By Marc Joseph
The economic recovery for most is much slower than the news would lead you to believe. Many people ask themselves, “How can I supplement my income so I can provide more for my family?” The perceived hot trend to accomplish this goal is doing business on the Internet—but it is not as easy as it looks. Before you go off and open an online store, you need to fully understand what online stores are all about.
Online stores are not much different than physical stores except you don’t have to worry about paying the rent or having a lot of money tied up in inventory. In online stores you still need to present the right product at the right time at the right price. You still need to be very clear about what you are selling and project stellar customer service.
The first obstacle to overcome is deciding what to sell. It is always much easier and much more fun to sell something you have a passion for. That way the long hours you spend with your online store become more engaging and less work. Many products are more conducive to selling online, such as jewelry, clothing or school supplies, while other products are more difficult to sell when they can’t be seen in person, such as refrigerators or leather sofas. So, the questions you need to ask yourself about what to sell in your online store include:
- Can I sell a digital product that can be sent right over the Internet (like an e-book) or should I sell a physical product that needs to be shipped?
- Will you specialize in one category of goods like pets or party supplies or will you offer a wide selection of products?
- Do you have to house inventory or can you find a company to drop ship for you?
- Will you be creating your own product to sell? If so, are you going to make it yourself or do you need to form a relationship with a vendor who will manufacture it for you?
- How are you going to ship your product? From your home, a storage facility or drop shipper from a third party warehouse?
The second obstacle to overcome is finding the customer niche who will buy from you. You need to list what differentiates your site from all the other similar sites (and don’t kid yourself, they are out there) found online. So, to find the right niche:
- Study the competition and if you can’t beat them with product or price or customer service, find another niche. Go to the main marketplaces like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sears, Rakuten, Tiger Direct or Newegg to see who is already selling and make sure you can do it better or faster or cheaper
- Become the expert on what you sell. Show your passion for your products through original content that differentiates you from others. The more originality you add to the site, the more you stand out
- Make sure it is easy to purchase from your site. Even if the products are similar to other sites online, you will set your site apart by making shopping easy. The quicker you can get customers from liking the products to finalizing the sale, the more you will stand out from all the competition
There are plenty of places on the Internet that can help you open up your dream store. Yahoo stores, Go Daddy, Volusion, Big Commerce, Doba, 1&1, Web.com and a whole slew of other sites can be your partner. “Build it and they will come” sounds good in movies, but it does not work the same with online stores. Marketing your site with search engine optimization, paid search, emails, affiliates, etc., will be the topic of another article.
At DollarDays.com, we have partnered with Lucrazon to offer an easy and fast way to get a site up and running. There are several website templates to choose from and you can sell as many products as you like. In fact, the DollarDays products are already uploaded to your site, so you can decide if you want to sell them all or just a few departments. There is no limit to the amount of pages you can create and the site is integrated into a shopping cart so you can begin selling in less than an hour.
We come back to the original question of should you open your own online store. It is inexpensive to get started if you find the right store-building partner and the right drop shipper of products for you. It can become a black hole if you start to throw money at every marketing scheme that comes along. So like any business, it takes time to build. If you are an entrepreneur, an optimist and a hard worker, then you should be in the online store business. If you believe that if you pay for a site and all you have to do is sit back and watch for an income stream, then the online store is not for you. The Internet is still the Wild West. Learn how to do guerilla marketing on the Internet with your online store, show your customers you are passionate about what you sell and this could be a fun way to make a living.
August 22, 2013 No Comments
Congratulations to our winners who were nominated as someone’s “Favorite Back to School Drive” organization!
First place $1,000 shopping spree went to Project Sleep Tight.
Second place $500 shopping spree went to Caring for Kids.
Third place $300 shopping spree went to Andrew Cooke Magnet.
Seven organizations each received a $100 shopping spree: Glacier Peak Elementary, NY Inner City Ministry of CRU, Integral Youth Services, Altoona Public Library, Kyrstens Kids, FamilyWorks Seattle and Urban Mentors Network.
Thank you for participating!
August 16, 2013 No Comments
Nationwide, million of students take the SAT exam each year for admission to colleges and universities. The SAT is the standarized benchmark exam that determines who gets into which schools, based upon scores. If a student wants to go attend a top tier school, it’s important to do well on the SAT. That’s why it’s important to take an online test prepration class prior to taking the exam. Not only can it help raise students’ scores, it can also build confidence for the big exam day. It will also help students manage the expectations regarding the flow of the exam.
