Monday, December 15

Holiday Gifts: Regifting and Reselling on eBay

Think twice before you stuff that unneeded gift into the back of your closet this holiday season: it could translate into cash, or become the perfect present for someone else.

With financial concerns weighing on Americans’ minds this holiday season, consumers are becoming more resourceful than ever. To cope, they are learning how to manage unwanted gifts. Over half (54%) of U.S. adults who have resold gifts online plan to do so this year, a 10 percent increase from last year (45%) according to new research released today by eBay conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive®.

Of U.S. adults who receive gifts during the holidays, more than four in five (83%) receive unwanted items and almost half (46%) of those adults resell or re-gift, that is, give the unwanted gift to someone else as a gift. Additionally, nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults feel that re-gifting or reselling gifts is more socially acceptable now than it was several years ago.

“We’re seeing the trend in re-gifting and reselling unwanted presents becoming more commonplace in this economic climate,” said Marsha Collier, author of “Santa Shops on eBay” and “eBay for Dummies.” “For those seeking to make the best of an unwanted gift and maybe even start a small business, eBay is a great place to sell items and make some extra money; it’s also a destination for amazing deals for everyone on your holiday list.”

According to the survey, the most popular items adults would re-gift include wine, champagne or spirits (21%); trinkets or collectibles (21%); beauty or bath products (21%); DVDs, CDs or books (16%); electronics/appliances (14%); and the infamous fruitcake (14%). The most popular items adults resell online include personal electronics (12%); DVDs, CDs or books (11%); home technology (10%); event tickets (10%); trinkets or collectibles (8%); and sporting or fitness equipment (6%).

Trends in Re-gifting and Reselling:

• Re-gifting in the Air: three in five adults said they have received an item that they believe someone re-gifted.

• Green is Good: nearly three in four (73%) adults view re-gifting or reselling as a form of recycling, up from 69 percent last year.

• The End Justifies the Means: more than one-third (37%) of adults who have resold gifts would feel less guilty about reselling a gift if a portion of the profit benefited a charity.

• Know Your Recipient: Adults who have re-gifted listed these as the top reasons for doing so:
  • 68 percent said the item was a better match for someone else
  • 66 percent said they didn’t think they would use the item
  • 61 percent said it wasn’t their taste

• Re-entrepreneurs Emerge: 30 percent of adults said they would rather receive a gift that they could re-gift or resell than not receive a gift at all.

About the Survey
This re-gifting survey was conducted online for eBay by Harris Interactive between November 11 and November 13, 2008 among 2,033 U.S. adults age 18 and older, of whom 1,013 have re-gifted and 210 have resold gifts online. These online surveys are not based on probability samples and therefore no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Friday, October 17

Online Market World 2008 Selling Secrets

I gave a keynote talk at this year's conference. I figure that I'm pretty lucky, because it gave me the chance to meet a lot of very sharp people. If you're curious as to what I had to say, below is a link to the program text (it's amazing what a month's worth of bad economy in the US can do to one's net worth - but that's not what this post is about). Click the words "this session" to hear my talk.

"Best-selling eBay author Marsha Collier will explain why there has never been a better time to sell online - on eBay, other emarketplaces, and through other channels. This self-made millionaire, radio show host, and long-time eBay instructor will reveal important secrets of successful online selling and give you actionable tips you can start using immediately. If you're serious about increasing sales this holiday season and beyond, don't miss this session."

Thursday, October 9

eBay Tips for the holidays

I did a short interview on eBay Radio with Griff. We talked about some timely issues for eBay sellers, you can listen to my latest tips here.

Tuesday, October 7

Ever said OMG after you've sent an email?

Sure you've done it, we all have. Maybe you're not drunk, but you're overtired and cranky and had a burning desire to state your feelings in an email? Once you click that send button, you know (accompanied by a sinking feeling) that you've made a terrible mistake.

Google has to our rescue. They've come up with a cool new tool for Gmail that may prevent us from emailing while drunk, Mail Goggles. Once you hit the send button on that email you composed in the dark of night, Mail Goggles will present you with five math problems that must be solved in a limited amount of time. Only if you complete the computations in the given time will your message be sent. I've always felt that doing math (even simple math) is a sobering experience.

Mail Goggles, by default, is only active on weekends and nights, but of course you can adjust that to be more in balance with your personal 'happy hour.'

Wednesday, October 1

Zappos cushions shoes at LAX

Yesterday, while gearing up in the security line at LAX, I reached for the requisite plastic bin. The place to put my shoes, laptop and all the etcetera that needs extra scrutiny by the TSA. As I reached to unceremoniously dump my black patent leather pumps in, I note that the bin lined with a colorful ad. has placed inserts into the security line shoe bins at LAX. Shoe bins; that's not much of a stretch since Zappos sells shoes. Catch the customer when they're thinking about their shoes with a cute line about the upcoming xray machine. They have some smart folks at Zappos.
This isn't rocket science; its just plain good marketing.

