that terrible. But, think of it this way:

What if I repeated that same fiasco with several hundred Doctor’s appointments, and only made it to an actual Doctor’s office a handful of those times? That sounds a lot worse, doesn’t it?!

That is exactly what happens to you when you buy junk information. For each one of the potentially hundreds of “drop shipper” listings in those bundles of garbage, you are going to spend time trying to contact each of them. Let’s be generous, and say that ten companies out of a list of 300 companies are real, genuine drop shippers. How many days, weeks, or even months do you think it’s going to take you to go through lengthy contact processes and sift through all that junk and find the few real ones?

You’re going to be making phone calls and waiting (possibly forever) for calls back. You’re going to send emails and wait hours, days or weeks for responses that will never come. All that wasted time could have been used productively on building your business if you simply had 100% honest, accurate, up to date information.

That $5 you spent on that cheap list will actually cost you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars worth of lost time. We call that the “save now, pay later” plan. You end up paying a LOT more than you save!

And if that’s not bad enough, just wait until you think you’ve finally found a real drop shipper, and it turns out to be a “middleman” who isn’t a real wholesale company at all, but instead is just some guy sitting at a computer in his bedroom claiming to be a wholesaler. All he’s doing is having you order from him, then he’s re-sending your orders to the REAL drop shipper. That middleman ups the prices you pay for the products, and leaves you with very little profit margin. He makes money for doing nothing more than lying to you.

Once again, It’s not good enough to simply have information. The information must be honest, accurate, and up to date, or IT IS USELESS.

“Time is Money”. Truer words were never spoken. You’ll find out, when you spend time spinning your wheels chasing down useless leads from junk information, that the time you wasted has cost you a lot. It may even put you out of business.

photo by: S. Diddy

Home Based Business: Why Do We Do It?

August 6th, 2013

hard workerWhy do we do this to ourselves? Why are we out there working so hard to learn new things and explore home-based business opportunities, when we could just settle in to a steady job, working for someone else, until we retire?

This is not one a “here’s how this or that works” post. This is a more philosophical kind of post about something that just needs to be said once in a while. So, on with a little philosophy!

Most people are perfectly content to live out their lives working a regular job. Maintain a steady income, buy a house, put money away in the Company 401K plan, create a College Fund for the kids. Get home from work at 5:30, tired, but with a general sense of satisfaction that they have put in a decent day’s work and all is basically right with the world.

Get dinner on the table; make sure the kids have done their homework. Maybe watch a movie, or putter around with a hobby. Spend some time with the spouse. On the weekends, play a little softball, go see the Grandparents, hang out with a couple of friends, jump on a Jet Ski, take the kids to the Zoo.

Once a year, take that accumulated vacation time and rent a cottage somewhere, or maybe once every few years blow a stack of cash and go to Disney World.

Same job, day in and day out. The people change occasionally, but that’s all right. There are always new friends to be made amid the shuffle and bustle that comes out of the Personnel Department. The longer the time on the job, the greater the skill and knowledge. With that comes the respect of co-workers, and gradual advances in pay and privilege.

Sometimes there’s grumbling and griping. The new boss is an idiot, or there’s a co-worker who just arrived from the planet “Huh?”. The occasional setback; the Company’s sales are down, so there’s no Christmas Bonus this year, or rumors of layoffs have begun to circulate once again.

Overall, though, there’s a deep-seated satisfaction that one is Working For A Living, and that’s something that’s very important to have.

If you’re one of that majority of people in this world who can work the daily grind for thirty or forty years, retire, and call it a good thing, then more power to you. It IS a good thing. I envy and respect you, I really do. But then, you wouldn’t be reading this post in the first place, so you’d never know that. Sometimes I wish I could be happy to be Working For A Living for someone else!

There are those of us who simply cannot be entirely satisfied with that life, and that’s probably why you are here reading this.

