TRADELOOP

Tradeloop's Member Blog And News: May 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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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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ethically Speaking - May 2009

Since our last Ethics Update, two non-member companies were banned from Tradeloop.

Nazims Continental was banned for failure to ship goods after payment was received. Alken (HK) Trading Co. was banned for shipping counterfeit product and refusing to refund the purchase price.

One complaint was closed with no action taken after the complainant failed to respond to requests for information. We want to remind members that that the Ethics Committee is composed of volunteers. Filing a complaint and failing to follow through wastes the committee's time and reflects badly on the complainant.

Our two new cases have an unusual twist: both are between Tradeloop members! The majority of Ethics cases are filed by members against non-members. That's why we encourage members to seek out other members first when looking to make deals. Our careful member screening process helps keep fraudulent companies out of the trading community.

In one new case, the complainant alleges that the defendant failed to pay for goods after product was received. That case is being prepared for Ethics Committee review. The second case alleges non-payment and failure to complete the purchase agreement. That case will go forward when the defendant responds to requests for information.

Please remember that participation in the Ethics process is not optional for Tradeloop members. It's part of your membership agreement, and members who fail to participate can be banned from the Tradeloop community.

Visit the Tradeloop Ethics area to read more about Ethics cases and the Ethics process.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Manage Emails, Broadcasts, and More at Our New Email Center

We've made it more convenient for members to manage emails, set email preferences, monitor search history, and see who is viewing their inventory. The new Email Center offers all these options and more in one place.

The Email Center is easy to access and navigate. Just log into your Tradeloop account and click on the "Email Center" link on your Member Home Page. It's divided into two sections: "Email Administration" and "Email Alerts and Reports."

The Email Administration section allows you to:
· Edit the email address associated with your login or add another user to your account.
· Set email opt out preferences for marketing emails, parts deletion reminders, and other options.
· Review the Tradeloop privacy policy.
· Check your bounce history. An excessive number of bounces will result in account suspension, so check to see if our system thinks your email address is bouncing.

The Email Alerts and Reports section contains these account management options:
· Manage your Broadcasts by setting filters, delivery preferences, and more.
· Saved search alerts notify you when another dealer posts a part you're searching for.
· Searches matching your inventory report alerts you when someone searches for a part in your inventory. Learn more about this market research tool.
· End user impressions and clicks is a report associated with the End User program. Track who's searching and clicking on your public items.

Many of these options have been available to members for a long time. The Email Center format just brings them together in one place, saving you time and making account administration easier.