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Time to Sign up for The China Sourcing Trip

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News, June 25, 2015 - Volume 15, Issue No. 11

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. Time to Sign up for The China Sourcing Trip
  2. Do Amazon or eBay Sellers Need Their Own Websites?
  3. eBay Sellers – Start Preparing for the Product Identifier Requirements
  4. eBay Niche of the Month – Vintage Hi-fi & Stereo Equipment
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." ~ Steve Jobs


Musings

I mentioned this in the last issue but we still have the videos from the Wholesale Sourcing Conference that I put on with Jim Cockrum, Jose Calero and John Bullard. About 100 people paid nearly $1300 plus airfare and hotel costs to attend the conference, but you can see the entire conference for just $27.00. (Price good through June 30th.) Click here to learn more and see some video testimonials from real attendees.


I usually publish twice a month, but we took a small vacation in early June which is why this is the only newsletter you get this month. My next issue will be out shortly after the 4th of July holiday.


I have written about the insane ePacket program that the US Postal Service negotiated with China post that really screws American sellers on eBay and Amazon and gives a huge advantage to sellers from China that we can never beat. Well Amazon is now lobbying against the program (I hope eBay jumps on this soon). Here is a link to an article about the program by Kenneth Corbin in Ina Steiner's eCommerceBytes.


Stamps.com is once again repeating their special offer for my readers. Sign up and try Stamps.com and you will get a free digital scale (worth $40), free shipping supplies and $45 worth of free postage just for trying the service. Here are just a few of the benefits you get with Stamps.com:

  • Get up to 49% discounted rates on Priority Mail
  • Import orders from eBay,® Amazon.com® and more
  • Save up to 40% on package insurance
  • Hide the postage amount on your shipping labels
  • Ship worldwide with USPS First Class International

If you ever get your Amazon account suspended it can be very difficult to become reinstated. But it can be done. Don't wait until it happens. Cynthia Stine has created a short course that explains how to do this. Just go here to read about it.


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. Time to Sign up for The China Sourcing Trip

Putting this trip together has been a labor of love but devilishly complicated. I have been teasing my readers about this for the past three months - I had no idea it would take this long to work out the details, but we are finally ready to roll out.

In a previous issue I invited readers to join a special mailing list to get first crack at the trip and we have already had a few signups from them. But now the trip is open to every one.

Join me, and my good friend José Calero, for an amazing nine-day, in-depth trade mission to China by train and private bus. Find new and low cost products at China's largest Import and Export Fair (The Canton Fair) and visit the factories that make these products. Buying direct from China gives you a huge advantage over competitors and improves profits.

The highlights:

  • 9 days in China including 2 ½ days at the Canton trade fair with our expert team.
  • Two factory visits (consumer goods factories)
  • All breakfasts and most dinners (You are on your own for lunch or the hotel will make a box lunch for you for a reasonable charge).
  • All ground transportation except the taxi from the airport to/from your hotel
  • Tips and gratuities for all meals
  • Assistance with registration and visa
  • A full one-day seminar on China sourcing
  • A free day in Hong Kong at the end of the trip for sightseeing and/or shopping
  • Introduction to our trusted and experience sourcing team who you can work with to source, import and private label your products.

The entire trip is valuable, but that last bullet is the real reason you would want to make this trip if you ever decide you want to try importing directly. That is why I put that one in bold face.

As you will see when you get to the website, this trip is not cheap and you could certainly spend 9 days in China on your own for less money, but how would you know who to trust - how to evaluate suppliers - where to find a trusted agent to work with - which is the best shipping company to work with - where to find a customs broker who will work with small inexperienced importers and do all the paper work for them -and much much more?

I started importing about 9 years ago and you have no idea how much money I lost (several thousand dollars) to a combination of mistakes and fraud. It took me (and my partner in the trip Jose Calero) years to build up this trusted network of suppliers, agents and freight forwarders & customs brokers. Since getting that all in place. Not only have I not lost a dime - 100% of my deals have been highly successful and profitable.

