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Website research

Conducting your business off eBay can mean higher profit margins per sale, but also presents the challenge of getting traffic to your site. eBay already gets millions of interested shoppers to their site every day, but to get consumers to visit your site it is important to choose the right products and employ a good marketing strategy. This section of the tutorial won't cover the marketing aspect, but will focus on finding the right products to sell on your website.

The same basic principles apply and so we'll focus on finding products, determining supply and demand, and analyzing your competitors.

Choosing your niche

The hardest part of opening an e-commerce site is knowing what to sell. It'd be great if we could jump right into opening a store selling everything under the sun. In fact, many of our members try to do just that. They want to open a store with every product available at Doba. However, effectively marketing a huge product line like that is nearly impossible.

When asked, "Who is your target market?," "Everyone" is almost always the worst answer you could give. In trying to target "everyone," many new website owners end up failing to target anyone at all. Marketing dollars are spread too thin and website content isn't focused enough to be ranked well by search engines resulting in almost zero visitors to the website.

One of the nice things about selling for a specific market is... Read More

Driving eBay Traffic to Your Webstore
By Stuart Lisonbee

Years ago you could use eBay to drive traffic to your webstore. Then eBay introduced policies that discouraged sellers from linking eBay listings to off-eBay sites, so customers couldn't leave eBay to purchase an item elsewhere. For eBay, it was a smart moveto make a profit, eBay needed customers to buy on eBay, so eBay could collect its final-value fees.

Despite eBay's policy changes, you can employ several strategies to drive eBay traffic to your webstore. I like to call it mining for traffic. Why drive traffic from eBay to your webstore? Three good reasons:

  • Higher profit margins: The average customer is willing to pay more for an item on your webstore than on eBay. By selling the items from your webstore, you can increase your markupsand your net profit.
  • Reduced competition: When a person searches for an item you sell on eBay, eBay returns a list of items from hundreds or even thousands of your competitors. By driving traffic to your webstore, you virtually eliminate the clamor of the competition.
  • Increased potential for repeat business: Developing long-term relationships with customers is the key to retail success. By steering customers to your webstore, you significantly improve your chances of building customer loyalty.

Now that you know why driving eBay traffic to your webstore is so beneficial, in the following sections I reveal some tips and tricks for doing just that... Read More

The Value of Drop Shipping
By Stuart Lisonbee

Most retailers agree: drop shipping, if used properly, is a huge time and labor saver.

But is it a money saver as well? It is often said that time is money. But just what is the true value of drop shipping?

We will attempt to answer that question in this article from a scientific approach, using logic to come to a conclusion as to what the value of drop shipping is for you.

The value of time is different for everybody... Read More

Tapping Into Alternate Sales Venues

Internet retailing comprises more than eBay. Hard to believe, but true.

While the majority of our members attempt to sell on eBay as their exclusive outlet, our most successful members have their own Internet stores, some of which sell nothing on eBay or on other online auctions. This article explores several of these alternate sales venues, so you can fully exploit them to maximize your revenue opportunities.

Turning on the taps for multiple streams of income

You may have heard the term "multiple streams of income" thrown around by business gurus. The concept is simple: the more sources of income you are able to create, the better. Creating multiple income streams delivers two important benefits to your business:

  • Multiple streams of income protect you from total disaster if one or two of your streams dry up
  • Tapping into other markets often opens opportunities that are unavailable if you sell exclusively on eBay or some other online auction site

Read More

Product Research Basic Principles

Introduction

Of all the questions we receive here at Doba, the question of what to sell is far and away the most frequently asked. Many of our customers ask us to tell them exactly which products to sell. Though we may give an example here or there, we generally shy away from telling people exactly what products we think will sell well.

Why? Because what sells well is whatever is in high demand and low supply, and in retail, the supply and demand changes as often as the tides.

Instead of telling you which products to sell, we would rather empower you to discover products on your ownproducts that you can most effectively market. To achieve that goal, this tutorial presents four articles that reveal basic research principles and techniques:

Read More

Busting Common Drop Shipping Myths
By Stuart Lisonbee

Because the concept of drop shipping is relatively new, most people know little about it, so they fill in the gaps with rumors and conjecture, resulting in misinformation of mythical proportions. In this article, I reveal the 4 most common drop shipping myths, and then proceed to bust those myths.

Myth #1: Drop shipping means big money for little work

Sure drop shipping saves you from warehousing, inventorying, packaging, and shipping items, but those tasks play a relatively minor role in building a successful online retail business. You can now invest the time and resources you save on menial tasks in the retailer's labors of love:

  • Market research
  • Product research
  • Advertising
  • Customer service
  • Developing more efficient ways of doing business
  • Expansion

The truth is that even though drop shipping... Read More

Drop Ship Tips: Minimizing Backorders
By Stuart Lisonbee

Backorders can break the backs of online retailers. If you can't quickly deliver a product to your customer, they might just cancel their order and look for a more reliable webstore. Because drop shipping places inventory control in the hands of your supplier, it raises your exposure to the risk of backorders. You can, however, implement some strategies for minimizing your exposure to backorder situations:

  • Monitor Quantities on Hand (QOH)
  • Run shorter auctions
  • Cancel an auction when supplies run low
  • Pad your inventory by drop shipping items to yourself

In the following sections, I explain these strategies in greater detail... Read More

Online Auction Research: What's Hot? What's Not

A key factor in your success as a retail merchant is your ability to pick a product that's in high demand and then set a price that customers are willing to pay for that item. By employing savvy online research strategies, you can quickly determine what's hot, what's not, and the prices that people have actually paid for the products or similar products you're planning to sell.

