Jun 30, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 17 Comments

The ULTIMATE Fulfilment House BATTLE!

fulfilment-house-reviewsAnyone who has been reading my blog for more than a few months will know how important I consider outsourcing. I always say that you should outsource as many of the processes in your business as soon as you can, so that you have more time to spend on important tasks that will actually grow your business!

And that’s what today’s post is all about – outsourcing, and specifically – outsourcing your order fulfilment.

Picking, packing and posting orders is one of the most time consuming aspects of any online business, and while you might be able to handle this yourself when just starting out, as your business grows and your sales volume increases, you’ll be left with only two options – you either need to set up a warehouse and hire people to process orders OR you can outsource this completely to a fulfilment company.

Now I have actually written a few articles about fulfilment companies in the past, so if you’re not entirely sure what they are, please take a look at these posts where I explain everything:

Now you may be wondering – if I’ve already covered this all, then what exactly is today’s post all about?

Well, today I want to really explore just how viable fulfilment companies are!

After all, there’s no point in talking about how great they are, how much time they’ll save you etc. if their charges destroy any decent margins…

And that’s why I’ve set up a little experiment/showdown!

I’ve contacted some UK based fulfilment companies and requested quotes for two eBay businesses, so that we can compare the costs and see just who comes out on top!

In my previous articles on fulfilment companies, where I mainly concentrated on the big two – Amazon and Shipwire – I had a few comments from smaller companies, who were offering more of a custom and personal solution, and that’s why I also decided to include some of them in this “competition”. That way we get more varied options, and it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against Amazon and Shipwire in terms of pricing. (more…)

Mar 18, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 6 Comments

BEST UK Based Trade Shows in 2015!

trade-shows-2015I have actually written about trade shows before and I want to bring up the topic again today, because I think it’s such a valuable product sourcing concept, but one that is completely overlooked due to the emphasis of doing everything online.

And of course, that’s understandable really; with forums, blogs, sites like Alibaba, and all the other resources available to us, it’s easy to neglect the importance of offline interaction and the opportunities it presents.

So today I want to go over and introduce you to some of the biggest trade shows in different industries that you can attend.

But let me first point out that I’m going to be concentrating on trade shows held within the UK, as this guide is mainly intended for people in the early stages of creating their business, so a trip to China and its famous Canton Fair might not the best idea if it eats into your budget for stock.

Alright, let’s get to it!

Spring Fair, 1-5 February, NEC Birmingham

Unfortunately the Spring Fair has already taken place this year, but as Europe’s largest home and gift items trade show, it’s definitely something you should add to your calendar and think about attending next year.

I get asked a lot about branded products from big companies and where to find suppliers and here is your answer! Many of the exhibitors (here is a full list) supply products sold by the big high street stores, so if that’s something that interests you, be sure to check it out.

As I said, 2015’s fair has already taken place but if you want some more info (and to plan for next year) here is their site:

http://www.springfair.com/

Autumn Fair, 6-9 September, NEC Birmingham

That brings us onto the next trade show in our list, the Autumn Fair.

Similar to the Spring Fair, expect this one is geared towards festive, “on trend” items that are in high demand at the most important time of the year for sellers, September – December.

There isn’t that much information available about this year’s event, as it’s still a number of months away, but you can head over to their site to get some general info and some facts and figures about previous year’s trade shows:

http://www.autumnfair.com/ (more…)

Mar 4, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Start Up Funding for New eBay Businesses!

ebay-loansThis is a topic that I’ve shied away from writing about a little bit, mainly because I don’t want to give general financial advice to people without fully knowing their circumstances, finances and plans.

However, I think this is a very important topic and something I need to cover as it really pains me to get emails from people struggling and in debt, all because they financed their online business dream in the wrong way!

So today, I’m going to be going over some of the options for financing a new online business. Let’s get to it!

Firstly, I want to clarify a common misconception about starting an online business which I hear all the time and just don’t agree with and that is “that you don’t really need a start up budget and can create a successful business with practically nothing”.

Unfortunately this is just false!

Of course there are some strategies and business models you can use to get started with a very limited budget BUT these aren’t ideal and you’re very limited in what you can do.

In fact, the main purpose of these low-budget strategies is to build up a proper bank so that you can really launch your business.

So many people think that though you need tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds to start an offline business, you can start an online business on a shoestring budget.

