June 30, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 25 Comments

Why I MOVED from Big Commerce to 
SHOPIFY.. and YOU Should Too!

I haven’t talked a lot about eCommerce on my blog, mostly because eBay & Amazon are the best places for people to start out when selling online – as they’re a lot easier to learn and you can see quicker results. 

However I’m now going to be discussing eCommerce a lot more!

Having your own online shop really is, or at least it should be, the ultimate goal for any online seller as only when you have your own online shop, you:

  • Have 100% control on every process in your business
  • Build a real BRAND
  • Build a real customer base, followers & fans
  • Use social media sites to their full potential
  • Have proper sales, coupons, and one-off deals
  • Use various paid traffic sources!
  • And much more!

Building your brand and the ability to drive paid traffic to your shop are probably the most important things as on eBay and Amazon you can only scale a product/business to a certain level.

Theoretically you could drive paid advertising to eBay & Amazon too but in most cases it’s not effective because:

  • You have to pay too much in fees to make it profitable.
  • Pricing on these platforms is often too competitive/low for paid advertising to be viable.
  • You have no way to precisely track ROI which is a CRUCIAL element of any kind of paid traffic.
  • Also, nowadays when clicks are so expensive, most businesses are happy to break even on the first order or even take a small loss just to get that customer in! Then make the profit on future sales.

We’ll talk a lot about all this in detail on my blog in the future but just so you know – having your own online shop is the most logical step after you’re successful on eBay and Amazon.

How to Create an Online Shop?

There are various ways you can create your own online shop:

1) Build it from scratch in HTML – bad, bad idea! I don’t even want to get into this, because it’s just such a terrible idea – unless you actually create websites for a living (even then – it’s still a bad idea!), then DON’T do this.

2) Use WordPress and special eCommerce themes/plugins – though slightly less terrible than coding it all on your own, this is still a very bad idea. Unless you have a lot of experience in this area, you’re going to struggle immensely and have a lot of issues getting your website to even run and function properly – so again, BAD IDEA. (more…)

May 2, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 6 Comments

Heat Shrink Wrapping – How to Get That Million Dollar Look, On a Budget!

Today I want to talk about one specific packaging method that is cheap and can be used in various scenarios – Heat Shrink Wrapping!

Even if you don’t realise it, you’re already very familiar with this method of packaging – you see it all the time at your local supermarket but you’ve probably never thought about the ways it can be used for your online business. So let’s take a closer look at how it all works, in what situations it can be used and why some products absolutely MUST be heat shrink wrapped to be sold online!

Let’s get started!

What is Heat Shrink Wrapping?

Heat shrink wrapping is a packaging method where the product is wrapped in clear or even full colour plastic and then heat is applied to shrink the plastic so it takes the product’s shape. Just to give you an example – bottles for retail are usually shrink wrapped like this:

This is an example of full colour plastic film but more often clear film is used to wrap various products and boxes like this:

And it doesn’t stop there! This method can also be used to protect and seal much bigger objects like pallets and even caravan homes and yachts:

While there are many uses and applications of this packaging process, the principle stays the same – the item is wrapped in special plastic film and then heat is applied to shrink it so that it takes the form of the product. (more…)

March 31, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 10 Comments

How To Avoid Paying Shopify’s Transaction FEES!

Today we’ll take a closer look at one of the most popular shopping carts out there – Shopify, and specifically address one problem/issue that comes with a Shopify subscription.

Here’s a recent email I received from Dan:

Hey Andrew!

Awesome blog you have, I have learned so much from you! Thank you for the work you do.

I have a question – one that may be suitable for your weekly reader articles. So here’s my story/question:

I’m an eBay seller and have a pretty decent sized business running. But to expand my customer base and to avoid eBay fees, I’m planning on launching my own online shop in the near future. Thanks to your eCommerce Magnates course I realised that I definitely want to use a hosted shopping cart as I’m not that good with HTML and coding so wouldn’t really want to deal with all the hassle carts like Open Cart come with.

I will be using Shopify as feature wise it’s the most suitable cart for me, it also has several important plugins that I will use for connecting eBay and Amazon sales to my accounting software. I have also already found a very good template I want to use for my shop.

