Archive for the ‘Ebay’ Category

My Best Tips for Selling and Buying Online

I’ve been buying, selling, and trading online for over a decade, making me a sort of Galapagos Tortoise of the interwebz–around forever and haven’t changed much.  I was even buying and selling online when ebay still had “What’s that?” status, mostly via e-mail mailing lists and forums.  I bought and sold, and sometimes traded, collectible items; I joined the ebay brigade in 1999, mostly for buying purposes but to occasionally sell a few things and make some pocket cash.

Nowadays, online sales have become almost more de rigeur than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and while most of us have now bought something online at one point or another (or maybe regularly do so), you may not have sold online, or you may still be new to the process.

I’m still a pretty new Etsy seller, but I’ve got years of mild-to-moderate ebay experience, plus my “direct sell” experiences, so here are the most important things I have learned from both ends of the online transaction:

Buying Online:  Read Everything!

The #1 mistake I’ve made as a buyer is being too quick to push that “buy” button without checking everything out first.  I have at times paid far too much for shipping, bought items of the wrong size, given money to questionable sellers, and–naturally–ended up with items I neither liked nor could get rid of.  So read, read, read!

It’s often true that pictures are outright misleading, particularly when it comes to ebay and the like, so read every smidgen of print in the seller’s description and policies, because if you have to file a complaint, it’s the print that will count, not the pictures.

Here are a few details that you should be sure to check if buying on ebay:

Location.  If the seller doesn’t give a specific city, then expect an overseas seller.

Feedback.  Even if the rating isn’t 100%, check it out–sometimes the negative feedback is old, or unjustified.  Likewise, some people give positive ratings but then slip a complaint into the comments, which may prove useful to you.  So skim through at least the feedback for the past few weeks or months.

Shipping cost.  I always look for someone with an actual cost stated; if they say it must be calculated, then send a message asking for a firm quote.  Some ebay sellers try to make a good chunk of their profit from shipping, though most are honest…shipping prices are just really expensive!

And here are a few things people sometimes overlook when buying from my Etsy shop:

Size.  I’m stunned by how many people ask for a resize only after I’ve specifically said, “Thanks for your payment!  I’ll ship your item tomorrow–be sure to let me know if you need it resized!”  Yeah, I state the size in every listing, but folks forget to read all of it, I would presume.  With jewelry and with many other handmade items, size is crucial, so read for size, and if it’s not listed, ask!

Sales and Promotions.  Etsy sellers often have sales information on their announcements (shop front) page, so if you click directly to an item and decide to buy it, you might miss the info.  Be sure to check the announcements on the front page before you buy stuff from Etsy sellers–there may be a code you can enter for a discount!  Also check and see if they have a “Sale” or “Clearance” section in their shop.

Customization.  In the same vein as re-sizing, I think some people simply don’t think to say, “Hey, I like that style but hate pink–what other colors do you have?” or “Can you make that in a bracelet instead of an anklet?”  Most Etsy sellers are thrilled to do custom work, so don’t be shy–or you’ll never get what you really want!

Selling Online:  The Sale is in the Details

Now, don’t assume that because I’ve just said “buyers don’t read descriptions!” that you can get by with vague descriptions.  This is my number one pet-peeve as a buyer on Etsy, and the one thing that will send me fleeing an ebay item quicker than if it were a grumpy skunk.  Even if it’s obvious from the picture that it’s a “blue crocheted scarf,” please state that in the description (for search engines as well as the buyer’s sanity).  Consider that not every picture looks the same on every computer (particularly where colors are concerned); consider also that again, if something goes wrong (for example, your buyer swears that the shirt looked bigger in the picture), you will be able to point to your text as the definitive source of firm information on which he/she should rely/should have relied.

So please:  Put the size.  Put the color.  Put materials.  Put textures.  Put every detail into the description and don’t leave it to me to figure it out for myself.

For both Sellers and Buyers:  COMMUNICATE!

Sorry to shout, but this is really important.  My #1 pet peeve with buyers on Etsy is when they register with Etsy and apparently use an e-mail address that they never actually check; additionally, many new Etsy buyers are unaware of the Conversations feature, or perhaps unsure how to use it.  Thus, it becomes a tooth-gnasher if I need to get in touch with a buyer and can’t.  It delays you getting your item, as well, so please, please, please:  Leave the seller with a way to realistically contact you in case something goes wrong.

Likewise, incommunicado sellers are equally frustrating.  If you submit a question on ebay, it tells you to expect an answer “within 48 hours,” which is patently ridiculous.  If you’re trying to sell an item for a fair price, you simply must answer questions more quickly than that.  I try to have a maximum of 24-hour turnaround on questions, but that’s an outside figure; most of my questions are answered within an hour or two of asking, unless of course you’re on the other side of the earth and I’m asleep at the time.  The same goes for Convos on Etsy or e-mails from Etsy buyers.  Delaying your answers makes you seem either unprofessional or unfriendly, neither of which is likely to bring you repeat customers.

I think things like “pay for your items quickly” and “don’t mislead about what you sell” should pretty much go without saying, so I’ll close today’s tipblog and promise you an even better one next time.  Comments, anecdotes, advice, pocket protectors and Michael’s coupons welcome; post here or e-mail to particlesofstone at yahoo dot com.

Until next time, dear reader!

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