Category Archives: Amazon

5 Tips for Crushing Your Competition on Online Marketplaces

Selling on Online Marketplaces
Crush Your Competition

Online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon are a boon for small business owners. Whether you are a startup with one room doubling as your office and your warehouse, or a physical store trying to reach new customers, online marketplaces are the place to be. Even niche product creators have platforms like Etsy to sell their goods online.

As businesses hop on to the online marketplace bandwagon, the competition continues to rise. If you want to find an audience in the competitive online marketplace arena, you need to stand out from the rest. Let us look at a few things you can do to overcome your competitors.

  1. Make sure your photos are of the highest quality.

This is probably the single most important thing you can do to immediately improve the quality of your listings. Taking great photos is absolutely crucial for impressing your customers. If you’ve visited Apple’s website, for example, you can see the impact that fantastic photography can have on brand image.

Products usually look better when they are photographed with white backgrounds. This isn’t a thumb rule though. If you find that a lot of your competitors are using similar photo styles, feel free to do something creative. Make sure your images look professional and share-worthy. Hire a professional to get your photo shoot done.

  1. Create an interesting story around your brand and the product you are selling.

Everyone loves a good story. Instead of beginning your product listing with a list of specifications, draw your viewers in by narrating the story of how the product came to be. Talk about why the product is better than the competition. Use emotive language.

Most e-commerce platforms allow businesses to have an “About Us” page. This is where you should talk about your own story and how your company came to be. Use videos and photos to create a more engaging narrative.

  1. Make your customers feel special.

Buyers love it when they feel appreciated for their purchase. You should always strive to add a personal touch to each of your shipments. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy – a simple thank-you note or a small accessory will do.

  1. Tap into the pulse of your market and get to know your buyers.

Companies that are able to form personal connections with their customers are more likely to succeed on online marketplaces. With social media, you have a platform to interact with your buyers on a more personal level. If your customers post photos of themselves using your products on Instagram, reach out to them and comment on their photos. If you find someone tweeting about your products, engage them in conversation. Communicate with influential people in your market and ask them to promote your products.

  1. Give your customers a solid guarantee.

Your customers need to know that they are in safe hands if they buy from you. On your product listing, mention the details of your shipping and return policies. Let your customers know where they can reach if you if they have any issues with their purchase. If you are perceived as a company with integrity, your sales will be much higher.

In summation, getting yourself noticed on Amazon, eBay or other online marketplaces can be tough. But if you follow the tips outlined above, you will have a much greater chance of success.

What to Sell – Arm Candy: Spring 2014 Handbags

The top hand bag trends for spring 2014 are the cross-body bags, totes, backpacks, and clutches. From easy-going hobos to stunning, sophisticated satchels, this season’s hand bags are sure to be showstoppers.

Cross-Body Carryalls

Sleek, structured cross-body hand bags are great additions to any woman’s collection as they display beautiful craftsmanship and are sure to hold their value for years to come. Leather (calfskin, lambskin and goatskin), suede, embossed snakeskin, polished multi-tonal hardware (chrome, brass and gold), zippers, magnetic closures, and removable straps all grace these bags this Spring. Cross-body hand bags make it easy to go hands-free and to keep everything close to the vest, so-to-speak.

Some cross-body hand bags feature highly innovative features like expandable zip sides, zip-top fold-over flaps, and hidden mirrors in their removable zip-trimmed shoulder straps. Designs in woven calfskin with smooth leather trim reflect the current multi-textural trend. Other cross-body styles are adorned in high-gloss crocodile, or feature flap top accordion styles with multiple interior pockets, tonal lining, and hidden push-lock clasps.

Totes & Satchels

Tote bags are being toted in every shape and size imaginable, from small hand bags to more spacious over-sized carryalls … then, there are the trapeze totes; they make for a practical purchase when shopping for a new hand bag this season that transition well from work to evening.

Made of canvas, leather and crocodile in soft neutrals, or bold bright hues that pop (hot pink, electric neon and cobalt), they add a needed shock to the season’s otherwise delicate pastel and neutral color palette. This season’s canvas totes highlight leather piping, mixing hard leather and soft suede to reflect this season’s multi-textural, and dual tonal trends, playing on the union of masculine and feminine qualities.

Tote bags have open tops for easy access to all of the essentials that the modern, multi-tasking woman carries with her, or drawstring, snap or zippered closures to ensure that everything stays in place. Either way, their roomy, spacious interiors are sure to hold everything but the kitchen sink.

Elegant, ladylike satchels in soft, supple leather don studded embellishments, gilded hardware, and cracked leather for a sweet, but tough juxtaposition. These roomy bags have easy to carry double and rolled top handles along with adjustable, removable shoulder straps to sling over the shoulder and go.

Shoulder Bags

Spring 2014 shoulder bags range from slouchy hobos and messenger bags to boxy, structured bags.  This season’s shoulder bags come in solid neutrals, bold saturated colors (cobalt, fuchsia and tangerine), and monochromatic motifs. With their more laid back sensibility, slouchy hobos are great for errand running during the day.

Structured canvas and supple calfskin leather combinations exhibit this season’s multi-textural trend and color blocking and dual toned bags make for great contrasting pieces. Structured shoulder bags have optional straps that can easily be removed to carry by hand, transitioning seamlessly from day to night. Portable-sized bags are small enough to carry around all day. Design trends include fold-over flaps, flap buckles, chain straps, top stitching and gunmetal studding. Envelope styles, python-embossing and expandable bottom bags are other fashion-forward shoulder bag options to choose from.


