Report From eCom Chicago and an Old Beatles Song

By Cliff Ennico

October 25, 2016 6 min read

I just got back from speaking at this year's eCom Chicago conference for online retailers. A little history: About eight years ago, when eBay started cutting back on its popular outreach programs for eBay sellers, sellers started forming their own support groups called meetups. (For a complete list of all eBay meetup groups around the U.S., visit ebaysell.meetup.com.)

One of the earliest meetup groups was the Chicagoland Area eBay & eCommerce Sellers Meetup Group, founded in 2006. Today, the group is co-chaired by Rich and Nila Siok of Appealing Signs (a leading online purveyor of customized signs for small businesses) and Mark and Robin LeVine of Bubblefast (a leading online purveyor of packaging materials for online sellers). And the group boasts about 1,200 active members and sponsors the annual eCom Chicago conference in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

As new online platforms have come onto the scene, such as Fulfillment by Amazon and Etsy, the conference has expanded its scope beyond eBay to include sellers on other platforms. This year's event attracted over 250 sellers from all corners of the country and some of the top speakers on the national e-commerce circuit. Here are some tips and resources I learned about at the conference.

EBay auction expert Lynn Dralle has a new book out called "The 3rd 100 Best Things I've Sold on eBay." I love Lynn's books because they're fun reads about lots of things you have lying around in your attic that might actually fetch serious bucks on eBay. What's best about them is Lynn tells you how much she paid for an item, where she found it and how much she got for it on eBay.

Cynthia Stine, Amazon selling expert and author of "Suspension Prevention: Get Reinstated and Protect Your Amazon Seller Account," focused her presentation on new Amazon rules that will make it difficult for sellers to continue making serious money using "retail arbitrage" techniques (buying stuff, paying the full retail price and then selling it for even more money online).

Kathy Terrill, internet-marketing expert and former Hollywood actress (she played Lolly, the bar fly, on "All My Children," among other roles), said that there is a big difference between '"social media" and "selling media," explaining that if your primary objective on Facebook is to sell stuff you won't go very far.

Jennifer Dunn of TaxJar said that if you are trying to minimize your exposure to state sales tax, your best bet is to relocate your business to one of the NOMAD states that currently don't have sales tax (New Hampshire, Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Delaware).

Jeff Cohen of Seller Labs spoke about online reviews and Amazon's new rules requiring anyone posting a review on the site to clearly disclose any compensation — even a free T-shirt — they may have received in exchange for the review (for details, see the community guidelines on Amazon's website). Rachel Abbott of Bulq, a leading source for buying liquidation goods, said that in an effort to reach out to sellers who work from home or want to try liquidation for a minimal investment, Bulq now offers smaller cases (in addition to larger pallets), which deliver with $30 ground shipping to anywhere in the contiguous United States.

If you were trying to sell to lawyers, wouldn't you want to know how many people search keywords like "attorneys," "lawyers" or "legal counsel" online when looking for legal help? Keyword Inspector not only helps you figure out the best keywords for a particular online search but also helps you avoid legal trouble for keyword spamming (for example, using competitors' names as search terms).

And the fun doesn't stop there. Acting on a dare, I rewrote the lyrics of the old Beatles song "Taxman" and sang it at a karaoke event sponsored by Scanner Monkey during the conference (my first public vocal performance in 44 years — and probably my last). A video of my performance can be found on the eCom Chicago Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/eComChicago/ ).

The new song was called "They're Raising Taxes." Here are the lyrics I came up with (sung to the tune of "Taxman"):

"Let me tell you how it will be/

Whether it is Trump or Hillary/

They're raising taxes (yeaah, raising taaaxes).

"Should Congress change its hands this fall/

The Fairness Act* will make you crawl/

They're raising taxes (yeaah, raising taaaxes).

"They will raise income and payroll rates/

1099 your PayPal gate/

Pretty soon they'll even tax the air/

And will make you save Obamacare/

Taxes! (Bridge).

"Don't ask them what they want it for (ah, ah, Mrs. Clinton)/

Whoever wins you'll pay some more (ah, ah, Mr. Trump)/

They're raising taxes (yeaah, raising taaaxes).

"With a $20 trillion deficit/

Web sellers all will take the hit/

They're raising taxes (yeaah, raising taaaxes).

"And you'll need a good lawyer to survive!"

*A reference to the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act that is supported by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

OK, so they're no Bob Dylan lyrics. But if you infringe my copyright, you're toast.

Cliff Ennico ([email protected]) is a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS television series "Money Hunt." This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com.

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