Meet UnderstandingE at eCommerce Expo 2013 @ Olympia 2nd October

By now you’ll have heard quite a lot of buzz about UnderstandingE, we believe it’s going to put you back in control and change the world of eCommerce forever and we bet you’d like to know more and here’s your only chance before January.

This is something never done before, we have a clear vision and a single goal of what we are going to achieve and using the passion we have for eCommerce we truly believe that what we launch in January will be of benefit to soooo many online sellers like you.

Find Out What UnderstandingE is

Myself and Matt Ogborne will be making our first appearance as UnderstandingE at the eCommerce Expo next week.  We will only be there for a few hours on Weds 2nd October because of the epic challenge we have set ourselves between now and January 1st and need to get back the grindstones.

We are arranging a special meetup at one of the stands at 2:00pm.  This way we can get to share with you, the cool people, the business owners what exactly it is we are up to and how with your help, together we’re going to create something amazing.

So Which Stand?

To find out which stand we’ll loitering on at 2pm, pop your name & email on the UnderstandingE site here and we’ll let you know on Wednesday morning.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Dave & Matt

The Reason for the Silence – Changing eCommerce

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post.  In the time since the last post I managed to sneak off to the USA and Canada for nearly 3 weeks and also took part in the Color Run in Manchester and managed to raise £260 for Cancer Research UK.  I know this is of little interest to most of you, but it does account for me being a little quieter on here than normal.

The second part of the reason is much more interesting, and will be of  interest to most of you.  Most of my time since coming back from Canada has been spent on building something that has never been done before.  What we have been working on is something that should be of interest to anyone who currently sells on eBay, Amazon their own website or multi channel in general, or those who don’t currently but are thinking about selling online.  You may have noticed that I used the term ‘WE’ which means that I am not working on this alone.  Myself and one of the top UK eCommerce Experts have been working together on this project and it’s a big one.

As it stands right now I cannot give away any more details, but I am 100% confident you will hear about it within the next month.

So apologies for the radio silence, but please bear with me, if you sell online then trust me it will be worth it.



Amazon Fee Increases What Can Merchants Do?

As I am sure most reading this blog are aware that on the 4th April Amazon are increasing some of their fee categories.  It was announced first on the e-commerce news site Tamebay.  You can see the original post here:

This announcement has led to much uproar on forums around the web from angry third-party sellers that will be affected.  The general fear from third-party sellers is that this will be the first of many fee increases to come and that Amazon are going to start squeezing out third-party sales.  If this is the case, then it will leave a lot of smaller businesses wondering what to do.  Many already struggle to compete with Amazon as it is and by being priced out of the marketplace it could really affect their turnover.

What are the effects?

Amazon fee increases

As anyone who sells on Marketplaces will tell you, fee’s only ever tend to go up with the very odd exception, and prices only ever tend to come down.  This can be a sort of double whammy for third-party merchants.  They end up selling their products for less and the marketplaces want to take a bigger cut of their sale price.

As for the cause of Amazon doing this, some people online is guessing, it is because Amazon envisage having to pay more tax.  To be fair though for a company who made a loss of $274 million alone in just Q3 of 2012.  You can’t blame the company for looking at ways to increase profitability.

What Can You Do?

As you would expect this hits most sellers with a bit of a problem.  Amazon is just too big to ignore.  They are Amazon and they can do what they want in effect.  The obvious one is that if you don’t already then strongly consider opening an eBay account and building your brand on this channel.  eBay got a similar number of unique visitors a month and they will never compete with you as a retailer.  Chances are however that you already sell on multiple channels in which case you need to work on steering your dependency away from Amazon (If you need any help or advice in how to build up an eBay or website presence then please get in touch with me here.)flubit Logo

The next obvious choice is to look at potential new streams of revenue.  If you have Amazon and eBay ticking over nicely and a website which is bringing in good sales, then looking at new channels to drive sales to your business.  One of the newest and most exciting channels is Flubit.  They offer a totally unique buying journey to their customers and best of all they do not charge any fixed channel fees.  To find out more about Flubit check out the website here, you can also get in touch with them using the instructions on the page.  In case you have missed it you can also see the Flubit buying journey from a blog I wrote back in September


I would love to hear your thoughts on this, are you being affected by Marketplace fee increases?  Or do you run a business and are noticing that you are working harder to make the same amount of profit?  Please let me know in the comments below, it would be great to hear from you.

