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Yes Virginia – It is time to start thinking about Christmas

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News, July, 2014, Volume 14, Issue No. 12

Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
by: Skip McGrath

In This Issue:

Musings from eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. Yes Virginia – It is time to start thinking about Christmas
  2. A Contest For My Readers
  3. Niche of The Month - Golf Shirts with Club Names or Logos
  4. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Entrepreneur: A crazy person who works 100 hours a week for themselves, so they don’t have to work 40-hours for someone else." ~ Skip McGrath


Musings from eBay, Amazon, and beyond

CORRECTION: Last week I gave out some incorrect information. I told you that if you purchased one of your own items, you could post a review of that item - something that is normally not allowed. I didn't make that up. Someone told me about that and I wasn't sure so I reached out to Amazon to ask the question, and the rep who answered told me yes -as long as I purchased one of my own items I could do that.

Well I got a lot of email from readers telling me I was wrong, so I decided to re-open the ticket and asked Amazon to elevate it to a supervisor and get me an answer -and you guessed it. The original rep that wrote me was wrong. So my apologies to any of you who tried to do this. I assure you it was an honest mistake on my part.


One of my best-selling books of all time has been and continues to be, How to Sell Used Books on Amazon and eBay. Peter Valley has written several books about Amazon but his latest one is a great companion to my book. His latest book is all about sourcing books for low cost or even for free: I know a lot about sourcing books, but peter's book, Book Sourcing Secrets taught me several things I didn't know and really opened my eyes to new ways to source. Book Sourcing Secrets is a highly complete and is undoubtedly the largest and most in-depth guide to sourcing used books cheaply to sell for huge profits on eBay and/or Amazon.

And he has created a special offer for my readers. If you buy Book Sourcing Secrets he is going to add a special bonus book Cracking The Sales Rank Code - Understanding Amazon sales ranks for maximum profits. Book Sourcing Secrets already comes with several great bonus books, but Cracking the Sales Rank Code is only free for my readers who go through the links in this newsletter.


I got a notice yesterday that Sellbrite is now integrated with Shopify. This means Shopify merchants can now import their products into Sellbrite to populate their product catalog and create new listings on other channels, like Amazon and eBay.

If you are not familiar with Shopify it's an online store builder that now allows you to list items both on your website and eBay and Amazon and coordinate your inventory and sales between all three. I have not personally used it, but one seller told me its as powerful if not more so than an Amazon web store and much cheaper.


If any of you plan to sell toys over the holidays Amazon just released the Fall toy guidelines. Here they are:

Effective November 18, 2014, only sellers who meet the following criteria will be eligible to sell in the Toys & Games category from November 18, 2014 through the first week in January 2015.

  • Your first sale on Amazon.com must be prior to September 18, 2014. The sale does not need to be specific to the Toys & Games store.
  • You must have processed and shipped at least 25 orders from September 1 through October 31, 2014. The orders do not need to be specific to the Toys & Games store.
  • Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate for the period from October 1 through October 31, 2014 must be no greater than 1.75%.
  • Your late shipment rate for the period from October 1 through October 31, 2014 must be no greater than 4%.
  • Your order defect rate must be no greater than 1% short term as of November 1, 2014.

Orders that use Fulfillment by Amazon will not be subject to the above criteria provided your account is in good standing.


Lets get started with this month’s articles:

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1. Yes Virginia – It is time to start thinking about Christmas

You may think it's too early to start planning for the Christmas season, but its not. There are a lot of products that are in short supply from wholesalers as we get into the Fall. I know. Last year I placed an order for a very hot selling product in October that I wanted to double up my normal order for Christmas. Well about a week after I sent the order in, I was told that most of my items are on back order and could not ship until late November. I ordered 2 cases of 12 each. They sent me 6 each and back ordered 18.

I had to cancel the back order because if they shipped in late November, I would get them about December 10th and then it would take another ten days to get to Amazon which would put them there on the 20th or so. Not really enough time. And if the order was any later there was a good chance they would arrive after Christmas.

This year I am going to start going through my inventory listings in August and figure out what I want to order for Christmas and get them ordered no later than September 15th.

The other issue is Christmas products themselves. I don't sell many of those (ornaments, lights and so on), but I have been told by several vendors that you need to order those products as early as June because they manufacturer based on the orders and start shipping in early November. (By the way - the same thing goes for Halloween. At last year's ASD show in March I met a Halloween vendor who told me if I wanted anything in time for Halloween to order no later than April 15th).

The back to school season starts around August 15th, so until then, when business starts to pick up from the summer slowdown, take the time to do you Christmas planning. Go through your entire inventory and make decisions on what items you think will sell well over Christmas and start making a plan to get your orders in. Worst case you may get a few things early, but that is better than missing out on the hot selling season and running out of product too soon.

The other thing you want to do is think about sourcing new products for the season. For example, last Christmas I carried a line of socks that sold very-very well. So this year I am looking for more sock vendors to expand my line.

If a certain category of product did well for you last year, think of expanding your listings in that category. We have about 30 SKUs in the kitchen category and all of them sold out last year during the Christmas selling season, so this year I am adding about 20 more SKUs to expand the products I sell in that category.

[top]

2. A Contest For My Readers

ContestI did this a few years ago and it was very successful. People in my business rely on testimonials from readers to help sell our product. I do get a few unsolicited testimonials, but they tend to go out of date after a while and we can always use some fresh ones, so I thought I would do a contest.

