TRADELOOP

Tradeloop's Member Blog And News: 2009

About Tradeloop

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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.
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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tradeloop's 2009 Year in Review - Top New Features & Upgrades

2010 will be a big year at Tradeloop. We're working on new features and upgrades to make your Tradeloop membership a more valuable - even indispensable! - part of your business model.

We implemented a number of new projects in 2009 as well. They help our members manage their accounts, grow their market share, and protect their privacy. Are you taking advantage of these features? They're free to every Tradeloop member!

Social Media Tools
2009 was the year that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter moved from the "teenstream" into the mainstream and became important business networking tools. We implemented some new features to make it easier for members to integrate their Tradeloop accounts with their social networks:
New Privacy and Email Management Options
Tradeloop is committed to fighting online fraud and protecting the privacy of our members' personal and business information. We understand though, that some members want to display more information to the community and gain more visibility online. So we launched some new tools to allow members topersonally control how much information is displayed about their business and even their Tradeloop searches.
  • Control email address display and more at the new Privacy Settings page. You can choose to hide your email address from other members (the public users never have access to that information). The page contains other privacy options as well, such as the option to hide your entire member profile from public users.
  • Manage emails, Broadcasts, and more at the new Email Center. We made it more convenient for members to manage emails, set email preferences, monitor search history, and see who is viewing their inventory. Do all this - and more - from a single Web page.
  • Anonymous search option protects member privacy. Many members prefer to search anonymously. It allows you to protect your competitive advantage as you research the market.
  • A Broadcast policy change helped stop list spamming. Tradeloop members can send a "regular" Broadcast to up to three lists at no charge. But any Broadcast that goes out to more than three lists is classified as a "premium" broadcast and incurs premium charges.
  • Tips to identify fraud and identity theft. Use this simple, five-step checklist before agreeing to a deal with a new buyer or seller - particularly if the company is not a Tradeloop member!
Market Research Tools
Tradeloop is more than a place to buy and sell. Our extensive data warehouse containing wholesale inventory and pricing information offers our members access to valuable market research and price history information. Monitor cyclical price fluctuations, watch for hard-to-find products, and more.
  • Customizable Search history tool. See who's searching on your inventory, the most popular searches, most recent searches, and sort results by dealers, registered end-users , or public searchers.
  • Price history charts are helpful research tools. Price history data helps traders track pricing trends and monitor price changes in the market. Use it as a handy research tool when you're trying to determine the optimum price for buying and/or selling.
  • Saved Search: let Tradeloop watch the market for you. Never miss out on a hard-to-find item again! Our new Saved Search feature automatically notifies you by email when someone uploads a part that matches your saved search.
All these features and options help you monitor the market and increase your market share. But Tradeloop offers even more benefits to members.

Simple things like writing a good company profile or adding a custom signature can increase your credibility and drive traffic to your company's Web site. We shared a number of tips that explained how your Tradeloop membership can raise your online profile and increase your search engine visibility.

2009 was a great year at Tradeloop and we're already working on features that will make 2010 even better for the Tradeloop trading community.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Access Your Member Account Options From The Main Navigation Menu

Need to upload your inventory list, tweak your company profile, or update your privacy settings? Tradeloop members can now access these functions and more directly from Tradeloop's main menu. The "Account" tab contains drop-down options that take members directly to many account management functions.

Here's are the new options available under the Account tab:


All these options are also still available at your Account Information page as well and there's no change to the layout or page function. The new tabs simply make it easier to access the most-used account management functions.

Let's quickly review some of the important management tools on the Account Information page. This is the place to go to keep your account up to date. Use it to manage contact information, set up sub-accounts, maintain inventory listings, and more.
Remember that you need to be logged into your Tradeloop account to access these functions.

We encourage all Tradeloop members to regularly check their account and company information. A simple typo in an email or phone number can mean lost sales. So can a couple of parts accidentally deleted from an inventory list. The new navigation options will make it even easier to maintain information and get the most from your Tradeloop membership.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Search Directly From Your Saved Search Report

It's easier than ever for Tradeloop members to monitor the market and locate hard-to-find components. We've added links to the saved search report that allows members to run searches directly from their report pages.

Tradeloop's "Saved Search" tool replaced the old "Email Alert" system last May and it quickly become one of our most popular features. If you're looking for a hard-to-find part - or for products you need on a regular basis - the Saved Search tool saves you time by eliminating the need for regular, manual searches on the Trading Floor.

Once you have a search query saved, we'll send you a notification email every time someone uploads that part to Tradeloop. You can save one search, a dozen, or more.

Modify or delete your saved searches at any time just by going your "Account Information" page and selecting the "Email Center" link. From there, select the "Your Saved Search Alerts" option in the right-hand column. It takes you to your "Saved Search" report where you can change or delete saved searches.

And now, you can even repeat the searches directly from your Saved Search report. Each individual named search is also a link that will repeat the search on the Trading Floor and display the most current results.

Learn more about how Saved Search works or set up your own Saved Searches when you search Tradeloop's Trading Floor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ethically Speaking - December 2009

November was a busy month for Tradeloop's volunteer Ethics Committee. Two non-member companies were banned from Tradeloop. One Fast Track Fraud Alert was issued about a non-member company and one new complaint involving two Tradeloop members was filed.

Non-member company, The McEvoy Administration, was the subject of three Ethics complaints filed during October (Case #5046, Case #5048, and Case #5050). In each case, the complainant alleged that the defendant had failed to refund prepayment when the goods were not received. The defendant responded to each case and the details of the discussions are available at Tradeloop's Ethics blog.

The second non-member company to be banned from Tradeloop was xFusion Trading, LLC. This complaint (Case #5044) involved a dispute over a refund payment schedule.

A Fast Track Fraud Alert (Case #5053) was issued to the Tradeloop community after a member reported a possible identity theft scam that targeted Recruit Veterans, LLC.

Finally, a new complaint between two Tradeloop members is in the information-gathering stage. It involves a dispute over Broadcast messages.

More information about Tradeloop's Ethics process and details of posted cases (including an archive section of older cases) is available at the Ethics area of Tradeloop's Web site.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mosaic Technology: Collaborative, Customer-centered IT Solutions at Affordable Prices

Mosaic Technology supplies IT systems, options and storage solutions to an international group of end users and resellers. The company's sales staff works with customers to evaluate their IT needs and develop affordable custom solutions to meet business goals. Mosaic is headquartered in Salem, New Hampshire and maintains sales offices in New Hampshire and Bellevue, Washington.

Matt Rhoades is the Reseller Ecommerce Marketing Administrator for Mosaic. He assists resellers and sales staff to develop marketing materials, monitor inventory, and "facilitates anything Web related." This constant flow of information gives Rhoades a good feel for the IT industry and state of the marketplace.
"Because of the economy, there's room for a company like ours to grow and expand our customer base. We help IT departments stretch their technology dollars because we can supply both high quality equipment and business and technical expertise. We work with customers to design individual systems that meet their IT needs."
Although Mosaic supplies some new equipment, most of their stock is high quality used and refurbished items – with an emphasis on Sun products. Rhoades notes that Mosaic faces the same problems as other used equipment dealers – finding enough high-quality equipment to meet demand. The company's Tradeloop membership (Mosaic has been a member since 1999) is vital to that effort:
"Tradeloop is perfect for a company like Mosaic. We can Broadcast items instantly and display a controlled, real-time inventory to customers. The Internet lets people find and buy products online within minutes and we have to support that. With Tradeloop, we can monitor the market, pricing, and keep buyers and sellers coming back to Mosaic."
With over 15 years in the IT industry, Mosaic had developed a reputation for quality and integrity, says Rhoades. "We don't put much effort into advertising. Our customers do it for us! Most of our new business is through word of mouth."

