iwoca’s Online Seller Meetups gain in popularity

Tuesday I traveled to Manchester to attend iwoca’s Online Seller Meetup at the Red Lion Pub in Didsbury. It was well attended with around 50 online sellers gathering to share experiences, views and industry trends over a couple of beers. The Online Seller Meetups have been initiated by iwoca, who provide small business loans to eBay and Amazon sellers.

iwoca invited Jane Bell to talk about eBay Best Match, Ian Walker of 3PLogistics to discuss fulfilment, and myself to give an overview of upcoming changes affecting eBay and Amazon sellers. If you’re interested in finance for your business then the Meetups are also a great chance to meet the guys from iwoca.

iwoca have created a great opportunity for online sellers to gather in relaxed spaces offering them the opportunity to meet other sellers and share experiences with industry specialists. This is something that’s been missing from the industry for several years since eBay cancelled the eBay University program. Since May last year the number of Online Seller Meetups have continually increased and they are now hosting meetups every month around the country.

I have attended several of iwoca’s Online Seller Meetups over the last few months and received a huge amount of positive feedback, with sellers travelling from all around the country to participate. There have also been numerous requests for iwoca to host Meetups in even more locations so watch this space!

Why do iwoca sponsor the Meetups?

Online selling is an exciting and fast growing industry but it can be a lonely business at times. The opportunity to share thoughts, knowledge and concerns with like-minded people is not as easy as when you’re working in an office, but can be essential when you want to develop your business further. So far, most sellers have been looking online for these resources and while the internet offers many great opportunities for this, the face to face communication has been lacking for the online community.

“The whole purpose of iwoca’s business is to help online retailers grow and develop their businesses”, iwoca founder Christoph Rieche explained, when I asked why they invest so much time in organising the Meetups (and financial support too – iwoca are not shy when it comes to buying a round of drinks!). “But finance should be accompanied by other elements in order for these sellers to make the most of their business”, Christoph added, iwoca are giving sellers the opportunity to grow their business with guest experts on hand to talk through the issues online retailers face and give free advice.

Future Meetup Dates

13th February – London

The next Online Seller Meetup is scheduled for the 13th of February in Hammersmith, London (Next week, put the date in your diary!). Fedor Dzjuba of Linnworks and Karl Ciz of Frooition have been invited to present. Get there early as London is always a well attended Meetup.

If you’re driving park after 5.30pm in Mall Road and you’ll only pay for an hour’s parking, it’s free from 6.30pm onwards but fills up quickly once you don’t have to pay!

20th March – Birmingham (Internet Retailing Expo)

On the 20th of March the Online Seller Meetup Group visits Birmingham. The Birmingham event is a great networking opportunity for everybody who is attending the Internet Retailing Expo, which takes place on the same day so book a hotel and plan to stay the night!

iwoca’s initiative is a great example how a young company can make wise use of it’s marketing budget to create real value for the entire community. All events are free of charge and you can sign up on the Online Seller Meetup Group website.

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looks like the bar scene in starwars

puddle glums rest • 7th February 2013 •

If they are meeting over a couple of Beers. Try looking around the Meeting. I could not see one with a drink in their hand and I also could not see one with a drink(ie a Pint) on the table in front of them. In my experience almost unheard of for a gathering such as this not to have at least one person taking a drink in any photo and apart from a few empty bottles hardly a glass to be seen and that glass also appeared to be empty.

Chris • 7th February 2013 •

possibly they cant afford a drink the interest rates they may be paying for one of those loans deals that will be offered, or they could all just be numb with shock

puddleglums rest • 7th February 2013 •

They all seem to be listening intently to the Speaker. That in itself is remarkable because there is usually at least one(often over the years me) who is raising a point of order or arguing about something. From what I can see there is no body with their mouths open or raising a finger to try to make a point. Obviously a very well disciplined crowd.

Chris • 8th February 2013 •

I was a great meetup, food & drink in abundance and a really great atmosphere with lots of networking. People sharing ideas and useful info with like minded people. And as for listening intently to the speaker being remarkable, it may be that they were actually interested in a very informative presentation. Why not attend one? Then you can break the habit of criticising the whole event on just a photograph or a write up here on Tamebay, it would be great to get your informed opinion of an event you actually attended ;-)

DBL • 8th February 2013 •

we dont waste our time attending events and meet ups we make our living by actually selling ,we dont piggy back on other sellers, offering 3rd party services where its essential to be involved with these meetings ,

puddleglums rest • 8th February 2013 •

You don't have to use any third parties to attend meet ups! It is a great opportunity to meet people the same as yourself and socialise. I treat it like an office party, as working for myself I don't get to socialise much with people from 'work'. Come along, you might just realise we are not out to get you or sell you something!

