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New Wholesale Sources from 2017 Trade Shows

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ March 28, 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 5

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

In This Issue:

Musings from and about eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. New Wholesale Sources from 2017 Trade Shows
  2. How to Monetize Your Blog, or Website, with Affiliate Marketing
  3. The New eBay – How Has It Changed from The Old Days?
  4. Tips for Getting Reviews without Violating Amazon Policy
  5. Simple Ways to Increase Profits on eBay and Amazon
  6. Is your eBay or Amazon Business Worth Selling?

"A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new." ~ Albert Einstein


Musings

Aweber is an email marketing and newsletter service for online sellers. Their biggest value is the anti-spam techniques they demand from their customers, and their instructional info, tips and advice. If you are at all interested in email marketing, or setting up a newsletter, give them a look.


There has been a lot of confusion about Amazon's new policy on Barcodes. Here is a great explanation from Nationwide Barcodes , the company I buy my barcodes from.


There is a great little help page on why Amazon restricts some listings. Although I am pretty experienced, there are some things on there I didn't know. First log into your seller central page, then use this link.


OK - I know this has nothing to do with eBay, Amazon or online marketing, but sometimes I like to throw a personal aside into the newsletter.

I like to listen to music while I write. I had iTunes set to a Genius mix, and it just played Johnny Cash & Willy Nelson performing Ghost Riders in the Sky. Ghost Riders in the Sky is considered by many to be the best country (or cowboy) song ever. I agree -and the version by Johnny and Willi is the best -with the Blues Brothers version, a close second! I don't know why, but this kind of music helps inspire me when I write.


eBay CEO David Winig, gave an interview where he opines that the last 4 th Quarter, (Christmas selling season) was a turning point for major retailers -and some of them may not survive 2017. One of the things he noted was: "Department stores J.C. Penney, Macy's and Sears have collectively announced hundreds of store closures slated for this year. Amazon, meanwhile, had its best holiday shopping season ever." You can read about the entire interview at this link . Since I read this, I saw a news story that Sears has filed a statement with the SEC that they may not be able to continue in business this year.


I mentioned this in the last issue, but still getting questions about it. So please note:

Are you looking for a past newsletter article -or an article from the previous issue?

The most recent (current) issue of this newsletter is always on this page - (The page you are reading now).

Whenever I come out with a new issue, the previous issue is moved to my archives, located here.

If you look in the archives you will see both the current issue, and all of the previous issues, for the last three years.


One of the most common and vexing problems Amazon sellers have, is other sellers camping on your listings. When you create a new listing (for a unique product, PL product or a bundle) Amazon requires any seller who uses your listing to deliver the exact items (including brand and packaging) you are selling in your listing.

One way to differentiate your listing is to include a free bonus of an eBook (PDF File). If you are selling kitchen or food related items, your eBook could be a collection of recipes. Or say, you were selling bird houses or bird feeders -you could write a short eBook about "How to attract song birds to your yard."

What ever you decide to do, be sure and copyright your book. If another seller is offering your same book, then you can file an intellectual property violation with Amazon. (I cover this in more detail in article 4 below).


My friend, John Bullard who runs the Amazon fulfillment service I use , has just started an Amazon Refund service called Seller Extensions to compete with Refund Manager. You can find information here


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. New Wholesale Sources from 2017 Trade Shows

The wholesale sources featured in this issue are from two of the largest and most important wholesale Trade shows in the US: ASD Las Vegas and the Chicago International Home + Housewares show.

NOTE : Many of these websites are either retail sites -or manufacturer's sites that do not show any wholesale information. The reason for this is that most wholesalers do not want the general public to see their wholesale pricing.

When you run into this, simply use the website Contact Us form to request wholesaler information. In my email, I usually say: I am a retailer located in (Name of nearest large city). I ask if they have a sales rep in my area, or if I may purchase directly for resale. Make sure your email is polite and businesslike -and do not mention eBay, Amazon or drop shipping. (If a wholesaler asks me if I sell online -I always answer truthfully -but I don't volunteer that information.

