The 3 Ways to Increase Your Online Business Part 2: More Sales Channels

Welcome to part 2 of a 3 part series that covers the three ways in which I consider the quickest and easiest ways of increasing your online business. If you missed the first part, this was on efficiency both internal efficiency, everything that happens inside the business and external efficiency, being more effective on your customer facing side of the business.

In this part, I’m going to be covering the thorny subject of ‘More Sales Channels‘. I say its ‘thorny’ because if not done well, then its going to have repercussions, however I feel its critically important that you diversify your risk and reach.

I did cover part of this in two previous  articles, the first called How To: Selling on eBay with more than one eBay ID and the second as the first caused quite a stir, called Part 2: Leveraging more than one eBay ID I’m going to be drawing from these two articles and explaining a little deeper on why you should consider duplicating (tactfully & gracefully) your current business.

Why more sales channels?

Lets get this out of the way first, as its the common question. As I mentioned yesterday the use of software tools such as  eSellerProChannelAdvisorLinnworks247TopSeller etc… force the business to use a set of processes, that are most likely far superior to what is being employed currently. This alone (after some hardwork & sweat learning these I hasten to add) will typically result in more turn over, as the business is some 5x times more efficient at the tedious, repetitive processes. Also the core users time is normally freed to focus on other important tasks, namely better descriptions, more stock, faster order processes and so on… resulting in more sales.

However… The critical point here outside of ‘efficiency’, is that the largest spikes in clients turnover is when they plugin another sales channel.

The simple sum here is:

More sales channels =  More Turnover

The Largest spikes

The largest and most immediate spikes happen when a business employs eBay or Amazon, when it was missing from their current sales channel mix

First lets imagine a solely Amazon based business that is not selling on their own website or eBay, as soon as you plugin these in, typically this is where you see the largest spikes in their companies turn over.

The same is true of the reverse, where a company may be solely eBay, when they add Amazon to the mix (because they can relatively easily as they are using one of the said tools) they’ve added another sales channel that responds quickly to their actions and thus, more turn over.

Certain software providers will use a clients growth as testament to that companies software product is the ‘better choice’; While this is partially true because such tools enable more efficient processes for unifying scattered business operations and like to shout about the growth companies experience when using the said tools, in reality they’ve just become more efficient and have added a major new sales channels into the mix. The real question is, what happens when you have done these steps?

Shoot me now

I’m going to go out on a limb here and actually say that when you’ve hit the natural growth points, ChannelAdvisor might be the better choice for you because of their dedicated “account management” structure & crucially experience.

While the other software products I’ve mentioned have such layers of varying degrees, when you’ve truly automated what you can, you’re stuck. The reliance for the business expansion goes back to the business owners & third party consultants like myself. If this is an area you know you’re going to struggle with, the extra fees could be a sound investment.

Note: For those who don’t know my history here, I spent over four years in direct competition with Channel Advisor in two SaaS products. If there is anyone that has the right to be anti-Channel Advisor, I’m them. Hey I even suggested I should throw their MD over the desk in an earlier article :)

I’m aware of changes that are occurring in another product and quite frankly I don’t like them, there is too much reliance on the product being the be-all-and-end-all. It gets you so far, but after that, you need that extra support.

And yes I am suggesting you could/should pay more for a software a product and saying you may not need my services (just yet), but that’s OK. You need to get as far as you can on your own.

I’ve already done this, what now?

If you have already implemented one of these software tools and have Amazon & eBay running well, then you are primed to expand.

What I mean by this is that you’ve gone through the learning curve of the software tool, you’ve got your data prepared for both of the key channels and probably have added on a website at the same time.

Sooo to recap you have:

  1. The majority of the steep learning curve completed
  2. Staff (hopefully) trained up on its use
  3. Processes in place to deal with over 10 times more orders
  4. Clean data that is just waiting to be “abused” to more channels
  5. More time to focus “on” the business, rather than working “in” the business

Note: If you have not got to this stage yet, then you should seriously consider using one of the software tools I mentioned as soon as humanly possible. The quicker you start using one of these, the quicker you reap the rewards of ‘efficiency‘.

Which leads nicely on to the next section.

