The Psychology Of The Sell

Woman holding colorful shopping bags in snowy nightIt doesn’t take a twirling gold pocket watch or a mysteriously flashing strobe to get into the minds of your buyers and encourage them to buy more of your goods. Actually, there’s nothing very hypnotic about employing everyday psychology to help you sell more to your shoppers.

Selling at the psychological level is nothing new in marketing or merchandising, yet many sellers overlook some of the most basic tenets of connecting with shoppers and encouraging them to make a purchase—or two, or five.

Selling with psychology is good business and the good news is that it’s not difficult to do.

Read the entire article on Auctiva EDU.

Estimated Ship Time Only for Custom Items, Shipping Performance Explained, Cyber Sales, & More

Estimated Ship Time Only for Custom Items, Your Shipping Performance, Cyber Sales Opt-in Deadline Extended, & More

Estimated Ship Time Only For Custom Products

Plus what your shipping stats mean, Cyber Sales promos & more

We’ve been busy making our final enhancements before the big holiday shopping season starts. Wondering why your products don’t show estimated ship times anymore or what your shipping stats mean? Read on to find out.

Plus, see the other site cleanups we performed and our new deadline to participate in our Cyber Sales promos.

Estimated ship time only for custom items

As of Tuesday, you can only specify estimated ship times for custom or made-to-order products. This aligns order fulfillment with our Merchant Quality of Service Agreements, which launched on September 1.

With this change, shoppers will only see estimated ship times on custom and made-to-order items. Normal products will display a standard message telling them the item usually ships in 4 business days.

We show this message because the Quality of Service Agreements state that your products must be

  1. Processed within 2 business days of the order being placed
  2. Scanned at a shipping center within 2 business days of being marked “processed”
  3. Delivered to the shopper within 10 business days

The only exception is custom and made-to-order products, which don’t have to comply with rules 1 and 2, but they must be delivered within 15 business days regardless of estimated ship time.

Mark your products “custom” to avoid affecting your shipping stats, which we’ll discuss later, and incurring penalties.

How to mark products ‘custom’

Be sure to review your products to ensure all items that are custom or made-to-order are designated as such. You can do this for individual products in the “Shipping” section of your listing above the “Return Policy” section.

Once you click that box, you can enter a customization prompt for shoppers (if desired) and select your estimated ship time.

If you need to update lots of products, you’ll want to do a Bulk Edit. To do that:

1. Go to your “Bulk Edit” page in your Merchant Toolkit.

2. Click the “Download Full Product File” button.

3. Go to your Dashboard.

4. Click on your CSV file and open it.

5. Enter “1” (without the quotes) for items you want to designate as custom or made-to-order under the “Is Made-to-Order” heading.

6. Save your file.

7. Return to the “Bulk Edit” page and reimport your file.

If you’re a Co-Pilot merchant, your account manager is here if you need any assistance.

Shipping stats debut

Ensuring your products are classified correctly (custom or non-custom) will help your shipping performance, which you can now see on your “Orders” page. That page contains shipping stats for the orders you’ve received in the past 30 days.

You’ll notice stats on:

  • Average time to process orders
  • Average time in processing
  • Average delivery time

Average Time to Process = The time between when an order was placed and when it was marked “processed,” or when the shipping label for that order was requested.

Average Time in Processing = The time between when an order was marked “processed” or a shipping label was requested and when the order was actually shipped. This means picked up and scanned by a shipping carrier.

Average Delivery Time = The time between when an order was placed and when it was delivered.

You’ll also see an estimated delinquency stat. It shows the percentage of orders that were in each state longer than allowed. (Remember that all non-custom orders must be marked “processed” within 2 business days of the order being placed and scanned at a shipping center within 2 business days of that—and they must be delivered within 10 business days of being ordered.)

Custom or made-to-order products must be delivered within 15 business days of the order being placed regardless of the estimated ship time.

You should aim for a 0% delinquency rate, especially as we head into the holiday season and shoppers are eager to get their items in time for Christmas. Doing so will also help you avoid penalties.

Get more information about your shipping performance in our Help Center.

