a few months ago

Drop Shipping and Handling Customer Returns – Here’s How

drop shipping returns

Returns and refunds are part of drop shipping and you should make sure that you are complying with the distance selling laws in the country you are selling in. For example, the European laws dictate that we must allow customers 14 days to change their mind. Which means that even if there is nothing wrong with the item, the customer has the right to return it for a refund (providing the item is in the exact same condition they received it in) within 14 days.

Does this increase returns? Not in my experience.  It’s simply a matter of providing great customer service and keeping your customers on side!

You can keep returns to a minimum by following the below guidelines:

Always try to answer customer emails within 24 hours on business days.  If you are expecting to be without an Internet connection or unavailable for more than 24 hours during business days, set up an automated response in your email account to let customers know that it might take a little longer than usual to get a reply.

Set up an automatic email response to go out every time a customer sends an email to you. It should say something like…

“Thank you for your message. We will get back to you as soon as possible”

Avoid selling items that have higher than average return rates. For example, clothing and footwear because these items are often returned as the wrong size.  Be careful with electronics because of possible faults.

How to Deal with Returns if you Drop Ship in a Country that You Do Not Reside in

If you drop ship in the country you live in, then dealing with returns is simple because you can use your own address as the return address.  You can then forward the returns to the drop shipper as and when necessary.

However, what if  – for example – you live in France and you want to drop ship in the US. 

Firstly you should carefully check the returns policy of the drop ship supplier you want to use. If you’re not 100% clear, drop them an email or give them a call to get clarity.  Some suppliers will accept returns directly, but many will not.   It’s not the supplier’s responsibility to deal with anything customer related, so if they DO accept returns directly, it’s a bonus! Normally you will need to deal with the return from the customer and if the item is faulty, return it to the supplier.

If you end up selling high volumes of items from a drop ship supplier, sometimes they will be happy to provide you with a custom solution for returns. When you are new however, you won’t get any special treatment.

Secondly, there are dozens (in fact probably 100’s) of companies in the US who will accept parcels for you and then forward them on to another address in the US (or worldwide).  Obviously, this is not ideal because you can’t inspect the item before it gets sent back to the drop ship supplier. However, some companies also offer inspecting and photographing of the parcel contents.

Simply do a Google search for ‘parcel forwarding service US’

If you want to sell in the US and you live in another country, you should not let this obstacle prevent you.  Nowadays there are solutions to almost everything when it comes to selling physical products online!

What about returned items that were purchased from China?

It depends on the value of the items. Low-value items (items that are worth less than the cost of shipping back to China) should be written off a business expense.

Higher value items should be returned to the Chinese supplier for a refund – but only if they are in some way faulty.

There will always be some items that you need to write off a business expense. It these items are still useable, you can keep them for personal use.

To conclude – everybody gets some refunds and returns but you should be able to keep them below 3% – 4%.

a few months ago

How to Choose the Right Domain Name for Your Website or Blog

The domain name of your website will influence the way people perceive your site. It creates an instant impression on the user so for that reason alone, choosing the right domain is pretty important. You can’t change a domain name later. Well, technically you can, but doing so would change all the URL’s and completely destroy any progress you have made in the search engines. In fact it, it would be disastrous, so definitely not recommended!

Firstly, for anyone who’s not certain, a domain name is that part of a website address that comes after the http://www.

For example, the domain name of this website is ‘theomcarthur.com’

The ‘.com’ part of the domain name is known as the domain extension and there are 100’s of possible extensions, such as ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.info’, or ‘.org’ and so on.

So here’s my guide for choosing the right domain:

Step 1 – Decide whether or not your website will be branding YOU, or branding a business/service/product.  If you are branding you, then you want a domain that includes your name or part of it. This website’s domain is my own name ‘theomcarthur’.  The downside of branding a site to you is that you can never sell it in the future (if you wanted to). I will never be able to sell this particular website, so when I decide to retire, the website retires along with me. However, I also have many websites that are not branded to me and this one was not created with the intention of ever selling it in the future.  Some websites are more suited to being branded to you, the person behind the site,  and traditionally most blogs were branded in that way. However, nowadays, many blogs are branded to the business, the service/products, or the subject of the blog.