Sunday, September 28

eBay is Bringing back a very Cool Tool

I clicked over to the eBay announcements page last week and found a new post announcing a new eBay advertising program: "Over the next few months, we'll be introducing a new program call eBay AdCommerce."

Hmmm, deja vu? Perhaps the person making the announcement hasn't been with eBay very long. eBay used to have some very useful and powerful marketing programs for the sellers: co-op advertising and a program curiously similar to this one, the eBay AdMarketplace (Keywords on eBay).

Not only curiously similar. It seemed exactly the same. It was the eBay version of Google's AdWords. The new program is positioned as "a pay-per-click advertising solution that will allow eBay sellers to advertise their listings and eBay Stores via a text ad on eBay search result pages."

They also say that the program will “allow eBay sellers to promote their stores and listings via enhanced text integrations on eBay search result pages. The ads can be targeted by keyword or category, and eBay buyers who click on these ads will be taken directly to sellers’ listings or stores on eBay.”

This is the program eBay abandoned in 2006. Savvy sellers used this program (as do millions of site on the web use Google pay-per-click) to promote their listings and businesses right on the eBay site - where they are selling.

As a seller, I used the program very successfully from 2003 and couldn't understand why eBay dropped the program. At the time, eBay said that “The eBay Keywords program has been used by a very small percentage of eBay members since its launch in 2003.” It was a small percentage (guess) of successful sellers.

Why they're touting it as something new is a puzzle, except we all know about the popularity of repackaging an old idea as a new one. It is the lipstick on a pig syndrome? Whatever, it's a valuable program. Successful sellers will stay on top of the launch, click here for eBay's official info.

Sunday, September 21

Dolly Parton sings 9-5 from her seat

Saturday night I attended (with a charming escort) the World Premiere for the new 9-5. The new musical is based on the 1980 movie with all new music written by Dolly Parton. It's doing a premiere run at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theater through October 19 before going to the Marquis Theatre on Broadway. (Previews on March 24, 2009, with opening night set for April 23).

Being opening night, Dolly Parton was there, along with her friends from the film cast Jane Fonda, Dabney Coleman, Lily Tomlin and the writer of 9 to 5, Patricia Resnick. In the crowd was Jason Alexander, Lance Bass, David Hyde Pierce, Doris Roberts, Gabriel Byrne, Tracey Ullman, Julie Hagerty - and I sat near Jai Rodriguez (from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). I'm sure there were many other celebrities, but I was really there to concentrate on the show.

During the first act, there was a major technical glitch in the complex (and amazing) moving sets. It was very sad and the curtain fell with an apology from the house announcing they would restart in a few moments. The house lights came up and an unmistakable voice piped up from a seat in the audience."If they can't perform the show, I'll do some of it from right here." It was Dolly herself. She was handed a microphone and she told the audience about the origins of the musical; as well as introducing her '9 to 5' film co-stars. Parton then lead the audience in the title song '9 to 5.' Her voice sounded just as good live from her seat as it does from her albums. She's amazingly talented. The crowd went wild - but wait - there was more. The delay wasn't done and neither was Dolly. She asked if the audience would like for her to sing another song; 'I Will Always Love You.' (Duh - yeah?)

She was about to sing again when they signaled all was well and the show could go on. Before she sat down, she said, "Maybe I'll wait, in case things get screwed up again and I have to fill more time", causing the audience to go wild once more.

The musical features Allison Janney (West Wing), Megan Hilty (Broadway's Glinda from Wicked), Stephanie J. Block (Elphaba in Wicked) and Marc Kudisch. Ok, we knew everyone in the cast was talented, but who knew that Allison Janney could belt out such an amazing solo? The show is light hearted and engaging. I'm sure it will be entertaining new audiences for a long time to come.

From what I read, Dolly is 62 years old. She is still beautiful, charming and effervescent. If that's what 62 years old can look like - bring it on!

After the play, we went to the well attended cast party - good food, rocking 80's music and cocktails. A sponsor for the evening was p.i.n.k. vodka. I'm afraid I didn't try it and stuck to my Cabernet. I wasn't too sure about vodka infused with caffeine and guarana...

