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Sourcing from Merchandise Marts & Design Centers

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ June 21, 2016 ~ Volume 17 Issue No. 12

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. Sourcing from Merchandise Marts & Design Centers
  2. Preventing Low Star Ratings on eBay and Amazon
  3. Which Works Best – Arbitrage or Traditional Wholesale Sourcing
  4. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." ~ Aristotle


Musings

If you are new to selling on Amazon, you want to check out Amazon's Seller University.

The Seller University (requires Amazon Seller login) curriculum of instructional videos helps you gain insight into Selling on Amazon, their tools and policies for sellers, and the products and services that can help you grow your business.


Amazon announces a new seller app. Here is what they say about it

List New Products on the Amazon Seller Mobile App.
May 24, 2016

The Amazon Seller app now allows you to create New listings and Edit existing inventory.

If you don't see your product when searching under Sell a Product, you can now create a new listing. The Seller app will take you through the process of adding a new ASIN and up-loading it to your inventory.

Need to edit a listing? Follow Menu>Inventory>and choose the product you wish to edit.

For more information or to download the app search Amazon Seller in iTunes or the Android app store. Help us improve the Amazon Seller app by accessing the menu and tap Send Us Feedback.


I listed this in the last issue, but want to leave it up to remind people because the dates are fast approaching.

Its time for the suummer ASD again. ASD is one of the largest and most important wholesale trade shows for eBay and Amazon Sellers. ASD is held twice a year in Las Vegas - March and August.

The August show dates are July 31-August 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Click here for information, to register and to find great discounted hotel deals.

Besides thousands of wholesale vendors, there are also several educational seminars. This is one show you do not want to miss - and August is a great month to place orders for the holiday selling season.


Another postal increase is coming. The United States Postal Service proposed to raise rates on First-Class Mail Parcels (FCMP) weighing between 1-3 ounces. If approved, these new rates would go into effect on August 28, 2016.

The proposed new USPS rates are as follows:

1-3oz First Class Mail Parcel Retail:

Currently $2.45
Proposed $2.62

1-3oz First Class Package Service via eBay labels:

Currently $2.45
Proposed $2.60


Summer is the BEST time for you to source toys and games to sell on Amazon or eBay. And I have some help for you. Jordan Malik just updated his highly-coveted Resell Toys guide.

The guide e shows you OVER 110 toys you can source locally that sell for big profits on Amazon and eBay:

Jordan regularly sources toys and games (new and used) to sell on Amazon and eBay. He finds them for $0 to $5 (and he discloses ALL of his tactics in his guide, Resell Toys):

It's yard sale season. and I can attest to this guide's sourcing power. (It's not just for yard sales, though. Jordan shows you TWELVE ways to source these hard-to-find toys).

Jordan's guide is regularly $67, but it's $20 off for my readers until July 1.

BONUS: You get LIFETIME updates to Jordan's guide. Whenever he updates it, he'll give you the updated version free.

AND:

Jordan has a 60-day no-questions-asked guarantee. I have heard about Jordan's refunds: they're quick and he doesn't quibble.

I'm suggesting you jump on this NOW. Its a 'steal me' price PLUS you'll get a running start on the Holiday selling season: Read about Resell Toys here.


What if you could have a private label product before Q4? Using Ryan Reger's " Private Label the Easy Way" method makes it possible! In fact, he has students getting private label products to market within a month!

Join Ryan along with Jenni Hunt for a live webinar training series. The six training sessions go through all 6 modules of private label the easy way.

Ryan and Jenni are offering a special discount to my readers where you can save $100!

PLUS you get access to their mentoring program (which I'm happy to be a part of) as a FREE BONUS! The Webinar Training Series is currently $297 - but, you can save a hundred bucks by going to this special page.


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. Sourcing from Merchandise Marts & Design Centers

learn about merchandise marts and design centersMerchandise Marts and Design Centers are wholesale showrooms that supply a wide range of products and they are located all over the US (and in the UK too). When I say they are a showroom -that is exactly what they are. Most of them look just like a retail store, but the difference is, all the pricing is wholesale.