Liz • 8th February 2013 •

god help me, iif I were going to meet someone the same as myself lol

puddleglums rest • 8th February 2013 •

Puddleglums - You have been nominated as the most annoying twit on Tamebay. Why don't you disappear back to your back bedroom of 2nd hand stock.

Darren • 8th February 2013 •

so disappointed we hoped we came across as at least shed in the gardem standard lol

puddleglums rest • 9th February 2013 •

Darren, Is a "back bedroom of 2nd hand stock" not good?

Jimbo • 9th February 2013 •

Bit daft really knocking "back bedroom of 2nd hand stock" type sellers. Firstly it can be rather profitable. And secondly where would ebay (and Tamebay?) be without these? And I am guessing that a highish number of "iwocas" fall into this catagory. Not everybody needs to be an "iwoca". There are many sellers who are entirely content with their business model and don't feel the need to network. After all it seems a bit silly to disclose the secrets of a winning formula.

Gary • 9th February 2013 •

many back bedroom guys , have a life style and profit margin to envy , rather than the busy fools jumping thru hoops paying for staff, a warehouse ,plus suffering 3rd party providers /programs costs and commissions, Vat and tax headaches , employment laws . etc etc etc

puddleglums rest • 9th February 2013 •

puddleglums rest I could not agree with you more!!! That is absolutely the best comment you have made this year if not ever!

Gary • 9th February 2013 •

I keep trying to imagine puddleglums rest attending one of these events. He's walking around before the event really gets going and .... he comes face to face with his double. I wonder who would be most shocked??? Obviously they both had a drink in their hands and obviously with the shock they both dropped them. Their respective jaws also dropped. But then the others present will have caught sight of the meeting. A few will be drifting over the look at the two transfixed by the shock. No doubt one or two will be hoping that the after effects of the shock meeting will last to the end of the meeting because they have been to other events with puddleglums rest and know what a disruptive influence he usually is. My biggest regret is that the Meeting is likely to be in Manchester(some 400 miles from me);London(some 300 miles from me) or perhaps Birmingham(some 300 miles from me) and I will have decided not to go because of the distance and expense for just an evening meeting.

Chris • 9th February 2013 •

I can't wait for London meet up :-)

Murat • 7th February 2013 •

Thanks Christoph & Lisa from iwoca for organising this event. Personally I found the event a thoroughly enjoyable and useful evening out with some idea sharing ,food , drinks and some excellent presentations. There were certainly plenty of questions raised by the attendees both during and after the presentations. It would be great to see these events at more locations nationwide

Fozz • 8th February 2013 •

I am a from Bolton were anything free is taken swiftly and kindly and I can assure you that there was plenty of Sol, Desperados, Bulmers, Peroni, White wine, Red wine, Coke, J2’s, Water, Chicken wings, Potato wedges, a selection of onion rings, deep fried vegetable, cheese and tomato pizza the list goes on. The reason why people in the picture are transfixed is because and believe it or not the event was one of the best events I have ever attended and I have held senior posts within blue chip companies and travelled the world. No one was trying to sell you anything or ram something down your neck that you did not want it was all relevant and informative with a little information as to what changes to expect in the next 12 months within the platforms that we all sell on to keep us at the forefront where “we will be making our living by actually selling in 12 months’ time appose to those who did not attend”. I also hold a Master's in business management and I don’t know or claim to know everything but what do you know get in to a room with over 50+ people in similar positions as myself and the amount of tip n tricks that I have picked up from 50+ brains have just saved me tens of thousands of pound each year moving my business forward and all in my back pocket by attending one “free” night - bargain. Couple all the above with a few free beers plus the food and I have gained some new “like minded savvy business friends” not just locally but UK wide who are only too happy to help and give free advice, people would pay networking groups a fortune or give their right arm for those kind of contacts which all came – you guessed it “for free”. So a big thanks again to Christoph & Lisa, keep up the good work and keep these meetings going, and to Chris, Jane & Ian for the presentations well done all!!! See you at the next event.