Friday, September 19

Get Wireless n and g in a single network

It's so frustrating that my new laptop has n wifi and all my other computers don't. N wireless is the fastest and newest flavor of WiFi networking. It features MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology and can send data at 10 times faster that the old 802.11g. Sadly, me and most of the rest of the world have an older router that is in the g compatible format. Plus, we have legacy (nice word for a coupla year old) computers that can’t take advantage of the latest technologies without shelling out beaucoup bucks for hardware upgrades. During my radio show last week I learned that Netgear has a new upgrade kit that attaches to an existing router - it broadcasts an additional n signal to those computers in your home that can accept it. Older computers will still be able to access wi-fi from your old router, at the speed they are comfortable with. I say that’s progress. It’s nice to know we don’t have to change everything to be able to use the latest technology. Call in to the Computer and Technology show with any questions you have for me on Saturday between noon and 2 pm PST at 877-474-3302

Saturday, September 13

Value in the Conversation

I'm taking a quiet weekend and working on my keynote for Online Market World. OK, I am breaking away for some fine dining, but I am thinking.. and researching.

I listened to a talk by Jason Calacanis on the web. It hit me like a ray of sunshine. What a pleasure it is to hear from someone who knows, I mean really knows, about the pollution on the web. His new search site, works incredibly well. It works the way the internet is supposed to work. Check it out. It's honest, it's real.

I've had the opportunity to sell out to affiliate marketers many times and turned them down. I've made my living telling the truth: there's no get rich quick. I teach my readers that the way to riches is hard work. Hard work pays off in the end, and hard work gives you the chance for the dream. That's his message too.

What the web needs is more quality content and a lot less sites that scrape news with the sole goal of making dollars from misleading readers.

Wednesday, September 10

Starbucks Vivano Rescue!

Last I was bagging on Starbucks for the lack of Black & White cookies on the west coast. Today, Starbucks saved my morning. I was presenting a morning keynote at a conference at 8:15 am - and I was running late on an empty stomach. I get to the speaker's room and - inexplicably - no coffee.

I remember seeing a Starbucks two casinos away (I'm in Las Vegas). Hot footing it, I run to Starbucks (high heels clacking on the marble floors). Vivano! they had the Vivano! Just what I needed: a little protein, a banana, fat free milk and a shot of espresso for punch.

As I wait for my shot of nutrition, I see a sign promoting Oatmeal. "Perfect" Oatmeal, the sign proclaims. Somebody got that right, a great idea for winter mornings on the run. Yummy, stick to your ribs oatmeal with a non fat vanilla latte (with protein powder of course). I took a photo of the sign which seemed to indicate the oatmeal was 'fresh brewed' ... hmmmm, I doubt it.

P.S. In Las Vegas? No black and white cookies at the Starbucks either.

Tuesday, September 9

Traveling, Starbucks & Black and White cookies

Another airport, another flight. I may be in the minority, but I love airports, I love the sound of a jet engine firing up and I love to fly. There's a hum of anticipation in an airport. Yea, people are often cranky and grouchy, but they are all looking forward to their destination... a better place? There's hope in that. Put me on a plane and I know adventure is at hand. But, I digress. My subject is Starbucks and how its wound its way into every segment of my life.

On a hot day, I turn to Starbucks for iced coffee or tea. When I'm running late and forget to eat, I can always count on a fat free banana chocolate (one squirt only, please) Vivano. When I'm dragging? It's a grande Americano.

When I'm traveling, I can always find a Starbucks, even in Hong Kong. It's a safe place. The food is passable but uniform... except... on the East Coast they have my favorite cookies. Black and White cookies. Never sold on the west coast. Why, Starbucks, why? Don't they care about those
of us west of the Mississippi? What would the big deal be to have those cookies in Los Angeles? They look at me funny at JFK airport when I buy the entire stock, and bring them back to Los Angeles to freeze. I'm out of Black and White cookies and eagerly awaiting my upcoming
trip to New York so I can refill.

Friday, August 22

Let's talk at Online Market World

Come to Online Market World 2008 October 1-3 at Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. I'll be giving the lunch keynote on October 1. If you're serious about your online business, this is the place to be. The event drives business value for attendees and exhibitors providing a powerful channel to engage with ecommerce professionals, solution providers and industry analysts. Join brand name retailers, mid-market and small sellers, service providers, online entrepreneurs and all other businesses that are harnessing the web to help market and sell products. Listen and interact with over 150 subject matter experts as we define and debate the "best-practices" for the future of e-commerce and online selling. Spend time in our World of Solutions exposition where every major ecommerce solution category is represented. Go to for more information.

Wednesday, August 20

eBay Lowering Fixed-Price Sellers' Fees

ebayAccording to a Reuters news story today (August 20) eBay will be lowering listing fees for fixed price sales on the site. See eBay's promo page.

