If the Gold Suppliers on Alibaba.com are operating fraudulently, as recent news reports say, why should I trust AliExpress? Aren't they the same company, and the same suppliers?
—Color Me Skeptical in Scranton
Urbanowicz: To put perspective on the report, of the Gold Suppliers who joined Alibaba in 2009 and 2010, 1 percent were considered fraudulent. Therefore, about 99 percent of all Gold Suppliers were considered legitimate businesses.
Fraudulent suppliers have since been removed and preventive measures are in place to avoid future incidents. Executive management's dramatic response to their internal investigation of fraud indicates their standards for business integrity.
As it stands currently, you can shop from more than 70,000 suppliers and manufacturers on AliExpress. Moreover, AliExpress offers escrow buyer protection service—a supplier won't receive payment until you confirm your items arrived as described.
I am planning to import goods to resell—small quantities to begin with—but I have never done this before. Whether I buy on AliExpress or another site, what can I expect with regard to filling out customs forms, shipping requirements, where to claim the goods, etc.? The supplier also wants payment by wire transfer, which I feel uneasy about. Do you have any advice?
—On Pins and Needles
AliExpress provides a full-featured communication system by which you can communicate in English with suppliers
Urbanowicz: First off, congratulations on expanding your business. Second, you are not alone; many other sellers have asked similar questions. Fortunately, by using AliExpress, a lot of paperwork and risk is handled for you. You are freed up to focus on selecting inventory to help grow your profit margin.
As you indicated, there are some issues to consider with sourcing internationally. For example, import duties, taxes and customs-related charges are the buyer's responsibility. AliExpress provides a full-featured communication system by which you can communicate in English with suppliers. These are ideal opportunities to negotiate item price, request sample products and discuss shipping options.
If a difficulty were to arise from a transaction between you and a supplier, AliExpress also has a full-featured claim process. In regard to needing to make a risky wire transfer, that's not necessary with AliExpress. With the escrow buyer protection program, your payments are secure until your order arrives and you approve it. For more details, check out the AliExpress help section at help.aliexpress.com or the Auctiva Education site, where there are several articles that explain, among many other sourcing topics, how to reduce importing risks and what to know about AliExpress.
Is it true Auctiva Commerce fees are going up?
—Worried Customer in Columbus
Urbanowicz: If you are an existing Auctiva Commerce customer, then you certainly need not worry. While we recently announced we will begin charging Auctiva Commerce monthly fees in April, we also mentioned that we will be taking care of our existing Auctiva Commerce users. We're currently working on a great deal as part of our thanks to you. You can expect details to be announced later this month.
What are your thoughts about eBay's new shopping cart? Is it good news or bad news for us small sellers?
—Mom and Pop in Paradise
Urbanowicz: eBay's new shopping cart has been getting increased visibility on eBay U.K. Given eBay's historical pattern of rolling out changes a "hop across the pond," it is likely in the future. In an ideal world, a cross-seller shopping cart experience sounds appealing for sellers with low-volume inventory. For example, there could be opportunities for cross-seller promotions, or gaining a competitive edge when buyers compare multiple items side-by-side. However, due to eBay's existing structure and restrictions, both buyers and sellers may find the shopping cart to be too little, too late.
Already, some buyers have complained that handling payments from the shopping cart is confusing. Skeptics doubt that both fixed-price and auction-style listings can reasonably co-exist in a shopping cart. If concerns about these usability issues aren't addressed and resolved, it will be one more reason for some sellers and buyers to look outside of eBay.
How is your new FeedbackForms widget different from eBay's feedback system?
—Seeing Double San Diego
Comments can help you improve the quality of your Web sites and learn about your visitor traffic
Urbanowicz: FeedbackForms is a simple, yet powerful business intelligence tool. When you include the FeedbackForms widget in your eBay listings, potential buyers can leave comments about your listing, such as your description, pricing or photo quality. These comments are for "your eyes only," and are completely independent of your DSRs or any eBay feedback rating. They are not associated with an eBay transaction. By reviewing the comments entered into the FeedbackForms widget, you can gain an advantage in improving your sales.
While you can easily add the FeedbackForms widget to your listings, you can also place the widget in an online store or any Web site—even if it's not related to e-commerce. Comments can help you improve the quality of your Web sites and learn about your visitor traffic. You also have the option to customize the appearance and content of the widget according to the type of information you seek to gather. For more information, visit FeedbackForms.com.
Can you give an update on Auctiva's developments in the area of multichannel support?
—Waiting for a Sign in Wichita
Urbanowicz: Two relevant initiatives are in development. First, we have increased our support for users wanting to use eBay tools in their native language. Currently only a portion of Auctiva.com has been translated but this will increase as part of a comprehensive translation initiative. We also plan on increasing the number of languages that we support.
Second, we are making significant enhancements to Auctiva Stores. These new stores are designed for a streamlined, off-eBay buyer experience and simple store management. Look for more details about beta testing in the next few weeks.
You can ask Auctiva management your own questions by e-mailing "AskAuctiva" at the Auctiva dot com domain. Not all questions will be answered, but those selected will be published with responses from Auctiva's top managers in future Ask Auctiva articles. Due to the volume of mail we receive, it will not be possible to reply to you personally.
Please do not submit inquiries requiring an immediate response. If you need a technical issue resolved right away, please use the online form to file a support request and your case will be addressed by our customer support team.