How eSellerPro’s Channel Profile Can Help Your Business

One of eSellerPro’s core features is a function called a ‘Channel Profile’, in this article I’ll be covering the basics to what a ‘Channel Profile’ does and how it can help your business.

Multi-Channel selling is now an assumed practice for eCommerce businesses, unlocking the power to reach a much wider audience than you could ever have imagined, but sensibly. The Channel Profile feature in eSellerPro can enable you to achieve this.

I’ve put together a short video, where I describe the key benefits of using a channel profile and how it could help your business when dealing with multiple sales channels.

What is a Channel Profile?

The purpose of the channel profiler is to maximise the exposure of your inventory exposure across more than one channel, then once an update has happened to let the other channels know of that update to the stock level.

In eSellerPro you can create more than one channel profile (hence ‘profile’ in its name), which you can apply to more than one inventory record and each profile can have different attributes. I’ll cover these later on in this article, but for now the easiest way of explaining what a Channel Profile does is by using  an example.

Let’s say we have 10 of the same mugs in stock and we wish to sell them on:

  • One eBay account
  • Amazon
  • Our website.

For maximum market exposure, we’re going to use the channel profile to list ALL 10 of these mugs onto eBay, Amazon and also show them on our website too. A couple of hours later, a customer called Jane buys one from eBay.

We now only have 9 in stock and the channel profile will now update Amazon to 9 and the website also to 9. Then another customer, Jim buys from the website. Again the channel profile will update the other marketplaces, eBay & Amazon with the new stock level of 8.

The next morning a new delivery of these mugs arrive and we have 10 more, so we now have a stock level of 18 mugs. The Channel profile will now update each of the selling channels where the products are listed with the updated stock level.

In this basic example, we gain maximum market exposure for our products and keep each of the selling channels in-line with the latest stock levels. Neat eh?

The Negatives of Using A Channel Profile

I’m going to note here the negatives you might have already realised are minor in comparison to the positives of exposing your inventory across as many channels as possible. However you need to be aware of them.

In theory if you only have 10 in stock, then you only have 10 to sell. By exposing your inventory across just 3 platforms in the example above, you are actually exposing 30 items and again in theory if they all sold at the same time, you could go to a negative inventory count of 20 (that’s the 30 sold, minus the 10 you had in stock).

The Channel Profiler is a process that runs on eSellerPro’s servers and it does not update the marketplaces instantaneously, there is a time lag on eSellerPro’s side and with the marketplaces themselves. While I now don’t know the exact figures, a period of about 30 minutes would be about right for each passing of an eSellerPro account to make updates to the 3rd party platforms.

We also need to understand that eSellerPro is a 3rd party to the marketplaces and as such there are time delays in the communication to them. Again referencing the earlier example, the orders from eBay & Amazon are not picked up instantaneously, they’re scheduled. Plus we also need to account for time delays in the marketplaces themselves, Amazon orders are not immediate, they tend to sit for 15-30 minutes before being released and also you can only ask for order reports every 30 minutes or so.

So it’s perfectly possible for Jane and Jim to buy on two different marketplaces within a time window of say 10 minutes and eSellerPro is not capable of updating the other channel to let it know there is a deduction of the inventory level, if there was only one left, this could have caused an oversell or back order. Hardly ideal.

It should also be noted that in relation to eBay, eBay auctions and BIN listings of 10 days or less, are regarded as being committed to the eBay marketplaces, thus if you have 10 in stock and 2 of those are in two auctions, then eSellerPro sees an available stock count of 8 and will use this value to keep the platforms updated.

Note: You can use the true stock level of 10 called “Percentage of On-Hand”, however this is where you’re most likely to be caught out, as using this option I strongly advise you never to use this option (although there are situations where it does not matter, such as virtual or limitless stock).

Channel Profile Tolerances

The channel profile process also has “tolerances”, for items over a stock count of 20, there is no compelling reason to keep the selling platforms updated with the latest stock count for each change.

If we had 10,000 of those mugs in stock, then updating them every time we sold one would be silly and slow down the really important updates for other stock items which have much left. As such eSellerPro has different tolerances for different stock levels and they can be found in their Wiki.

A Simple Example of a Channel Profile

A really simple example of a channel profile is the first example, where we were listing all 10 of the mugs on the 3 platforms. In this example we are committing 100% of  the “Available stock” (10) to each of the channels.

An Advanced Example of a Channel Profile

There is likely to be situations where you don’t want to commit all your stock to all of the channels all of the time and this is where the ability to create multiple profiles comes in really handy.

For the first example, we would have named the channel profile something like “List 100% to eBay, Amazon and Our Website” (naming the profiles to what they do is again strongly suggested, it makes them “Matt proof”).

For this second example, we’re going to want to keep two of mugs in stock at all times, this is because they’re end of line and we want to keep safe just in case we get a return of breakage.

Similar to the previous example, we’re going to commit 100% of the “Available Stock” to platforms, but we’re going to add a number 2 to the column called “Min. Qty Avail”. By setting a value of 2 in this column, we’re saying list 100% of our stock, but when we get to our last 2, take them off all the platforms.

