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5 Ways to Grow Your Business Using Online Marketplaces

how to use online marketplaces to grow your business

how to use online marketplaces to grow your businessSince the mid 90’s online marketplaces have been bringing buyers and sellers together in ways that were never possible before. Unlike traditional ecommerce sites that sell their own products and services, online marketplaces do not own any inventory; they showcase products from a wide variety of sources and facilitate the transactions.

Online Marketplaces Benefit Both Buyers and Sellers

For consumers, online marketplaces offer convenience and savings. They’re one-stop virtual department stores that offer everything from general merchandise, hospitality and recruiting, to hospitality, real estate and small business assets. They offer a broader assortment than any downtown shopping mall and can be accessed from anywhere, anytime for free.

For sellers, online marketplaces offer a venue where they can reach a large audience with relatively little effort at a low entry cost.  They also allow sellers to test out new markets and keep up with their competitors. Yet online marketplaces have to be used effectively in order to reach consumers and generate sales.

Here are 5 ways to grow your business through online marketplaces:

1. Choose the Appropriate Online Marketplace.

Not all online marketplaces are created equal. If you’re selling general merchandise, such as books or clothing, you might reach more customers on Amazon or Ebay. If you are selling handmade jewelry, you might reach more customers on Etsy. To reach the most customers, choose the dominant marketplace for your product or service, the one that reach the largest audience of buyers and sellers.

In a recent Business Brokerage Press survey, BizBuySell was rated the top online marketplace listing exchange for businesses for sale. It also scored highest for ease of use, overall service and highest percentage of buyer responses.

2. Learn About All Your Membership Features.

One of the biggest mistakes sellers make with online marketplaces is not using their membership properly. As a user, get to know all your account tools and features. Understand how they work and how they can help you sell. Search the help menu for any educational materials, such as product tutorials, videos or upcoming webinar.  Take full advantage of everything you’re membership has to offer and maximize your sales potential.

3. Create a Great Listing.

No matter how great your product or service, you need to have a great listing to grab the attention of buyers. Your listing must be well-written and include all the pertinent information buyers will want to know. Key elements of a great listing include:

  • Keep your listing succinct and to the point. Include all the essential facts and highlight unique qualities, features and benefits
  • Don’t embellish or exaggerate. Don’t be misleading to customers. Establish a positive relationship with customers from the very start.
  • Add great photos. This is your opportunity to grab buyers’ attention. If you can’t take a good photo, then consider professional stock photos.
  • Be easy to contact. Always be accessible in case a buyer has additional questions. Otherwise, you could lose a customer.

4. Monitor Your Performance Metrics.

Once your listing is published online, take the time to understand how well it is performing. If you’re not getting very many visitors, you may need to adjust your listing, change the title, or add photos. If you’re competing against similar listings in the same category, you may need to upgrade your listing to receive additional exposure.

5. Leverage Additional Media Channels.

Cast your net as wide as possible. Get the word out and let other know about your new online storefront. Depending on your niche market, this may include sharing your listings on social media, featuring them on your website, sending emails to your established customers, or even writing about your products on your blog. There are multiple ways in which customers may find out about your products or services.

What All the Leading Online Marketplaces Have In Common.

Successful online marketplaces provide high value for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, this translates to a high quality selection of products, an optimal user experience for search and selection, as well as great customer service. For sellers, this includes getting their products in front of the largest number of buyers, unique placement in niche markets through partnerships and curation, plus innovative selling tools to stand out from competitors.

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$1.5M to Clean Up the Emerald Triangle’s Illegal Mess

An issue quietly plaguing Northern California’s forests for decades is finally coming to the surface as legalization sweeps the Golden State and mountain growers are forced out of the woodwork.

A press release issued Wednesday from the office of North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) expressed the immense concern the California Governor’s office holds regarding trespass grows in the Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties.