Mark • 9th February 2013 •

Well said Mark and thank you :-)

DBL • 9th February 2013 •

the social side ,the good comrade side, the entertainment side, I can understand and dont argue with, though just what the business advantage is, I just cant grasp! if these guys giving the info are so clever why are they there doing it for "free"? and if the info is so good why are the groupies anoraks and serial attendees of these things not off enjoying the fruits of the vast free knowledge and the quality of the information , rather than blithering about it in darkest Manchester

puddleglums rest • 9th February 2013 •

I attended this meeting in manchester , for the very first time. in the past I have attended many ebay hosted meetings in birmingham . and had an ebay advisor once to help me achieve top rated status. this meeting in manchester , was the shortest, most informative and helpful I have had the pleasure to attend. and guess what I found the time while still running my full time buisness and if you wish to be very successful you will also need help eventually. no person can ever be truly succesfull on their own and think they have all the answers. all the best to tamebay and the guest speakers especially jane bell . keep up the good work. see you all next time.

steve medhurst • 9th February 2013 •

we dont have all the answers ,though we know quite a few ,those we do know cost us lots of time ,effort ,and money , were not going to give those answers away for free, and certainly not going to attend one of these meetings to learn what we already know, if attending these meetings were the easy answer to success ,we would all be millionaires and crowds would be outside trying to get in

puddle glums rest • 9th February 2013 •

lets be honest most people attend these meeetings because they are not succesful they are looking for help, , thats not me, I could do with a few extra back bedrooms though lol

puddleglums rest • 9th February 2013 •

to be very successful, you only need to find out what works then keep doing it then get other people to help you keep doing the same thing but in a better more efficient way. now what if you attend a meeting with like minded people some new starters and some professional whom all have drive and something in common. then mix in buissness people who let you know how they could improve your efficency but for a price would you then say no automatically or do you see how much extra profit is in it for you. on top of that add a sponsor who brings you all together ( like minded again ). all to help each other so as you all could become a team and help each others buisness s become successful together. thats my rant out the way.

steve medhurst • 9th February 2013 •

to be frank if thats your ethos , the only advantage of attending such a meeting would be to learn how not to do it

puddleglums rest • 10th February 2013 •

And being as you weren't there can you elaborate a little more?

DBL • 10th February 2013 •

I can understand some of your scepticism. I was always cynical of these types of events , and in my early years of ebay trading never considered attending any of them , for pretty much the reasons you've cited. I used to think "Surely I can make more money by staying at home , get myself some listings done..." Finally (somewhat reluctantly) attended one a few years back when ebay invited me along to a celebration evening. My surprise discovery that day was that you can learn a lot from your fellow ebayers. No matter how much you know , or think you know , you never stop learning, sometimes its just the minutest of details which you can apply to your own business processes. You don't have to reveal your best trade secrets ! The Manchester event had quality networking , generous hosts and fine presentations from Jane , Chris and Ian. See you at the next one.

Fozz • 9th February 2013 •

I dont doubt you can learn a lot , though it depends on how much you need to know?, if we were a new business, or one that felt it were underachieving , these meetings may have a point, though i doubt you will find Branson Sugar or Gates among the list of attendees

puddleglums rest • 10th February 2013 •

or put another way how many platinum or titanium powersellers attended ?

puddleglums rest • 10th February 2013 •

And this denotes how useful the meetup was how?

DBL • 10th February 2013 •

Don't understand that argument , but there were definitely Platinum Powersellers in attendance. Top Powerseller ratings are based on turnover , isn't success about profit and/or lifestyle ?

Fozz • 10th February 2013 •

I'm a Titanium Powerseller and I attend as many of these as I can get along to. I always learn something useful. Very grateful to Christoph and iwoca for reviving the format and think it's a highly worthwhile event to get along to.

David Brackin • 10th February 2013 •

yeah but do you run with the fox? or hunt? with the hounds? these meetings can attract the nieve and gullable like time share and pyramid selling

pubbleglums rest • 10th February 2013 •

Are these meetings about how to improve your selling techniques or about how to expand your business? There is a clear distinction between the two. I don't need advice on how to improve my selling techniques to maximise sales (and frankly nearly all of the stuff I have seen in this area is recycled. Basically there is absolutely nothing new that can be said and I am selective with the techniques available. The techniques suitable for my niche area may not be suitable for other sales areas. You have to pick and choose what is right for you) but I may need a lesson on how to expand my business if I have any ambitions in that direction. The fact is I personally don't have any ambitions in that direction but let us not put off those that do have ambitions who may want to attend.

