TRADELOOP

Tradeloop's Member Blog And News: 2008

About Tradeloop

My photo
We are the largest B2B marketplace for computer brokers, computer leasing companies, used computer wholesalers, third party maintainers and self-maintainers, who trade wholesale computer lots of used & surplus computers, bulk electronics, and hard-to-find used computer parts.
There was an error in this gadget

Promote Yourself

Does your company have a story that might interest our membership?

Let us know and you may see your name in print. We're looking for members to write case studies on. Contact us here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Five New Year's Resolutions for Tradeloop Members

After a year of astonishing market meltdowns, currency swings, and economic uncertainty, many people are glad to leave 2008 behind. But achieving the goal of a better 2009 takes work and commitment. So we're suggesting five New Year's resolutions for Tradeloop members. Use them to grow your business, increase your visibility on Tradeloop, and get more value from your Tradeloop membership.

1. Help Tradeloop grow – and earn free membership for your company. With our Refer a Friend program, you can send a coupon for 90 days free Tradeloop membership. Once the person redeems the coupon, we'll credit your account for a free month of membership. Referrals help us increase the size of the trading community with dealers that our current members already know and trust.

2. Write a good company profile to boost your search engine visibility. Your company profile information is also a way to make a good first impression on fellow Tradeloop members. Use these tips to enhance your profile and company description.

3. Manage and monitor your staff's Tradeloop usage with sub accounts. Use individual accounts to track and respond to sales leads. They're also necessary to manage individual parts lists. Remember, we just implemented new sort options that make it easier to manage your sub accounts.

4. Avoid Ethics disputes with good purchase agreements. We're pleased that our new Ethics blog has increased communication and transparency in the Ethics process. It has also substantially reduced the time required to resolve disputes. Nevertheless, the only good dispute is the one that doesn't happen! Avoid problems with these tips for writing clear and complete purchase agreements.

5. Read and participate in our member blog. We use it to announce new features, notify members of the status of Ethics disputes, Fast Track Fraud Alerts, and relay other Tradeloop news. Our blog keeps you up to date on what's happening at Tradeloop and offers tips to help you get the most value from your membership.

Happy New Year from the Tradeloop staff!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ethics Process Participant Agreement

We've added an additional step to the Dispute Resolution Process to require that both parties in an Ethics dispute agree to the terms of the process before participating.

The new Ethics Process Participant Agreement briefly describes the process and outlines both the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Before filing an Ethics complaint, the complainant must review the agreement and click the checkbox at the bottom of the Ethics Complaint form before filing the complaint. Defendants in Ethics cases can't respond to the complaint or post comments until they also agree to the terms.

We always try to resolve Ethics complaints amicably. Thanks to the new blog format that facilitates communication, we're often able to quickly mediate disputes. But if those efforts fail, cases are referred to the Ethics Committee for discussion and a vote.

We had an incident recently where someone participated in the process, disagreed with the outcome, and threatened to sue all parties involved. Even a frivolous lawsuit can consume time and money, and we don't want to put anyone at risk. When you participate in the Ethics Process, you have to accept that the Ethics Committee might not vote in your favor.

As a condition of membership, all Tradeloop members are required to abide by Tradeloop's Code of Ethics. This includes participating in the Ethics process when a complaint is filed and cooperating with the Ethics Committee. The new participation agreement doesn't change anything about the process. However, it does make sure that both parties understand their responsibilities and agree to participate fully.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ethically Speaking - December 2008

Tradeloop banned two non-member companies during the past month, and the Ethics Committee closed two cases between Tradeloop members by deciding to post the cases so Tradeloop members could review the details themselves (Case #4998 and Case #4992).

These cases resulted in the defendant being banned from Tradeloop:
  • Case #4995: This transaction occurred on another Web site. The defendant in this case had his Tradeloop account suspended (but not banned) in 2002.
  • Case #4993: The defendant refused to honor a purchase order and complete delivery.
In Case #5001, the Tradeloop member thought he was dealing with another Tradeloop member. In fact, the defendant in the case was actually a registered user, not a Tradeloop member. As we noted in this previous post, we've taken steps to clearly identify non-members who have a Tradeloop profile.