According the release, Governor Jerry Brown has earmarked $1.5 million to fund the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, which will address the environmental cleanup of trespass grow sites throughout the forests of Northern California. The funding was part of the Governor’s May Revision budget which was published yesterday.

“Our beautiful pristine forests have become havens for these illegal grow sites,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, who represents these North Coast counties.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as many as 5,000 organized crime-operated illegal grows are discovered each year in the state.

One of the biggest issues facing the pristine ecosystem of Northern California is the heavy use of pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides at these unregulated grow sites. The movement of organic farming hasn’t made its way deep into California’s woods, and many growers still carry chemicals into remote parts of the forest to keep away pests, weeds, and mold. These toxic chemicals end up leaching into the environment, killing native flora and fauna such as deer, bear, mountain lions, bobcats, and spotted owls. According to the press release, “One-eighth teaspoon of the pesticide carbofuran, a banned pesticide which is used by rogue growers, can kill a bear.” This contamination isn’t just one and done, the toxins can remain in the ground for years poisoning the land and eventually running off into rivers and streams, “destroying everything in their path, including endangered fish species such as Coho salmon.”

Some other harmful practices include illegal clear cutting of forest land, which not only destroys ecosystems and homes of native animals, but unremoved fallen timber creates dangerous fuel for forest fires. Many of these illicit growers dig natural reservoirs (ponds) which they mix their chemical nutrients in, creating a toxic concoction for the surrounding environment. The press release also lists the trash left behind by growers (weapons, generators, butane canisters, fuel, etc.) as an issue for firefighters, law enforcement, and recreational hikers.

An aerial photograph of Trinity Pines, a subdivision of Hayfork.

An aerial photograph of Trinity Pines, a subdivision of Hayfork.

Craig Thompson is a Wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service who knows the problem first hand. In a March interview with the Atlantic, Thompson voiced serious concerns about the safety issue when performing field work near cartel-related grows in the area. “It’s an entirely different paradigm than five or ten years ago. It pervades every aspect of the job,” said Thompson. With personal safety as a primary concern, his department is sending out two people to perform the job that one person used to do.

With so many states enacting some form of cannabis legalization, it’s time to make the move toward responsible and conscious cannabis cultivation — cleaning up the mess is definitely a step in the right direction.

 

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Trump Administration to Study Marijuana and Driving

The U.S. government will conduct a study this year examining “marijuana as a causal factor in traffic crashes” under legislation President Obama signed into law last month.

As part of the review, the Department of Transportation will look at methods for detecting marijuana-impaired driving, including ways to differentiate the cause of driving impairment between alcohol and cannabis.

The department is directed to issue a report within one year making recommendations on a possible impairment standard for driving under the influence of marijuana, similar to the 0.08% blood alcohol content limit that is used to legally define intoxication in U.S. states.

The report will also include recommendations on “effective and efficient methods for training law enforcement personnel, including drug recognition experts, to detect or measure the level of impairment of a motor vehicle operator who is under the influence of marijuana by the use of technology or otherwise.”

President-Elect Donald Trump has picked Elaine Chao, a former labor secretary under President George W. Bush, to lead his administration’s Transportation Department. The marijuana views of Chao, who is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are unknown.

The newly-enacted legislation also directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work with the White House drug czar’s office and other agencies to launch a public awareness campaign on “the dangers of drug-impaired driving, including the dangers of driving while under the influence of heroin or prescription opioids.”

A previous NHTSA study released in 2015 found no evidence that marijuana use leads to increased risk of getting into an automobile accident.

“Marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use,” a fact sheet detailing the study’s findings said, but “other factors – such as age and gender – appear to account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.”

In other words, “marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents, but that the increased risk may be due in part because marijuana users are more likely to be in groups at higher risk of crashes,” the NHTSA press release explained. “In particular, marijuana users are more likely to be young men – a group already at high risk.”

