Sunday, April 27, 2008

There Are No Sales, They Say


I am hearing "no sales" on boards and forums all over the web, it is a frequent complaint on the eBay boards too.

Why?

On eBay the buyers are there, not as many as before but there are buyers. The problem on that site seems to be with 'finding' as eBay likes to call it. When eBay messes with search results, serving up what eBay thinks you should see rather than what the buyer has asked to see, sales will drop. Buyers hit the back button and go do something else.

What about the other sites?

At OnLineAuction.com, they have a two tier buyer system. The Verified buyer pays a monthly subscription fee of $4, all other buyers go through the normal registration process but do not have to pay a fee. Sellers, who pay an $8 monthly subscription fee, may specify if their auctions are open to both verified and unverified buyers. Many sellers of low opening bid items have specified verified buyers only. As both a seller and buyer on other sites I can tell you I am not going to pay a fee for the privilege of spending my money. If you want more sales do not restrict your buyers!

Pricing

To make sales, pricing must be competitive. I see sellers who are still selling on eBay pricing the same items higher on free sites. Whats up with that? What makes sellers think buyers don't know how to comparison shop?

I see the exact same fairly commonly available collectible plate I can buy on eBay for 4.99 plus $5.85 S&H priced at 24.99 with $12 S&H on eCrater. Which would you buy? The eCrater seller has been vocal on the boards about lack of sales. Don't tell her that her shipping seems a little high, I still bear the scars from that one.

A digital seller I introduced to Loudfrog has placed a collection of antique illustrated children's books on CD. On eBay he listed it for 8.99, on Loudfrog he has it listed at 14.99. On eBay he paid $1.14 in IF & FVF. On Loudfrog he will pay nothing, so why the 67% price increase?

Geographic Discrimination

This should probably come under the heading of limiting your sales. Sellers who only ship to the continental USA. Unless you are selling boats this business practice makes no sense at all. If the buyer pays the shipping why would you refuse to sell to them? USPS delivers to Hawaii and Alaska, amazingly they deliver to Puerto Rico and Guam for the same price. It is all domestic mail. I swear to you I have been told by a seller that they do not ship overseas. After pointing out Hawaii is the 50th state, nope, it is overseas. No sale!

Another myth, it costs a fortune to ship to Hawaii and Alaska. Only if you want to use UPS. A first class mail packet under 13oz costs exactly the same to ship to Hawaii as to Kansas or Florida. First class mail is not a zonal rate. Priority Mail is zonal so more expensive to ship to zone 8, unless you use a Flat Rate envelope or box, then it costs the same no matter how heavy or how far. Unless you are prepared to have your item take 4 - 8 weeks to arrive, do not save pennies by shipping parcel post, it goes by boat. Slow Boat. People who live in Alaska and Hawaii get mail every day and know what it costs, they get a little bent out of shape when they are charged $5 or $10 extra.

What do you think?



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3 comments:

Kathleen Harper, Lady Rustmonger said...

Here is a clarification of Online Auction's verified buyer policy. This policy is intended to protect sellers of bigger-ticket items, not to push buyers away. When you register, you click on buttons that tell you the following about each level of membership. When you select "Basic Member" you see this message:

"A Basic Member is entitled to bid on individual items up to $1,000 with a maximum of $1,000 in bids each day, communicate between Buyers & Sellers via a private O-Mail account, use Chat Rooms, and view/post feedback."

And when you select "Verified Buyer" you see this:

"A Verified Buyer is entitled to bid without limitations, communicate between Buyers & Sellers via a private O-Mail account, use Chat Rooms, and view/post feedback. At OnlineAuction.com we are trying to build the safest place possible to do business. Registered Users with credit cards can enjoy safer, more efficient trading. Verified Buyers are security checked through a monthly credit card validation process identical to the Verified Seller process."

So, as you can see, it's very clear up front what the policy is.

Sellers of any level of merchandise can choose the option. One tip OLA chat boards give to new sellers is to turn "verified buyers only" off when they list (unless of course they want to use it for large-ticket items.) This should not (but apparently does) turn off some visitors to the site.

To avoid this frustration, one OLA chat seller suggested the buyer e-mail the seller and ask if they will deal with unverified buyers. That's one solution, (I say just leave that option off in almost every case) and I can understand why OLA provides this tool for sellers... it's just a matter of getting familiar with the ins and outs of each auction/marketplace site as each has its own "personality."

The Harmony Collection said...

Another great post!!

ColonialCandle said...

Sorry to hear people won't ship to Hawaii! ColonialCandle.com just opened back up our shipping to Hawaii, Alaska and APO addresses. It was a limitation we had because of who was handling our orders. Sorry for any delay, but we welcome your business!

http://www.colonialcandle.com