Here are the rules:

  1. You must have bought the product and mention the product in the testimonial
  2. The testimonial must contain true facts. Don't say you made XXX dollars if you didn't, or make any claims that are not true.
  3. By submitting the testimonial you are giving me permission to use it on my sales pages.
  4. The best testimonials report the benefits you got out of it. Statements like well-written or interesting reading don't help much. Readers want to know what a product could or can do for them, if they buy it.
  5. The best testimonials are from one to three sentences long. Really short or really long testimonials don't work that well.
  6. Let me know how you would like the testimonial signed. If you are Jason Brown from Cleveland OH, I usually try to protect your privacy by signing it "J. Brown from Cleveland," or "Jason B. from Cleveland."

The Prizes

  • 1st prize - $100 Amazon Gift Card
  • 2nd prize - $50 Amazon Gift Card
  • 3rd prize - Select any one of my books except the Complete Amazon or eBay Marketing System -or if you want one of those I will take $25 off the purchase price.
  • Use prize - If your testimonial does not win a prize, but we decide to use it anyway, you will receive a $10 Amazon Gift card.

Judging

I will not be the judge. I have a team of folks whose advice I trust and rely on and I am going to ask them to be the judges.

I don't want to clog up my work email for this contest, so please submit your testimonials to mcgrrrrr@yahoo.com (There are 5Rs in mcgrrrrr). I will check that email address at least once a day for the next week.

Deadline

I would like to announce the winners in the next issue of my newsletter which comes out around July 22nd, so the deadline for submission is July 18th.

[top]

3. Niche of The Month - Golf Shirts with Club Names or Logos

There are over 40 million golfers in the US. And many of them collect shirts with the names of other country clubs on them. Don't worry if it's a name or logo of somewhere you never heard of - those also sell.

The best news is golf shirts are easy to find. My wife volunteers in a local thrift shop and when I went to pick her up last week, I wandered into the men's section and there must have been over 25 golf shirts selling for 50¢ each.

More than half of them had the name or logo of various country clubs or golf courses on them. There were also plenty of generic shirts and shirts with logos such as Nike or Callaway. Those also sell, but I have found that golfers like to collect shirts from golf courses all over the country and those tend to sell faster.

Unless they have the name of a famous course such as Augusta or Pebble Beach they don't sell for huge money, but if you can buy something for 50¢ and sell them for $10 -that is a pretty good markup.

You can also sell new golf shirts. Almost every pro shop I have been in has a sales rack. I was visiting some relatives in the Denver area last year. One day we had lunch at a golf course. After lunch I wandered into the pro shop and they had a big sale table with shirts 50% off. And if you hit some pro shops at courses in your area near the end of the season, almost everything in the store is on sale.

The most amazing thing is that these items are huge sellers during the Christmas selling season. The margins are not that good on new shirts as on used, but you can generally double your money.

And if you ever find yourself on vacation near any of the really famous courses in the US (Augusta, Oakmont, Cyprus Point, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, etc.) then you definitely want to grab some shirts from these places as they can often sell for triple or quadruple the retail price).

Rules for buying

Condition - Condition is everything. Buyers expect a used shirt to have a little wear, but make sure there are no stains, tears, pilling or damage of any kind.

Cleaning - Most golf shirts are washable. So wash and iron the shirt before taking a photograph. Don't worry too much about the photo. Just hang from a hangar and shoot it on a plain background. Or you can neatly fold the shirt and lay it on a white sheet and shoot it that way.

Smoking - If your home is non-smoking be sure and mention that, but if the shirt smells like it came from a smoker that can sometimes be an issue, so you may want tow wash that one twice

Tags - If you find a shirt with tags still on it, that helps the value, but if it's a price tag cut it off in case someone ends up paying more for it.

Selling venue - Clothing is a category on Amazon that requires approval, so unless you are approved, I would suggest eBay and/or Etsy as the best venue.

Brands - shirts made by well-known companies such as Nike, Callaway, Tommy Hilfiger and Cutter & Buck will usually sell for more. Look for the brand in the label in the neck of the shirt.

Listing

Be sure and describe the shirt condition in detail. Show at least two photos. Take one of the overall shirt and a close up of the country club name or logo. If it's a well-known brand name, take a close up of the neck label also.

You can try auction or fixed price. I think I would use FP for most shirts, unless you find one from one of the famous courses. A used and well-worn polo shirt from Pebble Beach sold on eBay recently for well over $100 at auction.

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4. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

The Gourmet food category continues to be hot on both eBay and Amazon so here are a few sources for companies that sell packaged products.

Cooks Tavern Soups is a line of packaged soup mixes (not liquid) tht really lend themselves to bundling.

Indulgent Confections is a new product line of gift edibles. They are offering 10% off plus free shipping on your first order. Some of their products are chocolate based so you want to be careful selling those this time of year when they can melt in transit.

La Crema Coffee Company is a new line of coffee products

The Fudgery sells several types of gourmet candy - not just fudge.

Wind and Willow sells several gourmet food items including several gluten free deserts.

The Charmeur Company sells high-end chocolate making kits.

Ok - Now on to some other sources

Design Time Watch Co. has a new summer line of wrist watches.

Jilzara sells a very nice line of jewelry. This link will take you to a page where you can register to get their wholesale catalog and pricing.

Two's Company is a wholesale giftware company focused on creating products so they have a lot of unique items you won't see everywhere else.

Balintina offers a collection of unique fashion and sport accessories. Their current collection includes changeable scarves, collars and cuffs.

Natures Garden Candle Making Supplies offers wholesale candle making supplies, soap making supplies, wholesale fragrance oils, candle making supplies and incense supplies.

VHC Brands sells a very nice line of lines and table cloths, runners and other goods. They have a low minimum order and they will drop ship some of their products.

The Swan Creek Candle Company sells some really unique type of candles that you will not see anywhere else.

Demdaco sells a line of décor products including lots of Christmas holiday items.

That’s it for now. See you again in a couple of weeks.

Skip McGrath
The Online Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.


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