More fixes

Our updates this week also included several little changes that we think will make things run smoother, including:

A low-stock alert for shoppers: Shoppers will now see if you have less than 5 of an item in stock when something’s in their carts, which should increase their urgency to buy.

Automatic calculation: Before, when you created a promo, you could see what the price would be after the promo was applied. We took that function away, but now it’s back!

Better filtering: When you filter products by Drafts and delete a listing, you’ll now continue viewing only your Drafts. Before, this used to reset the filter and showed you all your products. We learned about this issue from our recent merchant survey. Thanks for the heads up and keep sending us your feedback!

Messaging that’s on point: Before, when you created an item-specific promotion and shared it through email, the text of that email mistakenly referred to it as a “storewide” promo. That messaging has been fixed.

We’ll introduce more enhancements to our order management pages after Cyber Monday.

You can still opt in to Cyber Sales promos

Lastly, we’ve extended the deadline to opt in to Credits and Sitewide Coupon Codes to be included in our Cyber Sales, which start November 23 and run through Cyber Monday, November 30.

You now have until November 20. Be sure to opt in today, so we can include your products in our events, potentially placing them in dedicated promo emails and landing pages!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Visit the “Settings” section of your “Marketing” tab.
  2. Set your Credit ceiling to at least 30% to ensure your products are eligible for all our Cyber Sales Credit Events.
  3. Set your Sitewide Coupon Code ceiling to at least 40% to be included in both our 30% off Coupon Code Events and our huge Black Friday 40% Off Coupon Code Event. (Note: Setting your limit to 40% means your products will only be 40% off for our Black Friday Event, not any time before or after that during our Cyber Sales.)
  4. Save your settings.

Upcoming promotions

  • November 23: Sale on Sale Credit Event
  • November 24: Flash $31 Credit Event
  • November 25: Half Off Sale. Items 50% off MSRP or more (when Credits are applied) will be included in this sitewide event
  • November 26, Thanksgiving: 30% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 27, Black Friday: 40% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 28, Small Business Saturday: 30% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 29, Cyber Sunday: $150 Credit Event
  • November 30, Cyber Monday: $250 Credit Event

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Get Actionable Feedback

It all starts with an invitation.

By Dennis L. Prince

It’s not difficult to get customers to say something about your business or your products. Just try to stop them. But sometimes the feedback isn’t helpful, telling, or even honest. Read Story

Talking Turkey

Haggling can help your sales.

By Dennis L. Prince

Haggling with your buyers can actually work in your favor, boosting your sales and even resulting in getting spend-wary shoppers to spend even more. Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | November 19, 2015

Should You Pack Green?

should-you-pack-green-os“Going green” isn’t a new trend for businesses. The idea can apply to a single part of a business or a set of practices designed to reduce your environmental footprint.

Mandy Nagel, founder of I Thought of You, a site that sells handmade products, elegantly summed up what green means to her, “As a ‘green’ business, we consider how every aspect of our product’s lifecycle will affect the planet.”

One of the most important ways businesses can choose to be greener regards packaging. We took a closer look at the topic and found that environmental benefits are not the only reasons why companies are taking the green route.

Read the entire article on Auctiva EDU.

Changes to Store Imports, Bulk Edits and Bulk Adds, Our New Categories, & More

How Store Imports, Bulk Edits and Bulk Adds Changed, Our New Categories, Participate in Cyber Week Promos, & More



More on Store Imports, Bulk Adds & Bulk Edits

Plus, see our new categories & opt in to our Cyber Week promos

There are lots of changes going on for the holidays:

Do you import your products directly from Shopify, Etsy, Bigcommerce, or Big Cartel? Perhaps you use the Generic CSV?

Store imports have changed. Now they can edit your pre-existing products. And with new product data requirements, you might find old listings showing up as Drafts after your next import.

There are lots of new and updated product categories, too. Be sure to check them out before you edit or add more products.

Finally, see how to get included in Cyber Week promotions. (More exposure = more sales!)