These long-term customer relationships help Mosaic in another way too. Over time, many customers have evolved into the dual roles of both customers and suppliers. "When your suppliers are also your customers, a good working relationship is essential," Rhoades explains. "These relationships are built on trust and our business partners know we treat them fairly."

Mosaic's business model couples these business partnerships with value-added services and support. The company maintains its own labs for testing and repair. These labs are staffed by trained, certified technicians. "I have to boast," says Rhoades, "because we have some highly qualified engineers and technicians. They're the best I've ever worked with." He also praises the shipping department – an important but often overlooked part of most organizations. "We've invested time and money into training for international shipments. Whether it's packaging, customs, or tax issues, our shipping department has the expertise."

Rhoades credits Mosaic's success with its collaborative, customer-based approach that studies each customer's requirements, challenges, and technology goals. That approach, together with a commitment to high quality at reasonable prices has served the company well.

"We're lean enough to supply customers with an extremely competitive price, but our infrastructure and products are extremely high-end. At Mosaic, we work with customers to give them the best of both worlds: low price and high quality."
Could we feature your company? Each month, we profile a Tradeloop member company. It's a great way to introduce your products and services to the Tradeloop community. Contact us if you'd like to be placed on the waiting list for this popular feature.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sun Microsystems Changes Software Maintenance Contract Terms

The Association of Service & Computer Dealers International (ASCDI) recently alerted members to Sun Microsystems' decision to change the pricing structure and discounts available for software maintenance and support. Previously, Sun end users could receive discounts when purchasing Solaris software-only support subscriptions, but that changes in December:
Sun Microsystems change in Solaris removes discounts for customers
Sun Microsystems recently announced a discount category change for Solaris Subscriptions (Basic, Standard and Premium) from Category K to Category D. (NON DISCOUNTABLE). This change is effective 12/12/2009.
This change affects end users who prefer to self-maintain their Sun hardware or who purchase third-party support contracts.

ASCDI strongly recommends that all Sun dealers immediately notify their customers about this change. Customers may be forced to purchase both hardware and software maintenance from Sun if they want to take advantage of discounts, ASCDI noted:
"This is in essence forcing the bundling of Hardware and Software from Sun, for products that were previously available as separate offerings."
As of December 13, end users should visit the Solaris Software Support area of Sun's Web site to purchase support subscriptions instead of contacting a Sun reseller.

Tradeloop is a member of ASCDI, which is a worldwide, nonprofit organization, made up of companies who provide technology business solutions, technical support and value added services to the business community.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Set Your Privacy Preferences on the New "Privacy Settings" Page

We've made it simpler for Tradeloop members to contact each other. Now, your email address is automatically displayed on your profile page. Other members can quickly send you an email directly instead of using the member contact form.

Members can opt out - and set other privacy preferences - using our new "Privacy Settings" page. We let Tradeloop members decide how much information they want shared with other members and public users.

We began displaying email addresses in response to member requests. Many dealers wanted the ability to simply click a link and send an email to another dealer without having to use Tradeloop's contact form. When a clickable email address is displayed, it's more convenient for members to contact each other.

This change helps connect buyers and sellers; it's an especially good feature for those who monitor their email reports (like Search History and/or Saved Search reports). When a seller sees that someone has been searching his inventory, he can more easily contact the searcher if the email address is displayed.

We know that some members may prefer to keep their email addresses hidden due to concerns about spam, viruses spread through email clients, the burden of an increased volume of email, or other reasons. That's why we're giving all members control over their information.

You can choose to hide your email address from other members (the public users never have access to that information). Just log into your Tradeloop account and select the "Privacy Settings" link under the "Account" tab located on the top navigation bar. The Privacy Settings page gives you other options too, such as the option to hide your entire member profile from public users.

Even if you opt out of having your email address displayed, other Tradeloop members will still be able to contact you by email. However, they'll contact you via the Tradeloop contact form instead of their own email client.

Note that you can set your email preferences now and immediately begin either hiding or displaying your email address to other Tradeloop members.

Other options on the Privacy Settings page are still in development and will be launching soon. Visit the page now and select your options. We'll save your preferences and implement them as soon as we finish testing and implementing the page's other privacy options.

We welcome your feedback on this and any matter related to your Tradeloop membership. Contact us and share your suggestions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ethically Speaking - November 2009

During October, the Tradeloop Ethics Committee voted to ban two companies from the trading community.

Infinity Micro, Inc. was banned for failure to respond to the complaint (case #5045). In this case, the complainant alleged that Infinity Micro failed to process a refund after goods were returned. Since the company didn't respond, the Ethics Committee couldn't evaluate the facts of the case. Tradeloop's Ethics policy requires that all companies respond to complaints and companies that don't comply can and will be banned from the community.

xFusion Trading, LLC was also banned from Tradeloop (case #5044). The complainant charged that xFusion Trading had been paid in advance for a deal that was canceled, but failed to process a refund.

Ethics complaint #5039 involved a payment dispute over the sale and condition of laptop computers. The companies involved worked out an agreement and the Tradeloop Ethics Committee voted to Broadcast the complaint to the community for informational purposes.

One new case is still in the information-gathering stage. A non-member contacted a Tradeloop member via information in a public Broadcast. The member suspects that it could be a fraud attempt and filed a complaint. At this point, the Tradeloop staff is investigating and assembling information for the committee to review.

Remember that Tradeloop members have the option to make their Broadcasts available to Web searchers and the general public or restrict them to just Tradeloop members. We will soon launch a new "Privacy Options" page that gives you even more control over the company and contact information you share with the public and other Tradeloop members.

Learn more about the Tradeloop Ethics process and review details of other Ethics complaints at the Tradeloop Ethics blog.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Online Data Solutions, Inc.: A "Stocking Dealer" With Worldwide Reach and Small Town Service

Since 1996, Online Data Solutions, Inc. (ODS) has built relationships with a number of trusted partners worldwide. In 2000, the company began focusing on what was once a niche market: fiber channel products. ODS stocks products from Brocade, EMC, McData, NetApp, QLogic, Emulex, Finisar, and HP/CPQ, including SAN/FC switches, optical transceivers, HBAs, and storage equipment. They also offer component level repair on Dialogic, Brooktrout, NMS, Brocade, Emulex, QLogic, and McData boards, blades, HBAs, and switches. Over time, ODS has developed strong relationships with broker, leasing, service, and dealer companies around the globe.

The company is headquartered in New Hampshire and offers same-day shipment to both domestic and international customers. Crystal DeAngelo, Sales & Marketing Director at ODS, described a challenging marketplace where the company's inventory "constantly changes in size and market value." It's vital to have a reliable system of inventory management in order to give customers consistent pricing and delivery date information.
"Often we’re dealing with customers who need things yesterday, so it’s important that we maintain an inventory that’s visible and accessible. Whether it’s blind ship, drop ship, overnight, or pick-up, we’re ready and waiting when they call at ten minutes to 5 with the exact part they need."
Of course, that kind of service requires a steady supply of inventory from reputable suppliers. ODS has reliable sources for inventory, but DeAngelo said that Tradeloop is still a particularly valuable resource for buying and selling:
"Tradeloop is an incredibly helpful tool in this industry. It helps us form business relationships with dealers that we might not otherwise have ever found. We use it most often to broadcast our specials and excess inventory to our fellow dealers. Being backed by Tradeloop and the ASCDI’s ethics departments also gives customers the assurance that we are a reputable organization willing to adhere to a higher standard of practice. In an age of counterfeit parts and 3rd party inundation, it’s always helpful to know which companies you can count on."
Due to the worldwide economic slowdown, many IT departments are dealing with smaller budgets and are looking for ways to cut costs. Many depend on ODS for board repair, DeAngelo said. "ODS has been able to offer a sensible solution for bad and damaged parts. Instead of buying a part at retail price, they can have that part repaired for 1/3 the cost. We offer that affordable alternative in a time when everyone can afford to save some money."

