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Should Wholesalers Spend Money on Trade Shows?

Friday December 9, 2011

Wholesalers always ask me whether they should invest and sell products at trade shows. And it's a legitimate question because trade shows trade shows can be incredibly expensive. When you start adding up hotel rooms, airfare, booth equipment, product samples, etc, you start to question whether it makes sense. So should you invest? Well my answer is simple, it depends on what you are trying to accomplish! Let me explain...

When I started in the wholesale product business, I tried a few trade shows and they were not as successful as I hoped. I also worked for a product company that was pretty tight on cash, so it wasn't the most enjoyable experience either. The truth is that the product company I worked for was testing out the concept of selling direct to buyers verses selling at shows. So he was analyzing how we were selling at the show very closely. In the end, he felt that selling at shows was not worth the investment. And I believe in his case, he was right. He was in the accessory business and had been selling to retailers for a while. Although buyers loved his inexpensive quality wares, it was hard to differentiate himself from his competitors at the shows. There were too many other products that were similar to his, so it made it really hard to differentiate from the competition. Now, he did build relationships and capture some new business, but it wasn't the same for his business as contacting buyers directly.

Now with that said, I've watched other product companies absolutely explode in sales revenue simply because they invested in trade shows. Retail buyers were clamoring to order these products. I remember this one product company that showcased their products at the National Hardware Show. This company could not stop getting retail orders from buyers! It was incredible to watch!

Why do you suppose this one product company did so well at this show?

I personally believe it was because the product company offered a unique product that had great packaging. I also believe it was because their brand, marketing collateral and their booth made it very clear that they were retail ready! Buyer's love that!

What do I mean by retail ready? It means that this product company had pricing, shipping, packaging packaging, marketing collateral and order forms that included quantities available ready to go. Basically, they made it so easy for buyer's to purchase quickly and easily.

Also, it was very clear that the product company was ready for business! The booth looked professional and visually appealing and the products were laid out in such a way that it was easy for the buyer's to review efficiently.

People don't realize how visual Buyers are. They hate having to try and figure out what you are trying to sell. They want it organized for them so they can pick products and move onto the next. If they see chaos, they will ignore!

Now all of this might seem pretty obvious to you, but you'd be surprised at how many product company's fail at trade shows because of these simple strategies! I see it all the time! Product companies assume that because they have a great product, the buyer's won't mind spending some time with them. But this is not always the case. Buyers avoid headaches like the plague and if your booth doesn't have the basic information that they need, they will not spend time with you.

So to answer the question about spending money on trade shows...I say go for it! Just make sure you spend the time thinking through how you can make it easy for buyers to buy from you quickly and easily.

How Do I Sell a Product?

Wednesday November 30, 2011

The most commonly asked question I receive is how do I sell a product. As a Sales Professional, I actually spend most of my time doing essential research and developing an awesome plan prior to spending a dime or effort on my sales and marketing efforts.

Creating a plan in advance can save you a tremendous amount of time, money and headache. And more importantly a quality sales plan will help you generate more revenue than you ever thought possible.

To help you get started, I've included three things to think about when you want to sell a product and create a revenue generating sales plan:

1) Who Really Needs Your Product

There is a big difference between someone really liking your product and someone who actually really needs it. This can be the difference between someone opening up their purse strings or not. Most product entrepreneurs tell me that nobody really 'needs' their product, but is that really true? The truth is that ALL of the money I've made in sales over the years have come from figuring out who really NEEDS my customer's products verses who just WANTS these products.

And I always take the time to really think this through. Sometimes it comes to me immediately; sometimes it comes to me many months later. But it is always worth the outcome. Why? Because I know that when I come up with that 'needy' customer, I will probably have no competition in that marketplace because my competitors probably haven't thought about that angle yet. And at the end of the day, this means more money for me.

Here's an example of 'needy' customers:

I have one student who invented an awesome cosmetic line for people who excessively sweat. Wouldn't this product be perfect for women going through menopause? Women with Menopause have such a hard time with hot flashes; this product could really solve an embarrassing problem!

Or what about the student that created a headphone that you can wear comfortably when you sleep. It's basically a soft cloth headband with headphones in it. Although this is perfect for people trying to sleep, wouldn't it also be great for people in cold regions such as New York, where people cover their ears and listen to music as well?