In this article, you discover some cheap and easy research strategies that can help you select potentially profitable products and set prices that are inline with your market.

Remember: Never compete on price alone. This often causes a price war that drives down prices for all retailers, including you. Combine a reasonable price with effective marketing.

Checking the going rate on eBay

An important part of doing proper research on eBay is finding out what's selling and for how much. The simplest way to do this is... Read More

Use Drop Shipping to Expand into New Markets
By Stuart Lisonbee

For retail businesses, expanding into a new market can be a risky proposition. Aside from additional marketing costs, there are also the costs of storing new inventory that may or may not sell.

This is just one more situation where drop shipping can help save you time, money, and a lot of unwanted stress. Just like drop shipping is a low risk way to break into the retail business, it can also help your existing business get its feet wet in new markets.

Let's take a look at an imaginary online retailer that sells camping equipment. For years, this retailer has focused on specializing in tents and sleeping bags only. Now, to increase sales and profits, he wants to expand into more camping accessories such as cookware, backpacks, propane, emergency equipment, and so forth. The problem is, he's worried that he won't be able to... Read More

Drop Ship Tips: Drop Shipping Best Practices
By Stuart Lisonbee

In my article, "The Value of Drop Shipping," I sing the praises of drop shipping in helping you reduce costs both in time and money and more efficiently ship product. You can maximize the power of drop shipping by embracing the following four drop shipping best practices:

  • Choose your drop shipper wisely
  • Focus on margins as a dollar amount
  • Research products carefully

In the following sections, I explain each of these practices in greater detail.

Choose the Best Drop Shipper

With drop shipping you lose some control over inventory and shipping. To minimize the risk of being unable to fill a customer's order, choose a drop shipper who offers the following... Read More

Sailing the Ship of Uniqueness to the Shores of Success
By Stuart Lisonbee

Anyone with a little technical know-how and an Internet connection can open an online storefront and start peddling product, especially if the entrepreneur has access to Doba's powerful product sourcing and drop shipping tools. But peddling product at bargain basement prices won't ensure your success for three good reasons:

1. Major competitors can undercut your prices
2. The lower your prices, the less you earn
3. The less you earn, the less time and money you have to invest in improving your business

Search the Web for "sewing," and you'll find links to dozens of sites where you can purchase sewing supplies and equipment. When someone needs sewing supplies, they go to the store that offers the best prices, unless... Read More

Busting Common Wholesale Myths
By Stuart Lisonbee

By definition, "wholesale" is "the sale of commodities in quantity usually for resale by a retail merchant." Some misinformed merchants falsely conclude from that that access to wholesale pricing guarantees retail success.

In this article, I bust the two most common wholesale myths and reveal that only by focusing on the 4 P's of retailing can you build and expand a successful retail business.

Myth #1: Wholesale prices are at least 50% lower than retail

Busting this myth is child's play. Just take a look at these facts and figures from Wal-Mart the poster child for retail success... Read More

The Value of Drop Shipping: Slashing Costs
By Stuart Lisonbee

As an online merchant, you're well aware of how much time and money you spend preparing an item description and packaging and shipping products. By following the traditional auction model, you actually spend more in time and money to deliver less merchandise. With drop shipping, you can significantly increase productivity, slash costs, and boost your bottom line.

In this article, I demonstrate how you can incorporate drop shipping into your current online business to save 55 minutes on the following tasks:

  • Prepare the item description
  • Package and address the item
  • Ship the item

You also save money:

  • Your hourly rate for performing these tasks
  • Packaging materials
  • Shipping costs
  • Mileage to the post office

Let's do the math... Read More

Fraud Protection
Avoiding Fraudulent Orders and Unscrupulous Customers

Introduction

In this article, you'll learn how to spot the signs of potentially fraudulent orders and protect yourself from unscrupulous consumers.

Currently, identity theft laws are anemic and law enforcement is often unwilling to pursue "minor" cases. Until the laws catch up and law enforcement begins to prosecute these cases more aggressively, online merchants are pretty much on their own.

Because of this, it pays to be informed about what you, as an online merchant, can do to protect yourself from credit card fraud and other deceptive activities.

As described in this tutorial, you can implement four proactive strategies to protect yourself and your business from fraud:

  • Prevention: Stop fraud by following fraud-prevention strategies.

  • Early detection: Watch for red flags that indicate possible fraud.

  • Investigation: When you notice suspicious activity, investigate.

  • Action: When you're relatively certain that fraud is occurring, contact someone who can do something about it.

Protect yourself

Customers typically pay for merchandise with credit cards, checks, money orders, or PayPal payments. In the following sections, we reveal several ways to identify and stop the most common payment scams.