Effective September 19, sellers will be able to list fixed priced listings of the same items in multiple quantities for a 30 day listing instead of the standard seven. This will make things a lot easier on sellers, saving them from constantly having to relist multiple items once a sale is made. Also, it's reported that there is a lowering of fixed price fees in the media categories - down to $.15.

Other changes reported by Reuters include a maximum shipping price for sellers in its media category, with incentives to offer free shipping, and requiring sellers to include at least one electronic payment method.

It seems that eBay has also made changes in the final value fees for the fixed price arena. Check eBay's Community Announcements for more info.

Tuesday, August 19

Shipping Costs and Your Bottom Line

As a small business owner, hard-won experience has taught me that when sending out multiple packages to fulfill auction and e-commerce orders, the cost of shipping plays a crucial role in calculating profits.

This is not a shocking discovery, perhaps, but it's one that has motivated me to examine in detail the various available shipping options for domestic delivery. I've used a 2 lb. package as my example, bound from New York ZIP code 10019 to Los Angeles ZIP code 90071 and sent it via FedEx, UPS, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service.

Two pounds, by the way, is an optimum shipping weight. Anything greater and transportation costs mount quickly. Your business may not lend itself to small, light packages, but for any online seller just starting out, my suggestion is that product size and weight be seriously considered.

The United States Post Office

If convenience is your choice than the first option for shipping is the best, at least for a 2 lb. package. I'm an enthusiast of this absolutely reliable government operation. It's pretty much the easiest and the cheapest way to go. Also, in some instances the fastest.

It's also discovered the Internet. Click-N-Ship, USPS' online shipping software, is free and offers discounted shipping rates. You can also print your own postage online using (the link will lead you to a 60 day free trial) and they have a variety of services.

Yes, it's the same U.S. Postal Service that shreds letters, but for whatever reason, its treatment of packages in many instances is swift and sturdy: through sleet and rain—O.K., water sprinklers anyway—they get them where they're going. Here are the main attractions:

Priority Mail: Priority Mail is still the most common form of shipping for person-to-person online auctions. The Postal Service promises delivery in two to three days. You can ship small packages reasonably, and best of all, they will send—that's right, deliver to your door—pre-addressed return labels, boxes, tubes and envelopes. Your 2 lb. package will cost $8.25 to deliver, plus an additional 65 cents for Delivery Confirmation. But if you print your shipping labels online, Delivery Confirmation is free and shipping is discounted to $7.96.

Keep in mind that a Delivery Confirmation number will only let you know if the package has arrived—there is no in-transit tracking of these packages by the Post office. So it's up to you—if you're insuring the package, you might pass on Delivery Confirmation. By the way, you can drop your Priority Mail packages with delivery confirmations directly into a mailbox, or give them to your mailman.

The best strategy is simply to plan in advance, and wherever possible, offer items that don't run up your shipping tab

Priority Mail Flat Rate is another common alternative, but unless your 2-lb. parcel can be crammed into a 12.5-inch x 9.5-inch envelope, this won't be among the cheaper modes of shipping. If you're lucky enough to meet this criteria, shipping will cost $4.80, or $4.75 with Delivery Confirmation when you print your labels online. Select the 11-inch x 8.5-inch x 5.5-inch "shirt box" or the 11-7/8-inch x 3-3/8-inch x 13-5/8-inch flat box and the flat rate will be $9.80, or $9.30 online. There's also a 12-inch x 12-inch x 5.5-inch flat rate box that ships for $12.95, or $12.50 online.

Incidentally, flat rate shipping is available for packages weighing up to 70 lbs.

Book Rate: In the past, I have taken some hits about not extolling the virtues of Special Standard Mail, neĆ© the Book Rate. If you sell books, films, printed music, sound recordings, scripts, printed materials or software, you may qualify to mail under this reduced rate. A 2 lb. package with insurance would be $4.63: $2.58 for postage and $2.05 for the $100 insurance—if you want a delivery confirmation, the charge is 75¢. (Delivery confirmation for Special Standard Mail and Parcel Post are charged at a higher rate than for Priority Mail).

Parcel Post: Speaking of Parcel Post, the rate for sending our 2 lb. package Parcel Post would be $6.67, not including insurance. You can see the benefit of using Special Standard Mail—but the downside of these services is that your package may take eight days or more to arrive.


United Parcel Service's UPS familiar brown trucks pick up on a regular basis and rarely lose packages en route

UPS is reliable, but unless you ship hundreds of pounds a day and get a price break—or ship to a commercial address—the company's shipping rates aren't very competitive. For a 2 lb. package to arrive within two days, you have to ship it via UPS Second Day Air. UPS charges $30.40 for this service. The carrier's Three Day Select service will get it there in—how did you guess?—3 days for $23.81. If you prefer to ship via UPS Ground, it's only $11.55, but it will take four working days for your package to be delivered, not including weekends. If you send the package to a commercial address, you can knock a couple of dollars off these prices.