The possibilities are endless! Your goal is to come up with as many 'needy' potential customers as you can. If you really took the time to think this through, you'd realize that there might be several types of customers that actually NEED your product. And once you uncover them, then you are on your way to financial success!

2) Who Has Money to Buy Your Product?

Once you come up with a list of 'needy' customers, Try and narrow it down to those that have money to buy. And if not more money to buy, then a large enough audience that will give you the biggest return.

Let's use the example of my student with the headphones. Another possible customer that would need this product is people with sleeping disorders. Now this target market is huge, but unless I research and make sure that I know that there are enough places that sell products to people with sleeping disorders, then I will not start by focusing on this audience.

Why? Because mass retailers would probably love this item, especially as a holiday gift, and targeting these mass retailers first would probably make my student money more quickly.

Basically, all I'm trying to do is to figure out which audience to focus in on first, second, third, etc. And then develop a plan around this.

3) Develop Your Marketing Collateral Accordingly

Once you've outlined your plan as to who to focus on, the next step is to ensure that your marketing collateral and packaging is in alignment with this plan. If you are focusing on women with menopause, then you better explain all of the reasons why your product is perfect for this target audience! Having packaging that focuses on a general audience will not intrigue this potentially 'needy' audience!

4) Find These Customers Quickly

Now you need to figure out where these customers hang out. Where do they shop? What retailers sell to them today? Once you've done your research and put it in your plan, then you will be ready to go! If you want to sell to stores, contact the retail buyers immediately about your new product. Focus on the particular audience you want to help them sell to. The retail buyers will love that you've done your research. Especially since your product is relevant to their customer base. By doing this work in advance, you will be able to start selling your products today!

Toy Industry Association For Wholesalers

Monday November 21, 2011

Most trade associations aren't known for fun and games, but most trade associations aren't the TIA. Around since 1916, when it got its start as Toy Manufacturers of America, the Toy Industry Association has represented the interests of producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America. It represents over 500 manufacturers and vendors comprising over 85% of the United States toy market.

The TIA's membership, which includes toy manufacturers and vendors, as well as members of peripheral areas like testing laboratories, promote the growth and image of the toy industry through trade shows and philanthropic organizations like the Toy Industry Foundation.

Its signature annual trade show, the Toy Fair, celebrates its 109th year in New York in February 2012. The TIA expects some 1,100 exhibitors from over 100 countries. The show, open only to industry professionals and vendors, is a fantastic opportunity to show off the latest in toys and games, and to network with others in the business. To help ensure success for exhibitors, the Fair's website features a free exhibitor's guide, and additional promotional opportunities such as signage, on-site sponsorships, advertising in the Toy Fair Times, and even costumed characters. The opportunities are huge at this premier showcase.

The night before the show opens, the TIA hosts the Toy of the Year awards, which it calls the "Oscars" of the toy industry. Out of some 500 products submitted for consideration, 12 will receive awards in categories such as Boy Toy and Girl Toy of the Year; Preschool Toy of the Year; Outdoor Toy of the Year; and Innovative Toy of the Year.

In addition to the Toy Fair, the TIA plans to host the PlayCon (formerly ToyCon) in Washington, DC, in May of 2012. PlayCon promises to offer a "shared networking and educational experience for toy and youth product decision-makers" with networking events, presentations by successful vendors, and interactive breakout sessions.

But the TIA's activities clearly aren't child's play. The Association has long advocated responsibility for toy makers, and developed the first toy safety standards. As part of its commitment to safety, the TIA's website features a wealth of safety information for both parents and industry professionals. You can link to sites devoted to toy safety standards, including the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and the International Council of Toy Industries' comprehensive listing of worldwide toy safety and manufacturing standards. For parents and caregivers, the TIA offers the sister website ToyInfo.org, with the latest news and information on the toy industry. The "Safety 24/7" link provides tips for choosing safe, appropriate toys for the kids in your life, and you can check the toy recalls link to make sure you don't have a recalled product in your home. You can also download free the brochures Fun Play, Safe Play; Let's Play: Toys for Children with Special Needs; and Play is Forever: A Playbook for All Ages.

In keeping with the TIA's mission of advocacy of the industry, their website also offers education sessions for aspiring toy vendors and manufacturers. TIA's website offers a variety of education sessions that will help with everything from "Developing Media and Marketing Strategies," "Preparing for a Product Recall or Crisis," "Communicating to Kids," and "Toy Fair Safety and Legislative Update," all designed to keep industry professionals up-to-date and prepared for success.

