From the Editor - January 5, 2014
By Ina Steiner
It's time to nominate online marketplaces for the 5th annual EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice Awards. A lot has happened over the past 12 months, and we want to hear from the sellers who are working hard every day to get traffic to listings and please customers to see what how marketplaces are supporting them.
In this first phase, please nominate up to five online marketplaces you've used. In the next issue, we'll ask you to rate the top nominations on profitability, customer service, communication and ease of use.
Invariably, we receive emails asking why a particular marketplace wasn't included in Sellers Choice. We have an option for you to write in candidates in the nomination process (and some have made the final cut in the past). More importantly, I hope you'll notify marketplaces about Sellers Choice and help us spread the word. Each year we see more sellers participating as they welcome the opportunity to cast their own votes and read the ratings of their peers.
Sellers Choice is your only opportunity to rate online marketplaces, so be sure to participate in the nominations process now by going to SurveyMonkey to select up to 5 marketplaces, and we'll let you know when the rating process begins.
January also means it's time to create new folders, both virtual and paper, to separate 2014 paperwork from last year's and to begin preparing for that dreaded tax deadline of April 15th.
Running a small business means a lot of time spent on record-keeping, and retailers and online sellers face an added challenge: they must calculate the Cost of Goods Sold for their Income Statement, and they need to know the value of their inventory in stock for their Balance Sheet. Don't panic: in today's issue, Julia Wilkinson talks to the author of Bookkeeping for Dummies who some solid advice so you won't have to sweat it.
If by some chance you don't subscribe to the Newsflash newsletter that we send via email three times a week, you may have missed Confessions of an Amazon Warehouse Worker. The 9-part series, written by an anonymous temp worker who is part of the RV "work camper" brigade, provided a rare look at what it's like to work in a fulfillment system in the prime holiday-shopping period leading up to Christmas. It's recommended reading for any seller who uses or who is considering using Fulfillment by Amazon as it gives you an idea the conditions at FBA warehouses where your goods may be stored.
If you do follow EcommerceBytes industry news, you would have gotten some advance notice that online sellers were facing some delivery slowdowns leading up to Christmas. On December 11th, we published a story sent to us from a seller who discovered a UPS warehouse in Texas where inventory was stuck and not moving. On December 23rd, we wrote about seller reports of slow delivery, with confirmation from the postal workers' union.
On December 25 and 26, new outlets were full of reports of packages not reaching online shoppers in time for Christmas, with UPS taking the brunt of the blame. Compounding problems for eBay sellers was its unrealistic delivery estimates displayed in listings over the holiday period, as outlined in this blog post. Now, sellers who spent a lot of time trying to pacify customers for slow deliveries must worry about negative feedback ratings from irate customers.
One of the biggest challenges for any seller is getting exposure, whether it's on a search engine like Google or on the search results of the online marketplaces on which they sell. EcommerceBytes recently broke the news about Hugh Williams' departure from eBay, the man tasked with launching the Cassini search engine. In June, Williams had shared his advice for optimizing listings for Cassini, which rolled out in the summer. Since then, I have heard a lot of new theories from sellers about what works for them in optimizing for eBay Best Match.
One seller recently presented me with an interesting report of what works for him. You'll find his guide in today's issue, "From the Trenches: An eBay Seller's Guide to Cassini Search."
I've heard other sellers talk about some of these strategies, but never saw it all pulled together in one place. Some strategies seem to work once but not when repeated, according to anecdotal reports. And eBay is not a one-size-fits-all marketplace - conditions vary depending on category, listing format, quality of descriptions/titles/photos, the feedback ratings of the seller and other factors.
Optimizing for algorithmic search engines is part science, part art. The best advice marketing experts give is to test everything - so read the article and do some testing and see what works for you. And let us know what you think by posting in the EcommerceBytes Blog post, you'll find a link at the bottom of the article.
Also in today's issue, Greg Holden shares more about enhancing a WordPress site with ecommerce capabilities; Michele Alice ushers in the New Year with Collectors Corner; and we wrap up this issue with some interesting letters from readers.
Thanks for reading, and have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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