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Comparing Business and P2P Lending Sites (Including PayPal and Amazon Lending)

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ September 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 15

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

In This Issue:

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

  1. Comparing Business and P2P Lending Sites (Including PayPal and Amazon Lending)
  2. Keyword Tricks to get your Listings Found on Amazon
  3. eBay Announces Fall update for 2017
  4. eBay & Amazon Are Not The Only Way to Make Money Working Online
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take." ~ Wayne Gretzky


Musings

I had to skip the last issue of this newsletter to attend to my elderly Mom's illness. Unfortunately, we lost her just a few days ago.

When I sent out that notice, over 1,200 of my readers, sent me kind emails offering kind words, your prayers and support.

I usually answer every email I receive -but 1,200 emails was just too much to handle. Therefore, I would like to thank all of you here, and let you know how much my wife and I appreciate your kindness, words, prayers and support. If you send another email - you can be sure that I will read it, but please forgive me if I don't answer individually.

My Mom was 94 when she passed. Many of you mentioned that you also had elderly parents. If they are in any distress, please let us know and you will have our prayers as well.

If you want to know where to find a good work ethic, you should have known my Mom. Although she started drawing social security at age 66, she kept working a full-time job until her 90th birthday. And, for you history buffs, my mom joined the US Navy WAVES in 1942, a few months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and was assigned to the group that broke the Japanese Naval code.

Once again, thank all of you who sent your good wishes and I am sorry I was not able to reply to each of you individually.


Amazon debuted a new, and very helpful, tool last week - The Inventory Performance Index. Click here for more information. Note: You must be logged into Seller Central to Access this link. In my opinion, I think this may be one of the best tools that Amazon has released in the past two or three years.


If you have been following me for a while, then you know that I do not favor government control over our business. But this may be an exception. As a writer, I think the right to free speech is one of the most important rights we have as Americans. But lately, Google and Facebook (although they are private companies and entitled to do so), have been censoring speech on their sites that they don't like. I don't have the room to expound on it here, but they are also engaged in numerous activities in favor of large corporations that harm small businesses and the self-employed (you and me).


Private Label sellers: When you need to design a logo for your products, I have long recommended the services of Logoyes.com because they give good service at a low cost. Recently, however, I have come across a few sites that do essentially the same thing for free (or almost free). This is not an endorsement because I have not personally tried these sites, but they are worth checking out:


On October 1, 2017, Amazon's monthly inventory storage fees will increase from $0.64 per cubic ft. to $2.35 per cubic ft. for standard-size items and from $0.43 per cubic ft. to $1.15 per cubic ft. for oversize items for the months of October, November, and December. This is a 350% increase in storage fees for now through the end of the year.

For a limited time, however, you can remove inventory for free to avoid these previously announced fees. Last week, FBA began waiving new removal-order fees for inventory that's currently in U.S. fulfillment centers. Act quickly before normal removal fees apply again. The new Inventory Performance Index (IPI) can help you identify which ASINs to remove. The IPI will show your excess inventory and the estimated costs of holding this inventory.

Amazon did not say how long this promotion would last and they could end it at any time, so I suggest you act quickly.

(Note: You must be logged into Seller Central to use the above links).

If you remove inventory free of charge under this promotion, you will not be able to send in more units of the ASINs you remove, until your inventory levels fall below Amazon's projection of your sales until January 1, 2018. This sales projection will be based on your average sales from the past 90 days.


Have you gotten a threatening message from eBay saying that you must remove contact information from your listings? A lot of sellers have received these messages (including myself) who do not have any contact info in their listings. I called eBay support about this and the support folks did not have any knowledge of these emails whatsoever. One rep even told me the emails were spoofs - which they were not. I finally connected with an eBay rep who knew about the problem but had no idea what to do about it. So I will wait a few days to see what happens, but I am worried this is a glitch that will cause some accounts to be suspended or canceled.

I was reading a message board on this subject and one eBay seller thought that having any link -even approved ones -is what is triggering the warning. One of the eBay reps I spoke with thought it might be the links to my eBay Store that was triggering the warnings.