Unlike retail stores, you don't buy the product and walk out with it. Instead, you place orders and the goods are shipped to you.

So what is the difference between a merchandise mart and a design center? Merchandise marts contain a wide range of goods including products like toys, jewelry, gifts, kitchen goods, gourmet foods, Christmas (and other seasonal items) and many more. Design centers contain mostly furniture (this is where interior designers shop). But, they also have stores that sell smaller home décor items like lamps, candlesticks, posters and paintings and things like that which are used around the home.

Both merchandise marts and design centers are "open to the trade" only. Open to the trade is a phrase that means the general public cannot be admitted. You must me a real business to be allowed in.

The first time you go you will need to register. To do this they will want to see a business card, a copy of your sales tax license, and occasionally they will ask to see a business checkbook in the name of the business. Some (but not all) design centers are only open to Interior Designers. If this is the case, then your business card must say interior design on it.

As I said in the opening, there are merchandise marts and design centers located in most major cities. Here is a website that lists almost all of them. Note - One thing you will notice is that some of the merchandise marts lister are actually called Gift Marts or Gift Centers. Don't let this throw you off. A Gift Mart is just another name for a merchandise mart and they sell a lot more than gifts. They generally sell all of the same categories I mentioned above.

When you register, they will ask your occupation. Just put down the word "retailer," which is what you are. You don't have to volunteer that you are an online retailer (although if anyone asks me I usually admit I am)

There are two kinds of stores in merchandise marts - Factory owned and independent reps. In the factory owned stores, you will be dealing with employees of the company and those stores typically only sell the items they manufacturer. Theo other stores employ sales reps who call themselves "manufacturer's reps." These store usually sell several lines of products. For example, if you go into a kitchen store, they will carry kitchen products from several different manufacturers.

In the independent stores, you may want to volunteer to the rep that you are an online retailer, because they will know which brands they carry allow online sales and which ones do not. One rep store I deal with represents over 30 different brands of kitchen products, but only 6 of them do not permit online sales, so those brands are off limits to me. But that still leaves me with about 25 brands I can work with and I have no trouble finding sellable products.

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2. Preventing Low Star Ratings on eBay and Amazon

Love it or hate it - The eBay Detailed Seller Rating (the stars) are here to stay as is the star feedback on Amazon. Let's look at both:

There are four ratings on eBay:

  • Item as described
  • Communications
  • Shipping Time
  • Shipping & Handling Charges

Each rating allows the buyer to rate you from one to five stars. There are a lot of reasons why the system is arbitrary and unfair, but discussing them is a waste of time as it just raises your blood pressure and you can't do anything about it anyway. So let's look at ways to work within the system.

  • Item as described - Long before eBay came out with the Star system I always had the philosophy that your item description cannot be too long. People think that shorter descriptions have a higher sell-through-rate (STR). I can tell you from extensive testing and experimenting those people are wrong. I always write a full and complete description. I include all necessary data about an item: Model numbers, parts, accessories, condition of the item and the box, color, size etc. Leaving these things out invites questions that are time consuming, and invites a low star rating on Item as described.

    There is one recent change to this philosophy - Mobile Devices. So many buyers are using mobile devices that it is important that your first couple paragraphs contain all of your really important information as folks on mobile devices are not going to read really long descriptions.

  • Communications - The key to communications is to answer all questions quickly and completely. Let's face it there are a ton of idiots out there, but their dollars are just as green as anyone else's. When you make a sale, always send an email at the end of the auction congratulating them for winning an auction, or thanking them for their business if they bought fixed price. Tell them when you will ship the item and give them an estimated delivery date. And I always tell them that if any problem arises to please give you a chance to make it good before they leave feedback.

  • Shipping Time - This one is easy. Ship the same or next business day after you get paid and tell the customer that you did that. If you don't tell them and it takes UPS or the postal service a long time to deliver the package they will blame it on you. Under the new policy, eBay will automatically give you five stars if you enter tracking information into their system within one business day. (And if you are a top rated seller, you will also get a fee discount for doing this).