In the plus column, if you open an account (which will cost you nothing), UPS will provide shipping supplies free of charge. UPS also provides tracking for all packages—another plus—and all packages are insured up to $100 without an extra charge.


FedEx now has a residential-only ground service designed to meet the needs of online sellers whose business is based mainly on home deliveries. The service, FedEx Home Delivery is backed by a money-back guarantee and offers online tracking. The company also insures each package up to a declared value of $100 with no additional charge. As with UPS, you need a FedEx account to get free shipping supplies.

The delivery time, like UPS Ground, is based on distance. A 2 lb. package from New York to L.A. will take four business days. The cost: $8.60—if you drop off the package at a self-service station. Take it to a FedEx-staffed location or an authorized drop-off site, and the price goes up to $10.14. It's not as cheap as Priority Mail or Parcel Post, but you have the FedEx guarantee. And if you use the ShipRush for eBay service to process shipments, you can save up to 20 percent on delivery fees.

If you live close to a FedEx pickup station or a FedExKinkos location, you might want to consider getting a FedEx account.

Priority Mail is still the most common form of shipping for person-to-person online auctions


Of the major parcel carriers, DHL is probably the most price-competitive with the U.S. Postal Service—if you can get DHL service in your area. But with DHL shipping counters now available at many OfficeMax and Walgreens stores, it's getting easier to ship through DHL.

To send that 2-lb. package using DHL Ground service will cost $4.27, but will take up to 6 days for delivery. Upgrade to 2nd Day service, and the cost goes up to $9.70.

If you're keeping score, there are no outright winners here, but no terribly clunky losers either. The best strategy is simply to plan in advance, and wherever possible, offer items that don't run up your shipping tab. When there are few options, get quotes from the various shippers, and let your customers know when they can expect delivery.

Wednesday, July 30

Bringing eBay to America

On July 24, I was lucky enough to do a television Satellite Media Tour from a New York studio - on my favorite subject: eBay. Considering the difficulties in the economy, my goal is to teach everyone how to make some extra cash on eBay - and, or course, read my book, eBay For Dummies. (Buying pre-owned merchandise at more than 50% off saves money too). I visited about twenty stations across the country in a matter of four hours (whew). Below is a clip from the station in Rochester, NY, click the arrow to play the clip.

(One of the best parts of the day was that David Duchovney was in the studio next door - doing a Satellite tour for his new movie, The X-Files: I Want to Believe).

Friday, June 20

eBay Live 2008 Chicago

This year's eBay Live event is wonderful. Here I am at the "For Dummies" booth in the exhibit area signing books with Jennifer Webb from Wiley Marketing. The amazing thing about eBay? There's always something new to
learn... always new challenges to work with. Still you can't beat it as a superior marketplace.

Thursday, June 19

Early Morning at CBS Chicago on eBay

Preparing for an interview at the CBS affiliate in Chicago. I think I'm getting my point across (OK. maybe not) before we go on the air with
Derek and Kristin (two very beautiful people). Seems that everyone wants to learn how to make some money on eBay!

Friday, June 13

Tim Russert and the eBay Dilemma

I always admired Tim Russert. He had an amazing passion for politics. An affable guy with a sharp wit, I'd look forward to his interviews. If it wasn't for him - the red and blue states wouldn't have their colors. Yep, the concept was his invention.

Who can forget the 2000 election made even more interesting by his ever present dry erase whiteboard? My admiration drove me to buy his book, Russ & Me, and had it signed by him. I was going to give it as a gift, but put it on the bookshelf unopened. I never have all the reading time I'd like.

Today we lost Tim Russert. The coming election will be far less amusing without Russert's intuitive remarks. But when I got the news of his death, I remembered the book.

I put the book up for auction on eBay and in ten minutes my opening bid was doubled. This is every eBay seller's dilemma. Should we sell our valued mementos to make a few bucks? A recent Nielsen study found that every home has over $3,000 worth of stuff they could sell; are mementos included? When Dale Earnhardt passed, I couldn't sell my autographed items, but that was a different time. I hope Tim would understand - the economy being the way it is.

