FotoFuze is one of the best background removal sites out there right now. I have tried a few of them with poor to decent results. FotoFuze seems to be better than the rest and is free. In the past I simply edited backgrounds out the manual way by using Photoshop and painting white around the edges of a product. That works well, but it is very time-consuming. FotoFuze takes seconds and produces very good results. I took a photo of my cat with a brown background to see how it would do. It is also worth noting I did this all from my phone.
I spent about 10 seconds in FotoFuze highlighting the border and center of the part I wanted to remain (the cat). Then submitted it and the resulting image is seen below:
If you are listing on any major marketplace like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and others you need to have quality images that have the background removed. Amazon actually requires this for new listings or images, and it just looks better. Even if you have your own website, you still would do well to ensure the images follow traditional stock image standards and have the background removed. While you can do it the old-fashioned way by painting the background color over an image, a site like FotoFuze might meet your needs and save you some time.
Often when shopping on Amazon or listing items you can see all manner of strange descriptions sellers put for their items. The worst description I have ever seen was an item listed as “New” where the seller said it had only been used a few times and was in perfect condition. Of course, this is not even remotely close to a new item, but many sellers either do not know the Amazon condition guidelines or do not care to follow them. I guess many sellers do not care to properly rate an item’s condition because Amazon does not seem to actively monitor these descriptions or hold sellers accountable for incorrect condition ratings.
I have collected just a small sample of descriptions where the sellers plainly describe that their items are not the condition they listed them as. Lest you think these are all newbie sellers, here are some examples of the rankings of these sellers:
Even sellers with a large amount of feedback and with 100% positive ranking are still not listing items with the most accurate condition.
This item is described as “New, never opened, never owned [are they saying that they do not own the item?], sealed.” The problem is that the description also goes on to say that it is in good shape with wear, and that the wear may include scuffs, scratches, creases, bends, and edge wear. All of these things would immediately disqualify the item as being in “New” condition, and it could not even be listed as “Used – Like New” according to Amazon’s Condition Guidelines. A New item must be perfect with no wear to the box. Even a “Like New” condition item means “the original packaging is intact and pristine” and that it has “absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging.”
This description of a supposedly “New” condition item describes why the item could never be listed as “New” or even “Like New.” Now, I do want to add that many of these types of descriptions are default condition descriptions and the actual item they are shipping to the customer may be perfect and actually in “New” condition. This is why it is probably better to not use such default descriptions.
This exact same description is used by multiple sellers, as is seen in the same one in the above two images which are from two different sellers. It may be a description given by some Amazon selling course or some site people are following word-for-word. It could also be that the two sellers using this exact description are the same seller with two accounts, in which case they are breaking Amazon’s terms against multiple accounts and opening themselves up to permanent account suspension.
This description tells us that this item would be “Used – Very Good” due to the fact that it does not qualify per Amazon’s Condition Guidelines. You cannot sell an item as “New” when it has a withered box. It does not matter if you personally would rate it as “New,” the guidelines for what is new are determined by Amazon and not the whims of the seller.
This description is fine, except it is a description for an action figure, not a book. There is no book or anything book-related included with the item. This is most likely some default description the seller uses and accidentally kept when they switched to listing non-book items, but this could cost them sales if people see this and skip it because they are not looking for a book.
You may wonder if these condition issues really are all that important, especially when there are so many sellers listing items with a better condition than they are truly able to be rated. Just because Amazon does not currently police this, they could in the future and your business could be in jeopardy if you have built it upon incorrect condition ratings. Another problem, one that applies right now, is that of buyer complaints that could result from improperly rating an item’s condition. While this may not result in a complaint from most customers, if a customer purchased the item with Amazon’s 1-Click buying, they might never see the description and the buyer is depending on the condition to be accurately rated. This could easily result in a return, negative feedback, or even an A-to-Z claim when the customer gets the damaged box item that they were expecting to be a new item with an undamaged box. It is always best to rate an item the proper condition and ensure that your customer has the best experience possible. Tricking customers by listing items as “New” because you want to get the highest price for an item with a damaged box is short-term thinking and will eventually end in problems.
