Archive for July, 2010

The New PACT Act Goes Into Effect Tomorrow for all Online Shippers

Posted on July 29, 2010. Filed under: Other | Tags: , , , |

Beginning tomorrow, the PACT (Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking) Act signed into law earlier this year prevents shippers from mailing cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products with few exceptions.     Some exceptions to this law include:

  • Shipment of cigars is not prohibited under this Act
  • Shipment entirely within Alaska or Hawaii
  • Shipments transmitted between verified and authorized tobacco industry businesses for business purposes, or between such businesses and federal or state agencies for regulatory purposes
  • Infrequent, lightweight shipments mailed by age-verified adult individuals
  • Shipments of cigarettes sent by verified and authorized manufacturers to verified adult smokers age 21 and over for consumer testing purposes, and shipments sent by federal agencies for public health purposes.

All shipments of cigarettes that qualify for one of these exceptions must include a unique mark for its particular exception on the address side of the package. Additional requirements may apply.

The USPS website has more information about this new law.

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Amazon FBA Toy Sellers are Exempt from 2010 Holiday Selling Requirements

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: Amazon | Tags: , , , |

Every year Amazon comes out with their Toy & Games Holiday Selling Guidelines.  These rules require third party vendors to meet performance targets before the holiday season in order to be eligible to sell on Amazon during the holidays.  Basically, Amazon says that sellers must have sufficient number of sales and must have a good customer satisfaction rating.  Therefore, only experienced Toy sellers are welcome to sell on Amazon during the holiday season.  No newbies allowed.  Sloppy sellers not welcome.   

This year, however, Amazon is making a slight exception to the rule.  Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) sellers do not have to meet the same requirements as third party toy vendors who are not FBA sellers.  Amazon’s 2010 holiday guidelines:

Effective September 20, 2010, we will stop accepting new non-FBA sellers in Toys
& Games.*  Effective November 15, 2010, only those sellers who meet the
following performance criteria will be eligible to sell in Toys & Games from
November 15, 2010 through the first week in January 2011:

– Seller’s first sale on Amazon.com must be prior to 09/20/2010 (sale does not
need to be Toy-specific).
– Seller must have processed and shipped at least 25 orders (do not need to be
Toy-specific) during the 60 consecutive days preceding 11/1/2010.
– No greater than 1% short term order defect rate as of 11/1/2010,
– No greater than 2.5% pre-fulfillment cancel rate for the trailing 30-days
preceding 11/1/2010.
– No greater than 5% late shipment rate for the trailing 30-days preceding
11/1/2010.

*Orders fulfilled by Amazon will not be subject to the holiday season
restrictions provided your account is in good standing.

Given that toy sellers have to start “making the grade” beginning September 1st and continuing for 60 days, I imagine there will be a lot of strategic planning going on this year.  Toy Sellers who have been shut out in previous years for not meeting the sales requirement and/or performance requirement have the option of using FBA to participate in this year’s holiday sales.  And toy sellers who have been successful in the past may see a lot more competition on the Amazon platform this year. 

It’s July… the time of year to once again put our holiday hats on and get to work so we are prepared for the fourth quarter of the year.  But this new twist from Amazon regarding 2010 holiday selling guidelines is certainly going to give us lots more to talk about now.

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Amazon Plans to Add New Toy Categories

Posted on July 26, 2010. Filed under: Amazon | Tags: , , |

We received an email today directly from Amazon with a link to a survey where the results will be used for a major category refresh next year.

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The survey asks only a few questions like What categories should be added and What examples do we have of toys that do not fit in the current toy classification structure.

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eBay Deal Finder: The Real Deal or a Real Dud?

Posted on July 23, 2010. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

Today when checking my eBay listings I happened to notice something on the homepage that I had not seen before.  I’m sure most eBay buyers have seen the eBay DealFinder before but I only sell on eBay, not buy, so it was new to me.

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What struck me right away was how eBay stated that they compared prices between eBay and other marketplaces  NOT CONSIDERING shipping charges.  This seemed so ironic to me given how eBay has been hitting their sellers over the head with information about how sensitive online shoppers are about shipping costs.  Heck, eBay sellers are even graded on their shipping costs via Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs).   Given that eBay chose to compare prices excluding shipping costs tells me that eBay is admitting that shipping costs on eBay are higher than other marketplaces especially because marketplaces like Amazon are known for its free shipping model.

