My Technology Story

Do you ever experience a time when too many things seem to go wrong?  Welcome to our November (and early December)!

November and December are very busy months for us.  Numerous orders are My Technology Storyarriving in our inbox daily and we spend a large part of our day picking, assembling, packing and shipping orders!  Nothing new with the routine we’ve followed for over 15 years! 

But this year is different!!

In early November, we developed a problem with our internet.  Living in the hinterlands of rural Idaho, the importance of technology for our numerous businesses cannot be overstated.  I no longer travel as a sales rep; we no longer run retail booths and we closed our store years ago.  All our business is done via the internet.

After calling our internet provider (several times) and having our modem checked twice, and eventually, replaced and updated by their tech people, we are still uncertain if it is fixed.  Currently, it works intermittently, only to go out, with no warning, for days at a time. 

My cell phone is connected with my email accounts, so, thankfully, I can access orders via my phone.  On the other hand, we cannot process payments, run or print our shipping labels, nor adjust the website (if necessary) after orders are completed.

So while dealing with our on and off internet service, we developed a second problem:  Our hosting company discovered malware on our sites.  To deal with this issue, they shut down ALL our websites!  Because our e-commerce sites are hosted by an outside provider, our main physical product sites and still up and running.  Unfortunately, none of my other sites are functioning including my Selling to Gift Shops website and blog and all the associated websites. 

As it turned out, our extended Black Friday special that ran through Cyber Monday became inaccessible on Monday, November 26 — several hours before it was officially over!

If you were trying to purchase one of our e-guides and was unable to do so, please accept my apology.  Until the problem is fixed and the sites are released again, our hands are tied!

If I did not realize the importance of working technology, I do now!  *sigh!*.

Part Two of our Technology Story

During this time of stress and frustration, I was able to find a bit of peace.  But I had to step back and look at the big picture.  In reality, other than maybe disappointing some of my readers and followers, how did this really impact my life?  Was I going to contract a fatal disease, was I going to lose a loved one, was I going to find myself homeless …. of course not (although, I wondered if I was going to lose my mind!)?

My Technology StoryIt took time and work to focus on the ‘good’ coming out of this and seeing what message may be connected to this seeming disaster.  Although I could find no lesson, I did manage to find peace and patience in the midst of it all. “This too shall pass” came to my mind and I remembered that everything always works out.

It was then that I discovered a way to clean up some of the malware off my sites.  As a result, all of our 20+ websites are currently up and running!

And, our internet provider was finally able to do some testing on our lines while our service was down.  As a result, he ended up replacing our equipment etc. which, by default, gave us a higher speed internet service (at no extra cost).

Hopefully, we are done with the difficulties (or nearly done).  And I learned some very valuable lesson:

  1. Have patience! Seldom do problems last forever.
  2. The world will not end if I cannot post what I want when I want ….. as a matter of fact, maybe I need to learn to let go of some of that ‘control’.
  3. Maybe, it is time to make some changes with our internet and website companies rather than struggling with the problems we have experienced before and during this situation.
  4. My happiness cannot be based on how well my internet and website are working.  I have too many other blessings going on in my life.

Thanks for listening to my rants and final resigning words.  Next time, I will find and see the ‘good’ during a difficult situation sooner!

Is it Too Early to Plan for Holiday Sales?

In a nutshell, no, it is NOT too early to plan for holiday sales.  As a matter of fact, depending on your product focus and niche, you might be behind!!

With the fourth quarter typically being the busiest and most profitable time of the year from most producers, it is really never too early to plan.

Wholesale in a Box created the following excellent list of tips to help you Is it Too Early to Plan for Holiday Sales?prepare:

9 Crucial Tips for Growing Wholesale Around the Holidays

1. Prepare your personal life.
… Things get crazy around the holidays, especially if you’re trying to grow. You’re dealing with retail orders, wholesale orders, holiday markets, and production all at once. So it will be a little nuts, but the truth is that the truly nuts period is pretty short, probably about 4-6 weeks. It doesn’t last forever, so don’t “heap on”, adding other unnecessary commitments to the roster during those weeks. Try to set expectations with yourself, family, and friends so that you have as clean a slate as possible so you can focus on your business. …

2. Get the help you need — early.
Ideally, you don’t wait until you’re already completely overwhelmed before you get help. …  if your business is a little more unpredictable at this point, and you’re not sure whether you’ll need help, whether you’ll be able to pay for it, or how much help you’ll need — that is ok. You can ask a couple of friends to commit to being “on call” during a 3-week period for movie-and-production nights. …. In other words, you can start cultivating the help you’ll need, but doing so in a way that is flexible and fits the stage that your business is at. It’s ok to tell people, “I might need help, but I’m not sure how much.”