And while of course online businesses are much cheaper to launch than an offline one (that’s one of the great things about the internet – it opens up a lot of opportunities for people) that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still costs involved when you launch a proper online business. Things like:

  • Website Design
  • eBay Store and Template Design
  • Stationery Design
  • Samples
  • First Orders
  • Import Tax & VAT
  • Initial Supplies and Equipment

It all adds up!

Please don’t take this the wrong way and think that I’m saying it’s impossible to start an online business unless you have a big starting budget as that’s obviously not the case. There are many viable methods for starting out without much money (a few of which I’ve covered on this very blog that have been incredibly popular, links at the end of the article if you’d like to check those out) but just understand that these are limited and will mean more time and work from you before you can build them up into a big business. (more…)

Feb 2, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

To Niche or Not to Niche?

niche-or-no-niche“You need to find a niche.”

You have probably heard this phrase from me many, many times. And you’re sick of hearing it, because finding a profitable niche becomes more and more difficult and problematic as there are probably ten times more online businesses nowadays compared to say 10 years ago.

From the emails I receive from my blog readers I know that finding that perfect niche is one of the most difficult tasks for people who are just starting online. In many cases it’s because people simply struggle to think out of the box and can’t see anything beyond the usual phone accessories, designer clothing and video games.

But do you REALLY need to find a niche to make money on eBay?

That’s what I’m going to try and answer in today’s blog post.

What is a Niche?

For those of you who are new to the whole “selling online” game, let me explain how we use the term “niche”. You can probably find dozens of various definitions online but to put it simply:

“A niche based business is a business selling a specific product or group of products, targeting a specific customer profile”.

It simply means that you don’t sell EVERYTHING (like Amazon) but concentrate on specific product categories (possibly even single products) or customer profiles.

Just to give you some examples of typical niche businesses:

These are all classic examples of niche businesses. These companies sell a specific range of products targeting a specific customer profile. You won’t find video games on Big Dug’s website or designer clothing on CamLab.co.uk (more…)

Sep 25, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 6 Comments

Droptec – The UK’s #1 Solution for Dropshipping?

droptec-reviewThose of you who have been reading my blog for a while will already know that I am not a huge fan of the whole dropshipping business model (you can read my thoughts on it here if you haven’t already – Dropshipping – The Ideal Business Model?).

But despite its drawbacks, I still get COUNTLESS messages every week about dropshipping, mainly from people looking for that perfect dropshipping company.

And really that’s understandable; the whole idea of dropshipping is so tempting – particularly for newbie sellers and while it is NOT anywhere near as easy as people think, it can sometimes be profitable – IF you work directly with a manufacturer or find a terrific dropshipping company.

So with that in mind, today I want to review one company in particular as I’ve had a few questions come in asking me about them.

The company is called Droptec.net and they are an all-in-one stock management and dropshipping company.

Okay, so first things first, let’s find out exactly what Droptec is and what they do as from their site, droptec.net, it’s all a bit unclear.

Stock Manager

stock-managerDroptec is not an actual supplier and doesn’t seem to hold any stock themselves. They only supply Inventory Software and Data Feeds and all orders have to go through the actual supplier.

So how it works is that you pay a one-off license fee to use the stock manager and then a monthly subscription based on how many suppliers you’re using within the software.

It’s not very easy to find on their site, but from contacting them I found the cost is £147 initially and then £5 per supplier per month after that BUT the first 12 months’ subscription is included in the initial £147 fee.

Basically that means – £149 for year 1 and then £60 per year per supplier after that for their Software Only package. (more…)

Sep 18, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 16 Comments

How to Create New Products to Sell on eBay & Amazon – WITHOUT Going Broke!

create-unique-productsHave you ever dreamed about having your own, completely unique product that you could sell on eBay, Amazon and your own online shop? A product with no direct competition that you can charge premium prices for? A product that actually is THE BEST on the market?