With the United States toy industry estimated to be worth over $21 billion annually, and the worldwide market worth some $80 billion per year, toy manufacturers, vendors, and importers need optimum support to reach the broadest market possible. TIA has proven itself as a premier advocate of toy industry professionals, and offers numerous opportunities for marketing and sales.

American Craft Retailers Expo For Wholesalers

Thursday November 17, 2011

Orlando will play host to the American Craft Retailers Expo from January 21-23, 2012. This is the second year ACRE will be in Orlando. Wholesalecrafts.com, who produces the Expo, was prompted to create the Orlando ACRE following the enormous success of their original show, ACRE Las Vegas, which is enjoying its fifth year.

Founded in 1998, Wholesalecrafts.com joins American and Canadian wholesale artists with retailers interested in selling their handicrafts. The ACRE, along with the online marketplace and quarterly buyers' guide, is part of the company's strategy for helping the 1,300 artisans it represents to sell their products.

ACRE Orlando will feature products in juried showcases including Handmade Jewelry, Handmade Gifts and Accessories, Handmade Wearable Art, The Gallery of Fine Crafts, The Gallery of Fine Jewelry, and One-of-A-Kind. The Fine Crafts and Fine Jewelry galleries feature products that wholesale for $100 and up, while the One-of-A-Kind showcase features items selling for $500 or more. Handmade Wearable art includes unique and beautiful clothing in all styles, as well as leather goods. The show features hundreds of established artists exhibiting their handmade goods, as well as "Emerging" artists who are new to trade shows. Products on display will include jewelry, watches, stained glass, metalware, stationery, home furnishings, decorative items, wall art and artistic prints, and pottery. Items range from the purely decorative to the totally practical.

The show also contains a Retailer Resource area, where exhibitors can get help and information with sales and marketing, and support from industry group CRAFT (Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow).

In order to exhibit at ACRE Orlando, exhibitor wares must be handmade in the United States or Canada, and must be unique items that are not crafted from a kit. Artists are screened based on an application process and photos they submit to the show, ensuring that the show's offerings are top quality, unique, and desirable. Jurors at the show are successful artists, gallery owners, and vendors from all over the United States.

ACRE also offers a number of educational presentations and seminars intended to help exhibitors have a successful show and to have further success in marketing their products to attendees and online. Presentations, most of which are free of charge, begin on January 20 and extend throughout the run of the show. Presenters are successful entrepreneurs and consultants with years of successes to share with other vendors. Topics include Exhibitor Sales Tips, Social Media Marketing, Hiring and Retaining Employees, Branding Your Business, and How to Increase Sales in Tough Economic Times. Exhibitors can even sign up for a free critique of their booth to ensure that they attract maximum attention during the show. As an added bonus, exhibitors get a free year of Wholesalecrafts.com web service.

Of course, ACRE will offer opportunities for vendors, attendees, and others to meet, greet, and network, starting with a networking reception on January 21st. The show's website also features a vendor directory, floor plan, and free show planner so that attendees can map out their visit.

For this second show, ACRE is once again partnering with the Orlando Gift Show, co-locating and co-promoting the two shows together. The Orlando Gift Show also features the Orlando Cash & Carry Show, a "show within a show" that features gift items available for immediate delivery to retailers. This complimentary combination of shows will provide even more opportunities for visibility and foot traffic.

Wholesalecrafts.com recently reported that the third quarter of 2011 was its best quarter ever. As is also indicted by the proliferation and growing popularity of similar web-based handicraft markets like etsy.com and tenthousandvillages.com, all indicators suggest that the market for handmade and unique items is growing. Shows like ACRE allow vendors the chance for face-to-face interaction with potential customers and buyers.

Retail Holiday Sales Start Early This Year

Monday November 7, 2011

If it seems like retailers have moved up the holiday shopping schedule, you're right. Many revenue-hungry chain stores are hoping to jump-start their holiday sales - and profits - by offering deals and bargains to cost-conscious shoppers even ahead of the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush.

Typically, Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - is the official start of the Christmas shopping season, with customers lining up overnight to take advantage of deep discount "door buster" deals. But this year, with the economy still in the doldrums, retailers are hoping ever earlier deals will get shoppers in the door.

