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Thu Jan 12 2012 23:03:40

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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Executives from online marketplaces and vendors with expertise in pay-per-click advertising, online payments, and other areas identified the biggest opportunities and challenges online sellers face in 2012 as part of our series on Online Selling Trends for 2012, and now we'd like you to weigh in.

adMarketplace CEO Jamie Hill really nailed one of the biggest challenges online sellers face: attracting new customers cost-effectively. MyStoreCredit founder Brian Lawe said optimizing for search engines is the most critical factor for any seller, but also said he was shocked at how few sellers ask buyers for opt-in permission and engage in email marketing.

Bonanza founder Bill Harding said there are more viable places to sell now than ever before, presenting great opportunities for sellers - but he said that also presented a challenge for sellers who must evaluate which solution best matches their goals.

Everyone agreed mobile shopping was important, (Lawe said 25% of all repeat buyer traffic his tool drives back to eBay sellers come from mobile phones!), and most participants said every seller should have a smart phone or other mobile device.

If you've been following the series, let us know what you think of the answers from the participants, and then let us know how you would answer these questions.

What are the biggest challenges you face in 2012, and what are the biggest opportunities ahead?

How will mobile shopping impact you?

What specific tips or tricks do you recommend for online sellers to be more efficient? Are there any particular tools you suggest, or areas that you believe online sellers should be paying more attention to?

Do you think ecommerce is more difficult for small sellers now compared to 5 years ago?

What's the one gadget every seller should have?

Any other thoughts about ecommerce in the year ahead?




Comments (12) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: Joe Average

Fri Jan 13 01:27:48 2012

Every seller needs a smart phone?

Thats the kind of world we live in now?  Most people in the USA have everything they need already. But are their lives are so empty, the best friend has become their mobile device?  Apparently, satisfaction comes "buying it now, buying it now" in public transit after slaving to the grind. They want instant answers, and they want their gidget on the doorstep when they arrive home.

The next day, back on transit, on the way to the miserable office. Why? Gotta pay for all that stuff.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: Mia Perry
Web Site

Fri Jan 13 03:06:13 2012

It's all about the ecosystem, and Facebook is taking the lead here.
Wether you're using your laptop, tablet, or mobile, the world's traffic is in Facebook.
There's no doubt that F-commerce is the next step in the e-Commerce evolution. we at StoreYa, see the amazing daily growth in merchants on a daily basis.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: OhForPetesSake

Fri Jan 13 05:41:52 2012

Business has been good for us the last year. Our biggest challenge right now is keeping our inventory levels high.

We do not plan on expanding anymore. To do so would mean having to hire more people and finding a bigger place. Something we just don't want to under take this year.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Jan 13 08:20:28 2012

*** Do you think ecommerce is more difficult for small sellers now compared to 5 years ago?

Yes and no. Because of the changes to eBay (its structure, traffic, and policies) it's more difficult to sell there. You work harder for fewer sales. Although it's still a source of income and a way to promote my own site, it's becoming increasingly irrelevant.

On the other hand, it's easier to list new items on my own site and even though my current traffic and sell-thru rate doesn't compare with the extinct version of eBay, it's much easier to do and the return on my investment (and effort) is much better than what I'd have to do at today's eBay.

*** What's the one gadget every seller should have?

Gadget? I'm not sure about that... but the one tool that I'd strongly recommend is an OPT-IN mailing list so that you can easily keep in touch with your customers.

*** Any other thoughts about ecommerce in the year ahead?

At long last, I have finally been able to mentally give-up on eBay. I haven't ''quit'' eBay, but I've conceded defeat and grudgingly accepted the fact that small sellers like myself are no longer welcome and do not have a place at their table anymore.

It was difficult and heartbreaking decision for me to make (and to accept) because eBay had always played such an important part of my life, and I always assumed that it would continue to do so.