ODS began doing business just as the Internet was changing from a closed, chat-room based tool into a global communication and economic force. Like other successful companies, ODS has adapted – effectively utilizing a Web site, online marketing sites, and other Web-based tools, DeAngelo noted. But still, the basic culture of the company has endured:
"Online Data Solutions has always been a hand-shake operation. Most of the companies that have remained through the years have rightfully evolved to utilize the World Wide Web to their advantage, but still you will find those old-schoolers making phone calls all day, and getting out there and shaking hands. That’s the kind of business relationship you can’t put a price on "
Another reason for the company's success and longevity is it commitment to customer service, DeAngelo stressed. "Over the years we have developed invaluable relationships with companies who know they can depend on us to stock, fairly price, quickly ship, and stand behind the product they need."

When a customer wants it, ODS usually has it in stock. DeAngelo emphasized the company's market presence as a "stocking distributor," not a broker.

"We don’t have to wait for anyone to make a deal. We can pull the product you need right from our shelf and ship it to you today. We are proud to serve as a dealer’s dealer. Whatever your requests, we’re happy to try to meet them on an as-needed basis."
Each month, we profile a Tradeloop member on our blog. Would your company like to be featured? Just contact Customer Service and ask to be placed on the waiting list.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Help Us Redesign Tradeloop's Broadcast System

We're about to redesign Tradeloop's Broadcast System and we'd like your input. We have a number of suggestions from members already, but we'd love to hear more about what Tradeloop members want and need from Broadcasts.

Some suggestions we've already received include:
  • Block User option that will allow you to block users who are spamming the Broadcast lists.
  • Keyword tagging - add any manufacturer name you want to your Broadcast.
  • Allow End Users to post simple WTS/WTB requests. But they still won't be able to access any wholesale pricing or dealer contact information!
  • Larger "Manufacturer" list to make it easier to target Broadcasts and generate more precise WTS/WTB Broadcasts.
  • Option to block specific users from searching a company's inventory list.
  • Ratings system
  • Better lead generation that makes it easier for dealers to sell to End Users.
Our staff members are already at work on some of these, but we'd like to hear more about what you like/dislike about the Broadcast system - and welcome all suggestions for new options and functions!

For instance, one of our most recent additions to the "Send a Broadcast" option was the ability to add a custom signature line to your Broadcast. That very popular change began with a suggestion from a Tradeloop member who wanted the ability to personalize his Broadcast messages.

The Broadcast system is one of the most valuable parts of your Tradeloop membership because it helps you locate dealers who have an immediate need to buy/sell particular products. The Broadcast system upgrade will be a major project through the end of the year, so please send in your suggestions! Contact us by email, phone, Live Chat, or just comment here at the blog.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Use the Dealer Directory to Search for Dealers by Continent, Country, or City

Looking for a reseller in Tauranga City, New Zealand or Wroclaw, Poland? What about Montevideo, Uruguay or Winnipeg, Canada? It's easy to find them using Tradeloop's Dealer Directory. You can search by country and city and/or filter results by company name, business specialty, primary business, and more.

Use the drop down search boxes to search by country and city. Filter your results further by searching on a particular company name, person's name, phone number, or postal code. Still too many search results? Tradeloop's search options give you even more choices.

Just select one of the other search options on the page. For instance, here's how to find a recycling/disposal company in Texas:
  • Select United States in the country drop down box.
  • Select Texas in the State box.
  • Refine the search even more (if needed) and limit the search to a particular city in Texas.
  • Page down to the "Browse by Primary Business" section and select "Recycling/Disposal."
The Dealer Directory search gives you a number of mix-and-match options:
  • Browse Alphabetically
  • Browse by Geography
  • Browse by Specialty
  • Browse by Primary Business
  • Browse by Manufacturer
Tradeloop's Dealer Directory is a quick and easy way to find the a dealer who has what you're looking for - or who sells what you need to buy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Search History Upgrade Adds "End Users" To Search Filter

Tradeloop's search tools help members monitor and research the market. You can see who's searching on your inventory, the most popular searches, most recent searches, and more.Our latest upgrade gives you yet another option: members can see who was searching and limit the results to dealers, registered end-users, or public searchers.

See how easy it is to use. The Search History text link is located underneath the main menu. It takes you to the main Search History page. Select one of the four options. The filters appear at the top of the results page:


This new option lets you customize your search to match your business objectives. Members who only operate in the wholesale market can filter out results from end user searches. Other members who do both wholesale and retail can quickly generate separate reports for each market.

Learn more about the Search History function and how to use Saved Search. They're both valuable features that help you quickly locate buyers and sellers on Tradeloop. Use Search History to see what both wholesale and retail buyers are looking for and let the Saved Search report help you find what you need!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Price Your Parts For More Sales and Better Search Results Position

What's the best way to increase your sales and grow your customer base at Tradeloop? It's simple: just price your products when you upload your parts lists. Priced parts appear at the top of the Trading Floor search results; the pricing information contributes data to the Price History database; and - most important for sellers - buyers are more likely to contact sellers who list their prices.

A top listing in the Trading Floor search results page helps grab buyers' attention and draw them to your parts. Listings that have prices displayed are always listed before parts without prices – even for Premier members. Search results on the Trading Floor are displayed in this order:
  1. Pro member results with prices
  2. Regular member results with prices
  3. Pro member results without prices
  4. Regular member results without prices
Some searches return hundreds of results. A busy customer is most likely to scan the top few, find a price he likes, and make a purchase. Pricing your parts helps boost your search position and encourages a buyer to contact you first.

Pricing parts also increases the reliability of the price history charts. Traders use these helpful research tools to track pricing trends and monitor price changes in the market. More pricing data makes the information stored in the database more reliable and valuable to traders.

Finally, buyers are more inclined to contact sellers who display prices. We've had several new members complain about the lack of pricing for some items. They report that dealers won't advertise their "best price" online: they want would-be customers to call and haggle instead.

That's frustrating to a busy customer who needs to complete a deal quickly and move on to the next critical task that's on his desk.

Some sellers are reluctant to display any pricing because they're worried about eroding the wholesale market. But remember: only Tradeloop members can view wholesale pricing information!

Tradeloop is committed to protecting the integrity of the wholesale market:
Adding prices to your wholesale parts lists doesn't reveal anything to retail users. But it does encourage other Tradeloop buyers to contact you first when they need to buy.

Tradeloop is a wholesale trading community organized to give dealers a safe place to do business, exchange information, and find reliable buyers and sellers in an online market. We protect your pricing and contact information by limiting access to other Tradeloop members only.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ethically Speaking - October 2009

During September, non-Tradeloop member, Nautilusnet.com, was banned from the Tradeloop trading community (Case #5042). The complainant charged that Nautilusnet agreed to purchase equipment but then reneged on the deal. The Ethics Committee couldn't examine the facts of the case because Nautilusnet failed to respond to the complaint.

Participation in the Ethics process is a requirement for all Tradeloop members. Companies that fail to respond to an Ethics complaints can and will be banned from the community.

One pending Ethics complaint was closed with no action taken because the complainant failed to provide enough information to go forward with the complaint.

The Ethics Committee is currently reviewing and voting on a dispute between two Tradeloop members over a shipment of laptop computers. Two new complaints were filed during September. Both cases involve payment disputes with Tradeloop members filing complaints against non-members.

In fact, the majority of Ethics complaints at Tradeloop are filed by Tradeloop members against non-members. We encourage you to contact your fellow Tradeloop members first when buying and selling. We constantly update our member verification and fraud prevention techniques because making Tradeloop a safe place to do business is a top priority.

