Helping you achieve your business aspirations. No BS. Real changes & fresh ideas that can take you to where you want to be, from someone who understands and has been there himself.

Sometimes trying to achieve your business goals can be clouded by the day to day operations or technical difficulties. Matthew can help you with mentoring or one-on-one business consulting. Matthew is extremely skilled in both eBay and Amazon marketplaces and has worked for two auction management companies.

Matthew has a Business Consultation page and you can contact him on his dedicated Contact Matthew page.

Amazon Copy “Buy Now Layer” from eBay

Howdy,

I’m not sure if you’ve spotted this yet, it’s very subtle and is exactly what eBay released months ago.

A “buy now layer” now appears on Amazon when you scroll down a product page.

Oh and they[Amazon] missed out on something ridiculously obvious, find out what it is further down this article. That’s not like them at all!

amazon-buy-now-layer

It makes sense…

If you think about it, it just makes sense to show a buy button further down the page.

After all product pages on Amazon, although in no-way as long as eBay listing pages, they still can be pretty long to scroll through, especially if you want to get to the product description or reviews section.

If you take any item on Amazon, the one I’m using as an example is this one http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00NG69QF0/, when you scroll down the page to read the rest of the product description, or the reason why I had travelled so far down the page was to read the product reviews.

If you look around, there are no purchase option available, however with this new layer, there now is!

Exactly what eBay Implemented

eBay released the same option months & months ago, I’m surprised it took Amazon so long to pick up on this one.

Below you can see what happens on eBay when you scroll down a product page:

ebay-buy-now-layer

The One thing Amazon Missed is…

If you look at the Amazon buy now layer and eBay’s for that matter, they’ve both missed something obvious.

Can you spot what it is?

Yep thats the delivery ETA!

Want it tomorrow, 18 Mar.? Order it within 8 hrs 15 mins and choose Express Delivery at checkout.

Adding the infamous buy it now and have it delivered tomorrow line in the header on Amazon would be a killer addition.

Hey isn’t that the reason why we have Amazon Prime subscriptions anyway? Next day or even same day delivery?

Even though Amazon don’t publically announce that they’re testing things, we know Amazon to be A/B testing new things all the time, I wonder how long it will take us to see something like the image below, that sports the cut-off time in the buy now layer.

Nothing quite like a little bit of urgency to nudge another sale from a customer :)

amazon-suggested-buy-now-layer

It’s not like Amazon to miss something like this, I give them less than a month before we start seeing delivery ETA’s in the new buy-now layer.

Your thoughts?

What do you think of the new Amazon buy-now layer?

Is it something you’ve seen have an impact on your sales on Amazon? Is it something you would implement on your website?

Let me know in the comments box below,

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

Run a Sale WITHOUT Slashing Prices this January

Howdy,

Before you run off and give all your hard-fought profit away in a slew of price decreases, let’s take a different angle that allows you to sell more and still maintain your current prices, you could even make more than you would normally.

Discounting Upwards

Run a Sale WITHOUT Slashing Prices this JanuarySo many people automatically think “January Sale =  I need to reduce my prices”.

But let’s stuff this idea in the turkey and take a different approach.

And how do we do that?

Simple, it’s called “bundles”

In the article I wrote a couple of days ago called “A Competitive Advantage for eBay & Amazon in Plain Sight”, we learned that bundles or kits are everywhere.

A kit or bundle (I’ll use “bundles” from now on for the rest of this article for ease) is simply two or more products that naturally go together in a single purchase.

Not giving away all your profit

Being in the midst of a building project at the moment, the example I’m about to share with you is specific to what I’ve been doing personally, however keep in mind that this approach will work for any type of product and can work for you too.

Oh and I have a super-simple tip for you on how to get started at the end of this article as well.

When you buy a radiator you only ever get the bare minimum from the manufacturer, that is the radiator itself and the mounting brackets, if you’re lucky the mounting bolts and wall plugs.

But to complete the job you actually need several other parts.

This is the key detail we’re looking for, one or more products that are additionally needed or desired.

These vary depending upon the final application and could include:

  1. The thermostats (note this one as they’re normally a tenner or more a pop)
  2. PTFE tape (the white tape needed to make a good seal on the connections)
  3. Decent wall plugs & screws
  4. Chrome or white plastic covers for the pipe work (also note this one as they have a visually attractive nature to them)

And of course you could go on and include the other tools & materials, such as wrenches, solder, a blow torch, flux, olives and so on… But that would be too much to go into a single bundle as we’re starting to stray too far away from the main purchase.

Note: Did you detect another bundle there? The blow torch, flux and solder! They go together so well!

And back to the radiator.

Let’s say the radiator has a end-user price of £70, the thermostat is £15 and the pipe covers are £10.

These 3 products naturally go together and bought separately would cost the customer £95 plus delivery.

So my point to you is that instead of discounting the radiator and losing out on the additional sales of the thermostat and pipe covers, include them all together into a bundle.

