Tradeloop's Member Blog And News: July 2009

About Tradeloop

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

Promote Yourself

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

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

Tuesday, 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" 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.