Many people have a dream like this and the majority of them go down the Inventor’s Route to try and achieve it. By inventor’s route I mean – they spend years trying to come up with a new product, create and patent it – spending huge amounts of money producing prototypes. Most of these people end up broke, either because they ran out of money or their idea simply wasn’t that great in the first place. We’ve all seen these people on Dragons’ Den…

I’m personally not a huge fan of this concept for several reasons:

  • It takes a lot of time! Even if you already have a good product idea, it still takes an awful lot of time to bring your idea to market. Searching for a manufacturer, creating prototypes, packaging design etc. – it all takes months and even years if you don’t already have connections in the industry.
  • It’s very risky! If it’s a unique product idea, you really don’t know how well it will sell on eBay and other marketplaces. And no, it’s not enough that your friends and family like your product! You have to sell it to people you have never met, after all. What if no one actually searches for that product online? What if the majority of people simply don’t see the need for your product, nevermind actually want to buy it?

That means you need to spend thousands of pounds to create a product when the chance of it being a success is basically completely unknown. Can you afford to take that gamble?

  • You’ll still be copied! Even if your product idea is amazing and it becomes a huge success, it will be copied sooner that you could ever imagine, regardless of whether or not you have a patent in place.

I have seen new, innovative products launch and then floods of copies hitting the market within WEEKS! And even if there are patents, it will be very difficult to enforce them in general, never mind with China based suppliers.

For these three reasons alone, you should think really hard before going down the Inventor’s Route…

Sure, some of them end up millionaires BUT what are the chances you’ll become one too? The risks are simply huge and the chance of success so small. Is it really worth it?

But what if I said there was another way? What if you could have your own unique products WITHOUT:

  • Wasting years ’inventing’
  • Wasting tons of money on prototypes
  • Taking huge risks?

YES! There’s a business concept very few eBay sellers are aware of and those who are, they’re already making a killing on eBay!

Do YOU want to join them? (more…)

May 6, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 40 Comments

eBay, Amazon or an Online Shop?

ebay-vs-amazon-vs-ecommerceOne of the most common questions I receive from people just starting out in the online selling world is “where do I start!?”… and it’s a very good question. Which is the best platform to launch your new online business – eBay, Amazon, or an online shop? I’ll try to answer this question in today’s blog post by covering the advantages and disadvantages of each platform plus I’ll show you a proven, step by step system that will get you started in no time!

First though, we need to evaluate your own personal situation as there is no one single answer as the best way to launch a business will depend a lot on yourself and your specific circumstances.

Level of Experience

experienceThis is by far the most important thing you have to consider. If you’re totally new to online business, haven’t sold a thing in the past and in general, have very little knowledge on the topic, I highly recommend you start with eBay first. Why? Because eBay is still the number 1 and easiest selling platform to use when starting your first online business.

If we take eCommerce shops on the other hand; you really need to know what you’re doing to achieve any decent results. With your own eCommerce site, it’s not enough to put together a simple shop and wait for the money to roll in, not at all. As I explain in my eCommerce Magnates course, you have to know exactly how to build your shop and exactly how to promote it – otherwise it’ll be a failure – no two ways about it, there’s no shortcuts to be taken at all.

Sure, there are still plenty of things you need to learn to start selling on eBay but in general; it’s far easier compared to online shops. On eBay, you can start with one listing, selling a used item you already own, and learn along the way. And you’ll make that sale if you follow some basic principles.

I would put Amazon in 2nd place, right after eBay IF we base this decision purely on your level of experience. In some ways Amazon is even easier to get started with as there are not that many rules to follow, no templates to use etc. The problem with Amazon however is that it will be much harder to get those first sales in compared to eBay, especially if you just want to gain some experience with second hand goods.

To sum it up – if you’re totally new to the online selling world, start an eBay business. Begin with used goods and then once you’ve gained some experience, you can start looking at Amazon and maybe even your own online shop. (more…)

Feb 25, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 55 Comments

How to Buy/Sell Clearance Stock on eBay!

clearance-stockOn my blog and training courses, I mostly talk about brand new stock sourced from wholesalers or imported from China. But what about liquidation and clearance stock? Can you make money by buying and re-selling such stock on eBay? In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts on this subject to help you make a more informed decision before you venture into such business models.

First of all, let’s get clear on the terminology related to this kind of stock. There are various types of stock that I would put in these categories:

  • Real liquidation stock. As the name suggests, this stock comes from the liquidation of shops/companies. For example, when a shop closes down, the stock that’s left after the final sale gets sold in bulk or smaller lots as liquidation stock. Usually, these goods are brand new (can be off shelf, with price tags attached).
  • Clearance stock/overstock. These are goods that can’t be sold as planned, which business owners simply want to get rid of to clear shelf space and improve cash flow to order new stock. Again, this is usually brand new stock, in original packaging and can come with or without price tags, depending on the stock type and whether it was displayed in a retail shop or stored in a warehouse.
  • Customer returns. These are simply products customers have returned for various reasons – they didn’t like the colour, model, the item was defective or for whatever reason they simply used their statutory rights to return goods within 14 days of purchase.

