Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Mar 21 2020 12:51:59

How Small Sellers Can Keep Revenue Flowing

By: Ina Steiner

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As Etsy's CEO pointed out this week, many sellers don't qualify for social safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, disability insurance, or paid leave, making cash flow problems even more dire for small sellers.

Some small businesses are asking customers to support them through these difficult times by purchasing gift cards now for redemption after the coronavirus advisories and lockdowns are over. But it may be difficult for small online sellers to offer gift cards to shoppers.

To help, Kabbage launched an online hub where US small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can begin selling gift certificates even if they haven't been set up to do so in the past.

The landing page on the Kabbage website explains, "through Kabbage Payments, any business can sign up to sell gift certificates online, and anyone can purchase them to support participating small businesses. Once registered, businesses can send a custom link to their customers."

Note that when you fill out the form, you are creating an account with Kabbage, and there is a payment processing fee when people purchase a gift certificate from you through its program.

We asked how Kabbage ensures people who sign up are real businesses, to which the spokesperson replied, "The hub asks businesses to put in information that helps verify." Because Kabbage isn't making risk assessments as it does for its funding service, there are not strict performance criteria such as minimum revenue or number of years in business. But you need to be a legitimate business and have an EIN. (Remember, companies are required to issue forms 1099-K to the IRS for payment processing.)

We wondered if there were any restrictions on how sellers could use cash from sales of gift cards. Small-business and tax guru Barbara Weltman confirmed sellers have income when they sell the cards when using the cash method of accounting. 

Sellers using the accrual method of accounting can do the same, she said, though those sellers may also choose to defer income for cards not redeemed in the year of the sale, but no later than the end of the next year (i.e., a one-year deferral). 

Weltman also noted that gift cards are not subject to sales tax. "Sales tax is charged when the cards are redeemed for goods," she said. We suggest you consult her book, "J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes 2020: Your Complete Guide to a Better Bottom Line"  (visit BigIdeasforSmallBusiness.com, where you can also sign up for her free newsletter).

The Better Business Bureau also offered tips on how to support small businesses during coronavirus. Among the advice: take online classes from local businesses. That may spark ideas for sellers who have skills to consider offering online classes of their own.

Some sites like Etsy have the ability to offer digital downloads, such as downloadable art and sewing or woodworking patterns and templates, which customers may find convenient - and parents may appreciate them if they offer ways to keep their children busy and productive.

As the BBB noted, not everyone has financial resources right now, so it offered some free ways people could support small businesses, such as writing an online review, or liking and sharing on social networking sites. As an online seller, this may be a good time to ask your customers (and trusted colleagues, perhaps) to help support you by telling their friends about your shop. 

Let us know if you are finding ways to keep revenue flowing and what you're finding to be your biggest challenges.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Sat Mar 21 18:14:11 2020

While some people will certainly be tightening their wallets during this time of crisis, it has been reported by a seller friend of mine that his sports videos are selling well. With so many sporting events being canceled, they're showing reruns of past events, so why not buy the ones you actually want to see?

I've been working the past few months to get the rest of my media inventory listed, which will more than double those categories. You never know, somebody might need a movie or CD to pass the time or even ease anxiety.

There are all sorts of things people might be looking for during this time. What are some things you can think of? Don't just think critical supplies, either. Think about what they'll be doing with their time shut-in at home.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 22 09:57:27 2020

There's just no doubt about it - better buckle up - it's gonna be a bumpy ride.  Vegas is shut down - I've been here 35 years - the only time I've see an empty casino is from the inside 1 hour before a new opened. I've never seen the streets empty ever. ALOT of our local restaurants are giving away all their food - free food to help. Since 50% f the town is casino employed it will help but not for long. This is history in the making for America. Check on your friends and relatives who are alone. Stay safe.

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Sun Mar 22 16:12:13 2020

The numbers around the world show, unfortunately, who was better prepared and who was not. Such a sad thing. I've kept my store open but I'm not expecting much in the way of sales.

I know if I were physically fit without comorbid conditions, there is a lot I could be doing. Delivering things to seniors stuck in their homes. Making and sharing food. Driving people who can't get to where they need to go. I would love to be able to do it, but I'd likely become another statistic.

Someone in a small town near where we are staying came home from an overseas vacation. She wasn't infected as far as they know but they told her to isolate herself for 14 days. 2 days later she was in a little local grocery store!!! The police found her and she was fined $1000 and I'm glad.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Mar 22 23:51:02 2020

I think some are figuring out for themselves what to do in their time off. I had fantastic sales in the last couple of weeks. I wish I had more things listed that those who sew could also use. My sewing machine shop sent out a message the other day asking for helpers to make at least 100 face masks from a kit that an anonymous donor had supplied the finances for. 24 hours later, they had had hundreds of people responding. Sewers are the best when it comes to helping in emergencies.

Any way that we can, we need to get the news out about opportunities to help out. I called to check on my 90 year-old mother today and apparently they have had cooked meals delivered 3 times all of them being a surprise! It was so refreshing to hear compared to the pigs that wiped out the entire TP supply in stores!