Take retail behemoth Wal-Mart, for example. It is hosting "Super Saturday", with door buster-style deals to customers, including deep discounts on such products as the e-reader Kindle and the Xbox 360. They've also re-introduced layaway to attract customers who want to buy for Christmas but are reluctant to put their purchases on a credit card. Wal-Mart has also rolled out a Christmas Price Guarantee Program that offers a gift card to shoppers who buy an item at Wal-Mart between November 1 and December 25, and then find it somewhere else for less.

Toys R Us is also doing door buster deals this Saturday, and heavily advertising the event on TV. The toy retailer also announced plans to enhance its Rewards R Us program, where members will get 10 percent back on purchases, plus coupons for customers who spend more than $200 between October 30 and December 24. About 24 million people are in the rewards program, with 2 million signing up last year alone. Members generally get $5 back for every $150 they spend.

Meanwhile, Kmart and Sears stores now offer the Shop Your Way rewards program, which offers rebates on purchases if you have a store credit card. Sears is also offering price matching for savvy shoppers who do their homework. Retail chains Kohl's, Macy's, and Target have all announced aggressive Black Friday plans, opening their stores at midnight on Thanksgiving in hopes of snaring bargain-crazed shoppers.

All of this indicates how savvy retailers have become in realizing how their shoppers do business. They understand that more and more consumers research purchases online to find the best prices, and getting the best deal trumps any loyalty to a particular retailer. They know that shoppers can even do their research in the store, thanks to smartphone apps that allow them to compare prices on the spot.

All of these strategies may very well pay off. Retail consultancy Consumer Growth Partners recently predicted that holiday sales in 2011 will see their best year since 2004, rising 6.5 percent over 2010. While other predictions are more conservative, forecasting growth in the two to three percent range, Consumer Growth believes that the American consumer, after years of saving, paying off debt, and holding off other purchases, is finally ready to splurge a little. Craig Johnson, Consumer Growth Partners president, said in a written statement that "this will be a very happy holiday for most families -- and almost all retailers."

The National Retail Federation, while not predicting the same rate of overall growth, says that more shoppers will open their wallets to splurge - on themselves. Shoppers understand that there are great deals out there, and want to take advantage of them. The Federation also noted the large percentage of shoppers using their smartphones and tablet computers to help get the best deals, with 52.6 percent of people surveyed indicating they use the devices to help with shopping. A whopping seventy percent of tablet computer owners will use the device to plan their purchases, the Federation said.

Big Changes Coming To Chain Store Retailers

Monday October 31, 2011

The last twenty years or so has been all about the rise of chain store retailers and supercenters. Retailers were all about expansion, about building more and bigger stores. But as times and tastes change, a number of well-known retail chains in the United States are beginning to rethink the design and shelf content of their stores. The end result could be major changes in the look and feel of the stores where you shop.

Retail behemoth Wal-Mart is putting its stores on a diet. Although the chain is still opening supercenters, the new stores are a svelte 90,000 square feet, only about half the size of its traditional 185,000 square foot supercenters. The chain is also unveiling a new concept, Wal-Mart Express. The Express locations will be a super-skinny 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, and are designed to fit into areas where space is at a premium, such as urban locations.

Competitor Target is experimenting with a similar strategy. In order to fit into tighter spaces in big cities, the typical 135,000 square foot Target supercenter is giving way to stores measuring anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 square feet. Target is also looking to move into tight-squeeze Chicago, where it will open its new concept store, CityTarget, in July 2012. Other CityTarget locations are set to open in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle later that year.

Grocery chain Meijer is following the same trend, opening up new stores that are half the size of its traditional locations, and cutting back on the number and type of products being offered for sale.

Walgreens, the ubiquitous drugstore chain that recently bought competitor Duane Reade, is also exploring new marketing strategies. Many of its stores will begin offering services like eyebrow shaping, haircuts, and even manicures.

Food, Glorious Food

Retailers have figured out that food is a huge draw, attracting customers in the door who then purchase lots of other items. Wal-Mart plans to open more of its Neighborhood Market stores, and Target is stocking more fresh food to attract health-conscious shoppers.