Studying for the SAT is a smart plan, but knowing how to study is even smarter. That’s why DollarDays has partnered with Boston Test Prep, an online SAT test prep tool, to give away 1,000 online SAT test prep courses through the end of August. We believe using this course can be the difference between a decent score and an amazing score!
So, go be amazing and enter to win a free SAT test prep course. You deserve it!
August 16, 2013 No Comments
Upon cursory inspection, the DollarDays website appears to be as American as Chicken McNuggets. After all, the site’s name is not RupeeDays or YenDays, and there’s a U.S. flag peeking out from the banner on the home page. Since its debut in 2001, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based online wholesaler and closeout-goods vendor has been distributing a wide array of low-cost merchandise to dollar stores, gift shops and other discount retailers, the vast majority of them in the U.S. All of the 300,000 products available on the site are sourced in the U.S., too.
DollarDays CEO Marc Joseph is not exactly leaving those American roots behind—but he is expanding his root system. Joseph, who founded the site because he thought the cost efficiencies of Internet-based distribution “would give small businesses a chance to play on a level playing field with the big guys,” today is growing his e-commerce business by using the Internet to go global.
The Internet “has made the world a lot smaller,” says Joseph, a retail industry veteran who worked for Federated Department Stores and was a senior vice president at Crown Books. “When I was younger I had to jump on a plane to go have a face-to-face with vendors in the Philippines, China, India. It was very expensive and time-consuming. The Internet has streamlined all that.”
E-commerce is also making it easier for merchants to market and sell their goods overseas. Although DollarDays, which has 3.5 million registered users and gets about a million visitors a month, has only just begun a serious international expansion effort, last year small retailers and entrepreneurs in some 40 countries purchased goods from the site, which specifically advertises its shipping service to Canada, the U.K., Europe, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand.
DollarDays also runs a Canadian mini-site featuring products targeted for that market. But Joseph says he’s not interested in developing foreign-language mini-sites because of the complexity and cost. With just 50 employees, “We are lean and mean and all of our people are concentrating on how we grow the business,” says Joseph, who still finds time to blog about business and charity for The Huffington Post website. “Creating websites in other languages is a whole other effort.”
Click here to read Joseph’s Huffington Post column on the outlook for back-to-school sales in the U.S. this year.
Instead, he’s turning to online marketplaces to expand DollarDays’ reach. DollarDays is selling on Amazon.com and Sears.com marketplaces, in addition to running its stand-alone website. For additional international exposure, DollarDays recently opened a storefront on Alibaba.com, an English-language B2B marketplace with more than 36 million registered users from more than 240 countries and regions.
Marketplaces like Alibaba.com are a cost-effective way to reach more potential customers. That’s because the big ones get a lot of traffic and opening a storefront doesn’t require much technical expertise or investment. Alibaba “is doing all the heavy lifting that we don’t have to get involved in,” Joseph says. That allows DollarDays to remain focused on what it does best. “We are a marketing company that sells product, and [Alibaba] is focused on bringing the world together.”
International orders currently amount to about 15 percent of DollarDays total sales. It’s too early to tell whether the Alibaba storefront, launched in June, will boost that percentage significantly.
But Joseph says he’s positioned for growth, having increased the number of products being sold on the site from 100,000 to 300,000 over the last 18 months. He anticipates eventually attracting buyers from countries such as China, where concern over the quality and safety of domestically manufactured goods is generating interest among consumers for products made in the U.S.A. About six months ago, DollarDays created a specialty store on the website featuring thousands of U.S.-made products.
“Our name has always been Dollar Days International,” Joseph says. “We’ve always envisioned we could sell all around the world. Being with Alibaba is going to speed that up for us.”
This story first appeared on Alizila, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce and corporate news website.
August 9, 2013 No Comments
Through August 15, we are asking our Facebook fans to nominate their favorite organizations that are having back to school drives for supplies for kids who don’t have everything they need for school this year. DollarDays will donate $2,500 in back to school merchandise to ten organizations. The organizations can be your church, the PTO, the school football team or an even an outreach program.
If you know of an organization you’d like to nominate, please click on the image to be taken directly to DollarDays Facebook page. Hurry! The last day to enter is August 15! Thank you and good luck!