  • Shipping & Handling Charges - this one is tough. Customers have no idea how much shipping really costs. An easy way around this is to offer free shipping by building the shipping cost into your price. When you sell with free shipping eBay will automatically give you five stars on that transaction.

    If your product does not lend itself to free shipping, then shop around for the lowest shipping cost and use that carrier. And show the shipping cost on your label. A lot of systems like Stamps.com allow you to use stealth postage labels that hide the postage.

Now lets look at Amazon. Amazon ties their stars into their feedback system. Four or five stars are considered positive feedback. Three is a neutral and one or two is a negative. Here is what the Amazon feedback pane looks like:

And here is what it looks like after I filled this out.

You can see that Amazon wants essentially the same information as eBay but I think their system is slightly fairer and less ambiguous. But as with any system there is no way to screen out idiots and miscreants. The thing I like about Amazon is the penalties for getting low feedback are not as severe as on eBay. My 30-day feedback is currently at 100%, but in January after the Christmas selling season my feedback dropped as low as 96% and my sales and profits continued just fine.

One way to assure better feedback is to use Amazon FBA. This way you don't have to worry about any shipping issues. If someone leaves poor feedback about a shipping issue Amazon will remove the feedback (they leave the comment up but don't count the score, and they put a comment below the user comment that it was Amazon's fault).

On Amazon, Feedback is supposed to be about the seller's service. So if the feedback is a complaint about the product, Amazon will also remove that feedback.

The other issues can be handled by making sure the item you are selling is identical to the item in the Amazon catalog. That is what happened to me over Christmas. I bought some security systems at a great liquidation deal. But the manufacturer had reused the same UPC code on a newer model than mine. Since the item looked identical, I sent mine in. I sold all six of them quickly at a nice profit, but four of them were returned and three of the folks left me poor feedback claiming I was trying to pull one over on them.

And of course if you create a new listing, be sure and describe it completely and accurately and use a good photo.

Amazon buyers leave feedback much less often than eBay buyers. One system you can use to help build your feedback quickly is from a service I use called Feedback Five. If you use this link they are offering a free trial for my readers.

As I said at the start - both feedback systems are arbitrary and can make you a victim of idiots, jerks, or just anyone who's having a bad day. But we have to live with it, so about all you can do is by doing your best and forgive the idiots.

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3. Which Works Best – Arbitrage or Traditional Wholesale Sourcing

Retail Arbitrage is the practice of buying something from one retail source (online or offline) and selling it elsewhere for a higher price. Another version is buying something on eBay for a low price and selling it on Amazon for a higher price (or vice versa).

Traditional wholesale sourcing is when you work with wholesale suppliers and just order product when you need it. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Arbitrage - The biggest advantage is profit. You can often find items at clearance sales that you can sell on eBay or Amazon for really large markups. Just before last Christmas I found some toys selling on the Toys-R-Us website in the clearance section for as little as $2.50 that I sold for over $20 each. I seldom sell items below $25, but when I can make that much margin I make an exception.

Another advantage of Arbitrage is less competition. Most eBay and Amazon sellers just are not looking at retail outlets for products to source and sell. Often you will be the only seller or there will be very few competitors.

The main disadvantage of Arbitrage is the workload. You are always out shopping and shipping products to eBay and/or Amazon and since you are always finding new products that means you have to photograph and create listings for each item.

Traditional Wholesale Sourcing - The main advantage of traditional wholesale sourcing is the decreased workload and the ease of sourcing - especially repeat sourcing of the same product. When I find a product that sells, all I have to do to sell more, is order another case. I am using the same listing and photos over and over, so the workload is less.

The disadvantages are more competition and lower margins. There is no such thing as a secret wholesale source, which is why I always laugh when I see people on eBay or the Internet selling their "Secret Wholesale List for eBay PowerSellers." After they sell a couple thousand copies, how secret do you think the sources are? (You can buy my Top-99 Wholesale Sources for $4.99 -but I don't have any secret ones. I found these the old fashion way -hard work).