I have no answers for how to drum up business if yours has bottomed out, but I do know that whenever the bottom drops out of my sales, I find it a perfect time, to clean the office, list inventory, promote inventory, catch up on laundry, take a mini break, etc. Hoping that this won't last long and soon things can get back to normal. Wishing you all good sales. Check your inventory for things that you sell that may be excellent items for waiting out a crisis, and promote them like crazy! Or things to keep kids from driving their  parents crazy, or something to help the crazy parents relax once the kids have finally fallen a sleep. It all depends on your inventory.

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by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 01:04:22 2020

Collectibles are selling well while everyone is home. Had more orders in the past week than in the last 6 months.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 03:20:10 2020

Ironically my sales have gone through the roof too.  I guess like everyone else, people are at home scrolling through the shops.  The news is Covid-19 ad nauseum.  I'm not an expert on it.
Politically this is going to make or break DJT.  I don't like watching him give pressers because he's a nasty man to the media, and he makes snide remarks about people.  And everything is about him him him....what he's doing (or "my administration") and patting himself on the back.  It's nauseating.  I'd rather watch Pence and the scientists talk.
You can tell DJT doesn't want and like giving pressers.  But I wonder about his health.  I notice when he leaves the podium, he walks very very slow and he stands with a sway, like he's unbalanced.  The orange tan is glaring.
Anywho, I'm hitting the stores that are open - the grocery stores, Target, home depot - and going straight to the clearance racks and buying 1/2 off stuff - like hair color, and cough medicine and items that can sell on EB and AMZ.  Our BedBathBeyond was a wonderful store for sourcing, but it closed yesterday.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 03:20:38 2020

Oh, BTW I'm also taking walks since the gym is closed.

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by: SellerGirl This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 05:06:33 2020

After 3 bad weeks, my sales went back to normal last week.  I changed my shop announcement to say all my vintage merch is cleaned and sanitized. But since I sell meditation goods, people might be stocking up to give themselves comfort.

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by: railady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 10:07:08 2020

@Chicago, I truly am glad your sales are doing well! Best wishes and best of luck. I'm doing OK online but my own fear is the group shop where I rent space. It has to shut down as of last night. I will still owe monthly rent and I intend to pay it - they have been right there when I needed them, now it's my turn. I can only pray that other dealers will not bail and end up causing them to go out of business.

That said, I happen to feel exactly the OPPOSITE about the President. I really think you have to have some kind of ego to be in that office (especially after discovering alligators in swamps that nobody realized about). I didn't see much me-me-me in these last news conferences where he introduced and deferred to numerous experts and company presidents. I saw someone trying to present a hopeful viewpoint and calm public fears, as opposed to the doomsday mongers. The liberal media has hated him from the beginning - news reports I hear are not accurately describing what I actually see myself! Reporters should ask intelligent questions the public wants to know about, instead of trying to trap DJT into a political type answer. I am tired of them, too!

Having presented an opposing opinion to balance it out, may I respectfully request:

PLEASE NO MORE POLITICAL POSTS! That is not what this forum is for.  As small businesses, we should be presenting ideas each other can use to help ourselves get through this.  

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 10:15:27 2020

Well, what happens in Washington does effect small businesses, but I do agree that sharing negative personal opinions about the President or anyone is completely unnecessary at this time. It doesn't matter what we think of any one individual in government, particularly right now because they still have a job to do.

We need to unite as a people and set any differences aside at this time.

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by: railady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 10:48:13 2020

Purpleiris - my feelings exactly !! I really wanted to offer some negative remarks about at least one man in New York, but I won't. This is not the place for personal opinions or  politics.

Thank you for a great post ! We need to work together!  

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by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 13:27:46 2020

with more people staying home, my sales are very good.

but, I don't sell / list on fleecebay

cash flow is no problem

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by: cardfinds This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 13:39:24 2020

I truly wish everyone luck in their small businesses. Mine has been hit REAL hard going from 20-30 items sold/week to 4 or 5. What makes it even harder is I can't even source new material as most auction houses are closed. I agree, look at your inventory like Board Games, etc. that people will want to pass the time with. I deal in antiques, vintage, art, etc. which aren't in demand at all right now. We just have to keep our heads up. Good luck everyone.

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by: GotToGetOut This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 23 17:07:40 2020

Railady, I agree with you.  Most of us haven't been Touting politics in these uncertain times.  Chicago38 needs to be less political and be grateful her sales are doing well instead of railing on OUR President (hers and mine and yours)  It's like cutting off her nose to spite her face.  Chicago38, don't you want our country to make it through this as best as possible?

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 24 07:49:21 2020

Honestly, peeps, now is not the time to berate anyone for their heightened emotions. I know there are a lot of negative comments made about Trump and other lackeys in government across these boards, but the simple truth is that this particular situation is a crisis and we're all relying on them to do their jobs.

Furthermore, it is painfully obvious just how freaked out many people are. At first, I feared those people, but realized that what they need is a little comforting and understanding from those less fearful.

So, rather than knock each other down, let's just support each other. =)



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