For Example - last year I brought in a product for Christmas at a landed cost of just under $6 each and sold over 500 units in Nov/Dec for $24.95 each on Amazon. I had no quality problems and my return rate on the product was exactly 4 units out of 500 sold. And one of my contacts is helping me with the design and tooling of a hot selling product on Amazon that sells in the $29 range. My product with packaging and everything will have a landed cost of under $8. And when I re-order I will not have the one-time tooling cost to pay again so future re-orders will be under $6.00.

The trip is limited to 20 slots (4 of which are couple slots -however all the couple slots are now filled). So act fast if you want to take advantage of this. Here is the website where you can find complete information including a detailed day-by-day schedule of events. http://skipmcgrathchinamission.com/

Act fast as those few remaining seats could sell out quickly. Sorry I can't give you more time but we have hit the point where we have to make our room deposits within the next 10 days. If for any reason we do not hit our minimum everyone will receive a refund of their deposits.

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2. Do Amazon or eBay Sellers Need Their Own Websites?

This article is a guest article by Diana Ratliff. Diana is an ecommerce expert and highly knowledgably about ecommerce websites. Her contact info is at the end of the article.

By: Diana Ratliff

Contrary to what some experts say - and what some web marketers would have you believe, because they want your money - no, I don't believe every seller needs a website. Yes there are advantages to having one, but it depends on the nature of your business and the purpose of the website.

In my opinion, if one of the following applies to you, it may be smart to have your own website.

  • You need to sell yourself; your knowledge, your experience, your services.

    Some sellers need or want a professional web presence (email address, in particular) because it helps them find customers, vendors or partners. Even if it is nothing more than a glorified resume, if it helps convince someone that you're a legitimate business person or that you have knowledge worth paying for, a website might be a good idea.

  • Manufacturers or suppliers expect you to have an online sales channel of your own.

    As above, many manufacturers won't sell to someone who doesn't look like they own a real business. But some actually want to see an alternate online sales channel as well - a functioning online store, even if it's small. If you work with a lot of manufacturers who have this expectation (and not all do), a website may be a good idea.

  • A website helps you find merchandise.

If you look for particular merchandise to resell - used books, unused diabetic test strips, doll collections, war memorabilia, whatever - a site that explains what you're looking for can function as an online brochure for you. For an example of such a simple site, see DianaBuysBooks.com.

  • You sell related products to a coherent audience.

    In other words, you have a niche and the ability to identify and reach people who are interested in it.

    If you focus on bisque dolls or autographed sports collectibles or garden tools, your site is much easier to market because you can find blogs or Facebook groups where your prospects hang out. You can identify search terms and keywords for online marketing. You're also more likely to get people to give you their email address when they do arrive at your site because they know they're going to get more of what interests them.

  • You want to build a brand outside of Amazon or if you private label.

    If you have a brand or a line of products that sells well, it can be profitable to go beyond Amazon or eBay and find your own customers. You can build your brand, spread your message, provide more information and market more directly (collect email addresses, set retargeting cookies) when you own your own site.

  • You're wary of relying too heavily on one marketplace.

    What if Amazon starts selling your most profitable product and undercuts your price, or shuts you down altogether? What if changes in policies or processes at an external marketplace make it difficult to operate your business as you'd like? Ownership and control are compelling reasons to develop your own web presence.

Remember, a website isn't ultimately about you or your products at all; it's about what someone else needs to know or wants to buy. Is having your own website the best way to give them what they want?

If it is, keep in mind that it requires time, knowledge and money to put up a good site and keep it up to date. Technology has made it easier than ever to build your own website or online store, but access to a tool doesn't mean you know how to use it.

For example, if you want to sell online it's about much more than choosing a shopping cart. You need to understand branding. You need to develop a unique selling proposition (a reason to buy that particular product from your particular store.) You need to understand online buyer behavior, copywriting, product photography, how the search engines work, what policies customers prefer (say, free shipping) and oh yes, how to market your site.

