You know we don't oversell anyone or anything. If we say a person knows what she's talking about, it's because that person knows what she's talking about!
As online sellers, we do not have the daily, in-person contact with others in our industry that most people do
In the first part of our interview with Cynthia Carrejo, we showed you how she took her business from a success in one marketplace to a success in the next.
You also learned that social media marketing didn't work out for her. In this article, we'll share some of Carrejo's recommendations for finding mentors, associates, products and the right niche.
In-person meetings offer valuable insight
Schepp: You're part of the Internet Merchants Association. What groups can online sellers benefit from?
Carrejo: The only association I belong to is the IMA. I have learned so much from these folks, and they are all like family to me.
I was just at ASD and was at the IMA suite every night... I picked up several pieces of information that will help me in my business this year. I cannot say enough positive things about networking.
As online sellers, we do not have the daily, in-person contact with others in our industry that most people do. Being able to communicate with other online sellers in a Facebook Group is a wonderful learning experience.
However, meeting a successful online seller in person is priceless. A lot of us "old timers" do not have the time or inclination to share our knowledge in groups. However, find us in the IMA suite, start a conversation, keep our drink glass full and we spill.
I attended the first IMA conference. I met Amazon reps there, and that's how I got approved to sell in the gated [Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry] category. I went to the IMA suite one time that year, and guess who I met? Brad Schepp, who has kept in contact with me over the past eight years, quoting me and giving me links to my website…
I can't speak of other organizations. However, I do caution new sellers who are taking courses and reading books presented by the "gurus." These gurus are only teaching you one way to do e-commerce. There is a multitude of different ways to be successful in e-commerce.
There is a multitude of different ways to be successful in e-commerce
Keep your options open. I met a lady at the IMA suite this year who thought the only way to find items at ASD was with her scanner.
I presented a complete opposite way of finding products, as did another seller. She was surprised. She had no idea there were other ways to find products to sell. I have never used a scanner.
Be ready for constant change
Schepp: If you were to talk to someone who is thinking of starting an online business today, what advice would you give them?
Carrejo: Look elsewhere. E-commerce is crowded.
If you are resistant to change, e-commerce is not for you. Google, SEO, Amazon, eBay, all the marketplaces change constantly. If you can't deal with change, you don't want to get into e-commerce. Additionally, you can't take the business personally. If you get upset every time a customer returns one of your items, this business is not for you.
However, if you are insistent on starting an e-commerce business, try to be different. I wish I had thought of a subscription service. What a great idea. I subscribe to two of them and love them. The founders thought outside the box, found a need and filled it. Their setup works well for social media marketing, which is how I found out about both of the services I subscribe to.
One of them sends razors to my husband once a month. He used to forget to tell me when he needed new razors and would end up using an old one much longer than he should. Now we don't worry about it. He changes the blade once a week and once a month he receives four new ones. Brilliant!
If you don't have a brilliant new idea, then find a product niche you are interested in, source it and own that category. Look for products not already on Amazon. You don't want to play the race to the bottom game. Start a website right away, and really market it.
If you don't have a brilliant new idea, then find a product niche you are interested in, source it and own that category. Look for products not already on Amazon
Don't depend on Amazon… Use the Amazon money to build your own business on your website. Spend time every day marketing your website. If you only sell on Amazon, you have a job. If you build your website business, then you have your own business.
A niche is important
Schepp: Is there anything else you would like to share with Auctiva EDU readers?
Carrejo: Today's big "thing" is retail arbitrage. I used to do this when I first starting selling on Amazon, before the term "retail arbitrage" was coined. My friends and I called it "flipping."
I find a lot of new sellers thinking this is the only way to run an online business. It's not, and it's difficult to sustain and grow. I do know of a few people who do well with RA, but even they have a niche and sources they know well. They don't generally buy anything and everything they think might turn a profit. They focus on their niche, they learn it and they own it.
However, it does not lend itself to having your own website because you cannot buy deep enough quantities to make a website worthwhile. You will always be dependent on Amazon, or another marketplace.
The other option is buying wholesale or from the manufacturer, and building your business with products that not everyone else is sourcing and selling.
You can do this if you think keywords. If you're at a tradeshow and find an item you are interested in selling, think "what keywords would people search for if they were looking for this item?" Keywords are what drive sales of non-branded items.
If you only sell on Amazon, you have a job. If you build your website business, then you have your own business
Stay in the same category when sourcing. If you are selling on Amazon, and a customer clicks on your listing, Amazon shows other, similar products, right in the listing. If you stay within your category, then Amazon shows them your other products.
If you only sell a few items in several categories, then chances are, your other products are not shown, and that customer may very well click on, and buy, someone else's product.
Staying within a niche or category also helps in SEO for your website… Google tries to figure out what your website is about. If you are selling items from 20 different categories, SEO is going to be very difficult. You need to either stay in one category or have a niche, such as Western items.
You could have lots of different types of Western items, but they would all have a Western theme. Or you could sell dishes, and have lots of different themes of dishes, but your website would be all about dishes.
We hope you have enjoyed learning about TexCynGoods and the woman behind it all. The next time you happen to be at an e-commerce conference, stop by the IMA room and see if you can find her. We're sure you'll walk away from that meeting with the same respect and friendship we've enjoyed with her for years.