Sunday, June 1

An Interesting Time at BEA

There are definitely some perks to being and author living in Los Angeles. You get go to interesting events. This past week I signed some of my For Dummies series books at the John Wiley booth at Book Expo America. BEA is the annual convention for the book publishing industry where authors rub shoulders with librarians and the ever present PR folks.
It was good to see Jackie Collins, who looks exactly as you'd expect someone who writes the sexy books she writes. Fellow For Dummies author of "Sex For Dummies", Dr. Ruth, was celebrating her 90th birthday. Also on the scene was George Hamilton who was there to sign copies of his new book, “Don’t Mind If I Do,” an intimate look at behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Yes, even pushing 70, the man is magnetic with his klieg light smile and bronzed complexion (not orange). He should have some amazing stories to tell in the book. After all he was present at the making of many a Hollywood legend: he was at the "Cleopatra" wrap party where Richard Burton declared his love for Elizabeth Taylor in front of Eddie Fisher (Yikes); he witnessed one of Judy Garland’s suicide attempts and rumor has it hat he skinny-dipped with JFK. Whew. busy, busy busy.

Thursday, May 22

Return from iCitizen

Below is a video from Mark Hillman of an apparent 'conference crasher' trying to take it all in at iCitizen. I think it's an excellent observation. We must always assume that not everyone in the world knows what we know.

iCitizen Video from Mark Hillman on Vimeo.

One of my favorite quotes came from Doc Searls (Harvard Fellow at the Berkman Center, Coauthor, The Cluetrain Manifesto). It is the condensation of what is problematic with many corporations and their relation to customers. He poked at them for saying they want to "own the customer. Another term for owning humans? Slavery?" Why does business we talk that way? Because they're too busy talking to themselves and not the customers.

Again, I was so lucky to attend and meet the amazing people there. Kelly Mooney, Nita Rollins, Phd., and "Kramer the Rockstar." I learned a lot and it stimulated me to grow. Isn't that what it's all about? I'll talk about it on my radio show this weekend. Thanks to everyone there, I only wish I could have spoken to more attendees.

Friday, May 16

I'm an iCitizen

Luck hits me over the head every once in a while. In the new book, The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World by Kelly Mooney, I was named an iCitizen. One of 17 named in the book. I'm not only flattered, I'm humbled. I never really considered my influence. Thinking about it, I am truly a citizen of the web. My work on eBay has been online since the late 90s. Now I host an internet radio show on Technology. Learning, growing, adapting makes me happy.

On that note, I've been invited to be a lunch speaker at iCitizen: The Open Imperative next week in Columbus. There will be some heady industry people there, I can't imagine what they'll learn from me - but I can't wait to hear what they have to say about the future of marketing and the web. Below are some details. How cool is this...?

Leading digital marketing agency Resource Interactive is hosting iCitizen: The OPEN Imperative, a two-day client symposium May 20-21, featuring several of the nation’s most recognized experts and innovators in social media, digital marketing, advertising and economics. The iCitizen Symposium is an intimate invitation-only event attended by Resource Interactive clients and partners gathered together for networking, beta 'first looks' and super-charged dialogue.

“For two days, we explore the far-reaching ramifications that the new media ecosystem has on our minds, our brands and our bottom lines,” said Kelly Mooney, Resource Interactive President and CXO. “The inaugural iCitizen Symposium was a roaring success, and our clients have been looking forward to the next event ever since.”

As the rules of engagement continue to change, iCitizen: The OPEN Imperative is the next step in that discussion and our next opportunity to gather together to discuss some of today’s most compelling topics:

The new consumer
How to join the online conversation
The far-reaching ramifications of the new media ecosystem
How (and why) some organizations realigned as a result

For more information, click here.

Friday, May 9

The 10 U.S. Markets Selling the Most on eBay

Son of a gun, who'd have thunk it. eBay let loose with a list of their top selling markets in the U.S. I've always believed that eBay is great for the economy because it gives sellers a platform for pursuing entrepreneurialism on a global scale. Let's face it, there are nearly 1.2 million individuals selling on eBay in the top 10 markets alone last year. Also, a recent eBay/Nielsen survey discovered that the average U.S. household has 52 unused items around the house originally worth $3,100, meaning almost everyone can find existing unused items they can sell to generate additional income. When the going gets tough, the tough sell on eBay!

Below is the official info:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is known for more than just its hot beaches: It’s also one of the hottest locations for Americans selling goods on eBay. The fun-in-the-sun vacation destination is a top-10 selling market for the online retailer, with residents there generating over $630 million in gross merchandise volume (GMV) or sales last year, according to a study of eBay marketplace activity across the United States.

Busy eBay sellers in Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Philadelphia; Dallas; Orange County, California; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Nassau–Suffolk, New York; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, helped their markets become the top-10 eBay selling markets in the country, with Los Angeles leading the charge. In total, sellers in these 10 markets generated over $7 billion in GMV in 2007, accounting for 55 percent of all sales by U.S.-based eBay sellers.