So let's get started:

Chapul is a line of Protein Bars that were featured on Shark Tank. Don't freak out -but the main ingredient is Cricket flour. Yes -they do sell -in fact quite well. The website is retail, so use the contact form to ask for wholesale information.

as seen on Shark Tank

Howard Imprinting is not really a wholesale source -rather it machinery that you can use to make personalized or your own brand name products. At first glance the machinery seems expensive -but look at it over a long time horizon, as a way you can create new products for years.

Howard Imprinting

Autotec Sales Inc. sells a complete line of remote control boats, cars, RC toys, hovercraft and helicopters.

Autotec Sales Wholesale Sources for Online Sellers

The Simp-Q Photo Studio is a product you may want for your own business -but the real opportunity is to sell these to eBay, Amazon and website resellers. There is one seller of these on Amazon who is merchant fulfilling -but none in FBA.

Avanti is a high-end jeweler of unique items they design. The products are made from real (not plated) silver and gold, diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones.

Avanti

20/20 Fashion sells a very nice line of their own design sunglasses that retail in the under- $30 range. They offer free shipping on orders over $200, which is also their minimum order. Note: They show very few products on the website, but when you open an account (no need to order at that stage), they will send you a complete catalog with pricing.

Fusion Global sells a complete line of digital scales from small gold & gem scales, to kitchen scales and up to postage & package scales.

Fusion Global

Alvantor sells the Travel-Lite camping and play tents that are suitable for all ages for use at camp sites, beaches, parks, or just in the back yard.

Alvantor

The American Gift Company sells area specific souvenirs from all over the country and around the world.

American Gift

Amrapur Overseas Inc. sells a wide line of products for bed, bath, bedroom, throws and blankets and window coverings.

Amuse Cosmetics - There are some problems selling cosmetics on eBay and Amazon. There are a lot of intellectual property complaints and many of the popular brands are restricted. This is an opportunity for a new brand of cosmetics by Amuse.

Amuse Cosmetics

Click here for a larger image

AP&P Battery is the master importer and distributor of Panasonic Batteries

Architect Brands sells a wide range of silicon and plastic cooking gadgets, utensils and tools.

One of the most interesting pavilions at the International Home +Housewares show was the Smart Home Pavilion. The future of housewares is quickly moving toward the smart home. Here are a few exhibitors from the Smart Home section.

Loki Smart Meat Thermometer offers only one new product at the moment -but has more on the way. Loki is the smart WiFi meat thermometer designed to help track the main course to a perfect finish, while YOU enjoy the game or your company.

Loki monitors and records your meat's progress and sends notifications through the Loki app on an iOS or Android mobile device when your meat (or meal) is ready. Run out of fuel in your grill? Need a suggestion for cook times, temps or recipes? Loki knows... and will tell you through the app.

Spectrum Brands Inc. sells Pet, Home, Garden and kitchen items including many connected smart home products.

Spectrum Brands

Char-Broil, Inc. sells a wide range of lower cost grills and smokers that are competitively priced with the famous name brands.

Char-Broil

Wink sells a smart home platform that brings together hundreds of products - including small appliances and famous brands home items.

Anova Culinary sells probably the best Sous Vide cooker on the market

Anova Culinary

Bulq Overstock and liquidation has a special going on now of small lots from stores such as Sur La Table, Shark, Hampton Bay, Smith & Hawken, American Standard, Kohler and more.

Art + Cook has a very nice (and unique) line of excellent and well-priced kitchen gadgets and tools.

Art + Cook

The Original Fidget Spinners are Made in the USA, and available from the inventor. No website - but call or fax at Phone/Fax: 206-251-1734/ 206-212-6138.

Fidget Spinners

Lightstart has one of the nicest lines of flameless candles I have seen. The individual selling price of there is quite low, so you will want to sell them in bundles or multipacks.

