Monday, August 20, 2012

Fulfillment by Amazon personal review.

I considered fulfillment  for a while, I mean how great is it to have Amazon ship your items for you!  Your products are then opened up to Amazon Prime members and you just sit back and relax and make money right?

To my disappointment its not turning out like I expected.

We sent in some of our bags that were big sellers. We kept getting notifications about the item suggested for fulfillment.   We were selling it on Amazon for just over $13, we ran calculations and it suggested that it was not a good idea but I wanted to try it out thinking we could move inventory quickly.   We are not a huge operation and we use the USPS so  our overhead is not that much, for now anyway.

We shipped 3 at first and left the price at just over $13. Within a day of them getting it, they sold all 3 of them. Then I checked the calculations, after all the fees Amazon was charging we were even, you cant run a business 'making even'. There is the cost of the item, inbound fright, outbound fright and all the fees Amazon charges.  So I increased the price by just under $3 and shipped out 3 more.  Those 3 sold quickly again so I shipped a dozen this time and within a few days of Amazon receiving it they sold 4 again. I looked again at what I was getting in and surprised to find that the fees increased and I was making even less then before! What the heck happened?

After calling them today I found out the items I sent are considered OVERSIZE by .3"... what the heck! I personally fold the bags and well they should not be OVERSIZE! Amazon is now charging me a fee for oversize so instead of fees just under $5 now fees are over $9!

Can I increase the prices of these items to $20? Should I request them to be returned?  They would charge me 60 cents per item to return them.  Im increasing the price to just under $18 lets see what happens. If they dont sell quickly I will just return lower price to sell them out and go back to selling them myself.

Ive also sent some toys I have sitting here which have not sold either. Its been a month so Im not too worried about it just yet.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Buyers leaving negative feedback.

It does not matter what platform you sell on anything they allows the buyer to leave feedback about their experience is what Im talking about.

Call me crazy but if you go to a website and purchase a widget thats marked for $12 and the shipping says $9 and you go and purchase the item, and pay, you should not be able to come back and complain that the shipping costs were too high!

Whos with me?

Seriously folks. If you agree to the amounts shown then you should not complain later. If the prices are too high for you then dont purchase the item.

We recently rec'd feedback on our Amazon store that surprised me.  The buyer states that they were never told of the prices that they would have to pay.  WHAT?   How is that even possible? I know prices are shown as well as shipping costs, not only that everyone gets an email confirmation showing them what they purchased along with the costs involved.  Both eBay and Amazon do this as well as any purchase any one makes with any program!  Nothing is a surprise or hidden from anyone and anytime.

Now this buyer was in international person. We personally do not ship first class internationally from our sales on Amazon, it just takes too long.  So all our international purchases show up as priority mail ONLY which yes it is higher priced and honestly I should just block international purchases but I dont I just jump the shipping costs to discourage buyers.   But again, you will see how much the shipping costs are BEFORE you pay.  In this case it was well over $20 but thats not my problem is it?

So the buyer also complains that they had to pay VAT charges which increased their purchase by $6 US. Now my first thought was, what the heck is a VAT charge? It stands for Value Added Tax.  This is what people have to pay when their item is over a certain amount of money.  This is a country specific rule and well sellers cant guess what it will be or pay it in advance.  Its clearly posted on Amazons website that they buyer is responsible for any taxes or duties required by their country.

I did request that Amazon remove the feedback but since the buyer says within it that he's unhappy about the shipping charges they wont remove it. It does not fall under their requirements for removal.

Im done ranting.

If you buy something you shouldnt not complain about the amount of money you spent to get it since you agreed to it!

Our first festival doing glitter tattoos!

This this past weekend was our first attempt at selling glitter tattoos at an event.

Here is the 'booth' - its hard to see but we had a very high table in the back with high chairs so we can stand and work on the tattoos.  I realize that next time this table should be on the side or towards the front as people would be looking at our backs when they walked by.    Changes for the next set up for sure.

Ignore the box of flip-flops lol.  I used to to hold up our sign that we created, the wind blew it down a few times. 
On the sign are our stencils in black and white, my lovely assistant create this for us and it was a hit!   She also helped with this wheel that had everyone flocking to our booth.

At first we were all shaking! But after a few successful tattoos we were confident in our ability.  This young boy wanted the flaming skull and I only had large ones. But I gotta say it came out fantastic!  It appeared huge on his arm.