We could of course just set this value of 2, to just one platform, so that when we get to our last 2 items, we take it off Amazon, but leave the 2 on eBay and the website. I did say that this was ‘neat’ :)

Further Examples

The abilities of the channel profile doesn’t stop at just listing 100% of items onto marketplaces and keeping their stock levels in-tow and basic stock control. You can also configure a channel profile to use these cool features:

  • Percentage based listing, not just 100%, maybe only 50% to eBay and 100% to Amazon & the website.
  • Force set inventory levels onto one or more marketplaces, that never go out of stock
  • Force set inventory levels onto one or more marketplaces that are removed when the available quantity drops below a specific level
  • Using a “Cost Formula”, dynamically calculable your selling prices for each channel and also the minimum and maximum prices for Amazon & accounts.
  • Cap the number of listed items on a platform to a maximum number
  • And there are some funky things you can do with sequences and stocked sub skus of products that 99.9% of the people reading this wouldn’t ever use.

It should also be noted that if you have the WebXML interface enabled for up to 10 external channels, the channel profile can also apply inventory update rules to these too and via the new eSellerPro API, the status of the SKU can be checked to see if its been set to list on several of the ‘channels’ in the channel profile.

My eSellerPro Channel Profile Tips

Here are a collection of tips that you may find useful:

  1. Never edit the default profile
    Think of this profile as a off switch, keep it set to manual and use this profile to take items off all the platforms and for new records that are not ready to be listed yet.
  2. Keep calculations to a minimum
    The more you ask for a channel profile to do, the long it will take and the slower it will run. Where ever possible, keep calculations for prices to external tools lke excel or PHP before entering into eSellerPro.
  3. Never use product specific channel profiles
    If you create product specific channel profiles, you’re missing one of the huge benefits of eSellerPro ‘profiles’. If you do have an exception product that needs its own rules, just create another profile and name it accordingly. Then ALL your profiles are in one place and easy to administer.
  4. Name the channel profiles sensibly
    If the profile is listing 100% to eBay, Amazon and the Website, name it that. In the bulk update tool, in the inventory record and in the import/export system you only see the names of the profile, thus name them clearly in relation to what they actually do.
  5. Think through each channel profile thoroughly before creating it
    Take a few moments to write down what you want the profile to do, then once written, use this to guide you to the configuration of the profile.
  6. Use ‘Bulk Update’
    You can use the bulk update tool to update as many records as you would like, remember that naming them clearly will make this task a cinch.
  7. Import/Export with care
    Don’t forget you can import a channel profile name as part of the custom import/export sheets. But use this with care, as you can enable products to be listed from an import sheet, this may not be desired straight away and may cause other issues, especially if you are loading new products and images need to be collected from a 3rd party before listing, the listing may go live and be incomplete!

The Channel Profile Summary

Using a channel profile is not without its risks, as you can in theory oversell heavily if the products which have been assigned a channel profile are in ultra high demand, accounting for the lags of the platforms themselves and giving eSellerPro enough time to react (although in reality this is quite rare, I can only remember of two instances in 3 years of this happening).

Sensible configuration of your channel profiles for different velocity products is key and also keeping them as straight forward and aptly named is strongly advised.

The examples in this article are quite basic, however if you consider you may have thousands of inventory records, numerous eBay accounts more than one Amazon Seller Central account (yes this is possible), multiple websites and maybe 3rd part integrations to other selling platforms, being able to expose your entire inventory across ALL possible channels and keep them updated when items sell and stock deliveries are made, makes the “Channel Profiles” in eSellerPro one of the core parts of the entire system.

Try doing all that manually. You’ll have no hair left like me!

Your Feedback

Do you use the Channel Profile in your eSellerPro account, is this something you could or couldn’t live without? Let me know in the comments box below.

5 Questions for Dzine-Hub – A Professional eBay & Web Design Company


Following on from the two-part series “Why buy a professionally designed eBay listing template?” for which you can read part 1 here and part 2 here, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to interview a company that specialises in such designs and share with you first hand the experiences and feedback from such a provider.


I’ve got 5 brilliant questions for Abbas from lined up, but first let me introduce Abbas to you.

I first met Abbas when we were given an exceptionally large quote for a revamp of one of my clients eBay shops and listing templates, to the point we had to find an alternative.

It turned out to be somewhat ironic, the company that we chose had been busy creating templates for other businesses in the same category as this client and it was almost full-circle for Abbas to end up re-designing the original eBay shop that had inspired so many other merchants to up-their-game with a professionally designed template.

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Abbas face-to-face, Abbas came over to the UK from India where DZine-Hub is based in March 2001 for the Internet Retailing Conference. After the conference had finished, Abbas stayed in Bristol for the following week or so and we met up and took Abbas to my 3rd place, a cafe on the edge of Bristol docks.

Since then I’ve worked with Abbas & his team on numerous projects and its normally the first recommended design resource for all eBay related projects.

I’ve lined up five questions and over to Abbas!

Before we start, Abbas, can you tell us a little more about what your company does?

