Today’s post is a guest post by Sam Butterworth who designs eBay store templates. The 90 million strong eBay community buys more than $1,400 worth of goods every single second, which is more than enough to transform a profitable pastime into a full time business. In such a crowded marketplace though, it’s essential that your eBay store stand out from the crowd. Effective design is one method of adding value to your eBay store and helping prospective buyers differentiate the good from the bad.
Great design has an important part to play in developing a brand. The better your brand, the less price-sensitive your customers will become. The result is higher margins and a more professional storefront. So, if you’re thinking about designing your own eBay store, here are five un-missable tips to keep in mind.
1) Don’t run before you can walk
There’s no point creating an all-singing, all-dancing eBay storefront if your design is fundamentally flawed. The key is to get the basics right and lay solid foundations you can build upon.
Customers should be able to find their way around your store intuitively, without having to actively think about how to move from page to page. Create a clear navigational structure, make sure there are no broken links, and explain every step of the process in clear, simple language.
2) Dare to be different
eBay allows sellers to create up to 15 customized pages, so make the most of this opportunity and dare to be different. Creating a brand is all about telling a story and uniquely positioning your products in the minds of your customers.
Once you’ve decided what you want to be, stick to your guns and be prepared to overcome the challenges this may bring. Most importantly, don’t be tempted to stray off course. Inconsistent design can spell disaster for your brand, so stay true to your message.
3) It’s more than a fancy logo
There’s much more to great design than a fancy logo. Your design should dictate everything from the type of font and the prominence of images, to the layout of your signage and banners.
Color and contrast have important parts to play. Can your customers read your text without straining their eyes? If the colour is uniform on your eBay store, consider differentiating between menus and sub-menus by changing the font size.
4) Less is more
In many cases, great design is more about what you leave out than what you put in. Over-cluttering your store with too many images or too much text can scare your customers away, or just bore them.
In terms of customer behavior, overly-cluttered websites have been proven to increase exit rates and reduce those all important conversions; basically, everything you want to avoid. People don’t like to make too many choices, so limit the options you offer on each page.
5) Product descriptions
A great product description is about more than just the words on the page. It is one of the most important features of an eBay store, alongside quality images, user reviews and delivery information. If you don’t effectively convey the product information customers need, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
In terms of your design, use bullet points wherever possible, and display images against a white background, preferably with the product taking up at least 80 percent of the image.
If you are struggling with your eBay store design and could use a little help, there are plenty of custom-built templates out there to help you create a user-friendly, standout store. This isn’t rocket science but eBay success does benefit from some thoughtful design, so have a think about the tips above and feel free to share your own in the comments section.
1. New Wholesale Sources from The ASD Trade Show
2. When Does It Make Sense to Merchant Fulfill vs. FBA
3. Trial Balloon for a China Sourcing Trip
4. Guest Article – Should You Develop Your Web Site in Phases
5. Incorporating 101 – Why Should You Incorporate.
And don’t forget to look at the musings section. There’s always a lot of good stuff in there. This issue has as 70% off offer on Merchant Words, information about the Amazon 1099 and more.
This version has updated eBay fees and policies. Also, the book is no longer in a ring binder. We switched over to a two-volume set in spiral binding.
After 7 years of keeping the price the same, I was forced to raise the price this year. However the System still comes with some great bonus items. One of the most valuable is access to my confidential master file of wholesale suppliers.
Tools like Veeqo Inventory management Software can help you manage your inventory and orders far more efficiently. They can ensure that your products are synced across channels so that you don’t have to do it manually – this means that your stock will be updated so that if something sells out on Amazon, it will be updated in eBay. They can also save you time by automatically printing shipping labels, and you can set reorder levels so you’re never out of stock – which means you won’t be disappointing your customers.
This desktop app lets you create listings when you’re not connected to the internet, then upload them in bulk later when you’re online. It’s free and helps you create listings with its design editor and templates, and also save and re-use old listings.
This is another eBay seller tool; it assists in managing your sales, especially if you’re a high volume retailer. Schedule listings to go live at a later date, track your active listings, manage post sales activities like feedback and payments, download your sales records and more. It’s free and integrated into eBay.