While liquidation, clearance and overstock goods are usually brand new and come in original packaging, customer returns are generally classed as used goods and can come in various conditions:

  • Tested & working. This means that the return has been tested and the item is in working condition. Boxes will most likely be opened and have some signs of use.
  • Un-tested. Stock like this means it hasn’t been tested so you can’t know if products are in working condition or not. In most cases, this is faulty/damaged stock that can only be re-sold as parts OR as used goods if you can fix the problem.
  • New, boxed & un-opened. This means that product is still in its original, un-opened packaging. Sometimes boxes themselves can have some slight signs of wear (like scratches etc.) but in general, this stock is like brand new and usually sells for almost the same price as wholesale.

Many companies will use their own grading system, for example Grade A stock, Grade B stock etc., with an explanation on what each grade means. The important thing here is to understand that NOT ALL customer return goods are the same and you have to be very careful when ordering such stock to avoid the disappointment of receiving items that cant’ be re-sold. (more…)

Feb 6, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 20 Comments

Replace Yourself – Outsource to the Philippines!

outsourcing-to-philippinesSo you’ve come to the point in your business where 24 hours a day isn’t enough…

Managing dozens of email requests, order processing, product sourcing – all these things can be tedious tasks and the last thing you want is to turn your business venture into yet another boring day job.

What’s the solution? Leverage.

You can only build something really BIG if you learn how to leverage your most valuable resources: time & money. While there are occasional super stars who become millionaires all on their own, it’s rather an exception than the rule. You can only do so much in one day and without leveraging your resources and outsourcing easy tasks, you’ll most likely find your business stuck with no growth very soon.

Luckily I realised this axiom quite soon which helped tremendously with the growth of my business.

What is the simplest way of increasing your productivity and the amount of work you can get done in a day? It’s outsourcing of course! Outsourcing allows you to selectively pass some tasks of your business to another person and pay only when results are delivered.

Outsourcing has been around for ages but with the increasing levels of internet access in 3rd world countries over the last decade, it has never been so easy to hire someone to work for you ONLINE, without ever actually meeting face to face.

What I like most about outsourcing (compared to the traditional way of hiring full-time employees) is that you have 100% control over who you hire, how much you pay and most importantly – you can let that person go any time you want. Unlike with traditional employment, you have no long term contracts or obligations to keep someone on the pay roll even when you know the work isn’t being done.

So today I want to talk about outsourcing and specifically, outsourcing to the Philippines. (more…)

Nov 20, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 5 Comments

How to Hire on eLance for 75% OFF!

Let’s talk outsourcing!

Outsourcing is something I’ve mentioned many times in previous posts and I can’t stress enough how important it is to start outsourcing some of your business tasks as early as possible. Why? Because if you don’t do this, you’ll find you’re just exchanging one job for another rather than building a true business which you run as a business owner.

The beauty of running an online business is that you can actually delegate most of your daily routine tasks and build your business WITHOUT having to hire employees, which brings a lot of cost and additional problems.

When you outsource specific tasks rather than hiring a full-time employee, you can control your expenses much better and spend your money more efficiently by choosing the most suitable person for each specific job.

QUALITY is another important aspect of outsourcing! If you just can’t write then you’ll never get good product descriptions on your own, no matter how long you spend on them. A professional writer, on the other hand, will craft you superb descriptions in no time at all which will then positively affect your sales (better product descriptions = higher conversion rates).

So what exactly can you outsource?

Pretty much anything!

For eBay and eCommerce Shop owners this includes:

  • Design (logo, eBay template, website design, business cards, product packaging etc.)
  • Coding (website, newsletter, eBay template, blog etc.)
  • Writing (product descriptions, video transcripts, reviews, info text etc.)

Start with these three. Design is definitely something you want to outsource, unless you’re a professional designer yourself. It’s simply not worth your time and energy to learn this skill when you can outsource it to an expert so cheaply. (more…)