World Kitchen sells several famous brand kitchen products including Chicago Cutlery, Corelle, Corningware, Pyrex, Revere, Snapware.

Onophilia sells a wide range of kitchen utensils and tools with a major focus on Wine accessories.

Picklehead sells a new type of knife cutting finger safety tool. They sell a professional metal version now but are coming out with a retail home cook plastic version soon.

Picnic-Time, as you can imagine from the name, sells a complete line of picnic tools, kits and gadgets

picnic time

The Cooper Cooler sells a wine and beverage cooler that is the fastest on the market

W & P Design sells a very unique and well-designed line of bar products. These are things you haven't seen anywhere else.

The Negg is a fun, clever and well-designed egg peeler that makes peeling eggs fun and efficient.

The Negg

First Edge Knives and Tools sells a very complete and top quality line of pocket knives, Special Forces knives, tools and all Made in The USA.

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2. How to Monetize Your Blog, or Website, with Affiliate Marketing

If you don't already have a blog or website -I am not suggesting, you go out and get one to start doing this. But, if you already have a blog -or an ecommerce website that is just not delivering, this could be an option.

Before I start -let me tell you what happened to me.

About ten years ago, I made a deal to sell the EZ Cube line of Photographic Light tents. They were a quality product and perfect for eBay sellers to take listing photos. My deal was he would drop ship direct to my customer and give me 45% off of retail. I also negotiated to be the exclusive seller on eBay -and I could sell from my website and/or Amazon -but I did not have an exclusive on these venues. In fact, I would be competing with the manufacturer on the web -and on Amazon.

So I set up a website with the URL www.ezauctiontools.com. Despite the competition, I did great on my website, and not great -but OK, on Amazon as well. But my website was getting lots of traffic (and sales), and was more profitable than eBay or Amazon because I did not have to pay any listing or selling fees to eBay or Amazon.

That deal went on for several years and was highly profitable until an email from the manufacturer arrived one day telling me he was gutting my discount from 45% to 20% due to competition. As you can imagine, with only 20% margin, it was no longer profitable to sell on ebay or Amazon. I could still sell on my website, but my attitude is "I don't even get up in the morning for a 20% margin." There are so many better opportunities out there, that it doesn't make sense to work for 20% before fees.

But now I had a problem. I had a website that had cost me about $500 to set up and my hosting was running about $12 a month. You may have heard the advice that as an entrepreneur, your job is to turn problems into opportunities -or put another way, "when handed lemons -make lemonade."

OK - so that is what I would do. The first thought that occurred to me is that I already had a website with a Google 4/10 rating and a fair amount of traffic. So why not turn it into an affiliate website designed to earn income -and I hoped would replace the $500 to $600 a month income I had been making from the site.

Most of my traffic was from people looking for general digital photographic advice related to creating photos for eBay, people looking for advice and/or, shopping for light tents. The obvious answer for the light tents was Amazon. I was already an affiliate of Amazon, so I searched for good quality light tents on Amazon and set them up on my web site with affiliate links. Here is a screenshot of one of page of my light tent listings.

How to Monetize with Affiliate Marketing

The way the Amazon affiliate system works is when someone clicks on one of those products, they are taken to the product listing buy box on Amazon. If they buy that product (or any product from Amazon within the next 24 hours), then Amazon pays you a commission. The commissions are somewhat small -but they do add up. My monthly payment from just this one website is several hundred dollars (and near Christmas those checks are over $1,500 a month).

Another option is Google AdWords. This is a program whereby Google scans the copy on your pages and serves up pay-per-click ads related to the copy (content on your site).

Here is screenshot of one of those ads.

Google Adsense

(OK - I don't know what a Navy Seal flashlight has to do with digital light tents -but Google must know what they are doing because they send me a nice check every month).

The way Google AdWords works is when someone clicks on an ad on your website, they are charged a fee by Google -and as the website owner, Google pays you a percentage of that fee. So, besides, Amazon, Google gives you a good way to add to your income.