I originally started as a drop-ship business selling on eBay, building a team we cleared over 20,000 items in a 6 month period, but it was the designing that was my passion and we now use this understanding of how eBay works from a sellers perspective to help our clients set up businesses on eBay, through websites & the social platforms more efficiently.

My team now focus purely on eCommerce design projects, which includes eBay shop designs, eBay listing templates, eCommerce website design, Facebook fan pages and also customising clients Twitter pages.

When we first started Dzine-Hub, there were very few successful design companies, their turn around times were slow and the prices for services were highly impractical. We optimised our processes, focusing on quality and always aiming to remain small & nimble to keep the entire process as personal as possible, after all these are peoples businesses we are representing with the designs and impacts them greatly.

Why do you feel that people use services such as yours for eBay listing templates and eBay shops?

There are many many people selling on eBay and many using eBay shops. One of the best ways to get ahead of the rest of the sellers on eBay is to use a professional design for your eBay store and listings.

An eBay store design and listing template design is vital for three important reasons –


A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers on the eBay market increases by day. Time taken to create a brand, and then market that effectively is time well spent. Branding increases your credibility with the customer & concretes user loyalty. A unique high-quality design helps in effective branding.


A bad design interface can discourage a potential customer from making a purchase owing to the fact that the navigation is not too simple. A good interface can put the customer at ease, with navigation made easy between store pages and other information. Our store designs are not just good looking, we create a good navigation interface to make your eBay store more customer-centric.

[Matt’s comment: The basic eBay shop is fine to a degree, but after that they all look the same and 3rd party design companies can really add some flair to the eBay shops and add a superior user interface which ultimately helps buyers find items faster & more efficiently in both the eBay shop and the listings themselves ]


Another way of increasing sales / conversions is cross-promotion – let the customer know what you feel might be of interest to them apart from the primary area of focus. Creative banners and well-designed promotion category boxes can communicate with the customer more effectively.

Abbas, DZine-Hub is not based in the UK, while I personally have no issues with outsourcing activities such as design work that I am not specialised in, what 5 tips would give UK business owners when outsourcing their design work?

We have positioned ourselves as an Internet-based business, just like our clients, where the core competencies of our company are measured by the kind of services we offer and how we deliver them.

Beyond a point the location only matters little, it is about how we do what we do, to the best our abilities.

Here are 5 tips for UK business owners looking to outsource their design work:

  1. Look for experience
    Have a look at the portfolio, that would give you an idea on what they are capable of. Live links to eBay stores which showcase the work done.
  2. Genuine reviews
    Look at what people have spoken about their work (preferably on a third-party website).
  3. Service
    See the terms of service, after sales support and how easily contactable they are. Give them a call and/or an email and see what response you get back from them.
  4. Nature of their clientele
    See how big their clients are, their eBay feedback. If they’re attracting high volume, high value businesses, then they’re worth contacting.
  5. Expertise
    Many businesses use software tools to run their businesses on eBay. Its crucial that they have knowledge of the software system the company is working with.

[Matt’s comment: Just to add to the points above, never be afraid of picking up the phone and speaking to them. Look for a UK number or a Skype contact and call them. It’ll take no more than a few minutes and you’ll know first hand what the level of communication is going to be like. Maybe just like what your buyers do to your business ;-) ]

When we last spoke, you had exceeded the 600 designs mark, could you tell us how the journey has been this far?

The journey this far has been an exciting one to say the least. In the last couple of years of us being fully functional, we have learnt an amazing lot and grown from strength to strength.

We have launched 600 eBay stores and it’s not so much the volume that matters – but the fact that we have personally dealt with and successfully helped launch that many businesses on eBay. We’ve also designed a fashion outlet store in the UK along with the many others and have launched 50 eCommerce websites (and counting) based on the Magento platform.

Myself & my team are looking to an even more exciting time ahead – our next year should feature us venturing into Amazon web-stores, and launching more designs for other eCommerce websites that function on different shopping carts other than Magento, like OpenCart, Volusion, BigCommerce, Prestashop to name a few.

First impressions are huge, how do you work with your clients to ensure theirs are first-rate?

My1stWish Design ExampleHaving been in the business of eBay selling for quite a while, we’ve identified how critical it is for the designed templates to have the right balance of design and cross-promotion, suited to each individual business model.

We have been designing templates for varied set of clients, selling products & services across a very wide range of categories. A lot of our time is spent on deciding with our clients, what to do and how for each small / medium / large business, which we plan to have an impact on.

We understand how important it is for our clients to instill trust and confidence in their prospective buyers minds and all this is achieved with well designed professional templates.

First impressions count everywhere – we do our best to ensure that our clients make a very good first impression on their customers.

Some examples of our work are below:

Thank You

Abbas, thank you for taking the time answer those questions for us.

You can find out more about here, the link goes straight to the gallery page of over 100 eBay design examples.

How to: Add a YouTube Video to Listings Using eSellerPro

Adding video content, especially video content that you’ve made for your business on a product or service to eBay listings easily done and I covered this in an earlier article “Add a Youtube Video to your eBay Listings in 5 Steps“, however when using 3rd party tools, the actual listing template is normally separated from the description.

