Category Archives: sales

eBay’s new feedback policy angers sellers but there is no real alternative

Heavy sellers are upset about eBay’s recent changes to the feedback policy. And they should be: it’s hard to carry on a conversation when only one party gets to do any real talking.

However, there is no real alternative, at least the way I see it. Part of my web development company‘s clientèle wants e-commerce web sites – natural web stores to sell their stuff. Some of them are heavy eBay sellers. They always were more focused on selling on eBay then selling through their web site, since eBay has more natural ways of reaching buyers.

So now that I think of alternatives to eBay, since some of the members suggest to “take business elsewhere” – what “elsewhere” are they talking about? Professionally designed web store that is able to accommodate large volume of buyers isn’t exactly cheap, so what alternative do you REALLY have?

UPD: My discussion on eBay forums.

Small business survival – 5 DON’Ts

During the course of creating e-Commerce web sites we get a lot of similar questions. This post contains five major DON’Ts for starting E-commerce entrepreneur. This is not, by any means, a concise guide, just answers to most commonly asked questions.

Don’t be afraid of Google, Yahoo and anyone else. It has been said numerous times – don’t think about search engines, think of your target audience. If you are in the business of selling widgets – write couple of good reviews on latest widgets, provide decent photos, build a reputation of a vendor who knows its widgets and not just sells stuff. Google likes good content as do your customers. One reason why I prefer to shop at Amazon and NewEgg – is because I can read reviews (including those of customers) and see lots of pictures.

Don’t be afraid of competition. Whatever you do (or decide to do) – there always will be a competition. Think of the ways you can do better then competition. Target niches, provide more information, stand out. If you sell what everyone else sells (like knock-offs, replicas and such) – be one step ahead, write a review, describe why people buy knock-offs, why yours are better then a shop next door.

Don’t forget to follow-up. This way your customer will know that you are serious seller, even if you sell one dollar widgets. Sending e-mail is as inexpensive as it could be. Even follow-up e-mails can be automated (schedule sending of an e-mail in your e-commerce system to your customers, 7 days upon successful finalizing of the order).

Don’t force your customer to register in order to check-out. Always offer a no-registration check-out option. You still be able to collect all the information about a customer you need, but you will save them a minute or two during checkout process and (this is more important) save them a hassle of remembering their password next time they are at your virtual door. They will register once they realize they return often enough.

Don’t overwhelm  your customers with all the current promotions and e-mails. Maintain a database of how many times you have e-mailed each customer. Try this trick: if you have sent out around seven promotions and a certain customer never visited any links from those e-mails – generate another e-mail that will ask the customer if he/she wants to unsubscribe from future e-mails. Unsubscribe automatically if no responce is given. Chances are hight that all your promotional correspondence ends up in Spam bin, so there is no reason to overload your servers or pay for e-mail delivery for this customer. On the other hand – it may alert customer and enact him/her to actually confirm subscription and look closer to your deals.

Yahoo holds its ground

Last week I subscribed to Yahoo music. Yeah, I know. But I was going to give it a try anyway.

Surely, the service sucked from the very beginning – you have to download a special player (called Yahoo Jukebox), that downloads tons of crap while playing my purchased music. This itself is a very fishy concept – why would company force me to view ads while I enjoy a content I paid for. If the music was free – I would have understood the ads. But I already paid for this – why do you have to feed me all those stupid ads full-screen at 1600×1200 pixels resolution, if I only want to hear music – is totally beyond me. Of course, finding something useful (unless it’s a today’s MTV hit) is next to impossible.

But the real excitement begins when you are trying to cancel the account. Do you think you can cancel from JukeBox? Wrong, you can only upgrade. Do you think you can cancel from Yahoo Music Home page? Wrong again. In fact, the only way you can cancel the service is to go to My Account page, select Manage Premium Services, then Manage Service link next to Yahoo! Music Subscription, then Cancel Service. But you didn’t think it would be THAT easy, didn’t you? While following this narrow path to freedom you are asked for your password twice. Upon the clicking on Cancel Service link another screen appears that (legitimately) asks you for the reason of your cancellation – I selected “The service was difficult to use”. Then another screen apologetically offers to get online help or contact support. However, if you insist on cancelling – hey, we warned ya! – you need to enter your Yahoo password again (third time). Guess what happen then? Wrong, you need to enter your password again. And again. And again. And – it’s the infinite loop. You also cannot change the payment method, should this idea cross your mind.

I do realize that this might be some sort of glitch in software. I do realize Yahoo doesn’t really benefit from my 70 bucks that it is trying not to give me back so hard. But I do realize one important thing – if I trap the customer in a loop like that, I’ll probably loose more then just one customer. Guess what just happened to Yahoo?