Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Online Sellers Need to Step it Up!

Gone are the good old days, when you just had to take a snapshot of your product and list it on eBay to make a sale. It was easy back in the day but those days are gone forever ... now a seller needs to have a UPI (Unique product identifier) just to get listed on Google Product Search, let alone on a marketplace. Content standards in all of the available selling channels have been raised. At this point in the game, every seller needs to develop their own content strategy in addition to the other facets of their business. Sellers need to take professional quality images, write beautiful unique descriptions, add professional video, reviews, social bookmarks, etc. just to have a chance at a sale.

Back in the day, you just had to source product at the right price and you could make a great living on your own terms. We had a saying "you don't make money on the sale, you make money on the buy" basically if you bought right you would always make a tidy profit. Today it is much more complicated.

Increased competition for product, higher seller performance standards, increased content requirements, multiple-channel selling makes it very difficult to do business online. So what do you do?

You have to make a decision, are you going to keep complaining that everything is so difficult now? Or are you going to "Step Up" your game? This goes for small sellers as well as the "Big" guys. The sellers who will thrive are those that "Step Up" their game.

For small sellers, that task often falls on the owner because even if you do have staff they are typically doing customer service or fulfillment (pick, pack and ship) If you do not have the time or technical ability then find someone who does because it is a matter of survival. Take Google Product Search as an example. There is no cost to list your items with them and no rev share if it sells, so why would you complain about the increased requirements instead of making the adjustments necessary.

If you have a website and are not submitting your items to Google Product Search you are missing the boat and honestly should re-think your whole business. Google has raised their content requirements regularly over the years and each time they do, it is a hassle to make the changes in your system, but many businesses generate upwards of 25% of their sales through Google. It just takes a little effort to understand what they are looking for and they provide all of the info in their help pages. If your items do not have a UPC, ISBN, JAP, or EAN than you can provide the MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) as well as the Brand Name. For antiques, collectibles, apparel, custom made product you can have an exception.

It always amazes me when people complain about the effort it is going to take to maximize a free service like Google Product Search. Don't complain, adjust! Step-up your game in every area of your business and leave your competition behind.

Just my 15%

12 comments:

greenspot said...

thanks... quite true.

I note
"For antiques, collectibles, apparel, custom made product you can have an exception."

I sell antiques. regardless of the exeption, and I emailed and asked for one... I continue to see my google products indicate missing UPC info... most disconcerting.
Not sure if it affects my visibility... but I have noted a 50% drop in google "clicks" on my items.

Wish they would at least get their policies and practices aligned a little better.

No, not complaining, just griping :-)

Tula said...

Hey Randy,
Good to hear from you. I completely agree with you. Ecommerce has changed drastically from the early days. So many online sellers seem to prefer whining and complaining about how things were better in the "old days" instead of adapting to the new marketplace demands.

You just can't be complacent any more. It's true that it was almost too easy to make money back in the early days of eBay and the like. It was "if you list it, they will buy." Now, though, that's no longer the case and sellers who've gotten used to sitting on their... laurels... have fallen behind.

Yes, it's hard work to keep up with all of this, but it's probably a good thing. The sellers who can adapt will have the best chance of success and will leave their less-agile competitors behind.

Randy Smythe said...

Greenspot,

Thanks for the comment. I'm hoping they will correct this for you. Certain categories should have exemptions built in (like antiques) so hopefully Google will make the needed changes.

Randy Smythe said...

Hi Tula,

You are 100% correct, the sellers who adapt will leave the others behind. That is true as much for small sellers as it is for big sellers.

If selling online is how you make your living you need to be very flexible and on top of trends.

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