Because it is so easy to find wholesale sources your competitors can do it too. So if a product has a high sell through rate on eBay or a high sales rank on Amazon you can bet lots of other sellers are out there finding a source for that product. And, of course, more competitors mean lower prices and therefore lower margins for you.

So which should you do? I can't answer that for you since I don't really have any idea about what you like or don't like or what your business model is. We do both. By far most of the goods I sell online are from traditional wholesale sources, but I also enjoy Arbitrage.

My three favorite sources are Costco, Home Depot and Big Lots. We don't do it that often -maybe about once every month or six weeks, so I don't have the issue of constantly having to shop and create listings. And some of the items we sell from Costco and Home Depot are always available so we are essentially restocking when we shop there. Also I am just one of those people who likes to shop and I get a kick out of scoring a good deal. So when deciding, you have to add in the fun factor too.

If you are a fairly new seller I would suggest you try both, although Arbitrage is the far easier and faster way to start.

To learn more about Traditional Wholesale Sourcing you can read my book, The Wholesale Buying System, How, what and where to buy wholesale to sell on eBay and Amazon.

The Wholesale Buying System includes membership to my wholesale member's website where I research and list niche wholesale sources who will work with small online sellers. Here is a coupon that will save you $10 on The Wholesale Buying System. 10SKIP7685Z

Just copy/paste that in on the final shopping cart check out page and it will remove $10 from the price of the book. (Be sure and hit the APPLY button after you enter the coupon or it will not work)

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4. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

LidLover is the creation of inventor Patricia Anthony. Frustrated from years of misplaced and melted lids for containers that cluttered up her kitchen cupboards, Patricia decided to do something about it. She wanted to create a lid that could fit and seal around most standard sized dishes, containers, cookware and bakeware.

Ravenscroft's delicate, formed stemware control the bouquet and deliver the essence of the wines and spirits to the proper zones of the palate. Lead-free glassware is the future, and the future has already begun with Ravenscroft, the world's leading manufacturer of pure, clean, lead-free crystal for fine wine and spirits.

Victoria Lynn Jewelry is a premier line of handcrafted pieces embellished with genuine Swarovski crystal elements - Made in USA

Together Farms makes and sells Handcrafted Goat Milk Skincare products. Cold process goat milk soap, Lip balm, salves, body butters, milk bath. Their products are all natural.

The Candleberry Company sells Jar candles, cake tarts, votives, power pods, accessories, tart warmers, room sprays and car air fresheners.

Eastern Accents is a wholesale bedding and accessory company offering products that reflect the style and diversity of the home decor industry.

Owen & Fred is a New York-based men's design brand founded in 2012. From their original luggage tag to a full line of goods designed and made in the United States.

Desperate Enterprises is a manufacturer and wholesale distributor of Tin Signs with licenses such as Coca-Cola, John Deere, Jack Daniels's and 100's more.

Black Widow Products is a Retailer and Wholesaler of Crystal Prisms, Airsoft, Crystal Figurines, and many other products.

SLK GLOBAL Inc. is a manufacturer & distributor of Cell Phone Protective Cases, Pouches & Chargers. They also Specialize in Customized Packaging.

Reiko Wireless Inc. is a manufacturer & importer of IPod and Cell Phone accessories including cases, universal pouches, belt holsters, car & home chargers, hands free, data cable, Ipod speakers and more.

Expo International is a wholesale supplier of craft products and carries a wide selection of beads and boxes; trims and tassels; appliqués and crochet, wedding and bridal accents.

JM Ceramics sells Wholesale ceramic clay pipes, faces, skulls, etc. Made in Santa Cruz California.

Feathers Wholesale is a supplier of peacock feathers, ostrich feathers, pheasant feathers, rooster feathers, and turkey feathers to manufacturers, retailers, and artists. Uses include crafts, fly-tying, floral art, and more.

That’s it for June. See you early next month.

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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