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Whatís The Best Product To Sell on eBay and/or Amazon?

The eBay & Amazon Seller's Seller's News, August 2014, Volume 14, Issue No. 14

Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
by: Skip McGrath

In This Issue:

Musings from eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. Whatís The Best Product To Sell on eBay and/or Amazon?
  2. How To Negotiate Exclusive Deals to Sell on eBay and Amazon
  3. Proven Amazon Sourcing Method That Anyone Can Learn
  4. A System to Help Maintain Feedback on eBay and Amazon
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally." ~ David Frost


Musings from eBay, Amazon, and beyond

Amazon released their financial results recently. Although they had a sizeable gain in sales, they still posted a loss due to their continuing investment in opening new fulfilment centers.


In the last issue I had an article about using Amazon FBA to fulfill your eBay sales. There is one important thing I forgot to point out: In order to reach and maintain Top Rated Seller status on eBay you have to post tracking information on at least 90% of your sales within one business day.

The problem is that Amazon sometimes does not give you the tracking within that time frame. The answer to that is to change your eBay listings that you are fulfilling from Amazon to 2-day shipping. That way you have two business days to get the tracking into eBay without affecting your status.


The SCOE conference (Amazon sellers conference) starts August 14th in Seattle. There are still some seats available but unfortunately, the early bird registration price is expired. This is a great and worthwhile event for any Amazon seller (eBay sellers too). I will be putting on a workshop with my friend and Million Dollar seller, Jose Calero, on the subject of creating product bundles and importing and private labeling. Hope to see some of my readers there. You can get info and register at www.scoe.biz.

I am also appearing at this year's CES Show that Jim Cockrum is putting on in Dallas on September 4 - 6th.


Happy 20th Birthday Amazon. A company called DPFOC Online Marketing Ireland has produced a really neat timeline showing the history of the company at this link.


Channel Advisor is giving away a great little eBook - 13 Ways to Get Kicked Off of Amazon. You can get the book at this link.

http://go.channeladvisor.com/roi_newsletter_13-ways-kicked-off-amazon_08042014_LP.html


Amazon.com has expanded Same-Day Delivery with new "Get It Today" capabilities for customers in Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC metro areas, with more than a million eligible items now available for same-day delivery. Customers can order as late as noon, seven days a week and get things like popular movies, video games, last-minute travel needs, back-to-school supplies and family necessities delivered to their home the same day. Prime members pay $5.99 for all the same-day delivery items they can order.


Lets get started with this monthís articles:

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1. Whatís The Best Product To Sell on eBay and/or Amazon?

That is the number one question I get in email from my readers. But it's also the one question I have never been able to come up with a good answer for. But I can still give you some advice.

First read today's quote again; "Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally." ~ David Frost. You will always do better if you sell products you have some interest in. This happens for several reasons. If you have an interest or a passion, you will do a better job sourcing products. You already know what brands are good quality and value. You will also find that some of your passion comes through when you write your product descriptions and you can even add your personal experiences.

When I first started on eBay I started selling small antiques from an antique store we had closed when we moved out West. When those were gone, I moved on to used books. I have always been an avid reader and love books, so they were fun to find and sell. One of my passions is Naval History, so I was able to do very well finding books on that topic and selling them. I also loved Aviation and sports cars, so those three subjects tended to make up over 75% of the books I sold.

The other thing I love to do is cook, so when I was ready to expand to a new niche I started sourcing cooking knives, gadgets and various pans and utensils as well as specialty gourmet food items. My knowledge gave me the ability to create sets of things that people would buy together. This raised my average selling price and my profit margins.

Later in life, my son introduced me to target shooting. So I started learning all about guns. It is very difficult to get a Federal Firearms license and anyway you can't sell guns on eBay or Amazon, so I started selling accessories like scopes, slings and holsters. Today I am one of the largest holster dealers on Amazon.

So the answer to the question is first look to what you like and what you know something about. Even though I make a lot of money in the kitchen category, if you don't cook or, enjoy cooking then you may enter that category and stand a good chance of failing. Think about it. Do you really want to compete with lots of other sellers who know a lot more about the products than you do?

The one exception to what I said above is that I also sell in the jewelry category, although I know very little about jewelry -but my wife does. And one of my daughter-in-laws is a fashion maven (and graduate of a fashion institute). So I rely heavily on their advice and we do very well in jewelry (it now accounts for about 25% of my profits).

Having said all that there are some things that go into selecting products and some questions you should ask.

The first question is "What is the market for this product?" I prefer niche products, but the niche has to be large enough to support sales.

The next question should be, "Can I source this product at a price where I can make a profit given the level of competition and eBay and/or Amazon fees?"

Another factor I tend to look for are products that lend themselves to creating unique product bundles so I can differentiate myself from my competitors (and on Amazon own the buy box).

I also like smaller lighter weigh products. Large heavy products are costly to ship both inbound to you and outbound to the customer. And if you use Amazon FBA there are weight based handling fees and storage fees. So selling smaller items automatically gets you better margins, as your fees will be lower.

