- Take these first few days of the new year to reflect on what you want out of your online business. There are many reasons for starting an online business; is the reason you started still a reality? Did you just want extra cash? Did you get laid-off and need the additional income? Did you want to expand your Brick and Mortar business? Did you want to grow your business into a huge online operation? Look at what motivated you to start and see how well you did so far. Take stock of where you are currently and be honest about it.
- Take these first few days of 2010 to assess your business and the ecommerce climate. If you are a marketplace seller, take stock of what worked and what didn't for each marketplace. Stop looking at each sales channel from the same perspective. If you only sell on your website, then consider growing incremental sales on one or more of the viable marketplaces on the web.
- If you are a small seller, part-time seller, lifestyle seller, hobbiest, eBay seller (eBay is your sole marketing vehicle) please understand that ecommerce today is nothing like when you started. There are many more marketing options available now, your competition has increased and the online consumer is much more demanding. The idealism that carried you through the early days of your business needs to be replaced by the cold, hard reality of doing business on the web today. Take this time to assess, how you can achieve your goals in light of the current environment.
- If you are a large seller looking to grow your business even more in 2010, take stock of all of the marketing channels available and start using the ones that make the most sense. I would recommend a site called Quantcast.com to give you a feel for what the demographic is for each marketplace. What sells well at eBay may not at Amazon or Buy.com.
- Do not "live" on any one marketplace. This applies mostly to small sellers who don't have the resources, nor desire to sell on multiple channels. Take it from me, I lived solely on eBay and waited too long to launch my website, when my business model on eBay no longer worked, I didn't have enough website business to keep me afloat. At the very least launch a website and grow it while selling on a marketplace. If you decide to "live" on a marketplace, please make sure your livelihood doesn't depend on it.
- Many online sellers are fantastic at sourcing product, but not so good at the other aspects of the business (customer service, shipment, etc.) If you plan on selling on a marketplace, remember that each channel will become more restrictive, rather than less. Performance will be key to your success on each sales channel.
Ship your orders sooner rather than later. At Buy.com we require that sellers ship their items within 2 business days. We have some exceptions depending on category. Amazon is heading that direction. They currently do not require it but my guess is they will soon. WalMart does require that sellers ship with 2 business days.
In a recent Business Week article "eBay's Last-minute Delivery Push" "Vice-President for Buyer & Seller Experience Dinesh Lathi says its sellers take an average of four days to ship items, and 85% of orders ship within three days. That's an improvement over a year ago, though Lathi won't say by how much. "We are working with sellers to make sure they are better-positioned to meet buyers' expectations," Lathi says."
In the good old days, that kind of performance worked on eBay, because eBay was the only place to get the product, but there are way too many viable options to eBay these days, so shipping in 4-days does not measure-up. If you want to be successful on other marketplaces you will need to improve your performance.
- Stop looking at Marketplaces as customer acquisition tools, even eBay: First each marketplace will have rules that restrict you from marketing to their customers and you may put your selling account in jeopardy and secondly because it really doesn't work.
Consumers shop on these sites for a reason, because they like the broad selection, the way the site works and they know the site will stand behind the purchase. Buy.com customers regularly turn in sellers who market directly to them. Even eBay shoppers are extremely difficult to acquire. I had 400,000 customers at Glacier Bay and only 40,000 of them were regular customers. I could only get maybe 10% of those regular customers to shop from my website.
Customer acquisition should come through comparison shopping, paid search, SEO and other marketing efforts. Marketplaces should be considered incremental sales channels based on revenue sharing. If the share of revenue that a marketplace gets works within your financial model, then make that marketplace part of your business.
- Understand what your business model is: If you are a high value, low volume seller than the marketplace may not be for you. Marketplaces are competitive and usually the lowest price gets the sale. Marketplace managers are looking for sellers with great selection, low prices and great performance, so before you sign-up take this into consideration.
Many successful online businesses thrive with the high value, low volume approach on their websites and use marketplaces for liquidation and cost recovery. Find the model that works for your business.
- Are you enjoying your business, or is it sucking the life out of you? Take these first weeks to assess what you are doing and either re-commit yourself to your business plan, revamp your business plan or find an exit.
- This is specifically directed at eBay sellers. The eBay of today will never again be like it was and you need to finally come to grips with that. Either make eBay work for you or find another option.
Friday, January 01, 2010
eCommerce Resolutions for the New Year!
I love when the calendar changes to a new year, because it once again gives me hope that this new year will be so much better than the last. Moving into 2010 from the recession plagued 2009, gives me added hope; it couldn't get worse could it?
As you are looking to 2010 for improvements in your online business? Consider one or more of my top 10 resolutions/suggestions for 2010. Hopefully they will help you with your business in the new year. Theses are not ranked in order of importance just by when they came into my head :) First, the best way to plan for the future is to assess the past, so here are a few suggestions.
Just my 15%
Happy New Year to all of you and I would love to hear your comments or additional suggestions.