Learn more about the Tradeloop Ethics process and pending complaints at our Ethics blog.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Novia Networks: Innovative Solutions to Networking Problems

Minnesota-based Novia Networks specializes in used equipment from Cisco, F5, Juniper, Nortel, HP, 3Com and other major manufacturers. With a broad international customer base of both resellers and end users, the company offers technical support, extended warranties, and broad product and extensive industry knowledge.

Brad Bersie is a founding partner at Novia and has spent 25 years working in the computer industry. Although the company is just over 18 months old, Novia has been quite successful in a market that's changing quickly. Novia's focus on used and reconditioned equipment has placed it in a position to benefit from changes in customer behavior.

"More companies are looking to stretch their IT budgets with used equipment, but they want to be sure they're getting good product. We sell nothing "as is." All of our products are fully tested and refurbished and we offer end users a three-year warranty. Dealer warranties are typically 90 days."

The company has a large customer base in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The customer mix now is almost equally balanced between end users and resellers, but the reseller share is growing as more dealers learn about Novia's products and services.

In fact, the market for used equipment is so large that Novia's biggest issue is the shortage of good product to sell, Bersie said. "Companies are renewing leases and corporations are putting off upgrades, so we have to look to other sources for product." That's a big reason, he explained, for joining Tradeloop soon after Novia was founded in January 2008.

"Having our inventory posted is beneficial for us because it brings in more reseller customers. We do a fair amount of our reseller business both buying and selling through Tradeloop. It's a good place to find buyers and sellers we can trust."

Once customers buy from Novia, they keep coming back, Bersie noted.

"Our customers know they can buy from us with confidence. We have years of experience and know how to test, repair, and do things right. We have a very low warranty return rate. Although we offer extended warranties, returns are rarely an issue. We do it right the first time and users and resellers alike appreciate that."

From free shipping, to extended warranties, to phone and email support, Novia works to support customers before and after the sale.

"We offer experience and quality. With over forty years combined experience in the industry, we're also familiar with specialty markets like F5 and Juniper products. We may not always have the cheapest price, but our customers realize that we give them the best value for their money."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Share Public Broadcasts With Your Social Networks

Want more attention for your public Broadcasts? We've added a new application that makes it easier to email your Broadcasts or share them with social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Digg. Of course, you aren't limited to sharing just your own Broadcasts; if you see a great deal, you can use this application to alert others to it.

Look for the "Recommend This Deal" link at the bottom of every public Broadcast. When you click on it, a popup box opens. It contains a number of links for various social networking services. There are approximately 50 sites and services to choose from, including:
  • Send a text message or email
  • Post to Facebook or MySpace
  • Add to your personal blog
  • Recommend it through Digg
  • Send an instant message
Here's how it looks:
This is very straightforward and easy to use.

When you click on the Facebook link, for instance, you'll be prompted to log into your Facebook account, if you aren't already. Then, you can make a comment about the Broadcast and post it on your Facebook account. If you want to send an email, text message, or IM, you're prompted to enter the recipients contact information and a short comment. It just takes a minute, and you have all the social networking information available in one place.

Note that this feature is only available on public Broadcasts. Tradeloop's Dealer Only Broadcasts are restricted to our wholesale members. That helps protect the integrity of the wholesale market. But most Tradeloop members send public Broadcasts when they want to get a lot of attention to the deal they're offering. Our new "Recommend this Deal" feature makes that task even easier.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tradeloop's On Twitter - And So Are Your Public Broadcasts.

Tradeloop has a Twitter account: http://twitter.com/tradeloop and we're posting all "public" Broadcasts to Twitter. Our Twitter feed gives more exposure to our members' public Broadcasts.

Remember that "Dealer Only" Broadcasts are available to Tradeloop's wholesale members exclusively. If you want any information about your Broadcasts to be available to search engines, end users, and non-members, you need to select the "public" option when sending a Broadcast.

If you have your own Twitter account, you can "re-tweet" Broadcasts that appear on Tradeloop's Twitter account. Just copy Tradeloop's Twitter post and paste it into your own Twitter feed. Most Twitter users identify the source using a shorthand notation like "RT @Tradeloop" or "via Tradeloop" when they re-tweet a post

Twitter is a quick and easy way to send brief messages and we invite all Tradeloop members to follow us on Twitter. Social media tools are quickly becoming less of a "social" pastime than an important marketing strategy that helps businesses publicize products and services to the online community.

We'll soon be announcing even more opportunities for you to use social media and network applications to promote your business through Tradeloop.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trading Floor Display Change Benefits Members & End Users

We've made a slight - but important - modification to Tradeloop's Trading Floor display. It prevents non-members from seeing any portion of a dealer-only listing. We made this change to further protect the integrity of the dealer-only area. Also, it was a bit frustrating for end users to see row upon row of search results they couldn't access.

Previously, when an end user or non-member searched on Tradeloop, the dealer name and price was hidden, but the part and description would show. The vast majority of Tradeloop listings are wholesale listings, so those searchers would see this message over and over: "Wholesale Listing - Members Only"

That's frustrating to someone who wants to buy a replacement battery for his laptop, not wade through scores of search results that he can't access anyway. With the change, this same searcher can browse through 43 results on a Trading Floor search for "Toshiba notebook accessories" and every result is for product that's available to end users.

The page also notes that there are an additional 33 dealer only listings that aren't displayed.


When the searcher clicks on the "Dealer-Only listings" link, he's taken to a page that prompts him to log in (because it's information available only to Tradeloop wholesale members) or register for a Free Trial membership at Tradeloop.

This change keeps retail customers from accessing even a little bit of information about wholesale listings and gives them a search results page that's more readable and usable.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ethically Speaking - September 2009

With no new Ethics cases filed, no companies banned, and no Fast Track Fraud Alerts issued, August lived up to its reputation in the Northern Hemisphere as the preferred vacation month.

One complaint was closed at the request of the complainant with no action taken. One complaint filed in July is still in the information-gathering stage and may be sent to the Ethics Committee for review in the coming week.

But even though the Ethics Committee had a light month in terms of Ethics complaints, they were still busy. Remember that Tradeloop's Ethics Committee is a volunteer group of industry professionals who donate their time to the community. The committee does more than review complaints: they also act as a resource for Tradeloop staff.

When we launched our popular new Ethics blog format, we established a private discussion area for the Ethics Committee to discuss ethics matters in general. Our staff can consult with industry experts on issues such as: the size of the Ethics Committee; qualifications for membership; how to handle members who spam Broadcast lists, and more.

We'd like to thank the committee for their important volunteer work. The time they donate to the Tradeloop Ethics process makes the community a safer place to do business. Their comments and suggestions also help us make Tradeloop a more valuable business resource for all members.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stallard Technologies: Helping Companies "Go Green and Save Green"

Stallard Technologies, Inc. buys and sells new and pre-owned Dell servers, workstations, and EMC storage solutions. A key aspect of the company's business model is flexibility: customers can visit the Stallard Technologies web site and custom-configure from 30 different Dell models. Stallard sells to both resellers and end-users worldwide.

As the world economy has faltered, Stallard Technologies has prospered. The Overland Park, Kansas company increased sales 17% this year by expanding its customer base to include…. competitors! In a business often known for cutthroat competition, Stallard has built bridges instead, becoming a major supplier to other resellers.

Phil Poje, Chief Marketing Officer at Stallard, explained that the idea of strategic partnerships with other resellers was a natural outgrowth of efforts to manage the expense of maintaining a multimillion-dollar parts inventory:

"Each week, we receive a tractor-trailer load of off-lease OEM hardware. We ship 40-60 servers each day and have over 1,300 parts in stock. With our strategic partnerships, we can keep inventory moving and give smaller resellers access to a large inventory of parts and equipment."

Managing that much inventory can be a challenge. Stallard has to balance the incoming product with customer demands, so the company is always looking for new suppliers and customers.