Having said that -don't paper every inch of your blog with ads. If you do, you will lose readers very fast.


Choosing other affiliate programs

Amazon and Google Ads are simple and easy to add income to a blog, but there are literally thousands of affiliate programs available. When selecting an affiliate program, there are a few things to look for:

  • Only offer your readers honest programs. If someone is running a scam -and it is linked to your site, your reputation will be tarnished, even though you had nothing personally to do with the scam.
  • Pick affiliate programs that are related to the content of your blog. If your blog is about hunting bear in Alaska, don't select an affiliate program that promotes cruises to Mexico.
  • If the product is a brand name product, it will sell better
  • If you choose a new item, then you need to create some content around that item to draw traffic.
  • Choose affiliate programs from well known affiliate networks such as Commission Junction (www.CJ.com) or www.Shareasale.com. If you are selling digital products, then www.ClickBank.com is the largest and best network.

So there you have it. If this is really something you are interested in, then take a look at my training course, Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program .

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3. The New eBay – How Has It Changed from The Old Days?

My wife, Karen, and I, started selling on eBay in 1999. By that time eBay was 4 years old. eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar in his San Jose, CA living room in September 1995. Originally, eBay was a person-to-person marketplace for the sale of goods and services.

In 1998, Pierre hired Meg Whitman. Meg was a Harvard Business School graduate and was an executive at PepsiCo at the time. Meg brought in senior managers from companies such as PepsiCo and Disney, to change the image and strategy of the company.

Meg changed the image of eBay from used, vintage and collectibles in the auction format and moved towards new merchandise that stressed fixed price selling to raise the Average Selling Price (ASP). That continues today. But, eBay has been slowly moving back towards its roots and once again pushing auctions selling used, vintage and collectibles. I guess this is an example of the old slogan, "Whatever comes around, goes around."

When Karen and I started on eBay -it was still fun. eBay was a community and buyers and sellers used to chat with each other by email. eBay did not yet own PayPal, yet PayPal was the preferred method of payment for eBay transactions.

In those days, PayPal had an interesting method of growing their business. If you recommended another eBay member to join PayPal -and they did, then PayPal would pay you $10 and the person you recommended $10 also. (A few years later they reduced that to $5.00).

After Meg Whitman left, eBay turned to the Bain Company Mitt Romney's old company, The Bain Group and brought in John Donohoe -who immediately brought in other Bain and ex-Bain people -and stacked the Board of Directors with current and former Bain people. (Before I get into this next part -I have to state this is my considered opinion).

Unfortunately, John Donohoe, was a leader without vision, who tried to make eBay into Amazon. But he didn't have the skills or vision of Jeff Bezos -and eBay just ended up as a mess.

Finally, Donohoe left, and eBay brought in Devin Wenig. Devin recognized two things

  1. eBay could continue to sell new merchandise at fixed prices, and
  2. After all the years and all the changes, there was still a good opportunity for what got eBay started, person-to-person sales of used, vintage, hand made and collectible goods.

That is kind of like what eBay is now. A hodge podge of new merchandise at fixed price and other traditional goods in the auction format.

So, the original question, "How has eBay Changed from The Old Days," has been answered -but what does that mean for sellers?

I think it means three things:

  1. If you are going to sell used, hand made, vintage and certain collectibles -then eBay is probably still the best market (with some exceptions such as used non-fiction books, and perhaps used CDs and DVDs)

  2. If you want to sell new merchandise, then Amazon far outsells eBay. So I would suggest if you want to sell new goods (including private label an RA & OA) then make Amazon your primary venue (Preferably FBA).

  3. Just because you make Amazon your primary venue for new goods, does not mean you completely drop eBay. Amazon far outsells eBay -but we still get some sales on eBay that amounts to perhaps 10% or 15% of what sells on Amazon. That little extra margin can add up -so don't abandon eBay for new merchandise altogether.

So there you have it -my take on the new eBay.

