Thursday

10 Things You Don't Know About the Seller Community: Happy Birthday eBay!

In honor of eBay's 17th birthday, I thought it'd be fun to recap some memorable moments from the past 17 years since Pierre Omidyar launched the company during Labor Day weekend 1995. While I'm not (and never have been an employee of eBay), I'm thrilled to have been part of the eBay Community since those very early days! (I’ve also included a few tips below to help improve your selling strategies and operations)
During eBay’s Q2 earnings conference call, CEO John Donahoe stated: “This is the strongest performance we’ve seen out of marketplaces since 2006.” eBay is clearly reclaiming its reputation with buyers as the world’s best person-to-person marketplace. If you’ve been on the bench about selling, it’s time to get into gear and start listing!
  1. The most popular auction selling format is the 7-day auction, although auctions generally are losing traction with today’s “on-demand” shoppers. (The best use for auctions is still rare and one-of-a-kind items). Fixed price listings represent the highest revenue-generating format on eBay, accounting for 65% of sales by total dollar volume.
  2. eBay has 105 million registered users in 39 markets around the world, and international sales volumes in Q2 2012 totaled close to $10 billion, driven by strong growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific. If you are selling as a business versus a hobby, it’s worthwhile to consider shipping to international buyers. DYMO Endicia’s solution helps make this virtually painless.
  3. 600,000 new customers made their first purchase via eBay Mobile in Q2 2012, and eBay estimates that for all of 2012 there will be $10 billion in transaction volume through eBay and PayPal mobile, more than double 2011. As a seller, when you create your listings, this means you should make them concise, but still clear and accurate.
  4. While mobile is great for buyers, post your listings from your computer using the full-featured listing form so you won’t leave out pertinent details. When complete, view your listing on the eBay Mobile app to be sure it translates well, then go back to your computer to make any necessary modifications. Mobile apps definitely have a purpose, but take time with your listings so you can get the highest price possible for your items.
  5. Customer service, not just listing volume, is a key condition for attaining Top Seller status. Accurate and friendly communication, quickly getting packages out the door and free shipping options are all factors buyers consider when making purchases. Top Sellers now represent 50% of eBay’s gross sales volume, and this number grew 22% over last year.

Goodwill Started Selling Online in 2006: On Track to Exceed $2.5 Million Annually

Goodwill SF Warehouse

For nearly a century, Goodwill Industries has created solutions to poverty through the businesses it operates and the jobs it provides. Most recognizable are the hundreds of Goodwill stores throughout the United States, which sell donated clothing, jewelry and household items, and are staffed by individuals seeking to overcome barriers to employment to get a fresh start in life. But these days, Goodwill is embracing 21st century technologies to advance its mission. This trend is evident at Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties, where they have established an eCommerce point of sale.

Background.   According to Johnny Cochran, eCommerce Manager for Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties, online sales have become popular options for shoppers seeking to easily and quickly search for and purchase Goodwill items. Especially popular are books, movies, music, games, clothing, collectibles and other products, which are most often sold through eBay, Amazon, ABE Books, Alibris.com and other online marketplaces.

“With the additional revenue from online sales, we are able to further expand our services,” explained Cochran. “So it is important for us to run our eCommerce channel as cost effectively as possible.”

But efficiency was a challenge when the San Francisco-area Goodwill operation began its online channel in 2006. Initially, the online store – with both auction and fixed price options – only accounted for a handful of orders, five or so, each day. But as order volumes grew, the eCommerce team wouldn't have been able to keep up without implementing software automation. Cochran explained that originally Goodwill processed each order taken through their eCommerce marketplaces manually, and it required about five minutes of time to weigh, enter in shipping information, print out a packing slip and finalize each order. Then, an employee would take the shipments to the Post Office™, where postage would be affixed and the items – finally – shipped.

“We realized that when our order volume increased, we needed to be ready to handle it much more efficiently – or we would never be able to keep up with demand,” recalled Cochran.

 “eCommerce is a key initiative for our sales and program growth, and we view DYMO Endicia as a true partner,” Cochran said. “Its Label Server technology is an important resource, and the added productivity and efficiencies help us in our ongoing efforts to find and implement solutions to poverty.”

Read the full case study at endicia.com

 

Wednesday

Networking Your Small Business Target Audience in Social Media

Social networking demands the attention of today’s small businesses... right along with online reviews and customer feedback. But, with time at a premium, where should you go to reach your customers and maximize your social media efforts? Articles all over the web tout one site over another, claiming this one is best or that one will draw your customers’ attention. What’s more, there always seems to be another emerging social media platform around the corner. Is it any wonder that small businesses get confused about where to focus their time?