Today, web-savvy consumers have higher expectations from websites they visit, and you have more online competitors than you used to. It hurts you more than it helps you to put up an amateurish site. If you believe that a website will help you grow your Amazon or eBay business, build it well, with a long-term strategy in mind.

"Your Friend on the Web" Diana Ratliff is an experienced online marketer and Amazon seller who specializes in branding and ecommerce websites. She is also the author of "Secrets to E-Commerce Income", available at http://www.EcomIncome.com.

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3. eBay Sellers – Start Preparing for the Product Identifier Requirements

Here is the announcement from eBay. This was originally mentioned in the Spring Seller update.

As announced in the Spring Seller Update, sellers who list branded items in new or manufacturer refurbished condition in the following categories will soon be required to include the item's brand, manufacturer part number (MPN), and global trade item number (GTIN) to complete listings in the following categories:

  • Baby
  • Books
  • Business & Industrial (Test, Lab, and Office Equipment)
  • Cameras & Photo
  • Cell Phones & Accessories
  • Clothing, Shoes & Accessories (Shoes only)
  • Computers/Tablets & Networking
  • Consumer Electronics
  • DVDs & Movies
  • eBay Motors
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home & Garden (Tools and Appliances only)
  • Music
  • Musical Instruments & Gear
  • Pet Supplies
  • Sporting Goods
  • Toys & Hobbies
  • Video Games & Consoles

Starting June 29, product identifiers will be required on new listings-a requirement eBay will enforce by preventing listing completion whenever product identifiers aren't included. Enforcement will be introduced on a category-by-category basis over the next few weeks. So add the required product identifiers to your listings now and make sure you're ready.

Learn more about product identifiers , how to update your new and existing listings, and why it's so important to include product identifiers on your listing inventory. If you have questions beyond those covered in the product identifier FAQs , be sure to join the conversation in our eBay Community , where eBay staff will be available to provide answers.

--End of announcement

The one thing that may be confusing is the requirement for a GTIN (Global trade Item Number). This is just shorthand for a UPC code, (or EAN code if an item is from Europe or Asia). In the case of books it will be the ISBN number.

Most new branded items have the UPC or EAN number just below the bar code. If you are selling a unique item that does not have a number, you can purchase UPC numbers online.

There are tons of companies who sell them, but I use one called Bar Codes Talk. This is a site I endorse. You can find codes slightly cheaper on other sites, but I have always liked the excellent service and support from Bar Codes Talk and I have never received a bad number, which often happens when you buy from cheaper sites.

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4. eBay Niche of the Month – Vintage Hi-fi & Stereo Equipment

Take a look at some of these vintage items selling on eBay. Note the prices. Vintage Hi-fi and stereo equipment from as late as the 1980s can sell for serious dollars, with those from the 60s and 70s bringing in really big money.

As with any vintage item the key is condition. First make sure the items you buy work and then take the time to clean them up. Take good photographs (from several angles) and be sure and reveal any flaws, scratches, missing items and so on. Also make sure you have all the plugs, chargers and connectors. If any of these are missing be sure and mention that in your listing.

Cheaper consumer-level stereos will bring less money but they will still sell. Last year I had an inexpensive Panasonic stereo receiver that I bought at a garage sale for under $20 that sold for over $90. But the better names and higher quality items will bring far more money as you can see in the listings above.

Two types of folks buy vintage Stereo equipment - Serious collectors and audiophiles who need a piece of equipment to complement what they already have.

Other important information to include in your listing is the specifications. If the item you are selling still has the box and/or instructions then the specs will be listed there. If not, in most cases you can type the name and model number into Google and you will get a page that lists the specifications.