3. Love the ones you’re with.
… one of the most important things you can do is cultivate your relationships with your current stockists. In other words: love the one(s) you’re with. How to cultivate reorders during the holidays? So many store owners tell me that they don’t have a super-precise system for deciding what to reorder. So a big part of your focus should be making your line visible to the stockist and being of service to the stockist. That way you’re top-of-mind when the store owner is making their list of items to buy. …

4. Focus on your best sellers and what makes you distinctive.
Makers tend to think their line needs to be well-rounded. There is certainly some truth to that, but store owners often tell us that it is actually the 2 or 3 standout pieces that prompt them to choose this line over that line. Standout pieces help stores make sales when a customer is in the shop browsing. So if there is a piece that they simply can’t get anywhere else, it will likely push them over the edge to choosing your line, and putting together enough other pieces from the line to make a full order.

5. Get your outreach materials as good as they can be, so they’re not holding you back.
… Take a look at your line sheet, product photography, email template, and other materials. Make a list of the things that will take the least investment of time and money that will have the biggest impact on the quality of your materials. Get a fresh pair of eyes on them if you can, too. …

6. Connect with people who will love your work
… Start by looking for stores for whom carrying your work should be a no-brainer. Find stores that are such great fits that you almost think they must already be carrying your work. … Once you find a good list of stores, connect with them from your heart. Do the thinking for them. … Explain why you think your work would be a great fit. And follow up. It’s not rocket science — it just takes a little courage and a lot of consistency.

7. Take a step back and make a plan.
… the more you do early, the better the results, with the less stress you’ll have. …Different stores wrap up their ordering at different times. But no matter the store, you really can’t lose by being a little too early.  August is a great time to start but most people delay their holiday wholesale outreach until it’s close to too late. … So start now, plan what you intend to do to grow over the holidays, and take it one step at a time.

8. Launch ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.
If you have a product that’s brewing, pre-holiday season is a great time to do it. Don’t let it be a distraction for the sales and marketing of your current set of products. But if there is something that you think you could get out in time, the holidays are a great time to get new things out into the world. ..

9. Work according to your business stage.
One tricky part of wholesale growth is that everyone needs slightly different advice. …

This is where I can help!  As a sales rep, producer and former store owner and manager, I know the ins and outs (or what you need to do) to sell to retailers. Let me help you get your plan together for a successful holiday season.

Check out my 1-on-1 Wholesale Business Coaching to get you started NOW while there is still time!

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New Sales Tax Ruling for Online Retailers

A new ruling on collecting sales tax for online purchases has recently been put into effect.

According to the MSN website:

U.S. states could reap billions in online sales tax revenue and buttress their budgets after the nation’s top court ruled Thursday (June 21)  that e-commerce companies could be required to collect the money, even if they have no physical presence in a state.

This decision overturns a 1992 “Quill” Court decision stating that sales taxes were collected on a purchase only if a company had a physical presence in the state where the purchase was made.

The new Supreme Court ruling may affect your online business, but each state must pass a similar law first.  Nolo website explains:

If you are selling on the Internet to states around the country, you now will need to be aware of which states have enacted laws requiring the collection of sales tax by online sellers. In order for a given state to require you to collect sales tax, that state must pass a law allowing it to do so.

How is this going to affect online retailers?  According to Forbes, each state will need time to implement the policy:

At the event, a panel of tax experts predicted that states likely would act within the next year or 18 months to expand their collections requirements. Some states may be able to set a collection regime by the end of this year.

It is my understanding — although not all the information is in for all 50 states — that not all online retailers will be affected by the new ruling.  The New York Times revealed the following example from South Dakota:

South Dakota responded by enacting a law that required all merchants to collect a 4.5 percent sales tax if they had more than $100,000 in annual sales or more than 200 transactions in the state. State officials sued three large online retailers — Wayfair, Overstock.com and Newegg — for violating the law. Lower courts ruled for the online retailers, citing the Quill decision.