A number of U.S. states have already enacted so-called per se laws which treat drivers with a certain percentage of cannabinoids or marijuana metabolites in their blood as intoxicated.

But marijuana policy reform advocates have argued that the standards are arbitrary and unnecessarily criminalize people for their blood content even if they aren’t behaviorally impaired.

“[R]ecently adopted statewide per se limits and zero tolerant per se thresholds in the United States criminally prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle by persons with the trace presence of cannabinoids or cannabinoid metabolites in their blood or urine are not based upon scientific evidence or consensus,” Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws wrote in a 2013 paper. “[T]he enforcement of these strict liability standards risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations, including those persons who are consuming cannabis legally in accordance with other state statutes.”

The new federal provisions mandating additional study on marijuana and driving are part of a $305 billion highway funding bill that President Obama signed on December 4.

The relevant text mandating the study is below:

SEC. 4008. MARIJUANA-IMPAIRED DRIVING.
    (a) Study.--The Secretary, in consultation with the heads of other 
Federal agencies as appropriate, shall conduct a study on marijuana-
impaired driving.
    (b) Issues To Be Examined.--In conducting the study, the Secretary 
shall examine, at a minimum, the following:
            (1) Methods to detect marijuana-impaired driving, including 
        devices capable of measuring marijuana levels in motor vehicle 
        operators.
            (2) A review of impairment standard research for driving 
        under the influence of marijuana.
            (3) Methods to differentiate the cause of a driving 
        impairment between alcohol and marijuana.
            (4) State-based policies on marijuana-impaired driving.
            (5) The role and extent of marijuana impairment in motor 
        vehicle accidents.
    (c) Report.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in cooperation with other 
        Federal agencies as appropriate, shall submit to the Committee 
        on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of 
        Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
        Transportation of the Senate a report on the results of the 
        study.
            (2) Contents.--The report shall include, at a minimum, the 
        following:
                    (A) Findings.--The findings of the Secretary based 
                on the study, including, at a minimum, the following:
                          (i) An assessment of methodologies and 
                      technologies for measuring driver impairment 
                      resulting from the use of marijuana, including the 
                      use of marijuana in combination with alcohol.
                          (ii) A description and assessment of the role 
                      of marijuana as a causal factor in traffic crashes 
                      and the extent of the problem of marijuana-
                      impaired driving.
                          (iii) A description and assessment of current 
                      State laws relating to marijuana-impaired driving.
                          (iv) A determination whether an impairment 
                      standard for drivers under the influence of 
                      marijuana is feasible and could reduce vehicle 
                      accidents and save lives.
                    (B) Recommendations.--The recommendations of the 
                Secretary based on the study, including, at a minimum, 
                the following:
                          (i) Effective and efficient methods for 
                      training law enforcement personnel, including drug 
                      recognition experts, to detect or measure the 
                      level of impairment of a motor vehicle operator 
                      who is under the influence of marijuana by the use 
                      of technology or otherwise.
                          (ii) If feasible, an impairment standard for 
                      driving under the influence of marijuana.
                          (iii) Methodologies for increased data 
                      collection regarding the prevalence and effects of 
                      marijuana-impaired driving.
    (d) Marijuana Defined.--In this section, the term ``marijuana'' 
includes all substances containing tetrahydrocannabinol.

SEC. 4009. INCREASING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE DANGERS OF DRUG-IMPAIRED DRIVING.
    (a) Additional Actions.--The Administrator of the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, in consultation with the White House 
Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Secretary of Health and 
Human Services, State highway safety offices, and other interested 
parties, as determined by the Administrator, shall identify and carry 
out additional actions that should be undertaken by the Administration 
to assist States in their efforts to increase public awareness of the 
dangers of drug-impaired driving, including the dangers of driving while 
under the influence of heroin or prescription opioids.
    (b) Report.--Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of 
this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, 
Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a 
report that describes the additional actions undertaken by the 
Administration pursuant to subsection (a).

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

 

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