Digital goods: That’s the opinion of Scott Silverman, former executive with Shop.org and now a co-founder of Ifeelgoods.com, a company that functions as a “digital incentives provider.” Ifeelgoods.com is currently focusing on Facebook Credits, the virtual unit of currency on Facebook. But they are also testing the use of Skype credits as incentives to make discount purchases, sign up for newsletters, download apps, or other activities. All of these things connect potential customers with businesses and increase the chances that they’ll eventually be converted into purchasers.

“For me, personally, I had been with Shop.org for 11 years, and gave me a vantage point shere I saw lot of trends developing like search and social media,” he commented in a recent interview. What gets me so excited every day about this opportunity and compelled me to leave a job that I loved was how large a market digital goods is right now and how little activity there has been to date on the part of marketers and brands taking advantage of this as a marketing vehicle.” he cites the example of Zynga the company that developed Farmville. Most people haven’t heard of Zynga. But their IPO is expected to bring in as much as 1 billion “When you actually play these games, you see how powerful they really are,” he says.

Find out more in my article about Ifeelgoods on AuctionBytes.

Domain Names for the Rich

June 20th, 2011

I’ve often wondered how systems that start out being relatively democratic and equal turn out to be oriented toward corporations and moneyed elites. Here is an example of how it is done. ICANN, the body that (supposedly) regulates domain names, has just approved a system whereby anyone can make up a domain name, provided they can pay $185,000. The first ones to jump on this will be corporations looking to protect their brands. People like me won’t be able to create greg.holden or these sorts of domain names. Nor would I want to. Read more here.

E-Commerce Tip: Diversify

June 2nd, 2011

If you want to sell online, don’t try to sell everything to everyone. Try to sell one or two very specialized categories of merchandise to one or two select, targeted niche audiences. Selling to 50, 100, or 200 very devoted customers who are enthusiastic about what you have to offer is better than creating an eBay store and putting your wares before millions of people who are only interested in the lowest price. Not to mention that you’ll be competing with lots of bigger sellers who can cut profits to the bone, offer free shipping, etc.

For instance, go to Wild Spirit Gifts. Look at the list of separate stores operated by Skye Ryan-Evans. This wildlife photographer puts her work on T-shirts, posters, and a variety of other items. Rather than selling everything in one big store, she sells on CafePress, Zazzle, Spreadshirt.com, and lots of specialty sites to get those committed collectors and niche customers. Once they’re familiar with her work, they come back for more and become loyal, returning customers. That should be your goal: to develop a group of return customers who love what you do, and cultivate steady business with them, rather than being everything to everybody.

Here are my top tips for selling on eBay:

  • Take lots of photos. Photos sell better than text. Always include more than one photo. Try to get closeups. Pay attention to lighting, and arrange a background that contrasts with what you’re selling.
  • Get detailed with your description. Yeah, I’m a writer, so I’m prejudiced, but think about it. Aren’t you more likely to buy something if the seller talks up how it feels or how it works, and describes its unique features? Be enthusiastic; tell the world why you like what you have to sell and what it will do for them.
  • Go for quantity, not quality. The only way to make a consistent income on eBay is to get multiple items online, not just one or two or three. Don’t try to make everything perfect. Just get it online. You can fix it later.
  • Automate. Come up with a system for getting multiple sales online: a Web site template; a photo studio; software that will streamline your listings and get many of them online at once.
  • Get help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. You’ll quickly get exhausted and stop selling. Get your kids or family members to help; if that fails, hire a student or friend.
  • Choose brand names sell. Get to know the top sales items in your area of interest. Learn all you can about unusual and distinctive products that people will want. Try to find them at wholesale so you can offer them online.
  • Remember that the customer is king. …and queen too. Whatever someone wants, give it to them if you can. Give them a refund. Give them new photos. Answer questions quickly. Personal responses and personal attention leads directly to sales.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. If someone returns an item, accept it and move on. If someone complains, apologize. Don’t get bogged down in arguments and negotiations. It’s not only bad business, but it’s not worth the trouble and will distract you from selling and fulfilling sales.
  • Be passionate about what you sell. People always ask me what they should sell online. Sell what you love. After all, you’ll be spending many hours per week surrounded by these items. Make sure you love them yourself—or are at least moderately interested in them. Your interest will help you get your work done.
  • Expand to multiple channels. Don’t just stick with eBay auctions. Open a store. Try sites like Bonanzle and iOffer. Sell through your own Web site. Make all your online stores point to one another. The more points of sale you have online, the better your chances of success.