The principles

Going back to the earlier article on selling on more than on eBay ID, we need a refresher on the underlying principles behind this and my views on these marketplaces.

For the vast majority of manufactured goods, you are not the only company selling them, thus every single day, customers choose your competitors over you. There are an infinite number of reasons for this, timing, colour scheme, layout, description, title are a few factors.

Which leads on to this pivotal statement:

So if you’re selling widgets, there are lots of other widget sellers for customers to choose from, so why not be one of the other widget sellers?

I included a simplified calculation on what this could mean in the article, a rough outline is that if you are 1 of three sellers for product X, with all things being equal**, you have a 1 in 3 chance of selling to the buyer, however, if you added an additional selling account so that there is now a 2 in four chance of selling to the buyer, you’ve not increased your odds of selling from 33% to 50% and I like the latter.

** None of the sales channels are equal, there are a large number of factors that influence each of them. However if you’re using a business model that works, then there is a fair chance you’ve got the majority right.

Also risk is an important factor to be considered, imagine that your sole channel ID gets a stream of negatives and you get left in the brown stuff, even with the eBay TRS protection for 3 months that’s kicking in, its going to be difficult to recover. By diversifying risk over multiple selling identities, you’re able to lower the overall risk to the business.

The other key point, is that if you’ve already created the inventory record once, then altering it to sell it again (but differently, see the important section on this in a few moments), then you’re 75% on the way to being able to add multiple identities.

Original Time To Create the Record
+  (Original Time To Create the Record / Number of ID’s + Time to make edits)
= Overall time to create inventory

From the calculation above, the largest amount of time is spent creating the first inventory record, as soon as you add duplicates, they are what they are, copies of the original and then needed to be altered with minor details for leveraging more channels.

What do I mean by “sales channels”?

Maybe I should have included this sooner, however to clarify, one eBay ID is a sales channel, one Amazon account is a sales channel, one website is a single sales channel etc…


(You can see where this is going)

Imagine you had to start your business again tomorrow, scary thought right?

Realising that you have already got 75% of the hardwork done, the learning curves for software, the processes in place, great, clean inventory thats being pushed out to your main sales channels, hey you may have even added a few channels while going through the set up processes, does duplicating your business onto additional sales channels sound that scary?

Potential new sales channels

While not exhaustive, here is a list of sales channels that you could leverage.

  1. eBay
  2. Amazon
  3. Website
  4. Comparison search
  5. Affiliates
  6. Retail shop
  8. PPC
  9. Social (this is a special one, covered later on)

Are you using all of these? Are you using all of these times 5? 10? 25? more?

My point is, as soon as you’ve completed the steps for one of these channels, duplicating it again is only a fraction of the work.

Early conclusion

I’m stopping here as I need to work on ProjectE related tasks today. I know I’ve not covered the ins-and-outs of this topic thoroughly and I’ll be revisiting this either here or with you when ProjectE goes public.

One topic that I have clearly avoided is how to to duplicate these sales channels, this is where the line kinda-goes-grey for many reasons, however the biggest one is that it directly competes with ProjectE.

However there are two points I feel is important to add. The first is that if you make a direct clone of your main eBay ID, then its unlikely to add any huge value to your customers, the channel and ultimately the business.

There are normally many “threads” (verticals is the correct term, you’ll probably understand ‘product ranges’ more easily) that can be followed to create the new ID with and the second is that duplicating Amazon should be given a wide birth for the reasons covered in the earlier article here. Everything else is fair game.

The 3 Ways to Increase Your Online Business Part 1: Efficiency


As far as I see it there are are three core ways to increase your online business, this is pretty much universal across all the marketplaces and yes, I am blatantly ignoring some of the “traditional methods” in this article.

The first of these three ‘ways’ is “efficiency” and I’m looking forward to detailing the following two in the next few days or so, but for now, lets get right into ‘efficiency’.


Efficiency in general describes the extent to which time or effort is well used for the intended task or purpose. It is often used with the specific purpose of relaying the capability of a specific application of effort to produce a specific outcome effectively with a minimum amount or quantity of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort. “Efficiency” has widely varying meanings in different disciplines. Wikipedia

This article has two spurs, the first is internal efficiency and the second is external efficiency. They are quite different and I’m looking forward to showing how they differ and what they mean for you.

