In the first three parts of this series, we looked at ways to source inventory, ideas to make your shipping service more productive and how to create successful listings for the holiday season. This week is a good time to review your seller policies, so you'll have your ducks in a row, come the holiday season.
You want to get a nice bite of those online holiday sales, don't you? Then read on to see how you can prepare now for a jolly—and profitable—Christmas season.
A matter of policy
Policies are principles and guidelines you hold yourself and your buyers to. They spell out what buyers can expect from you and what you expect from them. "Terms of sale" is the umbrella term we use for your policies. It may define the item being sold, or convey payment, delivery and return procedures.
Policies are principles and guidelines you hold yourself and your buyers to. They spell out what buyers can expect from you and what you expect from them
Spelling out your policies in eBay listings adds credibility to your products, and buyers get a better feel for you as a reliable seller. It also adds a little "insurance" to your listings (in case a dispute should arise that requires eBay to mediate), assists in smooth transactions and helps decrease low feedback ratings.
If you don't have policies outlined on your listings yet, now is a great time to get started. For those who do have policies, it's never a bad idea to review and update what's there.
Ideally your policies will be clear, easy to find, and thorough but brief. I use Auctiva to list most of my eBay items. One of the benefits Auctiva offers is the ability to create Seller Details profiles that automatically post into the listing template.
Your policy section might include an About us and Contact us area, which provides a human element to your listings. Here, you can say a little about yourself and why you sell on eBay, and maybe even include a phone number for customer service-related questions. Perhaps you would also illustrate how your office is managed and if your inventory stays in a clean, weather-controlled location.
There are also many consumers who are concerned about products originating from an environment with pets or smoke. If you can guarantee your items are free of smoke residue and pet dander, these buyers will see added value to your listing.
Say how to pay
Your policies should let buyers know upfront which forms of payment you accept. The more options you provide, the more opportunities you have to sell. Include your expectations about how long a buyer has to make his or her payment.
The more options you provide, the more opportunities you have to sell. Include your expectations about how long a buyer has to pay
eBay lets you accept payments through PayPal, ProPay, Skrill, credit or debit cards, Bill Me Later, and cash payments for local pickup. PayPal and ProPay allow buyers to use their credit cards, even if you don't have a credit card processor yourself. Skrill is like Europe's version of PayPal, which may draw in international buyers.
Bill Me Later is PayPal's version of a credit line to buyers, so to speak. If you're paying for PayPal's Advanced or Pro services, you can offer Bill Me Later at no extra charge to you.
Be aware eBay has restrictions on what you can say regarding your payment policies.
Also, if the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 comes to fruition, you will be collecting and paying taxes for your sales. Regardless how the debate pans out, spell out your tax collection policies so consumers know upfront what to expect.
A tip on how you ship
How do you manage shipping? Maybe your items are ready to ship in one day, or you always refund any shipping costs overpaid by a dollar or more. Perhaps you offer free shipping, or you like to give several shipment options so your buyers can choose which works best for them.
Whatever your practices, spell them out in your shipping policies. Also be sure to include in your policies how many business days it may take you to process sales and how well you package fragile items. Explain how you determine shipping cost, whether you offer combined shipping and how you handle situations if a buyer overpays shipping costs. Think of questions buyers may ask themselves when reviewing your items like, do all packages include tracking?
eBay takes return issues seriously, so we should, too. Consumers feel more secure with online purchases when they know there's a back door
And what are your policies regarding international shipments? Indicate which countries you will or will not ship to, and clearly explain shipping fees in your policies. If you opt for eBay's Global Shipping Program, for example, international buyers will be surprised by the added fees unless your policies explain them in advance.
Concern about the return
eBay takes return issues seriously, so we should, too. It can be a gamble to buy something in the virtual world, but consumers feel more secure with online purchases when they know there's a back door.
Of course, we're all concerned about buyers who "rent" our products, so explain in your policies the guidelines you follow. For example, I will not accept returns on certain items, such as CDs, DVDs and wigs. These items don't account for many of my listings, anyway, so they don't affect my Top-rated Seller status.
By the end of this project, you should have a policy template you can "paste" into every listing or add to a designer template with one click, such as with Auctiva's Seller Details profile.
Once you've updated all your policies, make sure the grammar is polite, polished and professional, and run it through a spell-checker, whether that's your computer or a friend.
Next time, we'll look at marketing for the holiday selling season. Want to review this holiday-prep series, so far? Read about sourcing inventory, shaping up your shipping operation and creating great listings.