We did give away petites when people spun the wheel and some people even upgraded. The Petites were priced at $2, standard 2x2 size were $5 and larger ones were $8, I have a few that are $10 and $15 but those are very large. One is a necklace choker which is beautiful and we also have butterfly wings. I cant wait to use those.  During the event we sold over 45 tattoos as well as local themed shirts and hats. 

Honestly I got a little apprehensive when these young girls wanted the tattoos on their bellies and while they all came out amazing I couldnt get myself to take an image. 

Please view our Facebook and Pinterest for all the tattoos we have created. We cant wait to do parties!! Please contact us for details. 

Facebook link here

Follow us on twitter

Pinterest Images here

Our Website

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Glitter Tattoo how to tutorial

Glitter Tattoo How to tutorial
First step is to decide that stencil you want and where. Glitter Tattoos placed on hands will not last as long as ones placed on shoulders, back or legs.  Be sure to remove lotion from the skin, they will not stick if you have lotion or sunscreen on! 
Remove Backing
Place Stencil

Step one:  Locate the area to place stencil, wipe down with alcohol if needed. With a triple layer stencil remove backing and place stencil. Press stencil to ensure it is completely flat.  Be sure if the subject has stretched/flexed/relaxed the location that they keep it that way or the stencil, glue and glitter will shift or crack. 

Thin layer of glue
Step two:  Place a thin layer of glue on the open parts of the stencil.  Glue entire image with a thin layer be sure NOT to place too much glue. Glue will be white when applying, allow the glue to semi dry, it will become clear.  At this point you can remove the stencil or not. It depends for me on how much details and how many colors are going into the stencil.  They can mix if not dont properly.  If its easy and one color remove it, if your not sure and need a guide leave it on.
Add glitter
Step three:  Start using your brushes and lift the glitter onto the area.  We have a variety of brushes, use what you feel comfortable with. Some times place something underneath the person to ‘catch’ falling glitter will help with clean up.  Working on a shoulder you will want to have them lift their arm so that the glitter does not fall all over the place. 

Remove Stencil
Step Four: Once all area has been covered with glitter use another brush and remove the excess, then lift the stencil off. If some of the stencil is still left on there use a pair of blunt tweezers to remove what gets left. 
Use tweezers for left pieces 

Step five:  Clean off area and your all done!

All done

Glitter Tattoos


Glitter Tattoos
A few months ago we were introduced to glitter tattoos. At one of the business expos they were giving everyone tattoos to try and sell the product. I was hooked immediately but did not place an order for a few months.   After much research we decided to purchase kits to sell in our store and online stores.   They were slow moving but they have picked up quickly especially after that informercial was viewed on TV. 

Double Heart
We have been practicing for the past few months on kids that come into our store and on each other. We now offering glitter tattoo parties in the hope to give people more options then just the usual boring same ‘ol things.

triple crescent 
August 12 is our annual town festival and we will be offering glitter tattoos for sale.  Watch out for coupons we are giving out randomly to customers and friends. 

Ive attached images of some styles we have created.

Cupcake, Lotus, Hearts, triple crescent, 'like' - 
These are standard 2x2 size and we charge $5 to create tattoo. We have 18 colors currently. We also offer larger stencils for a little more $8 and petite ones for just $2. They take about 3-5 minutes to create and can last up to 7 days.

We also offer parties starting at just $75 for the first hour. Please contact us for exact details.

Having a glitter tattoo party is so much fun! Tired of the same ol thing, try this.  They are water proof, last 3-7 days We have tons of stencils and can match your theme!  Princess, Superheroes, Young Characters like Elmo, Dora, even Perry the Platypus!

