Why Your Business Should Always Answer Email

Are you running a business? Then you should answer your email. Period. There was a recent article post called, Treat Your Blog like a Business, where Ben made some very good points about how you should run your blog. I want take that a little step farther and state the obvious. You should treat your business like a business, and one of those steps is to answer your email, in a professional manner no less.

This will probably not be the most popular post in the world, after all, we all get to much email, and some we just don’t want to mess with. I am speaking about the necessity of answering your email if you are in business, but this includes those who run a small home based business, or someone that sells their services online as well, large or small. If you are online just purely for personal reasons then, answer it, delete, do whatever you want, but I think this applies to personal accounts as well if you want to be successful online. It seems to be common place now to not answer your email. It is the easiest means of communication to ignore, and takes a lot of time.

So if you want to stand out among the others, respond to those emails.

You should try to either answer your emails personally, or if there is just to much to handle, you should delegate it to someone you have hired for administrative duties. Just be sure they reflect your company’s good customer service and aren’t going to add to a problem. Either way, the volume should dictate who answers it, but that doesn’t mean it should go unanswered.

If you receive to much email to answer then it sounds like your business is big enough to have an employee take over these duties, if not, it sounds a lot like an excuse. So, lets look at a few quick reasons why you should and a few steps how to keep up with answering your email.

It is Your Business Reputation

Nothing can turn away business faster than word of mouth or a bad reputation. This could be in print media all the way down to a small forum in your niche market. You want new visitors, right? When a customer first finds your site, they have some initial questions, and most are easily answered but sometimes they want to interact with someone for one reason or another.

When you receive an email from a new customer (or site visitor) like this, they are evaluating your business and how you interact with people. By not answering their email it sends a pretty clear message to them. You are not important enough for me to hit the reply button. They don’t care if you have been out of town, have more pressing (revenue generating) things to do, all they get is this business probably doesn’t care (and you may not). On the other hand, if you make efforts to reply to even the most mundane emails, it will make a very good impression on your customer or visitor. I am not suggesting that you have to answer their email within 5 minutes, time is not the most important thing here. I have responded to an emails from customers days later, after their orders have arrived, because I just couldn’t get to it, and they even appreciate a late response.

Something I always try to remember from the customer side of things. I can always remember who did not reply to my emails, sometimes years later, and it usually is on a negative note. This goes with the smallest business up to the largest corporations, people in general just tend to remember the negative and forget the positive things. Just something to keep in mind when ignoring or deleting that email, or even responding in a negative way. It took some planning and understanding of how to use email effectively, but I have responded to just about every email in the past 5-10 years and when someone sends me an email saying “you never responded to me”, I generally have a good answer to that question, a copy of my response.

It Can Increase Your Sales Revenue

This flows right down from the first point. Once you have established a rapport with your customer they may actually want to buy something from you. Want to loose a sale or a repeat customer fast? Don’t answer their email. This is especially true on eBay.

eBay has an easy way for potential bidders to contact you, so you will tend to get overwhelmed with email about trite things that don’t really matter, or that the customer should be able to figure out on their own. Well, if they could figure it out on their own they probably wouldn’t have shot off that email to you. I have found that there is a direct correlation on eBay to bidding and responding to emails. I can attest, yes, most emails are stupid questions, and yes, I have come to realize there ARE stupid questions. This fact doesn’t really make a difference to the customer. If you respond to their email, they are much more likely to bid on your auction.

If you don’t answer their question before they actually buy the item from you, from the customers point of view, what are you likely to do when they have a problem with the product or service after they have spent their money.

Responding Can Avert Problems

One of the fastest ways to solve a problem, or fix a potential one, is to respond to customer questions. Some customers or visitors are not as dumb as you may think. They may have found a problem with your product or service that you did not know about.

This works for the smallest to the largest companies. My wife is a pattern designer and she has received emails asking about a particular area of the pattern, and sometimes there is an error in the pattern and she can change it before it becomes a bigger problem. This works on your eCommerce platform. Take Amazon for example. A book store may have emails come in that ask about if this book is a certain edition, publication year or whatever. Answering the email will provide the customer with enough information about the product so they know whether to buy or not to buy it, but you don’t want them to just buy it just to have them return it a week later?