For some of us, although we Work For A Living on the surface, we are simply never happy with it. There’s a longing for something more that is actually a physical heartache at times. Many times we don’t know what it is; we just know that we need it, and the need never goes away. We search for it by changing jobs, or changing relationships, or both. Sometimes we even unconsciously keep the most important people in our lives pushed away, at arm’s length, because we are so obsessed with our pursuit of something that perhaps we can’t even define. It’s an elusive but overwhelmingly annoying feeling that what we’re doing with our lives is simply not enough. We need something more!

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m one of those people with that need. As far back as I can remember, I was never happy simply holding a steady job. I was always looking for more, even though I could not define what more was. I didn’t even know if more was good; I just knew I needed it.

I don’t know if that need is something I was simply born with, or something that I picked up while growing up. I DO know, however, that either way, it came from my parents.

They both had the need, too. Both of them. My Mother had a good career, but she was always doing other things on the side. She found an answer to her need through a series of home businesses.

Back then, the big home business was the Party Plan. Tupperware, Rubbermaid, Park Lane Jewelry…you name it, she was into it. And she was good at it. It wouldn’t be long after she began a new venture that she would become the Regional Manager for this or that, or the Top Producer for the other.

My Father had the need too, as I said. He worked himself practically into a coma supporting our family, and his combination of drive and need finally culminated in his actually buying the last company he worked for. He took over that company and turned it into a viable, respected multi-state entity that employed a lot of people and had a solid reputation for quality and integrity. People always trusted my Dad, because he always kept his promises.

I don’t think he ever really understood how much I respected him and my Mother for what they accomplished in their lives. How they started with very little, went out into the world on their own, risked everything, and never gave up. How they found answers to the need that I know from my own experience was so powerful and overwhelming for them both. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to actually do it, and their examples are a source of great pride and inspiration for me.

Through the years, boiled down to it’s most basic aspect, I’ve come to realize that my own personal need is for a financial security that does not depend on the ups and downs of someone else’s company or business.

Financial independence, for me, is not about how much money I can put in the bank. It’s about the fact that whatever I earn, I did it MYSELF. From something I CREATED.

Yes, of course, it’s partly about earning money. However, hungrily accumulating money just for the sake of accumulating it is NOT important to me. Money is just a tool. It’s what can be done with it, and what I actually do with it, that’s important.

For me, it’s about having enough to give my family a secure life. Paying for a solid college education for all my kids. Making sure that many years from now my grandchildren, and those who come after them, will be able to share in something of what I created. It’s also about being able to reach out and to help people who need it whenever I see them. Could I do all that by Working For A Living? Working the daily grind all my life for someone else?

Yes, I could, and many people do. However, that doesn’t cover the entire scope of it for me. For some reason, I need to be able to do it myself. I need to be the one creating the things that bring in the income. So satisfying that need, for me, means financial security gained from something I created myself.

Wherever your own personal need comes from, you know it’s there, and you’re looking for a way to satisfy it. The fact that you’re reading this post is pretty good proof.

I’ve been in business on the Internet for many years now, and I can tell you that I work harder at it than I ever did when I worked for someone else. There are long hours, setbacks, ups and downs. There’s a lot to learn, and you have to constantly plug away at your business, day after day. You can’t slack off when things look tough, and you can’t blame other people for your own occasional bad decisions.

There will be times when you think you might have been crazy to try it in the first place. There will be people who tell you ARE crazy for trying it in the first place!

Now, if you quit your regular job to try and start a Home-based business, you may BE crazy! You need that steady income, until your own business at least matches it, and you’re sure you can sustain it. So, you do need to keep the day job, or look for one if you don’t have one right now. The beginning of any entrepreneurial venture has to be based on a solid foundation. For home-based business, that foundation is a regular job while you build your business.

If you feel the need to be an entrepreneur, though, that means that it’s a part of who you are. Follow it through. If you deny it and keep it bottled up, you’ll probably regret it at some future point in your life.

You and I are not crazy.

We’re driven. We’re creative. We’re inspired.