Next I clicked on the link that said “see more deals”:

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I decided to check out eBay’s claim that they had the best price on an item.  So, I chose an item from the front page that was relevant to business — an Intermediate Accounting Book. 

While eBay stated that Walmart.com had the next lowest price I found that to be woefully inaccurate.  There were plenty of Amazon third party sellers who had lower prices than Walmart.com which tells me that eBay must only be comparing the prices of items sold directly by Amazon.com not any of its third party sellers.

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Yet, still the eBay seller had the lowest price. 

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But wait a minute…. the eBay seller had the lowest price for a completely different book.

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SUMMARY

 eBay compares its prices to competitors’ prices excluding shipping and eBay doesn’t include the prices of other platforms’ third party vendors despite ALL of eBay’s sellers being only third party sellers.  And, worst of all, eBay employs an apples-to-oranges price comparison model by promoting eBay listings as “deals” that are for a completely different item than the ISBN advertised in the item specifics.

Conclusion?  The eBay Deal Finder is certainly no “real” deal.

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Layman’s Version of New Visa Mastercard Requirements For PayPal Merchants

Posted on July 19, 2010. Filed under: eBay, Paypal, Tips & Hints - Website Sales, Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , , , |

All ecommerce sellers who accept PayPal will need to accept the new Commercial Entity Agreement by October 1, 2010 in order to continue receiving Visa and Mastercard funded payments.  

Accepting this new Commercial Entity Agreement actually means that you are agreeing to accept each of the different commercial agreements for several banks.

  • Commercial Entity Agreement with JP Morgan Chase
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with HSBC
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with Wells Fargo
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with Wells Fargo – Pro
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with National Westminster Bank
  • Most of the Commercial Entity Agreements are very similiar but there are some differences.  While the agreements are obviously very complex, I have tried to boil them down into a short list of 5 Do’s and Don’ts that encompasses the highlights of various agreements. 

    1. WHO can and should give and get information?

    Ecommerce merchants must clearly identify themselves to buyers so that buyers know from whom they are purchasing.  This includes the requirement that sellers provide the address of their permanent establishment on their website if they are accepting PayPal payments on their website.

    Sellers cannot ask buyers for their Visa/Mastercard information (card number, expiration date, CVV2 number) and if for some reason the seller gains access to this information, either by design or by default, then the seller agrees to notify PayPal and the buyer promptly.  This is a major requirement because all sellers who accept PayPal must be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.

     2. WHAT must sellers do in the event things do not go as expected?

    If sellers plan on limiting the return of their item, they must clearly indicate that to the buyer BEFORE the purchase (thus explains eBay’s requirement that all listings have a return policy stated).  If the seller does not want to offer a refund for the return of an item, they need to state something like “NO REFUND, EXCHANGE ONLY”.  Of course, the seller must always provide the item as described.  For example, if a seller offers a blue shirt but delivers a red shirt then Visa / Mastercard would expect them to give a full refund.  But if the seller delivered a blue shirt but the buyer decided that they didn’t want the shirt because it didn’t look good on them then the seller has a right to offer to exchange the item rather than refund the purchase price.

    In the event of a chargeback, sellers must work through PayPal to resolve complaints.  This is often a source of seller frustration because PayPal decides which chargebacks they will fight.  

    3. WHEN can an ecommerce merchant accept PayPal?

     Sellers can only use PayPal to accept payment for goods and services they have provided within a 30-day window (and the days are counted as BUSINESS days).  PayPal cannot be used to collect payment for any previous “debt”.  So, for example, if you are a service provider who offers payment terms (ie customers normally pay their invoices by check within 30 days)  and your customer doesn’t pay your invoice then you cannot agree to accept PayPal for the service you provided 6 months ago but never got paid for with a check. 

    PayPal also cannot be used to accept payments for any good or service that would be considered illegal.  

    Partial shipments can be billed separately so that means one shipment tracking number must be provided for each and every PayPal payment.  If  an eBay buyer purchases 3 items and makes 3 separate payments, each with full shipping cost, a seller who combines all 3 items into one package and gives back a partial refund of shipping for each transaction is at risk for 2 out of the 3 transactions since there will only be one tracking / delivery confirmation number available.

