The Difference Between Fantasyland and Reality
The online 'marketers' you're used to are just part-time salespeople pushing whatever pays them the highest commission at the time.
I've spent more than 25 successful years owning Online Businesses. When you want the TRUTH about home-based ECommerce, THIS is where you need to be.
Home Based EBiz: The Unvarnished Truth
STOP wasting your time and money on things that just won't work.
If you've decided to start your own home based EBiz, the first thing you need to know is that you're going to be walking through a minefield in the dark. With a blindfold on. Hands tied behind your back, forced to hop on one foot.
Does that sound like an exaggeration? IT ISN'T.
When I first started in this business way back in 1993, things were whole lot simpler. Even though the 'consumer internet' was brand new and we were feeling our way along learning (and inventing) new things every day, at least nobody was trying to sabotage us on purpose.
Today it's a whole different ball game. It seems like everybody with access to a keyboard, a bag of Cheetos, a YouTube account and a complete disregard for basic human decency claims to be an "EBiz Guru" of some kind. There are thousands of them. Yes, I said thousands, and I'm not exaggerating.
99% of these people couldn't muster enough brain cells in one place long enough to tie their own shoes, but oh, they're EXPERTS in ECommerce! Yeah. Ok. Apparently all it takes these days to be an 'expert' in ECommerce is a keyboard, a bag of Cheetos, a YouTube account and a complete disregard for...well, we've covered that ground.
They claim to be experts, then they sell you absolute garbage 'apps', 'tools', 'systems', 'information', and 'coaching' for tens of thousands of dollars.
It's not just the Grinning Ninnies who've blanketed YouTube with crapstorms of stupid, either. Many of these putzes are doing hotel seminars and national conventions. Speaking to crowds of hundreds of people who hang on every slippery word and scribble reams of notes as if they're going to magically pick up on that one hidden amazing secret that'll allow them to get out of there without spending any money [cue the hilarious laughter] and go home, start a home based EBiz with no money, no learning and no experience, and get rich by next Tuesday. By 3:30 PM, so they have time to get ready for dinner.
After all, we wouldn't want starting a home based EBiz to be inconvenient in any way.
I hate to say this, but it's not just them. It's you as well!
They're heartless, disgusting con artists, yes. But a con artist needs a willing "Mark". (The "Mark" is the target of the con, in case you're not up on con artist lingo).
If the Mark isn't willing, the con doesn't work.
So if YOU are the Mark, (which you absolutely are, the moment you sign up for that first 'free lesson' or 'free trial') YOU have to be willing to believe that it's possible to get rich by Tuesday (no later than 3:30 PM) with no money, no learning and no experience.
And if you DO allow yourself to believe that even for just one minute, you might as well fry an egg, grab a slice of cheese and pop yourself in the toaster, because YOU are the Breakfast Bagel that these jack-wagons are going to chow down on every morning before they even get dressed.
No matter how many of these swamp lizards paddle up to your door, the only way they can hurt you is if you believe that starting a real home based EBiz that makes actual full-time money is EASY...or...can be bought from somebody else on easy credit terms.
Starting, building and running a real money-making business online is NOT easy, and you CAN'T buy 'tools, systems and apps' that will do it FOR you. Not EVER.
Let's face it, in life we want things to be easy. Easy is better than hard. However, life being life, that ain't gonna happen. But the knuckle-draggers who have been trained to think that cheating people is actually a smart business method KNOW that we want easy. So they serve it up to us like a three-scoop bowl of ice cream and give us a giant spoon. The only problem is that they charge thousands of dollars a scoop, and when the bowl is empty all you end up with is an empty bowl. Which you could have gotten for a dollar at the Dollar Store, if all you actually wanted really was a bowl.
IT'S A GOLD RUSH
If you've read any history or maybe watched the History Channel once in a while you might remember learning about the great California Gold Rush of 1849 (which actually started in 1848, but hey, facts get fuzzy when people get greedy).
During the years of that gold rush, the people who actually made much more money much more consistently were the people who were smart enough to go into the retail business, not the "Gimme a shovel, I'm gonna get rich by Tuesday" business.
Hoteliers, store owners, butchers, restaurateurs, etc. were the real gold rush winners in 1849(8). There were actually very few miners who made "fortunes", and the vast majority of them were the few who actually knew how to mine gold.
But those facts (which were known at the time) didn't stop the shipping and transportation companies 'back east' (and even in other countries) from screaming at the top of their lungs that you could pick gold up in the streets in California, and all you needed was a really expensive ticket on their ships and wagon trains. Huh...guess they made a lot of money too, right?