There were no new Ethics complaints filed during the past month and none are in committee. Tradeloop staffers and the Ethics committee have done an outstanding job investigating and resolving disputes. The Ethics Blog format facilitates communication and the new voting deadline policy encourages timely resolution of disputes.

For more information about Ethics complaints and cases, visit the Tradeloop Ethics Blog. Remember that the blog format gives members an opportunity to review and even comment on posted cases.

Sort Option Makes It Easier to Manage Your Subaccounts

Some Tradeloop members have just a few subaccounts set up, but others have dozens. Managing and keeping them current can be time-consuming, so use our new sort options to streamline subaccount management. With just a click of the mouse, you can sort by name, title, last login date and more.

This is a really useful option for members with numerous subaccounts. They can sort by last login date to see who's using Tradeloop regularly, sort by parts to see who is listing and keeping parts lists current, or by name or title to keep the employee list current. Active and inactive accounts display separately.

To use this new option, just log into your Tradeloop Account, click on the Users and Subaccounts link, and choose one of these sort options:
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address
  • Access privileges
  • Parts display
  • Last login
  • Parts
To learn more about subaccounts, visit our Multi-User FAQ page.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Captcha Helps Capture Spam Emails

Can you add 2+2?

Spam email programs can't, but (we hope) most Tradeloop members and end users can. We've added something called a "captcha" to our sales lead form to let legitimate queries in while keeping spam out.

One of the benefits of Tradeloop membership is the exposure you get in the industry and increased visibility to Web searchers. However, the downside to added exposure on the Web is often an increase in spam emails. That was becoming a problem in our system that generates leads for members by allowing non-members to contact them by an email form.

Previously, an email contact form was the best defense against spam bots because they couldn't fill out the form. They got a little smarter though - and so did we.

Now, when someone uses the sales lead form to send you a message, the sender will have to correctly answer a simple math problem. It's nothing too difficult - something like "What does 2 + 2 equal?" If the sender can't answer, the message isn't sent.

You may be wondering about the next step, should spam bots learn how to add. Not to worry: Customer Support will have the "How to Solve Differential Equations" tutorial ready in plenty of time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is That Dealer Really a Tradeloop Member? Here's How to Tell.

Is the company you're negotiating with a Tradeloop member or a registered user?

We changed the layout of the Company Profile page to make it clear who is a Tradeloop member and who is not. Just look for either an "ID Validated" notation and a date (which means the company has been a Tradeloop member since that date) or the "Non Member" designation. It appears directly under the company name.

With over 150,000 companies registered at Tradeloop during the past 12 years, we have one of the most comprehensive directories of wholesale dealers available anywhere. However, "registration" doesn't equal "membership." A registered user can create a profile, and we validate their identity. But only Tradeloop members go through our extensive member validation and verification process.

The Tradeloop community has such an excellent reputation in the industry that Tradeloop membership automatically gives your company more credibility with buyers and sellers. So it's no surprise that some unscrupulous companies have tried to pass themselves off as Tradeloop members.

They would create a Tradeloop profile and tell other dealers that they were "on Tradeloop" or "part of Tradeloop." Perhaps that's not fraudulent, but it's certainly misleading. We did have some cases of outright fraud, where someone claimed to be a Tradeloop member and wasn't.

Be careful about doing business with non-members. Most Ethics Complaints and disputes are between members and non-members. The non-members aren't bound by Tradeloop's Code of Ethics.

Of course, non-member status doesn't automatically make a company dishonest. However, you should spend some extra time on due diligence before making deals with non-members. Those companies haven't been through our member validation process that verifies details about their identity and business.

Our Customer Support staff works hard to keep fraudulent companies out of the Tradeloop community. We remind you to be careful too. Make sure you're dealing with a Tradeloop member, and carefully review the purchase agreement before the transaction is final.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Three Cheers For Our Technical Staff!

