Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Take a Walk With Me Along the River Amazon

For years I thought that Amazon sold books, music and movies. I thought these items were sold directly by Amazon and their distributors. Little did I know that still waters run deep.

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a good deal on a Barbie doll, which was dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. While I knew nothing of Barbie except that I and my daughters had played with them as young girls, I did know that Wizard of Oz related items were popular with collectors.

After purchasing the doll, I went on-line to do some research as to the price range at which I should try to sell it. Much to my surprise, listings on Amazon were returned by the search engine. I was intrigued. I clicked on the listing to investigate further and discovered there was an entire category on Amazon dedicated to toys and games. Ok, so Amazon must have a deal with toy distributors, right? WRONG! Well, maybe not entirely wrong, but Amazon wasn’t the only one marketing toys and games. There were every day ordinary people like me who had their items listed for sale on Amazon. I didn’t get a memo on this, did you?

Now I was defiantly interested in finding out more. I went to Amazon’s extensive help section and start reading about how I too can get in on the action. Amazon actually offers a few options for sellers like me, who have inventory to sell, but not warehouses full of it. There are two that are most widely used by smaller volume sellers – Basic Seller’s Account and Pro Merchant.
Let’s talk about the Basic Seller’s Account first. This is the type of account I have. Like anything, there are pros and cons, so let’s break it down by my definitions of each.
• No listing fees
• No monthly fees
• Ability to use stock photos and descriptions
• Monies can be transferred directly to checking account upon availability
• Easy to list items by UPC, IBSN, Title and more
• No volume discounts
• Can only list items that exist in Amazon’s database
• Less exposure than Pro Merchant Account

Ok, so what does all that mean? It means that I started to look for items, other than books that I could list on Amazon. I knew that Barbies were collectible, even if they weren’t Wizard of Oz related. I also knew that Barbie, despite turning 50 this year, had not lost her play appeal for young girls. So with that, I decided that I would become a Barbie Girl – lol!

My lack of knowledge concerning vintage Barbies was what made me decide that I would only sell Barbie dolls that were in their original boxes. This made for easy listing on Amazon. I simply had to type in the UPC and presto! – a stock photo and description would appear. Also shown was the lowest price point for that item currently listed for sale. In less than two minutes I had another item added to my inventory listed for sale.

Although approximately 98% of the Barbies I have purchased to resell had a UPC, a few of the older ones didn’t. Even some of the Barbies that did have a UPC were not in Amazon’s database and that’s where I run into a problem. As a Basic Seller, I can only listed items that are currently in Amazon’s database. I am not able to create my own listings. Although I don’t have the problem very often, it is a bit frustrating for me not to be able to list the item. When it does happen, my only choice is to list the doll on another venue.
Ok, why aren’t I a Pro Merchant? If I was, I could create my own pages for those dolls or any other item I wanted to sell that wasn’t in Amazon’s database. The main reason - $39.99 a month! In order for it to be cost effective, you really need to sell 40 or more items of month. That amount of sales provides enough of a volume discount in Amazon’s fees to offset the monthly fee. Unfortunately, my sales haven’t hit that magic number. When they do, I will investigate this option further.

Ok, so now that you know a little more about Amazon, I advise you to investigate a little bit. Is what you sell in their database? If not, is it worth the $39.99 a month to see what volume your sales would bring? Only you can answer these questions.

Would you like to see what I sell on Amazon?

Colleen's Amazon Items

Thanks for joining me on my walk along the river Amazon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Where on the Worl Wide Web Am I?

Amazon and eBay and Etsy - Oh My!

Where on the World Wide Web Am I?

Today’s economy can be a challenge for those of us who sell on-line. In an effort to maximize traffic, I have diversified by listing my products for sale on various web sites.

Everything had a rhyme and reason and I’d like to invite you to read all about where and why I do what I do.

Let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I have been actively selling on the Internet since 1998. I started on eBay when it was still in its infancy. It was back in the days of bidding wars, high volume of sales for even part-time sellers and far less rules, regulations and fees than there are now.

As eBay grew, so did my business. I started as a casual seller, listings odds and ends from around the house. I then created miniature rugs for dollhouses and began selling them. This was a new and unique product and it created my first niche market. Sales were brisk and prices were phenomenal. Then someone else started producing a similar product. The rules of supply and demand changed, sales leveled off and the prices dropped.

Far from being discouraged, I looked for new opportunities. I turned my interest to another love of mine – antiques. There was no way that I was going to start crating and shipping antique furniture from coast to coast, so I look for something more manageable – antique and vintage glassware and china. I knew almost nothing about it, but that didn’t stop me. I started with buying pieces that I liked and thought were old. I bought books; I sought out the help of experts in the subject and gradually learned to recognize pieces that had potential.

EBay was still a growing business and so was mine. I rose to the ranks of Power Seller. I attended eBay Live to learn more, to network, and basically get a better handle as to where this relatively new selling venue was going. I was able to quit my “real” job and became a full-time seller.

And then things changed… eBay began suffering from growing pains. Changes in their business model, their management and their vision all meant changes for their sellers. There were also other auction sites in the picture as well. More places luring potential buyers away from the giant that eBay had become. It was time for me to rethink how I did business as well.

So that brings you to where I am today – here, there and everywhere! Although I still sell on eBay, it is no longer my solitary venue. It isn’t even my primary venue. I would like to help you navigate the sea of potential out there by exploring some of the places that I sell and why I chose that venue for a particular product. You may sell different items than I do, but I am sure that by looking at where I am, you can find a few places that are just right for you.

So I invite you to make yourself at home here at Colleen’s Cottage. Come back and a sit by the fire and listen to the stories of “Where on the World Wide Web Am I?” Feel free to ask questions, post comments or suggest places you’d like to hear about.

Colleen- The Celtic Rose