7 Steps to Improved Fixed-Price Sales

Ready to go beyond auction selling? Here's a plan of action.

by Dennis L. Prince
- Mar 04, 2010

If you've enjoyed selling via online auctions, you've likely established a successful method that has garnered you some good sell-through rates. As positive as your results might be, perhaps you still wonder if there's more you can do to sell more of your items. Well, if you've yet to step into to realm of fixed-price selling then get ready to watch your profits increase, practically overnight.

As with any sales approach, you need a plan to make the most of your effort. Lucky for you, here is a comprehensive seven-step method that will establish you in the fixed-price marketplace, and boost your success above and beyond what you already enjoy from the auction block.

1. Establish and advertise your fixed-price presence

An important first step in any business or merchandising plan is to make it known you are in the business. Although you may have become known as a reliable auction seller, you now need to let your customers know that you have a fixed-price offering—goods available for immediate purchase.

Be sure all your auction listings or customer messages make reference of your fixed-price venue (whether via an eBay Store or at a venue of your own). Similarly, begin to weave in some Buy It Now listings among your eBay auctions, showing that you offer your customers two ways to shop for and purchase your goods. And, if you're just starting up your fixed-price approach, be sure to list goods at the other well-known bidding and buying venues, helping you gain exposure for your fixed-price business.

Be clear and comprehensive in setting your customers' expectations

2. Make your inventory easy to browse

Unlike the treasure-hunt rummaging expected at auction places, customers visiting your fixed-price offerings will appreciate a well-cataloged and organized inventory selection. Therefore, your second step is to sort your fixed-price items in an easy-to-browse method, grouping similar items together for ease of access.

When your inventory is tidy and logically presented, your customers will be able to zero in on exactly what it is they want—and purchase it. If, however, you simply dump a load of unsorted inventory on a Web space, few customers will have the patience to sort through it—they'll shop elsewhere.

3. Proclaim an easy-to-understand policy

Your customers have found the goods they want to buy from you, but they now need to know how to purchase and what your various sales policies might be. Just as you've been careful to explain payment methods, shipping methods and any return allowances at the auction places, you need to be just as diligent at your fixed-price venue.

Be clear and comprehensive in setting your customers' expectations when they buy from you. Ask a friend or family member to read your policy to ensure they understand it as you intend, and make any additional clarifications, if needed. Then, be sure your policy is included (either in text or via an easy-to-find link) for every item you offer.

4. Exhibit your expertise

After you have established your venue, your goods and your sales policy, it's time to trot out another valuable asset: your knowledge. When folks are shopping online, they're looking for sellers (or businesses) that know their stuff. Perhaps you have a "missing link" item for which a buyer has long been seeking. Provide plenty of information with such goods so buyers can make informed purchases. Plus, when you provide a level of expertise, buyers feel more confident about you and will likely engage you directly for even more information.

5. Ensure you're accessible

An important dovetail from the previous step is to ensure you're easily contacted and readily available for questions, before and after a sale. Make it easy for your customers—especially new customers—to get in touch with you by providing easy-to-find e-mail links or even a business number where you can be reached. Be sure your contact information is clearly visible where you offer your items. If it's difficult for a customer to engage you, they may get cold feet and move on without making a purchase.

6. Tend to your customers (even when they're not shopping)

Post articles, images, and other interesting facts and features within your store

Next, be diligent in keeping a customer list. Although auction bidders can be a somewhat come-and-go audience, folks who shop at your fixed-price "store" have visited for a distinct purpose and could be likely to shop again. Once you've satisfied that customer, keep the relationship alive by adding his or her name to your customer list. Allow an "opt in" opportunity for first-time customers to be added to your courtesy communications of future items to be offered.

Beyond direct-marketing messages, be sure to also offer generous amounts of additional useful information. Post articles, images, and other interesting facts and features within your store to help your shoppers learn more about the goods they seek—the goods you're selling. And, when you sell to a customer, be sure to allow them to tell you about other items for which they're looking. Begin keeping "want lists" for your customers, since this helps you sell more goods faster (essentially, a pre-sale when you find what a customer wants). Plus it further enhances your customer relationships.

7. Invite your customers to sound off

Lastly, if you've been diligent and dutiful in the previous six steps, you've now arrived at the point when you customers are telling how happy they are with the items they've purchased. With their permission, visibly post the comments of your satisfied customers. Not only will your customers feel special about seeing their names published for others to see, you'll also demonstrate to your next visitors your commitment to total customer satisfaction—by other customers' words, not just yours.

When you follow these seven steps, you establish a fixed-price sales style and presence that speaks as much about your commitment to your customers as it does about the great items you're offering. After you reach Step 7, go back through the cycle again to continuously improve your presence, your policies and your profits.

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

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

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