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.

The Dangers of ‘Hottest Selling Product’ Lists

May 14th, 2013

fireYou’d think the ‘Hottest Selling’ products on the Internet would be a good place to make money, right? Not necessarily!

There are many places that publish lists of ‘The Hottest Selling Products on the Internet’. They range from the big Internet Marketplaces like Yahoo and eBay, to smaller companies that sell software and ECommerce tools related to online selling.

A ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list is a strange thing. It can be a good thing if used properly, but it can also be a bad thing if you’re not very careful.

You should approach these lists like you would approach a large, dangerous looking dog that you’ve never seen before. Do the right thing, and the dog just might sniff your hand and lie down at your feet. Make the wrong move, and you might end up missing a hand or a foot!

The good thing about a ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list, when it comes from a reliable source like eBay, for example, is that it gives you a good picture of what really is selling well on eBay over a reasonable period of time. That’s important information to have when you’re selling online, whether you use eBay or not.

There are two potentially bad things about it.

  1. The first potentially bad thing is that these lists are generated from very simple statistics. If a large number of a certain type of product is being advertised and/or sold in a certain marketplace, then that product gets on that marketplace’s ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list. The problem is that the ‘Hottest Selling Product’ list does not take profit margins into account!

A very good example of this situation is the Electronics market. Computers, DVD Players, Stereo equipment, etc. Electronics is, in my opinion, the absolute lousiest market to make money in on the Internet. For some reason that nobody really understands, almost everybody who first starts out in Internet Business wants to jump right in and start selling electronics! I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it is very difficult. That market became flooded with competition years ago, which caused everyone to undercut everyone else’s prices over and over again to stay in business, which left a very slim profit margin in Electronics that still prevails today. You have to really sell a lot of Electronics to make any real money, because the individual sale profits are so small.

Yet, Electronics are almost always at the TOP of all the ‘Hottest Selling Products’ lists! Why? Simply because so many people starting out in ECommerce are advertising them and trying to sell them!

  1. The second potentially bad thing is that when these lists are published by a large Internet Marketplace like Yahoo Store or eBay, everybody sees them! That can be a bad thing, even if the product in question is a NEW product that just made the top of the list!

Let’s say, for example, that a new blockbuster adventure movie comes out in the theaters. The super-spy star of the movie, Dash Rimrock, constantly uses a brand new kind of palm-sized computer/video phone throughout the movie to save himself and many beautiful women from all kinds of dastardly and dangerous bad guys. The product is called the ViddyPuter, made by a company called VidTechie, and it looks really cool. Now, this is a real product, and most people don’t realize that the manufacturer, VidTechie, paid the movie studio millions of dollars to feature that product in the movie constantly. It’s a promotional tool that offsets production costs for the movie studio, and works very well for manufacturer. That’s why you see all kinds of brand-name products prominently featured in movies; it’s a very expensive form of product commercial.

Suddenly this product becomes a market trend and everybody wants one, because everybody wants to be as cool as Dash Rimrock. That is exactly the result that VidTechie was hoping for when they paid the studio to feature the product in the movie. Pretty soon, the quickest of the market-savvy ECommerce Sellers are starting to sell the ViddyPuter on eBay. Before you know it, so many of them are out there that the ViddyPuter makes it to eBay’s ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list.

So, when you see the ViddyPuter suddenly appear on the ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list, should you immediately jump in, find a supplier for that product and try to sell it on eBay as well?

Probably not.

Why not? Because when the ViddyPuter hits that list, millions of people are going to see that at the same time you see it! Chances are that ViddyPuter market is very quickly going to become flooded with new Sellers, and then the price-slashing frenzy begins. Too much competition equals everybody trying to undercut everyone else’s prices, which equals the ViddyPuter’s profit margins bottoming out in a very short time after it hits the ‘Hot List’.

So, from a straightforward ‘What Should I Sell’ perspective, ‘Hottest Selling Products” lists are not a good place to draw your inspiration from.

However, there IS a way that you CAN make a ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list work for you, and the most successful sellers out there know what that is.

The way to make that list work for you, and make money on the ViddyPuter frenzy, is to attack the product’s Vertical Market. A Vertical Market is simply a group of products that are similar to, or closely associated with that product.