Internal efficiency

What I mean by this is making the processes you use each day more efficient. This could be the implementation of software products like eSellerPro, ChannelAdvisor, Linnworks, 247TopSeller etc… What you’ll not be openly told, is that such tools add processes and normally the gains made by using such software stem from a single source, which is…

Efficient Processes!

None of these tools (yes they are tools, they are not the be-all & end-all) are not quick to learn, however if you’re migrating from one to another, then they are generally all very similar, they just have different interfaces, features and dare I say it quirks too. But the underlying factor in them all, regardless of design, is that they enforce processes onto the business and typically they are a lot more efficient than the processes the business was using before.

This might be inventory creation, unifying the data that is created, so that it can be ported across many sales channels, courier rules to match orders to the most cost/time efficient service or just simple order processing of orders from multiple channels in a single place.

The list goes on, however ultimately, these tools are designed to automate the labour intensive tasks and this is where the one of the largest gains can be made by a company, because after the initial learning curve** (see note), strict (ish) processes are in place and the bi-product of efficiency here is time gained, which typically goes into three places:

  1. Sourcing & creation of more stock
  2. Greater focus “on” the business
  3. More leisure time (lol, I had to add this one, I’ve only seen one do this thoroughly and I envy them greatly)

** This varies greatly from not only one software product to another, but to person-to-person also. Noting that some people just fail at this stage, its typically tied to either the person not being capable (through lack of applicable skills) or through their unwillingness to let-go of certain tasks.

Outside of “software products” that add obvious efficiency gains, focusing on the processes that are used to do the following, all allow extra efficiency to the business

  1. Sourcing stock & supplier relationships
  2. Managing accounting
  3. Managing staff (internal and external)
  4. Create new, better products (and/or inventory data, if not a manufacturer)
  5. And so on…

Internal Efficiency Summary

Internal efficiency is everything that happens inside the business, this could be the use of software “tools”, that typically give the biggest gains or becoming more efficient with accounting, so that the funds that are in the company move quicker (or slower) or even developing better relationships with your suppliers to then leverage a greater buying power outside of pure monetary forms.

External Efficiency

To define what I mean here by “External Efficiency”, this is everything that happens on sale producing platforms and not internally related (such as accounting or sales order processes). I know these are directly linked, but if you simply think of the internal efficiency as everything you do in your offices and the external efficiency as everything your customer sees.

As the majority of readers here are focused on three areas eBay, Amazon and Website commerce, I’ll keep to these three areas. LogoeBay Efficiency

Starting with eBay, I am implying that gains can be made through more efficient listing practices & styles. This could mean using more item specifics data, reworking your listing titles, especially if you consider that the titles on eBay are going from 55 chars to 80 chars soon, why not rework your current titles now, but also rework them so that you add-in the extra characters later, when the longer listing titles have been launched.

Note: I’m thinking reworking listing titles now using market research, but also keeping track of the current title in excel, the new title (to be changed now) and a longer title that is ~80 chars long, all with the custom title, so that they can be updated through the said third party software, or if you are not using these, then something like eBay File Exchange to update them en-mass later.

Adding of cross-selling modules to listings, better product images, reworking item descriptions that you know are poor or have caused numerous questions and so on…

I could (but I’m not going to) go on a bender here with regards to eBay, however, let me pose you this question and leave you to make your own decisions:

If you were starting from scratch and could change anything you wanted about your current eBay set-up, what would you change?

Now change them.

Amazon Efficiency

Focusing on the external side to Amazon, when was the last time that you looked to see if there were any duplicates of your products on Amazon and listed against those as well?

While Amazon is supposed to have a single record for a single product, with so many merchants creating inventory on Amazon, you’re bound to find duplicates across your product range and you could leverage these to gain extra sales and sometimes for more money too as there are less competitors with these records.

This is just one area of many that can be employed with Amazon, the other two note-worthy tasks in relation to Amazon is to increase your exposure across the other Amazon sites, as Amazon have recently enabled UK accounts to sell across Europe and the second is FBA.

Have you looked at Fulfilment By Amazon yet?

If not, do so now here oh and this tool is well hidden, I only found it a few days back, here is Amazon’s FBA calculator!