Even before you make your initial foray into social media, defining objectives should be your first step (hint: stating that you want to increase sales is too general). Return on investment (ROI) will be different for each business depending on your goals. Drawing shoppers to eBay, a Facebook store or your website may each take on a slightly different tack.

Before you start utilizing a social media channel, you also need to understand and know your customers. You find them where they spend time on the Web and reach them with content appropriate for the various platforms. Keep in mind that social media channels are designed for “social networking,” not broadcasting – you must interact with fans and followers. Pepper your promotions not more than one in six of your posts on a particular platform.

Here’s a quick overview of the top social media communities you might want to be part of with your business:
  • Facebook. Facebook is personal. Here you need to reach customers on a personal level. Sharing information or facts that relate to your business and to customers’ everyday lives will bring you more likes and shares. Graphics and photographs are very appealing to this audience.
  • YouTube. YouTube for ecommerce is all about demonstrating your products. If you have a product that would benefit from demonstration, by all means make a short video. Embed or link to that video on your other social media channels.
  • Twitter. The short message service that has taken the world by storm is a great way to build your online community. But to be relevant and build trust on Twitter, you need to spend time online meaningfully contributing to the conversation, not just posting links to your website or to items for sale. Respond to questions and re-tweet comments or facts of interest. Your goal is to sell to a community, not to become a spammer.
  • Google+. If you deal in technology and deal internationally, Google+ may be ripe to help you find new customers. The site slants highly to men and the bulk of the participants on the site are in technical fields. The number one occupation on the site is Student, and only 32% of users are in the United States. All that said, it is a perfect platform to interact with those who appreciate technology. Engage with long-form posts and video content. Take advantage of Hangouts to build your reputation as an expert in your category.
  • Pinterest. The jury is out as to whether Pinterest is truly monetizing for the small business. Post selected items (by no means every item you sell) and be sure the links are updated to direct to the actual item for sale in your online store.

The Psychology of Social Commerce: Mental Rule of Thumb for Shoppers

The topic of the book I've just finished writing is social media commerce. This infographic guides you through the process I've covered ...
The proliferation of social media has led to a new form of e-commerce: social commerce. Psychologists have analyzed the thoughts and behaviors of “social shoppers” to determine what drives them to a purchase.
Social Commerce Psychology of Shoppers

Monday

How Facebook Interest Lists Can Help You Curate Content

Facebook has now provided a way for you to curate content right on your Facebook page via their new Facebook Interest Lists functionality.  When you log in to your present Facebook News Feed you have access to aggregate content from your Friends and individual pages you’ve “liked” that Facebook’s Edge Rank (an algorithm) deems relevant to your account.

Facebook has created Facebook Interest Lists to give you another way to access targeted content via their platform by creating your own personal (or brand) newsfeed comprising individuals or pages that you want to receive information from.

To Create Facebook Interests Lists:

You will easily find “Interests” at the bottom left of your page at the bottom of the column. Just click on it and Facebook will open a page like this image below with preselected Suggestions broken out in Categories, which also shows you the Number of Subscribers and any Friends that you may have.

“Suggestions” which are optimized for your account are at top of page and then these Categories:

  • Art
  • Books
  • Business
  • Causes
  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Games
  • News
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Technology

 

Note in this screenshot above you have the ability to do a Search as well and then create a list of your which will show your Friends and Pages you are connected to via your account:

Once you’ve selected your Friends, Pages, Subscriptions or Individuals from the Specific Categories name your list and then save it. Note: you will also be asked if you want this Facebook List to be Public, Friends or only Yourself.  Select these options and then hit save.  As soon as you complete the process you will be taken to the Newsfeed of this List, enabling you to check how you set it up.

How Brands Can Generate Marketing ROI using Facebook Lists:

  • Your aggregating the best or optimum content for your audience. If you make your list public others can see and then subscribe to your list, which generates exposure.
  • Make sure you add yourself to your list of course – this helps to also create broader exposure for your brand and Page.
  • Like anything social media marketing process – try to niche in as much as possible. Expect millions of lists to be built moving forward. So, in your self-interest to make sure your list is curated for a specific niche, geographic location or market segment.
  • Remember, the more Friends who sign up for your lists the exposure your lists will generate and they will also garner more authority your lists have when others are searching.
  • Bit off topic but related – make sure you have your Facebook Settings set up so others can Subscribe to your public updates. This is a simple check box. Will help to drive more engagement moving forward.

Think of Facebook Interest Lists as valuable content curation that is effective for your Facebook page but that can also be used as a content source for your other social media profiles and accounts.