At some point, most Tradeloop members communicate with our Customer Support staff. Maybe it's a quick validation phone call, a short Live Chat session, or even the plesant surprise of having your email answered within minutes. But there's another group of Tradeloop staffers who work just as hard. Led by Brian Sweeney, our technical staff works continuously to upgrade the site, fix bugs, and keep Tradeloop running smoothly.

It's time to give a well-deserved shout-out to the professionals who, over the course of a year, implemented an entirely new database and server system without experiencing any downtime on the live Tradeloop Web site. Tradeloop founder and CEO, Rohi Sukhia, likened the accomplishment to "completely rebuilding a 747 while it's in flight."

Each month, our technical staff designs and implements the upgrades that we announce here on the blog. They also find and fix system bugs and tweak databases to improve performance. Most of their work is behind-the-scenes maintenance that sounds boring, but is really critical to the site's smooth operation. In the past 3 months, the technical staff has completed more than 100 major improvements, upgrades, and bug fixes.

Please join everyone at Tradeloop in a round of applause. Their efficient team effort keeps the site running smoothly - and getting better every month.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Faster Resolution of Ethics Complaints

For the first time since we launched the Ethics System, we have no complaints under investigation and there are no cases before the Ethics Committee awaiting resolution. No, we didn't shut the system down, but we have implemented new procedures to investigate and resolve complaints more efficiently.

This past summer, we launched the Tradeloop Ethics Blog as part of the redesigned Ethics area of the Web site. The system allows Tradeloop members to review case details, read comments from the Ethics committee, and even blog about posted cases. It gives the Ethics Committee and the parties involved a forum where they can discuss the case and hopefully resolve it in an amicable manner. The blog format makes it much easier for the parties to communicate and work together.

It also helped speed up resolution of complaints by making it easier to gather the facts of the case and present them to the Ethics Committee for discussion and a vote.

Our most recent change to the system is the addition of a voting deadline for the Ethics Committee. Although the discussion phase was generally completed quickly, sometimes the actual vote lagged and delayed resolution of the complaint. A deadline reminds the committee members that their vote is needed and sets a firm date for resolution.

We're pleased that our efforts to streamline the process have been so successful. We also want to recognize the efforts of our all-volunteer Ethics Committee, our staffers who support the process, and the Tradeloop members who participate. By working together, we all help make Tradeloop a safe and reliable trading community.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Easily Manage Your Tradeloop Emails With Our Opt-out System

In 2007, the Washington Post reported on a growing trend in the business world: people declaring "email bankruptcy," and either deleting their entire email inbox or - more drastically - refusing to use email altogether.

We don't want Tradeloop members to view our messages with such fear and loathing, so we give you numerous options to manage Tradeloop emails and Broadcast messages. Just log into your account, and click on the "Email Center" link. From that page, you can select options that let you receive a daily or hourly digest of Tradeloop activity. Or, use the filter options to just receive Broadcasts related to the supplier, product category, or geographical area you're interested in.

There's also a link on that page titled "Email Opt Out Preferences." To unsubscribe to a particular message category, click the checkbox next to the option and save the changes. Your preferences are applied immediately.
The process is completely reversible. Just go back to the email opt out page and deselect the checkbox, and you'll automatically begin receiving the notifications again.

These options save you time and give you more control over your email inbox. You'll have more time to read and respond to those messages you do want to receive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review Exchange Rates and More Using Tradeloop's Currency Tool

It's an understatement to say that currency markets have been volatile over the past few months. Actually, it's been more like a thrill ride at an amusement park. For dealers already busy managing price fluctuations and market uncertainty, currency changes make the job even harder.

Let Tradeloop's Currency Calculator help you monitor that part of your business. It's a quick and easy way to check exchange rates and calculate total product cost in over 175 different currencies. We update the exchange rates daily.

You can access the currency converter from the "Trading Tools" section of your "My Account" page or visit the currency page directly at http://www.tradeloop.com/currency/.

