Guest Author - DEBBIE MANGAN
What are your responsibilities as an on-line seller? Selling on-line is no different than selling in a retail brick & mortar store. Customer service is probably even more important when selling on-line because the buyer cannot see or try on the item. As an on-line seller you need to be prepared to meet your customers needs and also have an established policy to resolve problems.
To start with you ad needs to clearly and accurately describe what you are selling and pictures are a must. Put in as many details as possible and always include measurements especially with clothing. If there are any imperfections make sure you accurately describe these as well, this will help avoid returns. Make sure to list all of your terms including shipping service you will be using to ship the item, shipping & handling charges, handling time (time you take to actually ship the item after cleared payment is received) and standard shipping time for service you are using to ship the item, and most importantly your return policy.
Most on-line auctions sites have some sort of Buyer Protection Program with pre-defined terms so even if you state NO RETURNS if the buyer is not happy with their purchase they can return the item, make sure you know what you are responsible for before you start selling. I sell mainly on eBay and there the seller is responsible for delivery of the item. Many times you will see a seller saying “I am not responsible for item once it ships“, this is not true. If you sell an item and it does not arrive at its destination or it arrives damaged you are responsible, it is up to you to purchase insurance if you think it is necessary.
Once the sale is made you need to ship the item within your stated handling time. Taking the time to securely package your item will save a lot of headaches. Make sure to always ship with a delivery confirmation and let your customer know the tracking #. I print all my shipping labels online using either Paypal, eBay Shipping, Stamps.com or USPS.com. When I ship eBay items using Paypal or eBay shipping the buyer is automatically sent an e-mail with the tracking #, for other services and items I send an e-mail with the tracking #. It takes a few minutes but I think it is good for customer service and hopefully repeat business. When you establish trust with a customer they are going to come back again.
Most on-line sites have a feedback system and each seller has their own policy regarding when they leave feedback. Some leave feedback as soon as the item is shipped and include tracking # there, some won’t leave feedback until the buyer leaves feedback. My policy is to leave feedback after I know the buyer has received the item. I check the tracking on all of my items and when I see it has been delivered I leave feedback within 24 hours. I wait the 24 hours because I find if there is a problem with the item the buyer will contact me within that timeframe.
Probably the most important responsibility a seller has is handling problems. Again each seller has their own policy but the policy has to meet the sites minimum standards. My policy is to be notified within 3 days of receipt and if I made an error in the ad or overlooked damage on an item I pay return shipping, if an item didn’t fit or they buyer just didn’t like they pay return shipping.
Some people look at selling online as easy money, but the truth is that it is a business with the same responsibilities that come with any other form of business.