Number 1 in a 5-part series of Why eBay Sellers Fail
Part 1 of 5: Negative Feedback
Negative feedback is the number one reason eBay sellers fail, but negative feedback usually has its roots in other problems.
Building an eBay business is in many ways similar to building any business. To be successful everything has to work: Marketing, Sales, Quality, Pricing, and Customer Service. Selling on eBay, however, has some unique features that differ from traditional retail businesses.
On eBay, a seller’s customer service reputation (Feedback Rating) is out in the open for everyone to see. Imagine, if every store in the shopping mall had a sign outside where customers wrote comments about their products and service (and the store was not allowed to erase any comments they didn’t like). Would you stop to read the comments before entering the store?
New eBay sellers typically underrate the importance of quickly building a great feedback rating. I am amazed when I click on an auction description and see a seller with a feedback rating under “10.” How could this person know anything about selling on eBay? Experienced eBay bidders are cautious of sellers with a feedback rating under 25 – 50. Admittedly, getting your first twenty-five feedback comments as a seller can be a long process. Don’t forget, feedback comments as a buyer count as well (although eBay does show the difference). Before you rush into selling on eBay, you need to get some experience buying. There is nothing better than putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.
I wouldn’t start to sell on eBay until you have completed a dozen or more purchases, paid for them promptly and received good feedback from your sellers. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller to post feedback in your payment email. Sellers like to be paid quickly. Sending payment by PayPal will build your feedback rating quickly as well.
When starting your eBay business, you should bend over backwards to provide exceptional service. Remember, you are fishing for compliments. When you have a positive feedback rating over 50, bidders will look at your rating and then make their decision to bid or not to bid. If your feedback rating is less than a 50, people often look back through your comments and read them. There is a big difference between “Nice transaction — good seller” and “FIVE ***** SELLER, EXCELLENT PRODUCT- FAST SHIPPING” Whether you are a new seller, or a veteran eBayer, building excellent feedback comments should be a daily goal.
Poor communications between buyer and seller is the leading cause of negative feedback. Make sure your first email to the successful bidder is clear, and complete. You should not only be polite, but be effusive in your congratulations. Remember: Some people shop on eBay for bargains, but most people shop on eBay for fun. Make the transaction a fun experience. Be personal. Don’t sound like a bureaucrat or a big corporation. Make the buyer feel good and close the sale by complimenting them on the great deal they made.
Make sure your payment instructions are clear and your shipping methods and charges are clearly spelled out. This should have been in your auction, but many people can’t remember so it pays to restate them. If a buyer wants to pay by credit card, suggest PayPal, or explain how to access your secure credit card server. If they want to use a check, explain how they can speed up the payment and delivery by using PayPal’s electronic check service.
Anything you can do to speed up payment, shortens the time it takes a customer to receive their purchase. Nothing will improve your feedback faster than getting purchases to your customers quickly.
As the seller, you have the most to lose by negative feedback. It is only a question of time until you run into a difficult or irrational buyer. He or she may be rude, or unresponsive, or both. Once your feedback rating is secure in the high hundreds, you can afford to take a tough line and weather the negative feedback that inevitably follows. But while you are building your feedback rating, sometimes you just have to swallow hard and be extra diplomatic. I always give people the benefit of the doubt and try and work something out. I would rather lose a sale than risk negative feedback from an irresponsible person. If a buyer won’t complete the transaction, it’s better to report them to eBay, than to get into a feedback war. Once eBay determines they are a non-paying bidder, they will not be able to leave feedback against you.
To summarize, make your communications fast, friendly and complete –and your feedback rating will quickly soar!
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