Why You Should Review Your Returns, Making the Price Right, Prepping for the Holidays & More

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Monitoring Your Returns?

We no longer review all returns, so you need to let us know if you want to dispute a return request from a shopper. Get details below. Plus, check out our enhanced Boost insights, see if you need to rethink your pricing strategy and start prepping for the holidays now.

Track Your Returns

Shoppers can now initiate returns without contacting our Customer Support Team. They just have to go to their “Purchases,” or “Order Details” pages and specify the reason they’re returning something. Then they’ll either:

  1. Get a shipping label for the return and send the product back to you.
  2. Or the request will be submitted to our Customer Support Team for review. We’ll then either email the shopper a return shipping label, so she can send her return to you or we’ll ask for additional information.

You will be notified of each return and it’s in your best interest to keep track. Since we don’t review all returns, you must let us know within 24 hours of receiving the return if you disagree with the reason a shopper specifies and want to dispute it. Keep in mind that the reason associated with each return determines who will pay for the return shipping cost.

Improved Shopper Traffic Graph Gives More Insights

Pro Plan merchants, check out the Shopper Traffic graph that appears in your Merchant Toolkit Dashboard when you Boost. Three tabs let you easily see how many views, orders and sales your Boosted products have received.

57dc6479c915e45a9a763034And take a look at the gray and green portions. They show you just how much impact Boost has on your traffic with gray representing organic traffic and green representing Boosted traffic!

Currently available to a limited pilot group, Boosts and the Shopper Traffic graph will become available to all qualifying merchants later this fall. With the holidays just around the corner, you’ll be able to Boost your products to put them in front of millions of shoppers across the Web.

Note: Boosts are only available to Pro Plan merchants who don’t have managed marketing campaigns.

Is Your Pricing More than Right?

Price matters—a lot. It can actually help build trust and encourage shoppers to buy.

The key is to show shoppers the value you’re offering them and you can do that in 3 simple steps:

  1. Do some research to ensure your products are competitively priced. Shoppers are always on the hunt for the best price, and if they find your products elsewhere for a different price, it could cost you a sale—and their trust.
  2. Set the MSRP on all your products. We’ll display MSRPs above the OpenSky prices to show shoppers the savings you’re offering them and that can be just the push they need to buy.
  3. Ensure your MSRP is accurate. Posting an inflated MSRP can hurt your sales. Remember, shoppers research their purchases, and if they see an inflated MSRP, they’ll go elsewhere. Plus, inaccurate MSRPs are a breach of our Merchant Terms of Service Agreement.

Get more tips in our new quick-start Guide to Selling on OpenSky.

 

Merchant Newsletter | September 29, 2016

Important Changes to Returns Just Hit! Plus, Boost Insights, How to Write Killer Product Names & More

 

It’s official: Most merchants must now accept returns. See details below. Plus, get the scoop on upcoming Boost insights, learn about a new platform that can simplify product management and learn how to write product names that pay off.

Changes to Returns Are Live

As of August 15, 2016, the changes to our Merchant Agreement are live and most merchants must accept returns within 14 days from the shipment delivery date.

Only certain products are exempt, including:

  1. Custom products
  2. Products listed in categories that do not allow returns, such as: Books, Intimates and Gourmet Food

We updated return policies for products on OpenSky.com accordingly, so be sure to double-check your items and ensure that any products that are custom are listed as such. (And keep in mind that we reserve the right to process returns within 14 days of purchase for products that were changed from not accepting returns to accepting returns, even if they were listed as not accepting returns when they sold.) Learn more.

Boost Insights Get A Boost

Pro Plan merchants, if you’re Boosting your products to put them in front of millions of shoppers across the Web, we have great news: Soon you’ll have access to more data, so you can see exactly how your Boost campaigns are performing.

We’re adding new tabs to your Shopper Traffic graph (which displays on your Merchant Toolkit Dashboard) that will show you how many add-to-carts, orders and sales your Boosted products have received. Eventually, you’ll be able to see how many impressions your products are getting, too.

Not Boosting your products yet? Contact us at pro@opensky.com or visit our FAQs. Please keep in mind that Boosts are only available to Pro Plan merchants who don’t have managed marketing campaigns.

Venture Over to Vendio

vendio-logoSell on Amazon or eBay, or both in addition to OpenSky? If so, check out Vendio, a member of the OpenSky family.