This is no different. The thousands of needle-heads who know that you don't know how to mine gold charge you tens of thousands of dollars for a ticket on the Secret Train To The Gold Fields. They'll put you in a first-class seat so you can relax comfortably while you eat your ice cream. They'll give you all kinds of fancy-looking gimmicks to play with that flash and spin and have buttons that bleep when you click them.
They'll tell you about all the magical ways you can summon your own personal Unicorns (which don't actually exist; sorry!) that will fly around scooping up people to buy from you. They'll promise you a Secret Code to the hidden Trans-Pacific Matter Transporters (that don't actually exist) that will make huge loads of incredible products from China appear in your garage for mere pennies on the dollar (which isn't actually true).
They'll show you amazing-looking web sites that they claim make quadrillions of dollars per second (but actually don't). They'll show you heart-felt testimonials (that they wrote themselves, but don't ask that question!) from others (themselves) who are all giddy and tingly about their Amazing Systems (that don't actually work).
They'll show you "Actual Bank Statements" (that they actually spent entire minutes of their lives creating by pecking away at Photoshop with their stubby little fingers) that PROVE that their "Amazing Systems" have made millions of dollars for themselves and other giddy and tingly people (only they actually didn't).
THE ONLY THING THEY DON'T DO is actually teach you how to mine gold.
The thing they never tell you (but should be easy enough to figure out) is that the Secret Train To The Gold Fields is powered by your money. That train doesn't run on a wood-burning boiler or diesel fuel. It runs on your CASH. Picture somebody at the front of the train tossing shovel-fulls of your hundred dollar bills into the flaming maw of an old-fashioned steam boiler fire-box, laughing maniacally. Not a pretty picture, is it.
The minute your money is gone and there's nothing more to shovel into the fire-box, that train's emergency brakes automatically kick in. The Conductor stomps over to your seat, unceremoniously tosses you out the window into the desert, and the train screeches off down the line shoveling other people's money into the fire.
So now you're sitting in the desert, broke, nowhere near the actual gold fields, and you have no idea what to do next.
And you still don't know how to mine gold.
OK, LET'S TALK DETAILS
I could go on and on with metaphors here (and it's kind of fun to do so) but it's the DETAILS that you need to know. Let's talk about what all these bad ideas are, and why they don't work. We'll start with one that I'm sure you've heard of even if you haven't been burned by it yet, and then we'll go on to cover many more.
You might want to brew a pot of coffee. This is going to take a while.
From the late 90's into the late 2000's, eBay was actually a decent place to make some money. It was just people selling stuff to people, and all was right with the world.
I was very involved with eBay back then. I was an eBay Developer Partner. I was a speaker at their national "eBay Live!" conventions. I spent years as a regular guest on eBay Radio. When eBay wanted info and content on Wholesaling, they called me. In about 2006, they asked me to write a book about how to find stuff to sell on eBay, and I did. It was published by McGraw-Hill and is still in bookstores today, although I would not recommend it now, because eBay has gone seriously downhill since about 2009.
I firmly believe that the driving force behind all the things that were GOOD about eBay in those days was Meg Whitman, eBay's CEO back then. On her watch, the eBay Partner Program was created. eBay Educators were trained and certified to help potential sellers. Outreach programs for disadvantaged people who wanted to start a business were created. The eBay Radio Show began. The "eBay Live!" national convention was created. The 'eBay Bible" was written.
I met Meg Whitman at the eBay convention in Las Vegas in 2006, when I was there as a speaker. Very smart person, and very interesting to talk to.
Unfortunately, Ms. Whitman left eBay in March of 2008. That's when eBay started to slide downhill.
eBay is a price-driven marketplace. It's like a flea market, actually. Everybody who shops there is looking for deal and bargains; they all look for the lowest price. That was okay when it was just people selling to other people back in the glory days. That marketplace tended to correct itself with respect to general pricing.
After Meg Whitman left and the new management took over, it seems that the people running things got greedy. It started to look like everything was about earning more money for eBay in any way possible, even if it was at their Sellers' expense.
The 'eBay Live!' conventions were shut down. The training and partner programs were shut down. eBay University was shut down. Regulations got more regulatory. Customer Service got less customer servicey. Fees went up, more and more each year. eBay stopped backing up their sellers as much as they used to during problem resolutions, and started siding with the buyers much more often.
Sometime in about 2009 I was contacted by eBay and asked if I would work with one of their groups, to teach them how wholesale companies operated and how to properly communicate with them. I figured, "Great, eBay wants to learn more about how wholesale works!" That couldn't be a bad thing, right? So I did what they asked.