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4. Tips for Getting Reviews without Violating Amazon Policy

Amazon has made several changes to its review policy over the last year or so. Just a few months ago, Amazon changed its policy once again to restrict not only what you can do -but what you can say, in email to customers asking them to review an item they bought from you.

There are several services that will automate post-sale emails to buyers. These include: FeedbackFive , Feedback Genius and a new service I am very interested in, called Kibly.

Here are some tips to assure you comply with the new guidelines (policy):

  • Never ask buyers to leave only positive reviews

    Never mention the words positive review in your email. You can ask a buyer to contact you if there are any problems with your order -or the product, but, always avoid language such as: "If you are happy with our product here is the link to leave a review."

  • Don't give away discounted, or free products in exchange forreviews

    You can discount your products, or run a promotion (BOGO, etc.) -there is no rule against that. However, you may not connect any requirement to leave a review to get the discount.

  • Don't ask friends and/or family to leave a review

    Amazon's policy has always been that anyone who has a financial interest of any kind in a product you are selling, or your business, is not permitted to review it. This also applies to family, folks who get free product and paid review services.

  • Be extra careful what you say buyers who were given discountedproducts

    Amazon's robots will look closely at reviews, where the product was sold at a discount. If the robot sees too many of these, they will kick out a report to Seller Performance to look at your account in detail. If they find something they don't like, they can suspend -or even cancel, your account.

  • Don't spam your buyers

    I like to limit the number of messages I send to one or two. Make sure your messages only focus on the order. Offer to fix any issues they have, and then ask for an unbiased review. If you mention, or even hint, that you want only positive reviews, then you are violating Amazon's policy and that can get you in trouble.

Here is an email along the lines of what I use.

Dear Buyer

Subject: I see that your order for [product] was delivered!

Our tracking shows that order number __________was delivered. We are pleased you purchased (product) from us.

We are small sellers who rely on our customer service to compete with the big guys on Amazon. If you have any problems with the product, or our service, kindly reply to this email so we can make it good. If you would like to include your phone number, we will be happy to call you.

Amazon buyers would also like to know your unbiased opinion of the product. Please click here if you would like to leave a product review on Amazon."

Signed - your name, User ID or account name

This message meets all of Amazon's new policy guidelines, and shows that you not trying to trick the buyer into leaving only a positive review.

Another thing you can do is use your buyer email to deliver a free bonus in an eBook format. Here is some text I received on a recent purchase (Note: this is only part of the email).

Tips for Getting Reviews without Violating Amazon Policy

Click here for a larger image

Why do that? This is a great way to differentiate your listing and keep people from camping on it unless they buy the copyrighted document from you (which you should not sell).

So remember: Follow Amazon's review policy and protect your account. Try to be clever and game the system, and you put your seller account in danger.

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5. Simple Ways to Increase Profits on eBay and Amazon

I have written about Amazon selling tips before, but still get questions. So, let's take a look at a few ways to increase sales -and profits, on Amazon.

  1. Look for smaller, lighter products - Whether you sell via FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), or merchant fulfilled - this tip will save you money. If you sell via FBA, Amazon charges handling and storage fees based on the size and weight of your product. In merchant fulfilling, you are shipping to the customer at your expense, so smaller (and lower weight) items are less costly to ship.

  2. Convert to FBA - This may seem anthical, because FBA fees are higher than Merchant fulfilling -but you will make more sales if you are in FBA. If your sales only increased by a small fraction, then this might not be important. But, when I switched over to FBA, my sales increased by a factor of 8x. Yes, I pay higher fees and therefore realize lower margins per sale, but I easily make up for that in total profit due to the increased sales.

  3. Increase your Average Selling Price (ASP) - If you ship FBA, then you are subject to two fixed fees that total $2.06 (and these are sure to rise over time). If your ASP is $12.99, then these fixed fees of $2.06 work out to almost 16% of your income. However, if your ASP is $32.00. then the fixed fees come to only 6.4% of your selling price. Translation - All other things equal, you make a higher margin on more expensive products.

