Customer Service is Key!

Customer Service is Key!

 

Customers Deserve the Best!

I've noticed a lot of discussion about customer service lately and more specifically, returns. It's a fact, returns are part of running a retail business and as such should be figured into your pricing. This is the easiest and most painless way to cover this cost. I don't know about you, but I almost never will buy from a seller who does not offer a return service. That being said, I have never returned an item that I have purchased on eBay in over 12 years. When the seller has a return policy in place, it eases my mind that they are a professional seller who takes their business seriously. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but nonetheless it is reassurance as a buyer.

Why Don't You Offer a Return Policy?

I've heard all the reasons that for what I'm sure are personal reasons that a seller won't take returns. These range from "I want to get rid of this, I don't want it back" to "I'm not Wal-Mart, Macy's, Target, etc. I'm just an eBay seller". Just an eBay seller is certainly no small thing. It means that you own a business that is yours. It may be small and that is okay too, but no matter what the size, it is a business and should be operated as such, returns are a part of that, a normal part. Another common reason is "I put all the measurements, flaws, great pictures, and a great description. It's not my fault they (the buyer) can't read them." While you may be great at describing your items including the measurements and pictures, that is not a guarantee that the item will work for the buyer. If it's clothing, I honestly don't think most people know what their measurements are. And though they know their size, every brand is different. In fact it's not uncommon for the same brand, style, and size to have discrepancy in measurements. As a buyer you are unable to feel the fabric, tell what the fit is, and in general how it's going to look on you. I use clothing as that category typically has a higher return rate. Electronics is another category that has a higher return rate for various reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as the buyer doesn't know how to operate something. A lot of times a message or even a phone call if the circumstance indicates that is the best way to handle it can resolve the issue and prevent the return.

But even if it doesn't, taking a return shouldn't be painful. The reality is most returns will be initiated within the first week that the buyer receives the item. Starting in fall of 2015 eBay has made it simple to set up your return policy and take care of all of your return requests directly on eBay, including providing a return label to the buyer. The process is simple for both the seller and the buyer. eBay follows the policy that you have set up. If you want the buyer to pay for returns, you state that in your return instructions. Keep in mind that if an item is damaged or significantly not as described, then you, the seller are responsible for return shipping. You can read the full policy here http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/returns-on-ebay/index.html#faq=faq-7 . This page has all the necessary information and walks you through setting up your policy and the entire flow of the process from start to finish.

When you accept returns, your buyers have a lot more trust in you! More trust translates to more sales. It hasn't been my experience that it leads to more returns, in fact quite the opposite. My belief is that you actually protect yourself by setting your own return policy versus the buyer having to jump through hoops and ultimately opening a case. Which would you rather have, a return that you will list again and sell again or a case opened? It seems pretty straightforward to me.

Customer Service

But now starting on May 1, 2016 I have to offer a 30-day return policy if I want to maintain my TRS status.

This is a true statement and one that you should have no concern over. Personally I've offered 30-day returns for a couple of years now and the reality is that my return rate dropped when I increased the time from 14 days to 30 days. In fact my returns dropped from an average of two a year to about 1.4 per year. And I sell a variety of items that include clothing and collectibles. With collectibles I think it is fair to day that buyers know what they are looking for and I can't actually remember any collectibles that I have ever had returned. Within this year I will be changing my return policy to 60 days on everything except my consignment items. Why not? If the rate went down when I went from 14 to 30 days, it might just drop lower going to 60 days. For sure it will give my buyers a reason to shop with me and feel comfortable.

Think about how you want to handle this going forward. If you don't offer returns seriously consider setting up a return policy. Give your customers the security of knowing that they can return an item if they need to, they don't have to "fight" or go through any hassles in order to do so. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you see a difference in your sales. If you offer a 14-day return and are concerned about changing to 30 days, get out your calculator and find out exactly what your percentage of returns has been, my guess is it is less than 2% (which is somewhat of a normal percentage). Figure out how to cover your returns by spreading them over all of your listings, and take the plunge to a longer return time. See if your return rate doesn't actually decrease while sales could even increase.

Make your customers feel good about shopping with you! Treat them exactly as you would expect to be treated by any online retailer. Hassle-free is definitely the best way to be. Offer customer service and see how your customers show their loyalty by returning to you on a regular basis. 

Understanding the 2016 Postage Increase Part 2

Understanding the 2016 Postage Increase Part 2

Are you ready for the Postage Increase On January 17th eBay Sellers?

In Part 1 I covered the first class postage changes. Moving right along, this post will cover the domestic Priority Changes that go into effect on Sunday.