Want to do them yourself? We sell Glitter Tattoo kits that contain glitter, glue, brushes, stencils and instructions. Come by our store OR visit our ebay store.  We also sell stencils as add ons for your kits.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Accepting Credit Cards and opting to use SquareUp

Accepting Credit Cards and opting to use SquareUp
So we signed up for Square back in October 2011.  We opened a Brick and Mortar and decided it was time to accept credit cards.  We actually started looking into accepting credit cards the year before June 2010.  It was scary and all the details they provided was like being in a horror movie.  
First the explained that we needed a machine, it could be leased or purchased.  Then there was a statement fee, a monthly fee, a quarterly fee, a swipe fee,  minimum charge fee.  Talk about overwhelming!   I calculated that I would have had to swipe some where in the neighborhood of $1500 or more a month to create at the minimum requirements of $25 a month in fees.   Can I predict I would get that much in sales? No. Should I take the chance? Well I didnt want to. Since they were contracts and I would have to pay the monthly fee, plus the statement fee, plus the quarterly fee etc.  Can you take that chance?  I decided against it. 
It was a good choice as the walk in cliental was very small for my location.  After about a year and moving to a few new locations we moved to where we are now. Its rather large  location and to me its finally a real store front.  Since moving into this location we have had a number of bank representatives come by and ask me about signing up for credit cards.  We’ve turned them all down, instead I signed up for Square Up.
It was easy to do and quick.  Shortly after registering for the program we got the square device.  I didnt want to commit to a lease and getting stuck in it.  Since we are fairly new we dont get much foot traffic yet! Majority of our sales are still from our online sources. 
The very first time I used Square I was nervous but it was quick and easy.  You enter the dollar amount, sales tax was already set up which it added automatically, swipe the card in the reader.  It authorizes the charge, then asks for signature, after signature capture it has the ability to email or text a receipt. Its great when we have events outdoors.  Emails are sent to us within minutes of the amount swiped along with the amount due to us, which is the amount swiped less the 2.75%.
I personally have never had an issue with Square since using it for the past year. It may seem like the rates are high but at 2.75% it may even average out when other people are paying. With various credit cards out there, rates vary. I was told there are dozens of pages with rates. How can you calculate the rate? You really cant because there are too many variables.  With Square its just one fixed rate for EVERY card you swipe. Even American Express which many people know the rates can be extremely hard. Many businesses dont even accept Amex cards.  
They deposit nightly the amount AFTER the fees are taken which is nice, the money is in my account quickly. We have never had a large swipe where Square holds the funds. I have heard stories of people having this issue.  Unfortunately we have not had consistent enough sales to justify getting a credit card machine yet.  Like I said before we would have to have over $1500 in swipes to get a credit card merchant account.  
Over the course of the months we have been using Square we got an iPad. The screen is larger for signatures but people are still accidentally hitting the continue button while signing the pad. It also frees up my phone, I have alarms that would go off when people were signing. Or a text message would come thru and it was becoming annoying.  So I invested in an iPad to separate the two.  Because the application was on my personal phone it meant I had no credit card machine when I was unavailable. It also meant that any one I hired would have to download that app and use it on their personal phone. Do you want to give someone that kind of access on their personal?  I think it was a wise decision to get the iPad that way it can stay here when I am not here, and any staff I may hire can use the device.
Now because I have a physical store AND I occasionally head out to private events I looked into getting another Square device and instead opted getting a completely second program called GoPayment by Intuit. 
The device from GoPayment is bulky and large to me, but we are used to Square which is neat and compact.  I only used it at one location so far and I personally am not crazy about it.  The device kept giving me issues with connections, it continued to ask to raise the volume so it can work properly.  Then when I was ready it wanted me to swipe the credit cards first, then enter a dollar amount which was strange.  After entering the amount then it requested the signature. It worked fine but it seemed backwards.  They took a while before the deposit was done. Even though my ‘swipes’ were all done the same night, the deposits were split in two.  What was even more strange was that they deposited the whole amount of the swipe then took out the fee amount. Then at the end of the month they took more money out!  I was shocked and called and they explained that some cards have various rates! Imagine that!   The various rates are because of rewards cards and Amex and such. Here we are thinking GoPayment is a flat rate and its not.  So I had to call to get clarification.  They informed me that a regular swipe was 2.7%, Amex was 2.89% and reward/specialty cards are 3.7%.  The thing was they didnt know what was a reward card until the end of the month and thats why the took more money out of my account at the end of the month.  I have not used it since but I do have it just in case. 
Neither one has monthly fees so its not a bad idea to keep it even if I do ever get an actual credit card machine. 
Would I recommend it? Yes of course. Its easy, quick and a great alternative to being trapped into a lease or contract of some sort.  Its perfect to start off your business.
I think the biggest thing is that all my customers get a kick out it. LOL

We recently downloaded the Square Up cash register, while we have not tried to officially we hope too. WIll post once that happens.