Store imports, bulk adds and bulk edits now work differently

Last week we told you about our changes to imports from Shopify, Etsy, Bigcommerce and Big Cartel, also known as store imports. We also mentioned the updates to bulk adds and bulk edits. The changes caught some off guard, so here’s a little more info.

The changes mean 4 things:

1. Store imports: We’ve added an “auto-edit” feature to store imports. When you import products from Shopify, Etsy, Bigcommerce, Big Cartel or the Generic CSV options, we’ll check to see if any of them are already listed on OpenSky. If so, we’ll update your OpenSky product listings to match the information on the other platform.

2. Store imports: All of your products must now include the following information when you run an import:

      • Product name
      • Type
      • Inventory
      • Category
      • Shipping Price
      • Return Policy
      • Customization Prompt
      • Estimated Shipping Days
      • Images
      • Weight
      • Publish Status

If you don’t, our system will unpublish products with missing info and save them as Drafts. If that happens, you’ll need to enter the missing info on your “Products” page in your Merchant Toolkit and republish the product(s).

Notice that weight is a new requirement, so some of your published products might not contain that information.

3. Bulk adds: If you perform a bulk add and your CSV file does not include the required information noted above when you run the import, the products will be added to OpenSky as Drafts and will not display on Opensky.com until you add that information.

4. Bulk edits: If you perform a bulk edit using the Full Product File and include the field name, you must include the required information noted above when you run the import. We’ll revalidate every product you edit, so if a product doesn’t contain a weight, you’ll have to add that info or we’ll unpublish the listing.

Duplicate SKUs bug rears its head

The changes noted above made us aware of a bug in our system, which we’re working to fix ASAP. The bug allowed duplicate SKUs to be created when some of our merchants added new items.

Our new validation rules now catch this error, so some of you may have seen an error message telling you you have duplicate SKUs. If you have, please update your products to correct this, and please accept our sincerest apologies for the mistake. We’re working hard to make this right.

We’ll roll out a fix and run an automatic update to de-duplicate SKUs as quickly as we can.

Introducing new categories

Now, let’s get to a big change we made this week: On Tuesday we reworked our categories. The updates make these more detailed and make your products easier to find.

For instance, we changed the way you categorize women’s jeans. You used to use this category and subcategories: womens-apparel/bottoms/denim. Now you’ll use these: apparel/womens-apparel/womens-pants/womens-jeans.

You can view our new categories here. But don’t worry; you don’t have to do a thing.

We categorized products added since September with the new categories, so you don’t have to edit your items. However, you should review them to ensure they appear the way you’d like them to.

You should also refer to our new categories as you add new products or edit existing items to avoid problems.

Be part of our Cyber Week promos

Lastly, let’s talk Cyber Week, the week leading up to Cyber Monday, one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season!

It’s less than 2 weeks away, and historically, this week has been big for online sellers. We expect lots of traffic during Cyber Week this year, so we’re running Credit and Sitewide Coupon Code Events every day that week, starting November 23 and going through Cyber Monday, November 30.

As we run these, we’ll email shoppers to tell them about our promos and remind them of all the great deals they can find on OpenSky. We’d love to include your products in our events, potentially placing them in dedicated promo emails and landing pages!

All you have to do is ensure you’re opted in to Credits and Sitewide Coupon Codes by November 15.

To do that:

  1. Visit the “Settings” section of your “Marketing” tab.
  2. Set your Credit ceiling to at least 30% to ensure your products are eligible for all our Cyber Week Credit Events.
  3. Set your Sitewide Coupon Code ceiling to at least 40% to be included in both our 30% off Coupon Code Events and our huge Black Friday 40% off Coupon Code Event. (Note: Setting your limit to 40% means your products will only be 40% off for our Black Friday Event, not any time before or after that during Cyber Week.)
  4. Save your settings.

See all the promos we’ll run below and get more details on our Merchant Blog.

