Today’s post is a guest post by Peachy Murry of Zuzutrading.com. Peachy has been selling online since 1997. Today she shares with online sellers specific habits and processes she has found that works well for her.
Work your way
I learned a log time ago that I’m an early morning person who likes to get up and get going pretty quickly in the morning while my husband, who is also an early riser, likes to ease his way into the day
Neither way is right or wrong. Discover what is your natural tendency to be the most productive and work that way.
Organize your way
If you work best with a clean desk with everything in its place, then the time you spend filing and tidying up is worth it to you.
If you prefer to have everything within easy reach (AKA piles of paper) then organize your desk and office that way.
The only caveat here is whatever method you use, be sure you can find things quickly because you can’t buy more time. Organize is the key here, not the way you organize.
Develop a daily routine and prioritize what has to be done first. Is it shipping, returning email or something else? Work your way down the list. This insures you get the ‘must dos’ done every day. Whether you use a paper calendar or something online it doesn’t matter, just use something.
Add a once-a-week routine that is set to be accomplished on the same day each week. I like Thursdays because Mondays are usually crazy.
Add a monthly routine of things that must be done every month and set it up on the same day each month, maybe the second Monday of each month. This is great for things like sales tax reports or other government requirements. If the day of the month is early for the due date it’s okay. You can do it early. Early is better than late in my book.
You can expand this to include a quarterly and yearly list.
A routine will help you more than you can imagine. It insures things done on time, relieves the stress of worrying about getting that sales tax done on time, and it frees up time for other things you want or need to do. I’m sure you’ll find other benefits as you get in the habit of using your routine.
While it may seem contrary to what I just said about a routine don’t be a slave to your schedule. After all you’re doing this online thing to have some freedom and if you aren’t flexible you can’t enjoy the hard work you’ve put in to earn some of that freedom.
Don’t miss that big FOL sale because a specific task is on your list for that day. Complete the task before or after the sale. And don’t even think of missing seeing your child or grandchild play that baseball game or be a tree on stage. Like I said do things before or after something you want to do.
Think of your routine as the recipe for a complicated dish and your flexibility as your option to leave out the cilantro because you don’t like it.
Invest in the equipment you need
You can’t run an online business without a computer, printer and internet access. I suppose you could go to the library and use their equipment but think of the lost time. In my opinion it isn’t practical.
Additionally, you should have a label printer for your shipping labels. You might want to consider a scanner too if you go to a lot of yard sales or Friends of the Library sales.
These are the tools of your trade and are fully deductible from your taxes. I also believe that business cards are essential. You can have very nice cards printed for about $10. Imagine meeting someone at a sale that wants to give (as in free) you 25 pairs of new shoes. A business card conveys the message that you are serious about your business. It is a cheap investment.
I know the ugly G word. But .. remember goals keep you focused, increase the effective use of your time and allow you to be more creative in looking for ways to reach your goals.
Don’t be afraid to readjust your goals especially if the goals you’ve set show you need to be moving in a different direction.
I recommend that you make assessing your goals on a regular, stated basis, a goal in and of itself. You could add that to your weekly or monthly list.
Why are you doing what you’re doing?
I know some people make this part of their goal setting. Only you can say why you’re doing what you’re doing. Maybe it is to spend more time with your family or owning your own business has always been a dream of yours.
Whatever the reason don’t lose sight of it. Focus on that reason and love what you are doing.
I hope reading this post helps you in your business and your personal life. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Surely when you started your online business, you weren’t expecting to end up spending almost half your time handling returns, but the statistics are real. Returns usually comprise about 10 – 15 % of a seller’s inventory, yet on average, monopolizes about 40 % of a seller’s time. Some Amazon sellers just look at their returns as the cost of doing business and consider it a loss. But, one of the most efficient and effective ways to make your business more profitable is to refurbish those returns & re-list them for sale on Amazon.
When dealing with returns, time is always of the essence. Not only to keep your customers happy and stay in good standing with Amazon, but any item (especially consumer electronics) depreciate in value relatively quickly. So to recover the most money out of your returns, you need a quick turn around time from when it’s been shipped back to when it has been completely refurbished and ready to re-list for sale on Amazon.
So, what is refurbishment exactly? Refurbishment is part of the return handling process. Once a return is received, it is checked into the returned inventory system by first evaluating if the return has the correct product including: all parts, cords, etc. Next, a qualified technician:
1. Tests each item to ensure that it works properly
2. Sets the item back to its original factory defaults
3. Cleans (sterilizes, if necessary) each item thoroughly
4. Issues a ‘Condition Status’ per Amazon’s Guidelines, for example, USED – Like New
5. Repackages the item
6. Updates the item’s LPN label to re-list it for sale on Amazon
As I grew my business, the more returns I received and the less time I had to deal with them.
That’s why I choose to outsource my return handling to MarksmanRSC. In fact, in my Amazon Seller Central account I updated my ‘Ship Returns To’ address to Marksman Refurbishing Service Center (+ my five digit account#) so all my returns go directly there.
