Posts

How You Can Find Out What Sells on Amazon

Howdy,

Have you ever wondered what actually sells on Amazon and ultimately the exact products that will make you money on Amazon?

Simple answer, Jungle Scout.

If you’ve ever used Terapeak for eBay, think of this as Terapeak on steroids. Jungle Scout is a research tool just for Amazon and works brilliantly.

This afternoon 3pm GMT (10AM EDT) we’re holding our weekly mastermind webinar & we’re being joined by Greg Mercer, the creator of Jungle Scout.

Greg will be showing us how you can use this research tool for your business to find the products that sell & the squillion other features Jungle Scout sports.

You can join for free here, all you need is an email account to join us live. Hit the blue “Register now” button below:

When writing this post I spotted a customer quote on Greg’s site that sums up perfectly that there are a lot of “pants” tools out there for Amazon, Jungle Scout isn’t one of those.

Jungle Scout is the software you don’t want your competing merchants to have. It is really that good. Greg and his team put a lot of heart, science and soul into creating it, and it shows. In a world of half-baked “get-rich-quick” Amazon seller solutions, Jungle Scout comes out on top. Jordan Malik

3PM GMT, We’ll see you there!

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

Introducing Cross Border VAT Made Easy (Recorded Webinar)

Howdy,

eBay & Amazon will happily promote “Cross Border trade” to us all as online merchants, however they both complete dodge the implications of this when it comes to tax.

Let’s be frank here, calculating for just one country can be tricky enough, throw in separate tax thresholds across Europe and the rosey idea of “Cross Border trade” becomes “Cross Border Nightmare“.

It’s not meant to be that way at all.

Last week myself & Dave held a live Webinar with Gurpreet Sidhu from Cross Border VAT (CBV for short). CBV helped his own business save £32,000 that he had over-paid to HRMC and is shortly becoming available as a tool available for you to use too.

We recorded the live event and have put the recording below for you.

In this video you will learn:

  • What the correct way is to calculate your VAT from the online marketplaces
  • Why you need “normalised transactional data”
  • How you can see how close (or how far away) you are from the VAT thresholds in each European country
  • And how CBV can help your business with a single button press

Press Play on the Video Below

Contacting CBV

If you also feel that CBV can help you & your business Gurpreet can be contacted either directly here on LinkedIn or via email at gss@crossbordervat.com.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

Default Search Filter Options – 2/5 Buyer Features eBay Is Missing in 2016

Howdy,

In this mini-series we’re learning what the top 5 features that buyers are missing on eBay are.

As you might already know I’m used to dealing with the other side of the table, the seller’s side of the table for multi-channel businesses. However, over the past 2 months or so I’ve really got back into hobby electronics and eBay being eBay, it’s a great choice to grab a whole variety of goodies.

The more I’ve refreshed myself with the buying side of eBay (+170 transactions in less than 2 months), the more I’ve realised there are several key features missing from eBay.

In yesterdays part 1 we looked at the suggestion of adding a block sellers list that you can read about here.

And in today’s part we’ll be looking at the idea of adding in the ability for buyers to set their own search filter options.

Let’s find out more about these filter (because searching on eBay feels like looking at the stars for a a rock, 3 orbits away from a star at times).

eBay Search Options

Default Search Filter Options

When it comes to purchasing on eBay, I have two modes of purchasing:

  1. The item I want I have no urgency for, so a global search based upon price is a priority to me
  2. I want the item in 2-3 days tops, I only want UK based sellers who can deliver in that time frame

Also I’d rather purchase from a business who I have previously bought from (this is a hint at what tomorrow’s feature is going to be).

And to face the truth on profile #2, price is important because I’m looking on eBay for it to be cheaper than Amazon, because if it’s on Amazon & available via Amazon Prime I could have next day and probably buy there instead.

But eBay doesn’t sport any ability for me to have default search options.

I have to set these manually each time and for #2 the ability to filter on a delivery is missing (and another hint at what a later feature in this series is going to be).

So the ability for me to save a profile such as these two would save me time in refining eBay search results.

For example:

Profile #1 – Anywhere, cheapest first

This would be for an item that I have no urgency for. I’m willing to wait a while because the item will be most likely cheaper.

The search profile would have the following options available & set for me:

  1. Sort order “Lowest price + P&P”
  2. Format: “Buy it Now”
  3. Condition “New” or “New other”

Profile #2 – I want it now

In this instance I certainly don’t want any international sellers outside my country, nor do I want any Chinese sellers masquerading as a local seller either.

So a filter with these options would greatly expedite the purchasing process:

  1. Item location “UK Only”
  2. Sort order: “Best Match”
  3. Format: “Buy it Now”
  4. Condition “New” or “New other”

There is a 5th option I’d like to set for this filter as well, I’ll cover this in tomorrow’s eBay missing buying feature, but for now having to set these 4 options every time is annoying.

I’d rather just have to select a profile at the top and these options to be applied immediately for me.

Faster Finding Through Profiles

There was a time when having to “hunt” for products on eBay was fun.

Now it’s just time consuming and not fun.

This issue of time consumption is especially important when you consider that there are so many other alternatives out there for buyers that offer similar, cheaper or better services when compared to the overall eBay expereince.