So, you will need to decide which it will be before you proceed…

Step 2 – Head over to Godaddy.com or NameCheap.com, or any other well-known domain name registrar, and also open up thesaurus.com. Open up a text file on your device too.

Step 3 – Understanding the importance of using the right extension.  All extensions are NOT equal and this is why it’s much harder to find a good domain with the dot com extension than it is to find one with say, dot net, or dot info.  The best extension is dot com because it has credibility and it’s the one that every Internet user is familiar with. Country extensions, like co.uk, fr, ca, in, etc, are also good IF you want to operate mainly in one country.  In fact, for users in some countries, the country extension will have more credibility than the dot com extension. The trade off is that you will lose some credibility with users from outside of that country.

For example:

A domain using the co.uk extension is better for your visitors from the UK. They feel more comfortable with co.uk websites and are more likely to click through to your site from the Google search results (or whichever search engine they are using). That’s great if your site is exclusively or primarily for UK users. However, if you wanted to also attract users from say, the US, a co.uk extension would have a negative effect on those users. They would associate the extension with a website that is not relevant to them.

Another important thing to understand is that some extensions have ‘meaning’ and this meaning may harm your website’s credibility. Dot biz, for example, is considered ‘spammy’ and dot net is considered inferior, maybe even less trustworthy, than dot com.  Dot org is associated with information only websites. In other words, websites that do not sell or promote anything, but are there purely as a source of information.

To conclude, it’s better to go for either dot com, or the country extension of the country you plan to operate in

Step 4 – Understanding domain length and the use of hyphens and number.  Shorter domains are better, but it’s not always possible to find a short domain related to the subject of your website. However, you should bare this in mind and if possible, try not to go over 15 characters (not including the domain extension).

Hyphens should be avoided.  When you use hyphens, your domain not only looks less credible but when users type it into their browser, they will often miss out the hyphen.

Numbers should mostly be avoided unless they are part of your business name. Using the number ‘4’ in place of the word ‘for’, for example, is bad practice. As is using the number ‘2’ in place of the word ‘to’ or ‘too’.

Step 5 – On the text file that you opened earlier, start making a list of words related to the subject of your website. Use thesaurus.com to find synonyms. A word of warning when adding synonyms to your list. Only use synonyms that are popular words and that actually make sense for your domain name.

Example: I typed the word ‘beach’ into thesaurus.com and got all these synonyms. Let’s say that my website is about travel and more specifically about taking trips to beaches or lakes.  I’ve underlined words that I might consider using in a domain name.



Step 6 – Start typing into the domain search box. Anything that comes into your head using the list of words from your text file. This is the way to start your creative juices flowing!



Click the ‘search domain’ button to find out if the domain you entered is available. Don’t be surprised if it’s not because normally you will need to try many times before finding a good domain that is not already taken!

It just so happened that ‘lakesideholiday.com’ was available, but only as a ‘premium domain’.  These types of domains cost far more than a regular domain (regular price is around $10), so usually we would ignore these premium domains.

After a few tries, I came up with this one.  It’s okay, but a little long at 17 characters.  However, it’s still a reasonable domain because ‘Holiday by the Water’ sounds pretty good.  It’s also quite broad, therefore my website would not need to be restricted to just beach holidays or just lakeside holidays.



Step 7 – Start making a list of all the available domains names that you have managed to come up with. Save it, and then leave it for 24 hours without looking at it. Come back to it a day later with fresh eyes, decide which one you like the best, then go ahead and purchase it!

a few months ago

How to Come up With Million Dollar Business or Product Ideas

how to come up with million dollar business or product ideas

Ever wonder why some people appear to have the ‘Midas Touch’ when it comes to business?  How is it that these people are able to build wealth from scratch, not just once, but over and over again?

Being able to spot opportunities and come up with ideas based on those opportunities is a very special skill, and it’s the skill that separates the truly successful self-made entrepreneurs from the not-so-successful.  It’s not a talent that some people are just lucky enough to possess, it’s a learned ability. Often this ability is learned subconsciously over time – but it can be developed consciously, in a short period of time and with a little practice!