For example, instead of trying to sell just the ViddyPuter all by itself, like so many others will try to do, put together and sell a ‘Dash Rimrock Super Spy’ kit. Include the ViddyPuter, because that product is what will get your listings noticed on eBay or in the Search Engines. However, you sell the ViddyPuter at just about cost, and don’t expect to make money on it. The other products that you bundle into your Dash Rimrock Super Spy Kit are the ones you take your profit margin on. Your Kit could include a cool pair of compact Spy Binoculars, a Spy Pen that contains a portable computer hard drive (yes, they exist!), and a pair of Spy Sunglasses that have backward-looking mirrors built into the frame, so that the wearer can see behind them! The additional products in your Dash Rimrock Super Spy Kit are the ones you make money on, because when you add several products into a very unique bundled mix, no one can really compare your prices against other sellers’ prices. You can build decent profit margins into the other products. What you’re selling is completely unique, allows no opportunity for price-shopping, and is part of the Vertical Market of a very hot-selling product.

Instead of being just another one of the tens of thousands of people that are trying to eke out a small profit in the super-competitive ViddyPuter frenzy created by the ‘Hottest Selling Products’ list, you become someone who really does make a good profit selling a unique ‘bundled’ set of products in a very hot Vertical Market.

Sales, whether on the Internet or in a store in your local mall, is a creative art, folks. It’s not just a case of ‘Here it is, buy it!’ You can apply the method above to just about any kind of product; you just have to avoid the Herd mentality, and think about it a little first. :o)

Internet Sales Tax and What it Means for your Business

May 7th, 2013

Considering The Tax ShelterSimple fact, people like shopping online. They like how they can quickly scan a store and see what they can buy, they like to search for products online, they like to comparison shop, they like not waiting in checkout lines and having the products delivered to their door.

Brick and Mortar Stores that do not have an online presence, complain about online stores because of sales tax reasons. As a brick and mortar store, you charge sales tax on ALL sales that are made, because the products are being sold in the state they are registered in. Online retailers, do not have to charge sales tax on products being sold in other states other than where they are located “physically”, and most of their sales and traffic probably come from different states. Hence, no taxes charged to the customer and no taxes collected and reported to the Government. But with the Senate recently approving the Marketplace Fairness Act, moving it one step closer to enactment, online shoppers will have to pay sales tax on the majority of online purchases.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow the states in the Continental US and DC (the states that currently charge sales tax) to require online retailers to collect tax on purchases.

But, and this is a BIG BUT! If you are a small online retailer, with no physical operation like a brick and mortar store or a warehouse, and less than 1 million dollars in sales a year, you DO NOT have to collect sales tax. This only applies to BIG retailers that make a lot of money every year online.

CNN reports that close to 30% of online shoppers surveyed by advisory firm AlixPartners recently said they would shop more at brick and mortar store if the tax became a reality. Nearly half, though, said that an Internet Sales Tax would have no effect on their online shopping habits.

As a small retailer, that offers products that big chain stores also sell online, you can target that 30% by touting NO INTERNET SALES TAX as a marketing angle to get more shoppers to your store!

So don’t be concerned about this new Act, use it to your advantage.

photo by: JD Hancock

What To Do If Your Dropshipper Stops Responding

April 22nd, 2013

StopoverWhat should do if your Drop Shipper stops supplying your products, without warning, at ANY time of the year? Of course, when it happens during the Holidays, it’s worse, but no time is a good time for this to happen!

Sometimes, even the best of Drop Shippers will hiccup from time to time. This is a fairly normal thing, and a good Drop Shipper will get back on track quickly, making good on any problems they may have briefly caused you.

Other times, a Supplier will just quit talking to you altogether. Your orders will not be filled, your calls and emails won’t be answered, etc. When that happens, you’re stuck. If you have customers waiting for orders that they have already paid you for and they’re not showing up, you’re going to start hearing from those customers pretty quickly.

Remember that if you use GOOD Suppliers, this is EXTREMELY RARE. On the other hand, it happens fairly often with those drop ship middlemen you find all over the Search Engines. The moral of that story is that you need to start with good information to begin with, like the information we publish in our Directory at WorldwideBrands.com.

This is the real world. Unfortunate things happen whether we want them to or not. Rare as it is with GOOD Drop Ship Suppliers, something like this IS possible. Wholesale companies that drop ship are run by people, just like everything else. People experience unfortunate things. Buildings get damaged. Accountants run away with company funds and force a business to shut down. Again, however rare, this is the real world, and sometimes, “ship” doesn’t happen. :o)

If your Drop Shipper stops responding to you for some unknown reason, it’s your customers you have to answer to, and how you recover from this problem in your customers eyes is what matters.

