Archive for the ‘Ecommerce’ Category

September 29th, 2007

How To Get Your Limited Paypal Account Restored

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce, Internet Marketing, Paypal, eBay

Two of my Paypal accounts recently get limited due to some disputes on the charges. After trying to resolve the problems and restore the account status, I received an email from Paypal which says:

Title: Limited Account Access Appeal Denied

Dear XXX

Every business must balance its exposure to risk with its business goals.
At this time, we are not comfortable with the amount of risk your business
exposes itself to.

We would like to begin the process of ending our relationship in a manner
that is least disruptive to your business.

Please log in to your PayPal account and fill out the Limited Account
Access form to let us know what to do with the funds remaining in your
PayPal account.

- Log in to your PayPal account
- Click “Contact Us” and then “Contact PayPal Customer Service”
- Choose the topic “Limited Account Access,” click “Continue,” and write
your instructions in the message box.

Disbursement Options

1. Your remaining account balance can be used to provide refunds to your
buyers (if applicable).

If you choose to provide refunds to your buyers, please provide a list of
transaction IDs for the buyers that you would like to refund.


2. Your remaining funds will be held in your PayPal account for 180 days
from the date your account was limited. After 180 days, you will be
notified via email about how to receive your remaining funds.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and regret any
inconvenience this may cause.

PayPal Account Review Department

Now mind you that I did have a substantial amount of money in the Paypal account, so I was worrying that it would take 180 days to get my money back. And also, some part of my business relies heavily on using Paypal to receive payments.

Instead of panicking too much, I called Paypal and politely asked what the reason was (because it wasn’t said in the email), and they told me that it is because of some recent disputes and chargebacks. They then told me if I want to get my account restored, I should email and and tell them why I should have my account restored and how I would change to eliminate previous problems.

I did exactly that and in about 1 week, I got another email saying that my Paypal account is restored.

The moral of this story is, before you give up, try contact the people in charge, ask them what happened and try to resolve the problems. Hope this will help.

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August 8th, 2007

You’ve Got Traffic, Now What?

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Affiliate Marketing, Ecommerce

One of the first thing new online business owners consider is how to get traffic. So they spend all their time reading about SEO, PPC, email marketing, banner ads… spend resource implementing what they learned - and then to find out they’re not making enough money from all the traffic they got.

Now what?

As important as traffic is to an online business, the ability to monetize those traffic is an even more important skill to possess. Monetizing your website traffic is not JUST about increasing your conversion rate by split testing and website redesign. Its about engaging with your visitors, find out what they’re REALLY looking for, and providing it to them.

For example, one of our ecommerce site recently experienced a 200% increase in net profit overnight just because I thought of a way to monetize lost traffic. Realizing that many visitors exit our website because they cannot find the book they need - instead of showing “no results” when visitors search for a book we do not have, we show them results from Amazon and redirect them so we monetize through Amazon’s affiliate program.

This is just one of MANY possible ways to enhance the monetization of your visitors. Remember, online profit is a formula of traffic*conversion*monetization - while traffic and conversion can be improved through repetitive work such as link building and split testing - monetization requires paying attention to what your customer want and creatively providing them with that.

Be creative.

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August 2nd, 2007

Google Checkout WAY Better than Paypal in Detecting Fraud

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce, Google, Paypal

My textbooks company was recently a victim of a credit card fraud, causing us to lose around $4000 USD. It is somewhat typical, someone bought a whole bunch of textbooks from our site, and then suddenly email us to have the address change to Niger, Africa. It is quite obvious that it is a fraud, but my staff who processed the order was inexperienced and shipped out the books - causing us to lose $4000.

To make matter worse, we initially send them an invoice through Google checkout and Google cancelled the transaction because it is associated with “suspicious activity”; so my staff send the scammers an invoice through Paypal AND it went through!

You would think if Google checkout can detect a fraud, paypal should be able to - but NO!!

Not only was Paypal not able to detect the fraud, after we lost the chargeback, we even have to pay ANOTHER fee to compensate for the loss of chargeback!

Lets see how Google checkout is BETTER than Paypal:

1. Fraud Detection

How does Google Checkout protect me from fraud?

Google Checkout performs industry-standard Address Verification System (AVS) and Card Verification Value (CVV) checks to prevent credit card fraud. Google Checkout also protects you from fraudulent activity with the following:

Advanced risk modeling
Google employs advanced risk modeling to detect fraudulent transaction cues across Google services. Google also actively leverages external, cross-industry resources-such as worldwide fraud blacklists-to prevent fraudulent users from accessing Google Checkout in the first place.