In this How-to guide I’ll be showing you how to automatically add a YouTube video to your eBay listings in a scalable, structured manner, which once completed is as simple as pasting in the YouTube video ID and the rest takes care of itself using eSellerPro.

Note: For this article I’m using the example product video I made for an earlier article, this is definitely not a good example of a great product/service video but it’ll suit the needs of this article. If you’ve not seen it, it’s quite funny and you can watch it here.

Before We Start

eSellerProI’m making the assumption that you are using eSellerPro as your back office tool, that you have a YouTube account and that you understand a little HTML. The rest I’ll take you through step by step.

Also in the example video being used, the dimensions are 960 wide by 576, this probably will not suit most and you’ll need to alter these both. However for completeness, at the very end instructions on how to complete a fully customisable version is included. If you cannot see any of the sections mentioned in this article in your eSellerPro account, contact their support and ask for them to be enabled.

A “YouTubeID” is referenced several times in this article, this is the string of text you see in the URL when viewing YouTube video’s. For example, the example product video used is “” and the YouTubeID is part after the = sign, namely “zDSwAuApbwc“.

Using eSellerPro Custom Fields

To make this as scalable as possible, we need to leverage customfields in eSellerPro, I’m not going to cover what these are here, just that we’re going to create a custom fields group and a custom field to place the YouTube video ID.

To do this we need to follow these steps:

  1. Open eSellerPro
  2. Go to the Maintenance section on the left bar
  3. Locate the “Custom fields” section and double click on it
  4. Press the new record icon at the top and name the customfields group “Video” (the first box labelled “Group Name”)
  5. We now need to add an edit box called “YouTubeID”, enter “YouTubeID” into both “Field Name” and “Display Name” and press the “Add Field” button

Create the Holding Paragraph

If we were to put the logic code we create in the next step in every template we use, this would cause unnecessary overheads and possible headaches later on when if want to update the layout operation of the video player & associated code. So to make this as easy as possible, we’re going to now use another part of eSellerPro called paragraphs to create a container for the video code & associated logic.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Select “Inventory/Listing” from the left menu
  2. Select “Paragraph Builder” from the left menu (you may need to scroll down to locate this)
  3. Press the new record icon at the top
  4. Give the paragraph the name “YouTube”
  5. At the bottom, tick the box called “HTML Only” so that the editor is disabled

The Logic to Sshow/Hide the Video

Now that we’ve prepared the customfields and the paragraph, we need the code to show the video player in the listing. In a previous article called “How To: Add a Youtube Video to your eBay Listings in 5 Steps” it was noted that IFRAMES are not allowed on eBay listings and we need to use the older method that is allowed to show YouTube video content on your eBay listings.

The code for this, looks like:


This is fine for a single listing, however we’re building a more flexible version so you don’t need to post this each time.

Firstly we replace the YouTube ID with the custom field, so it reads as:


However, we don’t want to show the video player when there is no video to be shown, so to do this we use the IFNOT keyword, to show/hide the entire video player if there is or is not a YouTubeID present in the customfield.

This now becomes:



And it’s this code that we now enter into the paragraph we created earlier.

Adding the Paragraph to your eBay Template(s)

Instead of pasting this code into each template, we’re going to leverage the paragraph feature in eSellerPro to make this as simple as copy/paste.

If you now follow these steps:

  1. Select “Inventory/Listing” from the left menu
  2. Click on eBay templates
  3. Select the template you wish to add the video content to
  4. go to the “description” tab
  5. Ensure that the “HTML Only” box is checked
  6. Place this code “{{Insert:YouTube}}” where you would like the video appear if it’s been set
  7. Repeat as necessary for other templates you may have.

Note: Its actual placement will vary from template to template, if you’re unsure either experimentalist or ask someone that is comfortable with HTML to help you.

Enter an ID to an Inventory Record

To be able to test that this works, we need to add a YouTube ID of a video to the custom fields of an inventory record.

  1. Pick any inventory record (inventory/Listing > Inventory Details)
  2. Go to the custom fields tab.
  3. Select “Video”  from the drop down box
  4. Enter your YouTubeID (or enter “zDSwAuApbwc” for the sake of example) into the edit box called “YouTubeID”
  5. Now go back to the “eBay Auction” or “eBay Inventory” tabs and press the preview button on the right
  6. You should now have a video in your listing template

Advanced eSellerPro Video Template

If you had not changed the size (width and height) as used in the example snippets above, then you will have seen a massive video in your listing. If you are using just one template setting the width/height once in the HTML will be fine, however if you have multiple templates and some need to be bigger than others, you can evolve this a little further by adding two more custom fields called “Height” & “Width” to your customfields “Video” group we created earlier.

Then using the following code, you are able to specify the width/height as you desire AND have a catch width of 960 and a height of 576 if they’re not set (you probably need to alter these to fit in your template)




Adding video can be easy with a few simple logic tests and the right set-up, also because the YouTubeID’s are in a custom field, they can be imported against using excel or CSV sheets and of course if the inventory record has no YouTubeID set, its not going to show with the advanced versions.