Opportunities are all around us, but you need a starting point. Start off by getting some direction, some focus. Try going through this list and making notes:

What are your hobbies?
What are your interests?
What are you involved with in your day-to-day life?
What do you enjoy doing?
What would you happily write about?
What part of your job do you like?
Which kind of stores do you like visiting?
What kind of places do you like visiting?
Who are the people you associate with the most?
Do you have any pets?

Come up with one or two topics that really interest you and then try to find out what problems and issues people have in relation to those topics.

“The key to generating a lot of ideas is to form the habit of consciously noticing
problems and identifying needs. Eventually this will become like second nature”

One important thing to note is that a great idea does not need to be complicated. In fact, often the simple ideas are the best ones.  Tweaking an already popular product to solve a problem or an issue that people are having, or building on an already popular service, again to solve a common problem or issue.

What about funding?  You have this great idea, but you don’t have the funds to do anything with it.  Well, here’s the thing… You could go down the route of trying to raise funds and there are platforms like Kickstarter to help you do that, BUT, there are so many high-potential ideas that are actionable immediately, on even the smallest of budgets.  If you can develop the ability to generate these low startup (or even zero startup) ideas, you will be able to put ideas into action without the headache of trying to get funding.

If you want to really develop your skills in this subject, click the link below to access the full training

Learn to Quickly Generate Actionable, Profitable Business Ideas With Ease. Open the Door to Successful Entrepreneurship

8 months ago

How to Get 100’s of Customer Reviews on Your Store

getting reviews from customers

Recent surveys have shown that 83% of us will read at least one review before making a purchase.

Reviews are social proof and we live in a time when social proof is given more importance than almost anything else when it comes to deciding what to spend our money on.

Many shoppers will ignore products with no reviews if those products are displayed alongside products with reviews. Even a single positive review can boost sales by over 500%.

However, on average only about 1 in 50 customers will post a review. So what if you’re selling from your own store and don’t have a lot of customers (yet), or if you’ve only just launched your store? How do you start getting social proof?

It’s actually a lot easier than you might think 🙂 The reason only 1 in 50 shoppers leaves a review is not because they don’t want to. It’s because they don’t even think about it. It’s not important to them. It’s our job to make them think about it and give them a reason to do it!

When selling from your own store you can employ strategies that you couldn’t employ if you were selling on Amazon, eBay, or any of the other big online marketplaces.

In fact, there are things you can do to get as many as 1 in 2 of your customers to post a review about the product they purchased and/or, their experience with your business. So, even if your store is only getting 10 sales a week, you could turn around 5 of those into reviews.

Okay, so here’s my first tactic. It’s simple and it works!

Step 1 – Install a loyalty points app/plugin on your store.

Step 2 – Install a product reviews app/plugin on your store.

If you are using Shopify or WordPress, there are plenty of these types of apps and plugins available. Many are free or have a free trial so that you can try them out to see if you like them.

Step 3 – Create an email scheduled to go out to your customers about 2 weeks after the order was placed. You can adjust the time period based on your store’s shipping and delivery policies. Be sure to allow enough time for the customer to receive and use the product.

Email subject line:

‘Get 100 rewards points for reviewing your purchase of xyx’ (where xyz is the product they purchased)

Email body:

Hi (first name)

Thank you for your purchase. We hope you love it. Would you consider posting an online review to help other buyers?

It only takes 2 minutes, but we know you are probably very busy, that’s why we want to reward you for your time.

(store name) will add 100 rewards points to your account, which you can redeem against any future purchases.

(link here for the customer to post a review)

Thank you in advance for your review and for being a preferred customer.

Kind Regards
(your name)
(store url)

The second method, which can be used in conjunction with the first, is to place inserts inside the product packaging. This might be difficult if you’re drop shipping, but if you’re shipping the orders out yourself, it’s easy to do it.

You can have A5 or A6 inserts printed up very cheaply. Simply do the same as in email method. Ask for a review in return for reward points.

By the way, I’ve used 100 rewards points as an example. It could be less or more than that.

The third method is a variation on the above two methods. Do the same as above, but instead of rewards points, give the customer free entry into a prize draw where the prize is a gift card/voucher for your store. You could run a draw every quarter for example.

Okay so what else can we do to ask our customers for reviews? One of the problems with emails is that not everyone reads them – as we know!