Later on, I learned what they had really been interested in. They had started a project which, if I remember correctly (don't quote me on this) they internally called the 'Enterprise Project'.
They basically opened a back-channel into eBay and began contacting wholesale and manufacturing companies, and invited them to come in and sell directly on eBay. Under assumed Seller names, so that nobody would know who they really were. In other words, eBay was no longer just people selling to people; it became more and more about wholesalers selling to people, but it seems that most people didn't know that.
To the best of my knowledge, this practice still continues. The effect is that eBay has been flooded with wholesalers who can sell at much lower prices than individual eBay Sellers can. That's a terrible thing for eBay Sellers. In fact, more and more eBay Sellers are complaining that they can't find cheap enough wholesale sources of products to beat their competition on eBay and make a profit. Those Sellers blame their wholesalers for that. The reality is that eBay Sellers simply can't compete against other 'Sellers' that they don't realize ARE wholesale companies.
As I said earlier, eBay has always been a price-driven marketplace. People looking for the lowest prices. Searching for what they want, then clicking the "Sort By Lowest Price" button. So of course eBay Sellers can't compete, because the wholesalers will always have the lowest price!
It's important to understand that the worst place you can possibly put a home based EBiz is squarely in the path of the most bargain-hunting consumers. That's a given no matter where you're selling because home based EBiz owners need real profit margins (at least 20%) to sustain a home based EBiz, and 30 to 35% to grow that business. That doesn't happen often in ANY bargain-hunting, price driven marketplace. Add direct wholesalers into the mix, and you can forget it.
At this point, in my experienced opinion, eBay is no longer a place where a home based EBiz owner can make any significant money.
YET...there are HUNDREDS of "Make Money On eBay!" programs, books, tools and systems out there, many that sell for thousands of dollars, run by sniveling weasels who know they are lying to you.
There are OTHER programs and systems that tell you that eBay should be a part of your home based EBiz, along with Amazon and your own Website.
Anybody who knows this business knows that's post-digestive dog food, because price-driven marketplaces like eBay and Amazon do NOT mesh with proper marketing-driven businesses like Websites. But the weasels lie to you and sell you that junk for college-tuition-level money anyway.
Don't you believe them. For bargain hunters who SHOP on eBay, things have gotten BETTER.
For the home based EBiz owner who tries to SELL on eBay, it's game over.
Amazon is a great place for LARGE companies to sell products. Not so much for home based EBiz. Can you make some money on Amazon as a small business? Sure. You can also make some money collecting old soda cans. It's just not a full time living.
Most people are familiar with Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon). That's where you send wholesale products into an Amazon warehouse, and they basically take over the sale. They sell the product, handle the shipping, customer service, returns, etc. When something of yours sells, you get paid a (small) profit.
Just like eBay, Amazon has it's fees (lots of them!), and as a small business owner who can't get those big bulk wholesale price breaks, those fees will hit you hard right where the sun don't shine.
Like eBay, Amazon is price-driven marketplace. People who shop there are looking for bargains, and again that's a bad place for a small home based EBiz to be. The profit margins are too small.
There are other issues too. Amazon can "gate" a product on you with no notice, and often does. What does that mean? Let's say you send 30 Sony DVD Players that you got in a liquidation lot (which is another bad idea, more on that later) to Amazon FBA so they can sell them for you. Then let's say that a few days later, Sony decides that they're tired of Amazon sellers selling their products at discount prices.
Yes, that happens all the time. Big manufacturers have to maintain a certain price point for their products in the overall marketplace. Otherwise, the products become devalued (perceived to be worth less than they really are) and then the big-box physical stores refuse to sell them.
Why? Because big-box stores have lots of overhead. Employees to pay, parking lots and buildings to maintain, mass media advertising to shovel out, etc. They have costs. If enough people see that Sony DVD Player selling online for $50 when a big-box store has to sell it for $75 to make a profit, the big-box store is going to stop selling it.
That's bad for Sony, because the big-box stores are still their bread and butter.
So the big-boxers go screaming to Sony that they can't compete anymore, and Sony goes screaming to Amazon (AND all of Sony's wholesalers as well) that the product can no longer be sold at a discount online.
That's one reason (among many others) why Amazon "gates" a product. They tell you that you simply cannot sell it. So then, you get to pay for Amazon to ship your unsold DVD Players back to you so that you can store them in your garage until the mice chew the wiring out of them and they become dumpster-food.