Using this example we’ve:

  • Increased our price from £70 to £95
  • Or more attractively grossed 35.71% more for a single sale
  • And we’ve helped our customer by making it easier for them

We’re up by £25 on the original sale price and that gives us a little more room to manoeuvre when it comes to pricing, however I would still be wary of dropping the price of the bundle by any massive amount.

Instead you have several options available to you:

Offer free delivery

The radiator weighs a ton, so customers envisage that will cost them more for it to be delivered because of it’s weight (so free delivery makes sense here).

However in reality you’re still under the 30Kg weight limit by most couriers and costs you the same amount as a normal delivery. AND you could very likely pack the thermostat and chrome overs into the radiator box too.

Assuming that the courier cost is £5, the actual margin impact to the £95 sale is just 5.26%.

Your customer is happier because they got the key parts they needed, paid you more because of the bundled products and you didn’t lose anything dramatic.

Winners all-round!

Include one of the additional products for free

Pipe collarsLet’s say you include the chrome pipe covers for free.

These had a price of £10, but let’s say they really only cost you £5 landed. As far as the customer is concerned they’re making a purchase of the radiator, the thermostat and getting a free set of chromed pipe covers.

Note: I chose the chrome pipe covers here because these are the “oooo shiny part” of the bundle that really finishes the project off well.

So the bundle price is now £85 (£70 for the radiator + £15 for the thermostat) and the customer receives a set of chrome pipe covers (the “ooo shiny thing”) for free.

Your actual cost hit isn’t the full £10, instead it’s less than this as your cost price of the pipe covers was £5, so instead you have given the customer a freebie, upped your price by 21.43%, included additional products in a single sale (which can help drive down prices because you’re buying more from the suppliers) and you only reduced the overall price by a fiver in the process.

Even more ideas for you

Including a product for free or tweaking the delivery price are two very easy ways of discounting, without giving away all your profits.

In both examples your order value went up, not down and kept any reductions in price to way under 10%.

However don’t think for one moment that these are the only two options available to you, here are some more ideas for you:

  1. Offer free shipping on orders above X value
    That bundle maxed out at £95, tantalizing close to a £100 threshold for free shipping. What other products would also be a temptation to the customer? Radiator covers or a clothes rack for example?
  2. A promotion code for future purchases
    In my mind, customers are not real customers until they have been back for more.
  3. Retargeting previous customers
    You could use a bundle like this contact your existing customers who have purchased similar products, maybe those who bought your blow torch, flux & solder kit for example :)
  4. Buying stock to specifically sweeten the deal
    The wild-card that I didn’t suggest above was to include another product as a sweetener. Say a set of screwdriver bits or a fluffy toy or a handbag or some makeup or a ruler or a…. (you fill in this part)

Upwards, never downwards

So many other businesses will start slashing their prices and giving away their hard-earned profit margins. Don’t be like everyone else, think smart and discount upwards rather than downwards.

Bundling products will work for any type of product whether you’re selling keyboards & mice (don’t you also need a mouse matt?), a dress (how about a matching handbag or necklace?) or even a humble radiator.

Picking products that naturally go together is easy, infact that tip I mentioned at the beginning of the article is also in “plain-sight” too.

Your customers are telling you what you should be making bundles for!

Take a few minutes to look back through the orders you have received in past 6-9 months, specifically look at the orders where customers bought more than one product from you.

Notice any trends? Bundle them.

How can you use bundles for your business? Do you already use them? Or have you thought of another method to discount upwards that I didn’t cover in this article?

Let me know in the comments box below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always to your continued success,

Matt Ogborne

This article was originally posted here & here.

A Competitive Advantage for eBay & Amazon in Plain Sight

Howdy,

For any product based business there is a competitive advantage hiding in plain sight, it’s so obvious when you spot it and lethal when you implement them into your business.

As you’re about to find out, kits (also known as bundles) are lethal.

Kits help your customers, kits help you sell more products, kits help you increase your average order value and kits also help you gain an advantage over your competitors.

So what are Kits?

Kits are simply bundles of products that are put together with products that would normally be bought at the same time.

The best way of showing you how they work is you give you an example.

One of my tasks for today was to buy a network cable testing kit and a pokey-thing to push down the wires into network cables (a punch tool), so straight onto eBay and I filtered to UK only sellers.

You can take a look at the eBay category here http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Cabling-Tools-/51169/i.html and below I’ve included a screenshot of the page I could see.

Notice how 2 of the top 4 items are actually for more than one product?
eBay Kits Example

If we take the upper item as an example, this listing contains the following tools:

  1. A punch tool
  2. Cable test tool
  3. A crimp tool & stripper

That was me sold. The listing had everything I needed, a UK seller and promptly went off and purchased it.

Make things easy for your customers

Making kits of products aren’t just confined to networking tools, it works in any category on any site. Bundling products together “just makes sense” when done right, there are 3 simple reasons for this:

Firstly it helps your customers.