Automatic fraud detection
Google proactively identifies and filters out fraudulent transactions. All fraudulent transactions are immediately cancelled after being detected. Any active orders associated with the same credit card will also be cancelled to protect you.

Supplemental manual review
If a transaction appears to be high-risk, Google will restrict the order to protect you from shipping the order to a fraudulent buyer. During this time, our Google Checkout specialists will review the situation further, cancel the transaction if it’s fraudulent, or release it if it’s valid. We may also contact you directly as a backup precaution.

Information sharing
Google Checkout provides buyer verification information within the buyer’s order details to help you run your own fraud checks as needed. If you’re concerned about a particular order, or if you’re unable to contact the buyer with the information we provide, you have the option to cancel the order to avoid further risk.

Chargeback resolution
All merchants are covered by our Chargeback Resolution Policy: our specialists will evaluate all chargebacks you receive through Google Checkout and, whenever possible, dispute them on your behalf. As an additional benefit under our Chargeback Resolution Policy, we also guarantee payment for all transactions that are eligible for Google’s Payment Guarantee Policy: If you receive a chargeback on an eligible transaction and provide Google with sufficient supporting documentation within ten business days after receiving a request from Google, Google will reimburse you within a week of receiving and reviewing the information.

Paypal? None of these stuff.

2. Chargeback Protection

The Payment Guarantee Policy is an unique benefit under the Chargeback Resolution Policy that offers you even more protection from unwarranted chargebacks. Here’s how it works:

For all eligible transactions, we’ll completely reimburse you for any chargebacks resulting from claims of unauthorized purchases and non-receipt of goods. To qualify for this additional protection, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You shipped the order to the buyer’s shipping address (as specified in the Google Checkout Merchant Center or the Google Checkout API call) according to the shipping method and timeframe agreed upon when the order was placed.
  • You provide a tracking number or other proof of shipping for transactions less than US$250.
  • You provide proof of delivery with the buyer’s signature for transactions greater then US$250.
  • You receive a request from Google for supporting documentation and provide this information within ten business days.
  • You’re currently displaying a clear return policy on your website. (Learn more)
  • The disputed order doesn’t involve intangible goods.
  • You abide by the Google Checkout Terms of Service.

    At a minimum, Google will reimburse you for eligible chargebacks up to $10,000 per year. If your gross Google Checkout sales exceed $1 million per year, we’ll protect you for 1% of those sales. For example, if your Google Checkout sales are $2 million, we’ll protect you for up to $20,000.

  • Paypal? None of these stuff.

    Conclusion? Google checkout is WAY cooler than Paypal.

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    July 17th, 2007

    25% of ALL products sold from Zappos were returned

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Ecommerce, General Business, Internet Marketing, Retailing

    I just read an interesting report today saying that an astonishing 25 percent of all products sold from were returned.

    Are they happy? For Zappos, that answer is yes.

    In case you don’t know, Zappos is the largest online retailer for shoes and apparels (mainly shoes), and is the pioneer in offering free returns for their products.

    Lesson of the story: if it makes sense for your business, encourage contrarian behavior that creates a larger amount of comfort.

    For Zappos, that means encouraging returns with free shipping. NPR says this has helped Zappos grow by 6x from $100MM to $600MM a year.

    “Some of our best customers are people who return a lot of shoes,” said Craig Adkins, vice president of operations at Shepherdsville, Ky.-based

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    June 17th, 2007

    Exciting news from eBay live

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Ecommerce, Google, Retailing, eBay

    So eBay live - an annual conference for eBayers have concluded on Friday - after all those Google eBay drama (you can look up details about this yourself, its all over the internet). I’m here to inform you couple of the more exciting announcements they made during eBay Live which I believe would change your business tremendously. (I know it’ll change mine) Of all the changes, I’m most excited about the extra protection eBay will provide us powersellers against non-paying bidders. eBay is finally waking up and know that they need us powersellers to make eBay continue to be a vibrant marketplace.

    Price + Shipping Sort
    Bill also mentioned an important test underway. We’ve all been frustrated by excessive shipping and handling charges. Price + Shipping Sort is a new search option that sorts search results according to the total cost of the item, including shipping and handling charges. That way, buyers can choose to have the full price picture sorted by either highest total cost or lowest total cost.

    Powerseller Program Changes
    The PowerSeller program is a vital part of the marketplace. As we work to improve the buyer experience, we’re shifting the focus of the PowerSeller program so that it offers more value to our best sellers who consistently deliver a great buyer experience. While more changes will be coming over the next several months, Bill introduced several important initiatives we’re ready to launch this fall.

