Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Auction Sites

Characteristics of a Good Online Auction Site

o Site must have prominent privacy policy that guarantees that the site will provide secure link when a customer enter credit card details and do not sell customer information.

o Very clear defined policies and procedures must be enacted upon when and if any wrong transaction occurs.

o Rating of buyers and sellers facilitate the identification of sellers who do not exist to the end of bargain.

o Fees and commissions must be mentioned on the site. Most of the sites do not charge any fees from bidders but sellers often have to pay small fees for listing the items and commission on selling any item. So the bidders must compare online auction sites for the fees and commission rates to get an idea of the current rates.

o A good online auction site must have escrow services option such as PayPal. These services make the selling and buying more quick by preventing buyers and sellers from becoming intermediary. The buyer can directly send the small fees and payment to the escrew service, after receiving funds escrew gives instruction to sellers to ship the goods. When buyer receives the goods in acceptable condition, funds are transferred to seller via escrew service.

o A good online auction site must have the international payment and shipping option. Commercial sites support international sales.

Advantages of Online Auction Sites

Online auction sites offer several advantages:

o Online auction sites do not stop businesses to carry on sales of product through traditional sales method.

o An online auction site also reduces the distribution cost of a product. It can be stored at one place till it is ready for shipping. It will also reduce the packaging cost of items for distribution to intermediaries such as retail stores. It will also protect goods from damages and keep them safe.

o Online auction also helps small businesses to sell their seasonal, discontinued or damaged goods often with profits and eliminate the inventory expense to store them.

o Online auction sites open the door of international markets for small businesses and help to expand global market. That is nearly impossible to achieve via normal marketing channels.

o Online auction sites also help new businesses that offer new products and it becomes easy to set a market price based on supply and demand.

o These sites also help to find out what customers are willing to pay without doing time-consuming expensive market research.

Disadvantages of Online Auctions

Online auctions do not provide buyers with an option of personally viewing and evaluating items before purchasing. This may lead to the possibility of fraud.

Another major drawback is that it is also not possible for every business to take part in online auction. Companies have to host their own auction websites and for this purpose they have to hire trained technical staff.

How Affiliate Marketing Works – A Step By Step Guide For Beginners

Looking to make an income online? Got a computer / laptop and an Internet connection? Then Affiliate Marketing could be the simplest and quickest path to fulfilling your dream.

Here, you’ll discover the 6 simple steps that will take you from complete beginner to Affiliate Marketer in as little as 48 hours.

WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing system where a product vendor pays an “affiliate” a commission when someone buys their product. That “someone” having been referred to the vendor by the “affiliate.”

And it all happens online: You have a web presence, usually a website, that you attract like-minded visitors to, where you “warm them up” to the idea that the product you’re promoting (as an affiliate) is the perfect answer to their pressing problem or need.

That “product” could be physical (books, CDs, DVDs, clothing, jewelry, natural medicines, etc.) or digital (e-books, e-reports, software, online courses / trainings, etc.).

When your visitor clicks on your affiliate link (on your site) they are redirected to the vendor’s site, where the vendor will close the sale; a lot easier after you’ve warmed them up! When your site visitor buys the vendor’s product you get paid a commission.

For example, if the product cost $100 and you get, say, 50% commission, you’ll get paid $50! And all for, basically, introducing someone with a pressing problem or need to someone who can fix that problem.

Affiliate marketing is ideal for beginners starting out online as it has a very low barrier to entry: it’s a very simple process that doesn’t need any particular technical skills, you don’t have to have your own product, and it doesn’t cost the earth to get started. In fact, you can get going for less than $20!

And, you don’t have to do selling, or fulfillment, or keep stock, or deal with payment systems, and you don’t have to deal with customers; the vendor does that.

All YOU need is an Internet connection and a computer / laptop and you’re good to go.

AFFILIATE NETWORKS

Because affiliate marketing is so profitable for both affiliate and vendor, over the years many “affiliate networks” have sprung up to help both affiliates and vendors manage their affairs much more efficiently and easily.

