Online retailing is growing annually at an accelerated pace, but the end of year holiday shopping season is the busiest time for most retailers. It’s also a time for illegitimate retailers to flourish, as they promote and sell their products on nationally recognized e-commerce websites. So, imagine how difficult it might be for consumers to safely and securely complete their shopping lists, if they desire to shop exclusively with manufacturer authorized retailers and dealers, holiday season or not.
No time is a good time to cut corners. Yes, our days get busy, but that’s no excuse to not employ smart consumer practices. Online shopping opens doors for unethical businesses. These are the companies, lurking within shopping marketplaces, like those that exist on amazon.com, walmart.com. sears.com ,ebay.com and others, that serve only to take advantage of bargain-hunting consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true prices on potentially outdated, unsafe and fake goods, obtained outside authorized distribution channels. (continue reading…)
Seller rating/review seals, an established online shopping tool, can make the greatest impact on a consumer’s decision to buy a product online. These seals, designed to convey that an online retailer bearing that seal maintains favorable reviews from its customers, are all about establishing trust. Two of the biggest customer review seals within the burgeoning online retail industry come from Google Trusted Store and BizRate.
Through the Google Trusted Store program, seller ratings are gathered from surveys that consumers take after the sale is completed. The information gained through these surveys, Google portends, allows consumers to make more informed browsing and buying decisions by learning about a retailer’s sales and service reputation. (continue reading…)
Really, are you surprised that companies like Amazon.com, which makes a half-hearted attempt at policing the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized goods in its online marketplace, would also allow unauthorized vendors to sell trademarked products, even if the manufacturer, who has spent millions developing, promoting and defending its trademarked products, asks them to shut it down. Doesn’t sound right, does it?
And, surprisingly, you have search engines looking the other way, too.
It doesn’t matter what business or industry you’re operating in. The ability to rank high in Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, preferably the first page and within the top five organic (unpaid) links on Google or Bing, can prove to be the difference between success and merely surviving for any business.
But when you’re talking about small business online retailers, the ability to lure customers to your website is just as important, if not more, than actually offering products for sale. Of course, as a small business, you’ll run up against legitimate and illegitimate competition, including major online retailers like Amazon.com. And if that isn’t hard enough – competing against a giant for SERPs – you’ve noticed that Amazon.com or another retailer within its sellers marketplace almost always outranks you, seemingly receiving preferential treatment, in organic SERP listings.
It wasn’t all that long ago, really, that a popular line of thinking was the emergence of online retailers meant the beginning of the end for traditional, or brick and mortar, retailers. More people, or so many thought, would much rather shop from the comforts of home instead of dealing with traffic, crowded parking lots and understaffed stores.
Well, to some degree, that has happened. There are more than 800,000 online retailers offering goods, from apple peelers to zip ties, that provide that sense of freedom that comes with shopping from home (or the office, coffee shop or park), according to Forrester Research. Take a look around you, though. There are still plenty of free-standing retailers, from Main Street in Small Town, U.S.A., to national chains firmly ensconced in malls or shopping centers from coast to coast, competing for our hard-earned dollars. (continue reading…)
Seals are used by e-commerce websites that want to convey safety, security and a sense of trust when conducting business with an online retailer. Some, such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), promote a website’s data transfer security. Some play up trust, reinforcing safety by also protecting against harmful computer viruses. Customer review seals, such as Google Trusted Store or Bizrate, are often read for the reviews, giving people a boots-on-the-ground look, so to speak, at a retailer.
So, where does AuthorizedStore.com’s Seal of Integrity program fit within this picture? Think of this program as being a complementary, but uniquely necessary approach. As some seals promote security, safety and consumer opinion, the Seal of Integrity program is the only one that ensures that a retailer and its products are legitimate, fresh and have traveled through an authorized channel of distribution. When you see a Seal of Integrity, any worries over buying or receiving counterfeit or diverted goods evaporate like a cloud over a desert. (continue reading…)
Think starting and running a small business here in the United States is easy. Think again. Beyond the normal startup costs and ongoing day-to-day operations, most find themselves facing increasingly difficult odds as a growing number of factors, often beyond their control, threaten to doom the very existence of the backbone of the American business community.
Don’t believe that? Well, you should. It’s happening right now. Big cities. Small towns. Online, too. Here are six problems that are plaguing legitimate small U.S. businesses: (continue reading…)
Recent news that the worldwide market for counterfeit goods is as high as $1.7 trillion comes as little surprise to AuthorizedStore.com. Nor did it raise any eyebrows, too, when a recent report linked some on the Internet’s biggest retailers as doing very little to police counterfeiting on their sites. We’ve always held that mega online vendor sales/distribution centers such as those located in Amazon.com Services, Walmart.com’s Marketplace, Sears.com’s Commerce Services and other large retailers are all part of this problem.
Most consumers are unaware of the fact that separate vendors exist within these well-recognized, trusted retail stores/sites. Also, other than in the fine print, very little is done to warn buyers about the risks of buying from these vendors. Less formal, simplified disclosure leaves it vague as to exactly whom the consumer is buying from. Vendor names and ratings exist, but further searches to find out more about a vendor typically lead to very little, if any, information. On the other hand, eBay.com and Alibaba.com are notorious for having vendors that post new and used products, but on these sites, many or most consumers are more aware of the fact that diverted and/or fake products may be prevalent, due to the new and used offerings. (continue reading…)
Beyond keeping customers happy, manufacturers are in business to do two things: produce a quality product that’s in demand and earn a profit. Going about business the right way, it’s a pretty simple philosophy. Create. Invest. Work hard. Then, enjoy the rewards. Ah, if life was only that simple.
Manufacturing, once we re-enter the real world, can be fraught with peril. Wild price swings for raw materials. Technical and mechanical issues slow production. Mother Nature’s fury, in terms of hurricanes, tornadoes or blizzards, all disrupt distribution. All can negatively affect a company’s margins and bottom line.
Consumers face a number of real dangers anytime they buy diverted products in an online marketplace or from a seemingly legitimate retailer. These products, which are obtained outside a manufacturer’s authorized channel of distribution, can also be counterfeit, outdated or repurposed items branded as new. At the least, buying any or all of these products can be a huge waste of money. Taking it a step further, though, some of these items can even be harmful to a consumer’s health.
Didn’t think that was part of the bargain, did you? What’s even more troubling is, it doesn’t get any better. (continue reading…)