For example:

Amazon
Same or next day delivery, amazing customer support, a reviews system that works & no-hassle returns

Aliexpress
Cheaper & just-as-fast delivery as buying from Chinese eBay sellers

Banggood
Moderate shipping times, but around ~20% cheaper for specialist products when compared to eBay

And that’s made me realise that I’ve missed out another sort option.

The option to sort by “number of orders”.

On Aliexpress this is my most-used feature.

You can sort the search results by the number of orders a listing has had.

Take a look at the screenshot below. I’ve highlighted the filter by number of orders option and where this appears next to each listing.

Now consider that there are over 7 pages just for the search term “CC3D”.

I’ve just saved myself the time of working out which boards are the popular ones. I can make the simple choice of buying both the distribution power board (the black board) and the flight controller (the 2nd item) because those two listings have naturally pushed themselves to the top through the number of orders made.

Aliexpress Search by order Count

Side Note:

I didn’t actually buy those components from Aliexpress, instead I elected for a kit from Banggood at almost £60 (that’s 445% more!) because they sent the kit to a chap on YouTube who I follow and he’s detailed the whole kit over 5-6 video tutorials (see here).

Something I’ve never seen eBay do for any products.

Getting back onto topic.

In Summary – Finding products on eBay is laborious

The rest of the world has caught up with eBay’s “Best Match” and exceeded it.

Every buyer’s requirements is going to be slightly different, when I’ve come across this challenge in multi-channel software tools, the simplest option has always been to create templates or profiles.

Let the user select what they want and then wrap it up in a bundle that can be quickly used and quickly tweaked.

In this case a search profile which contains the things that are important to me depending on my personal requirements and then show me the results that match.

So what’s your thoughts?

  • Is “Best Match” on eBay not really living up to your expectations as a buyer? (Not a seller!! We all know we’d like to abuse it from a seller’s perspective ;-) )
  • Would search profiles help you find products more quickly on eBay?
  • Is there a search filter you feel we’re missing? If so what is it?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt

Part 3 Available!
You can read part 3 of this mini-series where we explore what impact reminding buyers that “I’ve Purchased From You Before!” would have on eBay here.

How to Score an Extra Free Month of Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime LogoHowdy,

Already a Amazon Prime member and fancy a free month of Amazon Prime?

Yep it’s possible, but with one small “gotcha”.

Amazon need to make a screw up.

And yes unbelievably despite Amazon’s best efforts to ensure a seamless delivery to us with next day delivery or even same day delivery here in the UK (such as using multiple couriers, even creating their own delivery network in the UK & other countries for that matter), from time to time orders marked as “Guaranteed next day” don’t arrive on time.

And it’s exactly this hiccup on Amazon’s part that you can use to your advantage to score an extra 30 days of Amazon Prime.

Firstly…

We need to get past the utter annoyance of the order not actually arriving on time.

I’ve had this a collection of times when the order I’ve made, I’ve really, really needed it the next day (one of the major buying choices when compared to alternatives such as eBay, Aliexpress, Bangood or other websites) and the time Amazon puts a minor “chink in it’s armour”, has to be the time when I need the order items fast. Grrrrrr (and probably why 30 days extra Prime is fitting!)

My point here, is that you need an order that was not attempted on the delivery day and the order has to be from Amazon or be delivered via FBA.

You know it’s not been attempted because the order status bar on the “Track Package” page on Amazon goes black instead of green and a yellow warning triangle appears next to the order.

As soon as this happens, ideally the same evening and remember that in the UK, Amazon drivers will deliver up to 10pm at night! Shoot a message to Amazon customer services.

Contacting Amazon Support

And half the battle is finding the right place to contact Amazon directly.

This is the direct link for the Amazon.co.uk site:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/contactus

In section #1 “What can we help you with?” select the order that hasn’t arrived, if it’s not showing, press the “Choose a Different Order” button

In section #2 “Tell us more about your issue”, select “Where’s my stuff?.

Skip the video and scroll right to the bottom where you have 3 options, “Email”, “Phone” & “Chat”.

Select the “Email Option”.

In the message box, “lay it on thick” that you’re disappointed that the order hasn’t arrived and you needed the items because of x-y-or-z  and that the missed delivery has inconvenienced you.

Note: No need to lie here at all. After all you chose Amazon for a bloody good reason, 99.9% of the time they’re brilliant, so good in fact it’s ultra frustrating when they don’t live up to their ultra high expectations!

To give you an example of what recently worked for me is a direct copy of the message I recently sent for an order that wasn’t delivered on time.

You’ll notice that at no point did I mention a prime extension, just my frustration that I was without the products I had ordered and a reminder that I was expecting next day delivery.

Howdy,

I ordered these items and made my mother-in-law stay in all evening to make sure someone was home to collect them.

However it’s 10:30PM and they still haven’t arrived and now it’s saying there is a delay. I thought as a Prime member I received next day delivery on orders?

I need the charger for the car as the old one has broken, drill bits are desperately needed as I don’t have any that small, hence why I ordered them for “Next day delivery”.

Kind regards,

Matt

See polite, factual and a gentle reminder about Prime and next day delivery :)

Your Amazon Prime MembershipA couple of hours later you’ll hopefully receive a message like this, I’ll highlight the 30 days extra prime :)

Hello,

Thank you for contacting us.