Food inhabits the shelves in even less likely retail stores. Some Walgreens locations, for example, sell fresh fruit and even sushi. Most weeks, the drugstore's sale ad contains two-for-one deals and other bargains on food, hoping you'll buy some makeup or get a flu shot while you're there.

Even Dollar General is getting in on the act. The chain, which has traditionally stocked canned and other nonperishable foods, is looking to get into the grocery business with its Dollar General Market stores that carry meat, refrigerated foods, and produce. These stores tend to be twice as large as a usual Dollar General, showing that not all retailers are looking to downsize their stores. While the chain has only a handful of the Market stores - 60 Market stores out of about 10,000 locations overall - the chain says the concept has been hugely successful. As a result, the chain will open five new Market locations in Las Vegas, Dollar General's first stores in Nevada.

So why all the changes? The most obvious reason is, of course, profit. Lean and mean is the key to a better bottom line. If a retailer can stock a smaller, smarter, and more profitable mix of products, it can hold down the costs of extra space and utilities. Also, thanks to the Internet, many consumers have fewer reasons to come to brick-and-mortar stores, and a bloated, overstocked inventory can spell failure, as bookstore chain Borders learned this year. Finally, retailers are trying the new formats in an attempt to better fit the culture of their locations, which they believe makes their customers more comfortable - and more willing to open their wallets.

Tips For Coming Up With New Wholesale Product Ideas

Thursday October 27, 2011

Many wholesale product companies are constantly on the lookout for new concepts or inventions to develop to help generate additional revenue for their businesses. And it makes sense! The more products you offer that are unique, the more opportunity to grow your business.

But coming up with these great ideas are not as easy as these wholesale product companies' hope! So where should they look?

Below are seven potential sources for inspiration as your brainstorm for your first (or next!) wholesale product or invention idea.

1. Solve problems

There will always be a way to do something better, faster, or easier. Many inventions and products have come from people who were frustrated with a particular problem and solved it by creating something - only to discover many other people had the same problem and were willing to pay for something that fixed it. There are dozens of opportunities in everyday life to create a better way of doing something. Simply asking yourself, "How could I invent something to fix this?" may be the key to your next great product.

2. Follow a hot new trend

There's no need to reinvent the wheel. If there is a trend for a new product, take advantage of the momentum. For instance, while the iPod may be the most popular portable digital music player, there are dozens of similar (i.e. "copycat") products - all of which are generating profitable margins for their designers.

3. Improve an existing product

"Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door," or so the saying goes. A product can always be better, and you can reap the benefit of piggybacking off an existing product. Adding a safety feature to a tool, for example, may make it more appealing for industrial use; making something childproof may make it more appealing to parents and teachers.

4. Adapt a current product for a niche

You may not need to invent or improve an existing product at all. By repackaging it and marketing it to a specific audience, you may discover a vast untapped consumer segment. Duct tape, for instance, was primarily used by the military and then by contractors until it was repackaged and sold to the consumer market.

5. Compliment an existing product

Baseball cards were once a thriving industry (and are still quite profitable today). It didn't take long for manufacturers to produce complementary products, such as card protectors. Collectors, wanting to keep their cards in mint condition, readily bought individual protectors for their entire collection. Designers of existing products in the market may be overlooking similar opportunities.

6. Bring back a discontinued product

Who would imagine pencils were still a profitable market - much less a specialty pencil? And yet Charles Berolzheimer II is bringing back a pencil connoisseur's dream - the Blackwing 602. Another example is toy manufacturers playing to nostalgia and reproducing toys many middle-aged and even Baby Boomers played with in their childhood.

7. Poll your current customers

You may discover a wealth of ideas in your current customers. They likely have problems they need solved or have spotted other ideas which would make a great product. (How many people have you heard utter the phrase, "I wonder why someone doesn't come up with a way to _____" or, "Why doesn't someone make _____?")

Ideas, like opportunities, are everywhere. The trick is to keep your eyes open. Louis Pasteur said, "Chance favors only the prepared mind." Be on the lookout for new invention ideas and soon your only problem will be deciding which one is the most profitable to pursue.

SPREE Show Coming to Vegas!

Wednesday October 19, 2011

Are you a cart or kiosk retailer? Temporary retailer? Leasing or mall manager? Gift store owner? Retailer operating from an airport or online? Are you an entrepreneur seeking new opportunities for exposure of your newest and most unique products, or perhaps just looking for the best locations to sell your goods? If you fit into any of these categories, the SPREE Show, coming next April to Las Vegas, could be the venue for you!

