Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Category: Business/Selling

UPCs

We decided to bite the bullet and get UPC codes for our drawer dividers when I found that we could purchase legit codes for $6 a piece. That way we can get our products into the Home and Garden store at Amazon (where a UPC is required) and out of the Office category (where a UPC is NOT required).

So, if you're thinking of selling a product in a retail establishment that requires a UPC code, don't take Amazon's support's their word that a single code will cost around $89. By shopping around, you'll find that you can spend hundreds of dollars on a single UPC through GS1 (formerly the UCC, Uniform Code Council) or much less through a UPC reseller. According to George J. Laurer, the inventor of the UPC, GS1 has grown too big for its britches (my paraphrase), and is now requiring initiation fees and yearly dues in addition to UPC purchase fees (which are determined by the answers you provide to their nosey questions about your projected earnings, etc.) Sheesh!

Luckily for little guys like you and me, some forward thinking individuals/companies made bulk UPC purchases years ago, and their numbers do not fall under these post-2002 guidelines and extraneous fees. They are available for a single low purchase price, with no annual fees, no questions, and the numbers will be yours for keeps.

I know, I know. I was skeptical too until one supplier pointed me to Laurer's personal website where he explains the whole messy situation and links out to legitimate resellers that he has personally checked out. That's how I found Bar Codes Talk, Inc.

After making my purchase, I was supplied with my UPC numbers and a copy of my supplier's certificate from the UCC. More importantly, Amazon is recognizing my numbers as legit.

A downside of all this is that switching stores within Amazon will make us lose our reviews and the beloved buy box. Concerning the buy box, I've been told that we should win it back within a month at the most.

The Buy Box is Mine!

Yes! We won the buy box for our drawer dividers - all 3 sizes - at Amazon! (Did I tell you we added another size? Customer feedback requested a medium height, so now we have 4.5" high ones available too.)

I thought I might get a congratulatory e-mail from Amazon. But no. We just *happened* to view our listings last night, and there they were, shouting their eligibility for Super Saver Shipping in beautiful bold font. I had checked our buy box status just a couple of days ago, so this must have happened very recently. Bring on the orders!

Selling on Amazon – the Ups and Downs of Getting Started


The Amazon selling has gone reasonably well, though not without bumps along the way. I sent our second box out last week since our inventory was getting a bit low. So that's a good thing. Our products are actually selling in spite of the "new seller" handicaps we're enduring.

We read the Amazon seller manual, but it was not readily apparent that newly listed products (as in, those never seen before on Amazon) would not qualify for an Amazon buy box. You may be wondering, "What is a buy box?"

Since Amazon is a seller of new and used products, anyone - retailers or not - can sell items on Amazon. So, if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer to sell, you can find the Kitchen Aid mixer like the one you have on Amazon, click the "Sell yours now" button, and put up your own Kitchen Aid listing. When buyers search for a Kitchen Aid mixer and come to the detail page describing the mixer you have, if they click to "buy now" or "add to cart", you're particular mixer will not be the item they will buy because you are not the featured merchant, and therefore do not have the "buy box." To purchase your particular mixer, a buyer would need to click the "New and Used" link on the Kitchen Aid detail page, where all other listings from non-featured merchants and resellers would be located.

So, retailers are competing to be the featured merchant. The featured merchant is the one who makes the sale if you just click to buy new (or add to cart), the button shown on the detailed listing page. All other merchants make their sales through the "new and used" listings. So, being the featured merchant, and therefore the winner of the buy box, is a coveted thing.

Now, it seems like, Continue reading

Our Cimple Drawer Divider


So, here it is. Our Cimple (pronounced "simple") drawer divider that is now available on Amazon. I had been eying a similar product, a spring-loaded drawer divider, wondering how we could make something similar sans spring.

I mentioned it to Marathon, and after a month or 2 he had some ideas. He started experimenting, and the Cimple expandable divider was born.

We've since come up a use for it that we didn't initially have in mind. It's to use the Cimple as a shelf divider. I organized our bathroom closet about 5 weeks ago. It has NEVER looked so tidy for so long. I haven't had to spruce it up a bit since - not once. Do I sound like a commercial? 😉 Here are before and after picture. See what I mean?

Before...

After...
Cimple drawer divider used as a shelf divider

I haven't organized our school books for the next school year yet (I need to do this soon!), but I'll be using Cimples as shelf dividers to organize them: this section for Carman, this one for Sudoku, one for Doodle, one for me that will include our read-alouds, one for library books, etc.

The drawer dividers work nicely in drawers too. 🙂 We're currently making them in 3" and 6" high versions.

Anonymous feedback below.

The Amazon selling, like all things, has a learning curve, and we've had some unexpected bumps in the road. More on that another time...

Last Week – Bar Codes and a Cast


Whew. Last week was an unusual one for us. For starters, Marathon's slightly famous brother came to visit, which is always fun.

While he was here Carman fell/jumped off our rope swing and broke his right arm. Hence the green (his color choice) cast that should come off in 4 weeks. In the meantime, no cycling or swimming. Ouch! During his past few sedentary days, he's been doing some extra reading, learning some music theory and some very basic chords on the guitar (primarily using his left hand.) Tonight he called us all outside to see a beautiful sunset - something I don't remember him doing before.

The second bit of news is that we're going to (hopefully) be selling a couple of Marathon's organizing products on Amazon very soon. To do this, we had to get a very official-looking bar code sticker to put on our products which should be arriving at an amazon.com fulfillment center soon. We're anxious to see how this goes. We had thought about doing this sometime in the future. After talking about and researching it last Sunday afternoon, we decided to go for it. Thursday morning, in our pajamas, we finished pulling things together and sealed our shipping box.

What are we selling? It's something I've been planning to blog about for a while. It's a nifty little product for which we keep finding practical uses. More on that soon.

Something About Customer Reviews

First talk about the problems with customer reviews at present:

  • People with a life won't take the time. What's the incentive?
  • It can be gamed -- classic example for us is the totally gamed reviews on "Virgin Suicides" at Amazon.
  • Usually people with a life won't leave a review until they've had a bad experience. This tilts things toward the negative.

So, is there a better model for reviews? Here are a few that show promise:

  • Reviews by people you know. There is accountability in knowing that your own friends and family will be relying on the veracity of your review.
  • Reviews that are totally unsolicited and given by high-velocity reviewers. High-velocity, semi-pro reviewers will be hard to convince to participate in "gaming" and they will give reviews that are both good and bad.

Link to Review site. Info on them:

  • Syndicate to Buy.com, AOL, Yahoo, and Smarter.com
  • Pay $10 for reviews in high-demand categories, $2 for others
  • Very few reviews are rejected
  • Your reviews must be for a specific product/model on their list

The Motherlode of Homeschool Books

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I just learned that I should write motherlode and not motherload. Marathon informed me. Here is the definition of motherlode: the main vein of ore in a region, an abundant rich source. Motherload, on the other hand, is considered slang. Now I know.

Tuesday I got a mass e-mail from a friend who is moving. She didn't want to cart all of her homeschooling material with her since her kids will be in "regular" school this year. All of her material needed to go, so she was ready to let them go cheaply. I quickly jumped on it all. Continue reading

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