Now that I have finally accepted the truth... now that I've grieved, and allow my anger and disappointment to mellow out... I think I'm at a point where I can stop being outraged at eBay. I can finally STOP looking to eBay for guidance. I will NO LONGER view eBay as the key to my success.

At one point, eBay LITERALLY DEFINED who I was, what my business was, what I could do, and where I was headed. Not anymore. :-)

By putting eBay in its proper perspective (both mentally and LITERALLY) I will no longer allow them to paralyze me with fear and worry every time there's a new anti-seller policy, or fee-increase.

So... I guess that's the long and verbose answer to Ina's third question. The short answer would be to quote Patti LaBelle: ''I'VE GOT A NEW ATTITUDE!''

I'm in control and my worries are few! I know where I'm going and I know what to do! I've tidied-up my point of view... I've got a new attitude!

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: moonwishes
Web Site

Fri Jan 13 10:47:16 2012

"What is one gadget every seller needs" For us 'smaller' sells, an oversized mailbox so we can use on line postage and leave the packages in the mailbox for the mailman to pick up! No running to the PO. I love it when my box is crammed full of orders. If that happened every day, that would have us hitting our financial goals without the need to hire help.

I have no idea why one would need a smart phone. We have a land line and do not use the phone to handle business. That is why we sell on line! We handle all questions and all sales, etc. through the computer and we are home most of the time so no need for cell phones.

Other gadgets that I found that comes in handy is a tape gun, a good packaging supply source (yeah U-Line) that you can order before 5PM and have the order arrive before lunch! And while not a gadget, keep yourself organized so that you aren't missing essential steps in getting your orders out in less than 24 hours.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Jan 13 10:57:51 2012

moonwishes suggests: ''...an oversized mailbox so we can use on line postage and leave the packages in the mailbox for the mailman to pick up!''

YES YES YES! Great idea! Although I'm within the city limits, the mail delivery in my neighborhood uses curbside rural-style mailboxes, and that makes it nearly impossible to fit all outgoing packages inside on a busy day.

I have tried the USPS ''scheduled pickup'' service... but it's a hit-and-miss proposition. Even when I submit my pickup-request online... (FAR in advance of the deadline)... there's no telling if the carrier will see the notice that's included in their mail for the day.

A couple of times, our carrier has COMPLETELY IGNORED the notice (a single-page printout letting them know of the pickup request) and instead, the carrier just left the printout in my mailbox along with the rest of the day's mail.

Argh! ~ I know they're overworked and under trained... but this is a no-brainer that shouldn't be left to chance.

A larger jumbo sized rural mailbox will stick out like a sore thumb in my neighborhood, but at this point, we have to do what's needed.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: Independent seller
Web Site

Fri Jan 13 16:33:23 2012

That's funny. I've gone in the opposite direction. I have started printing flyers to hand out at conventions and for snailmailling to associations I think may benefit from my information. I don't use my cell phone or landline for customer service, and I still use the postal service for mailing out books and jewelry designs. I sell online, so any contact I will have is through email or a form. If I'm not selling enough now, I won't be selling any better through a smart phone. In my business there is no such thing as immediacy. I think this habit of jumping on every bandwagon there is is silly. If something does not work, it won't work no matter what the medium is.

As for eBay and Amazon, I have decided to ignore them. They are my competitors, and they have been instrumental in slowing my business to a crawl. Instead, I support those brick and mortar stores which are willing to host my books, and I sell my jewelry direct so no need for them. My advice? Stop using eBay and Amazon as your storefronts and get your own sites.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Jan 13 22:00:27 2012

While their advice is food for thought and discussion, never forget that these people are ultimately selling something.

Every seller should have a smart phone? Yes, because I'm selling aps for smartphones or supporting aps for smartphones.

With current and foreseeable technology, smartphone displays will never be large enough to show an unfamiliar product well enough for an informed buying decision assuming most buyers want to make informed decisions.