Now go and try this in your eSellerPro account and let me know how you got on by posting a comment below (or if you get stuck, leave a comment and I’ll point you in the right direction).

5 Tips for Preparing Your Business for January Not Christmas

It’s now late November and we’ve seen a good couple of press releases from supporting companies on how to increase and keep your Christmas period sane. However, it’s all too late as preparations for Christmas really should have been in place at or before August.

If you’ve not trained seasonal staff, arranged stock transfers, deliveries, put automation software in place, heck everything that gets amplified due to typical higher sales volume, then the next 3 weeks are going to be “fun time” for the business.


I Forgot January Once & Only Once!

However… below I’m sharing a short story on why you should not forget January and learn from a mistake I made a couple of years back.

After having a pretty hectic Christmas period, I had decided that on the 1st of January I was going to have a week or two off. Oh boy did we need it. We had been flat out for the past few months preparing for Christmas sales and had thought we had done everything right, sales were good and were very much looking forwards to the break and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

On our return, we started talking to our suppliers and that’s where it hit home, it turned out that our two main competitors had been busy & done their homework. They had an amazing 3 weeks after Christmas. They had been negotiating special deals and jumping on the clearance lines that were abundant. They’re January had rocked to the point that they had cleared more stock in those 3 weeks after Christmas, than in the entire month of December.

I cannot tell you how sick I felt, I had missed one of the oldest tricks in the book.

No Slacking in January!

January has the potential to bigger for sales volumes that December, the reason is simple people are in “sales mode”. What happens just after Christmas or even just before, 99.9% of all high-street retailers go into sales mode. People queue & even camp out on shop doorsteps to grab bargains and ironically this is really straight forwards for you to hijack.

So instead of making the mistake I made, here are five tips for preparing for the first few weeks of January or before:

Tip #1 – Delay Moving Software Providers

Shelve any idea that moving software providers, that can wait until the middle or later in January, if they got you through Christmas, then a few weeks delay won’t make much difference. If it’s not completely broken, don’t fix it (yet).

Tip #2 – Speak to Your Suppliers in Advance

Ask them explicitly what is going on sale after Christmas, suggest that you’ll be able to take larger volumes or stock that didn’t do well at a discounted rate. Spell it out on them, you have extra buying power after Christmas and you can help your sales rep hit his bonus for January.

Tip #3 – Prepare Several Lines to go into “Sale Mode” Now

By using tip #2, you will have an idea on what product you may have at better rates for a sale, as such prepare any data around these in advance, it’ll only take a few minutes per SKU as you can easily create duplicates or variations of the SKU in advance, with new details and perhaps use a different listing template to go with them.

Also a slightly different method would be to consider products that you would feel comfortable sitting on for 9 months, that you know will do next year and scoop extra discounts now and take a punt on higher returns next year?

Tip #4 – Do the Artwork Now

Designers are typically not very busy at this time of the year and it could be a good time to grab a saving on a mild branding redesign for a sale period. Such as adding sale logo’s to an existing template and preparing the design aspect in advance, so that its a click & go event, rather than a rush job when it’s too late.

You might also want to look at the two articles I wrote earlier this year on How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals and another on How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages, as you can prepare these in advance and hide the pages in the shop, then when it comes to sales time, swap them over in your eBay shop.

Tip #5 – Email Marketing

The same as the visual aspect, if you’ve worked and have obtained a couple of product ranges that will be worthy of a sale, then combine in the updated artwork to your email marketing campaigns and prepare the notifications in advance, so when the time comes, it’s a quick check over and off you go.

As an idea, if you have multiple products, you could make an event of it, explain which products you have going on sale and when (a delayed sale) and notify customers on say a daily or bi-daily basis of the latest sale item (you’ll need to be careful with this not to spam, just make your offering exceptionally compelling).


Don’t make the mistake I made, prepare for January, what products can you clear, what products can you buy to clear and how can you leverage the “sales mode” that most buyers go into at or before January?

If you do this now, before competitors have started having the conversations, then you can be first in and negotiate the best deals in advance, prepare a campaign and take January easy, knowing that you’ve worked extra hard now and actually have a plan for the month, rather than just “seeing what happens”.

The Four Standard Physical Product Business Models

The following two video’s are part of the UnderstandingE project I have been working on & I’m sharing them here for any feedback you may have.

This hasn’t been clearly defined before (that I know of) and will be an immense help if you are considering an eCommerce product business for eBay, Amazon, transactional websites, the other channels etc… Or as I’ve found, to help realise that you’re actually using one or more of these and why you’re actually using more than one of them.

Four Standard Product Business Models

There are four standard product models that a business can use when it comes to physical based products which are intended for resale, this applies to almost all incarnations of an eCommerce product based business.