  • November 23: Sale on Sale Credit Event
  • November 24: Flash $31 Credit Event
  • November 25: Half Off Sale. Items 50% off MSRP or more (when Credits are applied) will be included in this sitewide event
  • November 26, Thanksgiving: 30% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 27, Black Friday: 40% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 28, Small Business Saturday: 30% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 29, Cyber Sunday: $150 Credit Event
  • November 30, Cyber Monday: $250 Credit Event

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Personal Expressions

Jewelry biz leads mom to ultimate goal.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Linda Funk, the owner of Amelia’s Expressions, wanted to be an entrepreneur. Already working in direct sales through Pampered Chef, she felt frustrated by running a business that wasn’t really her own. So she did some research and carved a path to online selling. Read Story

Sell Your ‘Turkeys’

Move the inventory that’s not selling.

By Dennis L. Prince

Let’s face it: Sometimes our eyes get so big that we eagerly gorge ourselves on everything in front of us. I’m not talking about a plate of half-eaten turkey and picked over trimmings. I’m talking about inventory. See how to put these “turkeys” to good use. Read Story

Get more selling tips on Auctiva EDU and the OpenSky Merchant Blog.

We Want to Hear From You!

Did you find this info helpful? Want us to explore another topic, like shipping, sourcing or something else? Send us a message at editor@opensky.com, so we can cover topics that matter to you.

Merchant Newsletter | November 13, 2015

Merchant Spotlight: Amelia’s Expressions

expressions-2
Linda Funk, the owner of Amelia’s Expressions, wanted to be an entrepreneur. Already working in in direct sales through Pampered Chef, she felt frustrated by running a business that wasn’t really her own.

“I wanted something unique,” she says. Having had a long interest in jewelry, Funk decided to explore a line of personalized jewelry. Once she decided what she’d like to sell, she put her research skills to the test.

“I searched the Web to find information about things I could make,” she says.

As Funk found interesting pieces, she tested them on social media. Soon her Facebook friends began to ask where they could get the pieces and how much they cost. And so her business was off. Funk opened her business first on Etsy in February 2013. That November she opened a store on OpenSky.

Read the entire article on Auctiva EDU.

Be Part Of Our Cyber Week Promos

cyber-monday-blog

The holidays are here! Soon shoppers will be busy making their lists, checking them twice—and buying like crazy! And we’ll be busy emailing them to remind them of all the great items they can buy on OpenSky.

Shoppers will be especially busy on Cyber Monday, but they’ll start buying even before that.

Last year, about 134 million people shopped online and in stores during the Thanksgiving weekend, reports the National Retail Federation. And people shopped earlier in the turkey week, too. This year should be similar, and we want you to get a piece of the Christmas pie, so we’re running Credit and Sitewide Coupon Code Events throughout Cyber Week, the week leading up to Cyber Monday.

Our promos start Monday, November 23, and run through Cyber Monday, November 30. See our events below:

  • November 23: Sale on Sale Credit Event
  • November 24: Flash $31 Credit Event
  • November 25: Half Off Sale. Items 50% off MSRP or more (when Credits are applied) will be included in this sitewide event
  • November 26, Thanksgiving: 30% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 27, Black Friday: 40% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 28, Small Business Saturday: 30% Off Coupon Code Event
  • November 29, Cyber Sunday: $150 Credit Event
  • November 30, Cyber Monday: $250 Credit Event

As we run these promos, we’ll email the millions of shoppers who visit OpenSky.com every day to let them know about our great deals.

We expect this to generate lots of traffic, and we want you to benefit by allowing shoppers to save when they visit OpenSky during those days and buy from you. All you have to do is opt in to Credits and Sitewide Coupon Codes if you aren’t already.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Visit the “Settings” section of your “Marketing” tab.
  2. Set your Credit ceiling to at least 30% to ensure your products are eligible for all our Cyber Week Credit Events.
  3. Set your Sitewide Coupon Code ceiling to at least 40% to be included in both our 30% off Coupon Code Events and our huge Black Friday 40% Off Coupon Code Event. (Note: Setting your limit to 40% means your products will only be 40% off for our Black Friday Event, not any time before or after that during Cyber Week.)
  4. Save your settings.

Then get ready for the traffic!