I’m sorry to learn about the delay with your Order No: 203-3197442-NNNNNNN.

I can completely understand your frustration as you had placed the order with Prime membership under an impression that it will be delivered to you next day. Please allow me to explain.

Actually, orders placed with One-Day Delivery are delivered one business day after they’re dispatched from our Fulfillment Center. We do our best to make sure that all orders leave our Fulfillment Center as close as possible to the availability and delivery estimates that we give. On rare occasions, we may receive multiple orders for the same item in a short period. This can add time to the original availability estimate. This seems to be what happened in your case.

I’d like to apologize for this and to help make up for the inconvenience, I’ve extended your Amazon Prime membership by 30 days. You can review your renewal details in the Manage Prime Membership section of your Amazon.co.uk account.

Further, I have personally contacted carrier and advice them to deliver your parcel as soon as possible.

I would request you to wait for 24 to 48 hours and if it is not a convenient option, you may contact us again and we will replace or refund as per your choice.

The satisfaction of our customers is very important to us, I believe you deserve to have a hassle free shopping experience with Amazon.co.uk. One of our aims at Amazon.com is to provide a convenient and efficient service; In this case, we haven’t met that standard.

We appreciate that this incident reflects badly on Amazon.co.uk and the feedback you’ve provided will be used in reviewing the service provided by Amazon Logistics.

I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Did I solve your problem?

Amazon customer support, polite & detailed as always.

And 30 days extra Prime, thank you!

You may be wondering if this works again & again?

Of course it does.

I’m on my 4th or 5th extension now I believe (I order a lot! from Amazon).

But you have to wait for Amazon to make a delivery screw up & they’re very rare in doing that.

Another Rare Gotcha with Amazon Prime Delivery

I ran into this one by accident and it doesn’t appear that Amazon will offer a Prime extension for this scenario.

Let’s say you’re looking at a product page and it says that you can order with in N hrs NN minutes for next day delivery. You make the order, but then Amazon change the delivery ETA before the order has been despatched to a later date.

Although rare, it’s really annoying when this happens.

On a recent occurrence of this scenario I know what the product pages said when I made the order (it was an order of several different products, they all said next day) and was expecting next day delivery.

Amazon changed the delivery day and I was left waiting for the delivery that never arrived.

I chased this up through Amazon customer service, I know the product pages said next day delivery, it was the major factor in me choosing Amazon for those items in the first place. And when I was getting no-where I decided to cancel the order instead, just to make the point. No free Prime extension was forth-coming & I bought else where.

Oh and on this order just to add insult to injury, I had to chase up a refund on that order as well, Amazon didn’t automatically process a refund for the cancelled order. Thankfully thats the first time I’ve ever had that happen.

PS. Never Abuse Your Delivery Drivers

The thing to remember throughout this process your delivery driver is always a 3rd party in this. And most likely not the same driver that didn’t deliver the item the day before (so not their fault!).

Delivery drivers are your “best mates”, after all they are the people responsible of actually delivering the order to your door and you always want them on your side.

If you take a few moments to have a chat with them, they all appear to be self employed owner/drivers in Bristol where I live, probably the same for you too.

Never give them an earful, there is absolutely nothing they can do to feed information back, that is what Amazon customer support is for after all :)

I personally always take the time to have a quick chat with them. Yea sometimes they’ve had a bad day and a “nice customer” (AKA you!) can cheer their day up.

Oh and you also easily find out that they earn around £100 per day, van hire is around £200 a week, they get a pitiful fuel allowance and the average daily drop count depending on the time of year is around 112 per day.

My point being, delivery drivers are the last leg in all of this, they can’t feedback any info back to Amazon, so be nice to them and you never know they might just be more accommodating for you on the next delivery :)

In Summary

If you get failed delivery from Amazon and they don’t even attempt to deliver on the day they said they would. Shoot them an email!

You never know you may just end up with an extra 30 days Prime membership too.

Let me know if it works for you too in the comments box below!

Matt

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

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

 

eBay Caught Napping by Amazon Handmade

Howdy,

If you’ve not seen it yet, Amazon have released “Amazon Handmade”, an integrated marketplace on the Amazon US site that supports the customisation of products, we can only assume to take on Etsy and to take yet another chomp at eBay.

Personally I’m a huge fan of eBay, however they have really been caught napping by failing to adapt.

I’ve never been to an eBay meetup (organised by eBay or externally) where business owners attending have not raised the inability for their customers to customise the products they are purchasing as an issue.

Right now business owners on eBay are using a mish-mash of workarounds to allow their customers to customise their purchases, hardly ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

Using the simplest of examples, customisation via email. This is where the customer/seller communicates the customisation options via one or more emails after the purchase.

Just think of the time-sapping communications spent by those business owners “toing and froing” between each other, when frankly the time spent could be better spent in so many other areas of their businesses (such as finding new products to customise!).

Then Amazon Handmade appears.

Amazon Handmade in Action

It’s reported that from idea to launch, Amazon Handmade took two years.

Amazon had to take very similar steps that eBay would have had to have made to enable this on their site and the best way of explaining this is via an example.

