Time to Get Ship Done: Avoid Shipping Penalties, How Our Holiday Returns Program Will Help Your Sales & More

Are Your Shipping Times Shaping Up?

Before you know it, the holidays will be upon us. To ensure you have your most successful season yet, it’s important to stay on top of your shipping times and offer a holiday return policy that gives shoppers the confidence to buy. That’s why we’re making it easier than ever to stay updated on orders that didn’t ship in time and be part of our Holiday Returns Program. Get details below.

Plus, check out a new Boost feature, get some help from your team so you don’t miss important messages and learn more about the power of branding.

Ship in Time to Avoid Penalties

How are your shipping times shaping up? With the holidays just around the corner, shoppers will soon be expecting their orders to arrive more quickly than ever.

To avoid penalties, ensure you’re taking all the necessary steps to stay within the guidelines outlined in our Merchant Quality of Service Agreements. Remember, once an order is placed, you have 2 business days for it to be scanned by a valid carrier.

Also, stay tuned for a new Penalties section in your Merchant Toolkit. This will give you visibility on orders that did not meet our requirements and are subject to penalties. After each payment period, we’ll send you an email summarizing your penalties for those orders and give you 2 more business days to submit exception requests. Once we’ve reviewed all exception requests, we will calculate your final penalty deduction and apply it to your next payment.

Hassle-Free Holiday Returns

Ready for your most profitable holiday season ever? On November 1, we’re taking an extra step out of your holiday prep by automatically updating all products with a 14-day return window to be part of our Holiday Returns Program.

This means all products purchased between November 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016, can be returned until January 31, 2017. These products will still abide by the same guidelines as our current return policy, however, it gives shoppers a little more time to return their items, and most importantly, gives them the confidence to buy.

Remember, any gift a shopper purchases before December 10 would essentially be final sale since she would not have enough time to return the item within the 14-day return window—thus limiting your holiday selling potential in a big way. By offering extended holiday returns, you can capture shopper demand early in the season and ensure you’re not missing out on sales.

Learn more or contact us if you have any questions.

See How Your Boosted Products Measure Up

Pro Plan merchants, put your Boosts to the test! Here’s a sneak peek at the new Product Performance Chart you’ll soon see right below your Shopper Traffic Graph in your Merchant Toolkit:

This new feature will help you compare your Boosted products’ daily conversion rate with the average OpenSky marketplace conversion rate (the red line at the bottom). Similar to your Shopper Traffic Graph, the green portion represents how much impact Boost has on your products’ performance.

Anxious to try Boost? This program is currently only available to a pilot group, however, we’ll be inviting more merchants later this month. Stay tuned!

Getting Your Team Involved

Need help staying on top of important notices and messages during the busy holiday selling season? If you have a team of employees or co-workers who help you manage your business, you may want to route certain types of notices to their inboxes, freeing you from forwarding messages.

You can have different people receive messages in the following categories:

  • Business Owner
  • Customer Service
  • Accounting
  • Order Information
  • Product & Inventory Management
  • Marketing & Merchandising Updates
  • Social Alerts (Loves, Follows, Comments, etc.)

To add secondary users to cover these sections, go to your “Users” section located in the “Account” tab of your Merchant Toolkit. Scroll to the bottom of the page or click the “Add Account” link at the top. Enter the email address of the account you want to add.

After the additional user confirms via email, you can go back to your “Users” section and use the checkboxes to choose the types of notices he or she will receive. An important thing to note: After a user becomes a secondary user, he or she will have access to your entire Merchant Toolkit with the exception of your “Billing” section.

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

Merchant Newsletter | October 12, 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:

os-nl-081716-product-name

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

DIY Order Cancellations, Your New Guide to More Sales, How Selling is Like Dating & More

 

Just Released: DIY Cancellations

Plus, our best insider tips to wow shoppers & more

Cancellations are part of doing business. To make them a little easier, you can now cancel orders without contacting our Customer Support Team. See details below and check out our new Seller Guide. It’s bursting with our best insider tips to help you sell more.

Cancel Orders on Your Own

Before we tell you how to cancel orders, keep this in mind: Canceling too many orders can result in fines as noted in our Merchant Quality of Service Agreements. But when you must cancel an order, here’s how you do it on your own:

  1. Find the appropriate order in your “Orders” page. (Please note that orders must be in the “Review” or “Pending” tabs.)
  2. Click on the order.
  3. Click the order’s “Cancel Order” link.
  4. Select the reason for the cancellation.
  5. Click “Cancel Order” again.