We want to get the message out in as many ways as possible and one of the best ways is via your store Facebook page (you do have a FB page for your store, right? If not, you should seriously consider creating one).

You can create regular posts requesting reviews and use similar or the same methods as already described.

As time goes on and your sales, customers and reviews build up, you probably won’t need to do anything except for sending out a standard email asking the customer to leave a review. In fact, if you only do that and nothing else, you will still double the number of reviews you get compared to if you do nothing at all.

In the beginning though, when you need extra help to get your store sales volume up, use the strategies described in this post to build your reviews and social proof as quickly as possible 🙂

9 months ago

How to Succeed Selling High Volume Products on Amazon

build a brand on amazon

Do you like the idea of clocking up 100’s or even 1000’s of sales a day on Amazon with only a small handful of listings? Most sellers who do very high sales volumes, do it by having 1000’s of SKU’s.

For example, 1000 SKU’s selling an average of 5 units per week (by competing with other sellers for the buy box), equals around 22,000 sales a month.  At a modest net profit (after all expenses) of $2 per sale, that’s a net income of around $44,000 per month.

The biggest downside of this method is that it requires a lot of funding.  At any given time, a seller with 1000 SKU’s,  could have anything from $100,000 to $500,000 tied up in stock.  Aside from that, it requires staff and a very sleek, efficient operation in place for monitoring listings and stock levels,  and for continually looking for new selling opportunities and sourcing stock.  This is the reason for the net profit of $2 per sale.

But, there IS another way…

By developing your own brand and utilizing smart marketing techniques, you can achieve a similar net profit with just a handful of listings on Amazon.

Take the three  highest volume categories on Amazon:

Health & Household
Home & Kitchen
Beauty and Personal Care

With any of these three categories, you have the potential to sell 100+ units a day with a single listing.  There are many other categories where a single listing can sell 50 or more units per day. Pets, Office Products, and Toys, to name a few.

But, going back the ‘big 3’, by focusing on creating a brand in one of these categories and selling 5-10 different products under the umbrella of your brand, you can achieve similar results to the seller with 1000 SKU’s who competes with others for the buy box and therefore only averages 5 units a week per SKU.

You don’t need to sell as many units because your net profits are higher. The seller who sells 100’s or even 1000’s of different products, buys his stock from domestic wholesalers and he also has a lot of overheads – paying staff etc.

When you have your own brand, you buy from manufacturers or overseas suppliers (China mainly) which means you pay less.  Your overheads are lower because you don’t need a team of staff.

Sounds good but what’s the catch?

The catch is that building your own brand takes work, hard work in fact, but it’s definitely not more work than managing 1000 SKU’s!

The easiest way to launch your own brand on Amazon is to start with a single product and then gradually expand to add a second product, then a third and so on.  This is the way it’s usually done and the idea is that you use the profits (or some of the profits) from your first products, to launch the next one.

How many products you ultimately launch is going to depend partly on the potential of the individual products (although you don’t need to stick to ONLY selling them on Amazon) and partly on your own goals and ambitions.

There are a ton of perks to having your own brand on Amazon and one of those perks is that non-Amazon retailers often scout Amazon looking for the ‘mom and pop’ type of brands (as opposed to big name brands) to sell through their own stores – either online or offline. It’s not unusual to be contacted by these retailers and asked if you would be willing to sell wholesale to them.  This is the easiest money you will ever get.  You won’t make a whole lot of profit per unit, but who cares, a profit is a profit!

So if your dream is to hit those high numbers on Amazon, but you don’t have the capital required to invest in large amounts of inventory, or you simply don’t want to go down the road of having 1000’s of different SKU’s (and I don’t blame you!), then building a brand in one of the high volume categories could be the answer.

9 months ago

The Top 6 Reasons Why Everyone Who Strives to Earn a Living Online Should Have a Blog

blog for a living

Want to turn your passion into a part or full-time income? There is no better way for the ‘average’ person to do this than blogging.

Imagine that your work is also your passion. Most people only ever dream about earning a living from doing something they love. But some have used blogging to realize that dream, so why not you?

Aside from the potential of earning an ongoing income, a blog is actually an asset. Blogs can sell for 4, 5, even 6 figures.