The "Trading Tools" section contains another useful currency option. The "Sitewide Settings" section lets you change the default currency setting that displays when you view pricing and post inventory. It's important to have your preferences set correctly when pricing your parts. The system defaults to US dollars unless you change the setting. If you're setting pricing in Euros, but leave the default in place, then buyers who display in US dollars will see the wrong price because the system won't convert from Euros to Dollars.

Tradeloop's currency calculator and pricing options help members deal with price fluctuations and avoid misunderstandings. These important tools make your job easier.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ethically Speaking - November 2008

Tradeloop issued one Fast Track Fraud Alert, and the Ethics Committee closed four cases during the past month.

In Case #4988, non-Tradeloop member, MFC Surplus Management, was banned from the community for failing to respond to an Ethics Complaint. The Committee didn't consider the specifics of the complaint; the decision to ban was based on the company's non-response to the complaint.

The Ethics Committee voted to ban non-Tradeloop member, Asset Disposition Group, after reviewing two Ethics complaints filed against the company. In both cases, the defendant did respond to the complaints. Members can review the details and discussion between the parties involved at the Ethics blog: Case #4677 and Case #4983.

In the fourth case, the Ethics Committee voted to send a private, written warning to the defendant in a dispute where the complainant alleged that the defendant refused to honor a purchase order.

On October 16, Tradeloop issued a Fast Track Fraud Alert regarding a non-Tradeloop member. The complainant alleged that the company agreed to ship product, accepted a wire transfer in payment, but never shipped the product and supplied a bogus Federal Express tracking number.
Finally, we're pleased to report the successful resolution of an Ethics complaint filed by one Tradeloop member against a non-member. Using the Ethics blog as a discussion forum, the parties involved were able to arrive at an amicable agreement without Ethics Committee involvement. Review the details and productive discussions about Case #4996 in the "No Action Taken" section of the blog.

One new complaint was filed that involves a dispute about the non-shipment of prepaid goods. This case is currently in the information-gathering stage.

For more information about Ethics complaints and cases, visit the Tradeloop Ethics Blog. Remember that the blog format gives members an opportunity to review and even comment on posted cases.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Track Your Tradeloop Sales Leads

Your Tradeloop membership gives you access to a large pool of reputable wholesale buyers and sellers eager to set up deals. In fact, many members report receiving a surge in sales contacts soon after joining the community. We make it easy to track these Tradeloop-generated sales leads. When you receive a query from a fellow Tradeloop member, the email sender name displays as "Tradelooop Leads."

We've made a minor change to the system to make it easier to reply to these queries directly, without having to go through the Tradeloop email system. Although the sender's name appears to be "Tradeloop Leads," the reply-to email address is the actual email address of the sender - not a Tradeloop address.

The email text contains name, address, contact information, and a link to the sender's member profile as well as the questions/comments from the sender.

Now, we know that members do want sales leads, but most emphatically don't want more spam emails. That's why we route the messages through our system instead of just displaying your email address on the site as part of your member profile.

Displaying an email address on a networking site is a huge mistake. It's like issuing an open invitation to email spiders who crawl through sites, harvest email addresses, and send them back to their evil masters. Next thing you know, you're buried in spam emails from phony Nigerian diplomats, fake pharmaceutical offers, and real estate Ponzi schemes.

We upgraded our system five years ago so we could easily handle the extra traffic and route emails through the Tradeloop system. It's part of our commitment to protecting members' privacy and security.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Easier Navigation in the Ethics Area

In June, 2008, we launched the new Ethics blog that helps the Ethics Committee resolve disputes more quickly and transparently. The new system gave all Tradeloop members access to the details and Ethics Committee discussions of closed cases, as well as the ability to comment on cases.

We just completed an upgrade that significantly improves the navigation of the Ethics area. The new system clearly identifies which sections are for all members and which are limited to the Ethics Committee. Visit the new Ethics Area to browse posted and closed cases - or even add your own comments in the Members tab.

Another addition to the Ethics Area is an option for any Ethics Committee member to start a discussion on a non case-related topic. Committee members are invited to discuss broader Ethics issues as they relate to the industry and Tradeloop community. Tradeloop staffers often take part in these discussions, and we've received many good suggestions about how to make the community more safe and secure.