It’s a great service that streamlines product management and allows you to create, edit, and list products to Amazon, eBay, OpenSky, and your own online store from one place. You can even sell on Facebook with the service!

How’s that for convenience and increasing your reach? Plans start at $24.95 a month. You can even try it for free to see if it suits you.

About Your Product Names…

They could be meaningless and confusing shoppers. What does that mean for you? Shoppers could get turned off and move on, or they may buy the product and return it because they expected something else.

To avoid that, follow this simple formula to perfect your product names.

  1. State what your product is in simple, searchable terms (e.g., “Cotton Short Sleeve Shirt”).
  2. Add in general descriptors such as color, pattern and size (e.g., “Gray Cotton V-Neck Short Sleeve Shirt”).
  3. Keep the character count to 80 characters max, including spaces.
  4. Avoid special characters, catalog numbers and product codes.
  5. Spell-check. It’s the cherry on top of a killer—and profitable—product name.

Need a little inspiration? Here’s a great product name to help:

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Get more tips in our new quick-start Guide to Selling on OpenSky.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Key Selling Tips, Part 1

Seasoned sellers share their best tips.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

We recently asked a group of e-commerce sellers a simple question: What are the most important things to know about running an e-commerce business? Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | August 18, 2016

Important Changes to Final Sale & Returns, Take Our Fulfillment Survey, & More

 

Changes to Final Sale & Returns Hit Soon

Plus, take our new fulfillment survey so we can help you save & more

We’re retiring Final Sale and changing our guidelines on returns soon. See details below. Plus, tell us about your fulfillment process so we can help you save and see how we’re making order processing easier for ShipStation merchants.

Final Sale is Ending

As you may have seen in your Dashboard, we’re updating our Merchant Agreement on August 15, 2016. As of that date, items can no longer be listed as Final Sale and most OpenSky merchants must accept returns within 14 days from the shipment delivery date.

Only certain products are exempt from the new return guidelines, for example:

  1. Custom products
  2. Products listed in categories that do not allow returns, including: Books, Intimates and Gourmet Food

These changes will help us align our policies with those of other marketplaces and help foster trust among shoppers.

What should you do? Double-check that any custom products you sell are listed as such. We’ll automatically update products’ return policies according to the new guidelines when the changes take effect.

Please note that we reserve the right to process returns within 14 days of purchase for items that are changed from Final Sale to accepting returns when changes take effect, even if they were listed as Final Sale at the time of purchase. Learn more.

Take Our Fulfillment Survey

We want to get to know your business better so we can serve you best—and help you save. If you haven’t already, be sure to take our short fulfillment survey. It’ll take just a few minutes and will go a long way in helping us identify new opportunities to help you reduce your costs.

Take the survey now.

ShipStation Merchants, Your Job Just Got Easier

If you use ShipStation to process your OpenSky orders, you now have one less step to take. Last week we added an OpenSky packing slip to ShipStation, so you no longer have to go into your OpenSky Merchant Toolkit to print packing slips for your OpenSky orders.

You can download the slips right from ShipStation. Get step-by-step instructions on how to do this in our Help Center.

When Should You Take Product Photos?

Morning and early evening. That’s when you’ll get the best lighting, a key ingredient in great product photos. To get the perfect shot, set up a seamless background next to a window for soft, natural lighting as shown below.

photo-tip-os-nlBe sure to avoid direct sunlight and harsh midday lighting. (They can wash out your image.)

And if you set up your shot outside for a lifestyle image—remember those receive almost double the traffic of other images—make sure it’s not in direct sunlight.

Get more tips in our new quick-start Guide to Selling on OpenSky.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Nail Product Sourcing

The trade shows you can’t miss

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Nothing beats old-fashioned face-to-face communication when it comes to sourcing, and trade shows are a great place for that. That’s probably why the shows are thriving, but which ones should you attend? Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | August 3, 2016

Exciting News: FTP is Here! Learn How to Manage Your Products More Efficiently

 

Introducing Our New FTP Feature

Plus, how to cut your commissions in half & more.

Want a new way to manage your products and orders in bulk? We have just the thing. Plus, see how you can cut your commission rates in half and how we’re improving the Merchant Toolkit to better serve you.