Let’s take a look at the top 6 reasons why everyone who strives to earn a living online should have a blog.

  1. Blogging is an ideal way to get free traffic from Google and the other search engines
  2. Blogging can be used to market almost anything at all from affiliate products, to e-commerce, to Amazon listings, and more.
  3. User-friendly technology available today makes blogging simple, even for non-techies!
  4. We can use blogging to turn our interests into profit. Almost any subject can be monetized.
  5. It’s virtually free! You can build and run a successful blog on less than $5 per month.
  6. A blog is an asset and can be sold it in the future for a healthy sum.

Follow along with me as we build a successful blog from scratch using all the latest techniques and strategies. Learn from somebody with 20 years experience of building blogs and websites.

Blog for a Living: The Complete Blueprint Level 1,2 & 3

Enroll With a Special Blog Readers Discount

Aimed at beginners or those who want to create a new blog from scratch, earn an income and build a following

By the end of this course, you will have a fully-fledged blog. Even if you don’t yet know what to blog about! You will also know more than 95% of people who already have a blog on the Internet.

Throughout the course, I demonstrate every step in detail with ‘over the shoulder’ lectures. You will also learn how to create posts and which types of post work best. You will learn where and how to get content and ideas for your posts. And how to optimize your posts for the search engines – the simple way – and much, much more.

last year

Why are Many E-commerce Stores Doomed to Fail Before They Even Start?

e-commerce store

Even in today’s competitive market, new e-commerce stores are launching and turning into enormous successes.  The opportunity is there to create a fantastic lifestyle, so it’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs are attracted to the idea of running their own online store.

But, for every one that succeeds, there are probably another 10 that are doomed right from the start. First impressions make or break a brand new store, so it’s vital to get it right.

Let’s look at the reasons why so many stores are doomed to fail before they even get their first customer,  and what can be done to fix things.

One of the biggest reasons of all is untrustworthiness.

Shoppers are always concerned for the safety of their card details and personal details. A site will look untrustworthy if there is no proper contact information.

To fix this add a ‘Get Help’ page to your menu where you can include your store’s contact details (a contact form alone is not enough). Use a ‘chat’ plugin or a Facebook messenger plugin so that visitors know they can contact you easily. It’s vital to have a physical address on your site as well. The main message is: don’t be anonymous or give the impression that you are ‘hiding’. It’s also a good idea to add a ‘secure checkout’ icon.

The domain name you choose for your store also has an impact on trustworthiness.  You can buy sub-level domains for $1 or less, but you won’t be doing your store any favors. Stick to top-level domains. Dot com or the country extension of the country your store is operating in.

Another reason is lack of information regarding shipping, delivery times and returns.

To fix this one add a ‘Delivery & Returns’ page to the footer menu.  Even better, in addition to the footer page, add an FAQ page to the main menu and include your delivery and returns information on that page too.

Blurry and distorted images

This one should be obvious, but I’ve seen it many times.  Images should be clear and high resolution. This applies to all images on the site – the header image, product page images, thumbnails and any other images. If using a slider, take the time to find images that actually fit the slider dimensions otherwise they will display as stretched or squashed.

Spelling mistakes and typos

Wording does not need to be perfect by any means, but if there are obvious typos and spelling mistakes, your store will not come across as credible. Take the time to proof-read your content, or use a spell checker (remember, spell checkers do not always pick up homophones – words that sound alike but are spelt differently and have different meanings – such as there and their.)

Wrong pricing

Pricing is something that should be checked out even before making the decision to sell whatever it is you plan to sell. You do not need to be the cheapest and in fact, you should never try to be, but if you can’t price a product reasonably (based on the prices being charged by other stores), then it’s better not to sell that product at all.

Looks terrible!

A big part of making a good first impression is the aesthetics of your website.  Not everyone is naturally creative or has an eye for aesthetics, but we don’t need to be. We can model the layouts and colour schemes of other successful stores. If in doubt about your ability to create a store that looks good and has a ‘professional’ look about it, simply start checking out popular stores and try to mimic their colours and layout as much as possible.