These are:

  1. Stocked
    This is like a retail shop, where the items are pre-purchased, then used as the inventory to drive data for the online channels and to fulfil orders. I cover the advantages in the video, however this has one major disadvantage, the outlay of cash to fund it.
  2. Manufacture
    This doesn’t have to be as hardcore as making glass, where you take sand (silica) and add other additives such as lime (calcium oxide) and then adding immense heat & other processes, it can be the combination of two or more products to make a unique third product. In the second video I use the example of the lighting in my office, taking stands, plugins, blurbs & softboxes and combining them into a kit, which is a unique product offering.
  3. Virtual / Just-in-Time
    I personally hate the phrase “drop shipping”, a more apt description would be “virtual” or “just in time”.
    This is typically where stock is made available virtually and then put on offer by the business, when an order is taken, the stock items are ordered and then fulfilled. This may be directed to the customer, but also to the business for sorting and then sending out (as I learned two days ago, the correct term for the latter part is called “Cross Match”).
  4. Asset Recovery
    We can also include refurbished products under this model, as essentially they have gone through the asset recovery process and been re-manufactured. This model can enable the highest returns, but also some major downsides, such as availability and quality.

In their Purest Form

In the video below I cover each of them in the purest forms, you’ll need to watch this one before moving to the second as without the explanation of them in this form, the hybrid models won’t make sense.

Hybrid Business Models

However, in reality, there are very few business that use only one of these, instead in this video, I explain how and why you would want to use a hybrid of these standard models for your business.

I also cover a model that I have not included in the four standard models called “Flipping”, as I explain in the video, this is not a scalable model and if you do find a product base that you can scale with, then I would suspect that it falls under the asset recovery hat.


Documenting these have been exceptionally useful for me & I’m sure for you also.

I’ve found when talking with business owners about these, this has helped them realise why they’re doing what they are with their businesses. It also makes it a pick & mix exercise, however you can now see why you would want some elements of each, but to limit as much as the negatives as you can by combining them together.

Stop - Take Action!Which models are you using?

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Managing Large Adword Campaigns with Google Adwords Editor

Google Adwords EditorEver wondered how search marketing companies & larger companies deal with more than a few Google Adwords campaigns? The answer is easy, they use the right tool for the job, Adwords Editor is one of them and best of all its free!

Managing Campaigns x 10,0000

A slight exaggeration, however using the Adwords Editor, you can manage literally hundreds of campaigns over several accounts using a single, free tool.

A key feature of the product is the ability to import new campaigns via CSV, you can update them via CSV for external processing and then import them back in again. Its all quite civilised and dealing with hundreds of campaigns at one time is a very simple task.

Why you should use the Adwords Editor

Here are the reasons why you would want to use the Adwords Editor:

  1. You can import and export your campaigns from Excel. That means for geeks like me I can do all the work in excel and then quickly and easily import the campaigns for immediate upload to Google.
  2. It works offline. This is brilliant if travelling or out of signal range. Just send the updates when you’re next connected.
  3. The Editor works with more than one Adwords account.
  4. Finding duplicate keywords is easy, see here for more info.
  5. This is an official tool created by Google,

So if you want one up on your competitors, you are about five up now. Or the biggest feature for me, was the import/export features. Being able to manipulate data outside of the interface and import, was a huge win.

There are other tools, mainly paid for, plus there is an API as well, which for the larger PPC based companies build their own interfaces to our use hugely expensive software to manage campaigns on an epic scale.

Helpful links:

Part 1: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?

Affiliate NetworksThis was an old post that I’ve revamped for human consumption. “What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?” is a really good question and a very short answer is yes, you should be.

I’m looking forward to explaining and givening examples over the next three articles, as I discuss what they do, how they work, who uses them, how much they cost and ultimately why you should have a network as part of your online marketing strategy.

The Affiliate Concept


An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between publishers (affiliates) and merchant affiliate programs

Starting at the beginning, we have merchants, businesses that have websites and want more customers, we also have people like me affiliates (I was focused on Affiliate Networking for the majority of 2010) who want to specialise in their area which is known as publishing and will happily pimp themselves for a percentage cut of the merchants sales.

Affiliates and merchants normally come together via a 3rd party called an ‘Affiliate Network‘, which is a place where affiliates can find merchants to promote & vice’versa and acts as a trusted party between them both. As you can imagine there are a few of these globally and I’ll be looking at these in detail next week.

The Merchant gives the Affiliate a fee, typically for a confirmed sale, again typically through an Affiliate Network.

Affiliate Program Fees

Affiliate networks hold lists of merchants and lists of affiliates, then promote them to each other. The affiliate networks make their money in several ways:

  • The start up fee to the merchant
  • The on going monthly fee from the merchant
  • Commission on the commission’s paid to merchants
  • And in some cases a fee they take from the affiliates for joining

That sounds like a lot of fees to shell out as a merchant, but to give you some idea, the start up fees for a affiliate program range from a few hundred, to a few thousand and monthly costs vary from £250-500 or more.

The actual percentage paid to affiliates (those nice people known as publishers that get you customers) can vary and be tiered on performance. For technology based products, commissions of 1-3% are common, for clothing 8-15% are common, holidays are similar of not more and gambling can be much higher.

Note: Are these fees starting to ring true to the updates set by eBay in the eBay May 2011 update, Tech = 3%, CSA = 15%?

Yummy Cookies

Cookies are worth a special mention here, this is because you can set the length of time you can allow your affiliate to gain commission on a sale from the time they referred them to your site(s).