The ruling is still muddy as lawmakers are looking at standardizing the tax collecting process.  Otherwise, the ruling would cause a nightmare for online retailers trying to figure out how much to collect from what states and what is required for reporting to each state.

Forbes explains further:

While this is a great first step, it could create a patchwork quilt of state laws that could become convoluted for smaller sellers to navigate. While technology has advanced significantly since the 1992 ruling, and there will be ample solutions available to sellers to clarify the process, it will still be a situation that is in constant flux and will need close monitoring as individual states change their laws. I believe a federal solution is still the most desirable outcome for the industry as a whole – but this ruling is still certainly a step in the right direction.

Guess we will need to wait and see how this enfolded in the next months or year.

 

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Etsy Wholesale Platform Closing

Etsy is closing their Wholesale platform effect July 31, 2018!  Kruti Patel Goyal, the General Manager of Seller Services at Etsy, says the platform will remain active through the end of June.  After that, it will no longer accept wholesale orders.

The details of the changes in their program are listed on their website and in the video below.

When Etsy Wholesale first announced their coming launched in late 2012, I contacted them to wholesale my and/or my Idaho Gifts Wholesale producers.  Since the program was new, I was not sure what to expect.

I received a few different and confusing responses that I posted in the following two articles:

Despite the humorous inconsistent responses I received from them, I assumed they ironed out the bugs in their system.  But, personally, I was no longer interested in dealing with them!!

It has always been my advice that, even if you have a store on Etsy, you should also have your own website.  I detail that in the following article:

If you had an Etsy Wholesale shop, please share your story with us.  And, by all means, set up your own wholesale website (or add wholesale to your current website) and see how to contact your buyers and potential Etsy buyers to refer them to your new site!

Sell to Big Box Retailers Free Webinar

As you probably know, my e-guides and trainings specialize in helping you start selling products at wholesale, starting with independent stores, and moving up from there.

Unfortunately, my expertise does not extend to selling wholesale to the big boys. As a result, I have searched for years to find that person who can help you jump to the next level.

Karen the perfect person to train you in this next level of wholesaling:Sell to Big Box Retailers Free Webinar

Karen Waksman is a Manufacturer’s Rep turned Author, Speaker and Consultant. She has sold millions of units to the World’s Largest Retailers and now dedicates her time to teaching Entrepreneurs like you, how to market and sell their products to Major Retailers, Online Retailers, and Catalogs!

If you have a product that you think would be perfect for big box retail stores, you will absolutely love this upcoming webinar called:

‘How to Sell Your Products to Big Box Retail Chains’ 

No sales experience or existing buyer relationships required!

The FREE 90 Minute LIVE Webinar will be held on Thursday, February 22nd (various times shots available)

If you missed her previous live event in San Francisco, or even if you did, you don’t want to miss this FREE webinar.

Topics Karen plans to cover include …

  1. Understanding the Chain Store Market — You may have the perfect product for retail buyers. But if you don’t know what they specifically want – you will not get your products into stores! And you will waste everyone’s time. In this webinar, we will be discussing how to get a purchase order from a chain store.
  2. Preparing Your Case For Chain Store — Just because you identify exactly what retailers to go after, if you don’t present the right way, nothing else matters! These buyers are busy! Learn what to say to chain store buyers to get them to buy!
  3. Preparing Your Pitch — Who is scared to pitch? Most of my producers are! That’s why we take the person out of the equation and make it a PROCESS. I am going to give you that process!
  4. Multiplying Your Efforts with Chain Stores — We don’t want to win the lottery one time. We want to replicate over and over again. We want to leverage our results and get even bigger and better retail opportunities like my clients.
  5. Tips and Strategies on How to Get Started Selling to Chain Stores Today — We will also be covering how the buying process works at chain stores, what makes a chain store buyer say YES to your product, what NOT to do when pitching chain stores and tips and strategies on exactly how to get started today!

 ‘How to Sell Your Products to Big Box Retail Chains’

I watched her video last Thursday and found the information invaluable!  A couple of the tips she shared that even I didn’t know about ….

  • Why you don’t submit your products via the Vendors online website
  • What is the best strategy for developing your packaging for chain stores
  • How ‘Retail Factoring’ can help you get the financing for your orders.

Karen has taught tens of thousands of companies on the subject of selling to retailers … so be prepared for a powerful FREE event!

How to Sell Your Products to Big Box Retail Chains’  

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