Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's not stalking - it's research!


Whether you sell from a brick and mortar location or online, one way to increase sales is to get to know your customers. As online sellers, we are at a disadvantage because we can't talk to our customers face to face to find out how to better serve them. We have to rely on clues left in feedback comments, questions, or learning to recognize buying patterns.

One easy way to find out more about your customers is by using Google Maps. Just enter the customer's address in Google Maps and you can see where it is located. Sometimes you can see an exact photo of the building. I have recently started to closely examine the addresses of where both my eBay and Amazon items are being shipped to. This is a very enlightening exercise. I'd like to share a few interesting sales I've had lately.

Amazon shipped 6 of a baby product to an address in New York. My first thought was, "Why does somebody want 6 of these?" The address is for an office building. After searching Google for the name of the building, I also learned that there is a day care center in the building for the employees. Aha, makes sense.


4 units of a coffee product went to a New York address. This buyer bought my last 4 units. Their address is 524 West 57th Street,New York, NY 10019. Look who it is:




Based on these two examples, we can conclude that businesses like to order products online just as much as individuals do. And they will order more than an individual would order. Understanding this can be a game changer. Businesses have deeper pockets than consumers and need more supplies. I have started to stock more of these kinds of products now that I understand that businesses utilize the Amazon Prime Account. What if CBS News wanted 8 of the product, and I only had 4? You are leaving money on the table by not having plenty in stock.

Here is another interesting situation. I sold my last few units of a product to a weird sounding address in California. After finding the address on Google Maps, I can see it is in the San Bernardino National Forest. 


The product isn't a camping or sporting goods product so I was surprised to see it going to this type of address. Note to self - buy more! Maybe someone is camping there for an extended period of time and ordering supplies from their iPhone or satellite computer hookup in an RV. Maybe the lodge is buying it to resell to guests. Maybe it is a park ranger living there. Who knows! This example enlightened me because I had no idea people out in a National Forest would be using this product - or ordering so much at a time.

Another example is APO or FPO military addresses. You can find out where the item is going by searching Google for the APO or FPO zip code. These might not show up on Google Maps but you can find out on the web where the location is. I saw this one today: 

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON
FPO, AP 96650




Right now this aircraft carrier is located in the South China Sea. What's also interesting is the number of crew. Over 6,000 people. All these service people have access to the internet and can receive mail on the ship. Pay attention to what they are ordering. And it will come in an Amazon box so other people might see this person receive his order and understand that he / she can order products this way, too.

My teenage daughter comments that I am stalking my customers online. I argue that it is research. The better you know who your customers are and where they are, the better you can serve them. So pay attention to your orders on eBay and Amazon, especially when multiple units are ordered. This is valuable information. And it is totally free! You don't need a special tool or subscription to look up an address on Google Maps. Just pay attention.

What are some interesting locations you have shipped items to?

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