The problem I’m struggling with right now is the Transaction Fee Shopify charges on EVERY sale I make via my shop. As I understand it’s 2% and while my margins are good, it still feels not right to pay such a fee, especially when I’m trying to escape eBay & Amazon fees.

Any advice on how to avoid this fee?

I know that there are many carts out there that don’t have a transaction fee but I really want to use Shopify due to compatibility issues and the template I have found.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Best,
Dan

Thanks for your email & question Dan.

Yes, you’re correct – on top of a monthly subscription fee Shopify does charge a per sale/transaction fee.

The fee rate depends on the type of shop subscription you have, it’s not always 2%. Here are the current rates:

  • Basic Shopify – $29 a month + 2% transaction fee
  • Shopify – $79 a month + 1% transaction fee
  • Advanced Shopify – $299 + 0.5% transaction fee

You’ll most likely want to go with the Shopify plan at $79 as it includes Gift Cards and the Abandoned Cart Recovery function that are not available for Basic shops, which means you’ll be paying the 1% transaction fee. (more…)

March 10, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 15 Comments

SHOCKING – Package Seized and Destroyed by Royal Mail!

Hello and welcome back to another Friday and another Reader’s Question post!

Today I’m going to be looking at an email I received from Affan, who had his Royal Mail delivery seized and destroyed for breaching dangerous goods transport regulations, which in this case meant the package contained batteries.

Here’s the email I received:

Hello Andrew,

I have a problem and I wanted to request some guidance from you. I have recently started selling phone batteries and received an email from Royal Mail (the only shipping company I use) that I have attached for you to see.

Previously I thought that sending batteries was only prohibited internationally but I’m now assuming that Royal Mail doesn’t carry them domestically either? Do you know anything about this issue Andrew? What are my options and are there any alternate shipping options for domestic as well as EU sales?

Many thanks and best wishes,

Affan

And here is a screenshot of the letter so that you can see exactly what Royal Mail sent to Affan:

For those of you that can’t be bothered to read the letter in full (I know I know, it’s Friday after all!) here are the most important snippets from the final paragraph:

“Having opened your parcel and examined the goods more closely, we determined that the items contained within it did breach dangerous goods transport regulations. We have therefore disposed of your parcel accordingly.”

Now, first things first – by now I assume and hope that all online sellers are aware of the dangers involved when posting batteries, which are prone to shorting, overheating and potentially catching fire… it’s something that’s received a lot of media attention over recent years and in 2013 regulations were put into place to control the shipment of batteries.

However this was mainly aimed at international air shipments but since then further rules have been introduced by the International Air Transport Association, or IATA for short, with their Dangerous Goods Regulations, which regulates the shipment and transport of “dangerous goods” (pretty obvious really!). (more…)

February 22, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 0 Comments

Shopping Cart, Conversions, Merchants, Chargebacks – ALL EXPLAINED!

Welcome Back!

Today we have the 4th and final post in my online business terminology series – eCommerce.

In the 3 previous weeks we’ve covered:

By eCommerce terminology I mean terms used when you have your own website/online shop and shopping cart.

While many of these terms may seem very basic for experienced online traders I’m sure that newbies will find my explanations valuable, especially if you haven’t started an online shop and just planning on doing so in the near future (if you have just purchased my eCommerce Magnates course for example).

So without further ado, let’s get started with the most common eCommerce terms that every online seller should know about!

Shopping Cart – this is the software that you use to build & manage your online shop. Without a shopping cart you really can’t build a fully functional online shop. A shopping cart will provide your store front design (your website/product pages etc.) as well as your back-end admin infrastructure where you manage all settings, process orders and do many more tasks.

There are two major types of shopping carts:

  • Hosted carts (like Big Commerce) where your shop is hosted on the shopping cart company’s servers.
  • Self hosted carts (like Open Cart) where you host the shop on your own server space.

I strongly recommend that you use a hosted cart instead of a self hosted one, especially if you’re new to all this. With self hosted carts there is a lot of extra work involved and they are in general more complicated and buggy compared to hosted carts.

Payment Processor – company that provides payment processing facilities. By payment processing I mean the process when customers enter their credit card details into your checkout page and then their card gets charged.

