Short of Money This Q4?

Short of Money This Q4? We’ve Got Lending Options For Online Sellers

Are you in the middle of your best Q4 ever only to discover you’ve run out of cash? No worries! Bridge Capital Lenders (BCL) has partnered up with ScanPower and developed a lending product specifically for Amazon sellers like no other out there. Apply with the quick app online via your ScanPower Dashboard or directly at Bridge Capital Lenders and get a response in 24 hours. Because BCL uses your Amazon selling data you must have a ScanPower account to have access to this product. If you don’t have a ScanPower account click here to sign up for your ScanPower account

Apply now, get approved and use the money when you need to. Who doesn’t need a little cash boost for their business every now and then?

 

Who’s Your Most Important Employee?

Who’s The Most Important Employee…Your Postal Carrier!

postal-carrier…and they’re not even on your payroll.

This is the time of year that sellers start posting questions about what everyone does for their postal carrier for the holidays. Tip them? Give them baked goods? Gift cards? There are many different responses and ideas.

I’ve always been an advocate for taking care of our postal carriers. When I was working a full time job I couldn’t have continued to sell online and keep my Top Rates Seller (TRS) status because that would require me to make a trip to the post office several times each week. My job and work schedule at that time just wouldn’t allow that. Fortunately, I had an AWESOME carrier I appreciated each and every day. I took care of My Carrier and My Carrier took care of me. My Carrier would sign for my packages so I didn’t have to make a trip to the main post office on Saturday, My Carrier paid for packages with postage due and My Carrier would leave the package for me the day it was delivered and I’d leave the money for My Carrier the next day, My Carrier picked up packages left on my porch even if I forget to schedule a pick up. I treated My Carrier like my most valuable employee because My Carrier was….and My Carrier wasn’t even on my payroll.

postal-treats

In the heat of the Arizona summer I’d leave frozen bottles of water in the bottom of my mail bin so by the time My Carrier stopped by around noon the water had melted enough for my carrier to enjoy a nice cold drink. I’d leave gift cards for Subway or other local fast food places so my carrier could enjoy lunch on me every now and then. During the 2015 holiday rush the two weeks before Christmas My Carrier would swing by my house on the way back to the post office and pick up any packages I may have sold later in the day. This allowed me to take care of my customers without them having to pay for expedited shipping.

postal-carrier-treatsThe two weeks prior to Christmas are the busiest for our postal carriers. Many days during those two weeks my carrier would show up after 6pm and a few times it was closer to 8pm. I started leaving chocolate bars for a bit of sugar energy to get My Carrier back to the post office and tide my carrier over until dinner.  These were $1 large Christmas chocolate bars I picked up at Target. It turns out these chocolate bars were so appreciated by My Carrier that when I chatted with My Carrier a few days ago My Carrier was still talking about them. While these were much appreciated tokens during a busy holiday season, I would also send My Carrier a nice Christmas bonus of a crisp $50 or $100 bill in a card to her house. My Carrier worked hard for me and I wanted to show my appreciation for all the hours and extra work and care I received. I know without this extra attention my business couldn’t have been as successful as it was.

Of course when I moved I got a new postal carrier. My regular carrier is getting used to the schedule and amount pf packages she has to pick up. We’ve hit a few bumps in the road along the way, but we’ve worked them out. After Halloween I bought two large bags of candy and would leave her a baggie of candy each day. I learned that I was one of her last stops each day and even though she is here by 3pm each day, I still remember My Carrier and how much that sugar pick-me-up was appreciated at the end of the day.

USPS has an official Employee Tipping and Gift-Receiving Policy in place. The policy reads “All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.”  Through conversations with other sellers and Facebook discussions, I’ve learned that some areas are very strict about this policy and carriers will return gifts in excess of $20 while others gladly accept gifts in any amount. Wherever you live and whatever you do, take a few minutes to really thank and appreciate your postal carrier. You’re online business could not function the way it does without them.

img_1653

What do you do to show your appreciation for your postal carrier?

 

International Shipping – Just Do It!

International Shipping – Just Do It!

internationalAre you that seller who’s afraid to ship internationally? If so why? I’m shipping 16 packages today…12 of them are going international….TWELVE! That’s 75% of my sales for just one day. If you’ve got a fear or selling and shipping internationally, post them in this thread and we’ll help ease your mind. You should be listing and selling international, there is nothing wrong with buyers that live in other countries.

I posted this very post in a FB group and was surprised at the number of questions that came from it. I realized that MANY sellers (both new and seasoned) were just too afraid to tackle international shipping. I get it, it’s confusing and a bit intimidating…or at least it used to be.