The worst part is that gating can apply to entire brand names as well as entire categories of products. Gating is a fairly common complaint, and can cost you a lot of money if you have any kind of reasonable investment in the gated product, brand name or category.
Another problem a lot of small Amazon sellers complain about is that Amazon will push them out of the "buy box" in favor of larger sellers. Amazon watches their sales metrics with an electron microscope. So let's say you send some product into Amazon that starts selling like crazy.
When Amazon realizes this (about a nanosecond after it starts to happen) they go on the hunt for larger companies that can send lots more of those products into their warehouses at cheaper wholesale prices. If and when they find one (which they almost always will), you get spanked like a rented mule and sent into Time Out while the Biggie McBiggerson Wholesale Company gets Featured on Amazon for that product instead of you.
Is it wrong of Amazon to do that? NO. It's their site, their platform, and they have every right to locate large suppliers of products that can fill their customers' needs better than your small business can. They also have every right to Feature whatever they darn well please.
It's not much fun for you, but there's really nothing to be done about it.
Then there are all the tools that people use to study their competition (you) on Amazon. Amazon sellers are constantly checking out and copying their competition, which makes it easy for people with a litttle more money to swoop in and out-compete you as soon as you hit on something that actually sells. Now, competition is a normal part of any marketplace, but it's just way too easy to get hammered like that on Amazon.
Add to all of that the other problems and pitfalls (just too numerous to list here) that even people who push Amazon FBA and Amazon Stores admit to, and this is not a good idea for your home base EBiz. You'll spend most of your time trying to outfox your competition, dealing with tons of rules and regulations, and selling at profit margins that home based EBiz really can't survive on.
When you try to work within a business framework like that, you're really not running your own business. You're being told what you can and can't do by a big company, you're getting shafted on your take-home pay, you're working far too hard for far too little money, and the ground shifts under you unpredictably every other day.
Isn't that what you were trying to get away from when you started your home based EBiz??
Amazon is best left to the big wholesalers and manufacturers that it was designed to work with.
And yet, there they are...the Evil Clowns who swear to you all day long that you're going to make a fortune selling on Amazon in just a few weeks if you'll only pay them $35,000 for their 'Amazing Amazon Coaching'. Puh-leeeze.
Here's another favorite of the "let's screw the sheeple" crowd. This is usually presented as a component of the Amazing Amazon Business they're going to cheat you how to build.
They tell you that you need to get "unique" products into the marketplace and create your own brand with a "Private Label" because it will be impressive and cool and people will buy lots of it and love you.
First, let's think about the concept of "unique". On the Internet, people search for things they know about. They know about those things because of something called Consumer Awareness. Consumer Awareness is created by the manufacturing companies that make products. They do it by spending tens of millions of dollars in real-world mass media advertising.
They have to do that. If they don't, the big-box stores won't carry their products because consumers won't know about them and they'll be harder to sell. Yes, it's a thing, and has been forever both in the physical world and online. Make sense so far?
So, "unique" products are by definition..."unique". That means there is NO general Consumer Awareness. Most people don't know about them. They're new and unique.
Here's a news flash for the Scam Boys. The internet is based on Search. So is Amazon. So is eBay. The only way a consumer can find a product is if they search for it. That means they have to know what it is. If it's "unique", they don't know what it is, and will never search for it. That means you can't make any money with it.
Now let's talk about the "Private Label" thing. Labeling is about branding in the Real Business World. Brands are created to instill confidence in consumers, so they will keep coming back to the brand and buy it over and over again because if the brand is built right, consumers TRUST it.
It takes years and tens of millions (sometimes hundreds of millions) of dollars to create a brand strong enough that large numbers of consumers will trust it enough to make it worthwhile to manufacture and sell.
Slapping a sticky label that says "Joe's Coffemakers" on a cheap product from China is NOT creating a brand!
Which would you rather buy? A Joe's Coffeemaker, or a Cuisinart Coffeemaker? See what I mean? This whole Private Label thing was created by some skeezy marketer somewhere as a way to make you feel cool because you "own a brand". They will charge you tens of thousands of dollars to "teach you" how to create that brand.
For all that money, you get told to slap sticky labels on cheap stuff from China, and you end up not owning a brand. You own some sticky labels, a bunch of junk from China and a miserable future trying to get rid of that cheap crap that you "Private Labeled".
Buying from China
Okay, here we go on another Magical Mystery Tour.
Apparently China has somehow become a place that defies the general rules of Economics (according to recent chart-toppers Slippery Dan and the Miss Direction Band). Products are made at Amazing Low Prices, sold at Amazing Low Prices, and you can get them to your garage, your basement or a Convenient Storage Unit Near You at Amazing Low Prices.
