5 Mistakes That Could Cost You Money

To ensure 5-star customer satisfaction, think like a buyer.

by Janelle Elms
- Jun 18, 2009

If you're going to treat eBay like a garage sale, don't be surprised if you receive garage sale prices.

Your eBay Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) are directly tied to the potential of increasing your profits through PowerSeller rebates and increased security and confidence from buyers. There are five main areas on eBay that, without the proper attention, could cost you money instead of increasing your bottom line. Here's a rundown:

eBay Store

Your eBay Store is a front-window display for your valuable business. In a previous article about eBay Store designs we shared how important the look of your business is to your bottom line. But it's not just the design that's valuable for your customers. They don't know you, and can't hear or see you. The only determination they have of your business is what's on that Web page.

What does your front window say to your potential buyers? Some sellers fill the valuable header area with rants about eBay, government policies and feelings about customers who leave bad ratings. Others use half of the front page to announce every promotion and deal they're running before the customer can even see the merchandise. Still others don't even bother to update the eBay placeholder information.

Remember: Think like a buyer, not like a seller.

Listing Description

Be nice! Your description and policies are like your sales person who has just met your buyer in your store. What are they saying to your buyer?

Terms of Sale

I don't buy anything from sellers who threaten me with: "Must pay in 72 hours" or "Don't bid unless you intend to buy." Talk to the 99 percent of your customers who are amazing buyers. Don't belittle the people who want to give you money by focusing your descriptions on previous bad experiences. All you will do is attract more bad buyers with a vocabulary that they understand.

Remember these points:

  • A good description includes features and benefits of the item you're selling—features are facts and benefits are bonuses. A fact of your item might be that it's a navy raincoat, size XL. The benefits may be that it won't show dirt, will keep you dry during those rainy football games and that it's roomy enough to layer with other clothing.
  • Always check your grammar and spelling. Buyers subconsciously believe that if you're careless with how your business is presented that you'll treat their purchase (and subsequent shipping) the same way.
  • A good rule of thumb is to write a description of your item as though you don't have a photo.

Listing photo

Just point and click and put the picture up on eBay, right? Probably not. Let's think about this one from the buyer's perspective:

As a buyer, I have my choice of multiple listings from multiple sellers. The items are relatively similar in price and quality. However, based on the pictures of iPhones below, which one would you buy?

iPhone don't

iPhone do

Here are some basic photography tips that every online seller should know and use:

  • Turn off your flash. Use natural lighting (like close to a window) or purchase professional light stands.
  • Use a plain background. There's a reason that the "floating image" is so coveted. A blank piece of poster board or some white fabric from the remnants bin will increase the professional look of your photos instantly.
  • Crop in as closely as you can. The buyer only needs (and wants) to see the item they are actually purchasing. Not your knee, hand or couch.
  • Invest in a tripod. Hey, for $25 you won't have to hold your item anymore or have images that appear to be in motion.
  • Find your Macro setting. This is your friend for close-in photos, details and smaller items such as jewelry.
  • If the item has a defect or flaw, include a photo of this. Your buyer's security and confidence will increase with this extra image, which shows you to be upfront and honest about the item.
  • If you're in business to create a profit, you need to realize and embrace your buyers' expectations of fast action

    E-mail correspondence

    This one is huge. We live in an instant gratification society—egad, our attention spans have now been reduced to "tweeting" 140 characters of thoughts. The Buy It Now sales on eBay increase dramatically each quarter on eBay's financials. Your customers pay with PayPal because of the quickness of the transaction. And they expect their packages in the mail moments after they've paid.

    But if you're in business to create a profit, you need to realize and embrace your buyers' expectations of fast action. If they don't get it from you, they'll spend their money with a seller who can provide those benefits. How quickly you handle e-mail communications will play a large part in whether you acquire the customer.

    To help with answering e-mail, you can set up your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on eBay to assist potential buyers in receiving fast answers to common questions they may have about your products and services. Buyers will see this page when they click the "Ask Seller a Question" link. To set up your FAQs, simply:

  • Log into My eBay
  • Click on "Site Preferences" under My Account
  • Click "Show" to the right of Ask Seller a Question
  • From here you can edit the areas you would like
  • You can create up to 15 FAQs for your viewers to read before they get to the box to ask you a question. Since I created my FAQs, my volume of e-mail questions has gone down by 85 percent—no joke.

    When you do receive an e-mail from a customer, answer it as quickly as you can. I realize not all of us are glued to our computers, but if you're running an online business, it's your responsibility to be online in a timely fashion. Someone just lost a $100 sale from me. During the two days it took them to get back to me I had found another supplier.

    And I am going to repeat myself… Be nice! Here's an actual e-mail I received when I asked the seller a question about the size on the unmarked shoes they had for sale:

    "I'm not tellin you nothin. You type of people just askme(sic) all sorts of questions and take up my time and never bid. Go find someone else to bother."

    I'm guessing this person probably isn't making any money on eBay.

    In the box

    Too many sellers think the only interaction they have with the buyer is during the actual sale. But the buyer's experience (and the future feedback they give you) is still in the balance until they receive their package. If you think your responsibility ends when the post office picks up your package, you're mistaken. The buyer may have a five-star feedback mindset about you during the sale, but all of that can change upon receiving their package. Here are some tips for creating a five-star experience the day the package arrives:

  • Use a new box. Order the free ones from the U.S. Postal Service and UPS. For earth-conscience people out there, recycle your used boxes locally; don't use them in your professional business. A company like Uline has numerous sizes of boxes for your business, including a recycled line.
  • Create a professional label. I can't believe how many packages I still receive with a handwritten label slapped on with a couple pieces of tape. If you're running a professional business, invest in your success by printing your labels online. I use Endicia because I can include my branding on the label as well as a graphic about the five-star customer service we offer.
  • Packaging is a given and by now shouldn't even be an issue—yet I still receive things wrapped in newspaper. Quit that!
  • What experience do you give them when they open the box? Besides the item they've been excited about receiving, do you include a thank you note? A small freebie such as a pen, magnet or calendar? Have you provided them a clear way to purchase from you again? Have you invited them to sign up for your newsletter so you can stay in contact with them? Did you enclose a coupon? This shouldn't be a one-time customer. You worked hard enough to get them the first time—make it easy for them to be a repeat customer.
  • Focus your attention on these five powerful customer service areas and your DSRs will increase. With higher DSRs, you'll see your eBay PowerSeller rebates grow larger and you will attract more buyers, rather than have them click over to your competitor.

    About the Author

    Janelle Elms is a best-selling author, inspiring educator and Visionaire of the OSI Rock Stars. You can hear her on wsRadio every Wednesday on Ask Janelle Radio. Learn the success information you need to grow your business at www.osiRockStars.com. For step-by-step training on how to set up an eBay Store for maximum exposure and profit, visit One Percent Coach.

    Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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