Wednesday, September 28, 2011


How many times have you spent a sleepless night viewing an infomercial of some newly hatched idea---something you never knew existed. Have you ever thought to yourself---wow, that would be handy!

Everyday on the internet potential customers search for solutions to their problems and those solution can be in the form of the product or service that you offer. Being clear and concise is more important than ever. A vague description of your product or service may mean that a customer moves on to some other website that offers the same solution but in clear terms.

Spending a little more time and money making your descriptions and terms crystal clear may bring you more sales and more repeat customers.    

Monday, September 26, 2011

E-commerce without a website of your own Part five

Whether you choose between e-Bay, Amazon, Etsy or some other website (or even your own) to sell your products one issue that you will always face is how to keep your listing on top of the search agents and how to make it stand out from the rest.

One way is to link your site to an expert blog; no matter what you're selling or where you do the selling--- you need to be the expert.

  • What kind of features does your product have that makes it special? 
  • What kind of uses does your product have? 
  • Are there uses for your product that a potential customer isn't aware of yet? 
  • What do YOU offer the customer that no one else can?      

If you can answer these questions in the first few lines of your listing and then list more detailed information, it doesn't matter where you're doing the selling---you'll be one step closer to that sale.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

E-commerce without a website of your own Part four

One thing I can say about eBay is that it gets results. If you're willing to sell a product at a good price, it will not last long and will be sold in a reasonable time.

Sales, however, are expensive and energy intensive compared to other places on the internet. For every sale on eBay you may receive twenty or more inquiries. Where consumers on other sites will go to a manufacturer's page to obtain information, customers on eBay will go to you.

EBay's fees are some of the most expensive there are; 7% to a whopping 13% of a final value that includes the amount you charge for shipping. And you may not do business with eBay unless you hand them the keys to your paypal, bank account or credit card to automatically deduct their fees from.

On eBay when a customer clicks buy they do not automatically pay. Your item is removed from the listing and listed as sold even though you are not paid. As difficult as it may be to believe you as a seller are directed by eBay to send an invoice. You can't initiate a cancellation of a sale due to non payment for 5 days and then the customer has another few days to respond.   In addition eBay charges you, from the automatically deducted bank account, for the 7%-13% fee EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PAID.

I currently have a sale that's been up in the air for nearly two weeks, the customer has been unresponsive and eBay is charging me almost $100 on an item that hasn't been paid for. EBay is unresponsive via email and lacks customer service skills over the telephone.

If you have a choice between a site of your own and eBay----my advice would be to see a web consultant. You'll be money, and a bunch of aggravation ahead.    


Monday, September 19, 2011

E-commerce without a website of your own Part three

Etsy is one of the best places for a small business to sell products on the internet. The only limitation is what can be sold on Etsy---for the most part handmade products and vintage items.

Etsy is a a community of like minded cottage industry small business people who support each other through advise, promotion, and no nonsense business ethics. Etsy itself supports it's community of shopkeepers with blogs, mini widgets and programming, and advise on photography, postings, and sales.

Shopkeepers are encouraged to promote each others businesses through circles and treasuries, where favorite items are listed in groupings that can be viewed and emailed to potential customers. Etsy sends out emails to subscribers featuring products that frequently show as sold after the email is sent.

With all the support you receive at Etsy the .20 listing fee and the 3.5% commission fee is reasonable. And, unlike places like Ebay, you're treated like a real business owner, it is your responsibility to pay the fees on time; they don't automatically deduct out of your account.

Your sales are immediately credited to your account, unlike Amazon. And you choose what to charge for shipping.

Listing couldn't be easier or more helpful. And your store front is a beautiful thing. For any small business selling items that fall into the Etsy categories, Etsy can't be beat. It's a big site with a small town feel. And a fair and reasonable place to do business.        

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

E-commerce without a website of your own Part two

Selling products on is a fairly painless procedure. The best sellers are books, of course, but if you have some used or fairly new electronics, software, or DVD's--- they do well too.