For the sake of discussion let us say we have a brand new item that has damage to the packaging and the plastic wrap is coming off. The item itself is untouched and the package is still factory sealed. What is the condition that this item can be listed in per Amazon’s condition guidelines? New? Like New? Very Good? Good? Acceptable?
The vast majority of the sellers I know will get this wrong, including long-term sellers. Most sellers will say, “New” or “Like New” would be the proper condition for such an item. The answer is neither of those and Amazon is very clear on this, but this is only clear to you if you know Amazon’s actual condition guidelines. Here is what Amazon states as their condition guidelines:
New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments. Used – Like New: An apparently untouched item in perfect condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine. There are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging. Instructions are included. Item is suitable for presenting as a gift. Used – Very Good: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. – Taken from http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161242
Notice how the condition guidelines for “Used – Like New” say that “the original packaging is intact and pristine” and that there “are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging.” The item we are discussing is brand new but has damage to the packaging, so the best possible condition it could be rated is “Used – Very Good.” Rating the item as “New” or “Used – Like New” is against Amazon’s terms and if they caught you on this it could result in account suspension. Just because Amazon is lenient on this right now does not mean that they will not eventually crack-down on sellers who consistently rate their item’s conditions inaccurately.
It is always best if you have any question about what Amazon wants to actually check their own guidelines. If you just listen to what many sellers are saying you may be wrong and putting your business in the hands of people who are ignorant of what Amazon requires of sellers. Keep in mind that for each category there are specific guidelines, so make sure you are aware of any special guidelines required for the category the item you are listing is listed in. You can read up on the “Category-Specific Guidelines” at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161242#CSCG
If you are sourcing in a new area or going to locations you have not been to before then it can save time to have a plan to route you to each location in order to ensure that you are on the fastest route to each location. If you need to get the best route to 12 locations or less, Speedyroute.com offers a free service that does just that for you. They have a limit of 5 free route calculations from one client IP Address over a rolling 24 hour period. You can calculate more than 5 routes from the same IP Address within 24 hours and more than 12 locations in one route, but you must purchase a subscription in order to do so. For most people, the free service will be more than adequate for their needs.
A service like this is especially useful when you are going to garage sales. Since each location changes every week, you do not develop a general idea for the best route to the locations like you would a retail store, thrift store, or wholesale store that you frequent regularly. Make sure to plan your sourcing outing in the most efficient method using a route planning tool like SpeedyRoute. If you have navigation systems like Garmin or TomTom then SpeedyRoute’s export feature supports GPX files as well as CSV files (GPX files can be used by some SatNavs such as TomTom and Garmin devices).
If you have ever set a reminder on your phone or other device you know how easy they are to snooze and never get done. Reminders are important, but how the reminder is sent is equally important. This is where FollowUpThen comes in handy. It provides you with unlimited reminders via email. You can send yourself reminders with pictures, text, and forward emails to yourself to follow up on later. The later becomes especially valuable if you are trying to keep your inbox uncluttered with emails that you “keep meaning to get to.”
FollowUpThen is simple to use. You simply send an email to a pre-selected email like firstname.lastname@example.org, and then in 4 hours that email will be sent to you. You can set it for specific days like December24@followupthen.com. You can set monthly reminders by emailing email@example.com, which would have that reminder be sent to you every 15th of the month. You can be more specific with firstname.lastname@example.org, for every 15th of the month at 8 am. You can set reminders at custom intervals like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can set daily reminders like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. As you can see from these few examples the functionality is very broad, though it is as simple as sending an email to use. They also have features like response detection (to detect if someone you sent an email to responded), calendar integration, tasks, SMS reminders, email-based actions, and a lot more.
I used FollowUpThen to cut down my email workload from 2 hours a day to around 30 minutes a day. It easily paid for itself that first day in the time it saved me. In many ways it can be set up to operate like a true virtual assistant.
They have a free version and a paid version (which starts at only $2 a month). The free version may be all you need, but if you need more follow ups or advanced features like Calendar Integration, Response Detection, SMS Reminders, Customization, and User Management then the Premium paid version would be perfect for you.