    “Seasonal” sellers to be eligible. This long-requested change is finally happening! If you sell a high volume, but just during your particular selling season (such as if you’re selling skis, golf clubs, etc.), we want to recognize your contributions. We know you work incredibly hard, so soon you’ll have access to phone support and the PowerSeller icon heading into your peak selling season, right when you need it most.

    High-volume, Low-Average Selling Price sellers to be eligible. Sellers who list items like trading cards or media or other items with low average prices will now be eligible for the PowerSeller program. Just like seasonal sellers, you work extremely hard selling a lot of product, and it’s time to recognize your efforts. We’ll be adjusting our eligibility requirements so each PowerSeller level can be obtained based on dollar OR unit volume.

    Enhanced PowerSeller support for Bronze level. Later this year, Bronze PowerSellers that meet the annual sales requirement, either through consistent monthly sales or high-volume seasonal sales, will have access to phone support just like Silver PowerSellers.

    “Unpaid Item Insurance” for PowerSellers following best practices. You’ve often asked us for protection against losses from non-paying bidders, and we’ve listened. I’m pleased to let you know that by August 1st, PowerSellers will get their money back for any listing feature fees when the buyer doesn’t pay for the item and you file an Unpaid Item claim. You simply need to follow these selling best-practices:

    1. List in the auction format (since you don’t have the option of requiring Immediate Payment for auctions).
    2. Specify reasonable shipping & handling charges.
    3. Accept PayPal.

    Summer discount
    And on that note — before I close — I’m pleased to offer our sellers a little summer relief to your selling costs. Starting June 19th and continuing through August 5th, we will LOWER the first tranche of Final Value Fees from 5.25% to 4.5%. This applies to auction, auction BIN, or pure fixed price format listings. Consider it a little eBay Live! gift to our fantastic community.

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    June 17th, 2007

    Cool - ShoppingAdvisor launched

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Comparison Shopping Engine, Ecommerce, Internet Marketing, PPC, eBay

    Many of my clients know that I personally use and recommend you to use Channel Advisor as your inventory management system to manage your multi-marketplace sales as well as sales on your own website. I love how robust the CA system is and their customer support is excellent.

    While I was looking into expanding my company’s marketing channel to Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE), I stumbled upon the news that they just launched a feed management system called the ShoppingAdvisor.

    Here’s the excerpt from their blog:

    Yesterday we took the wraps off ShoppingAdvisor, a product that allows retail marketers full control over their comparison shopping business.

    ShoppingAdvisor is designed, from the ground up, to put your marketing team back in control of marketing your products. Day after day we talk to companies who are literally held hostage by their technical team as far as their comparison shopping business is concerned. We set out to develop a product that would change that. The result is ShoppingAdvisor, a fully self-managed comparison shopping engine management solution that gives the control back to marketing, for good.

    So we’ve been working on this release for a while, and I thought it might be fun to tell a quick anecdote from the release.

    Late one night in the midst of software development, one of our developers, Jon, was feeling a little down. One of the stories I relayed at the time, was that the only releases you really remember are ones where you are building something very ambitious, at least 10 things could go wrong, and there is a tight timeline. The point is no one remembers version 3.1.12 from early 2003. You remember the release where everyone was sleeping on the floor and the last bug was fixed at 6am the second before the code rolled out to production.
    His question was classic, of course: “Are you trying to make this hard so we’ll remember it? A note in my cube might accomplish the same thing.”

    Silence in the room.

    Of course the release ships and everything’s OK, but I thought that was pretty funny at the time. I won’t relay the joke I told at launch time internally about the difference between a death march and a death sprint. I really prefer the term rapid development - isn’t it more positive?

    I personally cannot wait to try it out and will certainly compare it with Feedperfect by Solid Cactus. More on that later and I’ll give you some exciting updates from eBay live 2007 in my next post.

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    May 26th, 2007

    SkyMall is a Big Fat Liar

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Ecommerce, General Business, Retailing

    One of my favourite activities when I’m on a long flight is browsing the SkyMall catalog. Their selection of products is very unique and as a retailer, I read it for purchasing inspirations.

    It is not until this time around that I get to scrutinize the catalog, its marketing message, as well as comparing some of their products’ pricing to ours. And I came to the conclustion that:

    SkyMall is a Big Fat Liar

    When you flip through the first couple pages, you will soon see the sign “SkyMall’s price is the best price, gauranteed!” on the very top. So I decided to take a look and compare the prices of some products that both SkyMall and we sell. I know for a fact that we both sell products from the Helman Group, so I flipped to that page.