I have emailed several companies about bugs in their software. Some have returned their emails thanking me for the information and others I have received no response. I still use the software from that particular vendor.

It Builds Your Networking

Something to always keep in mind when deciding whether to ignore an email or reply to an email. You may never know who you are actually corresponding with. It may actually be someone that can help or improve your business, or just wants to give you something. It is not always that stupid customer that should know you have an FAQ page posted with all these dumb questions. An email from a business exec can look the same as an email from Joe Bob who types in all CAPS because he just bought his first computer last week and doesn’t know his mouse from his dog, you just don’t know who is on the other side of the screen much of the time.

Ignoring emails will certainly get you results, just not much. There are many other ways to communicate and network with people on the net other than email, but email is a personal response that tells your recipient that they are important enough to respond to. Sometimes time can be the most precious gift ever given. Spend a few minutes to respond to that person and you never know where the relationship might take you. It has given me more than a few freelance jobs in my day.

A Few Recent Examples

First, I had another consultant ask me for advise that would help him with his clients. I responded to his email with some basic information and he gave no response. About two weeks later he did email me and asked me a more in depth question and I took about two hours of my busy day to write out a specific how to he could use for his clients.

Weeks went by and I receive no response. I emailed him again and just asked him if that was helpful for his clients. He didn’t respond. I am not likely to respond with ANY more information to “help” anyone over there. All that was needed was a very quick reply saying “I got it, it worked”. I don’t need a pat on the back, just some communication to know my 2 hours wasn’t wasted. A second example would be when I contacted a very small (one person) online business, but one that reached a large audience. I had something from my business I wanted to give him. That’s it. I didn’t want anything from him, I didn’t ask for anything other than an address to which I could ship an item I thought he would want.

I sent two emails before I received a response, but I had already decided to give it to someone else until I received the email. Once I got the email with the address I was able to ship the item off to the business. We can all give example after example, but when someone takes the time to send an email the least you can do is respond to it, and you might be surprised who is on the other end or what they can do for your business.

Some Concluding Thoughts

If you want to be successful online, answer your email. Yes, email can be one of the biggest headaches of the business day, and many business now just do not respond to email, so be one that does and stand out. I have read so many company profiles (and about me blog pages) that say they get to much email to respond to each one. This may be the case, but think about what that says about your company.

I effectively answered my emails to all my customers for years by doing some basic steps I will outline in my next post called, How to Effectively Answer All Your Emails, that explain how to prioritize and plan for those emails, and also as important, how to reduce the number of emails you receive. Reducing the number is as effective and keeps you from having to live in your inbox. I will say that you can take this to absurdity, and that is not the point of course. There are some emails I don’t respond to like spam, fraud, or phishing emails, and the occasional badgering customer that we have taken all business to its utmost conclusion, and one other… when you don’t respond to my email.

What about your company? Do you respond to your emails or ignore them until they go away? What positive effects can you show when you answer those questions? Now I better go answer all those emails I have been ignoring for days now, the inbox runeth over.

Top 15 Stars of the Week, October 29

Chipseo Starred Items Oct 29Looking back over this past week, it was overwhelmingly dominated by posts on the Page Rank update.

It seems everyone found some way to be touched by this in one way or the other, even if it was just to read the rantings and ravings about Google’s Page Rank update. Especially over the weekend when page rank updates seemed to be just flying in every direction.

I did try to read as many of these posts as I could, and I even contributed to the mayhem myself in, What Happened to My Page Rank, Another Goal Reached?, when my Page Rank actually went up to my surprise. Being at a PR0 I didn’t have any place to go but up, so a PR2 was a welcome thing to me. One of the funniest posts I have seen so far was posted over the weekend, Google PageRank algorithm leaked, it is certainly worth a quick read, and was quite funny.

Because there were so many starred items on that particular subject, I am just going to leave out all posts having to do with the page rank update. If you want more information about that issue just do a quick blog search for page rank update and you can find more than enough to read. A quick housekeeping note. The winner of the favicon for one month is The Computer Zone, so send me a quick email with your preference for a large or small icon and the url you want linked to and I will update it asap. If you want or need me to create a 16x16px or 26x26px icon just let me know. Contact me through “chipseo [at] gmail dot com” and if I don’t hear from the winner by the end of the day I will get in touch with you.