According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive® on behalf of eBay , Americans are cutting back on spending in general, most notably in these categories: apparel (52 percent); consumer electronics and appliances (46 percent); automobiles and automotive care (45 percent); and furniture and home decor (38 percent), all of which map back to the best-selling categories for entrepreneurs in eBay’s top-10 selling markets. These results speak to the profound impact eBay sellers can have on Americans’ wallets during these challenging economic times. In fact 42 percent of U.S. adults are currently turning to sites like eBay to save money on purchases.

“Our research has shown that the local business climate is one key factor in fostering entrepreneurs,” says Todd Stottlemyer, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s leading small-business association. “eBay clearly offers everyone additional opportunities to start, grow and maintain a business, whether they’re looking to market globally or simply to earn additional income in the current economic climate.”

Here is a snapshot of the top-10 eBay selling markets last year by rank:
1. Los Angeles–Long Beach, California – 196,089 Los Angeles residents sold 24,051,645 items for a total of $1,396,037,518. Best-selling categories for Los Angeles sellers were cell phones and their accessories as well as clothing and accessories. Los Angeles sellers were also the most charitable eBay sellers last year, donating the most of any city via eBay Giving Works, eBay's program that helps people buy and sell for a cause, turning e-commerce into a force for good.
2. New York – 158,859 New York City residents sold 12,621,651 items for a total of $1,045,503,913. Best-selling categories for New York sellers were jewelry, gems, watches and clothing and accessories.
3. Chicago – 172,972 Chicago residents sold 10,229,844 items for a total of $908,708,440. Best-selling categories for Chicago sellers included toys and sports memorabilia.
4. Philadelphia – 120,900 Philadelphia residents sold 7,069,212 items for a total of $584,383,915. Best-selling categories for Philadelphia sellers included collectibles and toys.
5. Dallas – 85,484 Dallas residents sold 5,003,292 items for a total of $754,493,210. Best-selling categories for Dallas sellers included jewelry, gems and watches, and clothing and accessories. Dallas sellers also made more money on sales of cars and trucks than did sellers in any other top-10 U.S. seller market.
6. Orange County, California – 75,486 Orange County residents sold 6,945,490 items for a total of $636,654,084. Best-selling categories for Orange County sellers were auto parts and cell phones and accessories.
7. Washington, D.C. – 112,462 D.C. residents sold 5,024,888 items for a total of $393,720,726. Best-selling categories for D.C. sellers included books and toys.
8. Houston – 76,450 Houston residents sold 4,297,389 items for a total of $528,872,858. Best-selling categories for Houston sellers included health and beauty and collectibles.
9. Nassau–Suffolk, New York – 70,714 Nassau–Suffolk residents sold 5,396,880 for a total of $400,253,200. Sports memorabilia and health and beauty were best-selling categories here.
10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida – 39,623 Fort Lauderdale residents sold 2,838,954 items for a total of $631,845,063. Best-selling categories for Fort Lauderdale sellers included home furnishings and auto parts.

The eBay survey by Harris Interactive also found that one in 10 U.S. adults (11 percent) is currently selling personal or household items to generate extra cash, with the majority (59 percent) doing so via online sales or auction sites like eBay. Additionally, 30 percent of all adults say they are likely to sell their personal or household items over the next three months to earn extra cash.

Wednesday, April 30

New Book! eBay PowerSeller Business Practices For Dummies

I finally did it, I've written a book to help eBay PowerSellers get to the next level. This book is full of facts you'll need to succeed as a PowerSeller on eBay. The book comes with a CD of useful eBay tools, photo editing software, mailing software and a free copy of QuickBook's Simple Start!

My publisher's notes on the book:
PowerSellers are eBay's most successful and trusted sellers. Whether you're trying to reach that level or you're already there and looking for ways to grow your business, this book will help. Packed with short, to-the-point, and proven strategies, this guide shares the secrets of eBay's top sellers.

Discover how to:

  • Take your business to the next level
  • Customize your business for your needs
  • Create listings that brand your business
  • Create a merchandising plan
  • Use best practices to achieve high DSRs
This book is broken into four main parts --
Overview: Covers the basics including understanding eBay and PayPal rules, getting info with reporting tools, and setting up the framework of a well-oiled operation.
Legal: Includes what you need to know about protecting your business and your buyer, researching and respecting copyrights, registering a business, and making adjustments to stay legal in your community.
Taxes: Focuses on the types of taxes an eBay seller needs to pay and shows how to use software and online resources to take care of paying them.
Accounting: Using QuickBooks and QuickBooks SimpleStart as a tool, demonstrates how to properly account for eBay income and debts and how to apply those numbers to tax and legal issues.