A while back, I sent one of my business partners and several of my employees TO China for two weeks. Guangzhou Province, to be specific, which is a port area where a LOT of manufacturing goes on. Their mission was to determine whether it would be reasonable for us to begin large scale (not small-scale home based EBiz level) importing from China.
We were looking at several product lines, but I'll just use one product line and one specific product as an example.
You know those camping chairs with the aluminum legs and canvas seats that you can fold up and slide into a nylon bag and take with you wherever you go? Those were selling for $12 to $14 per unit retail in the US at the time.
If we bought them in bulk in China, we could get them for $3.12. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? But wait...there's more. To get them at that price, we would have to buy at least a container load of them. A "container" is a railroad car. That's a lot of chairs.
Before we even bought anything at all, we would have to hire an Agent in China that we could trust (good luck) to look after our sourcing interests there.
Then the order would have to be placed, and we would have to wait 2 to 3 months for the order to be manufactured. Manufacturers in China do not make all kinds of stuff ahead of time, store it in warehouses and then sell it. They don't lay out that kind of effort and capital expense ahead of time. It's made to order, and that takes time.
Then our trusty Agent in China (good luck) would have to inspect the product, and then get it to a shipping port to be transported to the US.
That's ocean shipping, as in big ships that travel over the ocean. You can't FedEx a railroad car.
Then we'd have to consult the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule to determine how much we're going to pay in Import Taxes to bring our chairs into the US.
Then we'd pay Customs Fees at our Port of Entry into the US, then hire a trucking company to transport our chairs to whatever warehouse we would be paying for in order to store all those camping chairs.
Once we added up all those costs, it turned out that it would actually cost us more than $9.00 per unit to buy those chairs in China, get them to the US and store them so that we could (hopefully) sell them all.
Now, I'm no theoretical mathematician, but to me it sounds like $9.00 is a whole lot more than $3.12.
On top of that, it turned out that we could actually buy those chairs already imported into the US by other really big existing importers for about $7.00. So what would be the point? We'd be better off buying them in the US.
All the (expensive) steps I described above that come after "this costs $3.12 in China" are the steps that Slippery Dan and the band conveniently LEAVE OUT of the information they sell you for thousands of dollars. Their #1 chart-topping hit only has one verse..."This costs $3.12 in China!" It's just not the whole lyric, not by a long shot.
What you need to know is that there are already lots and lots of very large import companies in the US that have the money and the infrastructure to import billions of dollars in Chinese-made products into the US at VERY low prices (because they buy HUGE quantity) and then sell them to you at wholesale for less than it would cost you to deal with China directly on a small-business scale.
So please, for the sake of your kids' college fund, DO NOT believe Dan & the band when they try to sing you the twisted lullaby about buying directly from China.
On a home-based business scale, it's just a flat-out lie.
AliExpress, Oberlo, and other four-letter words
If you haven't heard of AliExpress yet, good. Do your best not to hear of it.
If you have heard of AliExpress, run far, far away from anybody who tells you it's a good idea.
If you're actually using AliExpress, you have my most sincere sympathies. Really.
Okay, okay...I brought it up, I know. So now even if you haven't heard of it I have to talk about it because someday you would hear of it and you need to be protected.
AliExpress is something that highly questionable people like Richard Cranium And His Amazing Wealth Machine (and many others) will tell you is a great way to get products drop shipped to your customers directly from China (sigh) at low, low prices (sigh).
Let's look at this point by point.
1. There is no way you can know whether the supposed 'drop ship supplier' in China is real. Chinese companies are not subject to the kind of regulation we have in the US and other countries. You run a huge risk not having your orders delivered at all.
2. You're dealing with companies who will very often foist cheap imitation junk products that often don't even look like their product pictures off on your customers, which results in returns and a bad rep for you.
3. You can't return products to most of these companies, because (a) they often won't accept them, and (b) if they do, it will often take weeks to get it done.
4. If you get cheated, you lose your money, period. There is NO legal recourse between the US and other countries, and China.
5. Having something drop shipped from China takes WEEKS. 3 to 6 weeks on average. Do you really think your customers are going to wait that long for you to deliver their product orders?
Look, you can't make this stuff up. It's real. I can't even count how many people I've taught and mentored who have already been nailed to a wall dealing with these people, for the exact reasons I mention above. As a home based EBiz owner, China is not your answer to product supply. Not EVER.
Yet again, the idiots who claim to teach you all this "amazing" eBay, Amazon and Website stuff will tell you to use AliExpress. Why would they do that when they know it doesn't work? Because it sounds EASY, and everybody wants EASY. We talked about that earlier.
