Tradeloop's Member Blog And News: June 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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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
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

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.