Lately I’ve been stepping outside my usual online shopping grounds of eBay and Amazon as part of my quest to find some vintage items to expand my Linkin Park collection. This has led to new interactions on Depop, Grailed, Esty and even revisiting Gumtree and Facebook marketplace of course.
Recently I have purchased a couple of items and I’ve been dumbfounded by the incompetence of the sellers in question.
The first was a Tshirt I purchased through Gumtree. At first the seller was somewhat accomodating replying to my messages in a reasonable timeframe. I paid for the Tshirt through PayPal and asked for the tracking number once sent, to which the response was: No problem.
3 seperate follow up requests I submitted over the next week.
Eventually I got fed up and opened my first ever PayPal buyer protection case as item not received.
The second event was a simple product query for an item on Depop. It was an interesting T-Sshirt design but something didn’t sit right with it. The listing did not have a picture of the tag so I sent a message asking about it.
I checked a couple of days later and the message had not been read. I gave up. Finally, a full week later the seller got back to me (did apologise) and provided a picture of the tag. A Thailand bootleg, not totally off putting but not worth the asking price.
Looking on the flipside, some buyers can also be very painful asking stupid questions, sometimes even ones that can be answered in the listing itself. Still, even those questions I will attempt to respond to in a timely manner as they can still result in sales.
This then begs the question: What is a reasonable response time from a seller to a buyer?
After some deep thought on this, as a seller, it really depends on the stupidity level of the buyers question.
My own eBay listings say make an offer and I will get back to you quickly and every time I receive an offer (assuming I’m not asleep) I endeavour to respond within 10 minutes or less. The same for a relevant question that hasn’t been answered in the listing, respond as quickly as possible.
Outright stupid questions such as what is the size of this (when it is in the title) will result in delayed responses and also lead to me declining offers and in extreme cases (multiple stupid questions) blocking of buyers.
A recent example: I received an offer for a scarf at just over 50% of listed price with 2 questions attached to the offer, what was the size / length and what era was it from. I countered with an offer that was $1 less than the asking price and answered the questions both of which were in the listing, the size lengths were in the title. I didn’t want this particular buyer to purchase this item.
Side Note: A buyer asking many questions on an item, particularly if it is low value is a big fat red scam (or time sink later) flag for me.
I asked the same question of my wife who does far more online shopping than I would like. Etsy is her favourite. What is a reasonable time for a response?
She replied that she would be happy with the day if the seller has a full-time job. Her answers probably biased towards our own current situation of part time reselling but I think a day is pretty reasonable myself, even two or three if the weekend is involved.
However I would like it to be faster than that.
Exploring the buyers perspective certainly offers some potential customer service improvement insights as a seller. Take Facebook marketplace as an example. How many times have you gone to buy something and you can actually see that the seller has actually read your message but fails to respond?
This leaves you wondering if they’ve already sold the item, are they going to reply? Frankly it is a waste of both time and brainpower.
What can you do as a seller then? Or what should you do? The answer is really simple:
- Provide first class customer service and response times relative to your available resources.
- Don’t waste buyers time.
- Keep your ego in check, leave it out altogether.
- Put yourself in the buyers shoes.
First Class Service
Put additional work upfront in listing quality and add sufficient details to avoid questions and problems later. This is somewhat subjective as information overload can also be detrimental but as an example if I’m receiving a query about the size of something in a listing and there’s no size reference either in text form or a picture then that’s a listing problem.
That’s a quality failure.
Should a problem arise later on with a purchase, attempt to remedy it as quickly as possible.
If you stuffed up, own it, mistakes happen and most buyers (from my own experience) have been fine.
Consider if you have adversely impacted a buyer after the sale that their time is also valuable and consider reimbursing it. (Your stuff up remember…)
The number one key for customer service here is communication. Keep your buyer in the loop where things are at, at all times.
Example: A lost / missing package.
You have contacted the Post Office and lodged an enquiry. Let the buyer know. Give them a follow up time frame and stick to it.
The time frame ends and your query’s not answered, contact the Post Office again. Let the buyer know.
The items been actually lost. Let the buyer know, explain what the process is and address their fears – I.E will I get my money back.
Don’t Waste Buyers Time
Whatever the situation, answer each enquiry from a buyer promptly.
A new incoming buyer query is really pretty straightforward: answer the incoming question as quickly as possible.
If you get a second inquiry (or more) for the same item and you’re in the process of trying to close the deal with the first buyer then set up a polite message saying that you’re currently in negotiation with another buyer and say you will get back to them only if the first sale falls through. You can automate this message reply using a text expander either with AHK or using your mobile text replace to get this back to a couple of quick key strokes.
This way the followup buyers know exactly where they stand and can get on with their day / life. They will appreciate this.
Don’t be the seller who reads a message and then doesn’t reply until hours later or reply at all. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace have visual receipts so the buyer can tell you have read it!
So simply; If you read it then reply even if its only a few words. Example: Thanks for looking I’m at work atm, will respond later today.
Keep your ego in check, leave it out altogether
Simply, Be a professional seller:
There will be low ballers, fellow resellers even trying to source cheaply. Be polite, better – use a text expander.
There will be people who change their mind. This is the nature of things.
Let. It. Go.
It’s not worth your energy stewing on it, even if you’ve put extra time into trying to make the deal work, answering questions or taking extra photos etc…
Put yourself in the buyers shoes
This ones self explanatory, treat your buyer how you would like to be treated if you were the buyer. Simple.