Vendors can attract affiliates by advertising their products on these networks and affiliates can easily find products to promote. Once an affiliate decides to promote a certain product the network assigns an affiliate link / ID so that sales of that product can be linked back to the affiliate.

The affiliate network also takes on responsibility for managing the flow of money between vendor and affiliate either by electronic transfer or check. It also charges a small fee to both vendor and affiliate for the service.

There are many affiliate networks to choose from, but a beginner to affiliate marketing can easily get started with “ClickBank” and / or “Amazon.”

GETTING STARTED WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING

1. Choose Your Niche and Product

The first step is to decide which niche you wish to operate in. A “niche” is a group of people with very similar interests, e.g. gout sufferers, broken relationships, looking for car insurance, how to make money online, etc. But, of course, it also has to have proven “buyers” in it in order to make money.

So how do you find a profitable niche with lots of profitable products you can promote?

A very quick way to do this is to search affiliate networks for niches that have several products that their stats tell you are selling well. If there are lots of products that are selling well, you now know that the niche is a profitable one, and, the buyers in that niche like those products.

In other words, there’s no second guessing; you know for a fact that you can make money in that niche and you know for a fact which products are successful, unlike if you had to develop your own product!

Once you’re happy with a product, you sign-up as an affiliate for it and are given a unique link that you place on your website. When a visitor clicks on that link they go to the vendor’s sales page where, if they buy, you get paid the commission assigned to that product.

2. Get Your Domain Name

Before you setup your website you need to get a domain name based around your niche. For example, fastgoutcure.com, weightlossforseniors.com. Get the idea? This will become your website “address.”

Two of the most popular domain registrars are “GoDaddy” and “NameCheap.”

3. Get Hosting

Next, you need to get hosting for your website. This is where all your website files will be stored and secured. When someone enters your domain name in their browser they will be directed to your website.

There are very many web hosting companies out there, but you can’t go far wrong as a newbie by going with “HostGator.”

4. Set-Up Your Website

You then need to set-up your website. This needs to be highly relevant to, and laser-focused on, your chosen niche and product. For example, having a website about “arthritis” and trying to promote a product that cures “gout” will neither rank well in the search engines nor make sales.

Although gout and arthritis are linked medically, most people don’t know that, so they’ll be searching for “arthritis” solutions or “gout” solutions and Google will present webpages on their search results that reflect that. So always stay laser-focused!

You need a platform or specialist software to build your website. The most popular platform today by far is “WordPress” which is free. Most good hosting companies like HostGator allow you to select WordPress directly from within your hosting control panel in just a couple of clicks.

5. Add Great Content

There’s a saying in marketing that “content is king!” I like to say that “GREAT content is king!” So the content on your website has to be highly relevant to, and laser-focused on, your niche, such that your site visitors get great value (and know they great value) from it.

For example, if your site is about “gout” you write content about what causes it, its symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated, any natural remedies, any specific diets, lifestyle changes, and so on. Give top tips, some recipes, the latest studies, news, etc. That is, keep adding “value.”

6. Drive Traffic (Visitors)

Now, you can have the best website in the world, the best product(s) to promote that will definitely, absolutely, help your target audience; but, if nobody ever lands on your site, you might as well not have bothered!

So getting visitors (called “traffic” in Internet marketing) to your website is absolutely critical to your success and to helping all those people who are desperately searching for a solution to their problem.

There’s basically two ways to get traffic; “pay for it” or “get it free.”

Paid traffic is things like advertising on other niche websites, Google, Bing, Facebook, etc. You can also pay people who have large email lists in the same niche as you to send out a promotional email of yours to their list.

But paying for traffic may not be the best option when starting out because you really need to know what you are doing because it’s very easy to get “burnt” when you don’t.

Free traffic comes from things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is the art of getting your website on page 1 of Google, Bing, and other search engines.

You can also get tons of free traffic from posting great content (with links back to your site) on Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. When people click on your link they end up on your website.

You can produce simple, short, YouTube videos that can drive traffic to your site via your site link in the video description.