Backpacks are no longer just for grade school kids but rather for the modern woman. Updated backpack styles may be carried as hand or shoulder bags or as a backpack. They come in soft leather bucket bag shapes with drawstring closures, as well as grained leather, boxy, flap top styles. Vegan-friendly options are available in faux deerskin (polyester) and lightweight nylon. Backpack detailing includes whip stitching, metallics, curb-chain trim and slim straps. They come in pretty pastels like mint green, multi-tonal prints, and bold, bright shades like strawberry.

Envelope & Fold-Over-Flap Clutches

Envelope clutches (resembling envelopes) are also statement-making pieces to sell this season. They are easy to carry, and some even have front straps to clutch onto. Designed in two-tone, color blocked, and pretty pastel shades, rich buttery or high-gloss patent leather, super soft suede, and snakeskin (python), these bags can really hold their own. Top design trends seen on these bags this Spring include perforations, lattice work, laser cutouts, and intricately woven leather.

While some clutches stick with the minimalism trend, others feature sparkly faceted Swarovski crystals, mirrored palettes, and/or gilded hardware (studs, clasps and chains) embellishments that add high fashion glamour to any outfit. These eye-catching bejeweled clutches complement any simple, sophisticated dress or jumpsuit for a stylish night out on the town. With so much bling in one sleek piece, other jewelry can be kept minimal.

Some clutches are small enough to be carried in tote bags for the day and brought out at night, while others are large enough to hold a tablet; some of them even resemble brief cases with due to their fold over flaps. Over-sized clutches are carryalls for everything today’s women need to have on hand. More compact designs with wrist straps (wristlets) allow for a hands-free evening while keeping all necessities (ID, compact, lipstick, and cell phone) close at hand. In the season’s most popular prints from floral, camouflage, tropical prints, water colors, graphic graffiti, art-inspired, sharp metallic, and safari (leopard), these bags are very “clutch.”

Spring 2014 is all about having the latest “It” bags in stock, whether you choose to sell a more relaxed silhouette like the hobo bag or a super structured, more proper satchel. Beautiful materials and detailing make these bags eye-catching pieces to highlight the season’s hottest trends in shopping carts.

Amazon Dash

Amazon Dash Review – Amazon’s New Barcode Scanner

This is my review of the Amazon Dash. Dash is a new handheld Wi-Fi device by Amazon that you can use to scan the barcodes of items around your home (anything from yogurt to pens) and add them to your AmazonFresh shopping cart (AmazonFresh is the same-day scheduled delivery service for items and groceries). If you are not much into scanning, the Dash also has a microphone button for voice recognition – whatever you say gets added to your cart.

Amazon Dash AmazonFresh
Amazon Dash, April 21, 2014.

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from AmazonFresh inviting me to participate in the exclusive Amazon Dash trial and “be among the first users of an exciting and convenient new way to shop”.  A 10-digit alphanumeric free trial code was included.

I am not sure what their qualification criteria were, but I am a PrimeFresh member, and I use Amazon quite often – 100+ orders placed in 2013, and 80+ orders placed in the past 6 months.  I mostly order groceries, office and shipping supplies, gifts and some personal toys like fountain pens and ink.

One day after I entered my shipping address and submitted my code, my Amazon Dash arrived.

Amazon has long enabled me to scan barcodes with its Android app, but I was never a big fan of this feature. I always found it a bit cumbersome to look for my phone, turn on the app, navigate to the barcode scanning feature, make sure that there’s enough ambient light … it is much faster for me to just open up a browser and start typing the name of whatever I am looking for.

Amazon Dash - Scanning Light
Amazon Dash – Scanning Light

The Dash, however, makes me want to scan, scan some more and keep scanning. The second I press the “Scan” button, a red light is emitted that quickly (very quickly) scans any barcode. There is no more need to hold my arm steady and wait until the thing focuses. There is even no need for ambient light. I was successful in scanning and purchasing iced tea in complete blackout-curtain-induced darkness.

The voice recognition feature is equally impressive. You press the button, say something, and it instantly loads in your shopping cart on your desktop browser. Cool! Everything I said was instantly recognized and showed up in my shopping cart. I tried saying “Chobani Yogurt”, “Milk”, “Bananas”, “Eggs” and “Solid Seller”.  Of all the items on the list, the only item that was not recognized was “Solid Seller”. It showed up as “Solid Cellar”. Amazon, I forgive you. After all, you can’t buy my blog on Amazon.

Amazon Dash - Solid Seller
Amazon Dash – Solid Seller

After you are done adding items to your cart, specifying quantities and adding a few additional items, all that is left to do is go through the simple checkout and pick the delivery date and time.

Quick Clarification: If an item you scanned is not on AmazonFresh, you will either get suggestions for similar items or a “not found” notification for off-the-wall barcodes (old SXSW conference ID badges, spray paint, codes not in the system, etc.)

In my opinion, the Amazon Dash is an exquisite device – one that really makes shopping for groceries and other household items easy. I keep it on top of my fridge and scan/speak whenever I run out of something. The scanning is effortless, the voice recognition is accurate, and the construction is quite solid. It doesn’t seem to be a cheaply made item that barely flops along.

Amazon Dash - Top
Amazon Dash – Top

Why you should care: If you are selling a lot of the same items on Amazon, Etsy, eBay … or any other marketplace, now would be a good time to make sure that your items have traditional barcodes. They are not expensive to register (google “How to Buy a Barcode”), and they could be used a lot more in the future. Let’s face it: QR codes were just a little too much for mainstream consumers. This, however, may be a game changer. As devices like the Dash (price point TBD) hit the shelves, barcodes could be the “it” factor for not only major retailers, but for online sellers like you and I. “Say and bid”, anyone?  In fact, at least one other scanner is already out – it’s called the Hiku …pronounced as Haiku…accessory. More could be out that I don’t know about.

If this trend goes mainstream, you may want to make sure that your stuff on eBay, etc. has barcodes.