Of course, we invite all members to share their suggestions on that - or any - topic. Contact us anytime with your questions, complaints, suggestions, or compliments.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Customer Support That's Fast, Efficient, and Personal

The global economy doesn't go home at 5pm, and neither does our Tradeloop Customer Support staff. We're dedicated to providing fast and efficient customer service when you need it – not days after you contact us.

Tradeloop's Customer Support team covers the world from our offices in Europe, the United States, and China. We provide live support 20 hours a day with staffers fluent in English, German, Spanish, and Chinese. Our staffers pride themselves on answering most email inquiries within ten minutes. And you get a personal response that answers your question too; not the usual canned response that carries this subtext:
"Thank you for contacting us! We want to assure you that your question is important, and we value your business. We're pretty busy here though; so we probably won't bother to respond to this email, well, until pigs fly. If you're smart, you'll solve the problem yourself."
Does that seem depressingly familiar?

Well, be assured that you'll never get that from Tradeloop! We make it easy to contact us:
  • Live Chat: When Live Chat is available, there's a link to the chat function on most pages of the site. Our Customer Support staff holds weekly sessions to review the transcripts of Live Chat sessions.
  • Email: We respond to the vast majority of email inquiries within ten minutes. Here's our email form.
  • Phone calls: Between our EU, US, and China offices, we offer phone support 18 hours per day.
Our phone support numbers are:
  • Call Toll Free: 888-946-5667 (888-9GO-LOOP)
  • International: Dial 781-505-1400
  • Fax: 1-781-505-1401
  • China phone number: 86-0571-85859556
Your "My Account" page also has links to helpful FAQ pages and descriptions of Tradeloop account options and services. If you can't find what you need, contact us. We're standing by to help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How A Good Company Profile Can Boost Your Search Engine Visibility

Tradeloop membership is limited to dealers, and wholesale prices are hidden from the public. However, Tradeloop members can make some information available to the public by choosing to make their Broadcasts public. Another option is to participate in the End User program that displays retail pricing to public users.

One benefit of the End User program is that it increases your company visibility on search engines by making your company information available to search engine spiders. The spiders index your company description and display it to Web searchers. In many cases, carefully-written, keyword-rich Tradeloop company profiles appear in the top ten of Google search results.

A good company description answers three questions:
  1. Who are you? Briefly describe your company and its business focus.
  2. What do you sell? Explain what products and/or services you specialize in. Be complete and use manufacturer names and your targeted keywords. For instances, if you sell "used disk drives" and specialize in certain OEMs, be sure to mention it. Those are terms that Web searchers will use to find you.
  3. Why should I buy from you? Emphasize the qualities that make your company stand out from the crowd. Maybe you offer 24-hour phone support, extended warranties, or free shipping.
Also, check to make sure you've selected the most accurate Business Type in the Company Information section. That, along with your company's name and location appears in the title section of the browser. See how yours looks by going to your Company Profile page and looking at the very top bar of your browser window.

A complete company profile gives you added credibility with fellow Tradeloop members too. It's often the first impression members have of your company, so write carefully and put your best foot forward.

There's a limit of 4,000 characters, but that should be plenty. This entire blog post is only about half that!

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Privacy Option on Broadcast Messages

We've added a new message privacy option to the Broadcast page. Now, you can choose whether to keep your Broadcast "Private," (only dealers can see it) or you can select the "Public" option to make the Broadcast message contents available to search engines and to public users.

Previously, only "Premium Broadcasts" displayed to the public, while "Regular Broadcasts" were member-only messages.Now, members have the option to make either type of message public or private.Now, there's no extra fee required if you'd like your broadcast message to display to public and search engine users. Note: the "Public" option doesn't display wholesale pricing information. Only Tradeloop members can view prices - unless you're part of Tradeloop's End User program that displays retail prices to end users.

We made this change for two reasons: to give more options to Tradeloop members and to protect members' privacy.