Merchant Account – financial institution where the money you charge customers is held and then transferred to your bank account. There are many companies that offer both Merchant Accounts and Payment processing solutions in one place to make the whole set-up and managing of transactions even easier (a classic example would be PayPal – offering your payment processor and merchant account services in one place). (more…)

January 30, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 0 Comments

10 ways to IMPRESS your eBay, 
Amazon & eCommerce Customers!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I hope you had a great weekend and are looking forward to a productive week ahead!

Today I want to talk about strategies on how to impress your customers. And by impress I really mean make them feel AMAZING before, during and after their purchase. This topic was actually suggested in December’s Readers’ Contest, so many thanks to the person who came up with this idea!

I’m not re-inventing the wheel here obviously – all the strategies I’m going to talk about are mostly common sense BUT the problem is that the majority of you aren’t implementing them! And I don’t take credit for these ideas either – the list is created based on my personal experience and most of them are borrowed from well-known companies, companies who have already figured it out! All you have to do is copy what they do or at least borrow some ideas to impress your customers!

Ok then, let’s get started with my TOP 10 ways to impress your customers!

1. The sales channel

It all starts with the product listing – be it eBay, Amazon or your own online store. All the things I have talked about hundreds of times need to be perfect! This includes:

  • Professional product images (super important)
  • Accurate and detailed descriptions
  • Precise and customer friendly payment, shipping, returns and contact details

These 3 things you absolutely MUST get right! You want your customers to be impressed the moment they land on your product page – with all the information in place so that they simply can’t find a reason not to order from you.

The checkout process also matters. On eBay & Amazon this is already taken care of for us and buyers generally have a very good shopping experience (a very fast one too as people don’t have to enter any address details etc.) but if you run an online shop, make sure you: (more…)

January 13, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Be Careful When Outsourcing Graphic Design on Fiverr.com!

Outsourcing graphic design work online has never been easier – we have all these freelancing sites available now where we can simply order a logo or banner design with the click of a button. One of such sites that I have always recommended for budget work is fiverr.com

But is it really as simple as it sounds? You pay $5 and get a professional banner design done? Or are there some underlying issues you have to be aware of?

This is exactly what Mark was asking in a recent message to me:

Hi Andy,

You recommend Fiverr so I was hoping you can help clarify something that has gotten me confused.

I’ve had a gig done for me for a banner through Fiverr, however on looking up the image on google images, the background shows as a Getty Images stock photo.

I understand some people have years later had £2k bills land on their doorstep for copyright infringement from Getty so I want to be sure I’m on the right side of the law here.

Are designers allowed to use Getty on Fiverr and when they do does the order constitute a Perpetual Licence for you to use the work on your website?

For example if say years from now Getty come knocking at the door asking for money, will my order be proof I have paid perpetual licence to the designer who must (I assume) have paid Getty to use that image in his design?

Best Regards,
Mark

Thanks for your question Mark!

You have raised a very interesting and important question about graphic design & image licensing and it is a complex one indeed.

To start with, for people who are not aware of this, there are websites online where you can purchase photos, graphics and other art work. Sites like:

The way these sites work is that designers, photographers and graphic artists submit their work on these sites and upon approval they get listed. Then, when someone buys an image from the site, the creator/owner gets paid a fixed fee or a percentage of the sale (depending on the company). (more…)

January 9, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 74 Comments

Consumer Contracts Regulations – 
Your Legal Responsibilities as an Online Seller!

Happy Monday! 🙂

Yes, we’ll start the week with rather complex and serious topic  – Consumer Contracts Regulations BUT I’m here to make it easy for you to understand so you don’t have to read hundreds of pages of mumbo-jumbo legal documents!

I’m honestly quite shocked by the number of businesses selling online that seem to be completely unaware of their legal responsibilities, with very little understanding of the Consumer Contracts Regulations and what they need to do under UK law, as an online seller.

A number of years ago I wrote a long article on this topic, after I was dismayed to get an email from a blog reader of mine describing how they had been refused a refund by Babz Media for a faulty item, with the eBay powerseller (with a feedback score close to 5 million!) apparently being completely unaware of UK law.

Basically a few months after purchase, an item bought from them developed a fault but when Babz were contacted for a return they repeatedly refused to cover the return postage cost as the “order was placed more than 30 days ago”. Even after it was pointed out to them that they were legally required to pay for postage of a faulty good, they claimed that “Under the distance selling regulations, if it is stated in the terms and conditions of the seller, if more than 30 days old, the customer is responsible for return postage costs.”