We’re Entrepreneurs. :o)

Get Ready…Here Come The Holidays Again!

July 17th, 2013

Christmas TreeWe do this topic every year in July. If you’ve been reading for years, you know that, and you may be able to skip this one. However, you may want to continue anyway, because a little reminder can’t hurt!

If you haven’t been reading for more than a year, please pay attention to this one. It’s important. We like to think they all are, but some topics are a little more critical than others. :o)

The 2014 model year cars are out. If you try to buy a swim suit in your department store, all they have left are the ones that nobody wanted earlier in the year and they aren’t ordering more. Wal-Mart is gearing up with warmer clothing already. Before you know it, the Halloween stuff will be on the shelves. That will all too soon be followed by plastic, motorized, smiling figures of Santa making arm gestures that could be considered questionable if you position him the wrong way in your yard.

The big retailers all know that this is the time to be gearing up for the biggest retail season of the year. The Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, let’s buy a ton of gifts and fill up the closets with stuff we’ll never use again Season.

The Holiday Season gifts may not be on the shelves yet, but you can bet your life that they’re on the way to the stores’ warehouses. The big retailers’ Purchasing Agents are making deals as we speak for tens of thousands of Atomic Neutron Robo-Blaster Buddies, and Suzi Drinks Her Bottle and Calculates Your Income Tax Dolls. Expensive Diamond Jewelry, Dad’s Favorite Tool Kits and Car Seat Massage Sets are already flowing from manufacturers to wholesalers to retail warehouses.

The big guys do it, and you should to. That’s how the big guys got to be the big guys in the first place. You have to plan well in advance for the products you want to sell during the Holiday Season. That one short, shining Season accounts for a whopping 20% to 40% of all retail business for the entire year. Those who are prepared, make money. Those who are not, wonder why they didn’t.

So, how do you prepare? Start looking for wholesale suppliers of products that will sell well as gifts, and that can complement your existing product lines. That way, you don’t have much Search Engine Positioning or Auction re-tooling to do when the selling begins.

If you’re already working with products you know will sell well during the Holidays, start talking to your Suppliers, and asking them what their inventory levels will be during that time on each product. You don’t want to run out.

Ask your wholesale suppliers which products they are planning on stocking the most of…those will be the products that THEIR Market Research indicates will be selling well!

For the online Retailer, like you and me, the Holiday Season preparations stat NOW, so don’t be caught by surprise this year…there will be competitors out there preparing right now!

This is also a great time to START an online business, if you’ve been thinking about doing so. Right now is the PERFECT time to get started to be up and running for the Holidays and tap into this billion dollar selling season! Get Started the Right Way Right Now with a membership from Worldwide Brands! http://www.worldwidebrands.com/wwb/christmas_in_july.asp

Should You Tell A Wholesale Supplier That You’re Selling Online?

July 10th, 2013

handshakeWhen you’re out there looking for Wholesalers to provide you with products for your Auctions or Online Store, there are times when they need to know that you are an Online Business versus a brick-and-mortar retail store, and times when it doesn’t matter.

For example, when you’re contacting companies through our Worldwide Brands Certified Wholesalers Directory, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to tell those companies that you are on Online Seller only. They already know that. They would not be in our Directory if they didn’t!

What do you do, though, when you’re contacting companies on your own to find specific products at Wholesale? Many times you’re going to find that wholesale companies do not like to set up Retail Accounts for those of us who sell exclusively online.

Why? Well, look at it from their point of view. Most online sellers are fairly new to the whole world of wholesale. Wholesale Suppliers know that they are going to have to spend extra time and effort helping those sellers along, and introducing them to new concepts. There is also the fact that many people start online businesses based on bad information, or start them half-heartedly without putting in a lot of effort. That means that those people are likely to set up Accounts with Wholesalers, and then never follow though and buy anything.