Say Hello to FTP Updates

You can now manage your orders and products using our new FTP feature if you’re on the Pro, Elite or Enterprise Plans. If you’re on the Starter Plan, be sure to upgrade to gain access.

The FTP feature is a great option if you have a large amount of products, or orders as it allows you to update and process these items in bulk quickly.

You can access the feature on the “Add More Products” page of your Merchant Toolkit and get step-by-step instructions in our Help Center. They’ll walk you through enabling and using the feature.

Use a third-party partner that uses FTP for managing products or orders? Contact our Customer Support Team and we can work with the company to integrate our systems.

Cut Your Commissions in Half

Don’t forget to sign up for an OpenSky plan if you haven’t already. It’ll cut your commission rate in half.

As we’ve mentioned before, our new plans reduce commission rates from up to 30% to a low, flat 15% regardless of how a sale is generated—which means you keep more of your profits.

The new plans also give you access to powerful tools to scale your business, the ability to reach more than 20 million U.S. shoppers and much more. Plus, they allow you to continue selling on the marketplace.

Take a few minutes to review our plans now and sign up for the one that best suits your business. We can’t wait to welcome you to a better, more profitable way to sell on OpenSky.

Toolkit Cleanup

Notice more helpful tips and guidance in your Merchant Toolkit as you add products? It’s just our way of improving the OpenSky selling experience for you and ensure you’re utilizing our tools to your full advantage.

Recently we had non-OpenSky merchants test our tools to get their feedback. We learned a lot and have been optimizing the Toolkit accordingly.

For instance, we debuted a new explanation of the “SEO description” field that displays when you add products to make it more evident that we enter this information for you, but you can change it as you see fit. We also reworked the “Photos & Video” section so you know that we require at least one photo for every product added.

More updates are on the horizon, so stay tuned!

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Are You Wasting Time?

How to budget your time like your money

By Dennis L. Prince

If you want to use the precious hours you have making money, you don’t have time to waste. But you could be doing just that. Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | May 5, 2016

Now Live: Product-Specific Discounts, Product Identifiers & More

 

Product-Specific Discounts Now Available

Plus how we’re making your products easier to find.

You told us our new Best Deal Pricing was a little confusing, so we reworked it. Read on for details and see how you can now set discounts for specific products starting today regardless of the OpenSky promotion.

Plus, review a few other updates we made to make your products easier to find.

Max Product Discount Replaces Best Deal Price

We recently introduced Best Deal Pricing to give you a way to set maximum discounts for specific products, overriding your storewide Maximum Allowed Discount.

However, you told us Best Deal Pricing was confusing, so we reworked the design.

  1. We changed its name from “Best Deal Price” to “Max Product Discount.”
  2. You’ll now enter a percentage discount instead of a dollar amount, just like you do for your Maximum Allowed Discount.

You can enter a Max Product Discount in the same place where Best Deal Prices appeared: in your products’ “Price & Variations” sections under the OpenSky price.

Max Product Discounts will work just like Best Deal Pricing: They simply override your storewide Max Allowed Discount for specific products.

  • If you set a Max Product Discount for a listing, that product will always sell between the max discounted price and the OpenSky price.
  • If you leave it blank, we’ll use your storewide Maximum Allowed Discount setting instead. (You can find that setting in the “Settings” section of your “Marketing” tab.)
  • Pro tip: Want to allow discounts on most of your products, but not discount one or two items? Set those products’ Max Product Discount to 0% to disallow discounting and always sell the products at your OpenSky price.

Did You Already Enter a Best Deal Price?

To ease this transition, we found all the Best Deal Prices you already entered and calculated equivalent Max Product Discounts for those listings.

We calculated these percentages carefully, but you should double-check any Max Product Discounts you may have to ensure you’re happy with the values we entered. Be sure to do this soon because we’ll start using Max Product Discounts to calculate the price of your products starting today.

Always Sell at Your Max Discount

As you review your Max Product Discount, notice the new “Always sell this product at this discount” box. When you check it, your product will always sell at the calculated price once the Max Product Discount is applied, regardless of the OpenSky promotion.

For instance, if your product has an OpenSky price of $50 and you allow a Max Product Discount of 20%, you’d be allowing the product to be purchased at prices between $40 and $50, depending on what discount or coupon each shopper has available. If you check the box, you’ll always sell the product for $40 if the shopper has a discount.

