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Product Quality

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wanted to sell a unique product on Amazon, so there would be no direct competition from other retailers (there was still competition from different but functionally equivalent products).  I settled on customizing a product with nature pictures.  I find nature pictures to be calming, and I received feedback from people who eventually bought the product who agreed (which is probably why they bought it).

It isn’t hard to customize a product this way.  You’ve probably received promotions from companies that can put a custom logo or image on a generic product.  I did quite a bit of research online looking for other people’s experiences with the companies I identified that could do what I wanted, and chose one that had a good reputation.

After taking the pictures, I had four samples of the product made and sent to me for personal use, so I could verify the product quality was good.  It’s very expensive to just get a sample of the product, but it’s even more expensive to place an order for a reasonable quantity of product.  I didn’t want to buy the product for retail and discover I couldn’t sell it because of low quality.

I used the products for a few weeks, and all seemed to be good, so I placed an order for retail and sold them on Amazon.  They sold reasonably well, but not great, and I got a lot of positive feedback on them (specifically on the images, rather than the product they were on).

After a few months one of the products I had purchased for personal use broke.  That’s not a good sign.  It’s a fairly common type of product, and I don’t normally see breaks that soon after purchase from name brand manufacturers.  Possibly though it was a one-off, and the product quality was good.

A couple of months later another sample I had bought for personal use broke.  Two out of four is too much of a coincidence, so I removed the listing and stopped selling them.

While the product wasn’t terrible quality, it wouldn’t meet a typical consumer’s expectations.  A good business reputation is more important than the money made off of a few sales, so I needed to stop selling them.  Although it wasn’t a great experience, it did show the value of using the product I was selling to other people myself.  It allowed me to identify the product quality problem relatively quickly so I could stop its sales when it turned out there was a problem.

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Reminder: Congress is working on bills to require online retailers to collect sales tax in all states, rather than just states where they have a physical presence.  There are literally thousands of tax districts in the United States, the time and cost of collecting and remitting the correct sales tax could easily be prohibitive for a small retailer.  Ask your Representative and Senators to ensure any online sales tax bill requires a simplified method for collecting and remitting the tax, such as a flat sales tax paid to the Federal government, which would distribute the funds to states proportional to their populations.

 

 

 

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