"We use Tradeloop to market our parts inventory and find parts we need to re-configure servers, workstations, and storage devices. It has also been a great place to meet new vendors and create business relationships."

Stallard Technologies is a busy place. The twenty-five employees, including four Dell-certified technicians, receive the equipment, scrub the hard drives, pull the processors, RAM, etc. and put those parts into inventory. When a customer places an order, technicians configure a custom unit with original OEM parts, upgrade the firmware, and conduct a 20-point inspection of the hardware before shipment.

Poje believes the arrangement is a win/win for everyone involved. Customers purchase products that meet their exact specifications while sellers recycle their off-lease or excess equipment and keep it out of the waste stream:

"We call it 'Go Green and Save Green' because we're taking corporate waste and recycling it. In difficult economic times, companies are trying to stretch their IT budgets as far as possible. Our customers have confidence that they're buying name brand equipment with a warranty and no hassle return policy.

Everybody loves a deal and we have a great one: good equipment at half price."

Stallard supports customers after the sale as well, with a free one-year limited warranty on all equipment. Poje said the service policy is simple. "If something goes wrong, we fix it. If our technicians can't troubleshoot the problem over the phone, we send them a new part."

It's an attitude that builds customer loyalty, Poje concluded:

"You have to back up what you're going to do. If people trust you and like you, they'll buy from you. It's just that simple. At Stallard Technologies, we've assembled a group of people committed to service. We're here to help customers find the best IT solutions for their home and business use."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Use Tradeloop's Features & Options To Increase Search Engine Visibility

The online marketplace gets bigger and more complex every day, making it more difficult for companies to stand out from the competition in search rank and search results in Google and other popular search engines. Many companies pay thousands of dollars to search engine specialists to gain better visibility among searchers.

But, consider this: your Tradeloop membership already includes many excellent opportunities to boost your search engine rank. You just have to take advantage of them.
  • Display your inventory to the public. Allow your parts lists to be indexed by search engines. When you participate in Tradeloop's End User program, your parts lists are available to searchers on Google and other search sites.

  • Write a good company profile. In many cases, carefully-written, keyword-rich Tradeloop company profiles appear in the top ten of Google search results. There's a limit of 4,000 characters, but that's more than enough to accurately describe your company and its products and services.

    A complete, descriptive company profile helps boost your credibility on Tradeloop as well. That's often the only information a prospective buyer or seller has about a new company. Making a good first impression is important because customers have a lot of options: give them an incentive to call your first!

  • Select the "Public" option for Broadcast messages. "Public" Broadcasts get indexed by search engine spiders and display in search results pages. So the information in your Broadcast appears in the search results when a prospective buyer searches on a particular part number or product name you've listed in a public Broadcast.

    Of course, there are times when you want to keep Broadcast information private, and we offer that option as well. You can choose either option when you create a Broadcast message.

  • Add a custom signature to your Broadcast messages. If you're sending a public Broadcast, the signature information will get indexed as well. Naturally, your signature should include your name and contact information, but there's also room to include a pithy, keyword-rich description of your company.

    It shouldn't be as complete as your Tradeloop company profile description. However, a sentence or two that includes your company name and a brief description of your products and services is a good way to attract buyers. It also gives you a little boost in search engine ranking algorithms.

  • Sign up for Tradeloop's Ethics Seal Program. Our Ethics Seal program helps improve conversions. Studies of online behavior have shown that buyers look for third-party trust marks and tend to buy more from companies that display them.

    When you join Tradeloop's Ethics Seal program, you get to display Tradeloop's Ethics Seal. When a visitor clicks on that seal, he's taken to a customized Ethics Seal verification page that talks about your company (not Tradeloop) and includes a link to your Web site. That external link from Tradeloop to your Web site helps boost your site's relevance in many search engine ranking algorithms.

  • Let us write about your company for the Tradeloop blog. We profile one member company per month and feature a quote from that profile article on the Tradeloop home page, along with a link to your company profile. The information you provide for the article appears on the Tradeloop blog and is indexed by search engines. It increases both your online visibility and credibility.

    A company profile article is a free, fun, and great way to introduce your company to the Tradeloop community. Just contact Customer Service and ask to be put on the waiting list.
The best thing about these options is that there's no technical expertise required! You just have to take a little extra time to make sure you include important information in your Broadcasts, member profile, etc. Like most good search engine positioning strategies, these techniques help you appeal to both search engines and human buyers and sellers.

And every single one is available to you at no extra charge because they're already part of your Tradeloop membership.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ethically Speaking: August 2009

Last month, we saw some unusual activity in the Tradeloop Ethics area. Two new Ethics complaints were filed and two pending complaints were closed with no action taken. That's a pretty routine level of activity.

The unusual aspect is that both new Ethics complaints filed in July are between Tradeloop members. Generally, the vast majority of Ethics complaints are filed by Tradeloop members against non-members. That's one reason we always encourage our membership to look to other Tradeloop members first when buying or selling equipment.

Both new complaints are still in the information-gathering stage and, of course, our staff will work with the members to try to solve the disputes amicably. In one case, the complainant alleges that the defendant didn't pay for merchandise received. In the other case, the complainant says that the defendant shipped substandard equipment and hasn't refunded the agreed-upon amount.

One case closed with no action was originally filed in April. The complainant asked that the case be placed on hold while he and the defendant (a non-Tradeloop member) worked on a resolution. We closed the case with "no action taken," after a long period of inactivity.

We closed the other case (#5036) at the request of the complainant. He and the defendant (both are Tradeloop members) made extensive use of our Ethics blog format to discuss the complaint and various issues relating to pricing strategies, Broadcasts, posting inventory on other sites, and more. Other Tradeloop members may find the discussion interesting and relevant to their own business practices as well.

Learn more about these Ethics cases and review the details of other posted Ethics cases as our Tradeloop Ethics area.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Broadcast Policy Change Will Help Members Manage Their Email Inboxes

Many Tradeloop members have requested changes to our Broadcast policies and procedures to help control Broadcast list spamming. Once these changes are implemented, members will be able to send a "regular" Broadcast to up to three lists at no charge. But any Broadcast that goes out to more than three lists will be classified as a "premium" broadcast and will incur premium charges.

This was actually standard Tradeloop policy until 2006, when we allowed members to send regular Broadcasts to all lists for no extra charge. It was an effort to help members who manage large, diverse parts lists distribute their Broadcasts more quickly and cost effectively. However, we've had a continuing problem with members who use it as an opportunity to spam Broadcast lists.

For instance, members on the "Printers" list - which is relatively small - complain about receiving Broadcasts for Cisco networking equipment, used laptops, memory, and other items. Their email inboxes are full of Broadcasts that have nothing at all to do with printer equipment, which wastes time when they have to sift through the clutter looking for leads.

In June, we invited Tradeloop members to an open discussion about the problem of Broadcast spamming. Members who contacted us about the issue were very supportive of the change. Our technical staffers are working on implementation and the change will be in place soon.

The new policy is easy to remember: up to three lists are free, but four or more require a premium Broadcast, which costs $1 per list per Broadcast.

This change will help the vast majority of Tradeloop members manage their email traffic and encourage every member to send Broadcasts only to relevant lists.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Navigation Change Makes Tradeloop Easier To Use With Handheld Devices

Using Tradeloop with your iPhone, Blackberry, or other web-enabled mobile device just got easier. We modified the navigation structure to use drop-down menus for navigation. It saves a row of space where the sub-navigation used to be. We know that every space counts when you're accessing the Web with a small screen.

Have you noticed the change? Here's a screen shot of the new, drop-down navigation:



This is a relatively minor change for most users, but we know that Tradeloop members are busy professionals working in a fast-paced industry. You have to take advantage of every opportunity - even if it presents itself when you're rushing through an airport holding your iPhone instead of sitting at your desk.