Product Identifiers Are a Must

Now let’s talk search. As of Wednesday, you can add a product’s brand and universal product code (UPC) in the “Price & Variations” section, or by uploading a CSV file, or doing an import from Bigcommerce or Shopify.

Be sure to review your products and add that info to your current items and future ones you create. These product identifiers are huge when it comes to search and many sites require them.

Plus, you get 2 major benefits by including brands and UPCs:

  1. Shoppers can find your products more easily.
  2. Product identifiers help us market your products more effectively.

Optimize Your Photos for Variations

Finally, we also updated our Co-Pilot ads to use product images for variations. This should increase your advertising return on ad spend (ROAS).

To benefit from this change, be sure to include images of the different variations you offer in your listings. For instance, if you sell a set of jewelry and shoppers can pick between a blue and a purple set, include at least one photo of each set.

You can set images for your variations in your products’ “Price & Variations” sections or in a CSV file if you’re doing a product import.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

And the Winners Are…

Congratulations to Lisa B. of South Dakota, Jeanette C. of Minnesota, Edith T. of California and Scott M. of New York for winning our $50 Visa gift cards for taking our reader survey! And a huge thanks to everyone who participated. Your feedback will help us focus on the topics that matter most to you.

Merchant Newsletter | March 14, 2016

Simplified Promos Are Live! Plus, How to Get the Biz Funding You Need & More

Welcome to Simplified Promos

Plus, respond to reviews like a pro & learn about funding that can help your biz grow.

Good news! Promos are officially simplified as of today. Learn more about how this new approach will benefit you and save you time.

Not sure how to respond to product reviews? We’ve got tips on how to do it well. Plus, if you need funding to grow your business, our new partnership can help.

Simplified Promos Are Here

Our new simplified approach to promotions started today, and that means:

  1. Discounts and Credits will no longer “stack.” Shoppers will only be able to use one or the other when they buy from you.
  2. You’ll only have to set one maximum discount for all of your products to be eligible for our marketing promotions.
  3. Welcome to hands-free promos! We’ll create all promotions going forward and they will be sitewide.

Be sure to check your new Maximum Allowed Discount (the maximum discount you’ll give all of your products during a promotion) on your new “Settings” page of your “Marketing” tab in your Merchant Toolkit.

As you’ll recall, we set this for you based on your Credit and Sitewide Coupon Code ceilings so your products can be eligible for OpenSky promotions.

You can make any adjustments you’d like. Just keep in mind that the higher your discount, the more promos your products will be eligible for.

A few other things changed, too, as we retired:

  • New Follower, Loyalty, Love and Beta Discounts
  • The “Customers” section
  • All mentions of creating or posting promos
  • Any storewide and product-specific promos you had going
  • And individual Credits for inviting friends to OpenSky

If you missed our last newsletter, check it out to see the full details about our simplified OpenSky promotions.

Respond to Reviews the Right Way

As your products get reviewed, you may find yourself wanting to respond to answer a shopper’s question, clear up confusion or just provide more information. And you should! Responses can be the determining factor for future shoppers as they decide whether they’ll buy.

Not sure how to compose your response? Here are some tips:

  • Explain: If a reviewer has a question or needs more information on your product, give the shopper the insight he or she seeks. This will help the reviewer and future shoppers, too.
  • Be precise: Only address the reviewer’s concerns. Don’t respond to multiple reviews in one response. Specific information is much more helpful. Plus, it shows you’ve heard your shopper.
  • Don’t take reviews personally: We all have opinions, and we should all be able to voice them. We’ll never publish reviews that contain personal attacks, and we’ll follow the same rule when it comes to responses. If something really upsets you, wait a few minutes to cool off and then respond.

Keep in mind that we review all responses before we post them, so you may want to check out our response guidelines as you craft your comments.

Get the Business Funding You Need

Businesses often need additional money to grow, and our recent partnership with Kabbage can make getting funds easier.

Apply today for a line of credit from Kabbage of up to $100,000 based on your business’ real-time data. Use the line of credit to buy more inventory, stock your shipping supplies or boost your Co-Pilot marketing efforts. Use the funds to take your business to the next level.

You won’t pay any fees to establish your line of credit. You’ll only pay fees on the funds you take, and qualified merchants can get access to funds in minutes.