  4. Manage your inventory - You will make mistakes (we all do), and purchase items for resale that sell very slowly -or not at all. Items that are not selling are known as Non-Performing Inventory (NPI). NPI can be a real profit killer. Think about it -you are paying storage costs on this inventory, and you have cash tied up in those products that could be put to better use.

    Evaluate your inventory often and get rid of NPI. Even if you have to take a small loss - getting rid of NPI sooner rather than later, will reduce your costs and increase your inventory. Our strategy is to lower the price so we sell more items, more quickly. If we do that and still have inventory, we recall it from FBA and sell at a local flea market.

  5. Automate low value tasks - There are two types of activities: Low value and high value -But, they both take up your valuable time (Yes, time is money, even on Amazon). An example of a low value task is sending out emails asking for feedback and/or product reviews. A service that does this for you such as : FeedbackFive , Feedback Genius or Kibly will save you time and money.

    Examples of high value tasks would include researching and sourcing new inventory. This is a very important task that demands your serious attention (but even this task has services that can automate parts of your research and save you time).

I know there are a lot more -but these are the important ones that come to mind.

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6. Is your eBay or Amazon Business Worth Selling?

As Amazon continues to grow, entrepreneurs are discovering just how profitable Amazon can be.

Starting any new business can be difficult, risky and time-consuming. Most entrepreneurs prefer a running business they can grow, to one they have to start from scratch.

First of all - is this possible? With Amazon (unlike eBay) -it is not only possible, but Amazon will help you do it. (Selling an Ebay business is very difficult, but can be done. We will cover that in a future article. In the meantime, here is a link to a blog post about selling your eBay business ).

OK - back to selling your Amazon business

The first step is to get an instruction letter from Amazon. To do this, open a ticket with seller support that says:

I am interested in selling my Amazon business in such a way that my feedback and product reviews are maintained. Would you please send me instructions to do this? Kindly reply by email -not telephone.

Getting this email from Amazon support will put a notation in your account that you "may" sell your business, (and what information Amazon will need). That is a good thing because it gives your buyer confidence that they are buying legitimately.

As long as your account is in good standing, Amazon will send you the letter.

Here is some of the information you will have to change, but you will have to log in and enter this information for the buyer: (The buyer should supply this information).

  • Account name
  • Charge method (credit card on file)
  • Deposit method (bank account linked to the account)
  • Tax information
  • Email address to be used with the account

Other things you can do to help increase the value and make the sale go smoothly

  • Clean financial statement (Profit & Loss and Balance Statement) that only covers the business you are selling (Do not mix the income or expenses of other businesses you are selling).

    Be sure and include expenses such as owner's salary, travel & meals expense, Telephone, ISP, utilities, auto expenses and any contributions to charity.

  • Detailed inventory including quantity, age and cost (including your inbound shipping)

  • If you haven't done so already, change the account you are selling so it has its own (separate) LLC, bank account and credit cards. This will keep the business you are selling clean -and not mixed with any other income streams (You should do this at least one-year before putting the business up for sale).

Determining Your Value:

There are a lot of factors that go into determining the value you will ask for. Some of these may include barriers to entry, the nature of your products (how competitive they are, your average selling price, etc.), brand and/or trademark ownership, feedback and product reviews, your completion and your margins.

In general, (and this can change quite a bit depending on all of the factors and considerations) your business is worth about 3X to 6X net profits. For example, if your net profit (Gross profit minus expenses) is $200,000, then the sales value would be between $600,000 and $1,200,000. That obviously depends on a lot of factors such as those mentioned above.

Even a break even, or slightly unprofitable Amazon business, has some value if your account is in good standing considering your feedback, late shipment percentage, A to Z claims, and the number and quality of your product reviews.

If you have excellent account metrics, but little or no profits, then you should at least get an amount equal to your annual sales. So, if your annual sales were $200,000, then most likely you could sell the business for that amount.

That’s it for now. See you again in a couple of weeks.

Skip McGrath
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News

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






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