My wife and I have been selling on eBay successfully since 1999. But this "new eBay" is driving us crazy. Since we make almost ten times as much money on Amazon as we do on eBay -I am very close to just closing our eBay account (Replace with Shopify?). Stay tuned - I will let you know what we decide.

One of my readers was researching this and found that his 3rd Party Template supplier had a link to their website that was hidden in the template art. So if you use a template provider, look for this and email them to fix it immediately —as this could be what is causing your issue.


This is a recent email I received from a reader:

Skip, does having a lot of people going to the same wholesale places to get their products make for heavy competition?

And this was my answer:

There are so many wholesale sources (over 500,000), and remember, each wholesale source has hundreds of products. And -all sellers don't buy the same product.

I have seen situations where a lot of sellers will be selling one hot product - that can happen. But, when I see that, I move on to something else.

I am 100% wholesale (No RA or OA) and have no problems finding sources for profitable products.


Let's get started with this month's articles:

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1. Comparing Business and P2P Lending Sites (Including PayPal and Amazon Lending)

I have often advised my readers not to borrow money to start up a business. But once your business is up and running, and, you know which products are good sellers and which one are dogs, then it's OK to borrow money to finance sellable inventory -but, even then, only for a short time.

We use credit cards to buy inventory, but except for the 4th Quarter (Christmas selling season), we pay them off in full each month. This time of year we order a lot more merchandise, and therefore we might carry a balance until the end of January -or February. But what are the best deals if you decide to do this?

Actually its difficult to give you precise information because everyone's financial situation and credit rating is different. So, please understand why this information is a bit general.

Amazon Lending - Amazon lending is by invitation. Once your account is established, and Amazon can see a pattern of sales, you will get both an email, and a notice in Seller Central, that shows what you qualify for. The image below shows my current offer. The total amount offered can change. Just a few weeks ago, Amazon was offering me up to $24,000. The interest rate is set by Amazon based on the amount and consistency of your sales as well as your credit rating. As you can see, Amazon is offering me an interest rate of 15.9%. In general, that is a competitive interest rate, but not for me.

I have tried Amazon Lending once, but I have pretty good credit and one of the credit cards linked to my business has a current rate of 12.25% so that makes better sense than Amazon Lending.

Amazon Lending payments are taken out of your two-week payment amount monthly.

PayPal Working Capital - If you have a PayPal account and typically run a balance of even a few hundred dollars, every time you log into PayPal, you will see an advertisement that invites you to click a link, to apply for a loan. Like Amazon Lending, the amount, term and the interest rate depend on your usage, flow of funds and average balance. PayPal does look at your credit rating, but it's not an important factor.

Repayment is made daily by PayPal taking small payments out of your transactions. Here is an image of what that looks like:

Click here for a larger image

Prosper.com - Prosper is a Peer to Peer (P2P) lending site. What this means is that you are not borrowing from Prosper -but from other people like you and me. The way it works as a lender is you register with Prosper and bid on loans. The minimum you can invest in any one loan is $25.00. So when you borrow, you are actually borrowing from dozens of people.

If you look at the loans below, you can see the borrower's credit rating, purpose of the loan, amount of the loan, the percent funded and the time left. When a lender selects a loan, they decide how much to invest (in increments of $25).

If you look at the 2nd loan below (7126596 for Home Improvement), you can see the borrower's credit rating is AA which translates to a yield of 6.19%. Now look at the last loan with a credit rating of HR (Worse than F). That loan will earn lenders an interest rate of 30.82%, if it is paid off. But, if the borrower defaults which happens a lot with HR loans, they are out of their complete investment (Less any payments made before default).

When you create a loan request, Prosper shows your credit rating. You state the purpose of the loan and you get to write a short pitch that lenders can read. Prosper does not show personal information, so no on knows who is borrowing.

If you wanted to borrow money for your eBay or Amazon business, then you would write what is basically a sales pitch for yourself. You would state how long you have been selling, your feedback score and the dollar amount of your monthly or annual sales.

If you have a poor credit rating, it helps to give an explanation such as: you lost your job in the recession (or whatever). One word of caution, just like borrowing from a bank, it is a crime to lie or intentionally misstate facts on a loan application. This will not be an issue if you make all your payments on time, but if you default for any reason, it could get you in trouble.