Lastly I like to sell products that have a higher average selling price. If I am selling something for $10 and making $3 after fees and expenses, I have to sell 100 of them just to make $300. But my average selling price is currently about $34, with many items much higher than that. I tend to average about 32% after fees, so I am making about $10.88 on each sale. We sell approximately 700 items a month so that works out well for us. (We do well over 1200 a month during November and December).

So, no I cannot tell you exactly what products to buy to resell, but these are the tools to research them yourself. The truth is you have to experiment. And yes, you will buy some products that just don't sell. It happens to all of us. When that happens to me, I just lower the price to get rid of them and put the money into something that is selling.

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2. How To Negotiate Exclusive Deals to Sell on eBay and Amazon

There are three ways to guarantee winning the buy box on Amazon:

  • Having the lowest price
  • Creating a new item by bundling complimentary items together
  • Listing a product that no one else has.

I have written about the first two methods, so this article is about negotiating exclusive selling arrangements so you can be the only seller of a specific product.

First of all this method rarely works with large established companies or with products that already have a number of sellers. I find that it is fairly easy to negotiate deals with small companies where you can speak with the owner. And, the smaller or newer the company (or product) is, the easier it is to do.

So where do you find these companies? The single best place is wholesale trade shows. Most trade shows hand out a guide when you arrive, and often the guild has a special page for new (or first-time) exhibitors. If it does this makes your task easier. If they don't, then you just have to walk the show and look and talk to folks. Often it's easier to spot the newer companies because their booths will be fairly simple and less professional looking than the larger or more established companies.

When I find a potential prospect the first thing I do is just strike up a conversation making sure that I compliment the product. I ask how long they have been around, how they are doing and things like that. In general, people like to brag about their companies so this is a way to become friendly.

After I establish some rapport, I ask if they are selling their products on eBay or Amazon. If they say they say yes, I ask if they are selling directly or through a seller. If they are selling directly, the odds are they are merchant fulfilling).

If they are not currently selling, or if they are selling directly and merchant fulfilling, then I ask them if they have ever considered having a professional Amazon (or eBay or both) seller represent them on the platform. I explain that I am a long-term highly experienced professional seller and I make a practice of representing companies on eBay and Amazon on an exclusive basis.

If they still seem interested, I go into my sales pitch, which covers the following points:

  • The most important reason you want to work with just one exclusive seller is once you start selling your products to a number of sellers several things can happen. The first is discounting. Sellers keep lowering the price to undercut the other seller. This can upset your brick and mortar store customers and the lower prices can cheapen your brand. I point out that as the exclusive seller, one of the things I agree to do is keep to your MSRP or MAP (Minimum Advertised price) and will not discount the product without your permission.

  • The second risk is that you will inevitably get one or two sellers who are not that experienced or professional and they will misrepresent your product - again which can cheapen or hurt your brand.

  • The next point I make is the market size for any given product is only so many units that can sell in a week or a month. Just adding more sellers doesn't increase the market size, or the number of units you will sell. So, if for example, the market for your product is 20 units a week on Amazon, why deal with several sellers when you can just deal with one and still sell 20 units per week.

  • The next point I make is that I pay for the products when I order them so you don't have any credit or cash flow issues.

  • Then I explain that once I test the market to determine the size, I will set up an agreement to buy so X amount of product per year so they can better plan their production volume.

  • Lastly I tell them that one of the services I offer to my exclusive vendors is that I monitor their brand on the Internet and let them know if anyone is infringing or giving bad reviews or anything that could hurt their business. (I do this by setting up a Google alert).

I am often asked for a copy of the contract I use when I do this. Sorry but I don't use a contract. This is pretty much a handshake offer, or I might confirm the above points in an email. The other option I offer them is if they are ever unhappy with my service they can get out of the deal with 30-days notice. You will find that not having a contract actually makes it easier to get a deal because they don't have to worry about spending money on an attorney or getting locked into something.

Besides trade shows, one of the places I often find these clients are at craft fairs and farmers markets. Just last week I attended the annual arts and craft fair in our small town. There was a husband and wife exhibiting their line of packaged scone and pancake mixes that came in some really interesting flavors. I sampled their product, chatted them up for a couple of minutes and went into my pitch. They said they wanted to think it over, so we exchanged business cards. I gave them a couple of days to think it over and emailed them a few days later and we had a deal. I have just placed my first order and am waiting for it to arrive.

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3. Proven Amazon Sourcing Method That Anyone Can Learn

Earlier this week, Jim Cockrum and Brett Bartlett launched a new training course that Brett used to build his huge Amazon business. Every day Brett sells multiple thousands of dollars of highly profitable inventory on Amazon, eBay and other outlets without shipping, shopping, scanning, dealing with customers or even making decisions about inventory. The Course is called Proven Sourcing.

In the Proven Sourcing program you will learn how Brett has built a team of people to help him source, list and sell products on Amazon, eBay and other platforms. Brett started not that many months ago with only a $400 investment and he now sells several thousand dollars a day online using his very unique methods.