If you didn’t catch the top 15 of last week just click on the stars tag, and if you are unfamiliar with this post, each week I collect a top 15 of my Google Reader Starred items from the previous week and post them here. You can also subscribe to the starred feed if you like.

Top 15 Stars of the week of October 22-29th

30 Things I want to do now I’m 30

via Dan Wilson by Dan Wilson on 10/21/07

I cannot pretend that I face and regard my 30th birthday today with unfettered glee, but as a man wiser than…

10 Tips to Improve Your Writing Mood

via News Notion by Casey on 10/23/07

In addition to experiencing a writers block, bloggers just can’t seem to get into that writing mood!…

Top 10 US Social Sites and Blog Sites Rankings Issued

via Search Engine Journal by Pablo Palatnik on 10/23/07

Nielson/NetRatings has put out a report on the top 10 social sites and blog sites…

Using Google Analytics to Boost Traffic

via Blogging Tips by kelbycarr on 10/23/07

Google Analytics is a great free statistics tool that provides comprehensive statistics on your site…

20+ Free (and Useful) SEO Tools

via The Cheap Revolution by Team and a Dream team on 10/26/07

The Web is full of free SEO tools that you can do yourself. We’ve been bookmarking these tools as we come across them…

CPC Ads Earn 50x More Than CPA

via W Revenue dot Com by Scott on 10/22/07

Which model is better for publishers? Should you use an affiliate link to send traffic to a retailer, hoping that the person buys and earns you 5% of the sale price…

The Curse of the Daily Post

via Pronet Advertising by David Chen on 10/23/07

When faced with the myriad Content options that users have when they surf the web, many bloggers feel enormous pressure…

How I Made My First $2,000 In Affiliate Marketing – A Step By Step Guide

via Day Job Nuker.Com by DayJobNuker on 10/24/07

I hate ebooks about how to make money online. You see them everywhere and they range in price from single digits all the way…

20 Must-Do’s When Selling a Dot Com Business

via W Revenue dot Com by Scott on 10/24/07

I could probably write a book about this but I’m going to touch on the finer points of what to do when someone says “hey, I want to buy your site”…

BlogRush bans 10,000 blogs from its system

via AdesBlog.com by Ades on 10/24/07

BlogRush had removed over 10,000 blogs from its system. This is one of the many measures that has been taken by Reese…

3P the New Ecommerce Buzz Word!

via My Blog Utopia Feed by Randy Smythe on 10/24/07

3P stands for third party sellers. They used to be called “eBay sellers” but oh how times have changed. 3P sellers are…

13 typefaces every graphic designer needs

via David Airey :: Graphic Designer by David Airey :: Graphic Designer on 10/24/07

With thousands of different typefaces on offer, it’s vital to have a select few that act as pillars in your collection…

5 Essential Time Saving Tips For Bloggers

via Blogging Tips by Mohsin on 10/24/07

We bloggers have funny lives. Blogging means so much to us yet people think we waste time on blogging…

Kijiji Growth Accelerates

via Only EBAY by ONLYEBAY on 10/23/07

If Kijiji US was already on fire two weeks ago, then somebody must have added a bunch more wood. I now estimate over 175,000 concurrent live ads…

What Happened to My Google Page Rank, Another Goal Reached?

Scott Fillmer Page Rank UpdateAfter all the posts I read this week about the page rank update I told myself I wasn’t going to post anything about the topic. I thought it had all been said enough (and that is still probably true), until I noticed my page rank actually went up. [A little disclaimer here, before last week I had a PR0 and now I have a PR2. So, I had no place to go but up.]

There are other examples surfacing now that also show increases in PR’s like, PageRank update in process, this time for real, where AdesBlog talks about a few of his sites that have increased their page rank. Another recent post from ProBlogger also touches on several of these current topics in, The Google Page Rank Pendulum Swings…. Again, and if you are still interested, there are hundreds (if not more) of posts on the Page Rank update.

Some PR’s Are Going Up, Some Down

In a recent post I did on the goals of this blog, Reaching a Set Goal and Working on Others, a the Page Rank was not even listed as one of the top ten because I thought it was pretty much out of the question for the age of my domain, and the fact that I was still trying to build quality content on the site. Little did I know, all I needed was an update to Google’s Page Rank system.

