Archive for February, 2011

How to Start a New Successful Retail Business of Your Own

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Successfully Starting a New Retail Biz of Your Very Own
by Rueben Marley

Starting a new retail business can be a dream come true for many; and it can also become a real challenge, if the proper steps are not taken to ensure a smooth take off, and efforts made early in the game to increase all likelihood that the initial concept develops into an end result that works for everyone. Planning is key, and even the most ambitious goals can be reduced to a series of processes, if time is taken beforehand to figure things out prior to jumping into a project. Here are some guidelines that will help anyone with their first-time retail mission, with a set of points to consider, in easy steps:

Is the Law on Your Side?
Believe it or not, the law is not always there to slow things down or make things difficult for entrepreneurs. In fact, business environments that have a clear-cut and definable set of laws are good, since they make things easy to identify and break down, in the event of a dispute or if your company (hopefully!) takes off, and needs to become larger and more robust in its scope and scale. Hiring a lawyer is not always necessary, but this is an area you don’t want to be too frugal about, since it can save a ton of headaches later when things get sticky.

Get a Handle on the System for Yourself
You don’t have time to become a full-blown lawyer for yourself, and that’s okay. Most of us don’t have the time either, and learning the law can be a painstakingly tedious process to get into. However, a lot of mistakes have happened for many would-be entrepreneurial success stories, simply because the stakeholders in the venture didn’t know anything about the law for themselves! Knowledge is power, and even though you’ve consulted a good lawyer (see above) already, it’s never a bad idea to hold a few of those cards in your own hand.

What’s on the Menu?
Since you’re going to be selling something, you should probably know what the product is that you’re offering your customers. In fact, some of the most successful small ventures are based upon products that the owner is passionate about, and it helps out when your customers recognize that you’ve got a deep understanding of their needs, and perhaps even expert knowledge on the product and its characteristics. If you don’t know what to sell, though; no problem. Sometimes a good business strategy will apply to a basket of product categories, and you can simply pick the one that appeals to you after you’ve laid the groundwork for your company.

The Name Game
What’s in a name? Well, actually a lot. A bad name for your new company can have a repelling effect on prospects, and a good one could practically become a household word before too long, if it catches on. Look for unique and unusual, without getting too esoteric and strange. A unique name will come in especially handy  for SEO and Internet marketing purposes, since “Discount Shoes” has nearly zero power compared to a very effective search-friendly name like “Zappo’s.” Go ahead and Google it, and you’ll see what I mean when you count the results on the return page.

Get Hooked Up with Digits
You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to begin operating as a real business, but your lawyer should have already told you that. It usually costs little to nothing to get one, and it registers your company with the Federal Government, so you can have a tax ID number to supply vendors and other businesses with. Most of them, and I do mean like 90% of them won’t even do business with you if you don’t have this number.

There’s No Place Like Home
This is a very important and costly part of the process, if you’re looking to set up a store in a retail space that rents on a monthly or annual basis. Typically, the price is pretty steep for a prime location, an this can easily escalate to nearly ridiculous figures if you’re in a major tourist city or international hub. Before dropping cash on a 40×40 space that costs more every month than your car did when you bought it, consider the power of doing business online, from the comfort of your own home.

Set Some Rules
Store policies are going to make or break you, and now’s the time to figure out what is acceptable and unacceptable for your business. If you want to rule with an iron fist and refuse all returns or damaged shipments, then it might make you less attractive in the face of competitors who are far more forgiving. On the other hand, being too nice will cost you just as much, if you’re constantly bending over backwards to pay for other people’s mistakes and perhaps even neglecting new customers to manage abusive old ones that are taking you for a ride.

The Big Picture, in Words
Time for a business plan. If this sounds like a scary or impossible mission for you, hire a writer who specializes in this area. Like a good lawyer, the person who drafts your business plan will be able to make your idea sound like a good one – especially if  it is a good one – and will benefit you greatly if you’re simply looking for some startup capital from a bank or investors. A badly-written business plan will only serve as a loud and clear warning to others that your poorly-illustrated brilliant concept, is one best avoided.

Go Shopping
Now you’re ready to start looking for wholesale products and other services that fit your company and the goals you’ve set forth! A good wholesaler will become your best friend, since getting the best price on goods from them will mean a bigger and better profit margin for you when you turn them around to your customers. In fact, the better the price is for you, the better the price is for them… and that means they will become loyal REPEAT customers before too long, when they see your commitment to pass the savings along.

Become a Big Mouth

If you’re shy about promoting yourself or your business, then the truth is maybe this is the time for a personality makeover. Marketing and advertising are the only things that will put you in the minds of your customers, and with the level of competition these days; it’s a must-do, not an option. Fear not, however, there are tremendous resources like www.TopTenWholesale.com at your fingertips, and they are all waiting to help you out with getting the products you need at prices you’ll love.


