Vendor Day – SCOE 2011 Day 2

The Seattle Skyline

Day 2 – Saturday, July 9, 2011

After a full day on Friday, I’m all set for another information packed day on what is billed as “Vendor Day.”

Today, the vendors get to display their wares and present classes to attendees on the latest technology improvements they’ve made.

8:45am – Opening Remarks

Rhonda Schneider kicked off the morning with a few announcements and a summary of what we can expect for the day. The keynote speaker was Steve Studhalter, Senior Program Manager from Microsoft World-wide Anti-Piracy division.

The major theme of his presentation focused on the hazards of sourcing software products from China because that’s where he says 90% of pirated software originates.

Several Amazon and eBay sellers stood up and related their own experiences in buying software from Chinese suppliers. Their testimonials clearly supported Mr. Studhalter’s claims.

In addition, many resellers acquire their software from overseas suppliers advertising their wares on sites like Alibaba.com. Studhalter said if you buy Microsoft products from that website, there’s a 99.9% certainty that it’s counterfeit.

What if you’re not buying software for resale from Alibaba? What if you’re buying from eBay or other more mainstream marketplace that do a much better job of policing themselves, even if they’re not perfect?

Studhalter says the fastest and most accurate tool available is Microsoft’s website, HowToTell.com where you can find out if the software you’ve purchased is legit. Unfortunately, if you’ve already made the purchase, it may be too late to recover your money. But if you’re looking for volume purchases, you can buy a single copy and find out if it’s real before committing a large sum of money.

10am – Vendor Alley

This year my strategy was to briefly visit each vendor I currently use and make sure I’m up to speed on any and all enhancements of which I may be unaware and not utilizing. That’s an easy one because since developing my own listing took, I’ve cancelled several of services; saving myself over $120 per month. It was a short list that included FillZ, Endicia, and MediaScouter.

Next, I wanted to briefly stop at each vendor table I visited last year, but found interesting even though I didn’t sign up, or who I gave a brief trial and allowed the trial to lapse. Those vendors included Venditio, FBA Power, Monsoon, and IBS.

Finally, I wanted to spend some quality time with new vendors that I’d never seen before. That list included XPO, Bookscouter.com, Kabbage, Bookstores.com, and TradeYourStuff4Cash.com.Since this post is getting so long, I’ll take questions about any of the above vendors instead of trying to put everything here.

12pm – Lunch

The nice thing about SCOE is that it’s not all about bookselling, but it includes all categories of products sold on Amazon, AbeBooks, Alibris, and others.

I had a chance to spend time with two highly motivated and extremely intelligent business owners over lunch.

Sandra, owner of JulaBug gave me quite a few insights into the enormous difficulties involved in making toys a profitable business online. By-the-way, it you want some great toys for your kids, then you absolutely must check out her website.

I also spoke with Sharon, owner of Making Believe. She designs costumes for children and is the exclusive owner of her own line of children’s clothing. What a great idea! Again, if you want some really unique costumes for your children for events of all occasions including Halloween, birthday parties, plays, and a host of other events, that’s a website you want to see.

1pm – Another Ride Down Vendor Alley

I continued my review of vendor software improvements with a long talk with the FillZ team and their repricing capability. I then sat down with Kabbage.com to discuss lines of credit for short-term financing.

I also spent more time with Toby from MediaScouter. He grilled me pretty thoroughly about what I would like to see change in their product. For those of you who have known me for a number of years, you know that MediaScouter’s willingness to listen to its customer base is one of the reasons I’ve stuck with them all these years.

3pm – Amazon Seller Help Appointment

I finally had my day in court with the Amazon team. For an hour and a half I was able to lay out my concerns one-on-one about how some of their policy decisions were affecting my company. They seemed very sympathetic, and I got the sense that they were willing to consider at least some of my requests for waivers.

We’ll discover the depth of their sincerity over the next couple of weeks.

Evening Activities

A group of sellers spontaneously gathered on the Atrium and a mini party broke out. The drinks were flowing and since I’m not much of a drinker, (one full glass is really my limit), I decided to retire to my room a round 9pm.

The interesting thing about Seattle in the summer is that it’s still light outside until 10pm. In Phoenix, it gets dark around 7pm. So for me it’s real easy to lose track of time and think it’s much earlier that it really is.

I said my good-by’s and crashed in anticipation of another day.

Read about day 3 of the conference...

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