August 1, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph (reprinted from August 1, 2013 Huffington Post)
Spending this fall for students K-12 is expected to drop 12 percent, according to a National Retail Federation survey reported in the Wall Street Journal. The average that will be spent on each kid is $634.78, down from $688.62 in 2012. Even those going to college are expecting decreases from $836.80 this year, down from $907.22 last year. So it looks like the payroll tax hike, the sequestration and the continued sluggish job market are finally going to rear their ugly heads during the first major sales season of the year. This is troublesome news for retailers because the back to school (BTS) season is like the canary in the coal mine; BTS sales trends historically predict how the holiday fourth quarter sales will turn out. And in another BTS warning about the economy, 47.7 percent of college students expect to live at home, up from 42.9 percent in 2012.
These depressing numbers tell us that the American family has begun to focus on the needs of their children for BTS rather than the wants of their kids. If working Americans are having trouble getting their kids ready for BTS, what about the children in families stuck in poverty or not working at all? According to The Hechinger Report, poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools is classified as a “high poverty” school by the US Department of Education. To be classified as high poverty, 75 percent of an elementary, middle or high school students must qualify for a free or reduced price lunch.
Moyers & Co. reports that U.S. poverty (fewer than $17,916 for a family of 3) affects 46.2 million people, up 15.1 percent. The 16.1 million children in poverty are 22% of all children, including 39 percent of African-American and 34 percent of Latino kids. Deep poverty (fewer than $11,510 for a family of 4) hits 20.4 million people, which represents 1 in 15 Americans. On top of all this, we have 1,065,794 homeless students enrolled in U.S. preschools and K-12 schools and we know that only 48 percent of poor children are ready for school by the age of 5, compared to 75 percent of children from moderate and high income families.
So we have parents who are going to be spending less on their children for BTS. And we have poverty creating a major burden for schools to figure out how to deal with accommodating these kids’ needs. This is a bleak time for not only our economy, but to the answer of how we cope with an all-inclusive society so that no child is left behind.
Some organizations are rising to the occasion with drives to provide the underprivileged with what they need to go back to school with dignity with staples like backpacks, school supplies and clothes. Fox News reported in St. Louis that the National Council of Jewish Women brought a Back to School store to 1,200 children in need where they could just pick out what they needed for school. The Broomfield Enterprise in Colorado reports the organization “Crayons to Calculators” hopes to provide 9,000 students with new backpacks full of supplies. The City Wire in Arkansas reports on the “Stuff the Bus” campaign supported by the United Way where bright yellow buses will be scattered throughout Fort Smith, AR to collect school supplies for children in need. This is the ninth year of Stuff the Bus. We can all help online at Operation Backpack, where they are gathering backpacks for the New York City children in need (collected 13,500 in 2012). At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $2,500 in products to a back to school drive that is nominated, so submit your favorite.
We have been putting up with this recession since late 2007. It has been close to six years where the poor are getting poorer, the needy are getting needier and now it looks like our school children will be getting less. Spending less for BTS is a major blow to our economy and when word of this decrease becomes widespread, it will be a major blow to the American psyche. As Americans, we have to do what we can do to ensure the long-term survival of our educational system, because all these kids, rich and poor, are our future. Dig deep into your pockets and help out your local backpack drive by donating backpacks, school supplies or cash so they can buy what is needed for the underprivileged. If you are a parent or grandparent, spend a little more on your kids for BTS so we can prove the predictions wrong. If this BTS season is truly less than last year, then we are in for a long, cold fall and winter retail season which will keep us in this recession for another year.
August 1, 2013 No Comments
Jun 03, 2013 | 04:04 PM
Women, Mao Zedong famously observed, hold up half the sky. The Great Helmsman might not have spied the Internet on the horizon, but women are holding up their end when it comes to e-commerce, too.
The number of U.S. women entrepreneurs using B2B e-commerce website Alibaba.com surged 40 percent in 2012, to 1.6 million registered users. While women still only number one third of all U.S. users, and 22 percent worldwide, the gender gap is closing fast. Global growth in female Alibaba users outstripped new registrations by men by 50 percent in the second half of 2012.
The reasons for the surge is fairly obvious. Starting a home-based e-commerce business is relatively easy, relatively inexpensive and doesn’t require clock-punching at a distant office, factory or shopping mall. For women who have bumped up against the glass ceiling, or those struggling to balance the demands of a corporate job with the desire to have children, e-commerce offers an alternative path to career success.