Rueben Marley is the Chief Correspondent in Asia for JP Communications, Inc., and a featured writer on TopTenWholesale.com’s Newsroom. You can also find out more about him by visiting his Linkedin profile.

The Value of Attending Trade Shows to Find Wholesale Suppliers

Monday, February 14th, 2011

The Value of Attending Trade Shows to Find Wholesale Suppliers

by Claudia Bruemmer, Guest Blogger for Via Trading

If you are a wholesale buyer or a business owner, you can’t underestimate the importance of attending your industry’s trade shows. It’s where you can find out what new products are being introduced and learn all the latest industry trends. It’s also an opportunity to learn what products sell best and how to sell more product. Another advantage is meeting your suppliers and competitors in person and networking with people who can help you grow your business – not to mention the celebrities and parties. There’s no doubt about the value of attending trade shows, but how can you get the most from your attendance?

There’s a bit of preparation necessary for attending a trade show if you want to do it properly. Actually, it’s hard work. However, the benefits make it worth the effort. Start by ordering your business cards ahead of time and get lots of them. Prepare a little “elevator speech”— a quick summary of who you are and what your company does.

Ask yourself: whom do you want to see, and whom do you want to be seen by? Make a list of these people – two separate lists. Try to set up a meeting with them in advance, but don’t lock yourself into a rigid schedule; trade shows operate in an informal manner.

Always carry business cards and company literature with you when you are walking the aisles of the show. You never know who you might run into. Be prepared to work hard and wear comfortable shoes. Bring along all the necessary business tools: business cards, company literature and a camera.

Your most important asset when representing your company is your knowledge. One of the best ways to improve your worth is by increasing your knowledge. Trade shows are a display case of knowledge. Everywhere you look, you see opportunities to learn about the latest developments and meet the movers and shakers in the field. Trade shows are also a great place to showcase yourself and your company. There are three ways you can take advantage of the trade show opportunity:

1.     Work the floors so you can see who and what is on exhibit. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll come away from the show with a full understanding of who does what in manufacturing, marketing or service and what the latest trends and developments are.

2.     Sign up for the seminars. Most trade shows also have a conferences that feature leading industry speakers. When preparing your agenda for the show, be sure to include one or more conference programs of interest. Introduce yourself to the speaker and ask him or her for a business card.

3.     Networking. The knowledge you’ll gain from meeting colleagues and coworkers away from the office setting can be priceless. This allows you to catch up with who’s doing what, and it also gives you a chance to network in an informal environment. At national shows, you’ll meet the kind of people you might not have a chance to meet elsewhere.

Another great benefit of attending trade shows is the opportunity to improve visibility for yourself and your company. No one will ever know about your company unless you put it in the spotlight. Be prepared to impress. Practice your elevator speech before you attend the show so you can put your best foot forward.

Sign up for or collect as much information as you can. Later, you can sort it out and discard any unnecessary literature. Get copies of all trade publications and fill out subscription cards. Some companies don’t hand out literature, but instead ask for your card so they can send literature later by email or postal mail.

Don’t spend a lot of time engaging in long conversations. Introduce yourself with your elevator speech. Exchange business cards. Write some notes on the back of the cards you collect to remind you about the points of conversation and move on.

If you meet someone important or someone your boss wants you to connect with, use your camera to take a picture of the two of you together. Everyone loves to have his or her picture taken, and it could prove to be a door-opener in the future.

When attending the seminars, go to the room early and stay late. Make it a point to meet the presenter and engage them in a brief conversation. If you have a special interest, ask to follow up after the show.

Introduce yourself at the Show Management booth. Share your opinion of the show and its programs. Volunteer to be quoted, and have a photo taken of you working the show.

When you return to your office, write a summary of what you saw and learned. Distribute copies to those who could not attend the show and to your boss.

Last, but not least, have fun!

Upcoming Trade Shows

ASD/AMD – February 27-March 2, 2011 – Las Vegas, Nevada

National Hardware Show – March 10-12, 2011– Las Vegas, Nevada

Claudia Bruemmer Bio

Claudia Bruemmer was the first Managing Editor of ClickZ (1998-2001) and Editor of Search Engine Watch (2007-2008). Claudia’s articles are published on iMediaConnection, Search Engine Guide, BruceClay.com and TopTenWholesale.com. She authored a Fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing course for the Search Engine Marketing Organization (SEMPO) and edited SEMPO’s Advanced Search Engine Marketing courses. Claudia is currently Chief Editor of the TopTenWholesale Newsroom and also freelances in writing and editing online at www.claudiabruemmer.com.

Maximizing Liquidation Resale Channels is the Way to Go!

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Check out our Customer of the Month article about Jeff and Debbie Tanner – Flea marketers, yard sellers, Craigslisters and eBayers!

If you’ve ever spoken with a representative at Via Trading about the best ways to resell liquidation products, you may have heard this as their number one recommendation: maximize your resale channels. The more resale channels are used to move products, the better the chances of selling everything and recovering the highest return on investment. Jeff and Debbie Tanner, customers of Via Trading since May 2010 have taken this to heart and have created a business based on moving a maximum amount of goods through as many resale channels as possible.