Keep in mind that this will cancel all pending products contained in the order and that you can only cancel pending orders. If you have a pending order that contains multiple products but you already marked 1 product as “shipped,” you can still cancel the order, but the shipped product will not be canceled.

Once you cancel an order, we’ll email the shopper to let him or her know of the cancellation, just like we do with any other cancellation.

If you ever need to cancel only 1 or a few products in an order, or cancel an order for a product that has already been marked “shipped,” contact our Customer Support Team and they can help you. Learn more about cancellations in our helpful guide.

How Much Did You Pay for Marketing?

Pro and Elite merchants: You can see this figure labeled “Marketing Budget Renewal” in your Merchant Toolkit. This figure represents how much you’ve paid for Boosts and other marketing services to reach more qualified shoppers.

“Marketing Budget Renewal” figures are negative numbers because they represent payments you’ve made. (Payments made to you appear as positive numbers.)

Remember, Boost and other marketing services are only available to Pro and Elite merchants. If you’re on the Starter Plan and want access, upgrade your account. Already on the Pro Plan but not using Boost? See if you’re eligible on the “Advertising” section of your “Marketing” tab.

Psst… Your Listings Need Some Work

You’ll find some of our best listing and selling tips in our new quick-start Guide to Selling on OpenSky. Be sure to check it out to learn how to wow shoppers, improve your products and avoid common listing mistakes.

For instance, you’ll learn that:

    • Not using a lifestyle image (like the 1 below) as your 1st product photo can cut your views and sales in half.

  • The weird lighting rule that many merchants ignore—ruining their sales!
  • The No. 1 feature that successful merchants opt into.

Plus, you’ll learn how to:

  • Customize your account to build trust.
  • Perfect product names & descriptions.
  • Set up your product photography shots.
  • Get the right lighting for your product images.
  • Get your team involved.
  • And more!

Consider saving this handy guide onto your desktop or bookmarking this page in our Help Center, so you always have it at your fingertips.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Selling is Like Dating

You have to build trust.

By Dennis L. Prince

Today most people buy online. Some only buy online. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to earn and retain shoppers’ trust before they’ll commit to buy from you. Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | July 5, 2016

A New Feature to Reach More Shoppers, See Where Your Money Goes & More

 

OpenSky Boost is Coming

Plus, new in-depth reporting, how to nail product packaging & more.

You told us you wanted to see exactly how we’re spending your marketing dollars and how your sales are doing in return. Ask and you shall receive. See details below.

Plus, meet a merchant who wowed us with their packaging and get to know Bench, an online bookkeeping service that pairs you with a team who can handle all that annoying paperwork so you can focus on everything else.

Boost Your Products

Pro Plan members, you now have a new “Advertising” tab in your Merchant Toolkit that will soon give you access to Boost Alpha (our first phase of OpenSky Boost) if you don’t already have access to the feature. OpenSky Boost is the easiest way to reach new, qualified shoppers across the Web.

Here’s how it’ll work:

  1. Once you have access, select an advertising budget.
  2. Our algorithms place your products on top sites like Facebook, Google and 100s more, and we give your products added exposure on OpenSky.com.
  3. Shoppers see your products and buy them.
  4. You sit back and get ready for more sales.

You’ll also be able to check your Boost stats anytime in your Dashboard and we’ll email you with updates on how your products are performing. Want to know more? See our FAQs and if you don’t have access to OpenSky Boost yet, stay tuned. We’re inviting more merchants every day and will let you know when you’re eligible.

Keep in mind that OpenSky Boost is only for Pro Plan members, so if you’re on the Starter Plan and want access, be sure to upgrade your account. Elite and Enterprise members, your personal account manager is already advertising your products across the Web for you, so you’re covered.

In-Depth Reporting Debuts

Elite and Enterprise merchants: Have you seen your new, improved, and very detailed monthly report? It shows your cumulative and monthly sales and order totals, your marketing spend, your commission fees, and much more.

You can see exactly where we’re marketing your products, your return on ad spend and your top products.

Elite merchants, we even show you how many orders were canceled, products’ return rates and top shopper concerns so you can make adjustments if needed. Plus, you’ll find several tips at the end of the report so you can optimize your operation and continue to grow your sales.

Please note that this detailed reporting is only for Elite and Enterprise merchants. If you’d like to upgrade your account, contact our team for consideration.