So using my purchase as an example, that eBay listing had everything I needed in one go.

The seller had taken the time to put everything I would need (bar the cable, which I already had) into a single listing and made it super easy for me to make a single purchase.

No waiting around for separate deliveries, one purchase, one delivery and job done.

This genre of product & related eBay categories is a brilliant category set to use, because if you dig a little deeper you’ll find many businesses have already caught on to this and are making listings that contain cable, sockets, wall plates, jacks, cable ties, punch down tools and even including the screws needed!

The word we’re looking for here, is “convenience”.

It makes the purchase more convenient for your customers to buy a bundle of related products in one go, rather than buying separately.

Note: Are you already thinking of two products that you have that would go together nicely? If you are, jot them down on a piece of paper and keep it to hand so when more spring to mind, you can record them quickly.

You sell more.

Instead of, sorry “as well as” (woohaa that was a close shave there, always do both!) listing each product separately, putting products that naturally go together into a single listing, means that the price goes up, yay!

Not only do you gain a higher average order value, you’re also getting through more products, more quickly (which means you order more frequently from your supplier(s) and thus potentially savings to be made there).

At no point so far have I mentioned that you should discount the pricing because you’re putting two or more items into a kit.

When you start to spot these on eBay, Amazon or on websites, when you look more closely, you’ll frequently spot that some kits have a higher price than what they would be when bought separately.  

The first reaction is always to push the price down, however, do keep in mind that customers will pay for convenience and that because there is now more than just one product in the listing, that the final delivery weight & dimensions go up. Thus you’re likely to be paying more for the delivery to your customer.

A huge tip here is to price upwards when you first start creating your own kits.

It’s all about making profit at the end of the day, so go upwards first. If a customer queries it (which they won’t and I’m adding this line to reassure you), just say it costs more to pick & ship them together.

Other Considerations

I felt it important to highlight a couple of considerations when it comes to kits, because it’s not all champagne and roses.

Firstly factor in that it will take extra time to create the kits.

This is as simple as picking two separate products at picking time in the warehouse. In more complex kits, this could mean many separate picks and even the pre-building of kits to speed up the dispatch process.

Not all multi-channel software supports the creation & stock control of kits.

For example ShipWorks, an American shipping tool didn’t manage bundles from Magento properly for a while. So do check that they are supported in the software tool you’re using.

Quantity is and is not a kit.

Let me explain this one a little further.

According to Amazon, you’re not supposed to make kits of products based just upon quantity. However, this loosely interpreted even by Amazon themselves, such as these batteries, they’ve separated quantity out into separate ASIN’s, it’s the same product, just packaged in different boxes (in multiples of packs of 4 too!).

Note: And yes this does mean a new barcode (EAN, UPC etc..) and ASIN for Amazon, which means a separate product.

The same for eBay too, but many products come in packs, say a dozen or more. If you’re going to create an eBay listing that has quantity as a variation option, don’t call it quantity (eBay won’t let you do this anyway), instead call it something like “Pack Size”.

Side note: I’m thinking of a mastermind webinar we did a couple of weeks back on researching products to sell on eBay. “gold tea lights” was the product suggested by one of the sellers who attended. We soon worked out that while tea-lights are sold in packs, weddings were a consideration, several times a month customers would buy loads of them.

So packs of 12’s would be a pain for those types of customer, so one of the suggestions was to make wedding packs for 48, 72, 96 and more. This pushed the pack value above £100 in several cases.

Gain an Advantage

Kits are all about convenience for your customers and if you haven’t already, you’ll start to spot them being used everywhere.

Manufacturers cottoned on to this a long time ago, this is while you’ll find assortment packs. Using washers as an example here (yes you guessed it, I’m a bloke so most examples here are tool related) you’ll find O-ring’s rarely sold as packets of just 1, they’ll be in assortment packs. Higher value and more convenient for someone like me & you.

For me, buying the cable tester and punch tool together, saved me from multiple purchases, most likely from multiple sellers and means I get one package delivered.

The seller I purchased from, they gained an advantage by selling the tools separately and (note the AND here!) together in a kit. They doubled or more their chances of making a purchase by doing this.

Creating unique kits of products that go well together gives you an advantage over your competitors.

They won’t have the same kits as you for a while at least (well until they cotton-on to how successful you’re going to be with them! Which could be weeks or months, while you’ve been nailing them in the meantime).

Here are a couple of examples to get your creative juices going:

  • A Nerf gun and an extra pack of darts (maybe two extra packs of darts)
  • A dress and a matching handbag
  • A set of pliers, bull-nose, pointed and nippers
  • Drain rods and attachments
  • Sanding pads in multiple grits
  • A whiteboard rubber and a set of marker pens
  • A fancy dress outfit, a wig, a mustache and face paints

Think about your products, how could you create a kit of two or more products, that naturally go together?

If you’re already using kits, how have you found their success for your business?