Is there anything else we can do to make Tradeloop better? We welcome all suggestions from Tradeloop members. Just use the Contact Us link and tell us what you need!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New, Member-friendly Account Registration and Validation Procedures

We're implementing several new policies and procedures that will streamline new account registration, increase dealer visibility, and require registration for all users. These changes will give Tradeloop members access to a larger number of contacts and clearly identify dealers from end users (who buy equipment for their own use, not for resale). We'll have a larger trading community, more retail users, and will continue to protect the integrity of wholesale market information.

The user registration requirement is an important security upgrade. It requires public users to register before they can view retail listings on Tradeloop. Remember that Google and other search engines index "Public" Broadcasts, but not "Dealer Only" Broadcasts. Any public user doing a Google search can find Tradeloop "Public" Broadcasts, then contact a dealer and say "I saw you on Tradeloop." That insinuates that the person calling is also a Tradeloop member. Most times, it's an innocent comment, but we have had cases where fraudsters tried to pass themselves off as Tradeloop members this way.

Now, everyone must be a registered user – no more anonymous searches of retail listings.

Dealers benefit because they'll have more information available about searchers. Now, when a dealer checks his "Search History" reports, he sees something like "PUBLIC 67.42.125.124" when a public user has searched on his retail items. With this change however, that relatively anonymous IP address will be replaced with a contact name and email address. This information will allow dealers to be proactive in contacting these end users to help make deals.

As always, retail users will be blocked from viewing any wholesale prices. End users can only search inventory that's listed as part of Tradeloop's End User program; they can't see wholesale prices now - and never will. And Tradeloop members (as opposed to registered, public users) will still have the option to search anonymously.

We expect that this change will result in a surge in new registrations. We're modifying our verification procedures to make it easier and faster for new registrants and members to contact Tradeloop members.

Many Tradeloop members are small businesses without huge staffs standing by to take and return phone calls, so our policy of requiring phone validation can delay processing by several days or even a week. Unfortunately, we sometimes lose prospective members and end users because they get tired of waiting for access.

We know that member validation is critical for wholesale dealers. After all, you're setting up a deal that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars; you need to know who you're dealing with. But many end users don’t want to join Tradeloop; they just want to buy a laptop battery – and don't want to wait a day or two to do it!

With the new system, new members and public users will have access to the Tradeloop community when they register. We'll still validate their information, but this change will give them access while validation is in process. All users will be clearly identified by their status: DEALER, NON-VALIDATED, END USER. Tradeloop members can tell at a glance who has been validated and who hasn't. It's up to them to make the decision to deal with that company or not. We think it's a better system than blocking all contact until verification is complete.

Note that we will still use the same rigorous criteria to validate all new members: those who don't meet the criteria will be removed from the community immediately. These new policies just make the registration and membership process easier and give Tradeloop members in the End User program a new way to market their products to retail users.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ethically Speaking - July 2009

June was a quiet month for the Ethics Committee, with no new cases filed during the month. Two cases are currently in the review and information gathering-process.

In one case, more information is needed before sending it to the Ethics Committee for review. In the other, the complainant and defendant - both Tradeloop members - are engaging in an ongoing discussion about the dispute, with Tradeloop's Ethics Coordinator moderating and offering information as needed. The Ethics blog format encourages and facilitates such communication. Often the parties are able to settle disputes without any review or intervention by the Ethics committee.

Communication is important when setting up deals and purchase agreements. We've found that many Ethics complaints are filed because there was a lack of communication between the parties in the beginning. Common disputes include:
  • Freight and handling costs: Always know how the product will be shipped to avoid unexpected shipping/freight charges.
  • Product condition: Get a complete description of the product before sending payment. Ask for or offer photos if needed.
  • Customs and tariffs: Make sure the seller understands international shipment requirements. Improper description, paperwork, and/or packaging can result in extra import costs.
Of course, many other Ethics disputes involve allegations of fraud and misrepresentation; we take those very seriously. Because the majority involve a Tradeloop member and non-member, we encourage Tradeloop members to look to the Tradeloop community first when buying and selling. Our member verification process helps us identify and block companies engaging in fraud, identity theft, or other attempts to mislead buyers and sellers.

Learn more about Ethics cases and about the Ethics process in general - at the Ethics area of the Tradeloop Web site.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CentricsIT: An IT Provider Selling Solutions to Business Problems

For some companies – like CentricsIT - success comes quickly. Founded in 2007, the Norcross, GA-based IT equipment and services company created a niche for itself almost immediately. In just two years, CentricsIT achieved a VAR 500 ranking, grew from nine employees to over fifty, and generated just under $50 million in sales revenue.

CentricsIT quickly attracted customers both locally and internationally with a three-pronged business strategy that offers used IT equipment, IT support, and technical staffing services. The company works extensively with wholesale marketers, corporate customers, and governmental institutions.

Even as the global economic crisis has slowed the sales cycle, it has opened up new opportunities for the company, as CentricsIT's president, Derek Odegard observed. "There has never been a better time to tell our story. We help organizations save money, and that message is resonating with customers worldwide."

Each product group at the company has its own dedicated national and international component that works with both suppliers and customers, Odegard noted. "Our experts know the market and scour the distribution channels to find the best product." In a volatile international market, good sources of information are vital to success, and CentricsIT staffers rely on Tradeloop to enhance their understanding of market trends.

"All our market makers actively use Tradeloop for timely and credible market information. We're making multimillion-dollar bets on inventory, so timely and accurate market information is vital. We also monitor ethics complaints. In this business, you have to know who you're dealing with."

Price is important, but customers need more from a supplier than the lowest price on networking or other equipment, Odegard explained. CentricsIT sales and support staffers work with customers to offer solutions to their business problems, not just hardware.

"We're selling products, expertise, and knowledge. It's really a different business model. We have staff members who specialize in enterprise systems, storage, networking and service. They're experts in what they're selling and supporting."

The business model works because most CentricsIT customers are looking for "some combination of hardware and technical or engineering support," he said. "We use our wide network of industry contacts to locate the best product at the best prices, and customers tell us that they value the expertise we bring to the table."

Odegard believes that the high quality IT equipment that CentricsIT offers for sale is just one component of the company's success.

"We don't just pack a box of equipment and toss in an invoice. We sell solutions to our customers' problems and emphasize relationships. Our strengths are our commitment to engineering and the overall customer experience."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Add A Custom Signature To Your Broadcasts

Tradeloop members can now add a custom signature to Broadcast messages. Use this time-saving option to append your phone and email contact information, address, or even a sentence or two about your company to every Broadcast you send. You have complete control over the content and can modify or delete it at any time.

The custom signature box is located at the bottom of the Send a Broadcast page. By default, the system pulls your name and information from your Tradeloop member profile, so this is a good opportunity to review that information and make sure that it's up to date!

Want something more personalized? No problem. Just delete the default text and create your own signature message. Save the custom signature by checking the box titled "Save signature changes for next time." It's located just below the signature text box.

This is a great way to personalize your Broadcast messages and publicize your company. It takes just a few minutes to create a signature message that encourages communication and promotes your company's products and services.

Tradeloop provides the basic information from your member profile and you can edit that to meet your specifications. For instance, this signature gives basic contact and company name information:
John Katz
VP International Sales
011-222-222-2222
john@KatzWorldComputing.com
However, you could be much more descriptive if you added a bit about your company and its business model. Review your company description for ideas. It's probably a good starting point for your custom Broadcast signature. Take a few minutes and turn a rather "blah" signature into something that encourages other dealers to contact you:
John Katz
VP International Sales
011-222-222-2222
john@KatzWorldComputing.com

Katz World Computing is a leading international supplier of new and used memory and networking equipment. We specialize in top OEM products including HP, Compaq, and Sun. We pay top prices for used, off-lease equipment and offer complete sales and support services to customers.
Remember to select the "Use Signature" option to append your custom signature to your Broadcast messages.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Account Validation Page Helps Stop Fraud

Tradeloop's member verification system is already the industry's most comprehensive effort to fight fraud and identity theft. And we just made it better!