So, are you a specialty retailer? Specialty retailers are businesses that limit their product lines to one or a few related goods, and cater to a very particular clientele. Unlike big-box stores, specialty retailers carry just a few different varieties of a particular product, so that discerning consumers can get exactly what they want.

SPREE bills itself as the world's largest expo for the cart, kiosk, and temporary retail industry. Last year was the show's best attended event ever, with over 2,500 attendees and 300 booths. This is a huge opportunity for retailers to show their wares to a wide and diverse audience. Attendance is free - just register on the show's website, and you'll get full access to the exhibit hall, seminars, and networking events; this translates into a huge incentive to attend, making the promise of new business all the greater for exhibitors. The show apparently is a big hit with attendees; over 90% said they would go back to SPREE, were satisfied with the exhibitors, and would recommend it to others.

According to the show's organizers, specialty retailing is the fastest-growing segment in retailing, resulting in huge opportunities for entrepreneurs in this area. The show promises to offer lots of fun opportunities for networking. And the show's location in the nonstop party that is Las Vegas is sure to attract thousands from all over the globe.

For exhibitors, SPREE offers generous opportunities for exposure before, during, and after the Las Vegas show. Your company can be featured in both the Winter and Spring issues of the Specialty Retail Report before the show. During the show, your company can get space in the SPREE 2012 Show Book, and different levels of sponsorship allow you to choose your booth size, placement, visibility in show tote bags, and exposure in the SPREE Mobile App. For an extra fee, you can sponsor computer kiosks, social events, or have the show distribute notepads or pens with your logo to attendees. Additional opportunities are provided by being a sponsor at the Specialty Retail Summit, or by volunteering to speak. Best of all, for a full year after the show closes its doors, your company will have a "booth" in Virtual SPREE, an online version of the physical show, allowing you ongoing exposure and access to potential customers with a brief description, picture of your booth, and contact information.

SPREE also promises international exposure, boasting past participants from such far-flung places as Russia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Japan, Israel, and Taiwan. Specialty retail is a flourishing area in these economies, and SPREE is an ideal opportunity to break into these new markets.

Another opportunity to promote your company and products is the Specialty Retail Hall of Fame Awards, presented during the show. These awards recognize the Outstanding Retailer of the Year, Outstanding Specialty Leasing Manager of the Year, and Outstanding Specialty Leasing Director of the Year. The Visual Victories Awards also celebrate the best in creative visual merchandising and appeal, with awards available in seven categories.

For the specialty retailer looking to make a name with customers, or looking for new customers in unlikely places, the SPREE show offers a unique opportunity to find and develop new business from all over the world!

SaleHoo: An Online Directory of Wholesale Suppliers

Thursday October 13, 2011

SaleHoo is an online directory of wholesale suppliers for various products. So, if you're an online retailer looking to find great deals wholesale on the products you want to resell, SaleHoo can direct you to all sorts of products, including brand names like Nike, Prada, Apple, Sony, and Gucci.

Online retailers have a variety of options for obtaining their products, including wholesalers, liquidators, buying direct from the manufacturer, or using a drop shipper. SaleHoo puts all of these resources in a single place, making the retailer's search for new products to sell quicker and easier. SaleHoo boasts a supplier list of over 8,000 throughout the United States, Canada, China, Europe, and Australia.

Why SaleHoo? The great thing about using SaleHoo is that all of the vendors in their directory have been subjected to a vetting process. All suppliers have been screened and there is detailed information available about each one. Other retailers have also been given the opportunity to review these vendors, giving you even more information about the reliability and integrity of the vendors you are considering. All of this is available with a lifetime membership that you pay up front. This will save you the time and effort of researching all of these vendors on your own and trying to find the same information. What's more, your SaleHoo membership allows you to search by category, country, or name, so you don't have to waste time looking for the suppliers of greatest interest to you.

SaleHoo also makes it easy to find suppliers who don't require a large minimum order, or who have a relatively small amount of a minimum order, allow you to find manufacturers or dropshippers who can take care or your orders for you, or who will allow you to order only a few products in order to test the quality of the merchandise before you go all in and order a large amount.

Because SaleHoo gives you a list of suppliers to choose from in one place, you have the opportunity to compare prices among suppliers to ensure you get the best deal for the products you want to resell.