If you take a look at customisable product on Amazon Handmade here http://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Personalized-Christmas-Ornament-Custom/dp/B016C86JM6/ you’ll see that you as a customer are able to select from 3 options, Colour, Year & Name to personalise the purchase.

Amazon Handmade Options

Allowing the customisation of any fields by customers on eBay is not possible.

There are no options for a customer to enter such details and eBay businesses rely on buyers either adding customisation notes in the hidden “add message to seller” box during the checkout on eBay or say via email (arhhhhh!).

Both options rely on the customer to take these extra actions and we know that relying on a customer is never a good idea (ever).

The Annoying Thing is….

eBay have the framework in place to enable customisation like this.

When creating a new listing for a product on eBay, you have the option to add in item specifics and also single or multi-variation options.

These are text entry fields that allow the seller to customise the options that buyers see when selecting a size or say colour choice for a pair of boots on eBay.

Using the size and colour options as the example here, the seller sets what these values are and thus what a customer can select from drop-down boxes when making a purchase.

eBay Custom Options

Or if we make this even more simple, the seller has defined options for the customer to select using the “dropdown” input type for a web form.

Why can’t this be an “edit box” instead?

So that the customer is able to set the text for one more additional option for “name”. We’re dealing with a web-based app here and technically anything is possible we’ve just changed the input type.

Note: I am keeping this really simple here. Obviously there would need to be extra options for input validation and whether the option has a stock control impact, but there isn’t any need to overcomplicate things to make the point in this article (that’s what the development team is there for after all).

Caught Napping

I’m a big fan of eBay, infact I’m off to grab a 2nd hand computer for the workshop as soon as I’ve written this article. However if I wanted that purchase customised in any shape or fashion, I’m screwed.

eBay right now is in a perfect position to adapt.

Its just had it’s cash-cow PayPal pulled out by its horns and eBay has now been left to fend for itself. Literally, Carl Icahn who instigated the breakup, has just dumped his stake in eBay and moved them over to PayPal only a few days ago.

This one seemingly small detail of customisation has spawned not just one marketplace, Etsy, but a second too with Amazon Handmade.

Its “fight or flight” time for eBay over the next couple of years. Let’s hope they don’t continue to nap.

What’s your thoughts on this?

Should eBay allow customisable options for customers? Have eBay been caught napping by Amazon?

Let me know in the comments box below.

As always, to your continued success,

Matt Ogborne
I love coffee almost as much as I love Fridays

The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel Software Book

The Ultimate Guide to MUlti Channel SoftwareHowdy,

I know that Multi Channel software can help you work smarter, save you time and help make your business grow.

However… Do you find Multi Channel Software confusing too?

One of the challenges that I have had and I’m sure you’ve struggled with over the past few years is working how which Multi Channel software is right for you and your business.

So I’ve written the Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel software especially for you.

If you already know myself & that any such book is going to be worth the read, click here to download your free +70 page copy.

If not, here’s an insight into the book you can currently download for free and have in your hands in seconds.

Use the form below to download your +70 page, Plain English guide to Multi Channel software:

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The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel Software

Honeycomb-of-magento-ebay-and-amazonThe book is broken up into 12 chapters and first five chapters explain everything you need to know about Multi Channel software.

In chapter 1 you’ll learn:

  • What is Multi Channel software
  • The typical path that businesses follow to using software
  • The “Be Everywhere” strategy (more on this shortly)
  • What is the “Best” Multi Channel software
  • And how Multi Channel software can help your business

This entire book assumes no prior knowledge to Multi Channel software and I don’t stop at just an overview, you’ll also learn that:

  • You need a key, aka the Stock Number to keep stock levels in-sync
  • There are risks to being everywhere & that these can be reduced by using rules
  • An inventory management system can help you manage small & large numbers of products
  • Templates will great speed up the listing process and add “quality” for each and every listing
  • By combining orders into a single screen can help you process orders in bulk, saving you time
  • Couriers can be integrated and you can apply business rules to orders to change the delivery method

I’m keeping this brief as there are over 70 pages explaining how Multi Channel software can help you, how this software works and how it can help your business in 100% “Plain English”

Then together we’ll look at the different generations of Multi Channel software and I’ve included two simple to use tools that you can use for your business to help you work out which Multi Channel software is right for your business today and in a years time.

The Be Everywhere Strategy

In the previous book that I wrote on the “One Simple Rule to Sell More Online” we homed in on how your business is being seen by customers.

The “Be-Everywhere” strategy is the other side to this, this is being everywhere where your customers are when they’re in buying mode.

So this isn’t social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… where your customers are in “social mode”, this is on eBay, on Amazon and on your own eCommerce website where your customer is in “buying mode“.

The math here is really simple:

More sales channels
= More eyeballs looking at your products
= A higher chance of selling
= More sales
= More profit

It helps you “be everywhere” your customers are and manage the processes in the background to help you work smarter each day.

Be there with them too.

Grow Your Business

I know that that Multi Channel software can appear confusing to begin. However, Multi Channel software can help you and your business grow.

The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel SoftwareIt’s a decision that I personally put off for several months and it cost me thousands. Ask anyone in this industry and they’ll tell you immediately that the businesses, that employ the tools that you find in Multi Channel software will help you and your business grow.