Let me know in the comments below.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

Co-Founder of UnderstandingE & Founder of WidgetChimp

 

A Sensationalist Click-Bait Headline

2 hours ago I woke up and found that the article I wrote on Friday had received over 30,000 views, +400 likes, an untold number of shares, countless tweets and +40 LinkedIn comments. BUT…. I broke the rules.

What can YOU learn from the success of this article?

You’re likely to be a lot smarter than me, I only managed a D in GCSE English back at school and if I can do this, you can too.

I’ve broken down the sequence of events that happened on Friday for you below. Also I’ve scored them using a simple -1, 0 & +1 for where I believe I did the wrong things and crucially the right things.

Let’s do this. I only have 1 hour until my business partner wakes up and I’ll get pulled away other on other topics.

The article I wrote that got so much attention is here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ebay-caught-napping-amazon-handmade-matthew-ogborne?trk=pulse_spock-articles

Let’s break the steps down into bite-sized pieces so you can follow along easily.

#1 I wrote & published it on a Friday (-1)

On a day I would class as not a good publishing day. At all!

A traditional rule broken there as normally we normally keep to Tuesdays & Thursdays for blog posts. I never envisaged that on Monday morning I would be waking up to the article going that went so wide, so quickly.

Maybe Friday is the new Tuesday?

#2 I did no more than what I normally do to share the article (-1)

A couple of tweets, posted it on the LastDropofInk site, Google Plus’ed it and that was it.

I didn’t tag anyone important in it and neither did I ask anyone to share it either.

Infact I was waiting to hear from a colleague from a news site to see if they wanted the article, I didn’t hear back from them in a timely fashion, so thought screw it, let’s pop it on LinkedIn

So ironically I did less than what I would have normally done on the sharing front.

#3 I did choose a great picture (+1)

Everyone can relate to animals. I remember watching a program a year or more back that said that it’s inbuilt into humans to like fluffy creatures.

So my choice of the picture of a puppy was a bit of a coo.

eBay Caught Napping by Amazon

 

I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen a kitten instead?

Note: I used a kitten for this article, let’s see what happens :) Oh and if you’re wondering where I got the pictures from, see https://pixabay.com/ for images you can use commercially with no link-backs/credits required.

#4 I wrote it because I wanted to (+1)

I don’t keep a writing schedule, I just wanted to write the article about the lack of customisation options for you as sellers on eBay and the launch of Amazon handmade, it made an excellent reference point.

The topic had been swirling around in my head all week, Friday morning I managed to get up early again (4am, yes I’m a morning person) and put it down on paper, well a Google doc at least.

#5 I wrote it in my language (+1)

If you have a read of the article [see here] you’ll notice I didn’t use any big words or try to be clever.

I wrote the article in my own style, and yes I use too many commas and never used a single semicolon.

Note: One of my personal pet hates is seeing semicolons being used outside of a programming language.

When I see one being used, that indicates to me that the person that wrote the article is a professional writer and may not (I stress the “may not” part here) be an expert in the topic I’m reading.

#6 I published it in more than one place (+1)

The article was published on my blog first, then on LinkedIn.

Something I’ve picked up recently, you can have exactly the same article published in more than one place, just make sure you link back to the article you published first.

At the bottom of the article you’ll see I added the line “This article was originally posted here.”

#7 I did not ask anyone to share it (0)

Maybe the article would have gone further if I asked people to share it with friends or colleagues that sell on eBay or Amazon?

Or maybe it just did well because I didn’t ask?

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom.

Note: “What do you think?” This question is powerful as you’ll find out next.

#8 I did ask for comments (+1)

If you look in the latter part of the article, you see me pre-empt questions with questions:

  • “What’s your thoughts on this?”
  • “Should eBay allow customisable options for customers?”
  • “Have eBay been caught napping by Amazon?”

Ask questions, people will answer.

Everyone has an opinion, so help them along by pre-empting a couple of questions relating to the article.

#9 Reply to comments people left you (+1)

After spilling coffee everywhere when seeing over 30K views, I didn’t waste any further time mopping it up, I got typing.

Over 40 people took the time to leave their views, their views are importantand I’ve personally replied to all the comments worth replying to.

Even the one that suggested I had picked a “sensationalist click-bait headline” byAdam Elteto. I liked that line so I used it for this article. A massive hat-tip to Adam for this.

Oh and I also “liked” all the comments as well, everyone likes to be liked (and also replied to as well).

The article was about what I had noticed between eBay & Amazon. The direct comparison between the two was in many ways a LATE one.

Amazon Handmade was launched ages ago.

People call this “news-jacking”. But the fact here is that I was weeks late on the topic and it still got traction. Don’t worry about a topic being old, if you have any passion for it, it’s worth a stab at it.