More than 50,000 businesses have trusted Kabbage to help them grow. Apply today!

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

How To Stay Relevant

Listening is a must.

By Dennis L. Prince

How do you stand out in a sea of merchants? By being relevant, of course. For businesses, that means establishing a presence and process to become part of your shoppers’ lives. Read Story

Ink Master

PowerSeller talks tricks and staying on top

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Ron Saxton has been selling online for 18 years. In that time he’s tested the waters on Amazon, but both he and his current employer agree that eBay is the best fit for their business model. Read His Story

Merchant Newsletter | February 18, 2016

Do You Add the 1 Attribute Every Product Needs?

Don’t Miss This Key Product Detail

Plus, take the pain out of tax returns, end that negative self-talk & more

We have tons of projects in the works to help your business reach its limitless potential in 2016. But you can do one really important thing on your own to provide a good shopping experience: Enter accurate item weights.

Our Customer Support Team uses product weights to generate return shipping labels when a shopper requests a return.

If a product doesn’t contain an accurate weight, we run into two problems that shoppers hate:

  1. The shopper requesting the return may not be able to ship the item back to you because the return shipping label we send them (based on the item weight entered) is insufficient.
  2. The shopper may have to pay for the additional postage to return the item.

Avoid disappointing your shoppers and take the time to review your item weights. It’s an important detail that can turn first-time buyers into lifelong customers.

Partner Spotlight: TaxJar

TaxJar makes sales tax compliance simple by taking the pain out of reporting and filing your sales tax returns. Get started by giving yourself a quick and painless Sales Tax Compliance check up for 2016. Then start your 30-day risk free trial of TaxJar today!

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Stop The Negative Self-Talk

Why it’s bad for your business and how to end it

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Do you see failure lurking behind every corner? As a small-business owner, if you do, you may be hurting your business. Read Story

Why Shoppers Abandon Their Carts

See how you can get them back.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

The term “cart abandonment” makes many online sellers a little queasy. Orphaned carts represent lost income. Why do shoppers abandon their carts? We talked to a few experts to find out. Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | January 28, 2016

How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

negative-self-talk-os-blogDo you see failure lurking behind every corner?

If so, there are two issues at play. First: negative self-talk. Second: what psychologists call catastrophizing or thinking that something is far worse that it is.

We catastrophize and are negative self-talkers, ourselves. As a small-business owner, if you are, too, you’re less effective. Your creativity drags like molasses in winter and your overall output drops, too.

To help, we spoke with psychologists and other therapists for advice on dealing with these issues.

Read the entire article on Auctiva EDU.

What One Man’s Learned in 15 Years of Selling Online, Part 2

selling-wisdom-p2-osAs you may remember from the first part of our interview with Drew Friedman, an experienced e-commerce merchant and president of White Mountain Trading Company, in the more than 15 years Friedman has been running the business, he’s seen many changes and has had to adapt to keep his company going.

Here he shares his thoughts on marketing and the markets he uses, as well as advice for merchants who are just starting out.

The twists and turns of selling

Schepp: What are your thoughts about the big marketplaces where you market your items?

Friedman: We are still on eBay and have been for nearly 16 years. Briefly, after our move across the country, our eBay effort was scaled back considerably as we reconfigured our business. We also saw a tremendous downturn in the upscale product categories, where we had built our earlier reputation.

Read the entire article on Auctiva EDU.

What One Man’s Learned in 15 Years of Selling Online, Part 1

years-of-wisdom-osWhen we met Drew Friedman in 2006, he’d already been a successful eBay seller since before the turn of the century. Friedman, the president of White Mountain Trading Company, buys and sells Mount Blanc specialty pens and other high-end merchandise.

His background of more than 20 years in business was a help when he started his e-commerce business, but as anyone who’s been doing this for such a long time knows, that didn’t mean there weren’t challenges, changes and plenty of turns in the road in his journey.

Sales background starts merchant off right

Schepp: What did you do before you got into e-commerce, and how does that experience help you as an online merchant today?

Friedman: I was the national sales manager for a manufacturing firm traveling all over Canada and the U.S. When hired in 1998, I was charged with figuring out how the Internet and e-commerce were going to help increase our sales and decrease our selling costs.

Read the entire article on Auctiva EDU.