With Multi Channel software you can:

  • Create better quality listings
  • Leverage templates to expedite the listing process
  • Open your business to cheaper resources, such as outsourcing
  • Sell on eBay, Sell on Amazon
  • Sell on your own website(s)
  • Manage orders from ALL your sales channels
  • Keep stock levels correct across them all
  • Work smarter each day

And I’m only scratching the surface here for everything you’re about to learn in your copy of this book.

Which Software is Right for You?

The simple to use tools in this book will help you work out the true cost of how much Multi Channel software is going to cost you.

You can compare one provider against the other and while it will take you a couple of weeks to fully leverage the tools you’ll find in Multi Channel software, it doesn’t need to be expensive anymore. You can start on a tiny budget of just £302 for an entire year (or £25.17, 31.36€, $42.09 USD or $45.07 AUD if worked out monthly).

I’ve also included a tool that you can use to compare the features by giving you all the questions you need the answers to and compare any 2nd Generation Multi Channel software this includes Linnworks, Seller Express, StoreFeeder, ChannelGrabber, BrightPearl, ChannelAdvisor, eSellerPro, Cascade, ChannelUnity, Seller Dynamics and the 3rd Generation too.

Download Your Copy Right Now

Use the form below to download your +70 page, Plain English guide to Multi Channel software:

Enter your details to download immediately:

We respect your privacy

You can start reading this book immediately and I’ll also email a copy over to as well so that you can read it at anytime you wish to.

I want your business to be a success too and I’ll be in touch a few days after you have downloaded the book to see how you’re getting on and including some extra tips & suggestions to accompany the book.

This really is the “Ultimate” guide to Multi Channel software, nothing like this has been written before and with that said,

To your success!

Matthew Ogborne
Author of The Ultimate Guide to Multi Channel Software

UnderstandingE After Just One Month Live

Howdy,

It’s been a month since UnderstandingE launched and frankly it’s been crazy.

If you’ve been hidden under a rock for the past few months, we decided that it was time for a new generation of multi-channel software, a generation that leveraged open source software such as Magento and we’re in the process of joining all the dots together so you too can have access to enterprise-grade software to list onto eBay, Amazon, Play & your own Magento website so you don’t have to.

Well, it’s been a month since launch and you can hear how we went from ni-on zero-page views to 44,000 page views in a single month.

Play

Because this is may be new to you, above is a green play button. Press play and you’re off!

If you’d like to download the podcast for listening to on your iPhone, Driod or iPad you can do or you can press the “Play in new window” button to be able to listen to the Podcast while browsing.  If you use iTunes, you can subscribe here.

 

The Podcast

In the Podcast myself & Dave reflect on what was actually achieved in January and the thing is, the stats are crazy.

  • From ni-on zero to 44,000 page views in 29 days
  • 1,736 unique visitors on day one
  • Launched with 35 guides that took 4 months to build
  • Published the following 29 guides in a matter of days

We also take the opportunity to ask each other, “What could you have done better this month?”, the replies that you’ll hear are not what you would expect. And the saying, Jab, Jab, Jab, Hook will make complete sense to you too.

Never Been Done Before

“One never notices what has been done, one can only see what remains to be done” Marie Curie

Because I can count the number of people in the world on one hand that could actually pull it off, I doubt that we’ll be followed with the level of insight between all the different components that are needed to pull such an ambitious project off.

The thing is, to do this needed a “degree-in-nerd” (one of the phases that Dave coined during the guides) and it doesn’t need to be like this any more. Because we’re documenting the process for you to follow, all in Plain English so that anyone can pick it up.

Basically, we’re building the system I needed 10 years ago.

However I’ve been through two multi-channel software companies since then, seen and spoken to more marketplace business owners than most people will do in their lifetime and we’re implementing this insight into something you can pick up and learn to do at your own pace.

With Passion You Cannot Fail

I’m a strong believer that 90% of the battle is actually won by turning up.

If you turn up you can fight, the thing is most people just don’t turn up and if you sprinkle in the passion for multichannel business owners like you that I have, then that’s going to be one interesting combination.

We’ve had one crazy month and with thanks to your feedback, it’s only going to get even crazier.

Oh and while we were plodding along and the pace of “caffeine-obsessed-mad-men” we were shortlisted for the Real Business Future 50 nominations which is a project to recognise the UK’s most exciting, most disruptive early-stage businesses. Curious one that one :/

If we did this all in one month, WTF are we going to have achieved by the end of February for you?

I know what’s written on my whiteboard to deliver to you and it makes Dave cringe when I start whiteboarding ideas, because he (and you will too if you listen into to the Podcast) now know how aggressive I can get when I focus on targets and looking forwards, I have so much to deliver it’s just nuts.

Anyway dive into the Podcast and the 3rd Generation… it’s there waiting for you, UnderstandingE.com.

Matt

A Different Take on Multichannel Software

Howdy,

Two questions for you:

  • What if multichannel software didn’t have to cost the earth?
  • What if you knew of a way to deliver multi channel software that can meet the needs thousands of cool people?

What would you do?

Sit on it? Work out a business plan to bundle it up and sell it as typical 2nd generation software? Or would you go a different route after trying both?

I’d like to share a story of what happened last year, when looking for multichannel software to launch a new business onto eBay, Amazon and to build their own website and the typical options out there, just didn’t work.