Website Efficiency

Perhaps the biggest opportunity, yet the biggest challenge for online businesses. With eBay & Amazon, the marketing fees (yes eBay and Amazon fees are MARKETING FEES, not a fee for being party of a community and drooling over feedback counts), its hard for merchants to comprehend that they need to spent more on the promotion of their website than they do with either of these channels.

Its a common complaint, that they[merchants] do really well with regards to the other two channels but fail completely when it comes to their website channels. If you’re focusing 99.9% of your time & resources on eBay & Amazon, its no wonder that they account for 99.9% of your sales. What would happen if you flipped this on its head, do you think you’d make a pretty hefty dent in the 99.9%?

I’m over a thousand words at this point, so if you’ve got this far you’re doing great. This topic deserves hundreds of thousands, but I’m going to cut it short to stay on topic and detail a few ideas you could focus upon to make your website more “efficient”.

  1. Look at page load times
  2. Improve categorisation
  3. Add better category descriptions
  4. Create backlinks in forums
  5. Create a email marketing campaign
  6. Create a blog
  7. Do some article marketing
  8. Add tracking counters (or set events/funnels) for critical pages, such as home, category, item detail, add to cart events, cart, checkout stages and the cart final page. So you can measure them and then make changes to improve them and have quantifiable data to measure the impact.
  9. Try some simple A/B testing using
  10. Set up a Google Adwords campaign, if you already have done so when was the last time you looked at the ad groups or where you were gaining links from, could you create some targeted backlinks on the content sites that are delivering click through’s?

Efficiency Summary

While both mutually dependent & a little tricky to get-ones-head-around to begin with, internal efficiency is everything that happens in the background and external efficiency is everything that the customer sees. In both cases there will need to be efforts made to improve efficiency, some will be simple and quick to do, while others are much longer term.


I’m inclined to include two books for some light reading here (both aff links) and the full list of my reading materials can be found in my library:

  1. 4 Hour Work Week
    The first is the 4 Hour Work week by Timothy Ferris whom takes the concept of efficiency and smashes it to pieces (also introduces you to a concept of dreamlining, but that is quite a shocker and you need to read the book to at least comprehend this, its why I sat in the sun all day yesterday with the kids & friends enjoying a picnic)
  2. e-Myth Revisited
    The second is another personal favourite, E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Sarah and ‘All About Pies’, I can vividly imagine the manager of the hotel taking the file off his shelf and showing him the processes, the walk from the reception to the restaurant & the orchard.The last chapter is rubbish compared to the rest of the book, but if you need (and I’m guessing you do, because I did) a easy step into the franchise model, even if you have no intention to ever franchise your business, this is a fantastic starting point. Oh and when you’ve read the book, I have the managers hat on currently, whom is whipping my technician in to writing this article.

This concludes this section of a three part article on “The 3 Ways to Increase Your Online Business”. The next two… I’ll release in the next few days, but for now, did you find this useful?

Removing Old Email from Hotmail

If like me, you’ve had a hotmail account for years, there is a high chance that its probably clogged up with, hundreds if not thousands of emails that you’ll never read and I was finally bugged by logging into Windows each time and it telling me I had in excess over 24,000 unread emails. Not funny.

I Googled a bit and the only helpful post was to contact their customer support and ask for them to be removed, thinking this would probably take ages and knowing I could probably do this in a few minutes with iMacros, I put this little macro to work.

Hotmail iMacro:


How to make this work

Over to the right you’ll see I cleaned out almost 25,000 emails and its really easy to do.

But first we need three parts to be able to complete this:

  1. FireFox web browser
  2. iMacros plugin for FireFox
  3. This macro (saved as a zip file)

The web browser and iMacros plugin are pretty straight forward, download and install if you don’t have FireFox, then once installed go to the iMacros plugin page and press the download button and follow the on-screen instructions.

Then download the macro and unzip to your macros directory, by default this is in mydocuments > imacros > macros. Once added, open up Firefox and look for the iMacros button in the header, if its not there press “View” along the top, then “Sidebars” and select “iOpus iMacros” and the side bar will appear.

