Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blocking Buyers on eBay Means Losing Customers

Succeeding on eBay is about providing excellent customer service and going above and beyond what the average seller would do. Often, when receiving a strange or unusual request from a prospective buyer, many sellers' knee-jerk reaction is to block the buyer so they can't buy the item. Unfortunately, this defensive mentality won't increase sales. Remember, your buyers are just people like you and me - we are all pretty much the same. What if the buyer has a legitimate (although unusual) question about the product? Most buyers are not malicious or evil, they only have a question they need answered before making a buying decision. When you block a buyer, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face - you could be losing not only 1 sale but many. Here is a great story from my Facebook group, where a seller went above and beyond to help a prospective customer.

John wrote, "I received a message from a guy about a vintage thermos I have listed. He asked me to fill it with hot water, empty it after 5 minutes then fill it with hot coffee. Then he wants me to let it sit for 15 hours and see if it's still hot. I don't need advice about this but was wondering if any else has received a strange request like this."

Obviously, this buyer knew exactly what he was looking for. He knows that vintage thermoses keep liquids much hotter for longer than thermoses made today. The buyer may be a construction worker, rancher, park ranger, or someone else who works outside and wants hot coffee available all day. Or maybe his workplace doesn't provide hot coffee and he wants to bring his own along. Filling the thermos with hot water first warms up the inside, so the hot beverage will stay hot longer. 

I was surprised, even shocked, to see so many sellers immediately become defensive and suggest John ignore the request or even block the customer. Some responses from other sellers:

I know it's bad customers service but I generally ignore requests like that.

If it were me, I'd have to tell him I don't drink coffee and don't have any.

From my experience if they ask crazy questions they always end up being a nightmare.

Odd requests can often times lead to odd customers and odd customers lead to trouble and trouble leads to negative feedbacks, refunds, returns, and other stuff. 

Other sellers were more supportive and willing to accommodate the customer's request:

I don't see anything wrong with that request. The prospective buyer is checking the insulating values of the vintage thermos. Something any *serious* prospective buyer should be doing.

Why not fill it with hot water before going to bed and test it in the morning. He won't know....he might not even end up being the buyer, but at least you know that you're 'going the extra mile' for your customers.

Its easier than a refund or a neg. Not that odd of a request for a thermos.

Actually this is not an odd request and this is how you really check out a thermos.

I must say I'm quite disappointed in all the responses saying they wouldn't do it. Why on earth not?? I look at it as a way to provide outstanding customer service and a personal touch to what is usually an anonymous ebay transaction. To me, this buyer sounds like he knows exactly what he wants and is an experienced thermos user. 

What he is asking is very simple, but it will work for any thermos, have no idea just why he is asking; I do this all the time.

The Outcome

John did end up selling the thermos, but to a different buyer. John reported, "Last week I posted about a buyer that asked me to test the thermal retention on a vintage thermos. I did the test and posted it here. I also added it to the listing and messages the buyer.Since I believe that the test added value, I raised my asking price by $5.00. I did tell the original requester to send me his best offer and I would accept at the original price. He never responded.Yesterday someone from Canada purchased it BIN for my new asking price! It's twice as sweet as this is my first non US sale.Thanks to everyone on this group for the advice and interest."

What a great learning experience for anyone who has not dealt with vintage thermoses before. A crazy question isn't crazy to the buyer. They usually have very specific reasons for asking the question. 

Need help with your eBay store or listings? Maybe sales are slow or you want to take it to the next level but don't know how? Register for a consultation here - if I can't help, you won't be charged.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amazon Grocery Course Now an Instant Download

By popular demand, the ABC's of Selling Groceries on Amazon is now an instant download. You'll receive:

8 Videos containing 2 hours worth of content

120-Page eBook

My personal insights about how to succeed in the grocery niche

Cost is $149 - one or two payment option available.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

3 Tips for Increasing eBay Traffic and Sales

eBay sellers are becoming increasingly frustrated with lack of sales or slow sales since the change in the search engine algorithm last July. Many sellers are intimidated all the changes, and what we are supposed to be doing now to be successful. I see this frustration daily from sellers from all walks of life, all store levels, and using different business models. 

Usually on a daily basis, I receive emails or Facebook messages about these issues:

My sales suddenly dropped off. What am I doing wrong?

Traffic to my listings is way down. What happened?

My items aren't coming up in searches - why not?

How can I increase sales? My prices are already as low and I can go.

If you don't understand the Cassini search engine, and haven't educated yourself about how eBay rewards and punishes sellers for different actions, this is a huge part of the problem. The new search engine not only rewards sellers for doing certain things, but it actually punishes sellers for doing or not doing other things.  The punishment is being pushed to the bottom of the search - so far down that buyers don't see the listings.

3 things you can do immediately to improve traffic, and hopefully sales:

1. Make sure listings are optimized for mobile. eBay estimates 40% of sales are made on mobile devices. I see this error a lot, and if buyers can't read your listings on mobile, they won't buy from you. This isn't a Cassini issue, but is important to connecting with buyers.

2. Extend return policy to 30 days, whether you like it or not. Cassini rewards sellers for this and you will be placed higher in searches.

3. Remove any extraneous HTML code from your description area. Listing templates, banners, widgets, maps, and info copied from the internet that carries code with it can junk up this area, and Cassini can't read it. Listings with too much HTML are punished and pushed to the bottom.

Learn about more ways to improve sales on eBay here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Speed Thrifting with the Fashionistas from Thrifting Atlanta


It was a normal Saturday. My daughter and I headed over to our favorite thrift outlet. We arrived at about 1:00 PM and there were about 20 people in the store. We were deep in thought choosing clothing to sell on eBay, when a charter bus pulled up outside and about 50 eager thrifters entered the store.

I've been thrifting for eBay and Amazon around Atlanta every week since 2003 and had never seen anything like this. What was it? A thrifting field trip? A road trip with out-of-towners? A mobile eBay convention? Of course, I had to ask.

As I was working through the sweater rack, I approached two very fashionable ladies dressed to the nines and asked, "Excuse me, did you just get off that bus out there?" They nodded yes. I said, "What's this all about? Are you from out of town on a road trip?"

They explained they were part of a group called Thrifting Atlanta. The full-day outing is organized well in advance  including discounts arranged with store managers. The group travels to the best thrift stores, consignment stores, and resale shops around Atlanta. Each stop is only 45 minutes, then it is back on the bus to the next stop. After the ladies explained the concept, I asked, "Sort of like speed-dating, but with thrift stores?" Exactly! The bus tour day costs around $35 per person.

The founder, Keren Charles, is a fashion blogger and thrifting expert, and organizes monthly thrifting bus tours around Atlanta. She has organized exclusive discounts at thrift stores around Atlanta for Thrifting Atlanta Members. The bus tour day includes a bag lunch and refreshments, and of course luxurious transportation - no driving in Atlanta traffic. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, rest your feet, and get ready for the next store.

Then my eBay brain kicked in - what a great way to thrift for eBay. An all-day event, comfortable transportation, a variety of different stores, and you are surrounded by a group of fashionistas who could really provide some great information on fashion trends and brands. I can see people traveling to Atlanta to take this tour - or even eBayers who live here joining the fun. If transportation is an issue, this is a great solution and a creative way to get inventory.

Visit the Thrifting Atlanta website for more information about bus tours, Thrift and Brunch, and how to become an official member. Or check out their Facebook page.I hope we run into them again sometime, what a great group of thrifting enthusiasts!

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