    O, they didn’t…

    Yes they did sell the Margarator, an awesome Margarita Machine, for $99.99. At which they’re selling on Walmart for $78 and on this website at this price.

    Um… lowest price guarantee? I don’t think so.

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    May 22nd, 2007

    Google Analytics Change & eBay Affiliate Policy Change


    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Affiliate Marketing, Ecommerce, Google, Google Adwords, Internet Marketing, eBay

    Change in Google Analytics

    Google Analytics has just changed its outlook last week. I haven’t had much time to play around with the new version but it seems like the layout is much better and contain more information than before. The new version is still in Beta so you can still login to your old version. More on that later when I get around to checking what the difference are between the old and new version.

    Change in eBay’s affiliate policy

    Another big change on internet marketing last week has to do with the recent changes in the affiliate program - at which you can now send traffic to YOUR OWN auctions and store listings.

    The old rules prevented this, but now eBay has has wised up! In an announcement released today they’ve made the rules friendlier and the payouts higher.

    Under the old rules (which were insane) you could send traffic to any destination on eBay EXCEPT your auction listings or store. That made no sense so I won’t try to explain why they had that rule.

    It now makes more sense than ever to send pay per click ppc traffic (such as Google Adwords, or Yahoo Search Marketing) to your own eBay listings.

    Once you sign up for the eBay affiliate program you can send traffic to ANY ebay destination and…

    - 40% to 65% commission on eBay Revenue generated from ALL purchases
    - up to $35 in commission per new active user referral

    I love the “flexible destination” feature of the eBay affiliate program. Even if a customer you send to eBay buys from a competitor of yours and you still get paid!

    This just opens up a whole new door of making easy money online. Are you kidding? You can just go on eBay, find a product that has a high ASP (average selling price) and high sell through - because the eBay commission is more - source that product, sell it on eBay, and drive traffic to your listing using pay per click ppc while making extra commission off them! Can this get any easier?

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    May 9th, 2007

    Yahoo Auction is closing

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Ecommerce, eBay reports that Yahoo! is retiring Yahoo! Auctions effective June 16th. Launched in September 1998, Yahoo! Auctions quickly expanded into other countries but soon stalled in the U.S. when it started charging fees (and eBay was gaining significant momentum). Even the “Look! No Fees!” hail mary did not halt its decline into no-auctions-land.

    With demand and sales declining we ceased support for Yahoo! Auctions last summer. But until recently Yahoo! Auctions consistently maintained its number two spot behind eBay for product listings (particularly popular for collectibles).

    The end of Yahoo auction has marked an important landmark in the marketplace industry because now the only 2 auction sites left of significance is eBay and Bidville. This is a dark day for eBay sellers (or other marketplace sellers) who look for other venues for multi-marketplace selling strategy. Does this mean eBay now have more monopoly power in the industry and can continue to increase its fee? Yes, it does. It is therefore more important than ever for you as ecommerce seller to have your website, promote it aggressively, and gain a repeat customer base. We’ll see how this pans out in the next several months.

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    April 27th, 2007

    Feedback 2.0 is coming to eBay US!

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Ecommerce, eBay

    EBay have announced 2 days ago that they will be implemented Feedback 2.0 to their system. This is to no surprise to anyone because they’ve been testing it on eBay UK for a while now., here’s eBay’s message and kind of tell you what its all about:

    “As you know, eBay’s Feedback system is a big part of what makes eBay fun and rewarding for buyers and sellers. We’re writing to let you know about some exciting new features coming during the week of April 30–features designed to make Feedback more valuable for buyers and a stronger showcase for your great service record.

    Detailed Seller Ratings help you stand out.

    In addition to the current positive, negative, or neutral comment, buyers will now be able to rank, on a scale of 1-5, four key aspects of a transaction: accuracy of item description, communication, shipping time, and shipping and handling charges.

    After a seller receives 10 of these rankings, the average scores will appear as a series of stars under a new section on the Feedback Profile page titled “Detailed Seller Ratings.”

    This new feature will provide more transparency to boost shopper confidence–and help your good reputation stand out at a glance.

    Also, the item title and price will appear next to each Feedback comment. This will add helpful information for shoppers and encouragement to those in the market for what you sell.”

    As a powerseller, my reaction is 2 folded. While it is great to have a vehicle to further differentiate my business from amateur sellers, it also places more pressure on sellers to enhance our service and be really cautious about what we do and say to customers. Btw, one unique thing about this feedback system is that you won’t know which buyer gave you the points - thus eliminating the possibility of feedback retaliation (very popular in the old system).

    What do you think about this change and how would it impact your business? Let us know in the comment section!

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