Increase eBay Sales by Offering Stellar Customer Service

eBay customer service
Offer value through better customer service. Flickr.com

Increasing sales on eBay isn’t all about manipulating the search engine or listing items all day long like a robot. There is a human element with online selling and sometimes sellers forget that we are dealing with people on the other end of the computer. eBay customers are people who will read your policies, look at your photos, read your feedback, and react to your service. Even though eBay is a virtual marketplace, the customers are real people who make the final decision to buy your product, or move on to the next seller.

Competition on eBay can be fierce. Many sellers use rock-bottom pricing to attract customers. This isn't always the best strategy. eBay sellers can add a value proposition rather than just low pricing. A value proposition is a service or feature that makes the product more appealing to customers. In other words, although multiple sellers may offer the same exact product, each seller may offer something different in the area of service.  To outperform the competition, take these steps to appeal to the humans reading your listings.

Write Policies in a Professional and Customer Friendly Way

Nothing turns off a buyer more than unaccommodating policies or threatening verbiage. Be careful how you write policies so that the buyer feels comfortable working with you. It is perfectly acceptable to have guidelines and set boundaries, but always write policies in a helpful and customer-friendly way. For example, if your schedule is busy and you can only ship two days a week, phrase the policy like this:

 “Our shipping days are Tuesdays and Fridays. If you need the item sooner, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to work out a faster shipping date to accommodate you.”

Or, if your product isn’t something that can’t be resold if returned such as food, makeup, or a custom made item, phrase the return policy like this,

“Due to the nature of this product, we are not able to accept returns. If there is a problem with your item, please contact us and we will make things right.”

If you aren’t shipping internationally or to military addresses, say,

“We’re sorry, we regret that we are unable to ship internationally or to military addresses at this time.”

Customers can read the tone of your policies and if they sense an attitude problem or rudeness, they will move on to another seller. Remember there are thousands of other sellers on eBay who will gladly serve your customer. Don’t give the customer a chance to reject you even before the transaction starts. You have done a lot of work to get the buyer to your listing - including finding the product, cleaning it, photographing it, and writing a great description. Don’t lose a prospective buyer with a poorly written policy.

If you are an eBay seller who has come to eBay with little or no business experience, you may not know how to write policies in a professional and accommodating way. Not to worry! There is plenty of help available on the internet If you need assistance writing policies, take a look at successful companies like Nordstrom, Stew Leonard’s, or any company you personally think goes above and beyond for its customers.

Look on their websites at their mission statement, return policies, and terms of service for ideas on how to write winning policies. Big Commerce has a helpful article about writing return policies that increase sales conversion rates. 

Add Best Offer to All Listings

Best Offer is a feature that allows buyers to submit and offer on a Fixed Price item. It isn’t available in every category, so if there isn’t a Best Offer option for the item, it may not be allowed for that type of item. Including Best Offer opens up negotiations with buyers and empowers customers to start a conversation about what price a seller might accept for the item.

To include Best Offer on items, click the Best Offer box underneath the price on the listing form. You can also use the Bulk Editor to add Best Offer to any or all of your listings at once.

Best offer is the same as a bid or buy it now, so the buyer has an obligation to honor the offer if the seller accepts it. Best Offer is a free option for sellers.

As a seller, you have several options when a buyer makes a Best Offer. You may accept, decline, or counter. Offers expire after 48 hours if the seller doesn’t take any action. EBay includes some automation for Best Offers called auto-decline. Sellers can set a dollar amount that they will accept and any offers below this amount are automatically rejected. The auto-accept feature is the opposite – sellers can set a threshold dollar amount they will accept for an item.

Some sellers don’t like Best Offer because buyers may make very low and insulting offers. The smart way to handle offers is to review all offers and counter with an offer you will accept. The buyer’s offer may be $1 below the auto-decline number and the seller will never see it. When using Best Offer, most sellers raise the price of the item 20% or more to allow room for bargaining. In some cultures, bargaining and negotiating is second nature – sellers shouldn’t take it personally that a buyer wants to negotiate. The seller always has the last word on a sale with Best Offer. Read more details about eBay's Best Offer features.

Include All Relevant Details

All that stands between you and your buyer is a computer screen. When a potential buyer lands on your listing, make sure all pertinent information is there so the customer doesn’t have to ask questions. Some customers will ask strange or random questions, but do your best to anticipate what will be asked. If a question is asked once, it will probably be asked again, so add the information to the listing. With time and experience, you will learn what information to include in listings for different kinds of products.

Internet buyers like to be spoon fed information. They don’t want to wait around for a question to be answered. More often than not, if the information they need isn’t in the listing, they will move on to another listing and you lose them. Take the time to write a thorough listing so the customer doesn’t have to ask for more information. Always include:

  • Measurements of an item
  • Materials the item is made from
  • When the item was made (if relevant)
  • Where the item was made – what country
  • Any flaws or defects

Write the description as if there were no pictures! Measurements are especially important on clothing. Most people won’t buy clothing from the internet, from a stranger, without measurements. For really great descriptions, study listings on major websites where the same product is sold. (Never copy descriptions word for word and never copy photos.) You will get an idea of the details to include. eBay has a great tutorial on how to write winning descriptions. 

Include a Generous Return Policy

The presence of a fair return policy will attract more customers. People come to eBay because they want to buy things to keep, not because they want to buy things to return. Buyers will be suspicious of sellers that don’t offer returns. Stand by your product and offer a 30-day return policy on everything. A fair return policy communicates honesty, integrity, and the willingness to give the customer a positive experience. A 30-day return policy also helps listings appear higher in search. One way to outperform competitors on eBay is to offer a generous return policy and show a desire to get the customer’s business even if the end result is a return. Make sure you include a caveat that all returns must be in original condition and the buyer pays return shipping. Learn more about how to write a customer-friendly return policy.

Answer Questions Quickly and Professionally

Communication is key to getting and keeping customers on eBay. Always try to answer questions as soon as you receive the message notification. Some buyers will ask silly or irrelevant questions. Answer them anyway! Many sellers don’t answer buyer questions in a timely manner so the buyer will move on to another listing. Remember, buyers have a sense of urgency. The early bird gets the worm when it comes to communicating on eBay. If you aren’t able to give a full answer immediately because you are away from your inventory, at least acknowledge the question. Reply to the customer that you have received the question and you will get back to them as soon as you are able.

Always communicate with buyers through the eBay messaging system. EBay can review the conversations if there is ever an issue with the buyer. It is actually against eBay policy to communicate with buyers outside of eBay. Make sure message notifications are turned on so that you receive an email when a customer asks a question. Make sure your eBay communication settings are set up so you can receive messages from buyers via email.

Remember that you are dealing with people who are making buying decisions. Treat customers the way you would want to be treated.  A positive professional attitude, prompt communication, and the willingness to keep customers happy will result in more sales on eBay.