Also a couple of other things that happened with this article:

  • I asked my assistant to check over the article for spelling mistakes (as were found again in the original draft for this article & I read it twice too!)
  • I asked my wife to check over the article to make sure it made sense to her (she’s not able to do that for this one, she’s on the school run right now)
  • The article was featured in 3 LinkedIn categories Retail & E-Commerce, Editor’s Picks, Technology. I have no idea how that process works. I don’t expect this one to be featured. I never expect anything. I just write and do what I feel passionately about.
  • I didn’t even spot the article taking off until the Monday following. Why? I was busy being passionate about other things (gutting a bedroom for my two girls so we can move houses).
  • Just as with this article, there are no more than two sentences joined together into a paragraph. It makes reading a lot easier, especially on mobile phones.

You can do this too!

Those are the 10 or so things I’ve learned this morning and as I was going through I rated them as:

  • -1, bad or I could have done more
  • 0, no comment
  • +1 I got something right

I scored a measly 5 out of 10.

Notice how many times I mention the word “Passion” in the final part of this article?

This is the one underlying factor that cannot be taught nor cannot be told. If you write with passion, anything can happen.

Taking that point for a few seconds, yes I did cheer when I saw the article had done so well (frankly I was shocked), however that lasted for a few seconds and I went into “share mode”.

I replied to all the comments, liked them and then wrote this article so that you could learn from what I had learnt during the process.

If you’ve picked just one thing from this additional article, I’m happy.

If I can break the rules, score myself as a “5 out of 10” and still get an article features in 3 categories on LinkedIn, +30,000 views and have got a D (which is pretty much a fail) in English, you can do this too.

So this leads me to one question for you:

What do you think I got right (or wrong) in the original article?

You can let me know in the comments box below.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

99.9% Won’t Do This. What Will Happen to the 0.1%?

Howdy,

99.9% of you won’t follow what I’m about to share with you, so instead I’m going to share the story on why I think you should be in the 0.1% too.

Let’s set the scene.

We (thats myself & Dave) had got lost a couple of times on the streets of Bangkok, ok lots of times. If you’ve ever been to Bangkok, apparently Nana is where all the “adult” bars and we did happen to make a wrong turn down a street and quickly backed out as it wasn’t quite what we were expecting!

Jim from Moogento saved us as he had spotted us walking aimlessly from the rail platform above and caught up with us (I did hug Jim as we were soooooo lost!). We made our way to the right street to join in with our first DC meetup, which was on the topic of Amazon FBA.

Myself & Dave in the Airport

Myself & Dave in the Airport

The bar was absolutely rammed, at a guess I would say 60-70 of us had turned up for the first meet up of the week.

I quickly worked out, I was in a special place, with a special community and a special type of people.

No that wasn’t because we had inadvertently found ourselves in another adult area, but we were surrounded by loads & loads of fellow business owners, many of which had travelled similar distances as us just for this one week in Bangkok.

On the Friday we had opted for the extra day of masterminds. This is where a group of people, 7 including me sit around a table and we work through each of our challenges for 25 minutes.

The first 5 minutes is spent describing our business and the key challenge we need the help of the fellow entrepreneurs with. The rest of the time is dedicated to suggestions or delving deeper into the challenge(s).

I was the difficult one on the table (would you expect anything less?) as I already knew what we needed to be doing, I just wasn’t in a position that week to be able to action anything I needed to do.

Note: See the later blog post on this to give you an idea of what was done on the first proper day back from our journey.

On our table there was 6 other people, a lady that ran a massive online community for Tarot cards, an English teacher, a chap who ran a marketing business to help dentists (Jake also gave one of the closing keynotes on the Sunday), a chap called Miles (more on him in a moment), he worked with his wife on “Angel books” and was as successful as Jake. Karsten, quite a character! A lady who was running a content marketing company and Neha who had just finished her first online course and aiming to sell 2000 of them to make a million.

Quite a mix I’m sure you’ll agree.

Note: I didn’t have the heart to point out that making a million and banking a million were two very different things. It’s why my personal target is £4,580,000.

Now… I did mention that chap called Miles.

Out of the hundreds of people I met that week, only two stood out to me and Miles was one of them.

For me that was like seeing a mirror image of myself, but a couple of years on. If I had ever needed confirmation that travelling over 7,000 miles, getting slowly poached by the heat in Manila, slowly baked in the heat in Bangkok and not seeing my family for two weeks, he was it.

So of course, I did focus heavily on what he was suggesting, how he acted and how he behaved around others.

In my head, monkey-see-monkey-do is very, very powerful. It’s something I try and instill my girls, by not being like everyone else around them and setting the levels of effort (not work) higher than they’ll ever see by anyone else, ever.

One of the things Miles mentioned was to watch two videos on YouTube (this is where we are getting to the 0.1%).

Watch two videos, “hey that’s easy” I thought, anyone can do that.

WTF is in them?

I had no idea, but what he did then elaborate on was to repeatedly watch them once in the morning and once before bed for a week.

Trying to explain what is in these videos wouldn’t do them justice, you have to “connect” with them.