We've improved the existing system to upgrade the warning flags for accounts with bad phone numbers, non-working email addresses, and/or inaccurate street address information. Previously, if there was a problem with a member's information, he would receive a generic page with the request to "Call Us" when he tried to log in.

Now, the streamlined validation system automatically directs members with incorrect or incomplete information to a "validation" page. Members are asked to correct their contact information. When they're finished, our system alerts a Customer Service staffer who then calls the member to verify the phone number.

This new system works for any account in our system - whether the status is Premium members, new registrations, or accounts with Ethics cases pending. It helps members easily resolve a minor issue like a typo in their phone number. And it also helps our Customer Service staff quickly identify and block fraudulent accounts.

Page two of the validation form encourages members to review and/or update their member profile information. Remember that your Tradeloop member profile helps establish your credibility with other members. Use it to explain your products and services and tell potential customers why they should contact you first when looking for dealers.

At Tradeloop, the safety and security of the trading community is our number one concern. This new account validation function offers two important benefits: it helps us stop fraud and gives members a quick and easy way to keep their account information up to date.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trading Floor Upgrades Help Tradeloop Members With Market Research, Pricing, and More

Want to search for a particular part, description, manufacturer, perform market research, track price fluctuations, or find out who's searching for what at Tradeloop? You can do all that and more from Tradeloop's Trading Floor. We've spent the first half of 2009 adding features, search queries, and other new options that make it easy to find the information you need.

The most recent change to the Trading Floor and search function is the option to sort results by either manufacturer name or product description. These used to be contained in the same field, which made sorting difficult. Other sort options include: date, vendor, country, part number, condition, quantity, and price.

There's even more information available on the search results page:
  1. Recent Searches - See who's been performing the same search, and filter results by date range, Tradeloop members, public users, and receive a notice when someone searches on a particular item. Learn more about the Search History function.
  2. Save Search and Alert Me - We'll notify you when items matching your search term are posted at Tradeloop. Learn more about how to use Saved Search.
  3. Price History - See seasonal price fluctuations for particular parts, broken out by high, low, and average wholesale and retail pricing. Learn more about Price History data.
These new features are part of our commitment to making Tradeloop the most valuable Web resource for our members. Your membership already gives you the opportunity to safely connect with other dealers worldwide - a group that has passed our rigorous member screening process.

Tradeloop is more than a great place to do business; it's also a market research, pricing, and business tracking tool.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Broadcasts Identified as "Public" or "Dealers Only" on Broadcast Page

Tradeloop's Broadcast list has a new feature. We've made it easy to tell which messages are available to the general public and which are viewable only by dealers. In the bottom, right-hand corner of each Broadcast, you'll see a notation in italics: "Public" or "Dealers Only."

Recently, we began offering more Broadcast options to members and needed a clean and simple way to identify which Broadcasts are dealers only and which are public.

Previously, Tradeloop members had only two options for Broadcast messages. "Regular" Broadcasts were visible only to dealers. "Premium" Broadcasts could be viewed by anyone and indexed by search engine spiders. But now, Tradeloop members have more options. Broadcasts can be anything: premium and dealers only, regular and public, regular and dealers only, etc. It all depends on which options you select when you send a Broadcast.

Each option has its advantages, and the "best" option depends on your marketing strategy. "Dealers Only" Broadcasts save you time by screening out end users and casual searchers. Use that option if you're only looking for deals with other wholesalers. "Public" Broadcasts let you get your message out to the widest possible audience because they're indexed by search engines. If you're looking to raise your online profile and attract new customers, you may want to consider that option.

Learn more about Broadcast options - and send your own Broadcast - at the Tradeloop Web site.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ethically Speaking - June 2009

During the past month, the Tradeloop Ethics Committee banned one non-member company and issued two Fast Track Fraud Alerts in cases of identity theft and suspected fraud. Another Ethics complaint between two members was partially resolved and Broadcast to the community. The final Ethics complaint had a happier outcome. It was withdrawn after the parties involved were able to resolve the issue themselves.

In case #5031, Sally Nairn, TM Computer Services Ltd., a non-Tradeloop member company in the United Kingdom, was banned for failure to respond to a complaint alleging non-shipment of prepaid goods. Note that the defendant company was banned for non-response to the complaint. Without cooperation from both parties, the Ethics Committee can't evaluate evidence and render a decision.

The Fast Track Fraud alerts involved case #5033 and case #5034. We discussed these cases in detail in our May 27th blog post about fraud and identity theft. It contains some helpful hints about detecting fraud and reporting it to the Tradeloop community.

Case #5026 concerned a dispute between two Tradeloop members. During the discussion on the Ethics blog, the members managed to resolve several outstanding issues themselves. After reviewing the remaining issues still in dispute, the committee voted to broadcast the facts of the case, but not ban the defendant from Tradeloop.

In this case, as well as the complaint that was withdrawn, Tradeloop staffers worked with the complainants and defendants and help them resolve the dispute amicably. By facilitating communication between parties involved in disputes, our Ethics blog format encourages the parties to resolve the problem without a formal Ethics committee vote.

At Tradeloop, we don't view the Ethics complaint and resolution process as punitive. Instead, our staffers work to encourage dialogue and the friendly resolution of disputes.

Learn more about these and other Ethics cases - and about the Ethics process in general - at the Ethics area of the Tradeloop Web site.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Open Discussion on Limiting Broadcast Messages

All successful marketing efforts have one thing in common: they're targeted to the proper audience. Tradeloop Broadcasts are no exception. The first step to sending a Broadcast is to select the relevant manufacturer or category list. That way, your Broadcast goes directly to your target market - the list subscribers who have indicated interest in a particular manufacturer or equipment category.

However, we've received complaints about members "spamming" the subscriber lists and sending (for example) a Broadcast offering Cisco routers to every list - from Cisco to IBM to Consumer Electronics. Since many members subscribe to multiple lists, they get the same Broadcast (offering products they aren't interested in) multiple times.

Tradeloop staffers are considering several solutions to the problem, and we'd like to have some feedback from members about the issue.

For instance, we could change how "regular" Broadcasts are managed. About a year ago, we allowed members to send regular Broadcasts to multiple lists at the same time. That saved time for members who wanted to send to multiple lists by eliminating the need to send the same Broadcast over and over.

Unfortunately, that just made it easier to spam all the lists at once.

The simple fix would be to only send "premium" Broadcasts to multiple lists and limit the number of regular Broadcasts allowed per day.

But we understand that this has an impact on Tradeloop members in both financial and marketing ways.

Perhaps this reminder is enough. Sending Broadcasts to the wrong people detracts from your message by irritating other members. It also detracts from Tradeloop's goal of helping our members easily get the best message delivered quickly to the right people. Or perhaps we need to institute formal controls like limiting the number of Broadcasts.

We'd like your input! Please post your comments here on the blog for an open discussion with other members and Tradeloop staffers.

Friday, May 29, 2009

GR Trading: Premier Provider of Quality Off-lease Equipment

When a farmer in Chile goes online to check market prices or a student in Central America researches college opportunities in Europe, there's a good chance that both are using computers supplied by GR Trading in Miami, Florida.

The company was founded five years ago to provide quality off-lease products to international customers. GR Trading buys tier one level computer brands – Dell, Compaq, HP, etc. – from VARs and computer leasing companies. The company then sells the computers to retailers and wholesalers for export – primarily to Central and South America.