As e-commerce has evolved over the years, so has shipping. There is no need to fear that a package won’t be delivered to Italy or Brazil, once countries where the loss rate was so high many sellers blocked those shoppers from buying from them. I offer worldwide shipping on nearly all 3800+ listings. There is no need to discriminate a buyer from buying from me based on their location. I ship using International First Class Package which applies to any package under four pounds. I do add a layer of protection if the item I’m shipping is worth $50 or more or costs $35 or more to ship.  I buy insurance from Ship Saver directly through eBay at a fraction of the cost of USPS.

Here’s the quick and easy chart I use when listing. Keep in mind that if you’re item is in the 3-4 pound range that it will actually cost about $47 to ship. I can keep 14, 24, 34, 44 in my head much easier, so I use those rates knowing that I’ve got some shipping already built into my listing price.  If you offer free shipping on your listings, international buyers will pay additional shipping.

international-shipping-04-16

 

I ship all my own international items. I tried eBay’s Global Shipping Program (GSP) in April when international postal rates increased and I didn’t have a handle on what those increases meant for my business. At some point at the end of summer I realized that my international sales had tanked. I didn’t know why but I decided to remove GSP and see if that made a difference. It did! Some sellers have reported the same result when removing GSP, others report that their sales skyrocketed when they switched to GSP. I don’t know the reason for GSP working or not, but I say give it a try in your business and see what works for you.

The comments in the thread in the Facebook group were all over the place. I appreciate those that were brave enough to post their fears and applaud those that took action and changed their listings to include international shipping. A few even had international sales within a day or two!

I copied most of the comments from that thread here. This was a very active thread for several days with close to 150 comments. I only included a few replies to the posts below, but you can tell as time went on and more people participated in the thread fears were being eased and people started to “get it”.

Here are some of the comments on the FB post:

  1. I don’t even know how to start. Mostly afraid of miscalculating and having to pay for shipping fees. I’ve had one sale GSP to Canada and feel badly that they probably paid too much in shipping.
  2. Thanks for posting this as hubby and I are preparing to start our eBay store and I am still a little apprehensive about shipping outside of the states.
  3. Me too! Are there countries to avoid? Nope, ship worldwide.
  4. Oh my gosh yes! Well, I hope to change that for you today! 
  5. I ship international alot but do not use global shipping program. My problem is finding a quick way to edit and add international to my listings as only about half have it…I have over 5,000 listings
  6. I rarely use GSP unless it is a heavy or very expensive item. I have sent pkgs to Sweden, Germany, UK, Iceland, Russia, Spain, Malaysia, Australia and Canada. I do not exclude any country. I’m more excited shipping international than I am in the US.. I love to see where my goodies are going!!
  7. It’s easy…ebay prints the customs form and everything
  8. Bulk listing and turn on gsp on all of them with drop down menus. Since I did that about 5 months ago my sales have tripled
  9. I like to see a step by step process for items under 4 lbs and then process for heavier items.
  10. I’m scared! I read the document in the file but it seems so daunting. Let’s encourage each other! I’ve heard good and bad things about GSP. I think I would like to try without.
  11. I don’t do gsp.
  12. I will ship if anyone international will buy.
  13. My only issue is the international buyers who buy when shipping isn’t quoted and when they find out how much…they don’t pay. Use the shipping chart provided above and charge a flat rate to all buyers. If you do this, buyers see the cost when they are shopping and can decide then if they are okay with the shipping costs.
  14. Can I offer free shipping domestically but that the buyer pays for overseas?
    That’s my main reason, I do free shipping and don’t want to lose all my profit shipping abroad. You won’t lose profit, you’ll actually make more on your international buyers. If you’re selling domestic with free shipping you’ve already built in your shipping cost to your item. When an international buyer buys that same item, they’re paying the sales price PLUS additional shipping to their country.
  15. I recently shipped a huge set of Johnson Bros. dishes to Quatar.
  16. I have had only one item ship overseas, no problem at all.
  17. Are there any countries that anyone blocks or will not ship to? Reasons? Not in today’s world. No need to block any country, ship worldwide.
  18. I’m up there in my percentage of In International Sales. Never an issue for me since I started selling in 2002
  19. I use mainly flat rate envelopes would that be more expensive instead of mailing first class international and if so would the Tyvek mailers be ok? I used to ship international but stopped a long time ago because I had to go to the po but now I have porch pick up and I think we can do that with int’l now, right? Don’t ship using flat rate to international…it is more expensive than it needs to be. I shop 95% of my international items in a polymailer using the chart above based on weight. 
  20. First class international up to 4lbs….priority is very expensive international. Yes it is! No need to ship international priority.
  21. I drop international mail into the big roll bin at my post office. No need to stand in line
  22. OK!!! I am semi-convinced and am adding GSP to my items. (At least until I have some issue that makes me change my mind).
  23. Raises hand. I don’t know what I have to do to start. What countries not to ship to. How I do shipping. I know nothing about it. Read the thread and you’ll see how easy it is. I ship worldwide and would encourage you to do the same. There is no reason not to. 
  24. It just seems overwhelming to me. I intended to start shipping international when I felt I had US shipping down pat (which I do), but just am so unsure of myself.
  25. I’m afraid of lost packages, miscommunication, etc. Silly I know but not sure it’s worth the worry for me. By the way, I do not have an eBay store, just odds and ends that I list when I have a spare moment.
  26. If we have 1000 listings do we change the shipping one by one? & how does one show worldwide intl shipping & another amount for Canada? I was unable to add both from my iPhone 6.
  27. Isn’t GSP the same thing? Kinda…with GSP the seller pays the shipping to KY and that operation charges the customer all the international shipping and import fees. The problem is that many international buyers don’t like the GSP system because they think it is more expensive. The reality is that the costs are the same, they are just paying for everything at once. When I ship they pay me the shipping fees and then pay their postal carrier the import fees and taxes. GSP collects it all at once up front.
  28. Does everyone do calculated for international shipping? I have seen people mention flat rates you charge. What are they? I would rather do that, so I don’t have to add weight and dimensions on every item. If you’re doing calculated shipping you’ve added the weight to your listing already. I don’t add the weight on every item, I charge a flat rate BASED on the weight of the item, but I don’t have to add it to the listing…I do, but I don’t HAVE to.
  29. So I WANT to ship internationally BUT my question is: If I offer free shipping on US items how do I figure out the international deal? I don’t want to lose my status if shipping takes too long – is that a concern? No. If you offer 1 day shipping then you need to upload your tracking info in a day and then the PO scans will take it from there.
  30. Following. I think I will do some editing today. Theresa Cox what do you charge for over 2lbs.? 2-3 pounds is $34.99, 3-4 is $44.99. Use the chart above. 
  31. I’ve been scared just because lack of knowledge. I’m very new to ebay but seeing that how much business you all do international. I think its time i face my fears and learn. Yes! It’s really not that difficult. Remember, knowledge is power…and more sales for you!
  32. How did you determine your flat rates? Are you shipping in flat rate packaging or through your experience have you found that pretty much everything you ship will be under $24.99. I haven’t shipped internationally, but I am scared that depending on the country it could be a lot more. No need to be scared. Just read through the posts above and follow the quick and easy shipping chart and you’re done. It’s that easy!
  33. I ship internationally but I always have a fear of a return. there is no tracking. I have had one return so far it was a light item so I ate about $5 minus the Ebay fees. But I have sold a mug for $100 to Japan. How do you deal with returns and shipping costs on returns? I haven’t had any returns, but if I did I would handle it just like any other transaction. Take it back, refund the buyer, move on. 
  34. I have an embarrassing lack of understanding about shipping, period. Any simple rules? Read through this thread, it is full of valuable information. And yes, shipping international is simple, that’s the rule.  