 

Backed into a Corner

backed into a cornerBack in March 2013 we were looking for multichannel software to launch a new business onto eBay, Amazon and to build their own website.

The natural option eSellerPro wasn’t an option and neither of us were fans of ChannelAdvisor, plus both of these were really expensive for a start up (you’re talking +£500 a month and £2,000 upfront costs), so we picked the next best option.

After 3 weeks in all the stuff I took for granted was missing.

  • What do you mean we can’t import 61,000 products in one go?
  • What do you mean we’ve got to assign one of the variations as being the parent sku?
  • And where on earth are child sku’s?

As we dug deeper we soon realised that the normal alternative wasn’t going to work (I’m doing my best not to name them), it was so far away from what I was used to. What I took for granted that should be in multi-channel software, well… was missing.

This just isn’t working out is it? What are the options?

I don’t know we’ll try a different provider, after a phone call they also wanted £500 a month and 1% of sale because we had soo many products (61,000 is apparently lot for most companies).

This is just nuts, how could you start a multi-channel business without the software that was so sorely needed? There was no way this could be done manually. There was just too many products to do it with.

What about?

Magento Usage Statistics Feb 2013Magento?

It can cope with that number of products easily, it can handle complex product relationships, variations, multi variations and so on…

After all it’s the most popular open source software to build eCommerce sites with and powers 26% of the top 1 million eCommerce with (see here), so it’s at least got to have a decent founding.

So that’s the inventory & order management part taken care of. Ok what about the eBay & Amazon part?

Why don’t we give M2E Pro a whirl? It can’t be that bad and hell it ain’t going to cost us £500 smackers to get started with is it?

So that’s what we did and what we ended up with something quite different.

Note: If you’ve never heard of M2EPro before, it’s an extension for Magento that allows you to use Magento for the order & inventory management and allows you to sell on to the marketplaces using the same inventory. Oh and it’s subsidised by eBay too.

Sipping Coffee

CoffeeDid we just replicate eSellerPro?

As near as dammit we had.

Yea not everything & all the bells & whistles, but it was close. Scarily close.

An import system that could take all 61,152 products in one hit, a templating system that allowed us to make comprehensive listings onto eBay with keywords, the stock levels were kept up to date pretty much in the same manner as what the Channel Profile does.

And for orders, well the framework was there to automatically deliver the orders to the supplier, then once the order was shipped, grab the tracking numbers and delivery back into Magento which in-turn, M2E Pro would pick up and notify eBay & Amazon.

Holy moo-moo, what if we bundle this up into a business?

So we did, we put the numbers down on paper, moved them, added, removed and that’s where we got stuck.

The numbers just didn’t work.

It wasn’t really until year 2 where after a huge amount of risk a lot of unknowns that such a business would hit any form of black. And that’s where it got curious…

If we couldn’t make the numbers work on software that was basically free, how the hell do the existing providers actually turn a profit? And that’s where things started to make sense, they do but they don’t. SaaS products/services tend to be highly lucrative,  however the life is being sucked out of them by bloat.

So to support N number of businesses you need N number of support staff, N number of developers, N number of account managers and so on… Humans need humans, especially if you’re looking at a high monthly fee product and especially one that takes a percentage of their sale. It just doesn’t scale very well.

Basically, none of us particularly liked the numbers, great idea but we were all out.

Now What?

Icon-round-Question_markI’m sat there with the tools and the knowledge to make a massive, positive difference to the world. But the normal thinking of bundling this up doesn’t work.

WTF now?

Dave, what if we gave it away for free?

Dave looked at me oddly.

Yea seriously what if we gave away the knowledge on how to do this?

It’s not the original business model, but we know that won’t work, the numbers say it won’t. So why don’t we take a completely different tack and share. I know that if you do something with passion, the money part kinda sorts itself out, I’ve seen this time and time again. I know it works.

Note: This is not for the faint of heart, you have to have some heavy form of commitment to even consider doing something like this, a topic for a different day

So that’s what we decided.

Show the world how they could gain access to low-cost multi-channel software, that didn’t cost £500 a month, didn’t come with all the expensive bloat and if you needed something extra then you bought it off the shelf, without paying oodles to support 100% of a product for which you were only likely to be using a mere 40%.

We hammered out a vision that encapsulated this, a goal for us to follow that followed this line of thinking and we came up with this:

“A hybrid of both free and paid for open source software where multi-channel business owners can pick & choose the tools that suit their business, both now and in the future.”

Quite a hefty goal, but that’s where we’re swinging for.

Last Year

And that was back last September.

Since then we’ve been working our little socks off, mainly because I set such a ridiculously high goal that we’d have to think differently. Did we hit the final goal? No, but we got bloody close though.

We called it “UnderstandingE”, a name that I been sat on for a few years, it seemed perfect for what we wanted to do and that’s what we rolled with.

What I needed TEN Years ago

When working at Marketworks & eSellerPro, I always kept in the back of my mind, what did I need when selling online. “How does this port to what the person to I’m speaking to right now?” and crucially “How does that port to the multichannel software that I working with right now?

I think that’s the key reasons why working at eSellerPro was like being a pig-in-poop, if it was a good idea and the demand was there, then it got put in. That was some wild times, but ultimately ended up in a product that has issues dealing with such a veracious amount of development being applied to it.

