February 21st, 2009

Where’s the Beef?

I mentioned Foodzie.com. I’ve been looking around the site, and it’s not very deep. There is no explanation of how much it actually costs to sell on the site. How does Foodzie make its money? I read elsewhere that Foodzie charges 60 cents per transaction and takes a transaction fee of 20 percent per sale. But you don’t find that on the site. This seems odd to me. E-Commerce is all about being open with such important details. Having to e-mail the company and discuss fees in person seems unfair. Or am I missing something?

February 20th, 2009

Online Business Tip #3: Focus on the merchandise

Usually, the advice about doing business is The Customer is King. And that’s true. But if you don’t provide good things to buy, the King will go elsewhere. Before providing stellar customer service, focus on what you’re selling. If you’re creating a marketplace rather than selling your own products, focus on the sellers.

That’s the advice I received from Emily Olson, one of the three twenty-something founders of Foodzie, a marketplace for gourmet and specialty foods. I’m writing about them for an upcoming column on AuctionBytes.

“We want to create a place where sellers can be really successful,” says Olson. Like other businesses I’ve profiled recently, she isn’t throwing money at advertising, either through banners or Google. Rather, the three co-founders are building word of mouth by attending cook classes and other events and getting to know their sellers well. By focusing on telling the stories of the specialty cooks they promote, they believe they’ll attract customers. Look for the article on AuctionBytes in the next week or two.

February 19th, 2009

Kindle Dummy

I am fascinated with the Amazon Kindle. I downloaded the complete works of Shakespeare in less than a minute. I am currently listening to an audiobook and rediscovering the joy of being “read to” even if it is by a machine. I am keeping a blog called Kindle Dummy; click the link elsewhere on this page to check it out.

February 18th, 2009

Online Business Tip #2: Start Locally

I know, once we’re online we’re part of this big global community. But open your door or window and look outside. You’re part of a local community too. You have neighbors. You probably have a neighborhood association. I have the Roscoe Village Neighbors. The current president, Don Tomei, is a friend and neighbor. He and I have banded together with a group of videographers, marketers, and designers to form NewCor Group. We help small businesses create Web sites and build brand identities. Join your community group and find your own group to work with. It will enrich your life and hopefully your bank account as well.

February 18th, 2009

Online Business Tip #1: Be a Joiner

I just interviewed Kenneth Markley, a 75-year-old entrepreneur who has sold (with his wife, Susan) more than $2 million worth of old clocks, most online. The Markleys run Old-Timers Antique Clocks. I’m going to profile them on the WorthPoint Web site, so watch for that.

Markley’s #1 tip: Participate in groups that pertain to your area of interest. He’s not just talking about online groups. Join your Chamber of Commerce; join any user groups that your customers and your fellow sellers/collectors will join. Be a joiner and network. Attend their meetings and conventions. Along the way, you’ll be able to publicize your business and make sales. The Markleys are active in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. And they are on the GoAntiques site. These two associations provide them with a good deal of their business.

As Markley points out, people don’t join their local Rotary Clubs or other groups any more, and these groups are dwindling as a result. This can be just the thing to revitalize your business, however. In other words, mix online networking with real-world networking and advertising and simply talking to people. It will jump start your business.