So, let’s talk about what you should do if your Drop Shipper suddenly stops Drop Shipping, and you can’t reach them.

The first thing you’ll probably notice, if this happens, is that you’ll stop getting Shipping Confirmation and Tracking Number emails from the drop shipper. That’s usually the first thing you see after you place an order with a good Drop Shipper, and when they stop showing up within a reasonable time frame, it’s time to start asking questions immediately. Contact your Drop Shipper by email first, and ask them to confirm the order or orders they have not confirmed. If you don’t get an email within 24 hours, CALL them and ask the question. Yes, you should be able to call them. You should never work with a supplier that you don’t have a phone number for.

The second thing that will happen is that you’ll get an Email from a customer, asking where their product is. This takes a few days more, since the time between order and delivery is 3 to 7 days. By the time you get your first question or complaint from your Customers, you should already be aware that this situation is happening, because you should have realized that your confirmation or Tracking information did not come through.

Even if you have not heard back from your Drop Shipper by Email or phone yet, respond to the Customer IMMEDIATELY. Tell them that you are looking into the situation, and you’ll get back to them ASAP. Stay in touch OFTEN, even if it’s only to tell them that you are still investigating.

If you’ve been trying to reach your Drop Shipper by email and phone, and you have not been able to by the time your first couple of Customer complaints come in (about 5 business days), you could have a problem. This is the time to take stock of exactly how many products you sell from this Drop Shipper, and prepare to deactivate those products on your site or auctions for the time being. If your entire web site is made up of products from one Drop Shipper (which the majority of successful web sites are), or all your auctions are products from one Drop Shipper, then of course you have a bigger problem.

You should be continuing to trying to contact the Drop Shipper by phone and email, but don’t flood them with calls and emails. Once a day is reasonable for the first few days. Also, don’t leave nasty messages or send threatening emails. That is the mark of an amateur, not a business professional. There may very well be an excellent reason why you can’t contact them at that point. For example, here in Florida, over the early Fall months, we experienced no less than FOUR very damaging hurricanes in only about SIX WEEKS, one right after another! Thousands of businesses lost power and phone service, in some cases for WEEKS. There’s not much a Drop Shipper in Central Florida could have done in that situation. If a Drop Shipper here in Central Florida suddenly got their phones and power back, and got slammed by a series of nasty messages and threats from you, they would not be inclined to do much business with you in the future.

If it’s been more than five days without a response from this company, and nothing is being delivered to your Customers since you first were alerted to the problem, it’s time to stop putting your Customers’ orders through to the Drop Shipper. You can still take orders for a couple more days, but stop forwarding the orders to the Drop Shipper. Most Drop Shippers have automated systems whereby they charge your credit card when you order. The more orders you put through, the more it will cost you out of YOUR pocket to refund your Customers if the worst happens. You need to begin limiting your loss potential.

This is also the time to notify everyone who has recently ordered from you, starting with the first Customer who did not get their shipment, that your Supplier has a shipping problem, and it may take some additional time to deliver their order.  Remember, this is about how YOUR business looks to your Customers. At this point you HAVE to notify them whether you like it or not, if you’re going to RECOVER from this situation well. If it’s during the “off season”, most people will be reasonable and will be willing to wait. If it’s during the Holiday Season, that’ll be a little different!

If you end up going ten business days without response from your supplier, or after December 10th if it’s during the Holiday Season, it’s time to pull the plug. You’re going to need to stop selling the products from this Drop Shipper, and refund your Customers who have ordered and not received product.

Now, as much as you don’t want to stop selling products, especially during the Holidays, you will be unhappy about refunding your Customers as well. Why? Because there will be orders that you have ALREADY PAID the Drop Shipper for, in most cases. That means that you’ll be refunding your Customers out of your OWN money for those orders. Aside from keeping your Customers happy, that’s why you have to stay on top of this situation. The more products you’ve ordered from the Drop Shipper already, the more money you’re out temporarily when you begin issuing refunds. (Yes, I said temporarily; we’ll get to that in a minute).