Non-working equipment

There is a very small market for non-working vintage electronic items. These are sold to people who need them for parts. The Sell-through rate is not very high but they do sell. If you sell a non-working item, be very clear in both the title and description that the item does not work and is for parts only. For example you could say something like:

"Panasonic FET Stereo Receiver Model SA-700 - Non Working - For Parts Only"

You won't get much money for non-working units so make sure you buy them really cheap.

Where to Find Vintage Electronics

You will occasionally find them at garage sales and thrift shops, but Estate sales are much more likely to produce better finds. Estate sale dealers know vintage electronics are worth good money and they often mark them up too much, so be sure and negotiate for a lower price. If that doesn't work, go back to the sale at the end of the sale and if their price was too high they will often take a lowball offer.

Another place to find vintage electronics is to advertise. Advertise on Craigslist and other free classified ad sites, in throwaway papers such as the Little Nickel or even in your local paper classified ad sites. Your ad could say something like:

"Local collector will pay cash for your vintage Hi-Fi and Stereo equipment from the 1960s to 1990. Call Tim at 360-555-1212." Be sure and run the ad several times. For some reason when an ad runs more than once it starts to get calls after appearing 3 or 4 times.

Lastly you want to learn something about what you are selling so Google audiophile blogs and read up on the products. You will be surprised at how much you can learn in a short period of time.

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

In the last issue I mentioned a company that buys products from Amazon's lost and found and create lots by category that they turn around and sell to eBay and Amazon sellers.

The company is 888 Digital. Since writing about them, I have had some really good feedback from readers who were delighted with their selections and profits.

J&R Industries is a large wholesale art and craft supplies distributor, carrying a large line of arts and crafts supplies for retail stores, professional crafters, schools, and non-profit organizations. They stock over 12,000 art and craft products

Wholesale Mart sells wholesale gifts and bulk gift supplies at wholesale pricing. Buy wholesale gift basket supplies, wholesale gift items, bulk Christmas gifts and more at real wholesale pricing.

Photo Jewelry Supplies sells Italian Photo Charm Photo Bracelets, parts and supplies

DPJ Wholesale distributes value-priced wholesale general merchandise for businesses. All of their products are shipped directly from their warehouse in Hartford, CT. They sell wholesale, as seen on TV, clothing and accessories, craft supplies and more

O3 USA offers backpacks, luggage and headwear for children

Swinstar , part of Transworld Group company, sells a large collection of travelware such as suitcase, luggage, and bags.

MSC Distributors offers a large selection of t shirts including wildlife t-shirts, funny t shirts, skull t-shirts. They also offer Flexfit hats, headwraps, biker t-shirts, and other products

Cala Beauty Care Products sells hundreds of premium beauty implements for manicure, pedicure and personal care. The Cala Professional Nail line carries the most popular shapes, colors and designs.

Heat In A Click - We all know the qualities of applied heat and how relaxing and satisfying direct heat on the body can be. Their portable products allow you to take this one stage further and to feel good anywhere at anytime.

Peacock Imports sells gourmet all natural preserves and spreads including Mango Spread, Mixed Tropical Fruit Spread, Pineapple Preserve, Strawberry Preserve, Orange Marmalade. All their products are 100% Natural with NO Artificial Flavors or Colors.

Atlantic Spice Company sells Gourmet Spices, Herbs and Teas at Wholesale Prices.

Ess Pee Industrial Corporation - is a manufacturer and exporter of wholesale tools, wholesale hand tools, spanners, spanner wrenches, pliers, wrenches, pliers, vices, striking tools, garden tools, carpentry tools, leather tools, tool bags and tool holders from India.

JMK-Iit inc is a liquidator of DIY Tools, General Merchandise and Name Brand Closeouts. They carry over 2,000 items in stock at true deep discount pricing.

B.Dazzle, inc. sells Scramble Square puzzles for children, college students, teenagers, seniors and adults.

Hardcore Gaming sells a line of playmats for popular theme card games like Magic, The Gathering and Pokemon.

That's it for this month – See you again right after the 4th of July.

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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