When MarksmanRSC receives my return, they check it into my inventory page per my account number so I can follow the whole process online. If a return ships in unopened, there’s no charge. The great thing is, once I see that an item on my inventory page has had it’s ‘Condition Status’ issued (usually within 3 days), I know it’s been completely refurbished and can then use that status to immediately relist it for sale on Amazon. If it sells in less than three months, MarksmanRSC dropships my order directly to the customer (or back to FBA) and there’s no warehouse charge. Outsourcing my returns has totally opened up my time to focus on growing my business and it costs me less than doing it myself. Registration & quotes are free and they only charge per item serviced. To learn more about outsourcing your returns, here’s a link to MarksmanRSC’s website and youtube channel.
Diana Ratliff is an experienced online marketing consultant and Amazon seller. Visit http://easternshoremarketing.com/diana/ for information about ecommerce web design and marketing, or for information on their new platform for Amazon Sellers who want to grow their brand while still generating sales through Amazon.
Amazon and eBay sellers often find themselves with extra merchandise to dispose of – returns or damaged items. And many sellers scour garage sales or thrift shops for certain types of merchandise they like to sell.
Not many know that there are Facebook groups – probably already running within your community – to allow area residents to sell unwanted items. And it’s not hard to start your own!
To find local groups, search within Facebook for your city name or area plus terms such as yard sale, garage sale, swap shop, classifieds, or buy sell trade. Join a few groups, read the rules, and start buying and selling! Note what you like and don’t like about how each group operates as you decide whether to start your own.
I ultimately started my own group (which now has about 3300 members) because most of the local groups were filled with ads for used clothes, purses, and shoes – items I was not interested in buying or selling. So in my group you can’t sell those items (unless mentioned as part of a larger garage sale). I also don’t allow pets, real estate, any businesses or for-profit sales within my group.
Members may sell individual items or advertise their garage, estate or yard sale.
I have seen groups focused on children’s clothing and toys. Groups focused on items of interest to men. Groups focused on books.
The point is that if it’s your group, you can set it up so that it benefits your business.
Mine is set as a CLOSED group (so you need to ask to Join) and posts need to be approved. I do have one other Admin (a lady I’ve never met but who has been an active member.) I got it started by mentioning it on my personal Facebook page and asking a few friends to do the same. I also periodically ask members to invite their friends.
Most of the time it runs pretty smoothly – although every once in a while some member is mad at another member and messages one of us. (Usually the complaint is “I said I wanted it first but they didn’t sell it to me.” I respond that people can sell to whoever they want, and that there are reasons a seller might prefer one buyer over another – they know the person, they can pick it up
You’ll need to set up group rules, which is one reason to look at how other groups do it, first.
For example, most set rules about how often you can add items or “bump” an existing post. Most caution you not to make frivolous comments or “likes” on items being sold. Most request a clear photo, price, description and location in the post.
I tell members that price negotiations and pickup arrangements should be moved to private messages. Members are usually asked to delete the post when an item is sold, but they forget, so periodically we delete old posts.
I have sold some good merchandise that way and bought some too. My most profitable find was a collection of 75 NIB Barbies for $300 – they sold for a nice profit on Amazon. I also said one time that I was looking for Starbucks mugs and got a bunch.
Of course, you have to abide by your own rules. If you say “no businesses” you can’t represent yourself as one, either. That negative is somewhat offset though by the fact that, if posts require approval, you see them before everyone else does.
I encourage you to use such groups within your own area when you have extra merchandise to sell. And consider starting your own! It’s free to do and relatively easy to manage if you check Facebook often.
I’ve updated one of the most popular books on the site, Sell Used Books on eBay, Amazon.com and the Internet for Profit. The book business is a natural choice for someone who loves books. Life is always better when you are doing something you love. If you love books and reading as much as I do, you can find joy and satisfaction in helping others find what they are looking for and you can make some really good money doing it. What could be better?
1. Always Answer Customer Communications quickly – When you get a question from a customer, Amazon wants you to answer it within 24 hours and if you do not that is a demerit against your account. You can see customer questions in your Seller Central just to the left of the page and you can set up your account so customer questions are forwarded to your email so you can answer them even if you are not currently working on Amazon. If you have a smart phone, you can even answer them from your phone.
2. If you are merchant fulfilling make sure to ship all orders within 1 business day and always enter the tracking information – Amazon requires you to state the handling time for all products and to meet that expectation. Not doing so can lead to losing featured seller status and if your numbers are really bad Amazon may cancel your account.
3.Don’t trust UPC codes when listing items – When you have an item for sale, you enter the UPC code into the Amazon page where it says Add a Product. But it is your responsibility to make sure the item you are selling is the exact same item as listed on Amazon. What happens is that manufacturer’s update their products with new features and don’t always change the UPC code. This happened to me a couple of years ago. I bought some home security camera systems from a liquidation outlet. Unbeknownst to me, the reason the manufacturer sold to the liquidator was they had improved the item by adding a recordable disk drive but they did not change the UPC code. So I listed my item and when they sold, I got everyone of them returned along with a couple of bad feedbacks.
It is your responsibility to make sure that what you are selling on Amazon is exactly like the product in the listing. Not only look at the photographs closely but read the full description and the specifications to make sure what you are selling is the 100% identical product.