Urban Metal Designs is Killing it

Want a crash course in product packaging? Urban Metal Designs keeps shoppers coming back by using beautiful gift boxes and hand-written thank you cards. Check it out:

As you prep your products for shipment, remember how powerful packaging can be. It can leave shoppers feeling like it’s Christmas all over again and eager to buy from you again, or it can make them wonder why they made the purchase in the first place. Urban Metal Designs totally got it right. Great work and high-five!

Simplify Bookkeeping & Save

Bench is a new kind of bookkeeping service that takes the pain out of small business accounting. When you sign up with Bench, you’re assigned a team of dedicated bookkeepers who know your business. Meanwhile, Bench’s simple, intuitive cloud interface lets you:

  • Analyze your revenue and expenses with in-app reports.
  • Photograph and submit documents.
  • Protect your bookkeeping information with bank-grade security.

Spend less time doing your books and more time growing your business. OpenSky members get 20% off their first 6 months with Bench. Claim your free trial today.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Dad Was My First Business Teacher

Childhood lessons lead to success.

By Dennis L. Prince

I grew up working alongside my dad and little did I know that his work style would translate into the philosophies I use today. Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | June 16, 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

New Feature! Put Your Best Price Forward + Learn How to Rock Your Returns

 

Set Product-Specific Discounts

Plus, the ins and outs of returns.

Wish you could set a discount limit on specific products? Soon you’ll be able to. See more details below. And get a refresher on our returns process to ensure your shoppers and you have good experiences. Because, well, returns happen.

Best Deal Pricing Hits

On Friday, you may have seen a new price you can enter for your products: the Best Deal Price. This optional price is the lowest price you will charge for an item once discounts from a promotion are applied. This price will override your Maximum Allowed Discount so you can have more control over your bottom line.

pricing-simplification

You can start entering this price now on desired products, and we’ll start using that info in mid-March.

Since the Maximum Allowed Discount specifies the maximum discount you will give all of your products during an OpenSky promotion, we wanted to give you a feature that lets you set pricing limits on certain products. For instance, if your Maximum Allowed Discount was set to 40%, but you only wanted to discount one product by 20% at the most instead of 40% or by 50% max instead of 40%.

When you set a (b) Best Deal Price, the affected product will always sell between this price and the (a) OpenSky price (the price at which your product would sell if no discounts were applied to it) starting in mid-March.

os-nl-0228-2

Navigating Best Deal Prices

You can enter any price in a product’s “Best Deal Price” field as long as it’s lower than the OpenSky price.

Keep in mind that the Best Deal Price is not your landed cost. You should account for commission fees, ad spend and other costs you incur as you calculate the Best Deal Price.

You can add Best Deal Prices (we will not add these for you) in your Merchant Toolkit by going to the “Price & Variations” section of any product.

Or you can perform a Bulk Edit. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click “Bulk Edit” in the “Products” tab of your Merchant Toolkit.
  2. Download your Full Product File.
  3. Open your CSV file from your Dashboard once it’s ready.
  4. Enter Best Deal Prices for applicable products.
  5. Save the file.
  6. Re-upload it to OpenSky.

We’ll let you know when we start using Best Deal Prices on your Merchant Toolkit Dashboard.

Rock Returns

Returns are part of doing business. But if you accept returns in your store, do you know exactly how the process works? Here’s a refresher just in case to ensure the process is good for your shopper and you.

1. A shopper contacts us letting us know she wants to return a product.

2. We send the shopper a return label through email so she can return the item.

3. The shopper receives the label and ships the product back to you. At the same time, our Customer Support Team notifies you of the return and provides you with:

  • The shopper’s name, the order number, the shipped date, the return request date, the reason for the return and the label tracking number

4. Once you receive the return, we’ll issue a refund to the shopper (minus the return shipping cost) as long as the merchandise is in resalable condition. You’ll see the order deducted from your “Payments” page.

If the returned item is not in salable condition, let us know within 24 hours of receiving the product. If you don’t, we’ll assume the return is in resalable condition and will issue the refund.

Want to know more? Get all the ins and outs on returns.

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Ditch the Vanilla Approach

Personality can propel sales.

By Dennis L. Prince

Strong businesses stay strong thanks to their projected styles or personalities. Shoppers remember a business that makes them laugh, shows a unique kind of caring or sensitivity, or (best yet) shares their values. Read Story

Should You Give Bloggers Swag?

Sending freebies can boost your exposure.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Should you give products to bloggers for free in exchange for exposure? That question sparked lots of comments on The eCommerce Group’s Facebook page. It also ignited our curiosity. Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | February 28, 2016

Product Reviews Are Coming Back! Plus, Win $50 & See Your 2015 Sales Figures

Product Reviews Ahead

Plus, where to get your 2015 sales figures and our survey that can literally pay off

Product reviews are a great way to foster trust among the shoppers who love exploring the unique finds you offer at OpenSky, so we’re working to add this feature back to the site. See details below.

