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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Doug247's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    DE USA
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    Red face Becoming a Merchant Guide
    Is there one??

    If not where do I start. I have a domain that I want to start selling merchandise for as a merchant. It will be very focused meaning only selling one type of product.

    Outside of updating datafeeds I have not touched the site in about 18 months. It gets a had full of clicks per day.

    How do I find a supplier for drop shipping. I have setup CC processing before so that is not a biggie.

    Once I have the site converted to an actual store how do I go about getting more traffic? Adsense...News Print.....Ect.


    Thanks,
    Doug

  2. #2
    Newbie
    Join Date
    May 9th, 2006
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    18
    These are big questions.

    I would suggest 2 things - even though I may not be qualified as a experienced merchant.

    Regarding drop-shipping, setting up an effective ecommerce store and other concrete activities:

    1. Study your competition very very hard. See what they do and see if you can copy it. For knowledge sake, you may want to register with them - perhaps buy something from them...in order see how they work and who they work with. Spare yourself the headache of clearing an entirely new path.

    2. Regarding Traffic - there are a finite number of channels to direct your attention towards. Adveriting on Search Engines will most probably be one of your top 3 choices - but there is a lot to learn regarding Sponsored Search on the major search engines. Either you really need invest time in learning it - or get someone who you trust to help you part-time - in order that you can see it first hand.

    Hopes this helps a little.

  3. #3
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    1) I wouldn't go for drop shipping. No point in staking *your* reputation on whether some *other* place can satisfy your customers! If you go as the merchant, you're responsible for the customer service, and the one getting the blame if it's bad. Customers won't be impressed if they get "but our shipper was supposed to send it out..." as a response. Packing and shipping the stuff is the easy part, when it's YOUR stuff that's getting packed and shipped. Funny how much different it is compared to when it's someone else's stuff! But then, when it's your stuff you're not packing it for what amounts to $5/hr either (if you are, something is drastically wrong...)!!

    1B) Regardless of where you get the items--Someone once posted that you should have multiple suppliers and I agree. Go for at least 3 sources of anything you want to be sure of having in stock. Things Happen.


    2) Traffic. This is the other fun part, but it takes patience. FUN because you get to drop money on stuff like branding campaigns, with no worries that the cookie will run out on you before the benefit kicks in. And, you can do bricks-n-mortar advertising without trying to get customers to remember some URL like "www.some-keyworded-up-the-wazoo-url.com/mymerchant/particularitem.html". So, that part's kind of fun because of the expanded possibilities.

    But, it takes ages for branding to kick in, compared to affiliate-centric advertising which seeks immediate results.

    I've found it works to have PPC ads and aff program going for immediate returns, but branding is starting to kick in now as well. At least, I assume that it's branding kicking in, when I get orders off of what appear to be direct type-ins.

    Be careful with the PPC. There's surprisingly little room to "play" on the merchant side, bid-wise, at least in my experience! Yeah you can bid a bit higher, but not all that much...once you take out your stock costs, merchant acc't costs, etc. there isn't nearly as much room as it might seem at first.

    Study your competition very very hard. See what they do and see if you can copy it.
    I'll add, "make sure it's worth copying before getting out the Xerox machine," to that statement.

    Study the competition, but make sure you don't pick up any of their useless baggage. There will be both useful, and useless, practices going on at competing companies. Be picky as to which things to adopt for yourself.

    Also, look for more economical ways to get at the "spirit" of what works. Really big companies often spend money like the government--that is, unnecessarily, and like it's water. As a start-up, it's strategic to look for the most economical way to do the job with satisfactory quality. In fact, as a huge conglomerate it'd *still* be strategic to avoid wasting money, but they usually waste it anyway!

    And, some competitor practices you can likely ignore altogether, for now. For instance, many retailers stick their name on all kinds of stuff, like their shipping boxes and bags and other stuff like that. That kind of customization is only economical if you're big enough to order something like 100,000 of the customized items. If not, better to go with plain.

    On a similar note, watch out for the "Enterprise Level" trap: Don't fall into it!! Some places charge way more, when they find out you're a Bussinnnnesss (or they aim their ads toward businesses they already know are businesses). Run away from that! Sometimes it's better to just buy stuff as a "person." Don't let places play to your ego with pro-business pitches. A ripoff's a ripoff. Keep your eyes open and your blinders off when evaluating any business-targeted offers. For example it's cheaper to buy toilet paper at Kroger's than it is to go to a "breakroom supply" catalog. It's also cheaper to buy printer paper at KMart by the pack, than it is to get a case at Staples (unless a sale's on). Things like that come up all the time.

    On the high-priced end, there's the Oracle Database, which IIRC wants several K for an "enterprise" license. Or you can use MySQL free, and it'll do all you (as a start-up) likely need it to do, and probably way beyojnd.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

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