Here it is only one week later and I have gone from a PR0 to a PR2 this weekend. I started looking at some of the other sites I own, and it was a mixed bag. Most of these domains are either new (mostly content based), or developed storefront pages (non-content based), and they are sites I either own or work extremely close with on a daily basis.

  • chipseo.com – PR0 to PR2 [content / blog based] | NET +2
  • islandzephyr.com – PR0 to PR1 [mixed info / content] | NET +1
  • ki4wlr.com – PR0 to PR2 [content / blog based] | NET +2
  • site 4 – PR0 to PR2 [content / blog based] | NET +2
  • site 5 – PR4 to PR3 [storefront / sales based] | NET -1
  • site 6 – PR3 to PR1 [storefront / sales based] | NET -2
  • site 6 – PR2 to PR1 [storefront / sales based] | NET -1

Have You Checked Your Storefront Pages?

I checked a few eCommerce / storefront sites and pages I am familiar with and it also seems to be a mixed bag. Two high traffic storefronts in the craft industry, Artbeads.com and Fire Mountain Gems, both had PR4’s and both maintained their PR4, at least to this point.

Both of these eCommerce stores are very established online businesses, and both have a good combination a product catalog sku’s and content for their customers in the way of guides and reviews. Both stores also have almost no online advertising to speak of since they are selling their own products (they probably wouldn’t promote someone else’s on their store), and one uses the Yahoo Store shopping cart system and one is independent.  If you have your own online storefront, check your PR and see what the results look like. Do you have a good combination of content to help your customers, and a SKU based catalog / shopping cart system? If you sell on multiple sales channels like many businesses, has one been effected over the other?

Is There Anything To Conclude From This

If you look at the list above you will notice a few things. One, none of these sites I mention are super high traffic ranking sites. Two, it is a mix of non-content informational, content based, and storefront based sites. Three, all of the content based site rankings went up, all of the storefront selling sites went down. I don’t really think there is anything to conclude from this information. I have seen just as many high quality, high ranking sites go down over the weekend as well. I am not going to touch on the link selling issue to much, there are enough blogs posting on that already, but I will say that none of the examples listed above are real high text link selling sites (most none at all), and I have tried as much as possible to maintain the Webmaster Guidelines that Google has put forth on their Webmaster Tools site.

Because buying and selling links is not to much of an issue among the examples put forth above, and some went up and some went down, you could say that Google is placing a higher emphasis on content, but all you have to do is read a few posts from the high traffic blogs to discount that, so, I just offer the information for what it is, a mixed bag of ups and downs.

Another Goal Reached Anyway

One of the milestone goals for this blog was to reach a PR1 in a certain amount of time and instead it reached a PR2 in less than 4 weeks. It does looks like there has just been a complete rearrangement of the PR system, so I am not sure what to think of my new found PR2, but it was one of the goals I had set for this site and I am glad to have reached it so quickly.  Have you had any sites move up in rank this weekend? If so, are they content, informational, or storefront based sites?

Update to Google Page Rank [September 2008]

Google updates their page rank system every so often, almost like a software update.  It will often be announced on Matt Cutts blog.  When the update is going to happen he will often say, there is a page rank update happening this weekend.  When you find this out, just make note of where you were and where you ended up.  It may tell you something about your traffic and how Google sees this traffic and its importance and you can improve your blog accordingly.

Contests are Great? Get a Favicon Free for One Month

Contest Winner at AdesBlogDo you like the different contests that some bloggers use on their sites? It can be a good way to network with other blogs, increase traffic to your site, and increase traffic to the winning site as well. The only question I have is how the big G sees “contests” and how it ultimately effects your traffic or rankings. There seems to be some speculation that it is harmful to your rankings. In a recent post, Should “Weekly Top5 Sites Contest” continue?, a drop in page rank is starting to ask the question as to the relevancy or helpfulness of “contests” on your blog.

I am going to leave most of that is for a different post, so in this post, who cares, everyone likes to win something, sometime, right? I try to keep this blog on topic most of the time, and since my stated tagline is about eCommerce and online business, I did want to point out that you can take this approach with your online store as well.