4. Describe product accurately – This may seem like a no-brainer, but believe me if there is even the slightest difference between the product you are delivering, and what you describe in your listing, customers will notice. This will lead to returns and negative feedback.
5. Ask for Feedback – Amazon buyers seldom leave feedback unless you ask them. I currently use Feedback Five. This is a third party service that automatically sends out an email to each customer telling that if there is anything whatsoever wrong with the transaction to let us know and give us a chance to fix it. The emails are sent out automatically and contain a link for them to just click on and leave feedback. After 5 years on Amazon my feedback was still under 50. After just two years of using Feedback Five, my feedback is now over 900. And those emails have helped me prevent several negative feedback situations when customers contacted me first before leaving feedback.
And before I tell you about the newsletter I want to point out a VERY special item in the musings. Specifically, this section:
As you may imagine December is a big month for our product sales on eBay and Amazon but my book sales tend to die during December, so I usually run a sale on my books. (I apologize in advance for anyone who just bought a book before the sale but I can’t go back and undo that)
I am offering 25% off all my products from now, until Midnight Christmas Eve. Just use the coupon code SAV25SKIP. After you enter the coupon be sure and click the button that says APPLY or it will not take.
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY – If you want to buy more than one book you will need to buy them separately because my shopping cart will only discount the last item sold. If you add more than one item to the shopping cart it will only take the discount on the last item added. We have tried to fix that but our shopping cart provider just will not do it.
Yep, you can use the coupon code SAV25SKIPto get 25% off all of my products from now until Midnight Christmas Eve.
Now to the newsletter. Here’s the scoop:
Is Amazon Inventory Placement A Good Deal for Sellers?
Does it Make Sense to Upgrade to Professional Seller on Amazon?
Before I get started let me state clearly and strongly that I AM NOT A TAX EXPERT but I do have a lot of experience in business and these are some of the things I have learned you can do to lower your taxes for this year.
There are two methods of accounting –Cash and Accrual. When you keep your books and file you taxes on a cash basis you can take expenses and deductions when you incur them, but when you use the accrual method you have to spread them out over the year and expense them when they occur in real time. Therefore for small online businesses I think you will find the cash method better and more advantageous. (Talk to your CPA before doing this so you can learn the rules).
Basically what you want to do this time of year is prepay any expenses you can and order merchandise for resale before the end of the year. This way you can take those expenses on your 2015 taxes. For example, just last week I prepaid my website hosting for the next three years). My CPA says I can take that entire expense this year.
Of course you only want to do this if you had a profitable year. If you are already in a loss situation this would only make it worse. And remember losses are not that bad if you are spending money that will make you a profit later. And also remember you can take losses against your regular income from a job if you have one.
If you have not yet started your business then December is a great month to do so because you will have expenses but little or no income so you can take those paper losses against any other income you have but you will already be set up to make money starting in January.
How to Easily Turn Your WordPress Blog into a WordPress Website – Despite the fact that the default setting of WordPress is as a blog, it can be used to make websites. How? It’s really pretty easy. This article shows you how.
Amazon Proven Inventory Performance – Jim Cockrum has a new program called the Proven Performance Inventory. I have looked this over and its excellent like all of Jim’s programs. Here are the details . . .
Is it Still Worthwhile to sell on eBay? – I get this question a lot and the short answer is yes, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers – Books, tools hatsand more
Many Amazon sellers do not know that Amazon will fulfill your eBay (or website or any other sales venue) orders for you. And the best part is that Amazon passes on their low UPS rates to you when they do that.
The way it works is simple. When an item sells on eBay (or any other site), find the item in your FBA inventory and click the box next to the item. Now look at the drop down box above your inventory listing and select “Create Fulfillment Order.” Hit the Go button and Amazon will bring you to a page that has a field for the address and the email address. Fill in the information and hit Continue and it takes you to a page that shows the shipping charge. It also gives you the option to select expedited shipping if that is how you sold it. Select the shipping and hit continue and Amazon will now fulfill your order.
Having explained all that there is a better way. I use a company called JoeLister that can help you create eBay listing from your Amazon FBA listings and fulfill the products automatically for you. I have been using them for several months now and its working out quite well. They not only automatically fulfill the order, they post the tracking to eBay and if your FBA inventory falls to zero Joelister will also zero out your eBay listing so you don’t sell something you don’t have.
Amazon Launches Amazon Handmade – Handmade arts and crafts has long been the domain of eBay and Etsy until now. Now Amazon has jumped into this market in a big way.
Inventory Planning for The Rest of the Holiday Season – One thing you should know is this time of year Amazon’s warehouses are so swamped with shipments that it takes much longer to accept and store goods. But nevertheless if you have inventory arriving keep sending it in.
Perfecting Titles and Keywords on Amazon (and eBay) -This article is mostly directed at Amazon and most of my examples relate to Amazon but almost all of this information will carry over to eBay sellers as well. At the end I have an additional paragraph about optimizing this information for eBay sellers.
New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers – Baby items, Hawaiian soaps, tablewareand more
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