Note: We’re not talking about those delicious snacks, we’re refering to cookies, that are dropped by websites into the clients browser, the HTTP cookie, see here for more info.

Normally this is a 30 day cookie, some companies offer 7, 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or infinite or if your name is, then the cookie life is 24 hours. More on that later in another article as I am not willing to contribute to the ongoing war, sorry debate over cookies and their timings at this time (this is an industry wide hot topic, sadly with no ‘right/perfect’ view).


There are several different ways you can tackle affiliate networks, you could ban PPC affiliates or stay text link only OR you could open your affiliates up to allowing them to use PPC (on or off your brand name) and give them something called a ‘datafeed’.

Affiliate networks do more than just put an affiliate and a merchant in touch, they can handle data feeds given from the merchant to the affiliate network, for adaptation and distribution to their affiliates, then track clicks the sales and report these back to both parties.

Datafeeds are files that contain the very latest (hopefuly!) information from a merchant on their product catalogue, so you as the merchant can keep your affiliates up to date on the latest products you have.

Below is a screen shot of items selected using the AffiliateWindow ‘Create-a-feed’ tool in their new (ish) Darwin interface.

Affiliate Window Create-A-Feed Tool

Affiliate Window Create-A-Feed Tool

Contacting Affiliates

This is also part of your fee to the Affiliate network, you should be assigned an account manager who will ‘woo’ the top affiliates in your product area(s) and get them to take your feeds. A tip here is to do two things. Firstly research who is promoting your products, secondly now knowing who is, speak with your account manager and get them to promote you to them.

As a merchant, you can either choose to allow anyone to join your network (suggested) or filter the affiliates that want to join (not suggested) and the different affiliate networks have different tools to allow you to communicate with your affiliates.

Here is a screen shot of a message from the Dorothy Perkins affiliate program:

Example: Dorothy Perkins Affiliate Email

Example: Dorothy Perkins Affiliate Email

In the second part of this series I’ll be covering the following sections:

  • Who’s Using Affiliate Networks To Promote Their Products?
  • Examples of Affiliate Sites
  • Special Networks
  • Summary of Affiliate Networks

You can read the second part here Part 2: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?

We (Almost) Have a Winner! – in October, one of my first articles was relating to a company called Misgguided. You can read the original article here What a Silly Design Flaw – They had just had a new website redesign, but neglected one crucial thing…

They had lots and I mean lots of keywords stuck in images.


This is a before screen shot and was the basis for the article:

Missguided Lost Keywords

Missguided With Lost Keywords Hidden in Images

Looking Closely

And you’ll see that 38 words are hidden from search engines as sadly search engines cannot read words contained in images. Yes they can read ALT and TITLE tags, but having the description on the page is far more important.

And Today We Have?

Something different. While not so pretty as the first, they’ve not only remove the text from the images, they’ve also included the category links.


We have all text now, including new category links

Superb, Yes?

Nope. While releasing the keywords from the images and adding several as links into the sub categories, we’ve reduced out keyword weighting and also reduced the appeal of the header section.

First off, we’ve lost the style of the header, namely the particularly ‘fit’ model and the accessories line. I’ve high lighted these in blue below:


Loss of Two Key Sections

Also while actually gaining two words to the word count, we’ve lost the flow of the text.


Scarves, bangles and bows… charms, belts and bags- add delightful details, luxurious lockets and perfect pearls to complete any outfit! See below for our full range of bags, belts, bangles, bracelets, eyelashes, necklaces, headbands, scrunches, watches and sunglasses.


Get the latest accessories to go with your perfect outfit. We’ve got the latest trends to complete every outfit for all occasions.

Hats, Scarves & Gloves Bags & Purses Jewellery Gifts Beauty Tights & HosieryNail Polish Hair Accessories Belts Sunglasses Slippers View All

So What Would be better?

Join the two together, just like in the original article. We take the styled images for the category header name, the model, the decent description and the raw text and combine it together so it looks something like this:


Excuse the Photoshop Skills, but it makes my point clearly


Yep. Check the top menu out, they’ve actually fixed the issue of the top tabs not being links themselves to the categories (pet hate of web designs #3, I need to find another example for this now), but have left a dead link in the header as shown in the image below.


Category Menu Dead Link

Importance of Excellent Design

The visual appeal of a website is only one part of an entire picture of how the websites performs, I’ve worked with dire looking websites that have been successful because of the other factors far out weighing the lapse in design. Its when you get everything right, is when magical things happen.

Watch This Space

So watch this space, the earlier changes did not happen by accident. If you now see these changes happen you know where they found out about them ;-)

Business Ethics & Ones Moral Compass. Fraud &

David Wei Alibaba.comNews came out yesterday regarding the CEO and COO’s departure from amidst +1,000 customers that have been the victim of fraud. You can read two articles on this at TechCrunch and AuctionBytes.

Background has slowly been gaining pace, it was acquired by Yahoo in 2005 for a mere $1B in cash and stocks. Its a marketplace for trade between countries.It’s quite a beast and should not be dismissed for early trading.

Moral Compass

This article isn’t on the marketplace or the fraud that took place, but rather on the outcome from the news becoming public. Which provoked the the resignation of CEO David Wei and COO Elvis Lee.