About Coupons and Door Prizes

Our company has run many different contests, for years, and found them to be very effective tools, in person, or online. On a recent group my wife, DK, is running, she decided to do a give-a-way in the manner of door prizes. Her group went from a few hundred members to end at over 2,000 before she closed the group. The prizes are given away weekly, and most of them were donated by other members of the group, so she didn’t even have to supply the door prizes.

They were good prizes too. Merchandise that her customers would have to spend $50 or so to buy at the local market store, so make them something worth while as well, not just a gesture seen as a marketing ploy, make it count. I wouldn’t suggest doing a coupon for a $1.00 or something like that. Although most customers will take anything they can get, it isn’t enough of an incentive to move in the direction you want. If you think you can’t afford to give away a certain percentage of your revenue, perhaps you should first look at your business plan instead. These costs should be associated with your marketing budget anyway.

I Won. See It does Work

I recently won two contests, one without even knowing it until I visited the other blog. One was on Blogging Experiment, Reader Discussion: Are Bloggers Journalists?, and another one, Get 1 week of free advertising on AdesBlog.com, which I guess I won the one free week since I see my link on the side, cool.

Everyone likes to win something every once in a while. It creates interest, and besides its fun. If you have read any of my top ten lists at all, that is always number ten, have fun. So see, with a contest you can just skip all the other bunk and go right for fun. It works in their favor too. I have now mentioned both of the above blogs several times on several different posts, so it also works the way they want it to as well.

Comments Anyone?

So I am taking the plunge anyway and giving away one free month of advertising on my favicons on the sidebar to the right, large or small size (16×16 or 26×26), your choice, picked by random. If you or your company does not have a favicon or a large size square graphic, I will even create it for you. Just post a quick critique comment below on this particular blog. Since my blog is relatively new, I do not get a lot of feedback, so give me a, quick, honest critique of how its going so far and I will pick the winner out of all the responses. If I get more than 10 comments, I will pick two winners.

Favicon Link on chipseoI am not going to pick the one who says “everything looks great”, it will be random, so positive or negative, just leave me a quick overview of whatever you think about chipseo, it is that easy. Since this post is going up on the weekend I will leave it open for comments until Monday, October 29th and pick the winner or winners at that point. Try to offer a coupon or door prize on your online store and see how it works as well. Be sure to use some method you can track so you can judge its effectiveness, try not to make it something that your customers will not care anything about, make it count. If you don’t get the results you wanted, try something else, something bigger perhaps, don’t just give up after the first try because you didn’t get the results you wanted.

So, how about it. Post a comment below and your in the list.

How to Make Money Drop Shipping on Amazon or eBay

Are you tired of competing with a drop shipper or drop shipping company that does not ever touch the product, house, or package the product, seems to sell more, and make more money than your competing businesses? You probably are if you are a company that spends time finding wholesalers, buying inventory, cataloging, indexing, valuing, packaging, and all the normal business practices that go along with running a business that carries an inventory based product.

I received an email this week from a “buyer” on Amazon. He purchased one of our books and the subject of his email said, DON’T SEND PACKING SLIP OR INVOICE PLEASE, in all caps, but it was his email to me that told me the story:

Would you mind sending this package without a packing slip and/or invoice? I would really appreciate it. Also, please use delivery confirmation, if possible – I only make this suggestion, as the USPS is far less likely to lose the package.

[item sold and order number was inserted here]

If this item is a different condition (used/new/etc.), binding or media type softcover/hardcover/tape/disc/etc.), edition or version (international/etc.) or differs in any way from your listing, please refund this order immediately.

You don’t need to respond to this email unless there is a problem with the order.

Besides the fact that Amazon requires you to send a packing slip with each order, the shipping address was completely different than the email name or company, so it was obvious to me that this was a drop shipper and we were now the fulfillment company. This email was automatically generated and I had no choice at this point other than to just ship the order.

A little looking around and I could find a store with similar products and a name close to the email address where all the books were extremely high priced and “ready to ship” within 24 hours. The book we sold to this company sold for about $5.00, it was listed on their website for $35.00. You have to love that markup, I would, and if I could realistically sell this book on Amazon for $35.00 in a “reasonable” period of time, I would.