Those things add up to what most Wholesale Suppliers consider wasted time. No business likes to waste it’s time, and unfortunately that’s the reputation that small online sellers have earned in the view of most Wholesale Suppliers. It is certainly not deserved; there are many of us out here who are working very hard to market products online successfully. But, because of the many scam artists who sell people Internet Business Packages that don’t work well, and because of those people who are half-hearted about their businesses online, all the rest of us pay the price in the eyes of the Wholesale Supplier. By and large, they consider small home-based online sellers to be a potential waste of their time.

So, there are some people who say you should not even tell a Wholesale Supplier that you are a Home-based Online Business, and some who say you should tell them.

What’s the right thing to do? Well, it’s somewhere in the middle, as most things in life are. :o)

When you’re talking to a Wholesale Supplier about Drop Shipping, they will most likely ask you if you are an online seller only. They’ll probably have a place on their Account Application that will ask for your web site URL.

In other words, it’s probably best to be upfront with a Drop Shipper about the fact that you are a business based entirely online.

It’s a little different when dealing with Bulk Wholesalers. In the Light Bulk Wholesale section of our Directory, the Suppliers ARE all willing to work with Home-based Online Businesses, so there’s no question there.

When you’re looking for Bulk Wholesale Suppliers on your own, though, you really don’t have to volunteer that information upfront, unless you’re asked.

In this situation, you are going to buy products in bulk. Most of the time it doesn’t really matter to the Wholesale Supplier how and where you sell those products, because they’re going to deliver a case or pallet or truckload to you, and they’re done. That’s all the involvement they need to have in your business, aside from the normal course of customer service. If you volunteer the fact that you are an online only seller without being asked, you’re giving out information that you don’t need to give out. That information may just cause your Account Rep to decide that you could be a small business that never places an order after getting your Account. That, in turn, could affect whether they give you an Account at all.

If they do ask, tell them. If they don’t, leave it alone.

Never be dishonest with a Supplier about this (or any other!) issue, though. If they don’t want to work with Home-based Online Businesses, and you tell them you’re not one when you really are, they will find out eventually and probably shut down your Account. It’s not worth the wasted time and effort!

photo by: buddawiggi

Five Ways to Make Your EBiz Look More Professional

June 7th, 2013

Selling online is largely about trust, and many online consumers are wary of buying from a Home-based Business.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with running an Online business from your home. It’s become a HUGE part of the overall Internet Marketplace!

Honest LinkinHowever, when you’re selling online, you’re asking people to trust your business with sensitive information, like their Credit Card numbers, and sensitive material, like their money. You’re also asking people to trust that you will deliver a product that they really want, in a timely manner and in one piece!

A tremendous number of online shoppers still will not buy from an online business if it’s obvious that the business is run from someone’s home.

Perception is the key, here. You’re an honest person, you’re selling good products, you are working hard to provide great service for your customers, right? Of course you are. BUT: when a careful online shopper (most online shoppers ARE careful!) checks out your web site or Auction store and looks for some basic information on your business, what are they going to find? The potential Customer’s perception of your business is going to make all the difference when it comes to whether they buy from you or not.

If they find that your Business Name is simply “Joe Smith”, your Business Address is “123 Main St., Apt 4”, there is no Business Phone Number, your Business Email Address ends in “Aol.com”, and you have NO Privacy Policy, Shipping Policy, Return Policy, etc., in your store, forget it. The Customer is going to go elsewhere, and you’re going to sit at home wondering why everybody ELSE is making money in ECommerce, and you’re not.

This is the way a huge number of Home-based ECommerce Businesses are set up, and even if many of them are making money, they could be making a lot more. Your potential Customer must perceive you to be a legitimate business, and should not be able to easily tell that you work from home. So, the following Five Tips are designed to help you with these things.

  1. Get a legal Business Name. There are many reasons to form a legal business; we talk about that all the time on our web site. This is just one of those reasons. It’s not hard in most places, it’s not expensive in most places, and it WILL make your business look more professional to your Customers. Your business name should probably be a generic name; don’t tie it to a particular product or service. A business name like “Joe’s Fingernail Clippers, Inc.” isn’t going to work well when you decide to open another store to sell Kitchenware. A business name like “J. Smith and Sons, Inc.” is a good, professional sounding generic name that can be easily retained when you start to expand your business into all kinds of different online ventures.