One very popular way to drive free traffic to your site is to post comments on blogs and forums in the same or similar niche to you.

Another very simple way to get free traffic is by publishing short articles in Article Directories such as EzineArticles. The article you’re reading right now is an example of this technique.

This also has the added benefit that other website owners in your niche are allowed to copy and publish your article on their sites, but they must leave your website link intact so that you can get free traffic from THEIR site too!

So, here’s your affiliate marketing checklist:

1. Choose Your Niche and Product

2. Get Your Domain Name

3. Get Hosting

4. Set-Up Your Website

5. Add Great Content

6. Drive Traffic (Visitors)

If you’re a beginner to affiliate marketing don’t be overawed by all this; it really is very easy to get going. Anybody, and I mean anybody, who has an Internet connection and a computer or laptop can be up and running, ready to start taking commissions, in as little as 48 hours. And all without any previous experience.

A Craft Industry Analysis

The Craft and Hobby Association in 2011, released results of research into the U.S. Craft and Hobby Industry. You may be surprised to learn that the craft and hobbyist’s contribution towards this industries net worth is approximately $29 billion, double the $14 billion first reported by Craft Organization Directors Association (CODA) in 2001. A surprising figure to emerge from this research (even to us avid craft enthusiasts) is that over half of U.S. households acknowledged engaging in a craft activity at least once per year.

When we unpack that $29 billion net worth figure we get a clearer picture of who it is that loves their hobby. Woodworking was the front runners in the top 10 craft sectors by spend, coming in at $3.32 billion with 16.8 million individuals engaging in this activity. I myself have some lovely bookends purchased at a local Sunday market that have clearly been lovingly produced by one such woodworker.

Since the internet revolution every industry engages in analytics and who wouldn’t want to have a picture of their client base so savvy marketing campaigns can bring a little more of that dollar value into the business. And what an impressive dollar value it is. The artists among us, thought to be 21.1 million households, spent $2.6 billion on our passion. The jewelry making and beading craft accounted for $2.3 billion with 14.7 million people crafting earrings, necklaces, bracelets and broaches etc. Over 18 million households engaged in Scrapbooking and other paper crafts spending $3.3 billion preserving family memories and turning photos into family heirlooms. The crocheting hobby injected $1.062 billion into the industry via 17.4 million strong crochet fans. That’s a lot of towels getting topped.

Crafting wreaths, historically a symbol of strength, and in Christianity a celebration of the festive season, made it into one of the top 10 favorite craft activities with 11.6 million engaging in this activity. This is not a once a year only at Christmas craft as wreaths are also used as wedding headdress in many different cultures. Incidentally, wedding crafts injected $803 million into the U.S. craft economy.

With speculation that the global financial crisis is responsible for providing this boost for the craft industry Hobby Lobby’s Eileen Liffick attributed an increase of people attending craft shops or online craft sites looking for ways to create craft for their families without spending a lot of money due to the current economic conditions. Ms Liffick says that “not only are people saving money, they’re making it. We have many people selling these items making extra money”.

What was previously a much loved hobby is now a means of saving the family money. “People are looking to create something special, something homemade. They want to help others save money, while making a little extra for themself”. The fabric department’s business has at least doubled in the last three years because of the economy with people trending back to earlier times, making homemade items for themselves, as a gift, or for a fun family activity. Industry concentration has increased over the five years to 2011, as large national retailers take market share from small independent operators.

Despite the impact of large scale business successful craft businesses are popping up everywhere seeking to share in the crafting industries net worth of $29 million. Crafting is a convenient work from home business and respected cottage industry. Approximately 81.2% of total craft industry operators in Canada are estimated to be businesses without paid-employees (non-employers) in 2011.

It’s now easier than ever to publicize your business and get recognition without spending a fortune doing so using a variety of free and low cost tools and resources from marketing on the internet to craft shows and everything in between.

Craft shows bring resources and new techniques to the end user providing an unequalled opportunity to present craft and hobby ideas and products and services to this cashed up audience. The hobby and craft association reported attendee registration at one particular craft show up 40%. In the “buyer” category alone registration was up 48% for this same show planned for 2012 in Anaheim.