Basically in hindsight, it was overkill. Really good overkill I hasten to add and nothing has even got anywhere near it since.

Stuck in a rut

The thing is, businesses that are using current software tools they’re used to paying silly amounts each month and there does come a time where the brighter business owners work out that they’ve just paid way over £30,000 (say $50K USD) for software that yes has helped them to get them to the stage where they are at, but for that kind of money it’s starting to hurt and hurt bad.

Some of you reading this you’re just too far down the line, you’re too comfortable with paying this kind of money, as much as you hate it, you’re stuck with it.

And my advice for a long, long time has been not to move software providers, it’s painful and doesn’t happen over night. It’s really up to you to work out how much of a difference it would make to you and your business.

A Different Way

But what we can do is make a difference to the businesses that have not got to this stage of lock-in yet, that can still be nimble.

So thinking back to the original questions:

  • What if you knew of a way to deliver multi channel software that met the needs thousands of cool people?

Yea I’m standing up (Dave too) and are firmly planting ourselves off the fence and are saying there is a different way. It doesn’t have to cost oodles, we’re not saying it’s free, but we’re saying that it’s a damn-sight cheaper than anything else out there and it’ll get you far, wayyy far down the line.

And there is nothing quite like putting money-where-your-mouth is, so that’s what we’ve done.

UnderstandingE went live on January 1st 2014 at around 4pm (kicking & fighting, we had to do an emergency site move the day before).

It’s not finished, it will never be finished. But we’ve started and that’s what matters.

Rabbit Hole

rabbit holeLet’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

I don’t know where it leads, but to be honest it doesn’t matter where it ends, as it’s about the journey to find the end.

Fancy coming along for the journey?

Whack the button below and get dug in.

[button size=”large” style=”round” color=”blue” url=”http://understandinge.com/”]Say Hello to the 3rd Generation[/button]

Matt

PS. If you’re looking for me to write anything about eSellerPro over the next year, it’s doubtful. Even with my ability to remember screens and how things interact, that knowledge has been put aside, what’s been left undocumented is just that undocumented. It’s time to move on.

2,000 Orders a Week With NO Software Commissions

Would you like to hear from a UK business owner on how he manages 2,000 orders a week using the 3rd Generation?

Meet Gurpreet in the Podcast we just published over at http://understandinge.com/2000-orders-a-week/.

His business sells on eBay, Amazon, his own Magento website and he’s in the process of creating a trade website as well and he pays diddly-squat in commissions to software providers.

 

If it Can do Complex… What Could it do for You?

The first business we setup using Magento & M2E Pro was in the Clothes, Shoes & Accessories category on eBay. We couldn’t use the current providers because they were too expensive, it was a start up and no sales and the one we did try, didn’t do what we needed it to do. That’s how we found the 3rd Generation, backs-to-the wall, entrepreneurs fight through, because we had no other option.

Gurpreet was recommended this approach as you’ll hear in the Podcast and here is a brief summary to what he’s up to:

  • Runs a fashion based business which is the most complicated categories to manage on the Marketplaces
  • Has complex products with size, colour & multi-variation based products
  • Pays no-one any commissions on sales for software usage
  • He uses Magento & M2E Pro
  • A true multi-channel business
  • Sells on eBay
  • Sells on Amazon
  • Their own Magento website
  • Working on a wholesale / Trade only site
  • Royal Mail DMO integrated into their system
  • What they need, they buy off the shelf or have developed for their own use. They’re completely free of restrictions & able to innovate.

And Finally

You can only take a horse to water and say drink, the rest is up to the horse.

I’ll leave you with one question and one link.

The Question:
“If Gurpreet is using the 3rd Generation and it works for him in the most complicated category, Fashion and processes ~2,000 orders a week. How much would you save?”

The Link:
http://understandinge.com/2000-orders-a-week/ <= Listen to the Podcast on this page ( IT’S A LAKE! )

Amazon Upping the Stakes on Image Requirements

If you thought that the new eBay image requirements were a challenge, then wait until you see the emails from Amazon.co.uk being sent to UK Fashion sellers.

What follows are is an email sent by the same Analyst in Amazon.co.uk to at least 3 sellers on Amazon.co.uk. Pull your chair closer, if this is actively going on for the fashion categories on Amazon UK, expect it for the other categories at some point in the future too.

 

In Violation of Amazon Style Guidelines

Note: I’ve highlighted the key sections in bold for you.

Hello, 

Your listings currently have product pages that are in violation of Amazon style guidelines. This negatively affects the customer experience and therefore may result in your seller account suspension. Good images, clear titles, and accurate product detail pages are key to ensuring our customers enjoy their browsing experience and can increase conversion. We would like to work with you to help fix your defects so that you can maximize your selling potential on Amazon. 

Please find attached a sample of the ASINs that were audited; please note that both compliant and non-compliant images may be included. This is only a sample and may not be inclusive of all your listings, so please take the time to review and update all non-compliant images. We have found the following errors with your images:

Main image not angled to left hand side,

Main image contains multiple items,

Images containing labels/tags/packaging,

Images containing props/mannequins/models 

To open attachment: 
– Save or drag attached file onto your Desktop 
– Right-click and extract file 
– Extract within your preferred folder 
– View images (note ASINS are displayed as image titles) 

Please take the time to review our guidelines (for style guide – Click Here) and your whole inventory and either remove (by setting the inventory to 0) or update the non-compliant images within 14 days.