Click to find it on Amazon at discount prices, eBay®PowerSeller Business Practices For Dummies® (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance))

Thursday, February 14

Computer & Technology Radio Show

I will be starting a new Computer & Technology Internet radio show this Sunday, February 17 at 5 pm, (Pacific time) streaming at online with co-host Marc Cohen (former host of the KABC Computer Show). After 2 weeks in this time slot, We will be moving the show to our regular time Saturday mornings at 9 am PST. If you have any tech questions - please call in toll free at 877-474-3302.

You've known me as the eBay guru, now you'll get to know my other, "techie" side. If you find yourself frustrated and occasionally confused when dealing with your computer, tune in to the webcast with Marc and Marsha. We'll answer your computer questions and explain the latest tech gizmos and gadgets. We'll also feature weekly DVD movie releases and up-and-coming consumer websites.

If you're already computer-savvy, we'll give you the low-down on all types of software; office, educational, anti-virus software, even fun stuff like games. (Even help with selling on eBay). We will recommend techniques to make your PC, Mac, laptop, digital cameras, and smart phone run smoother.

Every week we'll feature an electronic or computer buy of the week, tips to help understand the mechanics of operating computer-related equipment.

Unlike the handbooks and directions that come with computers and hardware, we speak "human" language to their listeners and prevent them from getting their "wires crossed"

Here's a little about my friend, Marc. Marc Cohen hosted the KABC Computer & Technology show for over 10 years. It was the longest-running radio technology show on a single station in Los Angeles,

Please tune in. If you can't listen to the show at broadcast time, it will be on the site - and iTunes, for time shifters!

Wednesday, February 6

March 8 - New Flat Rate Priority Mail LARGE box

There will be a new Priority Mail Large Flat-Rate Box in addition to the two that are currently in use. It measures (12" x 12" x 5½") and holds 50 percent more than the current box. The new box can be used for both domestic and international shipments, and online mailers can take advantage of the 5 percent discount for international shipments when postage is purchased online.

A special version of the box for the military will also be supplied, and a $2 discount, for shipments to an Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office (APO/FPO) address. The military box features the logo of "America Supports You," a Department of Defense-sponsored organization of nearly 300 home front groups that send packages to troops overseas.

Priority Mail Large Flat-Rate Box Prices

Domestic Shipping


APO/FPO Addresses


Canada and Mexico


Other Countries


Thursday, January 31

New eBay Seller Standards

In addition to pricing changes, eBay's making the minimum standards for selling on eBay more stringent, primarily to discourage bad seller behavior on the site. This will be accomplished in two ways: through decreased listings exposure in search and safe payment requirements.

Starting in February, they will decrease listings exposure in search for the sellers who have a high buyer dissatisfaction rate and low DSRs over the last 30 days, especially for charging excessive shipping and handling. Second, they will be requiring sellers with high buyer dissatisfaction rates to offer a safe payment option.

Seller Standards – For PowerSellers
They're also going to raise the bar on what it means to be a PowerSeller. Given that this program has historically only required a certain level of sales and a 98 percent positive feedback rating, a number of buyers have complained that there's not a consistently great experience when they're buying from PowerSellers.

PowerSeller status will become a competitive advantage by setting a higher bar for sellers using their DSRs. Starting in July, you will need to have a minimum 4.5 score in all four DSR criteria over a 12-month period to be designated as a PowerSeller (or remain in the program).

Discounts for PowerSellers
Better payment protection for PowerSellers, and for all qualified sellers, greater exposure for listings in search

Great sellers who provide buyers with an experience that consistently means:
  • Describing items well
  • Communicating with buyers effectively
  • Shipping items quickly
  • Charging fair and accurate shipping costs.
These criteria, are the ones used in Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs). Great sellers will receive new rewards and economic incentives in the form of increased exposure in Best Match search, plus discounted pricing and other benefits for PowerSellers who qualify.

While the vast majority of eBay sellers do the right thing, a relatively few sellers create a high percentage of dissatisfied customers. At eBay, they will consider a buyer dissatisfied if:
  • The buyer leaves a 1 or 2 DSR rating on any of the attributes
  • A seller get complaints from buyers about items being "significantly not as described" or "item not received"
  • A seller receives negative or neutral feedback from the buyer.
  • If a seller has any of these activities in the last 30 days, these will cumulatively count as dissatisfied customers for that seller. We then calculate what percentage dissatisfied customers represent of a seller's total customers.
Sellers with a high percentage of buyer dissatisfaction will receive reduced visibility in Best Match search. Also, because excessive shipping and handling continues to be one of the biggest pain points for buyers, sellers with the worst DSRs for shipping and handling charges will see a decrease in their listings exposure, as well.

For more details, please read the Seller Standards information page and FAQ.