January 2007 - Backend Business

Services to Consider When Evaluating Leading E-commerce Websites

By Andy Arvidson

The Sunshine Scooter is one example of a DR product that has found added success via alternative e-commerce sites. Savvy marketers should consider the Internet as a distribution channel that complements their marketing efforts on television, radio and retail.

Have you ever wondered if there was another way that you could profit on your DR products? You can by using alternative e-commerce sites! The fact is you may have existing product inventories at your fulfillment house accruing monthly storage fees with little or no return on your investment.

Alternative e-commence sites such as Flippid.com, eBay.com or Overstock.com are a proven and often untapped sales distribution channel in addition to telemarketing, web, call center and retail orders. These sites provide a means for you to advertise and list your products and ultimately expose your items to potential buyers. By creating ads for your items, buyers can utilize search mechanisms using keywords to find products they are interested in buying.

What services should e-commerce companies provide marketers to help them enhance their online efforts? Following are a few tips.

Cost-effective price structures. These e-commerce alternatives bring a wide audience to niche product categories while maintaining relatively low costs. Some sites such as eBay.com, Overstock.com and Amazon.com charge listing fees to get listed on their sites, while others like Flippid.com have zero listing fees and the added value of fitting buyers to your specific product line. Because these sites have established user traffic and low barriers to entry, they can outperform the ROI of a traditional DR campaign. The combination of low fee structures and a large audience of targeted shoppers can mean big sales on unused inventories.

Determine if it’s right for you. The alternative e-commerce platform intrinsically lends itself to market testing your type of inventory without a significant investment. Not all types of products are successful in this arena, but with a few clicks of a mouse you can determine if your products have an audience on these sites. If your product has attributes to it that may be searched by potential customers, you may have a good candidate for eBay.com, Overstock.com or Flippid.com.

Here is an auction item from the popular reality television show “Survivor.”

Use a site with multiple product listing capabilities. Most alternative e-commerce sites usually have the capability to help sellers market their items using various means, such as auction-type listings to encourage multiple offers that increase the value of the product, or store-type listings for fixed price purchasing. Some sites also have areas where buyers can post ads for items they are interested in purchasing and sellers can set up product-relevant alerts to be informed of these ads ultimately matching a seller with a potential buyer.

Use a system that rates buyers and sellers. Buyers and sellers use scores or ratings to indicate to others how they feel about their overall buying and selling experience. These scores help the site’s community determine legitimate buyers and sellers.

Let the system work for you. It’s important to pick a site that has a friendly user interface, and can get you up and operating in a short period of time. Some sites like eBay.com are long established in the marketplace but could initially be cumbersome to work with. However, newer sites such as Flippid.com utilize Web 2.0 technology, which lets users interact with the website like never before and can draw more savvy web users.

Create sleek seller ads. Most alternative e-commerce sites use integrated HTML editors to allow sellers to create attractive ads to describe the product and terms of the sale. The sky is the limit for the graphical appeal of your listing, and it is possible to carry over your corporate branding into a marketplace environment for a professional look.

Manage inventory. Inventory must be tracked with extreme accuracy and with detailed reporting. Some sites allow the sellers to indicate the quality of inventory available when creating the ad, which in turn, helps the seller market to multiple individuals without the need to create multiple ads.

Market products effectively. A great way for buyers to find more items is how and where the items are posted on the site. Sites like eBay.com use category numbers to place the ads in relevant sections, and other sites like Flippid.com use tags, keywords and categories. Both methods help buyers search for items easily.

Fulfill products easily. Look for a fulfillment center with a long history of experience with the warehousing, fulfillment and distribution of auction items. The software these fulfillment centers use should successfully handle post sales transactions, possible back-orders and partial shipments in an efficient manner.

Andy Arvidson is owner of Imagine Fulfillment Services (IFS) in Torrance, Calif. He can be reached at (310) 217-4610, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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