You should see a list of macros down the left column, if you do not see the Hotmail.iim one, at the bottom there are three tabs, press the edit tab and then press the “Refresh Macro List” button as shown to the left.

This will update the current list with the new macro you’ve added, now we’re almost ready to go!

Login to Hotmail and then go to your inbox, to begin with we’ll just run the macro once to ensure that its working, select the macro from the list and back on the play tab, press “Play”.

You’ll see the macro hit the check box at the top of the emails and then delete them. That’s great, but that is only for first page and if like me, you had hundreds of pages to go through we need the little extra option which I’ll explain now.

With the macro selected, we can run this as many times as we wish to, in this case you can see I’ve set it to 270 times. Hit the “Play (Loop)” button and you’re off!


This macro is not selective it’ll delete everything, which for me frankly was a great idea, as I had already copied the mail over to GMail a long time ago.

Some tips

If you find that your inbox is not updating fast enough and the macro is hitting the delete button too early, then you will want to lengthen the two lines that say “WAIT SECONDS=1” to maybe 2 or if your connection is very slow 5 or more. Tweak until you find a suitable value.

I also found that the flash adverts would delay the page render times, there is another addon called ‘Toolbar Buttons‘ which includes many buttons, but one of them is a flash toggle, allowing you to temporarily disable flash. Once this addon is installed (and Firefox is restarted), right click the top menu and select ‘customise’ and look for the red F button and add it to the tool bar. Then its just a case of pressing it to enable or disable flash. Another alternative (may be easier) is to use this addon.


iMacros are ace, but the simplest ones are the best of all.

Do you have a bloated hotmail account too?

ProjectE Update

Get excited and make things

Photo courtesy of Nitevision

The more people I discuss this with, not only the more positive responses I get back, which is frankly great news, dropping 3/5ths of ones normal salary is a scary thought, but it gets deeper and deeper almost daily.


For the past two weeks I’ve been able really focus in on what is needed and to put the key tools in place so that the entire project can become scalable.

This has included, the re-working of a bought WordPress theme, the implementation of customfields groups and a clear layout path for the different content types. Up until now I have avoided outsourcing the major parts, however I’ll be drawing the line soon, focusing purely on the content and any additional tasks, subbing out to third parties. While I’m comfortable in most areas, design, PHP, CSS and HTML, these tasks are not the best use of my time and frankly, as much as I enjoy them, they’re better off elsewhere.

Video content

I’ve really got to grips now with video creation and the latest guide has multiple call outs, four content blocks and audio inserts. I didn’t realise how powerful the video format was until I really got stuck in and again the feedback has been fantastic.

There is still a lot to learn and the more I get through the easier they have become, I’m over 10 separate video tutorials in so far and I have two planned for today. The combination of both written content and visual content is going to be key to the project.

Self doubt

This is a huge one for me currently, its the 50/50 scenario, between knowing that I really do know my arena exceptionally well, to thinking its all going to fail and I’ll end up looking like a complete plank.

Having doubts is keeping me on my toes, I’ve got a list of 40 or so articles to produce over the next two weeks and most of these are far from simple and getting progressively deeper and deeper.

Ground work

What I’m finding is that I cannot cover the more advanced topics I’d like to without ensuring that the participants are up to a level to be able to take in fully those topics and going back to the basics. out of the 40 or so articles, probably 38 of them are just the basics and that’s only a small number compared to what I have estimated for the much larger sub projects I have planned.

No previews yet though!

I’ve kept the group of people I have been using to bounce this project off, completely out of the group of peers you may have thought I should be keeping in-the-loop. While this will come later, for now, you’re not the focus of the project (you guys know too much) and I do apologise for not keeping you in the loop, your time will come soon!

The deadline

I’m setting myself an ambitious deadline today of two weeks, 21st July.

This allows me around 10 or so working days to cover as much ground as possible. This is a bit scary when you consider that neither of the co-writers have actually produced any content yet, although I’m really happy to report a fourth is on board.

Your help

Now I did say I didn’t want your input just yet, however one section of ProjectE is a solutions directory. I’ve already received several overviews from different providers and are working on editorial reviews to accompany them with the providers.

“Broadly speaking”, if you are a solutions provider of any form in the eCommerce arena, contact me at matthew.ogborne AT