Another part of this lunacy is called Oberlo. Oberlo is the creation of the jeniuses (yes, misspelled on purpose; trust me, it's appropriate) in the Marketing Department at Shopify.
Oblero is simply a way to connect your Shopify Website to AliExpress and populate that site automatically with products drop shipped from China, in a way that hides the fact that you're actually working with AliExpress.
I checked a Thesaurus to see how many different ways there are to say "stupid". Here are the results most pertinent to what Shopify is trying to foist on you with Oberlo:
Dull, dumb, foolish, futile, ill-advised, laughable, ludicrous, naive, senseless, shortsighted, simple, rash, thick, unintelligent, brainless, dense, dim, doltish, dopey, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, imbecilic, insensate, mindless, moronic, nonsensical, out to lunch, pointless, simpleminded, slow, stupefied, thick-headed, unthinking, witless.
Keep in mind I'm not referring to YOU. I'm referring to Shopify's utterly un-caring marketing people. Oberlo is just one of the ridiculous "apps" that Shopify tries to sell you along with their ECommerce Website packages.
The sad thing is that the Shopify Website Platform itself is actually really GOOD. It's just all the other junk (like Oberlo) they try to sell you that is so well described by all those words above.
Shopify's marketing team, like all the other EBiz hacks out there, want you to think everything is easy so that you keep paying for their Website platform for years while you try to figure out why nothing is working, when in fact it's not working because instead of actually learning this business properly, you bought into their ridiculous "easy apps".
Using AliExpress or Oberlo is dull, dumb, foolish, futile, ill-advised, laughable, ludicrous, naive, senseless, shortsighted, simple, rash, thick, unintelligent, brainless, dense, dim, doltish, dopey, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, imbecilic, insensate, mindless, moronic, nonsensical, out to lunch, pointless, simpleminded, slow, stupefied, thick-headed, unthinking and witless.
Please keep that in mind.
Anybody out there reading this post who thinks it's a good idea to waste all your time, gas, and energy running around to retail stores all week long looking for bargains that you then have to package and ship to Amazon to hopefully get it resold via FBA for an artificially jacked-up price (cheating your own customers) before Amazon figures you out and suspends your account, raise your hand.
If you raised your hand, please re-read the above paragraph more carefully.
The absolute morons who tell you that this is a good idea either don't know the first thing about the retail business, or are lying to you with a big, fake grin on their faces. Personally, I believe it's the second choice, but it is true that there is no lack of morons in the internet marketing space. So it could be either one.
No matter which one it is, don't let them suck you in.
"Retail Arbitrage" is a phrase that was simply invented by an unscrupulous online marketer several years ago to make it sound like it's a thing. It isn't a thing. It's a lie.
The word "Arbitrage" is a term that's used in the financial world, and generally refers to people who buy and sell on the world securities, currency and commodity markets.
Here's the actual dictionary definition of Arbitrage:
The simultaneous buying and selling of securities, currency, or commodities in different markets or in derivative forms in order to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.
Notice there's nothing there about "retail". Yes, the word "commodities" could be loosely interpreted to mean physical retail products, but only by someone who doesn't understand commodities.
"Retail Arbitrage" is a fake con-artist buzzword, it's a waste of your time, money and energy, and it has a "glass ceiling". That means that you only have so much time in a given year to schlep around retail stores pointing your iPhone app at stuff on shelves, and when you use up that time, that's all the money you're ever going to make at this. Glass ceiling.
Please don't do it.
"Free Trial" Websites
The idea of a Free Trial Website is purposely misleading, and here's why.
When you start a REAL online business using a Website, the Website is actually the LAST thing you do, NOT the first.
There is a certain amount of learning that needs to be done before you jump into this business. Then there's a certain amount of Market Research, Keyword Research, Graphic Development, Site Pre-Design, Marketing Material Development, Demographic Research, Social Media Setup and SEO Development to be done FIRST.
THEN you get the Website and start to put it together.
If that sounds like it's just too much for you, you should not be considering an online business. If you're not willing to learn and work, you're never going to make any money in any business of any kind.
If you are willing to learn and work, read on.
Very 'reputable' companies will offer you Free Trial Websites. All the big ones you see on TV and online do this in one form or another. The problem with that is that they know there's a lot of other work to do first, but they don't care and won't tell you. As long as they can get you hooked with a Free Trial and then start marketing useless "apps, systems and tools" that make it all sound EASY to you, they're doing their happy-dance because they've successfully connected your wallet to their bank account on a monthly recurring basis, and they'll keep stringing you along for as long as they possibly can.