Now of course that’s a load of nonsense and they were completely wrong. As stated in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (section 48b, part 2 if anyone would like to check for themselves):

(2) If the buyer requires the seller to repair or replace the goods, the seller must—

(a) repair or, as the case may be, replace the goods within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience to the buyer;

(b) bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so (including in particular the cost of any labour, materials or postage)

And there you go – as clear as can be, yet still a huge company like Babz Media refused to pay for the return postage (on an interesting side note – Babz Media actually ceased trading unexpectedly in 2015!).

But you’ll notice that I quoted the Sale of Goods Act above and that Babz Media referred to the Distance Selling Regulations.

However, both of these directives have since been replaced.

On June 14th 2014, the Distance Selling Regulations were superseded by the Consumer Contracts Regulations and from October 1st 2015, the Sale of Goods Act has been replaced by the Consumer Rights Act.

The Consumer Rights Act applies to purchases made both in-store and online (all purchases, basically) and the Consumer Contracts Regulations provides extra protection for consumers making purchases off-premises, or at a distance (this includes purchases made online, over the phone, or by mail order). (more…)

August 19, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 0 Comments

How to create a FREE Online shop using Spicy Auction Templates!

free-online-shop

Happy Friday everyone!

Who wants a simple online shop to start taking direct orders via PayPal, bypassing those margin killing eBay fees, WITHOUT spending a dime on a shopping cart? And no, I’m not talking about using free, open source carts like Open Cart, which are far more complex to learn and set-up. I will show you a much simpler approach to get a basic website up and running using templates from Spicy Auction Templates!

Here’s a recent email I received from my blog reader:

Hi Andrew,

I’m a BIG fan of your blog, love what you do and wanted to say thank you for the information you provide here. I have already started working on my eBay business plan and plan on purchasing your EAB course very soon.

As I understand, with the purchase I get free SAT membership too, right?

I saw on one forum that people are using SAT templates to build online shops, is that possible? To take orders directly from people without using eBay?

That would be awesome as I’m not yet in a position to afford a custom designed shop with a fully functioning shopping cart and was looking for a good free/cheap alternative.

Keep up the good work Andrew!

Thanks,
Daniel W.

Thanks for your email & question Daniel.

Yes, you get full access to SAT, absolutely free, when you purchase Easy Auction Business.

And yes, it is possible to create a simple online shop (basically more like a simple website) using Spicy Auction Templates and I will quickly cover how it can be done now.

The first step is to create a page in Turbo Lister, exactly as if you were creating a listing for eBay: (more…)

February 24, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

Does Nobody Want My Money?!

moneyTime for an off topic post!

Well, it’s actually not that “off topic” as it’s still all about selling online, customer service and in general, the proper way of running a business.

So here’s the story:

I’m buying some new machinery (I will do a separate post on that in a few weeks’ time) and it needs a decent air compressor to run it. So I started looking around at online shops in the UK (due to weight/size/warranty I didn’t want to import it) selling air compressors.

As with any such new equipment that I’m not familiar with, I started my research by reading reviews on Amazon. I know that the compressor I have in my home is super loud and not something I would want to use in our office so my search was narrowed down to ultra-quiet air compressors that run below 45 dB rating (that’s roughly the sound level of a quiet conversation).

Amazon’s prices on what I needed were actually very steep so I started looking for online shops that were selling these compressors. And thankfully the prices from many of these shops were a lot more competitive.

Now, the fun part started when I contacted these companies, many of which are fairly large, multi-million pound businesses.

I whitelisted 5 companies that looked best to me – by the range of compressors they had, their prices, and the overall look of their website (how professional they looked and whether they specialise in such tools or just sell them on the side).

Now from the 5 companies that I chose and contacted, I’ll let you guess how many replied to me…

2

YES! I’m a customer looking to buy a £1000 air compressor and only 2 of 5 companies managed to find the time to get back to me. This was last week, and I still haven’t heard from the other 3.

And it’s not like my message to them was annoying or anything like that – I just asked what dB rating a particular model had and how much the compressor weighs. That’s it – a quick, polite and to the point request.

From the two companies that did answer, one replied within an hour or so (excellent) and the second one was a lot slower, answering after roughly 30 hours. (more…)