Remember that customers at Amazon cannot touch and feel your products, but they can still have a great shopping experience if your listings correspond to our style guide and have clear and detailed information. Please confirm that you have received this email and let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Kind Regards,

[Name removed]

Amazon.co.uk

A Break Down

Firstly, let’s be fair here, Amazon are absolutely right, not just for Amazon, but anywhere online with “customers at Amazon cannot touch and feel your products” so it’s our job as business owners to help buyers feel 100% comfortable with the product they are buying by providing outstanding product data, of which images are a key part of this.

But on the other hand, this was emailed to a seller with over 50,000 products on Amazon and given to the end of the month for their account to be reviewed. It was suggested that they can find their images from software tool (eSellerPro), download them to their desktop and edit them. Sure I’ll edit 50,000 images for you, hell I’ll even re-take all the images, it’ll only take 2 minutes by hand, not…

Let’s look to see what they’re picking sellers up on, as it’s boiling down to just 4 key areas:

  • Main image not angled to left hand side,
  • Main image contains multiple items,
  • Images containing labels/tags/packaging,
  • Images containing props/mannequins/models

Point 1 – Main image not angled to left hand side

We’re all fair people here, we know that Amazon has high standards and rightly so, they’re focusing on the customer just like eBay has done with their image requirements. And maybe angling the product in the image to a specific viewpoint across the board would help make pages of products look a lot better. But going back and editing even a dozen images, let alone tens of thousands of images, especially if they need to be retaken is verging on an impossible task.

Maybe, just maybe, a common-sense approach would have been to mentor the business owners so that the new products that they are adding are checked for conformity.

If there is just one thing I have learnt over the past 10 years, past data is past data, it’s old….. 80% of the products listed are likely not to sell any time soon and only 20% of them will do, so would it have made more sense that instead of dumping an impossible task on a merchant at this time of the year (if you’re reading this in 2014, it’s October) and instead identified the sellers top 20% of products and suggested that they re-edit those.

Am I being realistic here? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Main image contains multiple items

amazon_B00CG6G3PCYea I’ve known about this one for a while. It was an interesting conversation with one of the UK’s largest fashion retailers on Amazon earlier this year, the call went something like this:

Client: “Matt, Amazon have told us to stop putting multiple colour images on items that come in different colours, but they don’t swap the images like eBay do, what do you suggest?

Matt: “It’s Amazon, just nod & agree and sort it out. Just clarify exactly what they are looking for and do it.

Remember Amazon is like marriage to a super model, she wants everything, kids, fast cars (your stock), credit cards (that’s sitting on your money for 2.5 weeks) and a ring, but the nano-second you annoy her, she’ll kick you in the nuts and turf you out (suspend your account for 30 days or worse)

But the thing is, that conversation was months & months ago and doing a quick search on Amazon today (see here) we can see that Amazon still have yet to get it to work like eBay have done. A specific example is the listing in the image to the right. We can see the preview image is showing all the colours, but in the listing (see here) we can see that there is a blue image for the blue dress, Amazon have elected not to show it. Facepalm.

This is also a reasoning point in their “Style Guide” which follows in a few moments, “This will result in increased traffic to product listings”, but actually right now this is not the case as shown above.

Oh and for a comparison, nip over to eBay, at least they have got it working properly now. Take a look here on eBay (screenshot below). Notice all the blue dress images being shown for the multi-variation listings?

blue_dresses_on_ebay_uk

Images containing labels/tags/packaging

We understand why this is, as unlike eBay on Amazon a product regardless of condition (new, used, refurb etc..) all share the same page.

But Amazon is swinging for quality here, to me this is a compromise. If you’re shelling out for a product, say a pair of shoes and see it comes in a stunning box so you know it’s protected on the way to you, how is this a negative thing?

Again, am I being realistic here? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Images containing props/mannequins/models

I agree with this to a point. Professionally cut out images look a lot better than images on a tatty mannequin. But….. models sell products.

Exceptionally important in women’s fashion, when a product is being viewed, that customer is believing (to a degree) that they are that model and they will look as great as she does in that dress, handbag or item of footwear.

Amazon Specifications (Style Guide)

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Amazon do this to sellers, with little to no warning, but this time dropping a bombshell with 14 days notice in October is frankly nuts. This time around they have put together a “Style Guide” for sellers in the UK Shoes, Handbags & Shoe Accessories categories. you can download it using the link below, but maybe it’s too little, too late and too close to Christmas?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/02/rainier/help/Shoes_and_Handbags_StyleGuide_UK.pdf

Have a read of the PDF above. It’s probably the best guide I have ever seen from Amazon, they’ve gone to great lengths to include plenty of visual images and even went as far to suggest using http://www.google.co.uk/trends/ (although it’s a bit old now as Google insights is mentioned, but that’s now Google trends).

If you’re selling in the Shoes, Handbags & Shoe Accessories categories on Amazon.co.uk and your images are not up to scratch, you’ll be receiving the email above shortly. If you’re not selling in these specific categories, expect this to be rolled out to the other categories too in the future.