And this is where…

99.9% of other people won’t bother watching them

99.9% of other people won’t like it

99.9% of other people won’t watch these once in the morning and once in the evening

99.9% of other people will stop after the first day because they forgot.

Don’t be be the the 99.9%, be the 0.1%.

We are special, you are special. You can do great things.

The Videos

There are two videos below. Watch Part 1, then immediately watch Part 2.

And remember 99.9% of other people won’t bother pressing play, won’t like, won’t watch it more than once or because they forgot. Be different be the 0.1%.

Part 1

Part 2

Are you the 0.1% too?

Are you? Let me know in the comments box below

To your continued success,

Matt

PS. Getting your assistant to download the videos and make them into a MP3 file gives you no excuses for not being able to listen in to this at anytime, in the car, on the train or tube, as you get up, as you go to sleep etc…

Half Way Around the World

Howdy,

It may have been a while since posting an update here, however don’t think for one second I’ve disappeared, as I’m sure many of you already know, I’ve been super busy.

As I’m writing this, I’m half way round the world I’m sat in a hotel in Makati, in the Philippines. After leaving early autumn behind in the UK two days ago, I can confirm it’s rather toasty on this side of the world at the moment, at 28C!

But what has brought me half way around the world?

Two reasons.

The first is that for the past two years for UnderstandingE I have been working with Dave to build out a team to help us expand our business.

Across two businesses I now have a team of 7 full time members of staff & 1 part time and it’s a perfect time for us to actually meet up with the people that have been helping us, several since the beginning, face to face.

I had no idea back then that I would ever be meeting any of our remote staff to face to face one day. I’m super excited to be here and have the opportunity to say “thank you” personally.

Note: Yes we might been using SCRUM as a business process that calls for daily sprint meetings, so the whole team meets up every work day, but even still this face to face thing is going to be rather odd! And if you’ve not heard of SCRUM before, see this 10 minute video.

And the second reason is….

We’re meeting up with around 100 fellow entrepreneurs next week for a week of masterminds and events in Bangkok, Thailand.

For the past few years I’ve been quite happy to just work from home and do everything remotely, however as the businesses have grown, things need to change, so being able to mix both of these events into one trip is a huge bonus for me.

How did I end up in the Philippines?

2015-10-06 14.49.01

For the rest of this article, I’m going to focus in on the events that have brought me to where I am sat today and what my goals are while I’m here.

If there is only one thing you can pick up & take away to help you & your business right now, that is to simply expand and build your team out.

A well defined, experienced team is critical to a businesses success.

A mistake I made first time around and I’ll never make again.

Learning from My Major Mistake

Back 10 years or so ago, I had pretty much the same attitude as I have today, it’s just been refined and made a lot easier for others to understand.

It can be boiled down to two key things:

#1 The point of view on everything: It can’t be that hard can it?
#2 The action event, “do it”. Everything is in the execution.

Starting my first business that used to use eBay & Amazon to sell online, I learnt a lot of things and I also equally made a lot of mistakes.

Waking up in a tent in Paignton at breaking point, deciding, “I’m out” was not a nice experience. Don’t get me wrong, in the previous 3 years I had broken down a lot of barriers and I didn’t stop learning from the day I started, however now in hindsight I had made one epic mistake.

That was simply, not hiring enough staff, fast enough.

You may have heard this being called “superhero-syndrome” (control-freak is another), the belief that you can do anything and everything yourself. And boy did I have that!

The reality is that you have to do everything when the business starts. You know all the hats we end up wearing that you never signed up for, you just do whatever it takes to make the business work.

However the trick I missed was that once you have the ball rolling, you should immediately back fill tasks with a role for someone else to replicate the task for you.

I wish I was able to meet the me 10 years ago and point him in the right direction. It’s a mistake that I made and I do my best to share publicly so others can learn from it too. I sincerely hope you take the nudge on this.

When starting UnderstandingE two years ago (yes! UnderstandingE is now two years old as we started it in Sept 2013), one of the conditions when working with Dave was that we had to hire into the team as quickly as sensible.

That team today now consists of a video editor, content editor, an assistant and my wife whom helps out part time. The other heads are for the support & development of WidgetChimp.

Note: These are ALL full time members of staff. As far as I am concerned (and perhaps you should be too), is that when it comes to staff you’re either IN or OUT. For me that means no part time members of staff. Well with one exception, my wife is also in the UE team, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Team Tomorrow

Looking to the future, the team “tomorrow” is about to double in size.

We have realised that to go from where we are today, to where we want to be, we need to start working on increasing the team and back filling tasks that we’re currently doing ourselves, but could be done better by someone else.

Taking a moment to think about a similar scenario that you’ll find easy to understand, think about Sir Richard Branson, how many companies does he run? (If you don’t know of him, it’s lots! Virgin Media, Atlantic, Bank, Cars and so on).

Then ask yourself, does he have the ability to manage all of these business concerns by himself?