I once had a man attend my EBiz Insider Workshop who told me that he had started four Websites in a row that had each failed. I felt bad for him until we started talking about the details.
Then I felt even worse for him.
He told me he had let Shopify talk him into a 2 Week Free Trail Website. He started the Free Trial, slapped some random products from Oberlo on it (oh, boy), didn't make any money in 2 weeks, so he shut it down.
Then he started another Shopify 2 Week Free Trial, slapped some random products from Oberlo on it, didn't make any money in 2 weeks, so he shut it down.
Then he started another Shopify 2 Week Free Trial, slapped some random products from Oberlo on it, didn't make any money in 2 weeks...well, I'm sure you know where this story is going at this point.
He said he did that four times in 2 months. I think I was probably speechless for almost a full minute, which, as you can tell, is rare for me.
But you know what? This WASN'T HIS FAULT. This is the level of absolute insanity that these sick, greedy con artists take people to in order to cheat them out of money. He was TOLD to do that by some skeechy online marketing hack who charged him thousands of dollars for THAT kind of advice!!
You're never going to make any real money online in 2 weeks. Or in 2 months, for that matter. Not money that counts. This take patience, effort and time.
The people who most often become the worst victims of all these con artists are people who are in a hurry to make money.
An home based EBiz, or any other kind of business, is not a quick solution to a short-term financial shortage. Please remember that.
ECommerce "Training and Coaching"
If you've been approached by somebody who wants to charge you a butt-ton of money to put you through ECommerce Training or Coaching, close your eyes immediately. Looking too closely at that 99% of those particular Gorgons will turn you to stone, just like in Greek mythology.
Then run the other way, preferably with your eyes still closed. You can't be too careful; you might catch a reflection in a mirror on your way out of the room.
You can tell who the bad guys are by the words they use, the questions they ask and the promises they make:
1. If buzzwords like Easy, Wealthy, Amazing, Secret, etc., etc. are part of their name or presentation, run away. Those marketing buzzwords are purposely used to fool you, and anybody who's willing to fool you isn't your friend.
2. If they attempt to ask you anything (and I mean ANYTHING) about how much money you earn or savings you have available, or ANYTHING about your credit rating and credit cards, run away. That's called "Pre-qualification". They're trying to figure out how much money they can squeeze from you. The very small handful of reputable people in this business do NOT pre-qualify.
3. If they tell you it's okay to spend lots of money on their stuff because you'll earn it back quickly, run away. That is a LIE.
4. If they show you images of bank statements of people who have supposedly made money with them, run away. That's a sure sign of hack marketing tactics. Photoshop can simulate the appearance money, but it can't actually print money.
5. If they show you Testimonials from people who talk about having made specific amounts of money or claim to have made money quickly, run away. That's a Marketing Gimmick and a LIE.
6. If they show you Websites that are supposedly owned by people who have made lots of money with them, run away. They're fake. People who actually make money with their Websites NEVER want potential competitors to see them, because they can be copied.
7. If they tell you they're going to connect you with their "Manager" to talk further, run away. That's sales code for "Now we know you have money, we're going to bring in the Closer and take it from you".
It's very important to understand that whenever you have these phone conversations with these people, you're talking to a sales floor. That same salesperson you're talking to will be selling ECommerce junk in the morning, Make Money In Real Estate junk in the afternoon, and Make Money In Forex Trading in the evening.
They don't care. They'll sell whatever they're told to for as much as they can get.
They'll even sell the exact same thing to one person for $2,500 dollars and to another for $25,000 dollars, depending on how much money they determined those people have during pre-qualification.
It doesn't matter to the salesperson or the "Coaching or Training" company; it's all junk that costs them nothing anyway.
You really should print those 7 points out and stick them to your fridge or something. Real EBiz mentors and trainers are extremely rare, and every time you talk to somebody who claims to be, there's a 98% chance that they are NOT.
Here's another fun fact for you.
You CANNOT simply use an ECommerce Website Template straight "out of the box" and EVER expect it to make any reasonable number of sales.
Yet...guess what...there are tens of thousands of them out there.
Every day, more and more people get suckered into the idea that they can take a pre-designed ECommerce Website Template full of pretty pictures, slap some products in them and start selling like there's no tomorrow.
NO NO NO.
This business is Retail Marketing. When it's done online, some of it is based in technology, yes. But about 95% of it is based in psychology. That's what marketing IS. Psychology.