Not enough content

By this, I don’t mean not enough products offered for sale. A store can be hugely successful with just one product. I’m talking about the pages on your site, the sidebar (if you have one), the footer, the header.  It’s always a good idea to have an ‘About’ page with some information about your store, what you sell, who you are.  A ‘Get Help’ page goes a long way to make a visitor feel confident. If the main menu looks a bit bare, add your categories to make it look ‘busier’.

If the header has huge white or empty spaces, try to fill it up a bit or change the header.  Use plugins or apps to add more detail to your site. For example, a ‘free shipping’ or ‘latest deals’ plugin.

With a bit of thought and effort, you can make you new store look much more content-rich than it actually is!

last year

A Few Niches That Are Doing Well in E-commerce Right Now

kids bedroom wall stickers

Sometimes the stuff that sells well, is not the stuff we would automatically think of.  Here are a few niches that are really hot right now – as of summer 2017.

Mermaids – everything mermaids – jewelry, t-shirts, toys, mugs, blankets, tote bags.  This is going crazy at the moment. Seriously, there are even groups for people who want to discuss whether or not mermaids are real, groups for reporting mermaid sightings, and other groups that you probably don’t want to know about!  The main thing is that mermaid themed products are selling like mad and since mermaids have been ‘around’ for centuries, this is a fad that may well stick around for a while.

Unicorns – same as above. Unicorn themed stuff has come into fashion again and although it’s not as hot as mermaids, there are still a lot of opportunities here.

Owls – owls have always been popular, but they have become even more popular over the past year or so.  Wall art, jewelry, soft toys, mugs and tote-bags, ornaments and more.

Wall Decor/Art for KIDS/BABIES rooms – think stickers, canvases, murals. This is a great opportunity because wall art, especially the stick-on kind, is very cheap to buy wholesale.  I’ve stressed kids and babies rooms because this is the type of wall art that sells the best.

Wooden Watches – Not a huge niche, but still big enough if you can find a supply of really nice looking wooden watches at a good price.

Bonsai Tree Seeds (not sure of the implications of importing these) – very, very popular right now and probably will remain so. You can get seeds for almost any bonsai you can imagine and on AliExpress these are very cheap with lots of good feedback from buyers. You would definitely need to find out about the implications of importing these into your own country.

Coloured Vegetable Seeds (same as above regarding importing) – think purple and yellow carrots for example. These coloured veggies are being sold in grocery shops all over the place now. It’s not just veggies either. Coloured flower seeds are also really hot.  If you’ve not seen them, these are multicoloured, or vividly coloured flowers and plants. Again, very cheap on AliExpress.

Melamine’Magic’Cleaning Sponges – cleans everything using only water. I remember several years back ‘magic cloths’ were hot. Magic sponges do the same thing. In other words, they clean almost anything, from upholstery to ovens, without using any detergent.  These sponges are selling a lot right now and this is another product that can be sourced very cheaply on AliExpress.

Messenger Bags – for men and women. Messenger bags are simply cross-body bags that come in various shapes, sizes, materials and designs.  The most profit is to be had from selling mid-priced bags at around the $40 – $70 range.  These bags are really ‘in’ at the moment, for both women AND men.

last year

Protect Your Personal Privacy by Using a Mailing Address

Protecting your personal privacy online is ultra-important, especially if the physical address you do business from is also your home address. You absolutely do not want to display your home address on your website, nor should you display your personal phone number either. The reasons for this should be obvious 🙂

However, if you do have an address on your website, it increases trust and this is especially true if you have an e-commerce store. As well as this, if you have a list of email subscribers, the can-spam laws dictate that you must have an address at the bottom of any correspondence that you send to your list.

So what’s the solution?

A dedicated mailing address in a country of your choice.

But this is expensive, right?

It can be, yes, but only if you expect to be getting a lot of mail to that address.  In practice, you will probably get no mail at all because you won’t be using the address for that purpose. You will be using it only to gain credibility on your website and to comply with can-spam laws when sending emails.

I recently came across a great little service called Clevver Mail. The basic plan (which is probably all you will need) only costs around $1 a month and in fact, it’s completely free for the first 6 months.  They currently have real addresses in 12 countries and can choose your address when you register.

So now you can get yourself a real address (not a PO box!), in a country of your choice and it won’t cost you a penny for 6 months 🙂


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