“It gives us a chance to have it all,” says Julie Degnan, founder of Cakes and Kids, a San Francisco Bay area company that sells children’s party supplies. “Women used to have to choose: am I going to be a mom or a career woman? The fact that you can run a successful business from home and still be a mom and a wife has changed things immensely.”
A mother of three school-age children, Degnan in 2010 returned from maternity leave to find her services no longer required. It was one of six layoffs she endured, the final career hiatus inspiring her to start a business that put her skills as a cake decorator and corporate experience in online marketing to equal use.
Three years later, Cakes and Kids sales are doubling annually and Degnan is in charge of her own destiny. “I’m not going to say it was an easy choice to quit my last job because I gave up a large salary,” she says. “But now I have things up and running its a no-brainer: I can be CEO of my own company and be home for my kids at the same time.”
Mamma’s Got a Brand-new Brand
Motherhood and a pink slip were also the inspiration and impetus for Kate Castle’s start-up, launched in Winchester, England. The mum of two had her bright idea—the BoginaBag portable toilet—when her kids needed to visit the distant loo at a campsite in the dead of night. Then she too was made redundant, having moved to part-time hours while she raised her family.
“They were forcing me to go full time or leave. A lot of women and mums are pushed into that position and it’s a real shame,” she says. “There’s only a short amount of time before your children start school and it becomes easier for you to put more hours in, but it’s nice to have the opportunity to be around for them when they’re younger.”
With the BoginaBag selling well online and through camping stores around the UK, Castle is not finding her working life to be any easier, but at least she has some control over her schedule. “I work more now but the hours are far more flexible around what my kids need. I might work in the evenings but it means I can go to sports day or the school play.”
As ‘mumpreneurs’ both Degnan and Castle had to fight to be taken seriously. “I ran across some attitude: ‘Oh that’s a nice little hobby you’ve got’,” says Degnan. “It was when I quit my job people’s eyes really opened and they went: ‘Wow, she must be selling quite a bit’. There’s a lot more respect as it has grown—people acknowledge that you really have a business.”
“You have more to prove,” agrees Castle. “A lot of men in business are used to working a very structured, full time, nine-to-six job. They find it difficult to understand that you can take something incredibly seriously while not necessarily being committed to those hours.”
As a young, single woman making her way in two male dominated industries, Abingdon Welch encountered different challenges. After qualifying as a pilot (where women make up just 7% of the numbers) she decided to launch her own line of aviator watches, frustrated by the dearth of designs available for women.
Stumping up $60,000 of her own money to start The Abingdon Co., Welch bucked the stereotype of women being conservative in business. “I can’t say I’m risk averse because I’m a pilot and over the last six years I’ve sent hundreds of thousands of dollars overseas, but it’s calculated risk,” she says.
Her advice to new women entrepreneurs: “Step out of the comfort zone: it can’t get bigger unless you do.” Just control the risks you take by researching suppliers thoroughly. “Ask for referrals and recommendations. If they are a decent company with solidity and history behind them they’ll be happy to provide them.”
Welch’s relationship with the factory that produces her timepieces has grown beyond her expectations. “These guys are my family now. My supplier from Hong Kong has made my dreams come true and I treat him like another father,” she says. Only Welch, who itches to get up in the air every day, has never had to board a commercial flight to visit her new ‘relative.’
“All of my products have been sourced online,” she says, including a new jewelry line that the Oregon-based entrepreneur is working on with a New York manufacturer she found on Alibaba.com. “I wouldn’t be here without online sourcing.” Next on the sourcing agenda: an Abindgon-branded line of travel goods.
It’s the same story for Degnan, who expanded her business beyond handmade fondant creations by reselling party supplies sourced through shopping website AliExpress. “If I had had to get on a plane and fly to China to find those products—as a woman on my own I would never do it,” she says. “But I can hop on the computer, converse very effectively with people thousands of miles away and get the products shipped right to my door.”
Castle had visited Chinese suppliers with her previous employer, the U.K.’s leading hardware retailer, and would have had few qualms about going back. “As a culture they have a lot of respect for females in business and I’ve dealt with quite a few women within China,” she says. Her problem was more practical: “I didn’t have the budget to travel for myself like when I was working for a big company.”