Even if you don’t know what I am talking about you are probably competing with them. Think about it for a minute. You can sell a product you don’t own, one you don’t have on hand, have someone else ship it (from anywhere in the world), not handle returns and customer service, and you spend your time collecting the money? Sound good? If you don’t like competing with these companies, you can always join them. Just do it using legitimate business methods.

There are many shady and just about unethical business practices that drop shippers and drop shipping companies will use, especially on the systems setup to amplify this type of service like Amazon and eBay. You can really apply this to just about any platform for selling like Amazon and eBay where you can setup and sell a product in a short period of time for almost no money up front.

What is a Drop Shipping Company

I have to say from the start, all drop shipping companies are not bad. Drop shippers do have a legitimate sales channel and do work with wholesalers and develop a relationship with their business partners and some times it works fine. That isn’t really what I am referring to in this article though. But lets look at the definition anyway.

Drop Shipping Companies and ProductsDrop shippers are generally companies that specialize in one field or niche market that have setup wholesale or distribution channels to sell products (or services), most of the time to the end consumer, by doing the work of the sales person or sales company for the wholesale or distribution warehouse.

These drop shipping companies usually do not see the product, but they will setup a storefront with samples, a website with photos and generally information about the products with some type of eCommerce shopping cart system to sell the product. Once a product is sold, the sales data is sent over to the wholesaler or warehouse company and they ship it to the customer.

You as the dropshipper will most likely not pay for the inventory until it sells. So if Product A will cost you $5.00 to buy, you can setup your website to sell it for $10.00 and when you sell it, you have a net gain of $5.00. Probably the hardest part of this type of business is the website. You have to do the design, shopping cart system setup, marketing the product, in this case through Amazon and eBay.

Get Rich Quick Schemes?

Not all of these companies that are making loads of money are doing it in a manner that either Amazon or eBay would prefer, but they can easily just move from one login ID to the other without much trouble, so they can just continue their practices untouched, sometimes for a long time.

On Amazon, they do not care if your listings are for sale using a drop shipping company, as long as you don’t use listings from other sellers on Amazon and you still have to maintain the normal seller performance stats that they require of all media sellers on Amazon.Drop Shipping Sucks Company

There are so many articles that have been posted on blogs about drop shipping that you can quickly see there are some schemes in this field, as there are in most fields these days, but one recent article, The Best and Worst Of Dropshipping, does show the pros and cons of drop shipping quite well.

If you are interested in a legitimate drop shipping business, just do your homework and go by a few quick rules of the trade.

  • Pick your supplier or wholesaler very carefully.
  • Develop a relationship with them so their shipping problems don’t ruin your reputation and cause you to loose your sales channel.
  • A bad reputation on eBay or Amazon can quickly ruin sales regardless of your standing with either of those two companies.
  • Consider the location of their warehouse and how long it will take for a package to arrive. A wholesale company in New York that is also an importer will probably deliver more quickly than a company located in China.
  • Consider the quality of the product you are selling. Is it cheap for a reason? Lower quality items sell well, but they also have higher complaints and more returns to deal with.

How to Compete with a Drop Shipper

I always like to look at how the others do it so I know how I can adjust to compete, if possible, with those who choose less ethical business practices when selling online. If you are a company that does not drop ship then you carry a product, package, and ship the product. You have to buy shipping supplies, hire employees to package the products, AND you have to do all the website design and marketing as well.

Most likely you can’t compete with their costs. Just the fact that you have to buy your inventory gives you a cost they don’t have. COGS isn’t non-existent with the drop shipper, it just doesn’t take place until after the sale. Yours take place BEFORE the sale. If you can’t compete with the cost, don’t try, put your efforts in other areas.

Where you can compete is in the customer service and reputation. Many (legitimate) drop shippers will have to sell their products to a customer without knowing what it is that the customer is receiving. You know, you packaged the product. So provide the best customer service and your ranking or reputation will almost always be higher than that of a drop shipper just by the nature of the business. This will drastically increase the repeat buyer rates and the acquisition of new customers.

Have a superior product. Many drop shipping companies will ship products our of China. All you have to do lately is a search on “china lead recall” to see the results of low quality products. We competed with drop shippers on eBay for years by importing a superior product from Austria, into New York, then to our warehouse. Our competition would ship a “like product” out of China and the two products compared together were laughable.