If you don't understand the psychology of Retail Marketing, you need to find someone legit who's willing to teach you, because this stuff is make-or-break, seriously.
Let me condense the most important psychological aspect of Retail Marketing for you, as it applies to ECommerce Websites.
It's not enough to just put products out there on a Website with pretty pictures, not by a long shot. What you really need to know is who is buying them. Why? Two reasons:
1. You cannot sell the same product to all Age and Gender groups at the same time, successfully. No professional marketing company ever tries to do that.
2. Different Age and Gender groups respond to different styles of marketing.
So in order to be successful, you need to know the Age and Gender Demographic of the people who buy the most of your product. Then you need to know what style of marketing that Demographic responds to.
And then, you need to modify the style, graphics, typography, messaging and social phraseology you use to attract and communicate with your potential customers.
Look, I know that sounds all fancy and stuff. It really isn't. None of this business is rocket science, it's just learning the details, like anything else.
But it does illustrate the fact that you will never find a pre-designed ECommerce Website Template that is already built exactly right for the combination of the product you sell, and the expectations of the Demographic who buys it.
Fancy, pretty Website templates are created by graphic designers. Graphic designers are not Retail Marketers. They're graphic designers.
It's GOOD to use a Website Template. There's so much coding in them that you don't ever want to do all that work yourself.
HOWEVER, any Website Template you ever use for an ECommerce Store will have to be modified visually and structurally to be an experience that your Consumer Demographic will respond to and BUY from.
That means that people like the bubbleheads on all the TV and YouTube commercials who bounce up and down and say things like "I just built a professional web site in ten minutes with 'Stix'!" are not going to be helpful to you. Ever.
Okay, the previous topic leads into this final topic, and then I'll stop. There are SO many more things I could tell you...but this is already an extremely long read, and since you're still reading it your eyes are probably starting to cross at this point.
So let's talk about Outsourcing, and then I'll wrap it up. Of course I may come back in here and add to this post from time to time, so please Bookmark it if you're inclined to do so.
Outsourcing is the favorite buzzword of all the online scammers in all the gin joints in all the world. Why?
Writing your own articles, blog posts and social media material? You don't have to do that...outsource it to India or the Philippines for a buck an Article!
Building your own Graphics for your site and marketing? You don't have to do that...outsource it to India or the Philippines for five or ten bucks a pop!
Once again, this is Retail Marketing. Part of Retail Marketing IS building a brand for your Website. I'm not talking about building a major consumer brand like we discussed earlier. I'm talking about the fact that your site will have it's own brand. That means that everything your marketing says has to be said with a consistent voice. It means that every graphic on your site and all of your marketing has to be shown in a consistent style.
When you own a Website, which is by far the best method and most profitable method of online sales, your customers are going to find you in a variety of different ways.
They're not just going to do a search in Google every time. They might hit your Facebook Business page first, then go from there to your Blog, then from there to your site, for example. There are lots of different points where a customer might contact your brand.
If those points of contact do not all look, sound and feel the same, your site's brand WILL NOT work.
So 'outsourcing' is out of the question, because every time you outsource something, you're going to be dealing with a different writer or graphic artist. Unless you want to pay them to be exclusive, but that costs a fortune.
Here's what happens when you deal with different outsourcing individuals all the time:
1. When you outsource to different graphic artists over time, you'll be dealing with abstract artists, impressionists, classical artists, cartoonists and so on. The graphics across your site and marketing with be a horrifying kaleidoscope of mis-matched imagery. If you get ONE sale, you'll be lucky.
2. When you outsource to cheap writers, they simply search your Subject in Google, take someone else's article, and run it through Article Spinner software. That software spits out several different versions of the original simply by shifting words around, and then they'll send you the one that reads the least horribly. That's not marketing.
If you're going to own a business, you need to own your business. That means you need to learn it, understand it, and know how to run it. If you don't, you won't make money at it.
I hope this helps
I know it sounds like I'm bashing just about everything and everybody in this business, but the fact is that just about everybody in this business needs bashing.
ECommerce information is jam-packed with people who see you as easy pickings to sell junk info to. Please don't take any of these warnings lightly. I mean them just as I wrote them.
I've seen a lot of people get hurt in this business over the last 25 years, and I hope this prevents at least a few people from having to deal with that.
Thanks for reading such a long, long post, and be very careful out there.
Learn the Truth About EBiz
Possibly the only person left who'll tell you the entire truth about ECommerce, whether you like it or not.
I'm one of just a very few people who can answer ANY question you have about ECommerce.
Subscribe to the Truth.
Chris Malta's EBiz Insider NewsletterTM