Want another reason to opt in? This year each shopper is expected to spend an average of $805.65, the NRF reports. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

The New Features You Want, Image Variations, Easier Imports & More

Results Are In! See the New Features Everyone Wants. Plus, Image Variations, Easier Imports & More



Images for Your Variations

Easier bulk edits and imports, plus your feature requests

It’s official: The holidays are here. To get you ready, we’ve improved the buying experience for products with variations, simplified imports and product updates, and we’ve started to evaluate your feedback to see what features and stats we’ll add to your Merchant Toolkit Dashboard.

See details below.

Show off that red dress

Sell products with variations? For instance, a great dress that comes in a breathtaking red and a sophisticated black? Wish shoppers could see an image of each color option when they click on one? Now they can when you import products using a CSV file.

It’s as easy as adding a “1” (without the quotes) to your data file. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Enter your product data into your CSV file.
  2. Include the image URLs for the product in the (a) parent row.
  3. Enter a “1” (without the quotes) in the child row under the (b, c, d) appropriate image URL.

4. Submit your file and you’re all set. Your variations will display the appropriate image.

Shoppers are sure to love this new feature, so be sure to use it!

Importing & editing just got easier

To simplify product management, we recently updated the importing process and the “Bulk Edit” page.

Now you can import and edit products using the same CSV file on both your “Bulk Edit” page and through a generic CSV import. You can also adjust your inventory levels by downloading an Inventory Management File of your products from the “Bulk Edit” page, making your changes and submitting your file to OpenSky.

The Inventory Management File is a simplified CSV file that contains all of your OpenSky products but only the SKU, Title, Quantity and Price fields for those items. We think this should make inventory updates even easier.

You’ll also notice improvements to imports from other sites. Before, imports from Shopify, Etsy, Bigcommerce and/or Big Cartel, only brought in new products. They didn’t change items you had on those sites and on OpenSky. Not anymore. Now when you run an import from any of those sites, any products on the third-party site that also lives on OpenSky will be updated!

The new features you want

Finally, in our last newsletter we asked you to tell us what you wanted to see on your Merchant Toolkit Dashboard as we start to reimagine it. 60 of you responded. Here are your top requests, the features and stats you like from other sites that you want added to OpenSky, and what we’re working on now.

Top requests

  • A snapshot of how your store is doing today
  • Sales numbers, both in terms of dollar amount and popular products
  • Stats on how many people are looking at your products, adding them to their carts, and checking out (or abandoning their carts)
  • Clearer payment information, including your next payment amount and date, as well as commissions and fees
  • A way to see new product reviews and reply to them
  • For Co-Pilo participants: a daily snapshot of ad spend and ROAS

We’re working to add this information before the holiday sales rush. We’ll upgrade the Dashboard a little at a time in the coming weeks, so you get each improvement as quickly as possible.

We also heard some requests to bring back the old feed-based Dashboard, including options to comment and smile at customers, and to bring back the old Posting Tool. While we hated to see the old feed go, our original findings are holding up: Overall, shoppers browse more of your promotions and buy more from the new OpenSky home page experience than they did on the old feed. So we’re not going to bring back the old feed at this time.

One of the great things about this survey was that we found we’re already working on some of the features you’d like to see. These include:

  • Displaying prices before and after promo discounts are applied
  • Adding SKUs in the product grid
  • Searching for orders by name and products
  • An option to “clone” or refresh existing promo

Thanks for all of your input. We’ll use it to rework the Dashboard to best suit your needs. Stay tuned!

Upcoming promotions

  • Friday, November 6, to Sunday, November 8: 25% Off Coupon Code Event

To participate in this event, visit the “Settings” section of your “Marketing” tab and set your Coupon Code ceiling to at least 25%. You can see all of our upcoming promos on our Merchant Calendar.

Note: All events on the Merchant Calendar are subject to change.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

os-blog

Save Time & Money

Veteran sellers share their secrets.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Keeping your sanity during the holiday season comes down to two basics: solid infrastructure and good time management. See how to optimize your approach. Read Story

 

Should You Pack Greenshould-you-pack-green-os?

