Category Archives: Buying Guides

Diversifying from Online Marketplaces with Online Stores and Social Media

Marketplaces are hyper-competitive and ultra-demanding. Is it time to protect your business by building your own independent brand?

There’s no question that marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are powerful sales machines. Offer the right products at the right price, while keeping your service levels high, and the orders will roll in.

But competition is always fierce. Buyers don’t know who you are, so they will trust the marketplace to guide them to the best seller each time they make a purchase. That usually means whoever happens to be the cheapest. The marketplaces don’t play favorites.

Nor do they look after you. If you falter and stumble, they don’t pick you up and dust you down – they kick you out. It doesn’t take many complaints from their customers – the buyers – for you to become persona non grata.

What’s an online seller to do? How can you rise above the endless mass of competing sellers, all fighting to reach the top? The only way is to strike out on your own. Build a real, recognizable brand. Sell through your own online store. Build your own social media following. Unlike your marketplace selling accounts, those things really belong to you. They can’t be taken away easily, and they are a powerful asset to build your business on.

In this post I’ll walk you through the Online Stores & Social Media category of the Web Retailer directory. It covers store platforms, tools for creating Facebook stores, tools for feeding existing listings through to social networks, and connector apps between marketplaces and store platforms.

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Order Management, Shipping and Fulfillment Tools: the Essential Guide

Software and services for efficient order processing, economical shipping, warehouse management, and third-party logistics

A successful ecommerce business has a lot to do: research the market, source products, list onto marketplaces and so on – all before getting a single customer order.

When the orders do start coming in, you get the satisfying buzz of making a sale and all that effort finally seems worthwhile. You just have to send the orders out the door. Should be simple, right? Print off the details, pick the items, pack the boxes, add packing slips, stick on shipping labels, arrange for a pick-up (or drop them off)… and now it doesn’t seem so simple after all.

Many sellers quickly go from waiting for their next sale with a feeling of excitement, to waiting with a feeling of fear. Will they have enough stock? Will they apply the right labels to the right boxes? Will they even be able to ship on time?

So that’s the bad news: shipping is a messy, complex, demanding process. It can be a huge challenge, and has been the downfall of many sellers. The good news? It’s a challenge that businesses have faced before, and there are plenty of solutions out there for making it easier, faster, cheaper and more accurate.

In this post I’ll walk you through the Shipping & Fulfillment category of the Web Retailer directory. It covers order management, shipping automation, fulfillment outsourcing (third-party logistics), shipping consolidators, dropship automation and warehouse management.

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Product Sourcing Tools: the Essential Guide for Online Sellers

Software and services for Amazon/eBay market research, importing, private labeling, arbitrage, wholesale, liquidation and dropshipping

Good sources of inventory aren’t just lying out in the open for everyone to see, you have to go looking for them. But the quest to find profitable products is not easy – it’s almost like searching for buried treasure.

First, you’ll need some sort of map to guide you, rather than just wandering around at random. But don’t expect to have an X marking the perfect spot.

You’ll also need “pieces of eight” to invest. The more gold doubloons you have at your disposal, the more options and leverage you will have with suppliers.

Then you’ll need the right tools for the job. A compass and telescope won’t get you far, but there are software and services available that can help a great deal.

In this post I’ll walk you through the Product Sourcing category of the Web Retailer directory. It covers market research, product evaluation, importing and private label, online arbitrage, wholesale, liquidation and dropshipping.

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Selling Internationally: A Guide to Tools & Services for Cross-Border Trade

Selling internationally

Cross-border selling through Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces has a lot going for it. Just flip a switch and your inventory becomes available to hundreds of millions of international customers, almost instantly. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

In practice, it doesn’t tend to be that simple. Yes, you are selling the same inventory so there’s no additional effort for sourcing and managing stock (other than needing to do it on a larger scale). But just about everything else has an additional layer of complexity when you are selling internationally.

Fortunately, cross-border trade is booming, and many new international ecommerce services and suppliers have emerged, all geared up to help sellers trade successfully across borders. In this post I’ll explain who those suppliers are, what they do, and how to choose the right one for you.

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Multichannel Management Tools: the Essential Guide for Online Sellers

Multichannel management

The most popular software category in the Web Retailer directory is also the most complex: Multichannel Management.

That’s no coincidence. Selling on one marketplace (Amazon or eBay for example) is hard enough. Throw multiple marketplaces into the mix, and maybe your own webstore too, and you have a recipe for disaster – if you try to do it without the right system in place.

So this post is all about multichannel management software: what it is, what it does, key features, how to choose a supplier and more.

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