Craft Pavilions showcase what’s new in crafts reaching craft and hobby enthusiasts far and wide. Stall holders sell products in a popular, vibrant market place that attracts tens of thousands over the course of the event. The bonus to the community is far reaching as these tens of thousands of attendees require accommodation and spend money on food and drinks in the vicinity of the event.

Peartree Solutions produced a report on the profile of the Canadian craft industry (2003) highlighting that Canadian craft, recognized internationally for its quality and distinctive character, was at the time considered to be a growing and vibrant collection of individual craft persons, studios, enterprises, media guilds, public and private galleries, retail and wholesale shows, and organizations. The industry in 2001 had generated $727 million in economic activity which including over $100 million in exports.

At the time of this research there were approximately 14,048 craft studios operating in Canada, where 22,597 people were employed. Ten per cent of those surveyed had craft revenues in excess of $120,000. The net craft income (or earnings) of full time craft professionals averaged $17,300 in 2001, while the top ten per cent earned net income of $49,000 or more.

Southern hemisphere crafters are every bit as enthusiastic about their hobby. Australia has less than one fifth of the population of U.S. however managed to spend an estimated $250 million on art and craft materials in 2009-2010. These figures are not a true representation of the Australian craft industry however as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) define a hobby as an activity that was undertaken only for oneself or for family or friends, that is, the output was not for general consumption. If the item produced was to sell, then this would be considered a work involvement and not measured in the hobby category. The ABS survey showed that in 2007 there were 2.1 million people aged 15 years and over in Australia who were involved in Art and craft as a hobby activity.

Craft exhibitions, craft festivals, craft shows are an unequalled opportunity for crafters and retailers alike to show case their wares. “Handarbeit & Hobby” Exhibition (Cologne, Germany) was held in 2009. Thought to be the largest European exhibition of manufacturers of the goods for needlework and creativity, the exhibition attracted more than 200 craft product companies. Many companies from Mexico, Japan, Australia, the USA and other countries saw the financial benefits of crossing the globe to present their products and shore up a slice of the lucrative European craft market.

Prize money from craft competitions can be quite lucrative for the hobbyist. A winner of an award for embroidery in 2009 beat the pool of 24 finalists from 24 countries selected from 330 applicants to take home $10 000. Craft enthusiasts can compete with the best by entering craft competitions. A European quilting championship has been held annually, since competition commenced in 2002. Masters and designers of ceramics and porcelain from Canada, Russia, Spain and other countries were among the last biennale visitors to the British Ceramic biennale festival in 2009. A mosaic technique summit was organized by the Society of the American Mosaic Artists and coincided with 10th anniversary of this Society.

In a news release issued on April 14 2011, CHA Member Northridge Publishing (PROVO, Utah) announced the launch of a new craft industry trade publication “Creative Retailer,” The publication aims to provide retailers the very best in industry information and product awareness and canvas a wide variety of topics, provide project ideas and discuss solutions for common retail problems for craft retailers. The craft industry hopes that the introduction of a new trade publication is a signal that the industry has a positive future for retailers and craft enthusiast alike.

As former partners of Scrapbook Premier, Inc. and Scrapbook Business Magazine, Torrie and Kevin of Northridge Publishing will provide leading-edge programs and media support that will strengthen business practices for both vendor, manufacturers and retailers. Brian Kunz, founder and president of Northridge Publishing stated ‘”they are striving to expand the industry by building greater awareness to their many subscribers” (hundreds of new readers every month).

Craft industry statistics clearly show that with over half of U.S. households engaging in a craft activity, many, many people experience that unequaled feeling of satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful. Nothing is as self-soothing as those stolen hours immersed in the craft you adore.

Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).

For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.

Branding Strategies For E-Commerce Businesses

By having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.

E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.

The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?

E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance

1. Your Brand Image - A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.

2. Customer Satisfaction - Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.

3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition - As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

4. Utilize All Channels - Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.

E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.