His methods and tactics are easy to learn and almost anyone can put these into effect. Brett's main method revolves around recruiting and building a team of people -not employees - that he tasks and rewards according to their contributions.

I have been at this Internet marketing game since 1999 and I wished I had learned some of these lessons ten years ago. If I had, I would be retired now. Jim Cockrum is a dear friend of one of the most trusted people selling on the Internet. He was a mentor to Brett and Brett is one of his biggest success stories who now has his own following.

Check out the Proven Sourcing program and you won't be sorry. Oh and like everything Jim and I endorse it comes with a money back guarantee if you are not happy for any reason.

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4. A System to Help Maintain Feedback on eBay and Amazon

This is a guest article by Eamonn Costello from the customer relations management (CRM) service XsellCo. XsellCo is a service that helps you maintain good communications with your customers. It's a bit expensive, so mostly for larger sellers, but if you have a busy eBay or Amazon business, a system like this can really cut down on your workload while maintaining good relations with your customers.

Here is Eamonn's article:

Maintaining positive feedback scores on eBay and Amazon isn't just good for your seller reputation; it also increases your sales.

eBay's upcoming new seller performance dashboard has the potential to adversely impact your seller reputation. It implements new eBay seller standards on August 20th, so now is a good time to check your performance and understand the metrics involved before this deadline.

Review all your defects and check all your neutral and negative feedbacks to see if any feedbacks can be removed.

Handling negative feedback is pretty consistent across eBay and Amazon:

Work with the buyer to resolve the issue. If you resolve the issue satisfactorily you are entitled to request them to remove the negative feedback. (Note you are not allowed to coerce or bully the buyer to remove the feedback or offer an incentive such as money or a gift card).

You are allowed to publicly reply to the feedback. Only do this after step 1. Where you have made a mistake, apologize and state what steps you have taken (or will take) to resolve the situation. Be polite and to the point.

Where the feedback violates criteria set by eBay or Amazon you can raise a case for the feedback to be removed (NOTE it will not be removed automatically - you need to raise a case to eBay or Amazon)

XSellco Unity is a complete reputation management system for ebay and amazon sellers. It manages all your customer contact, feedback management in a single dashboard across eBay and Amazon. By integrating full details of emails, orders, shipment dates, feedbacks and dispute cases, XSellco Unity will reduce the time it takes you to respond to customer queries by 50%!

See http://www.xsellco.com/crm for further details

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Well the summer slowdown is almost over. In a few days we will be in full swing for the back to school selling season. But don't just think back to school. When folks are on their computers buying backpacks for their kids they also spend time looking for products in all categories -sporting goods, gourmet food, jewelry, fashion and cell phone accessories. So don't get to hung up if you don't have a lot of back to school items, just about everything will start selling better over the next few weeks than it did over the past eight or ten weeks or so.

The Joyful Bath Company sells a line of signature bath salts and handmade botanical soaps that they say blends the healing elements of the land and the sea with bathing rituals and remedies from around the world.

MyVinilo is a leading European brand in wall decorative vinyl decals.

Mark-My-Time develops and manufactures creative, fun to use educational tools for kids.

Relevée means 'to rise up' in French. Relevée sells a really nice line of fashion jewelry in silver and gold that use precious stones. (If you ever served in the US Military, Reveille is the bugle call that wakes you up in the morning. Now you know where the word comes from).

Pickwick & Co. makes hand poured, never manufactured, candles in a wide range of scents. These are higher-end and more expensive than most of the scented candles on the market.

Uncorked Originals manufacturers hand designed custom corkscrews. Each piece is hand burned by the artist. These corkscrews make great gifts for men, groomsmen, wedding parties, wine enthusiasts, or someone wanting to remember that special place or occasion. Their website is their Etsy site and those prices are retail, so you have to email them for wholesale information.

Ethel & Myrtle offers trendy moderately priced fashion jewelry and accessories in the hottest color palettes.

Native Ground Books & Music wholesales old-timey American cookbooks, songbooks, music instruction books, CDs and folklore. Priced for the gift market, we have some of the hottest selling vintage Americana books on the market!

EcoSmart Designs, Inc. is a U.S.-based manufacturer of jewelry and gift products offering a variety of designs, thousands of parts, and a custom production division that can make private label products for you.

Taiwan Imports is a wholesale supplier of silk flowers, plants, crafts and wedding supplies.

XSDepot sells name-brand computer related accessories, small electronics, video games and software at wholesale prices. They also provide Drop Shipping Services but I have no experience with them so be a little careful until you test them out.

Electronic Rainbow is a manufacturer of electronic kits for hobbyists, education, industry, detectives, and law enforcement. They also carry wholesale computer paper, computer cables, Indoor Signs, business cards, antennas, ham antennas, antenna mounts, Two Way Radio accessories, Hand Tools, Kites and a few toys.

OnTouch, Inc. is the U.S. agent of HIPCE (Hong Kong) Limited. HIPCE products are available in a variety of selections, such as towers, racks, boxes, and wallets etc.

Thatís it for now. See you again in two weeks.

Skip McGrath
The Online Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.


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