Upload your item listings via CSV file or from Excel, create and list items in bulk, download active sales and sales history reports. Add, revise, re-list, and end a listing or update the status and leave feedback for a listing all in a single file. This is one of the most essential ebay tools, is free for qualified sellers, and is already integrated into eBay.
This tool allows you to see what your Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) fees would be. You can research products to sell and the FBA calculator will show you the costs associated with the FBA program compared to handling the fulfillment process yourself. This saves you time and effort as calculating fees can be time consuming and complicated. It also gives the most accurate calculation of fees as it is an Amazon integrated feature.
This tool lets you upload your listing onto Amazon and eBay simultaneously. If you run out of stock in Vendio, it immediately ends your eBay listing so there’s no danger of getting an order for something you no longer have.
This Amazon tool focuses on feedback management. It automatically emails your buyer network requesting feedback, and also lets you review any negative and neutral feedbacks received, monitor trends, and request removal of negative feedback, so you can ensure your ratings are consistently good, driving more customers to your Amazon store.
Item search, price checking, and inventory uploading/downloading, all in a user friendly desktop environment. The automatic re-pricing engine can adjust your price up and down according to your market position and the customized re-pricing rule allows you to verify and manually adjust prices before uploading to Amazon.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on Net Neutrality on Feb 26th. I have studied this and there is nothing “neutral” about Net Neutrality.
Anything that is backed and funded by the big Telecom companies can not be good for all the little guys like us.
I try and stay away from politics and political issues in my writing, but unfortunately the Internet has become a political issue and if there is one thing that should not be politicized –its the Internet. So I don’t really see this as a left or right issue. Its about the big guys versus the rest of us.
The regulations will allow the government to set Internet rates and create a Department of the Internet that will be controlled by whichever administration is in power. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican – it will eventually work against you.
Google around and read up on this –and if you agree, email your congressperson and the FCC with your concerns. You only have 9 days left until this happens.
Here is a link where you can find and contact your congressperson – https://www.congress.gov/members
And here is a link where you can contact the FCC – http://www.fcc.gov/contact-us
Today’s post is a guest post by Diana Ratliff and expert in website marketing. Her contact info is at the end of the article.
Make It Easy for Someone to Buy from You – Develop a Brand
By Diana Ratliff
If you want your products to stand out in the marketplace, you need three things.
1. to be discovered – prospects need to know you exist;
2. to be selling – the folks who find you need to buy; and
3. to be remembered – for repeat business and referrals.
Branding makes the third one easier.
Entrepreneur magazine defines branding as “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. Simply put, your brand is your promise to your client. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it distinguishes your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.”
Note that it is more than just your name and logo!
Having someone remember your brand in a positive way makes it easier for them to buy from you. Brands give us shortcuts – they save us from having to think too much or do too much work when deciding what to buy, because we know what to expect – that’s called a “brand promise.”
Consider a few successful brands.
Starbucks: They’re as much about lifestyle as they are about coffee, and they have intense brand loyalty. Starbucks is seen as a comfortable place to sip your favorite brew while chatting with a business connection or surfing the Internet.
Lexus: Lexus is the luxury car division of Toyota. The cars share engineering, the chassis, and design elements. Certainly the cars differ, but more important the brand differs. You see it in the way their salespeople are dressed and the way they treat you. The upscale showrooms and squeaky-clean service departments foster that impression of class and luxury. People pay a premium price for that.
McDonald’s: Fast service and consistency in taste, quality and pricing are the hallmarks of the McDonald’s brand. You know what you’ll get when you go into a McDonald’s restaurant, and we’re reassured by that.
Okay, so you’re not McDonald’s or Starbucks – let’s look at this in another way.
Your brand is your value proposition. It’s a positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide, who you do it for, and how you do it uniquely well. It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives. Very often, it’s described in your tagline or slogan.
Branding is the glue that binds various products together in your customer’s mind, and the dazzle that makes your products stand out above your competitors.
How though, to create a brand, especially if you’re offering products that others can sell too? Maybe you’re buying at wholesale or private-labeling products that others can also locate.
You need to find a way to make your product unique or better. Here’s what one client did.
He was buying lawn care items at wholesale and struggling to compete. There was no reason for someone to buy from him rather than anyone else, and he didn’t want to compete on price.
What he ultimately did was bundle them as a “recommended products kit” under his own brand. He added a DVD he made on how to use them.