  2. Think about your home address. If your home address is 23 Wildflower Lane, potential Customers are going to be pretty sure you’re working from home. If your home address is 2112 Boulder Blvd., that’s better, and will probably work as a business address. If you ARE stuck with a home address that’s something like “Wildflower Lane”, think about getting a UPS Store Mailbox, or something similar. UPS Store Mailboxes are a great service, and always give you a more professional sounding address. It’s well worth the few dollars per month.

  3. Put a Business Phone Number on your Store. Most people who own Home-based ECommerce Businesses, when they do this, put their home phone number on the Store. That may not be the best idea, especially if it’s likely that your teenage son may answer it when you’re busy, and say to a potential Customer, “Uh, Mom’s in the bathroom. Do ya wanna leave a message?”, or if when YOU answer it, your potential Customer can hear your kids yelling in the background, or the TV blaring. Bad, bad, BAD! If those things are likely, seriously consider adding a second phone line to your home that ONLY you answer, preferably in a small but quiet room that you can use as a home office. When you’re not there, make sure the answering machine message on that line says, “Thank you for calling J. Smith and Sons, Inc. Our representatives are currently busy…” (you know the rest!).

  4. Get an Internet Domain Name for your business. For goodness sake, don’t accept and answer your ECommerce business email from your personal AOL email account, or worse yet, from those free Yahoo and Hotmail email accounts! Nothing screams “small home business!” like an email address like that! Once you choose a business name, get a Domain Name that matches it, like “www.JSmithAndSons.com“. When you get that Domain name, make sure it comes with Email Addresses (most of them do). That way, you can set up several business email addresses, like “Orders@JSmithAndSons.com“, and “Service@JSmithAndSons.com“, etc. Very professional!

  5. Make sure you display Policies on your Store Site. What are Policies? Just go to any big, professional Online Store and take a look at their Privacy Policy, their Refund Policy, their Shipping Policy, etc., etc. Then create Policies of your own containing the same kind of information, related to how YOU do things in your business. Slightly painful and boring to do? Yes. A sure way to make your business look more professional and earn more money? Absolutely.

Once again, perception is key in Online Sales. If you let yourself look like a little guy, you will be a little guy. Look and act like a Pro, and you’ll be surprised at the difference in the money you earn online. :o)

Contacting a Wholesale Supplier

May 31st, 2013
linkin emailing

Linkin Emailing a Wholesale Supplier

The more professional a Wholesaler thinks you are, the more anxious they will be to deal with you.

We were accidentally sent an email by someone who is a Member of our WBI Certified Wholesale Directory recently. The sender thought he was emailing one of the Suppliers we list. Instead, somehow, he managed to email us.

He was trying to email the Wholesale Supplier to ask for a Retail Account setup, so that he could do business with them through his ECommerce site.

When I saw the email, I cringed. I knew that this person was going to have a great deal of trouble communicating with Wholesale Suppliers, and possibly even causing them to decide not to deal with him at all.

The email went like this:
i want to sel the porduct’s you have. send me catalogs i need tohave all your pricestoo. i am making a ebay store to sell lots of product’s i am not working because of downsizing i have to make money right now

TR

Now, if YOU were an Account Representative at a Wholesale Supply company, and you got an email like this, what would YOUR first impulse be? Yep. DELETE!

We aren’t Account Reps for a Wholesale Supply company, so we took the time to send this person back an email gently suggesting some serious corrections. We never got a reply, so we can’t say whether or not he took our advice.

Most people don’t send emails that are THAT bad, but everybody needs to consider that an Account Request Email is the first impression you are making on a Supplier that you may want very much to work with. You need to make a good impression, or you may never get a second chance!