    4. WHERE can ecommerce merchants indicate to buyers that they accept Visa / Mastercard?

    Sellers can display the Visa / Mastercard logos on their own websites as long as the logos are not misleading.  Sellers cannot make it appear to potential buyers that they are accepting Visa / Mastercard directly unless they have their own merchant account.  So any ecommerce merchant who accepts Visa / Mastercard only through PayPal must make that clear by using appropriate logos and wording.    And ecommerce merchants cannot display logos in a way that would imply that Visa / Mastercard endorses the product or the website.

    5.  HOW are ecommerce merchants expected to accept PayPal?

    Sellers cannot establish a minimum or maximum transaction amount.  If a buyer wants to use PayPal for a $1  purchase, for example, then an ecommerce merchant must accept payment and must not charge extra (surcharge) to the customer who uses PayPal.  This provision applies to U.S. sellers but some countries do allow merchants to add a surcharge if it is disclosed in advance.  But this is strictly forbidden in the U.S. 

    Additionally, sellers cannot in any way try to discourage buyers from using credit card funded PayPal payments.

    NOTE that I am in no way giving any financial or legal advice, just doing my best to summarize all the lengthy legal agreements of the new Commercial Entity Agreements.

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    Fact or Fiction? NonPaying Bidders Can Leave Negative Feedback for eBay Sellers

    Posted on July 10, 2010. Filed under: eBay, Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , , |

    In eBay-sponsored Webinars and Radio Shows this year, various eBay employees (including John Donahoe himself) have been proud to announce that eBay is now offering sellers protection against nonpaying bidders.  eBay states that nonpaying bidders should not be allowed to leave negative feedback for sellers.    It does make for a great “story”.  However, unfortunately for sellers, it is truly a work of fiction with only a very small basis in fact.

    Deadbeat bidders “should not” be allowed to leave negative feedback for sellers but, in actuality,  they can leave negative feedback in all instances except one.  And, of course, eBay does not make that clear to sellers.  And, as a matter of fact, whenever sellers call in to speak to eBay customer service they are most often told that there was some kind of glitch that allowed a particular buyer to leave negative feedback even when they didn’t pay.

    Thus, I am writing this blog post to lay out the facts which are quite different from the eBay “fiction” (the nicest word I could come up with).

    So, whenever an eBay bidder doesn’t pay there are basically 4 different actions that an eBay seller can take.  Below is the level of protection a seller has / doesn’t have in terms of having their reputation tarnished with negative feedback:

    1. Seller Takes NO ACTION against the Buyer

    Can Negative Feedback Be Left – Yes
    Can Negative Feedback Once Left be Removed for Reasons of Nonpayment – No

    2. Seller Files a MUTUAL CANCELLATION against Buyer

    Sometimes a buyer asks a seller to cancel the transaction which would then result in the buyer not receiving any adverse action on their account.  A mutual cancellation means that the bidder does not receive a nonpaying bidder strikes and is, thus, eBay does not consider the buyer has done anything wrong.  Often times sellers will agree to a mutual cancellation because they are fearful that buyers will leave negative feedback if a seller reports them for nonpayment.  Most of the time sellers think they are “protected” from negative feedback but they are not.

    Can Negative Feedback Be Left – Yes
    Can Negative Feedback Once Left be Removed for Reasons of Nonpayment – No

    3. Seller Files Unpaid Item Dispute MANUALLY against Buyer

    Can Negative Feedback Be Left – Yes
    Can Negative Feedback Once Left be Removed for Reasons of Nonpayment – Yes (at eBay’s discretion)

    4. Seller Files Unpaid Item Dispute AUTOMATICALLY through Unpaid Item Assistant against Buyer

    Can Negative Feedback Be Left – No (once the dispute has been opened)
    Can Negative Feedback Once Left be Removed for Reasons of Nonpayment – Yes (at eBay’s discretion)

    NOTE (1): If a buyer ends up paying with an electronic payment method after the UPI Assistant opens a case then the buyer can leave negative feedback.

    NOTE (2): UPI Assistant works with the eBay Checkout system but not all third party vendors have systems in place that support sellers using the UPI Assistant

    For any sellers who are not familiar with eBay’s UPI Assistant, there is a 2-minute video of eBay’s Jim Griffith explaining how the automated process works.  Click  HERE  for that video.

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