The Tanners began their resale business as a way to supplement their incomes in January of 2010. They began selling items out of their front yard in a weekly garage sale, which quickly evolved into a multi-channel business that brings them significant monthly profits. “I’ve been doing this business full time with three people for one year, and it all started from selling small things at garage sales and grew into buying full pallets and loads of merchandise that we are able to move in a couple of weekends,” says Jeff Tanner. “Today, we sell items at swap meets, farmers markets, on Craigslist and eBay,” he continues.

When asked hoe he came to expand his business into several retail channels, Tanner says that “[he] saw an opportunity to get more money for items that were in great condition online. Flea market and yard sale buyers are usually looking for the very best deal while online buyers are looking for a discount off the original price, but they’re generally willing to pay a little more.” This realization has allowed him to set up a business that brings in the most bang for his buck. Why sell items for less than they are worth at a rock-bottom-pricing flea market when you can get more out of it selling it in another way? This kind of creativity is what leads to long-term success in this industry.

Over the last year Jeff and Debbie have been focusing on selling both new overstock and customer return brand name items from large department stores. Their primary category of focus is housewares and table top/home decor items. While it can be easier to tailor your purchases to your intended resale channel (buy only items that you know will sell in your resale environment of choice), Jeff and Debbie take the opposite approach. “We buy the same category of item every time, and we just figure out which specific items inside each load will sell best through each channel.”

“We take the pallets home, break them down and see what we’re working with. From there we test the items, then decide where and how to sell them,” explains Debbie. Items that are out of box and potentially damaged tend to sell better at swap meets where people can see the items in person and determine whether or not they will be able to fix  and use them. In-box items with higher original retail values are set aside for listing on craigslist and ebay, which requires photographing them, writing up a description and listing them online.

The condition of the items is only one factor used to determine how and where to sell the items. Another factor is size.  “Large items are too big, bulky and heavy to ship (which makes them too expensive) so we sell those at yard sales. The smaller items we sell online.” While this strategy works very well in most cases, there are occasionally smaller items that don’t sell online as they had expected. Instead of sitting on those products for an extended period of time, the Tanners take those items to the flea market and clear them right out. “There’s no point waiting for an item to sell. We would rather just turn the inventory over quickly, make some money and get more items to sell. If something doesn’t sell in one way, there are high chances it will sell in another way, even if it means at a slightly lower price.”

On the topic of price, determining what price to put on the items can be tricky. Jeff takes advantage of the retail labels that come on most of the items he purchases to determine a fair selling value for them. “Most of the time I will just price the items at 50% off what the sticker price is. That way, my customer is getting a great deal and I don’t have to spend too much time researching the right price. Half off is great deal!” In this way, Jeff is able to make approximately 50% return on each investment. While no two orders generate the exact same amount of profits, overall he recuperates more than what he invested which keeps his business profitable. “It helps that we buy a lot of overstock items. Once we’re done going through them and repairing items, we only have to throw away about 2% of what we buy, which is really good in this industry.” While the percentage of throwaway items varies from load to load, the Tanners have found that purchases are profitable in the long run.

One of the hardships of selling merchandise outdoors at flea markets and farmer’s markets is unfortunately the weather. While Southern Californians have it easy, it’s not possible to sell items outside year-long in most states. “That’s why we like the online portion of our business as well,” says Jeff. “If it’s raining, we don’t depend on those flea market sales to make it. We just focus our efforts on our online sales until the weather clears up and we can go back out again.” This strategy ensures they are able to do business year-round without being at the mercy of the sunshine.

Jeff and Debbie recommend their business model to others starting out in the liquidation industry. “Be creative, keep it simple and keep the faith. It’s not always easy but it will all work out if you stick to your plan. There is a right selling place and a right price for everything – it’s just a matter of finding what works and sticking with it.”

Check out Jeff and Debbie’s collection of high end housewares and home decor on their eBay store at tannertanner16, or visit their flea market booth at the Saugus and Beaumont Swap Meets.

We are Redesigning Our Website!!

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Keep an eye out over the next few months as we prepare to launch a new and improved version of viatrading.com! With an aim to become THE liquidation resource on the internet for both products and industry information, Via Trading is revamping all aspects of our website from the display of products, the information we provide and more!

Some of the things we will be updating and improving:

- Social Media Integration
- Better product picture displays
- More attractive visual display of information
- An improved Liquidation Resource section
- More videos, pictures and interactive menus
- Easy-to-navigate tab scrollers so you can find what you’re looking for easily
- Great search filters allowing you to locate products with just one click!
- Product videos for selected SKUs
- Selling hints and tips for each product and category
- Product reviews

AND MORE!!

Keep your eyes peeled and email any ideas of things you’d like to see implemented to sales@viatrading.com. We always welcome ideas, thoughts, comments and feedback!