Sandra Deery, co-founder and Vice President of GR Trading, explains:

"It's an exciting, rewarding business. We take these computers out of the waste stream and make the technology available in countries where people have a much lower standard of living. Knowledge is power, and poor people need access to that knowledge to improve their standard of living."

Many companies are hoping to serve these types of emerging markets, and GR Trading gets new inquiries each week about its products. However, Deery says that she and her business partner deliberately limit the number of customers served – for two reasons:

"We don't have enough product to satisfy everyone! That's one reason we joined Tradeloop. There's a lot of product for sale, and the member profile information makes it easy for us to see the geographic location of sellers. Computer and monitors are heavy, so freight costs are an important consideration when we buy."

Also, Deery notes that a small customer base makes it possible to "focus on doing a really good job for the customers we have." The company's emphasis on customer service and good relationships is illustrated by the warranty policy. "100% satisfaction guaranteed. It doesn't get any simpler than that."

Deery explains that the guarantee means that if GR Trading ships bad product, then they take it back – even paying the return freight. "With that kind of money involved, we have to deal with customers we know and trust."

GR Trading also tries to be a good customer to its supplier companies. "We keep documentation and provide feedback to our suppliers about the condition of the products we receive."

It’s a successful business model. The company has gone from zero sales five years ago to millions of dollars in revenue – with only $10,000 in product returns. Deery attributes the success to a commitment to quality and is proud that GR Trading is able to do well while doing good:

"We take America's waste and turn it into gold. At the same time, we're helping to bring the world together and empower people to achieve a better standard of living. Our customers know that we'll deliver a quality product at an affordable price. "

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ethics Spotlight - You Can Help Stop Fraud & Identity Theft

We issued two Fast Track Fraud Alerts last week, and both involved fraudulent companies who are not Tradeloop members. We'd like to thank the Tradeloop members who noticed warning signs of fraud and took steps to alert the community.

On 5/18/2009, a member initiated a Fast Track Fraud alert about someone posing as a legitimate company. We collected the information, inserted it into an Ethics case (#5033), and sent a Broadcast warning to the community.

On 5/21/2009, we received another Fast Track Fraud alert when a Tradeloop member sent out an alert on Tradeloop (case #5034) and on competitors' networks. In this case, the fraudulent company actually replied to the Broadcast. The concerned member contacted us about why this company was able to reply through our Broadcast system.

As it turned out, he couldn't! The fraudulent company had replied through a competitor's network, not Tradeloop's. He had been banned from Tradeloop in 2007 for failing to respond to an Ethics complaint.

How did the complainants uncover fraud?

Unfortunately, the member involved in case #5034 found out only after he had received scrap product instead of the promised working monitors. That experience reinforces the importance of asking questions and even requesting photographs prior to executing a purchase agreement. That may not stop a company that's determined to defraud, but will increase communication and help avoid misunderstandings when the seller is a legitimate company.

The member involved in the identity fraud case #5033 noticed several warning signs and did some detective work. We recommend using this simple, five-step checklist before agreeing to a deal with a new buyer or seller:
  1. Free, Disposable Email Account: If the company uses a Hotmail, Gmail, or other anonymous free email account, that's a huge warning flag. Make sure the contact email can be tied to the particular company, not to an anonymous email.
  2. Lack of Contact Information: In this case, the company didn't provide a street address, phone number, or any contact information other than the email address. A legitimate company should readily supply a street address, company contact emails, phone number, fax number, etc.
  3. Payment Options: When a company wants payment sent by Western Union, it's a virtual neon sign flashing "FRAUD! FRAUD!" There's no way to track Western Union payments, verify the recipient, or get a refund in case of fraud. Many companies request payment by wire transfer, but make sure you're sending it to a verifiable bank account, not a street corner Western Union office.
  4. Contact Information Doesn't Match Company Web Site: Most companies today have some sort of Web presence. Check the information the seller gives you against the information on the company Web site.
  5. Check for Tradeloop Membership: Member companies have to pass our rigorous new member screening process, and existing members are subject to routine verification of their account information.
We urge Tradeloop members to continue to use the Fast Track Fraud Alert system to quickly notify the community about fraud. Initiating a Fraud Alert is easy. Go to the Fast Track Fraud Alert request page to ask the Ethics committee to initiate an alert.

It's quick, easy, and helps keep the community a safe place to do business.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keep Your Contact Information Up To Date

Validation is the the most important part of email management and communication, and it starts with you! We can't validate your Tradeloop membership application without a valid email address. Other members can't contact you either. An invalid or non-working email address can also lead to account suspension.

We recently launched the Email and Report Center to give members a central location where they can manage emails, set email preferences, and more. Now, we've implemented more internal controls to validate email addresses when members register or create new sub accounts.

Tradeloop email error checking routines look for the following:

1. Only one email address can be entered into the email address field. We understand that many people use multiple email addresses, but each Tradeloop account and subaccount can only be associated with a single email address.

2. Emails must be in a valid format - like "yourname@yourcompany.com" not "yourname@yourcompany.com TL email."

3. Every subaccount must have a unique email address. Subaccount holders need this to upload parts lists and it also helps other dealers easily contact the right person in your company.

Note that none of these validation routines checks to see if the email is actually working. Our Customer Service staff does that when they validate membership applications. Tradeloop's email system also keeps track of email bounces: too many bounces may cause your account to be suspended. Bounces also look suspicious to other dealers because so many fraudulent companies use disposable or incorrect emails.

Avoid that problem by updating your Tradeloop account when you change your email address - or many any changes to your contact information.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Saved Search: Let Tradeloop Watch The Market For You

Never miss out on a hard-to-find item again! Tradeloop's new Saved Search feature automatically notifies you by email when someone uploads a part that matches your saved search.

This feature replaces the old "Email Alerts" system which used to match "Want to Buy" lists to "Want to Sell" lists. The new system is much more efficient and easy to use.

For instance, suppose you've purchased some refurbished Sony VAIO laptops and need 30 replacement batteries for them. A search on part number "DR5472" returns two results with a total of 16 batteries available. You still need more, so save your search by clicking on the "Save this search and Alert Me" link underneath the search bar.

You'll be prompted to give your search a descriptive name. Once you save the query, we'll send you a notification email each time someone uploads that part. Search for a dozen parts or just one. Each part has its own Saved Search name and report.

You can modify or delete your saved searches at any time just by going your "Account Information" page and selecting the "Email Center" link. From there, select the "Your Saved Search Alerts" option in the right-hand column. It takes you to your "Saved Search" report where you can change or delete saved searches.

As you use the Saved Search feature to find the parts you need, remember that Tradeloop members can also receive alerts when someone else is searching for a particular part. Use the Search History feature to find new buyers or as a market research tool.

Both features help you avoid time-consuming searches for buyers and sellers. Use the Search History to see what buyers are looking for, and let the Saved Search report help you find what you need!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Faster Searches & Page Display on the Trading Floor

Searching the Trading Floor got easier and faster with the launch of a new layout and search results display. You'll notice the difference when you visit the search by Manufacturer page and category search pages.

The Manufacturer search page still has the tag cloud at the top with the most popular manufacturers listed. However, we replaced the long, long list of manufacturer names underneath with a single search bar that displays the alphabet, A to Z. Each letter is a link that takes you to a results page for all manufacturer names beginning with that particular letter.

This smaller page loads much more quickly and makes it easier for you to find a particular manufacturer - particularly those with names that begin with letters at the end of the alphabet! Instead of endless page scrolling, you can jump directly to the section you need.

The Category search page has the same structure. You'll see the top manufacturers listed in a tag cloud at the top, with the alphabetical search bar underneath.

And while you're on the Trading Floor, don't forget to take advantage of our recently-launched Search History page. It's a great market research tool that helps you see who's searching your inventory and all of Tradeloop too.