Click here for a larger image

There are several other business loan companies that will loan you money to expand your online business. These include:

This is not a complete list - there are many more of these companies -but these are the most popular and well known.

[top]

2. Keyword Tricks to get your Listings Found on Amazon

I have heard rumors about Amazon's maximum 250-character count in the backend keyword field for quite a while, but it wasn't until recently that Amazon made the official announcement - their reason: They wanted to improve the quality of search results for customers.

If you are not sure what the Backend Keyword Field is, here is an image of what I am referring to:

The sudden notice is not a fluke. Amazon has always been secretive about announcements like this - they prefer to surprise sellers, rather than give them time to make changes and adjustments.

But, this is one time I agree with Amazon. As a seller, I don't want to spend hours researching search terms to find every little one - even thought it might only be used 5 or 6 times a month.

Amazon has been saying for a while that they will only index keywords from the title and the backend keyword field. Those are the two most important places, but a contact in Amazon, that Amazon still looks at keywords in the description and images.

There is a lot of disagreement among sellers whether Amazon still looks for search terms in the bulleted product features. Some sellers believe Amazon when they say they don't look there anymore, while other sellers think they still do.

I honestly don't know, but since most buyers look at the bullets and never make it to the description, I tend to use those for selling points (benefits) instead of making them keyword rich.

Don't forget the image name. I sell a set of ceramic knives. I sent them out to a photographer to create images for my listing. When they came back the image names were a series of numbers followed by .jpg.

I changed them to Ceramic knife set_1.jpg, Ceramic knife set _2.jpg and so on. That way if someone searches the term Ceramic Knife or Ceramic Knife Set. My images will give Amazon's search engine another hit.

A few more keyword tips:

  • Amazon already converts singular to plural and vice versa, so even though a keyword tool shows different search volume for "ceramic knife," than it does for "ceramic knives," just use one of them in your keyword field

  • The same goes for common misspellings. The Amazon search engine already accounts for those, but be sure and use different words (i.e. synonyms) if they are in common use (Example: Elevator and Lift, airplane & aeroplane)

  • Be sure and look for keyword phrases people might type. For example, in addition to "Baseball bat," use "Louisville slugger baseball bat," or "aluminum baseball bat." Any good keyword tool will show examples of these.

  • Amazon doesn't really explain this, but the 250 character (approx. 38 words) limit applies to the total backend keyword field -not 250 characters per line). In other words, even though there are 5 different fields (lines) in your backend keywords, you only get 250 characters' total between all 5 lines.

  • Potential buyers rarely type prepositional phases (Example - in your keyword field you would use popcorn popper instead of popper for popcorn).

  • In the keyword field just use a space between words -not commas.

  • Don't use other popular brand names if that is not what you are selling (i.e. You are selling an off-brand running shoe and you use the keyword Nike or Adidas). If Amazon sees this, they may cancel your listing.

This is obviously not a complete treatment on the subject of keywords. I have a lot more info in my training course - The Complete Amazon Marketing System .

[top]

3. eBay Announces Fall update for 2017

eBay tends to update their fees, policies and features twice a year - Spring and Fall. They just released the Fall update. You can read the full update here -but here are some of the highlights:

General

  • Starting in a few weeks, eBay Guaranteed Delivery listings will be searchable for all buyers

  • Seller Hub will soon allow multiple markdown campaigns with Promotions Manager

  • Create bundle and lot listings for extra exposure to buyers

  • In October, Questions & Answers will be added to View Item pages

Policy Updates

  • Reminder: Remove all off-eBay contact info and links immediately, or risk account suspension

  • Convert HTTP content to HTTPS for a secure buying experience

  • Effective October 19, 2017, product identifiers (UPC, EAN, ISBN) will be required for new or revised listings for Seller Refurbished condition and, in some categories, Used condition

  • Effective March 1, 2018, eBay will prohibit watermarks on images and you should begin removing watermarks now to comply with the change

  • Beginning in Spring 2018, new and existing listings will be matched to product entries in the eBay catalog

  • Remove active content in listings

Returns

  • Display returns information in your listings' Return Policy drop-downs only

  • eBay says it will give you more exposure in search for listings that offer free 30-day returns

  • Beginning this Fall, you must refund up to 50% of the item price if the return is damaged or missing parts

  • Starting in October, eBay will automatically accept a return request when the buyer pays for return shipping

  • Starting in January, restocking fees will no longer be available when you offer free returns

If you missed the 2017 Spring update you can see it here .