When you do announce to your Customers that you can’t deliver the product, and are refunding them, you need to do it carefully, remembering the following points:

1. Yes, this is the Drop Shipper’s fault, but don’t go out of your way to place blame on them. You can certainly tell your Customer that your Supplier had an unexpected problem, and you can’t deliver the product. DON’T go off on a rampage and say bad things about the Supplier, though! Your Customers will respect you a LOT more if YOU shoulder the responsibility for the situation. Apologize for the problem, and tell them that you will promptly refund them.

2. You may get a few nasty emails back from some customers. DON’T take the bait! People who write nasty emails usually do it all the time, and you need to be the bigger person by not responding the same way.

3. Here’s the REALLY IMPORTANT one. FIND another online location (usually the online presence for a large “bricks and mortar” retail chain) that carries the products, and tell your Customers to go THERE to get them. The “bricks and mortar” stores will usually have a bunch of those products in their own warehouse, and will be able to fill the order. THIS is the thing that will gain you the respect and gratitude of your Customer. Down the road, when the situation is resolved, they WILL remember. Sure, some of them might not come back, but some WILL. I can guarantee you that, having been through this kind of situation myself.

Okay, now that you’ve refunded your Customers and stopped selling the products, keep trying to contact the Drop Shipper. If you get to a point where it’s obvious that they simply are not going to respond, send them a regretful email (not a nasty one!) telling them that because of their lack of service, you are forced to stop selling their products. Give them a list of the Order Numbers that you had to refund out of your pocket, and request an immediate refund for them.

If you get no action on the refunds, it’s time to contact your Credit Card company. Tell them what happened, and let them know you wish to file “Chargebacks” on all the orders not delivered.

A “Chargeback” is where YOUR credit card company will take your money back from the Drop Shipper’s MERCHANT BANK, whether the Drop Shipper has the money or not. Then the Drop Shipper’s Merchant Bank will have to chase the Drop Shipper for the money. YOU get your money BACK. In most cases, you can file a Chargeback with your card company at anytime up to six months of any purchase, and get your money back.

Yes, this is a lousy situation to be in, and yes, it will cost you some business. If you’re careful, though, you will not be “out of pocket” for any money, and you’ll retain the respect of your customers. Even if you have to completely change product lines to work with a new Drop Shipper, you’ll still have your Customer list, and you’ll still have the respect of the people on it. You’ll still be in business.

This situation is not limited to Drop Shippers; sometimes Bulk Suppliers can default on a shipment too, and leave you out of luck if you’re playing the “just in time inventory game”.

Once again, let me tell you that this is RARE. I’ve only seen it happen three times in all the years I’ve dealt with tens of thousands of Internet Sellers, and thousands of wholesale companies.

It is, however, something to keep in the back of your mind, and hopefully reading this article will help you remember to watch your Supplier’s shipping emails fairly closely. :o)

photo by: Nicholas_T

Over 14 Million Products to Choose From at WorldwideBrands.com!

April 9th, 2013

14 million products to sellVariety of the spice of life! This cliché is so true when you are trying to select the right products to sell online. You need a place where you can see millions of different products from genuine wholesale suppliers so you can decide what you want to sell.

Where can you find this kind of resource? Here at WorldwideBrands.com of course!

We currently list over 8,000 wholesale suppliers that offer more than 14 MILLION products! These listed suppliers will either dropship, light bulk wholesale, large volume or liquidate the products. We add new suppliers, brands and/or products every business day. This gives our members a large variety of products to choose from to sell in their online stores, auctions, brick and mortar stores, flea markets and wherever else they decide to sell.

Our members can also be assured that we verify the legitimacy of each of the suppliers that we list. So when you contact one of our listed suppliers to setup an account, don’t have any worries about the genuineness of the supplier! We take each supplier through an extensive verification process, sometimes even asking for pictures! We do this so our members don’t have to waste their time locating genuine companies to work with on their own. We’ve been doing this since 1999 and know what to look for and what to watch out for.

Each supplier that qualifies to become a listed company is deemed a WBI Certified® Wholesale Supplier. In the listings on each company, we post the contact information, where they ship, how they ship, payment methods and ordering information and any other pertinent information that our members needs to know up front. We also show 3 sample images and list the brands and product types available from the suppliers.

Check us out here! Worldwidebrands.com

Read what some of our members have to say on our Testimonial Page! http://www.worldwidebrands.com/wwb/test_customer.asp