How to Make a Fortune of Money Online, the Wrong Way

I said above that I always want to know at least “how” the other guys do it, so I can make adjustments, but sometimes you just can’t compete. If there is not a set of standard that people follow in business, you just can’t compete with it, and you shouldn’t try either.

Eventually these sellers houses will come crumbling down and they will have to move on to other areas. You just have to survive the short term while they are taking sales away from everyone else and hope they do get caught. On eBay and Amazon that might not always happen very quickly. In my own experience, after selling full time on eBay for about 5 years, I gave up hope these guys would be removed.

How to Do it On eBay

What is the official word on eBay? Well, eBay says:

Sellers must accurately represent the location from which their item will be shipped in the item location field. False, inaccurate or misleading information about the shipping location of an item is not allowed on eBay.

That sounds pretty vague, but it is clear to me they do not want a big volume of dropshippers. That says you can not drop ship on eBay, right? Well according to the article, Ebay and Drop Shipping, 95% of eBay home businesses drop ship? I am not sure how accurate that statement is but even if it is half of that, does that mean half of the sellers on eBay are violating the Item Location Misrepresentation Policy?

The wording use to be more clear than that, and I think it is still in place. You can not ship an item that you do not hold in your possession.

So, on eBay, you can just scrape content from the listings and sell for just a slightly lower price or sometimes a much lower price and ship a fake. This practice has been raging in the DVD / CD area on eBay for years. You just buy a counterfeit product out of China (we all know that is where a majority of the fake products come from) and sell them as genuine products.

eBay has been fighting with this for years and found it almost impossible to stop. In my own case, we would have other “sellers” scrape our listings, reproduce the exact same titles, content, and shipping rates, and sell cheap knock-offs of what we were selling. What was interesting is they weren’t selling a “fake” product. It was a real product manufactured in the Czech Republic but it was sold as the exact same product we sold, manufactured only in Austria, and they would just drop ship the product from somewhere in Asia, many times out of Hong Kong.

How to Do it On Amazon

On Amazon you can I think it is a little easier to setup and make some real money, especially if you know how to program even in the slightest bit. Amazon makes their API code available where you can pull large amounts of data just by writing a program.

This is the one, two, three of how they do it, and you don’t have to be a programmer to do it, just anyone with half a brain can accomplish this. Go through and find some good books on the Amazon ranking. Try the best seller rankings and you will see a list of some of the fastest selling books, but you don’t have to use these, just anything with a high selling price and a ranking will do.

Once you find something that will sell, and for a good price, just list it on your own store, usually for a much higher price, and wait for it to sell. Once it sells, you go buy the book from the lowest Amazon Marketplace seller and use the shipping address of the order you just sold. Now multiple this by thousands, sometimes tens of thousands. Using an API or some other method to scrape entire databases of listings, you can you pull the data into one single database, raise all the prices by 20-50% (sometimes even 100%), and wait for these to sell. When they do, you just go buy it from another Amazon Marketplace seller.

There are so many things wrong with this method, and you might even ask why would it even work. Well, why does spam work, because people buy from spammers. You wouldn’t think anyone would buy from a seller that sells the exact same product as you for 100% higher, but they do. Maybe the drop shipper has changed the description to read that it is a “collectible” or perhaps the buyer is just not very bright. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t use this unethical method.

Conclusion

The two ways mentioned above are by no means the ethical way to do business on the Internet, and there certainly are legitimate drop shipping companies that work hard and make a good living. If you are not a drop shipper, you should still know how to compete with them and know how they operate. Ignoring part of the marketplace that you compete with is probably not the best alternative. So educate yourself with the practices of the legit, and perhaps not-so-legit, and it will strengthen your business to survive and compete with the other eCommerce companies selling on the Internet.

If you are competing in an area with high online fraud, an ongoing evaluation of your competition might show you that there are other niche markets that might be more suitable for your skills and ethical business practices. We learned this, not so quickly, after years of competing with drop shipping companies selling Product A, by buying product B for $.10/package and selling it as Product A. We would buy Product A for $1.00/package and sell it for what it was, a genuine, high quality product, with a good demand for sales. Sometimes you just can’t compete with a 1000% markup on your cost of goods sold.

What do you think? Has your online business been effected by fraudulent competition? Have you even looked into to it yet?