  35. Hell no…I love shipping international. Only had one bad sale ever with an international buyer.
  36. sooo following this thread!! I do ship Canada, UK and Australia but I have thought about shipping to other places. I do worry about tracking. Everything at this point would be under 4 lbs. Mostly clothes, plush, collectibles… that kind of stuff. Well, might be more once I gather all the inventory I have stashed everywhere!!
  37. Theresa – took a shot at it today and will be shipping to Australia tomorrow! It was ridiculously easy just like you said – absolutely painless – ebay took care of the custom problem i was dreading. thanks for the post. Thank you for moving out of your comfort zone and giving it a try. May the international buying Gods shine down on you this Q4!
  38. I never visit the Post Office during business hours. Will I still be able to do everything at home and leave it in the bin or do I need to go to the counter? No need to go to the counter. Customs info and tracking is on the label.
  39. I just feel it complicates transactions. There is nothing different to shipping to Australia as there is to shipping to Alabama….eBay does all the work for you. go eBay!
  40. Do I need business insurance if shipping global? Business insurance is what you buy to insure you business…not your packages. You can purchase shipping insurance that will cover any packages that don’t make it to the final destination. I use Shipsaver because it’s quick and easy and less expensive than insuring through USPS.
  41. Following, I haven’t shipped international in ages, may give it a try again. Yes! You should. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is.
  42. do you just set up international rate tables? Or input price per listing? Put in the price per listing, based on weight. 
  43. WoW. Did I learn a lot tonight. Thank All of you.
  44. I plan to come back to this thread a few times to get everything into my head! Thank you everyone! I need to do this and have been thinking about it for a long time, just keep dragging my feet, but I like the just list a few and make then open to global. 🙂
  45. Okay!!! I think I have been convinced!!! I need to venture out further!! Hubby and I are having a date day this afternoon and evening, but I plan on changing every thing tomorrow!! Thanks for all the great advice!! You’re welcome! A gold start for you and the hubby for venturing out of your comfort zone and giveing this a try. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is!
  46. Do you have any thing on your listing saying international buyer is responsible for all shipping and charges? Nope – eBay does it for you
  47. Do you package any different. example I sell mostly clothing, when sold I wrap in tissue, then saran wrap, into a thin poly bag. Is that enough for over seas? Yes. I send clothing in a polybag with nothing else domestic and international.
  48. This thread has inspired me to do away with my calculated shipping, and edit all my listing templates with flat rate for both International and Canada. I’ll revise my current listings as they end. Thanks! Yeah, go get those international buyers!
  49. What about using USPS flat rate boxes? I don’t use them for international, it’s more expensive than shipping a package under 4 pounds.
  50. If I offer 1-day shipping domestically, am I dinged if I don’t meet that criteria for GSP? One day shipping refers to the time YOU take to ship the item, not the time it takes for an item to arrive to the buyer.
  51. I’ll be impressed when I hear that all 12 packages arrived smoothly – no INR, INAD, etc. Oh yee of little faith. The postal system is different now, tracking is different, eBay is different, global commerce is different. That mentality is old skool thinking. I ship hundreds of packages each year and haven’t had one problem.
  52. When you personally ship intl (not using GSP) do you pack differently. Ex., more padding, double box., etc. etc. Nope…same great packing everywhere.
    I even send clothing going international in a poly mailer.
  53. In the age that we are living in, most International sales arrive almost as soon as domestic package would arrive. True!
  54. his post came at the appropriate time for me – I have an offer on an item that will probably weigh 7-8 pounds to Canada & I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond to the offer. I ship “free” in the US but am not sure if I should use GSP or just do it myself? Is there some kind of paperwork I have to fill out in addition to the shipping? Ebay does it all. All you have to do is change the description field to something generic, sign and date, and off it goes.
  55. I need a class on how to start. Did you read this thread? There are plenty of tips and comments that will help you do just that. 
  56. Boy, that was EASY as pie. Almost embarrassing, huh. Yeah that was so simple even I did it 😀 -will say NOT to try it on PayPal lol. Just do it in eBay
  57. okay, ya’ll… I have changed to worldwide with no exclusions. I have adjusted the shipping price on some items… and getting ready to do the others. I’m a bit nervous… lol… but I know where I can holler for help if need be!!! 🙂
  58. My first concern comes in with return requests. Granted, they are far and few between. But with int’l customers, you surely stand to lose much more if they somehow claim an INAD. I don’t think I’ve ever received a return on an international order. That said, make sure your listings are clear and complete…no guarantee, but it helps. Don’t fear what hasn’t happened. Do your best and cross that bridge when/if you get to it. If your business model does not allow for an international return or two I’d say it’s time to revisit your business model.

 

 

Exciting Things are Happening!

Just a really quick post and a bit of a teaser….

I’ve been working my tail off getting my eBay inventory of close to 20,000 items (3700+ listings) organized in my new space, my office set up and my shipping space set up and organized. Why would anyone do this in prime Q4? Well, I’m super excited because an eBay team is coming to my house this week to film me for a marketing campaign….and I’m the featured seller! I’ve got a few more things to get done before they arrive tomorrow, a very long filming day on Thursday and on Friday I’ll be working with another team helping to develop the inventory management tool. It’s a great week to be an eBay seller! I LOVES ME MY EBAY!

My New Office Work Area

My New Office Work Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listed American Girl Items Stored in the Loft Outside My Office

Listed American Girl Items Stored in the Loft Outside My Office

A Mixture of Listed and Unlisted Item in the Loft.

A Mixture of Listed and Unlisted Item in the Loft.

Unlisted Mickey Mouse and Christmas Ornaments

Unlisted Mickey Mouse and Christmas Ornaments

More Stuff to Be Photographed and Listed

More Stuff to Be Photographed and Listed

Office Storage....I love it's not overflowing...yet

Office Storage….I love it’s not overflowing…yet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Photo Area of My Office

The Photo Area of My Office