The answer isn’t black and white.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

One of the most important ways businesses can choose to be greener regards packaging. We took a closer look at the topic and found that environmental benefits are not the only reasons why companies are going the green route. Read Story

Get more selling tips on Auctiva EDU and the OpenSky Merchant Blog.

We Want to Hear From You!

Did you find this info helpful? Want us to explore another topic, like shipping, sourcing or something else? Send us a message at editor@opensky.com, so we can cover topics that matter to you.

Merchant Newsletter | November 5, 2015

Save Time & Money During the Holidays

os-blog

Veteran online sellers shared some of their time-tested ways for smoothing the path through the holidays. They showed us how to plan for our own holiday celebrations last time we spoke.

This time they’ve tell us about saving time and keeping sales soaring. Their advice comes down to two basics: solid infrastructure and good time management. They start with your inventory and shipping operation, but there are some good moves to make with your listings as well.

Organize your items

“Do inventory now,” says eBay seller Kathy Keefe of Sassy’s Savings. “Make sure it is organized and can be easily found when sold.”

Keefe recommends using plastic tubs or banker boxes, and suggests you use the custom label field for locating the item.

Prep your shipping supplies

But it isn’t just your inventory that needs to be well organized. Many sellers recommended taking a hard look at your shipping operation, too. Keefe agrees.

“Take inventory of your shipping supplies, ” she suggests. “Organize boxes and envelopes by size. Having your shipping area streamlined and organized can save countless hours. ”

Top Rated eBay seller Cie-Bay says you should order free boxes from USPS now and stock up on tape, labels, bubble wrap, and other supplies you’ll need. “You won’t have time to get any of those things once the holiday sales go into full swing,” she adds.

Schedule mail pickups

Being well supplied is a great way to start, but you’ve got some other strategies you can take, too.

“If you can use USPS carrier pickup, log on to USPS.com now and order daily pickups for the next few months,” says Donna MacMurray-Klein, who manages a popular Facebook Group on selling online. “If you are not using a thermal printer for postage, consider getting one. They’re fast and actually pay for themselves quickly.”

She likes the Dymo 450. MacMurray-Klein’s advice is to evaluate how you can keep maximum accuracy, but gain the most efficient process.

Time management helps

Another crucial step on the path to a sane holiday season is time management. Luckily, our experts have wisdom to share about that, too.

“Plan and do so now, ” says veteran online seller Kathy Terrill. “I use Google calendar. I put everything on it, including how much I plan to pin daily on Pinterest, to when I want to launch auctions and the duration of the auctions.”

Technology makes planning ahead even easier. “Set up your social marketing campaigns in advance using one of the social media management applications,” Keefe says. She recommends Hootsuite, Buffer and Social Oomph.

“Set your promotion schedule and have your graphics ready in advance,” she continues.

Look back to last year

Keefe also recommends looking at your past sales to plan for this season. Although every year is different, looking back over sales records can help you predict and plan for what’s likely to be your busiest period again. With this in mind, you can easily change some things to smooth out the crunch time.

Keefe starts with the practical, part of your weekly time at work. “Try to have a specific time for shipping set aside,” she says. “It’s better to overestimate than to underestimate the time you will spend on this task.”

She also recommends setting a cutoff date for guaranteed arrival by Christmas and making sure that detail is apparent in all your listings.

Remember, you and your staff are not the only ones who are busy this time of year. The closer we get to the season, the busier your customers are, too. “Think like your buyer,” says MacMurray-Klein. “Holiday shoppers tend to be crunched for time and want to cross gifts off their lists.”

So offer a variety of shipping options. “If your listings don’t use calculated shipping, revise them and offer your buyers three mailing options: slow (First Class or Parcel), Priority, and Express,” MacMurray-Klein advises. “This allows your buyers in a hurry to simply upgrade their postage without nagging you. Enter the shipping methods in order of slowest to fastest, so they display right.”

MacMurray-Klein also had some advice to make your life as a seller easier. “As time becomes scarcer, end any listings that are really time consuming to prepare for packing unless, they’re super high profit,” she adds.

Those are likely to make any seller’s holiday happier!