And let us guide you to the spot in your Merchant Toolkit where you can see your sales figures for 2015 broken down by month. Need another reason to read? Take our quick survey and you’ll earn a chance at a $50 Visa gift card.

The Reviews Are In

We’ve been collecting product reviews from shoppers since October. Late last year we ran a test and showed reviews to a portion of our visitors. Now we’re working to make reviews visible to all shoppers.

Next week we’ll release a feature that sends you an email containing all the reviews your products received in the previous 24 hours. Your reviews will look like this:

We encourage you to use the email you get to:

  1. Actively monitor your reviews.
  2. Respond to those reviews.

Want to know more? See full details and how you can respond to product reviews.

X Marks the Spot

With tax season up ahead, you may be wondering how much you made in sales last year. Not to worry. We have your back.

You can easily request your Payment and Tax Report for 2015 to see:

  1. All the payments you received last year
  2. All the sales tax you collected in 2015

Plus, these figures are all broken down by month for added convenience.

Where do you request your report? From the “Payments” section of your “Account” page in your Merchant Toolkit.

It’ll take us a few minutes to create the report for you, so we’ll email you once it’s done. Then you can download it as often as you’d like.

Take Our Survey & You Could Win $50

We’re working on a new blog that will help you grow your business and reach new heights. Take a minute to tell us about yourself and the issues that concern you in our short survey. This will help us cover the topics that matter most to you—and it could pay off, literally!

If you take the survey by February 13, 2016, you’ll earn a chance to win a $50 Visa gift card. Be sure to check it out and good luck!

Take the survey now!

From Auctiva EDU & The OpenSky Merchant Blog

Edit Your Images Like A Pro

Creating consistency is key.

Andy Bonnenfant

You’ve probably been taking product photos for years. But what if your shots don’t come out exactly as you had imagined? How do you create consistency? Let’s take a look.Read Story

Relax! Don’t Catastrophize

Thrive by living in the moment.

By Brad and Debra Schepp

Catastrophizing, or assuming the worst case scenario will occur, is a problem that plagues many online merchants. See how to stop this massive energy and time-waster! Read Story

Merchant Newsletter | February 4, 2016

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

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

Simplify Holiday Returns

Young depressed girl wearing Santa's hat is in the living room surrounded by Christmas presents.

We’ve explored how to lure in buyers by offering free shipping and you’ve read about all the great reasons to offer a flexible return policy. Now we’d like to introduce the OpenSky Hassle-Free Return Program—another tool you can use to entice shoppers this holiday season.

Why Offer Extended Returns?

Our Holiday Series has been aimed at helping you prep for the big day. No, not Christmas (though, that’s, of course, a big one, too)—we mean Cyber Monday.

“More than 126 million Americans plan to shop online” on that day, so it can be a big day for your selling season. In 2014, the average shopper “completed 52.9 percent of their shopping as of December 10,” reports the National Retail Foundation.

If you’re only offering a 14-day return window, and your shoppers have completed half of their shopping before December 10, then the return policies for half of their purchases will expire before they’ve even had the chance to give their gifts!

Offering extended returns gives your shoppers peace of mind and reassurance that, even if their gifts aren’t perfect the first time, they can return them after the holidays and try again.

The Details of Hassle-Free Holiday Returns

By opting in to the Hassle-Free Holiday Returns Program on OpenSky, you’re making the returns process super simple for all of your shoppers this holiday season! When you opt in, shoppers who buy from you between October 15, 2015, and December 31, 2015, have until January 31, 2016, to return their products.

And don’t worry, items that you’ve set to Final Sale will stay that way, even if you opt in to our program. Your participation only affects products that are currently set to the 14-day return policy.

Enrolling is Simple

Participating in the Hassle-Free Holiday Return Program is easy. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Visit your “Marketing” tab of your Merchant Toolkit and select “Settings.”
  2. Under “Holiday Returns,” click the checkbox that says “Enable Holiday Returns” and save your settings.

Then all of your products marked with “We accept returns up to 14 days from the date the order was delivered” will be updated to reflect the extended return window. You can edit products individually, but as long as you are opted in, you will only be able to select “Holiday Returns” or “Final Sale.”

Give your shoppers that boost of confidence—and give yourself a boost in sales—by offering extended holiday returns.