Gary • 10th February 2013 •

I see the Meetups as having three benefits to online retailers: 1) Picking up the latest news and information on what's happening within online retail - marketplaces and otherwise 2) An opportunity to discuss issues which might be glitches, policy changes by marketplaces, or speak direct to different suppliers who are attending. 3) An opportunity to socialise with peers and meet industry figures - some quite senior people from different companies have attended in the past including eBay. If nothing else if you're banging away at home, or in your warehouse, online is very different to working in a bigger company and just as large businesses have social events it's good as an independent retailer to have some time off in the company of like minded individuals. Finally the Meetups are of course optional! They're not for everyone just as selling on eBay, Amazon or Play isn't for everyone. If you don't want to attend simply don't go, but no need to belittle those that do choose to go, or the events themselves (including the the Meetups and any other events such as ChannelAdvisor Catalyst, eSellerPro's customer conference, Play.com's conference, eBay Seller Council, Internet Retailing, Ecommerce Expo etc etc etc) if they're not your bag! If you do choose to attend and want to give an balanced argument why you thought the event wasn't for you that's one thing and helpful to both organisers and those considering attending, but if you've never attended quite frankly your opinion is uninformed and not worth much giving much credence to.

Chris Dawson • 10th February 2013 •

I am not attempting to belittle these meet ups, just being realistic, they are not intended to be for the good of others, they are to promote and enhance the business of those that organise them, plus some independants who attend, offer 3rd party services which they also hope to promote

puddleglums nest • 10th February 2013 •

Absolutely and there's nothing wrong with that I can make an informed decision whether the services are for me, just as there's also nothing wrong with an opportunity for me to attend (which I do even when not speaking) as many friends attend who I enjoy having a beer with just as I used to have a beer with mates from work when I worked in an office. It's just not as convenient to go for a beer with work colleagues when I work on my own :D

Chris Dawson • 10th February 2013 •

and there in is a real business opportunity for someone! with an obvious demand for real world physical meetings for e commerce,sellers, a properly organised ,club /convention/ association call it what you will, with the focus on the members rather than the promoter

puddleglums rest • 10th February 2013 •

Would you rather pay to attend and buy your own beer (which is the case with almost all Meetup groups) or have someone else foot the bill and buy you a couple of beers and nibbles as a bonus... (or in your case not attend whether it's free or charged for ;-)) Many seem to quite like having the Meetups for free and simply ignoring the business offerings that they don't need, in exchange for not having to pay any club or association fees...

Chris Dawson • 10th February 2013 •

I am thinking on the scale O2 or NEC, not a cosy snack for the ebay Groupies

puddleglums rest • 10th February 2013 •

Well said Chris Dawson, I haven't been to one of these but would if given a chance, i am not arrogant enough to think I know it all, it seems to be the order of the day for people to be so negative about things, if it's not for you then that's totally fine, it's your decision but don't belittle anyone who does go, we all have a right to our opinion, just respect other peoples.

Neil Stoker • 10th February 2013 •

I fail to see not wishing to attend an event designed as a sales pitch the main aim of being to sell you finance, makes you arrogant?

puddleglums nest • 10th February 2013 •

I fail to see why not attending an event gives you the right to insult people and businesses who were there and have given good comments about it. How do you know there was a sales pitch when you weren't even in the room? What planet are you on? Is this some kind of joke? :-D

DBL • 10th February 2013 •

DBL, why do you go to the events?

Jimbo • 10th February 2013 •

oops reply below

dbl • 10th February 2013 •

The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

puddle glums rest • 10th February 2013 •

Good and well valid point DBL I can honestly say that as a new ebay & amazon business (trading 11 months) that IWOCA, Chris, Jane or Ian did not actively tout for any business, there was attendees who seemed to be touting for "Certain cost benefit business" when you spoke to them but that is normal when attending a networking event - who wouldn't want to gain more business (you would not be business minded if you didn't!! no matter how big your company is). So for the organisers not to be rushing you in to any unwanted goods or services becomes a breath of fresh air to me and that is why these meetings work and are successful. However if you are so successful "Puddleglums" as you claim to be, why are you not retired and on your private yacht moored in Monaco not giving a monkeys what us mere mortals do at the bottom of the pile, or why are you looking at Tamebay – a platform to help improve multi-channel sales, business practise, latest channel legislations, cost saving benefits etc etc if you have found the formula and the answers to multi-channel selling? I suppose your name is Branson, Sugar or Gates though…….

Mark • 10th February 2013 •

Generally to meetup with my friends and have a chat about all things, obviously the Manchester one had the additional reason of the presentation on Best Match Search. I sat and chatted with you over drinks at CA Insite in London too. Why do you go?

DBL • 10th February 2013 •

Out of curiosity. Don't think I would go to another CA event though (unless it was a freebie). I was tempted to go to the London meet ups, as they're fairly local and was also interested in the linnworks demo, which was being done at one.

Jimbo • 10th February 2013 •

You should come along for a drink and a chat :-)

DBL • 10th February 2013 •

You should come along for a drink and a chat, costs you nothing :-)

DBL • 10th February 2013 •

Too cold at for me at the moment.

Jimbo • 10th February 2013 •