Training. The SaleHoo site offers a Learning and Training Center, which is an invaluable resource for the internet-based entrepreneur who needs to learn the ropes of online commerce. The Learning and Training center offers a wealth of articles, tips, and tricks to help make your business more successful. There is also a forum where you can ask questions, get answers, and share information with other entrepreneurs who are trying to launch online retailing businesses.

SaleHoo also offers Research and Analysis Tools that allow you to check the profitability of new product lines, customer demand, pricing, and other metrics that will let you determine in advance if a new venture is worth your while. Meanwhile, SaleHoo promises that live humans are available to answer your questions nearly anytime.

Cost. $67 gets you lifetime membership with Sale Hoo, including all of the research tools, comparison shopping, customer support, and information you need to help sell your products. There is a money-back guarantee, too, if SaleHoo doesn't live up to your expectations. An additional $19.95 buys the "Auction Inspector"software that allows you to see what's selling - and what isn't - on eBay right now.

Conclusion. A small initial investment may lead you to reliable suppliers of fantastic merchandise you can sell at a profit. SaleHoo provides a one-stop shop where you can compare vendors, trace market trends, and decide on the best strategy for your business.

Is Apple Cutting Back on iPad Manufacturing?

Sunday October 2, 2011

Apple's iPad has revolutionized the tablet market, much as its first machines changed personal computing in the 1980s. But despite the wild popularity of its newest gadget, rumors persist that Apple is cutting back on making its fabulously successful flagship product. Is it true?

Earlier this week, JP Morgan Chase analysts reported that Apple had slashed its orders for iPad parts, prompting fears that the Cupertino, California-based company might be cutting down production of the popular tablet computer in the wake of continuing global economic stagnation.

JPMorgan Chase's report, which was based on conversations with Apple's many vendors and its analysts in Hong Kong, indicated that the computer giant had cut back parts orders by 25 percent for the fourth quarter. This represented a first for the company. Still, opinions were split on what this would really mean. JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said he didn't expect Apple to lower shipments of the iPad for the rest of the year. However, RBS Asia analyst Wanli Wang proposed a far gloomier forecast. He believes that Apple is reducing their inventory of the iPad in anticipation of weakening economic conditions, particularly reduced demand of the device in Europe. The Today's iPhone website gives anecdotal reports that the device really hasn't caught on overseas.

Still, not everyone agrees. Commentators all over the Web indicated that Apple is merely shifting production schedules, and that demand has not diminished. The Silicon Alley Insider reported that a Brazilian factory is slated to begin producing iPads in December, which may also contribute to the reduced production in Asia. Others noted that there is no indication Apple is cutting inventory. The company is expected to ship 10 to 12 million of the tablet computers in the third and fourth quarters of 2011, give or take a few hundred thousand.

The news reports initially sent Apple stock downward, but as other analysts weighed in with less negative opinions about the company, its stock rebounded.

As always, the activities of the always-mysterious Apple set off wild speculation. Amazon unveiled its newest e-reader, the Kindle Fire, this week, which seeks to compete directly with the iPad. The Fire sells much more cheaply than the iPad, which sells for $500 to $830, depending on features. The Fire also offers better web browsing opportunities, according to reviewers.

Meanwhile, the recent sale of HP TouchPad tablet computers at the bargain basement price of just $99 showed that consumers want tablets, but don't want to pay for them. The introduction of cheaper and cheaper gadgets could put a real dent in Apple's market share. Business consultancy Gartner believes that the Android will greatly increase its share from the current 17% of the tablet market over the next few years. Still, Apple is expected to be the dominant force in tablet computers for at least the next several years.

And that's assuming they don't come out with the next big thing.

Another theory: Apple is cutting back production on the iPad 2 as a way to prepare for the introduction of the much ballyhooed iPad 3 and iPhone5. The secretive company isn't giving many details about its next generation devices, but, as always, speculation is rampant. One wonders if there won't be another report of a prototype left behind in a bar by some Apple employee by "accident."

There's no indication that Apple's dominance in the tablet market is in jeopardy, although it will have to protect itself from competitors. The company has routinely revealed itself to be on the front lines of innovation, with the ability to create new products that excite consumers. It's recent change in its production schedule probably signals the creation of new product lines, not an exhaustion of demand.

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