On Amazon the rules are made by Amazon and their teams of Pro sellers---a seller that is not paying a monthly fee to be a Pro Seller is not allowed to enter or change information in the catalog except to upload a picture of an item that doesn't have one. In other words, you are limited to the products that are already listed on Amazon.

In addition you are competing with Amazon's best new price and those of the pros that can offer free shipping and other Amazon perks to customers. Shipping fees are set by Amazon and cannot be changed.

But in spite of all the controls Amazon is a fair, equitable, and efficient place to sell online. It's very easy to manage inventory all in one place and you get your own store front that you can customize somewhat.

All fees for products pass through Amazon and they can become quite hefty. Not only does Amazon charge a commission on each sale of 6-25%. But a closing fee is also charged. But there is no fee to list an item and an item that doesn't sell isn't costing anything to remain in your store.

All said, Amazon is a fair place to do business on small electronics, books, and DVD's. Buyers are usually educated on a product before shopping Amazon so the first notice you'll receive of any interest of your product at all is a notice of sale. You ship out within three business days and receive your funds within a week or two. A fairly painless procedure that usually garners you an excellent rating.            

Monday, September 12, 2011

E-commerce without a website of your own Part one

So you want to sell online but you're not too sure you're ready for a website of your own? Products old or new can be listed on a number of websites, here are comparisons on 3 of the major players: can list on amazon for free as long as the product being listed is already part of the online catalog. Only Amazon's pro-listers can add to the catalog. Pro's pay a monthly fee that is prohibitively expensive to all but those who sell a big volume. Amazon collects money from the customer, takes Amazon's commission out and distributes the fee to the seller within a week or two of the sale. is set up mainly for hand crafted items. Exceptions to the handcrafted policy are vintage items (those that are over 20 years old) and craft supplies (not crafting tools). Etsy charges a minimal 20 cent fee to list, has a wonderful support network, good analytic tools, widgets for blogs and websites. When items are sold payments are immediately made to the seller, and the seller is invoiced for the fees by Etsy. has the strictest rules and little seller protections. A fee is collected up front for listing and can run from 50 cents upwards to many dollars depending on the listing type and product. Fees are collected whether the product sells or not, unlike Etsy (except 20 cents listing fee) and Amazon. When a product sells on Ebay the product is taken off and marked sold. The seller is expected to invoice the customer. The customer has 5 days to pay. The seller is not protected by the agreement and a customer can decide that they no longer want the item, or can't afford it and the seller is then under the obligation to cancel the deal. In addition, once the item is marked sold, Ebay invoices the seller the full amount of commissions, sometimes as much as 10% immediately. This can leave the seller with a fee paid to Ebay (you cannot sell on Ebay without agreeing to automatic payments out of your accounts) and no sale.  When dealing with Ebay "Seller Beware"

Next time I'll compare additional experiences and fees of these three allowing you to consider for yourself the risks as well benefits to including these online companies in your business plan.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


If you're thinking about dipping your toes into online commerce one solution that you should look into is nopCommerce. NopCommerce is an open source program that has a big community of support and options. It works well with sql or sql compact.

NopCommerce handles email campaigns, detailed customer information, in store and online sales. There's a forum, a blog, and a news feature.

There's a whole community that offers fee based designs and custom programming if you need to have the program adjusted to your needs. The program is an option that can help small businesses compete with the big guys on the internet.

Blue Heron Moon Web Consulting can assist you in setting up nopCommerce for your small business. Contact us for immediate assistance.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Remember the Jobless on Labor Day

There are many families who can't afford to have a burger on the grill this Labor Day. Over 15 million in this country are unemployed and have been for a long time. So before you go out to that holiday celebration show your support by tweeting, liking, or donating to these sites or post one of your own. 


And make sure your congressman or woman knows where you stand on the issue of jobs. It's hard to celebrate Labor Day when so many are suffering the degradation of unemployment.