So, let’s take this email apart and look at what’s wrong with it, and then we’ll talk about how to construct an effective Account Request Email.

1. You can’t tell by looking at the email text above, but this email came to me from a FREE Email Service. That, right there, is not a good start. People in business know that free email services like Hotmail, Yahoo, and all the others are FREE. Those services might be great for personal use, but for Heaven’s Sake, if you are going to be in business, PLEASE get yourself a Domain Name that reflects your BUSINESS name, and gives you the ability to have Email Addresses with it. When you send a business email from a free email service, it makes you look like a small-time operator to the business you’re emailing.

2. There was NOTHING in the Subject line of the email received. Subject lines exist for a reason and should be used, especially in a business email. He should have put “Retail Account Request” in the Subject line of the Email. A Wholesale Account Rep loves to get emails that have subject lines like that. It means more potential business for them, and they are sure to open the email!

3. There are very obvious spelling errors in the email. Hey, not everybody is a good speller. That’s fine. But Email programs have spell checkers! If you know your spelling isn’t that great, use the spell checker!

4. There is absolutely no capitalization and very little punctuation in the email. Capitalization is a necessary function of communicating in the English, or in any other language. This is an Account Request Email, not an online chat session! This person needs to remember that sentences start with capital letters and end with periods, especially in business communications!

5. There are words that are run together in the email, with no spaces in between. That smacks of pure carelessness and indifference, and is a great way to make a very bad impression on a potential business contact.

6. The email is a DEMAND, not a REQUEST. “send me catalogs“, instead of “Please send me catalogs”. When you’re making a first contact with a Wholesale Supplier that you want to work with, remember that YOU are the one at a disadvantage. Wholesale Suppliers generally have plenty of Retailers to work with, especially smaller retailers. If you contact them for the first time and DEMAND that they do something for you, they’re going to chuckle, and delete your email.

7. The email gets into the person’s personal situation. “i am not working because of downsizing“. As compelling as your life story or personal circumstances might be, or as much as you might need to earn money right now, a Wholesale Account Rep frankly doesn’t care when you first contact them. You may get to know them well later, and exchange stories about fishing or baseball or the grand kids for years to come. When you first contact them, though, they really have no interest, and it actually crosses a personal comfort line that most people draw in their minds as to how much they want to know about someone they’ve never met or spoken with before. So, NO personal circumstances unless they are completely relevant. If you are visually impaired, for example, THAT would be an acceptable thing to mention, since you might need to ask if they can send you pricing information with large lettering. However, they don’t want to know a thing about your current work situation, your brother loaning you money to help you start your business, or the last time you had to go to the Doctor for your Lumbago.

8. There was no Salutation in the email, and no real signature. When you write a letter to someone, you say “Hello”, or “Dear Josephina”. You don’t just start spewing words. When you’re done with your letter, you say “Thank You”, and then you identify yourself with your full name. In a business email, you also include the name of your business and your email address.

Okay, we’ve dumped on this poor guy long enough. Let’s give you an example of an Account Request Email format that typically has had a great deal of success over the years.

(EMAIL SUBJECT LINE:) Retail Account Request

Hello;

My name is John Doe, of Doe Retail Enterprises, Inc., in Orlando, Florida. I found your company listed in Worldwide Brands’ Light Bulk Wholesale Directory, and am interested in setting up a Retail Account with you.

Please let me know what information and qualifications you require from me, and I will be happy to return them immediately.

Thank You
John Doe
Doe Retail Enterprises, Inc
john@doeretail.com

There. That’s IT. Nothing more is needed, unless you already know something about the Wholesaler and what they will require of you. Short, sweet, to the point, and professional. Capitalized, punctuated, beginning with a Salutation, ending with a signature and business information, and NOT sent from a free email account. :o)

Once again, use a spell checker. If you know your grammar isn’t all that great, that’s OK. Have somebody you know who writes well check it over for you.

First contacts with potential business partners are very important, and it doesn’t take much to make the first impression a good one!