Formatting Amazon Descriptions, A Little Goes A Long Way

As we all know, your product descriptions are hugely important when selling online.  They are part of my E-commerce Holy Trinity along with Pictures and Titles.  Thanks to twitter however a friend of mine brought to my attention some of the confusion surrounding Amazon descriptions and what is and isn’t allowed in the Amazon catalogue.

A quick search online will throw up plenty of forums stating that absolutely no formatting is allowed in Amazon descriptions at all.  It must just be plain text which describes the product.  I am not going to link to said forums etc as they are largely incorrect.  Basic formatting is allowed on your Amazon descriptions and here I am hopefully going to show you, how you can do it, and what a difference it will make to hopefully bring you more sales.

It is no secret that I think descriptions are a hugely important ingredient in your perfect listing recipe.  As you may remember the first E-commerce in Plain English Podcast covered “Descriptions that sell” If you haven’t heard it yet, then click the link here and give it a listen.  The key for your description is to make it concise, descriptive (obviously) but importantly easy to read.  With a bit of formatting help we can make descriptions really easy to read and therefore increase the likelihood of a conversion.  Amazon want its marketplace sellers to create listings that fit in with their catalogue.  There are limitations to how much formatting you can do, unfortunately you wont be able to go to town like a true Amazon listing such as there Kindle descriptions.  So no pretty graphics, embedded video’s or photos are allowed, we are going back to basics here but it can make a difference if done properly.

What you can do

Now by no means am I an HTML expert and never would I profess to be, but with a few simple HTML tags you can quickly emphasise and structure your descriptions to make them clearer and easier to read than a plain text paragraph.  I imagine most readers will know these tags already but in case you don’t here are a few you can use when entering your amazon product description.

A  very  quick intro to HTML.  You have an opening and a close tag if you want to cause an effect to whatever is in between the tags.  If you want to insert one piece of formatting on the page then you only need to add that tag once per effect (no opening and closing). I haven’t explained that very well but the below examples should help.

<b> </b> – These are a simple bold tag.  Everything that is in between these tags will appear in bold text.  This is perfect for sections of a description that you want to separate or important parts you want to highlight.  n example of how to use this would be: “<b> Technical Specifications </b>”

<br> – This is the tag for a line break.  You can insert these to insert a line break in your description.  Perfect for making sure there is a difference between two paragraphs or drawing attention to a different section of your description. An example of this would be: “this is the end of one paragraph. <br> This is the start of the second.”


– These are the tags needed to create bullet points in your listing.  The ul tag stands for unordered list and everything in between them it will know to put in bullet points.  The li tags are there to differentiate the different bullet points.  It’s really simple when you see it in practice so here you go:

The bullet point list


<li> this is a bullet point </li>

<li> and so is this one</li>


By utilising these simple HTML tags you can make a massive difference to how your Amazon product description looks, and increases the chances of someone buying your product.  Now for a few live examples.

How not to do an Amazon description

I am not a fan of naming and shaming and that’s why I want to look at the positives for this link I am about to provide.  The title is straightforward and states exactly what the product is.  The picture is good and shows the product with a plain white background although the resolution could be a little better.  However the description is awful.  Take a look here .

Not only is it all in capital letters which is a huge pet hate of mine, but it is all bunched together and as it is in Caps and only over two lines it makes it very easy to miss if you are just scanning the page.  It doesn’t look professional and makes it look like an incomplete product page.

How to do an Amazon Description

The next example is a fantastic showcase of product description formatting being used.  There is not much I can really add to this description other than to show you it so you can see first hand.  This product is courtesy of Better Bathrooms and can be seen here .   They have used the bold tags to effectively distinguish titles and sections in the section, and they have used line breaks instead of bullet points to list specifications.  I’m sure you can agree this looks much better and all that has been used is some basic HTML and a little bit of time to get the description looking right.

With just a bit of time spent getting your product descriptions right and making them easy for potential customers to read then you greatly improve your chances of converting on Amazon.  Remember you create your Amazon product once and it stays in the catalogue forever so make sure you make it as good as it can be from the beginning.

If you have any comments or questions then please as always leave a comment below or send an email.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday what they are and why they are important

Well it’s that time of year again.  The time which separates the men from the boys in terms of the online sellers.  The boom period that spans the couple of weeks that include the last week of November and the first week of December.  These two weeks will be busy for the whole of online but there are two key days included here which are Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  You may have heard me talk briefly about this in the E-commerce in Plain English Podcast “Preparing for Christmas” You can listen to that here.  If you have not come across these terms before or have perhaps heard them but are not sure what they are, then pull up a chair, gather round and let me tell you what you need to know and what you can do to maximise your sales.  Read more