No one else was bundling or adding the DVD, and few were targeting the market he chose, which is people who do not want to use certain types of products on their yard because they have younger children and pets.
He also created his own brand website. Though Amazon fulfilled the orders, the brand site allowed him to collect email addresses, set re-targeting cookies, and further educate prospects on the benefits of his product line.
You need to do something similar for the products you sell. You must either develop a product/line that is clearly different or better, or position it so that it’s perceived that way by your target audience.
Then wherever and whenever you market that product online, be consistent in the way you present it and talk about it, so that your brand becomes synonymous with a benefit to your prospect.
To sum up: Want to make it easy for someone to buy from you? Then focus less on “selling products” and start “promoting a brand.”
Diana Ratliff is an experienced online marketing consultant whose company, YourFriendontheWeb.com, specializes in e-commerce strategy, design and marketing. She’s also an Amazon and eBay seller.
She’s working on a special report, Secrets to eCommerce Income: What Sellers Must Know Before Starting an Online Store. If you have stories, anecdotes or advice to contribute, email her at Diana@dianaratliff.com.
If you’d like to be notified when the book is published, please sign her list at http://bit.ly/ecombook
1. Five Tips to Increase Your Amazon FBA Profits
2. eBay’s Woes Continue – Can They Ever Recover?
3. eBay Niche of The Month – 35mm Film Camera Lenses
4. Preventing Returns on eBay and Amazon
5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers
This is the early Feb issue. The next issue will be out around Feb 22nd. If you’d like to get a notice in the email about new newsletters you can sign up here. In addition to getting an email about the newsletter you’ll get some great bonus items.
I will give you FOUR Moneymaking eBooks with your no-cost signup.
Sixteen Great eBay and/or Amazon Niches – This free bonus is better than a lot of eBooks I’ve seen people sell! The book is almost 40 pages long and has details about 16 profitable niche markets. There are merchandise tips, background market information, photos and more!
Successful Product Sourcing: How to find REAL Wholesale Products YOU can sell Online – This eBook will help you earn higher profit margins by better product sourcing.
Forty-Four Wholesale Sources for Small eBay Sellers – Be sure to check out these great sources as well as the sample email to wholesalers on page four.
Online Auction Photo Secrets – This eBook will show how you can increase the number of bids your auctions get…and increase your final values ten-twenty or even thirty percent. This book usually sells for $17, but we’re giving it away as a gift to our new newsletter subscribers.
This is an article right off their website. This looks like a really cool product and I am going to try it. I will let you know how it worked out in a later post. When you get to the end there is a link for a free trial.
The old adage goes that the most important part of fishing is choosing the right fishing hole.
If you pick a pond where the fish are too small, you’ll waste time and effort with very few bites. If you pick a pond where everyone else is fishing, you’ll risk getting your line tangled and may never actually catch a fish.
The best spots have good fish, and only a few fishermen around.
Good advice for fishing – even better for selling on Amazon.
Picking the Perfect Fishing Hole
Selling on Amazon can feel like you are searching for the perfect fishing hole. Does this ASIN have enough margin? What is the competition like? What is the demand?
Unlike actual fishing however, when you sell on Amazon, you have access to millions of potential “fishing holes.” You could be selling anything – which often creates more anxiety than opportunity. Are you selling the right product? Should you change your strategy? What are the great opportunities you don’t even know about? Would you even recognize a great opportunity if it came by?
When you are filtering through electronic catalogues of thousands of items, it’s easy to wonder if you are making the right decisions.
Two Characteristics of a Great Amazon Fishing Hole
Here are the two main factors to help you determine if you found a good fishing “hole.”
1. People are making money
Everyone starts selling on Amazon to make money. But too often, sellers act like there is a magic prize for making the most number of sales, even if it means they haven’t made any profit. It is the equivalent of someone spending all day at the fishing hole and walking away with fifty sardines.
Many products on Amazon have razor-thin margins, especially after calculating your FBA fees. Some of these products end up being sold at a loss. Even if you can find a way to win the Buy Box, it’s often not worth your time.
You need a way to quickly measure if you will actually make money, instead of being stuck with a handful of sardines.
2. It’s not too crowded
If you pick an ASIN that has dozens or hundreds of other sellers, the only way to really distinguish yourself is to lower your price. Then you might find yourself in a price war and on a long race to the bottom. You want to find a place where there is plenty of room for more sellers.
