Selling online can be a very rewarding experience. You’ve set up your e-commerce site, taken the best item photos you can, and written relevant and compelling item titles and descriptions. You’re now ready to welcome new customers. Once your site is set up and visitors begin streaming into your shop, how you manage the buyer inquiry and purchase process is a crucial part of your online sales success. This means how you respond and communicate with potential buyers, as well as how you pack and ship your items. It also includes how you respond to returns should you have them. I highly recommend these simple steps that can mean the difference between a casually interested buyer, and a loyal, repeat customer.
Let’s begin with the basic steps for the purchase process. Once you remember a few important guidelines, they’re easy to follow. They are:
-Respond to all inquiries within 24 hours
-Professional, yet personal communication
-Supply updates on the status of the purchased item
-Professional quality packing which includes purchase confirmation and personal correspondence inserted
-Always thank them for their business
Let’s begin with buyer purchases, offers (if applicable), and questions. It’s extremely important to monitor your email on a daily basis to see if you have buyer activity. Sound obvious? Not every e-commerce seller does this. Checking even more than once per day is not too often. A slow response time significantly diminishes the buyer shopping experience, and can leave a lasting negative first impression. A response time of more than 24 hrs. is considered too long in today’s fast paced e-commerce marketplace.
Next, the quality and personalization of your responses is also very important. Take a few extra moments to write a professionally composed response to any inquiries. Use a greeting that addresses the customer by name. Always thank them for having stopped by your shop regardless of whether or not it turned into a sale. This may sound simple and obvious, but we’ve found that not all e-commerce sellers do this. You can compose these in advance and have them ready for any applicable customization when buyer inquiries come in.
As soon as you receive an order confirmation, respond and let your customer know what the next step will be. Throughout the transaction, always let your customer know what it happening. If the next step is payment, let them know that you have received their purchase order and you are awaiting payment from them. Once you receive payment, confirm this via email. If the customer paid via check or money order, let them know as soon as you have received it. If you’ll be waiting until the check clears the bank before shipping the item, be sure to let them know this as well.
Packing and Shipping: The quality of your packing, and your shipping materials makes an important statement. Used packing materials such as old boxes and newspapers send a negative message to your buyer and can result in a damaged item. New and recycled materials are now available at very affordable prices.
When adding your contents, we recommend that you include the following correspondence in your shipment, in order to personalize it:
– A business card with a note of thanks handwritten on it and/or:
– A thank you card with a note of thanks written on it
– And finally, you should always print a customer receipt and write thank you on that as well. These can go in envelopes inside the box, or be taped to the inside wrapping such as bubble wrap.
Next comes the shipping label. I highly recommend that you set up and print out your shop shipping labels to be printed with a desktop printer. It’s an inexpensive way to add professionalism to your shipping presentation.
Be sure to ship the item as soon as payment has been completed. And be sure to send the buyer a confirmation when the item has shipped, and the tracking number if applicable.
Lastly, I can’t stress enough how important thanking your customer or potential customer for their business can be in closing the sale, and gaining a loyal, repeat customer.
Karen Frishman has managed Ruby Lane’s blog, Notes from the Lane, since its launch in 2007. She is a marketing specialist with over 10 years of e-commerce marketing experience as the Director of Marketing for Ruby Lane, an online mall hosting shops specializing in antiques & art, vintage collectibles and jewelry. Website: http://www.rubylane.com Blog:http://blog.rubylane.com