Even though public users could only see the first 100 characters of Premium messages, sometimes the member's name or company name showed up in that content. We added the search engine privacy option to protect members' privacy by letting them to completely hide the broadcast body from the public.

Of course, many Tradeloop members are anxious to have their Broadcast messages picked up and indexed by search engines.This helps increase your overall company visibility and credibility on the Web. Previously, the only way to do this was with a Premium Broadcast message – which meant paying a nominal fee to send your message.

The Public and Private options are on the "Create a Broadcast" page in the "Select a Style" section.

Ethically Speaking - October 2008

The Ethics Committee closed four cases in September.

Non-Tradeloop member, Vive Electronics was the defendant in two of these cases (Case # 4969 and Case #4976), and was banned from the Tradeloop community. One case involved the alleged non-shipment of prepaid goods; the other was an RMA dispute.

Case #4991 was closed due to non-response from the complainant.

Case #4962 was a dispute between Caenri Corporation (complainant) and ICT Group (defendant). In this case, the complainant alleged that the defendant sent defective disk drives and refused to issue an RMA. The defendant replied that the drives were out of warranty and not eligible for return. In an unusual split decision, the Ethics Committee voted to take no action, but to post the case and allow the Tradeloop community to review the details of the case.

In other Ethics news, two cases are being reviewed by the Ethics committee – and both involve the same defendant. And two new cases were filed, both alleging that the defendant refused to honor a purchase order.

For more information about Ethics complaints and cases, visit the Tradeloop Ethics Blog. Remember that the blog format gives members an opportunity to review and even comment on posted cases.

New IBM Team Member at Frontier Computer Corporation

Frontier Computer Corp, is a distributor/reseller of Enterprise level systems, storage, networking, parts, and upgrades. Based in Traverse City, MI, the company sells equipment from major OEMs including Sun, HP, Cisco, and IBM.

Recently, the IBM group added a new team member, Paul Wieland, and we spoke briefly with him about his new position.

Paul said that he was excited by the opportunity to join Frontier because of the company's efficiency and commitment to service.
"Frontier has done great work building infrastructure and streamlining operations. The company is efficient and customer-centric. It's the best place I've seen in terms of how all departments work together to support customers. It means I can be very effective and focus on customer relationships instead minutiae."
It's also great to be working closely with a team of co-workers again instead of in a solo office, he noted.
"The four of us all buy and sell used IBM computer hardware, but we have named accounts; we aren't competing against each other. It's a nice team approach to business with a lot of support and information transfer."
With 20 years' experience in the computer industry, Paul has seen the technology and market change quite a bit:
"When I started, profit margins were huge – and so was the equipment I sold. A disk drive was the size of a refrigerator and cost $100k. Now, a drive might cost $500. As costs do down, so do profit margins. That's why efficiency is so important."
Paul said that he's enjoyed his career. He's traveled the world and made many friends. "Basically, I've seen it all, and I'm glad to be here at Frontier. It's a great company, and I plan to retire from here. Someday."

Has your company been in the news lately? Let us know. We may feature you on the blog!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Announcing Tradeloop's New Member Blog!

It's been two years since we launched the monthly Tradeloop newsletter. Member response was enthusiastic, because it was a great way to keep up with Ethics cases, learn about other members, and get notification of new member services and options.

We're now building on that success and replacing the monthly newsletter with a Tradeloop news blog. It will have the same great information as the newsletter, but added advantages too:
  • Timely information: You won't have to wait a month to find out about new features and upgrades to the Tradeloop site.
  • Better communication: Members can comment on posts, trade ideas with each other, and easily make suggestions about more improvements they'd like to see.
  • More flexibility: We're constantly working to make Tradeloop an even more valuable service to members, but the newsletter format limited the information we could provide. With a blog format, we can easily put up short posts with breaking news and pass along tips to help you get more out of your membership.
  • Increased member visibility: Has your company been in the news recently? Let us know, because it might make a great blog post. Positive coverage adds to your company's air of professionalism and credibility.
Welcome to the new Tradeloop Blog! We invite you to visit and comment often.