Dropshipping Insurance

May 21st, 2013

worldwidebrands.com safety linkinNo, you can’t get an actual insurance policy against drop shipping issues, but there IS a way you can insure that you won’t get caught empty-handed by a backorder!

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Here at Worldwide Brands, we spend so much time dealing with drop shipping and light bulk wholesaling and verifying and certifying legitimate wholesale suppliers that some of the simplest things about this business get taken for granted, and we assume everyone realizes them. As a result, sometimes there are simple little tips and tricks in the business that we don’t mention often enough to our site visitors and customers, assuming that you already know these things.

Well, when you’re just getting started in ECommerce, there are a LOT of little things to learn, and we have to remember that nobody is born knowing all these little tips and tricks. So, when we realize that there is a basic fact that will help you, and we haven’t said much about it, we need to get the word out.

Everybody knows that something you need to be careful about when you’re using a drop shipper is that you don’t get stuck with a backordered product, right? Someone comes to your Internet Store or eBay Auction and buys a popular item that’s selling well for you. You order it from your Drop Ship supplier, expecting immediate delivery to your Customer. But, the drop shipper emails you back to say that they are temporarily out of stock on that item, and it will take a few days or maybe a week or two to get the item to your customer.

So, you grit your teeth and screw up your courage, and email your customer to tell them the item is backordered.

When you run an Internet Store, a backorder is usually not such a bad thing. Most customers are understanding about it, and if you stay in touch with them once every few days concerning the status of the order, they’ll wait it out and still be happy with your service. Of course, if the customer needs it right away, you may end up refunding them. On eBay, however, people are used to immediate (or at least fast) order fulfillment. If you tell an eBay customer that you can’t ship the item they bought right away, you do take some risk that the customer might leave you poor Feedback, and possibly go elsewhere. This doesn’t happen often, but there is a way you can prevent it entirely.

What most people don’t think about is the fact that Drop Shippers are ALSO Bulk Wholesalers. Every single one of them. Bulk Wholesaling is the main business of these companies. At least, all the 100% legitimate drop shippers that are listed in our Directories are. :o) Drop shipping is simply something extra they are willing to do for you.

So, here’s the trick. When you have a product, or even a few products that you get from a drop shipper that is/are selling well on your site or Auctions, and you want to be sure you don’t get caught in a backorder, buy a few of them yourself! You don’t need many! Even just two or three will do it. Your drop shipper is a wholesaler, right? You’ll get them at a wholesale price, and you may even get them at a lower price than you’re paying to have them drop shipped, if you place a large enough order. For example, if you have four products that you know sell really well, you could buy three of each of them and have them shipped to you. Not drop shipped; just shipped bulk to your home. As I said, you may get a bulk order price break for doing that.

Why do that? Well, if you have one or two or three of these products stocked in your home, you DON’T get caught in a backorder! If your drop shipper backorders you, you can simply ship out one of your Reserve Stock products directly from your home to the customer, and then immediately suspend further sales of that product on your site or Auctions until you know the item is back in stock at your drop shipper’s warehouse.

Simple, right? A perfect little insurance policy against ending up with an unhappy customer.

Why buy two or three? Well, remember that you do this only with products you know are selling well. It’s possible that you might sell two or three in the same day before you find out that the item is backordered. If so, you’re covered, and you can quickly suspend further sales until you know the drop shipper has them again.

You can scale this little trick to fit your sales, too. If you sell five of a certain product every day, you might want to keep five of them in Reserve Stock at your home. And so on, and so on.

Yes, this costs you a little upfront money, but you can do it with profits from your business after things are running well, you don’t HAVE to do this right from the start. Backorders are NOT that serious an issue if you talk to your customers about them immediately, and offer a refund. And remember to be sure you only do it with products that are selling well, so you DON’T have to keep Reserve Stock of everything you sell!

Of course, if you sell wide-screen TVs from a drop shipper, you can’t do this, but the majority of people in online business sell products that this little tip will work well with.