Of course not.

Simply, as a human he has exactly the same constraints that you and I have. 60 minutes in an hour,  24 hours in a day and 7 hours in a week.

Something has to budge!

Tomorrow an online community manager will be joining the UnderstandingE team and we have several new positions that we’re advertising for at the moment. Hopefully we’ll be able to conduct a couple of interviews while we’re here!

For UnderstandingE there are 2 key things that myself & Dave need to focus on, #1 the continued success of the business and #2 the parts we physically cannot or do not want to give to anyone else.

For us #2 is simply the creation of the course & tutorials that we create, these in our minds must feature myself & Dave, however everything else, that could be easily covered by a well defined role for someone else to look after for us.

Also an interesting dynamic, which you can hear myself & Dave discuss in our recent Podcast on UnderstandingE here is that we’re also putting into place “project managers” too.

This is to assist us with both the current concern, UnderstandingE and for me personally WidgetChimp as well, but also while we’re out here in the Philippines we’re also looking to start another business, a design & development agency.

I have to go now, one of my team is meeting me for breakfast in the hotel at 07:00.

I’ve been up since 04:20 this morning as I am so excited to be meeting him. I have some good news for him, he’s receiving a promotion and the best thing of all, he has no idea!

I’ll be posting another update in a couple of days, also look out for a new Podcast on the UnderstandingE site here http://understandinge.com/blog/ in a day or so. We’re keeping track of our movements & experiences while here the best we can.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

PS. The LastDropoInk site has had a design revamp (far from being finished) and we’re now running on https too. What to you think of it? Let me know in the comments box below.

eBay Cross Border Trade Made Easy with Magento

Howdy,

Selling internationally on eBay or Amazon for that matter is a no-brainer decision.

You can reuse your existing product data and business processes over & over again to reach more customers easily.

However, when it comes to actually putting this into practice, it can get complicated quickly.

Everywhere else you’re told that you should go and do Europe. Getting tied up in a horrific language battle and opening the doors to a potential VAT nightmare, especially if you’re based in Europe as well is… nuts.

And the thing is, it doesn’t need to be that way at all.

Go Simple, Go English

I’m not suggesting for one moment you should overlook the other European countries. There is massive potential for you & your business in them.

However, they all speak different languages.

That makes customer services and translating your product data a nightmare.

In the recent video tutorial that myself & Dave put together, we explain exactly how you can skip this challenge and get started with cross border trade, the simple way. And that’s to go “English”

You can view the video guide here:
http://lastdropofink.co.uk/market-places/ebay/easy-way-selling-internationally-success-stories-tips/

Note: There is software that can translate your listings into the different languages and on the different sites for you. These are great! But it’s certainly not the way I’d personally tackle this challenge.

CBT with Magento & M2EPro

eBay Cross Border Trade with Magento and M2E ProWe’ve just published a new course to show you how easy it is to expand your business internationally using Magento & M2EPro. AKA “The 3rd Generation”

And it really is simple to do in Magento.

Some of our courses on UnderstandingE are quite long, the reason for this is there is a lot to cover, especially if we need to keep things in simple step-by-step stages.

However when it came to showing you how to set up Magento & M2EPro to sell internationally on eBay, we covered the lot in under 3 hours. And that included a 36 minute tutorial on why you should “Go Simple, Go English”.

When we get to the tutorial where we put everything together, myself and Dave felt embarrassed.

Ignoring the basic steps to setup Magento for maximum control, the actual listing process is exactly the same for eBay, regardless if it’s a different eBay site where you’re listing locally to. So…. really easy to do.

If you would like to see how easy it is to sell internationally on eBay using Magento & M2EPro, you can either take the course on the UnderstandingE site here OR we also published this course on YouTube and you can watch the PlayList here.

And if you skip the 2nd tutorial, you can have the whole course completed and be up and running internationally on eBay with in a cup of coffee or two. It’s that quick!

The Simple Way

Selling internationally doesn’t need to be complicated.

Yes, later on once you’ve exhausted the potential in the English speaking sites such as eBay.com, eBay.co.uk, eBay.ie, eBay.com.au and of course the Amazon sites too, then think about going into Europe.

But for now, I dare you to exhaust these first :)

Matt

Scale, it’s All About Perspective

Howdy,

Have you noticed how some people seem to fail and others seem to be very, very successful at what they do?

The thing is, this isn’t by accident.

They look at the world differently and one of the key things that they look at differently is the perception of “scale”.

Scale on a Whole New Level

In the video below by Brian Greene, the famous theoretical physicist & string theorist he discusses an import factor when looking at the world around you.

We understand that most humans are several feet tall, that planes go fast and we walk quite slow from our “day to day” activities.

We only have one perspective of scale, we’re in the middle if you like. However, these are just a small fraction of the possibilities.