Preventing credit card cons

Credit card con artists have numerous hi-tech and no-tech ways of obtaining credit card numbers... Read More

The Dirty Dozen
Avoiding the 12 Most Common Business Blunders

Introduction

Every single day, enthusiastic entrepreneurs start about 2,000 new small businesses. Three years from now, about 1,600 of those new businesses will have failed.

Being in the business of helping others break into the retail business, we've had a ringside seat to witness competitors battle it out retail arena, and we've identified the 12 differences that separate the champs from the chumps.

In this article, we reveal those differences and use our observations, experience, and expertise to steer you clear of the most common pitfalls and ensure that your business becomes part of the elite group of successful startups.

Poor management

People launch their own businesses for a variety of reasons. Some think it will be fun and easy. Others aren't happy with their current lifestyle and seek to better themselves financially. Still more look at their boss and think, "If he can do it, then I sure can!"

But the truth is that 80% of new businesses fail within the first three years. The number one reason small businesses fail is, by far, poor management.

Recognizing the essentials of good management

Good management boils down to developing a solid business plan and then effectively executing your plan or adjusting it to meet the needs of the current situation. Effectively managing a business, big or small, requires the following... Read More

Selling Benefits: Pitching to Your Customer's Needs
By Stuart Lisonbee

Focusing on the features of a product or service rather than how it benefits the consumer is considered by many marketing experts to be a mortal sin. Features merely tell the consumer what a product or service is or does. Benefits sell the product or service. Benefits convince prospective customers that your product can improve their lives. Let's look at a couple examples:

Product: Car engine
Feature: Powerful 250 hp V6 engine
Benefit: Climb hills without losing speed and irritating other drivers

Product: Video card
Feature: The most powerful graphics processor
Benefit: Never again get fragged by your friends due to low frame rates

These examples reveal the contrast between feature and benefit... Read More

Building Customer Loyalty with an eNewsletter
By Stuart Lisonbee

A well-designed eNewsletter, packed with valuable content and exclusive offers, can help you walk the fine line of keeping in touch with your customers without annoying them.

In this article, you learn:

  • How to design an attractive eNewsletter that increases your brand presence.
  • What to include in your eNewsletter and what to leave out.
  • How to encourage customers to subscribe without being pushy.
  • How to automate distribution to save valuable time.

Designing an attractive eNewsletter

Whenever you contact a customer, you have an opportunity to impress or disappoint, so you want your first attempt at an eNewsletter to be impressive. In any publication, your first impression hinges on... Read More

Ramping up for the Holiday Retail Season
By Stuart Lisonbee

For retail merchants, "'Tis the season to be jolly" translates into "'Tis the season to ramp up my marketing efforts." If you put it off till the end of October, you've already missed out on some prime holiday marketing opportunities.

While traditional retailers are busy stocking their shelves to meet increasing demands, take the opportunity to ramp up your marketing efforts. Because Doba and its cadre of drop ship suppliers take the worries of inventory off your plate, you can focus your full attention on your holiday season marketing campaigns.

In this timely article, we reveal tips and strategies to make the most of the holiday retail season.

Focus on your core offering

Even Santa has to make his rounds to find out what the kiddies want for Christmas. Find out what your customers want, push the items in your product line that are likely to sell most briskly, and by New Year's Day, you'll find yourself jollier than old Saint Nick.

But if you're thinking about unloading some of your... Read More

Cashing in on the Bump in Online Holiday Retail Sales
By Stuart Lisonbee

While online merchants aren't exactly bulldozing their brick-and-mortar counterparts into retail oblivion, they are managing to chip away some of the mortar between those bricks.

Roughly 75 percent of U.S. homes are now connected to the Internet, and in many of those homes, in the comfort of their living rooms, dens, and home offices, people are shopping online to avoid the traffic jams, high gas prices, and raging crowds. Increasingly, people are hopping on the information superhighway to buy the best products at the best prices through the convenience of online stores built by tech-savvy merchants like you.

While online sales still represent a small portion of consumer spending ($24 billion online versus $450 billion offline according to 2006 estimates) the numbers are increasing significantly. Experts predict that this year, 8 percent of all holiday sales will occur online. As an online retailer, the number one question you should be asking yourself is... Read More

Driving eBay Traffic to Your Webstore with a Newsletter
By Stuart Lisonbee

As I discuss in the article "Driving eBay Traffic to Your Webstore," eBay has several policies in place to discourage sellers from selling any of the products they're selling on eBay at off-eBay webstores. In that article, I offer two strategies for working around the policies to drive eBay traffic to your webstore. In this article, I reveal a third trick: encouraging eBay users to sign up for an email-distributed newsletter.

eBay Stores owners have access to a newsletter tool provided by eBay, but the eBay newsletter tool will do you little good, because you're not allowed to advertise your webstore (other than your eBay Store) in the eBay newsletter. This means that you'll need to use some other newsletter management company such as Constant Contact.

Writing an Effective Newsletter

When composing the content of your newsletter, lean toward the soft-sell approach. In addition to including a few subtle ads for featured products and services, strive to offer more to your customers than... Read More

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