Finding out that there are a few other sellers is actually a good thing, because it lets you know that someone else is finding success, but you can safely keep fishing without your lines getting crossed.
How to Fish on Amazon
While this all makes sense, you may still feel some anxiety. With millions of products to choose from, how can you make an intelligent choice? How can you make sure that you are in the right place and haven’t missed an opportunity? It’s impossible to examine every available product and figure out which ones are the best.
At least it used to be.
eComSpy is the perfect tool for anyone who wants to make sure they are fishing at the right hole. Simply upload an electronic catalogue with all the UPCs you want to research and within minutes, you will have all the information you need.
Your report includes:
Amazon product sales rank
Number of FBA sellers and total sellers
Lowest FBA price and lowest overall price
Potential profit calculations (factoring in FBA fees if applicable)
eComSpy will show you all the hidden opportunities you don’t want to miss. In fishing terms, it is the equivalent of examining all the ponds and streams in the world and instantly having information on how big the fish are, how often they bite, and who else fishes there. No fisherman would ever pass on that kind of information, and you shouldn’t either.
This is a major decision that will affect all eBay and Amazon sellers.
Brands can’t use copyright to stop resales, court confirms
In 2013, the fate of everything from used bookstores to neighborhood garage sales hung in the balance as the Supreme Court decided whether it was legal for people to sell secondhand goods without the permission of the original owner. Fortunately for resellers, the court said it was and, this week, a new court ruling cleared up the issue once and for all — for physical goods that is. Digital possessions are still a different story. Read the full story at Gigaom
I’ve updated my article, Twenty Tips for Selling on Amazon. It includes three good reasons that you should become a professional seller. (You can see one listed on the left.) You can also see ways to deal with negative feedback, packing tips and 17 other tips.
Selling on Amazon is a marathon, not a sprint. There are numerous factors and idiosyncrasies that play into selling effectively online, and it can take years to acquire all of the expert-level knowledge that’s out there. When deciding whether an item is worth the investment to sell on Amazon, sellers often factor the item’s existing sales rank into their decision.
Sales Rank Defined
As defined by Amazon, sales rank refers to the current selling performance of an item. A lower sales rank (higher numerical value) indicates a drop in sales for an item, while a higher sales rank (lower numerical value) denotes higher, more active sales for an item. Amazon doesn’t disclose its algorithm, but we know the retailer updates an item’s sales rank every hour in their effort to reflect recent sales trends and maintain a current ranking system. The idea of sales rank sounds simple enough, but much like selling online in general, there are complex elements that go into understanding the full scope of sales rank.
What Does Sales Rank Really Mean
Many sellers have a hard time grasping the true notion of sales rank. Some may believe it is a cumulative representation of a product’s sales standing overall, while others consider it a permanent grade that doesn’t change. In layman’s terms, sales rank can be thought of as representing sales velocity or the duration of time since the item was last purchased. A product’s sales rank will begin to rise until it sells again. The longer the period of time between sales, the higher that product’s sales rank will be. When a new sale for the product occurs, the sales rank drops—often significantly.
Sellers tend to either overemphasize or ignore sales rank. Sales rank shouldn’t be ignored because its data that comes directly from Amazon—which is hard to come by. Amazon is very selective in sharing data and anything that the marketplace provides should be taken into account. However, while sales rank provides valuable data, it only represents a product’s most current standing—not a history of the SKU’s sales position which should also be weighed.
Some sellers think that product reviews can be used to measure sales rank accuracy. The idea is that a greater number of reviews denotes a precise sales rank, while little to no reviews represents the opposite. This is incorrect. While both reviews and sales rank can technically be manipulated—reviews by sellers posting fake evaluations, and sales rank by sellers placing fake orders—reviews and sales rank still do not correlate even when neither is manipulated. Additionally, a manipulated sales rank will return to its true value over time while reviews will not.
Much like with product reviews, many sellers may be under the impression that stock quantity affects sales rank. This misconception is derived from the idea that if a seller has many of an item in stock, it may be likely that the item’s sales are infrequent. Because of all the factors that contribute to every individual seller’s replenishment methods, this is an arbitrary argument that does not contribute to sales rank at all.