Note: For those not used to these terms, CEO is ‘Chief Executive Officer’, AKA the “top dude” and COO is ‘Chief Operations Officer’, AKA “top dude’s minion” who deals with the day-to-day operations.


I’m covering a lot of ground work currently around the coveted MBA (Masters of Business & Administration) and ethics are a core part of such a program.

From what I have read and interpreted, its all about keeping ones own moral compass aligned correctly and this can actually be hard work, for which David Wei and Elvis Lee kept aligned when they accepted ownership of the failures that arose. They could have possibly come out of this with their jobs, yet chose to do the right thing.

Quoting AuctionBytes:

However, the Board accepted Wei and Lee’s wishes that they “take responsibility for the systemic break-down in our Company’s culture of integrity.” Ablibaba founder Jack Ma said the two executives were doing the honorable thing in accepting full responsibility and thanked them for their tireless service to the company.

Cannot Ignore

Whether directly or indirectly responsible, such fraud of a scale of $1.7M cannot be ignored. David Wei and Elvis Lee I suspect, must have hit their moral compasses North when this happened and woke up to the fact that as “top dude” and “top dude’s minion” they are ultimately responsible and stood down.

I’m really looking forward to the case studies in the Business Ethics section of the MBA and how it relates back to this set of unfortunate circumstances. I’m just glad to see that such a moral compass works regardless of faith or region.

No, No, No. Its Your Domain Name, Use It. ChannelAdvisor Not Advised?


Channel Advisor Seller Buy4Less

Oh this made me giggle, while researching after posting the earlier article on a ChannelAdvisor customer called ‘Buy4less’ and ‘Wasting Your Most Important eBay Marketing Asset‘ I stumbled across this chestnut.

The Search Results

Click this link and let me explain the results you’re seeing.

You are seeing two things, the first is the use of the site: command, this is very useful for seeing how many pages have been indexed for a site, while not 100% accurate by Google’s own admission (see Matt Cutts from Google explain it in this YouTube video) its a great indicator and the second is a baw-drop by ChannelAdvisor for one of their featured retaliers. Let me explain.

Errr What Happended?

Now for the first link I gave, it shows lots of URL’s that have been indexed, great, but look again, the URL’s start ‘’ whats happened to the thier domain name ‘‘?

I’ll tell you what’s going with it


There is a single page for this domain indexed in Google, what they’ve done is use masking on the domain name instead of setting up a CNAME alias or similar to make the server treat the real domain name properly. So then everything starts from rather than some horrid domain path like ‘’.


If you’re using a third party tool such as Channel Advisor, don’t settle for a crap website setup, make sure everything is in your ‘domain’ name, don’t be afraid to ask for the assistance outside for unbiased views & guidance, automaton tools are only one part of your businesses success.

Getting Out of Such a Mess

If you’ve managed to do this this, don’t panic. Ask your provider to create 301 redirects for every page they’ve got to the new domain paths. The new pages on the correct domain name are forwarded from the old domain, so you are not penalised for what would-to-Google the entire site disappearing an popping up elsewhere.


I wonder how much was taken on their website last year, I wonder if anyone noticed. I suspect ‘not a lot’ of revenue was taken this year on ‘that’ site. Pity, I quite liked the visual design.

How to Make Your Shopping Cart Suck Less

Oh how I LOL’d at this, I’m only going to include the first part of the article to give you a taster, you can see the full article here:

The Oatmeal has given me some really great laughs in the past few months, Matthew Inman really does have a wicked sense of humour.

While this is wrapped in humour, he raises some very sensible considerations, I urge you to take on board his sarcastic view of how shopping carts can suck.

Does your shopping cart suck as bad?

How to make your shopping cart less crappy

The Oatmeal

8 websites you need to stop building


PS: This is also most amusing:

A New Unique Selling Point with a Feel-Good Factor?

Last week I was reading an interesting white paper from UKFast, a hosting provider on ‘What Customers Want’, you can read the paper for yourself here. Within the paper they quote Sir Richard Branson as saying:

“Companies that fail to change won’t have a business in 5 years time”

While I expect that businesses that don’t change will still be trading, I do suspect that businesses that promote this as a unique selling point (USP) will have an added advantage over their competitors, especially considering the governments have committed so heavily, we are bound to be battered with PR on this from all angles in the forth coming years.


Head Start?

Jumping in early could see some early learning picked up and give yourself an edge. Thinking about it, would it be miss-leading if you promoted that parts of your business were 100% carbon neutral, using the web hosting as an example, for what is peanuts, you could claim the 100% carbon neutral card, although just not playing with a full pack.

In the paper mentioned above, they’re suggesting that 64% of UK customers prefer to purchase products that are environmentally friendly are willing to pay up to 10% more for products that are better to the environment.

Hosting is a nice simple one, there are probably unlimited other ways too, such as:

  1. Allowing staff to work from home
  2. Setting up car share schemes
  3. Using carbon neutral energy suppliers
  4. And so on…

Further Reading

You may want to see and for more information and suggestions for businesses.