I've lived in Europe. In Europe, the customer is not always right. In Europe, you bag your own groceries, and if you want to return something, you'd better have a good reason for doing so.
I'm just kidding, of course. I'm not planning on moving to Germany or Italy anytime soon, but the whole "customer service" situation is getting pretty ridiculous.
Well, guess what. The game's on. I'm bringing out the big guns.
But how DO you compete in this crazy environment?
It's not impossible, but it does take some effort. Here are a few tips to help you stay in the game:
1. List products that are unique. Doing this will increase your sell-through rate. I just sold a pair of vintage Pertti Palmroth boots. Palmroth boots are made in Finland and are very hard to find. They sold within the first few days.
Another unique item I have up for sale is a a 2008 New York City Christmas mug - the only one of its kind currently listed on eBay. Someone bid on it immediately.
2. Bond with buyers - When it comes to customer service, eBayers can interact with customers in a way Costco and Walmart cannot. Answer questions from buyers in a positive, friendly manner. People love feeling like they are talking to a real human being. When answering emails, be sure to mention anything special you may offer -- an awesome return policy, shipping discounts on multiple purchases, etc.
3. Become an expert on search engine optimization. This is an important tip for anyone who has a store. Doing this will help people find your listings.
4. Focus on selling items with high profit margins - Now, more than ever, you need to buy low and sell high. Doing this will allow you to offer free shipping. Like it or not, eBay is currently highlighting the "search by free shipping" option, so you may eliminate yourself from search results if you're not offering it. It's hard to offer free shipping on inexpensive items and still make a profit.
5. Don't waste time on low-profit items unless they are easy to list. I've decided not to bother with clothing that sells for less than $15. Clothing takes me a while to list because it involves measuring. On the other hand, I'm still going to sell coffee mugs because I can list a coffee mug in no time flat.
6. Get educated - Read as many eBay-related blogs and newsletters as possible, and listen to eBay Radio every week. This will expand your knowledge of hot products. I also recommend purchasing webinars. I have purchased quite a few webinars from Lynn Dralle, the Queen of Auctions, and they've paid for themselves.
7. If eBay is your full-time job, and you are selling primarily used items, call local thrift shops once a day to ask about sales. Even expensive thrift shops offer daily deals. Don't miss out! Doing this will allow you to offer hot merchandise at low prices.
8. Become a top-rated seller - Becoming a top-rated seller is hard (I'm almost there....almost!) but not impossible. Being a top-rated seller will help you gain visibility in search results.
9. Ship packages ASAP - People love surprises, and they will often give you 5 stars if they receive their packages in record time.
So there you have it. A guide to staying competitive without losing your mind....or moving to Europe. Before I go, I must get to the score of the day....
Last week I tutored one of my awesome readers. She lives in Missouri. We chatted on the phone for about an hour, and she told me about an amazing score. Recently she listed a 1950's mink she had purchased for $15 at a thrift shop. She started the bidding at $9.99, and it sold for.....................
$234.98 with 33 bids!!!
I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for one of these from now on!
For more of her items, check out her userid: Thefleasknees.
OK. That's it for this week. I've got to get busy listing a vintage metal fan I found at a yard sale. It's the type my grandpa might have had in his garage. It's very unique, it's in excellent shape ...........and it comes with free cobwebs.
P.S. If anyone has a "score" they would like to share with the readers of this blog, please contact me at Bluefrogshoes@live.com. I would love to feature it, and I will include a link to your store in the write-up. For eBay selling tips and tricks, check out The eBay Life every week. For shoes in narrow, wide, and standard shoe sizes, check out Bluefrogshoes.com.