Do you own analysis and make your own decisions that are best for your business not what some isolated Silicon Valley CEO wants to sell you.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: Ed

Sat Jan 14 11:22:33 2012

I am not a newbie, been selling on eBay for 10 years. My only selling outlet. I tried Bonanza with terrible results.
I am technically challenged.  Anonymous Annie recommends getting Opt-In Permission.  I assume that allows you to send emails to people who have purchased from you. How do you do this? What is the polite way of asking for this permission?
Secondly, any ideas for a site builder for a technically challenged person like myself.
I want to open my own store this year and slowly become less dependent on eBay.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: Bb3

Sat Jan 14 17:38:41 2012

Wow. The people leaving comments must be old. You will never hear someone under 35 say something like why would I need a smart phone. Young people grew up on technology so it's automatic.  Smart phones are not just for making calls or playing games. It's information at your finger tips , any time, anywhere. There is basically an app for everything. Your store, selling, accounting, emailing, email marketing,,  social contacts, cameras, bar code scanners for inventory, tracking package scanners, QR scanners, receipt scanners, business card organizers, banking,  advertising... The list goes on and on and every day someone adds another tool for you the small seller. Most apps are free or $.99 for life. If you run an online business and are not taking advantage of a smart phone, you are nuts!! I personally use an iPhone and regret not getting one sooner then I did.

Overall good article and good comments from each of the representatives.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: Bb3

Sat Jan 14 18:13:44 2012

by: Ming the Merciless

"With current and foreseeable technology, smartphone displays will never be large enough to show an unfamiliar product well enough for an informed buying decision assuming most buyers want to make informed decisions."

Keep thinking this way and you will miss the opportunity to get rich. The mobile shopping market is estimated to sell 2.9 billion dollars this year in products. Over 5.3 billion people have mobile phones. Apparently people are spending a ton of $$$$ shopping on phones in an economy where no one has any money to spend. So by your standards no one is making an informed buying decision.   Your comment reminds me of the scene I saw several years ago in the movie Billy Madison. "what you've just said ... is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers   Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Online Sellers

by: EventHorizon1984 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Jan 20 17:42:51 2012

Bb3 wrote; ''The mobile shopping market is estimated to sell 2.9 billion dollars this year in products. Over 5.3 billion people have mobile phones. Apparently people are spending a ton of $$$$ shopping on phones in an economy where no one has any money to spend.''

As a friend with an iPhone, iPad, laptop, desktop, and access to super computer would say, ''well.''

The view from iPhone 3.5 inch diagonal 940 x 640 pixel screen would confirm Bb3's numbers.  Whereas the view from one of our 32 inch diagonal screens show the full details.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/07/us-virtual-goods-mark
et-to-hit-2-9-billion-in-2012-with-facebook-games-maturing-mobile-booming/
US
Virtual Goods Market To Hit $2.9 Billion In 2012

''The overall market for virtual goods in the US is headed towards $2.9 billion for 2012''
''Virtual goods on Facebook are continuing to comprise more than half of that''

Good market.  If you're selling virtual goods this year.

Not that actual mobile related sales are trivial.  The number that MBAs use is $6 billion.  Again great number, but missing those widescreen details.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/17/forrester-u-s-mobile-
commerce-to-reach-31-billion-by-2016/
Forrester:
 U.S. Mobile Commerce To Reach $31 Billion By 2016

''mobile commerce is only expected to be 7% of overall eCommerce sales by 2016 and only 1% of general retail sales.''
''only 9 percent of online retailers didn't have a mobile presence of strategy''

The article chart shows the $6 billion represents ''2%'' of 2011 eCommerce sales.  

And how large is that smartphone audience?  The ''2%'' of sales that 91% are chasing.

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones.aspxR>''In
its first standalone measure of smartphone ownership, the Pew Internet Project finds that one third of American adults – 35% – own smartphones.''
''Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.''

Translation; 75% of smartphone owners normally use a computer instead of their smartphone, to access the Internet.

There's more, but we're saving that for a future article.

/*

''Show Me The Money.''
Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), Jerry Maguire (1996)



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