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4. eBay & Amazon Are Not The Only Way to Make Money Working Online

Since I make part of my living creating eBay and Amazon training material, I am partial to those two online businesses, but, to be honest, there are other ways to make money working online from home. Obviously you need some additional skills to do some of these things, but many people have those skills. I don't have the room to go into much detail on these, but let's look at a few of them:

  • Social Media Consultant - Are you well versed in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? If so, maybe you can charge an hourly (or project) rate to help small local businesses gain exposure on these platforms.

  • Website Builder - If you know how to design and build websites great -but you can still do this if you don't. Just farm the work out to Website builders in places like India, Romania and the Philippines. Experts in all of these places charge less than US builders, so let them do it and mark up their services.

  • Help local businesses get started on eBay and/or Amazon - I get calls all the time from Brick and Mortar stores who want me to show them how to expand their businesses online. If you are experienced on eBay and/or Amazon, you can make good money showing these folks how to do it.

  • Resume Writing - This one only works if you have the requisite skills, but if you do, this can be a $50-hour business.

  • SEO Consultant - This is another area where you can do this easily if you have the skills, but if not, you can also hire this work out to overseas experts.

  • Business Coaching - If you are a retired or experienced business owner, then there are local entrepreneurs and store-owners who may be struggling and will pay for your advice.

  • Data Entry - OK this can be really boring, but companies will pay you up to $30 hour just to keyboard data for them.

  • Affiliate Marketing - This works best if you have a blog, website, Facebook Group, or newsletter with a following. There are plenty of companies who will pay you a commission to link to their website. There are also companies who will pay you for leads (website visits) even if someone doesn't buy anything.

  • Blogger -Are you an expert in a subject that others care about? If so, why not blog about your subject? There are two easy ways to make money doing this: Affiliate marketing, (see above), or creating an eBook on your subject and selling it.

  • Sell your arts & Crafts - If you are a crafty person and there is a market for your crafts, you can sell them through a blog or on sites like Etsy and eBay.

So there you have it. This is far from a complete list, but it should get you started with some ideas.

[top]

5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

Genmert has a great line of kitchen, eating, drinking and food prep products. I have mentioned this company before but this link is for a new catalog.

Holster Brands sells holsters to Contain the clutter, for everything in the home.

The Tin Box Company sells a broad line of tin boxes featuring the most popular licensed brands

Casabella sells a nice line of unique products for the home and kitchen

Wonder Gears Toy sets are designed to improve things like spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, physical understanding and creativity

Season's Designs is a large designer and importer of Christmas stockings and tree skirts. They are also a large importer of mouth-blown, hand-decorated glass tree ornaments.

Viterra Glass provides a selection of art glass pieces for homes, public spaces and collectors

The Gerson Company designs, imports, and distribute complete lines of seasons (Fall/Christmas and Spring/Summer) home and kitchen products. They do require a long pre-order time

CA Trading, LLC, DBA The World Max Group Wholesales and distributes Jewelry including Belt Buckles, Hip Hop and sterling silver jewelry, body piercing jewelry, fashion jewelry, costume jewelry, gifts, giftware and hair accessories.

Africa Imports is a large site on the Internet for African and Afro-Centric goods. African clothing, jewelry, fabric, art, black skin care, and more.

Opportunity Buys Inc. is a general merchandise wholesale dealer. They sell a wide variety of products.

Groovy Candies sells a wide assortment of wholesale and nostalgic candy for gifts, party favors or just for fun. You can source a collection of treats from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s or mix and match. They sell a lot of products that lend themselves to bundling

Smoking Gun Jerky, Inc. sells a line of fresh & nutritious beef jerky made fresh daily with Midwestern Beef. Lower sodium, no MSG added.

Jeremiah's Pick Coffee Roasting Co. from San Francisco- Coffees, Teas, Accessories & Treats. Their gourmet coffee is 100% organic

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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