Category Is Everything
One of the most important factors to recognize about an item’s sales rank, is that it is entirely relative to other items in that product’s category. In highly saturated categories like Health & Personal Care or Home & Kitchen, a higher sales rank means less competition for sales. Likewise, in a category less inundated with SKUs—such as Electronics or Jewelry—a lower sales rank can mean the opportunity for sales, but with much stiffer competition.
Paying close attention to popular sub-categories is also important. There is a general sales rank among parent departments and depending whether or not a product can be found in different sub-categories, the sales rank may change. Sales rank ties directly into search in the sense that even a good rank in a sub-category is only useful if that is how people are searching for an item. So while the fixed blade knife you’re selling may rank high (#33) in the sub-category of Hunting Knives, it can rank a bit lower (#89) in a sub-category like Knives & Tools, and much lower (#3,212) in the parent category of Sports & Outdoors.
Finding the Balance
With so many factors influencing sales rank, it can be difficult to decide how best to weigh the components that affect sales rank. We’ve compiled a checklist to help eliminate some confusion…
Understand Which Department/Sub-Categories Your Products Fits In. As mentioned, depending on the item’s department or sub-category, the sales rank can mean different things. The nature of your product will determine whether or not the parent department sales rank or the sub-category sales rank should be weighed more heavily.
Know Your Budget. What really matters is your decision to risk selling with high competition (low sales rank) and perhaps making a smaller profit, or with low competition (high sales rank) and maybe not making a sale. Deciding how much of your own money you have to spend on inventory for a specific SKU should be your ultimate deciding factor.
Use Google Trends to Gauge Public Interest. If an item has a high sales rank in a saturated department or category but you still wonder if there’s a market demand for it, you can use Google Trends to see if people are searching for that particular item. Google Trends will show recent search results, as well as results spanning years back and regional interest. In other words, if you’re an international Amazon seller and you see that the item in question is not popular in the U.S. but is widely sought after in Europe, you may choose to list it on Amazon France, Germany, Italy, UK or Spain.
This is one of the best explanations of sales rank I have seen. After reading this I felt like I had a college course in Sales Rank 101. If you are interested in learning about Appeagle’s’ repricing service, please click here.
If you would like to learn how to sell on Amazon professionally, please read about The Complete Amazon Marketing System – it’s a two volume training program that covers all aspects of learning how to sell like a pro on Amazon.
I wanted to let you know that I’ve updated another popular book. I just uploaded the January 2015 version of My Top Ninety-Nine Wholesale Sources For eBay and Amazon Sellers. As with all of my eBooks you get updated versions for life. If you’ve already bought the book just go back to the download page and you’ll find the newest version.
If you haven’t purchased this book I highly recommend it. You can have instant access to this specialized list, plus my own specialized wholesale search engine for just $4.99 –AND it comes with a money back guarantee if you are not happy with the information. You can’t beat a deal like that!
For most of us, inventory is our single biggest expense. Amazon is very simple – In general, the more SKUs you have, the more you will sell.
But under performing inventory can be a profit trap. As you go through the year, follow these steps:
– Practice Just in Time Inventory. Watch your stock like a hawk – know how long it takes to reorder and get new inventory into Amazon. Ideally you new inventory will hit FBA just as your last item sells.
-Pull an inventory report and a transaction report every month. On the transaction report, sort your transactions by SKU and create an extra column where you enter the cost of that product (including inbound and FBA shipping cost). This will tell you what your top sellers are and how much money you are making.
On your inventory report identify your slow sellers and take action such as lowering the price, rewriting your titles, keywords and descriptions, etc. Basically do anything it takes to get that inventory moving. If it just won’t move, then you have a dog product and you want to really lower the cost to get that money back to put to work on products that sell.
– Keep searching for new items to sell to replace those slow sellers.
– Don’t be a margin pig. Yes big profit margins are nice but not if the items are sitting there a long time. Lowering your price and margin will allow you to turn your inventory over more often. And, the more times you can turn you inventory over in a year the more money you will make.
-Don’t forget about the extra Long Term Storage Costs Amazon imposes twice a year on inventory that has been in Amazon over a year. Don’t get caught with a lot of that. It can be very expensive and a real profit killer.
Follow these steps and I guarantee you will see a more profitable 2015 than last year.
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