Online sourcing ensured BoginaBag made the transition from great idea into finished product. “If I’d had the idea five years earlier I would have struggled to produce it,” says Castle. “The U.K. is no longer making those kinds of products yet there wasn’t the set up for people sitting in their kitchens to be able to contact the factories.” Online sourcing “has enabled all kinds of people to make connections with suppliers who can make products for them,” she says.
Sources of Inspiration
As well as sourcing and selling online, women in e-commerce are replacing the old-boys network that used to drive business relationships with new girl-powered forums. While a lack of female mentors is a problem in the corporate sphere, women entrepreneurs are forming strong support networks online.
Degnan has built a virtual network that includes party planners and other fondant sellers who could easily be classed as competitors. “I’ll send some of these folks items for photo shoots and they’ll give me recognition on their blogs,” she says. “It’s partly about getting my name out there but partly about having connections with women who do something similar to me. If I have new product ideas I bounce them off these women and get feedback.”
Castle has a dragon for a mentor, having enticed a prominent U.K. businessman to invest in BoginaBag when she appeared on reality TV show Dragon’s Den—ironically turning down offers from the two female “dragons” on the show. Castle passes on her own experiences at entrepreneur workshops, where two thirds of the participants are women.
Welch is keenest of all to mentor the next generation, setting up the “It’s About Time” scholarship, which flies one girl each year to the Women In Aviation Conference to inspire them to follow a career in science, technology or aeronautics.
“We don’t do it for the publicity—if we did I would be doing a poor job as there have not been a lot of stories about it,” says Welch. “When I was 14 my life changed as a result of hearing a couple of pilots talk on career day. I want to make that opportunity available to other women.”
Whether in the cockpit or at the keyboard, shooting for the sky certainly sounds more fun than just holding it up.
July 24, 2013 No Comments
Do you remember our June Facebook promotion where you were asked to nominate your favorite charity and every one who entered would receive a red wrist band with ‘I Care’ embossed on it? Well, it was a big hit and 18 charities are appreciative of the free mercahndise they received. Thank you for entering and helping others!
Shortly after we mailed the wristbands, we received this Facebook post from Tony Tannahill: “Thank you very much for our I Care DollarDays wristband!” He also include this photo.
We appreciate the photo so everyone can see how they arrived to over 5,000 people who care! Once Tony posted, several people sent their thanks as well. Thank you Tony, and to everyone who entred the June Sweepstakes!
Hope you’ve entered this month’s photo contest! Just share a photo showing kindness and you could win in the $5,000 merchandise giveaway? Click on the image and it will take you to our Facebook page where you can enter!
July 22, 2013 No Comments
We have winners!! Eighteen of them!
DollarDays would like to personally thank the 6,000+ people who nominated their favorite charities in our June “Nominate Your Favorite Charity” promotion. All of us at DollarDays would like to thank you for taking the time to help make a difference in the lives of so many!
Drum roll please!
First Place, a $2,000 shopping spree, was given to DoSomething.org and nominated by Mike Absher! The $1,000 Second Place shopping spree went to 21FriendsDS, nominated by Jose Reyes. And Third Place was awarded to MonkeyDoProject.com by Phil Goodson.
Each of the following won $100 shopping sprees at DollarDays.com!
- Talk About Curing Autism, nominated by Tracey Nelson
- Limestone County Churches Involved, nominated by Pamela Nash
- ASPCA Abilene, nominated by Michela Brown
- Missouri Humane Society, nominated by Eileen Carlson
- St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, nominated by Mary Keip
- American Heart Assn, nominated by Jessica Para
- G-Rod Foundation, nominated by Terrie Warren
- The Travelin’ Rat, submitted by Danielle Stanley
- National Council of Jewish Women-Back to School Store, nominated by Andrea Newstead
- Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary, nominated by Diane King
- Chemung County SPCA, nominated by Tammy Ford
- Jay’s Hope, nominated by Wanda Epperson
- Susan G. Komen, nominated by KC Angelina
- HRC, nominated by Alicia Stanley
PS. Wristbands have been mailed to all the valid address we received! Enjoy and thank you!
July 3, 2013 No Comments
You don’t even have to get out of your chair. Just click on this image and you will be taken to our June Facebook Sweepstakes.
This month, all you have to do is nominate your favorite charity and they will be entered to win in the $5,000 merchandise giveaway. There will be 18 winners total, with a $2,000 first place prize, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. Fifteen will each receive $100 in merchandise. Winners don’t EVER have to pay a penny. No shipping, no taxes.
June 12, 2013 No Comments