Press play on the video below, it’s only a few minutes long:

Scale

This starkly wakes us up to realise that scale is much more than what we see day to day, it can be as small as an atom or as large as a universe.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
Steve Jobs

Other people focus on what they see day to day and others… well they want to ding the universe.

I know which one I’d rather do, you?

Matt

Image Source: here

The Responsive eBay Template Builder in Minutes

Howdy,

The full-house webinar we held for the launch of the Responsive eBay Listing Template builder was really good fun and we were at the limit of what GoToWebinar could handle, if you were able to make the live event, thank you!

However if you were unable to make it live, instead of you watching the full hour long webinar, I’ve created you a 12 minute overview where you’ll see us:

  • Start from no template at all
  • Create a unique listing template where you’re in control
  • Download the template code
  • Revise a live eBay listing using M2EPro & Magento ( this could be any 3rd party software )
  • And then… go back and make changes to the layout, design, widgets and colour scheme remotely

Remember, eBay say that over 40% of transactions are now touched by mobile devices.

You can still get an edge before Christmas!

The 12 Minute Overview

The shorter version is below for you:

Where to Get Started

All the major software tools are supported ChannelAdvisor, Linnnworks, eSellerPro, M2ePro, ChannelGrabber, BrightPearl, TurboLister, Selling Manager, Ad-Lister, SellerExpress, Inkfrog, InkFrog Open, StoreFeeder etc…

You can started with your very own fully responsive eBay listing template here:

https://widgetchimp.com/tools/register

If you would like to know more about pricing this can be found here as you can get started for just £9.99 a month and there are 2 months free for annual subscriptions too.

You can try the unique responsive listing template builder out for 30 days with a no-questions-asked refund policy.

We both need happy customers right?!

Matt

Amazon to Use Pass My Parcel for SAME DAY Deliveries in the UK

Howdy,

You’ll have no doubt seen the news by now that Amazon have just scored a massive “one up” with same day deliveries.

Basically they’re hijacking the transport system that is used to deliver newspapers to newsagents.

This means that your customers will soon be able to order by 11:45 in the morning and have it in their hands by 4pm the same day.

That’s just sick.

However where is eBay in all of this?

We recently saw the pilot of the Argos Click & Collect “go large” to most business sellers on eBay UK in preparation for Christmas. Then in spring of 2015 this will be available to all. Which is great news.

I can see why lockers are well used, they’re convenient. Even Amazon have now said that they’ve seen the use of them double in the past year.

How does Amazon know that customers want same-day availability?
Deliveries made to Amazon Lockers nationally have more than doubled in the last year, it revealed.

Source: Ina, eCommerceBytes

Coming back to eBay, it is almost exactly one year to the day that eBay purchased Shutl (see here) and since then we’ve seen ni-on nothing as business owners that use eBay in the UK.

The Writing is on the wall

3 years ago in an article titled “Foretelling The Future of Commerce In 10 Years Time” one of the predictions was for “Same day delivery will be available for £1.00”.

While it might not be costing £1.00 as same day delivery is only open to Amazon Prime subscribers that costs £79 per year, to be fair I wasn’t far off :)

*puts trumpet down*

Convenience always wins.

As a consumer I’m extremely unlikely to use an Argos locker, my nearest Argos store is miles away and for now, I’m moderately happy with next day deliveries (and just for the record, if it’s not here next day, as far as I’m concerned it’s late).

But what I really want and what your customers really want, is their order in their hands for gratification as soon as possible after making the purchase.

This is one of the major negatives of buying online, you don’t get your product instantly, same day is going to be amazing. Dare I say it… “a game changer”?

And the thing is customers are going to be receiving same day deliveries very shortly from Amazon and eBay is no where to be seen.

If you were your customer, where would you shop?

Makes you think doesn’t it.

Matt

Meet Me @ eCommerce Expo – 1st & 2nd October – I’m Speaking Twice!

Howdy,

Are you going to this year’s eCommerce Expo in London on the 1st & 2nd October?

If so come over & say howdy!

I’d love to shake hands and put your name to a face.

 

And… I’m Presenting Twice

Presenting at eCommerce ExpoTwice on the first day!

Just after lunch at 12:15 in the “Payment & Security Theatre” with WorldFirst and then in the afternoon with Alex Podopryhora, the MD of M2EPro at 16:00 in the “eCommerce & Omni-Channel Theatre”.

Personally I’m super excited about both of these talks.

With WorldFirst we had James on a Podcast a while back and absolutely hammered the chap on the numbers, for which he came back quickly and we basically cannot see how you cannot save money using them.

And secondly with M2EPro on the 3rd Generation of Multi Channel software.

Plus you’re going to see two highly contrasting presentation styles in the second talk.

Note: I only use images and there isn’t a bullet point in sight!

How do I find you Matt?

You’ll find me in one of 3 places.

  1. At the coffee bar in the middle
  2. On the WorldFirst stand, number
  3. Or with M2EPro on stand 180

Just tweet me at @MatthewOgborne if you can’t find me.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

Matt