Thanks to the eBay for Business Facebook, Nate Heyward, eBay's Senior Manager of Carrier Relationships and Audrey Cox Tracy for being available to answer the multitude of questions about how the USPS rate change will impact eBay sellers. You can read "Savings From The US Postal Service" and learn exactly what eBay has worked out for its sellers.

I definitely suggest you take a look at your listings and plan your strategy going forward with these updates. Your buyer doesn't want to spend more and neither do you. I wouldn't put this off too long, unless you have all calculated shipping. Even if you use calculated for all of your items, you want to take a look and compare the larger sized items that are heavier. These are some changes that can save you from a distaster. For example if you have a heavy, bulky item and it is going across the country, it may make more sense to offer FedEx and UPS in addition to USPS to save a sale and keep a happy customer.

It was confirmed by Nate Heyward that the automatic insurance will stay the same for Priority (Domestic) Mail. It will remain at $50 for non-eTRS and $100.00 for eTRS.

Priority Mail (Domestic)

The table below shows the Flat Rate Pricing effective on January 17, 2016 for Domestic Shipments. You want to become familiar with these prices so you can go in and edit your listings. The last thing any seller wants is to cut into profits to pay extra postage.

Package Size
Non-eTRS (Commercial Base)
eTRS (Commercial Plus)
Flat Rate Envelope

$5.75

$5.60

Legal Flat Rate Envelope

$5.75

$5.60

Padded Flat Rate Envelope

$6.10

$5.90

Small Flat Rate Box

$6.10

$5.90

Medium Flat Rate Box

$11.95

$11.60

Large Flat Rate Box

$16.35

$15.85

 

This table shows the Regional Rate Boxes (Domestic) Increase Per Zone

Weight
(lbs.)     
Zones
1 & 2
Zone
3
Zone
4
Zone
5
Zone
6
Zone
7
Zone
8
Zone
9
Box A $0.69 $0.71 $0.76 $0.60 $0.66 $0.72 $0.80 $2.99
Box B $0.55 $0.65 $0.65 No Change No Change $0.72 $0.80 $4.88
Box C
Discontinued effective January 17, 2016

 

Priority Rates (Domestic) Up to 5 pounds and Zone 4

The reason I chose to post this table is, as you can see, the higher the weight and the further the zone, the more the increase in the rates. Above these I think that Flat Rate or Regional Rate is going to become the go to shipping method. Of course you always want to check the other carriers, FedEx and UPS. Depending on the dimensions of your packages and the weight, these can actually save you money. Make it a habit to always compare the different service providers to see where you will get the best rate.

You can download the excel sheets for each class and zone from USPS site here.

Weight
Up to (lbs)
Zones
1 & 2
Zone
3
Zone
4
Change from 2015

0.5

$5.60 $5.77 $5.87

+$1.13

1 $5.60 $5.77 $5.87 +$0.60
2 $5.83 $5.96 $6.40 +$0.66
3 $5.91 $6.88 $7.92 +$2.02
4 $6.51 $7.67 $8.49 +$2.54
5 $7.17 $7.75 $8.74 +$1.94

 

As you can see by the chart below, the prices go up pretty substantially. The full rate chart is available at http://1.usa.gov/1l7sOF4

These are the Priority Commercial Plus Rates (TRS)

Weight Not Over (Lbs)
L, 1 & 2
Zone 3
Zone 4
Zone 5
Zone 6
Zone 7
Zone 8
Zone 9

0.5

5.60 5.77 5.87 6.01 6.14 6.42 6.95 9.47
1 5.60 5.77 5.87 6.01

2

5.83 5.96 6.40 7.91 8.65 9.41 10.44

14.50

3

5.91 6.88 7.92 9.46 11.13 12.03 14.03

19.67

4

6.51 7.67 8.49 10.34 12.97 14.69 16.58 23.68
5 7.17 7.75 8.74 10.92 14.76 16.89 19.22 27.45

6

7.32 7.86 8.79 11.75 16.57 19.25 22.01

31.45

7

7.40 7.89 9.22 12.60 18.34 21.70 24.72

35.31

8

7.68 8.40 9.45 13.23 20.17 23.89 27.75

39.65

9

8.17 8.61 9.59 13.99 21.93 25.88 30.86 44.09
10 8.43 8.80 9.74 14.81 23.70 28.45 33.56

47.94

11 8.73 8.99 9.83 15.45 25.42 30.96 36.36 52.38
12 8.94 9.27 9.92 16.31 27.72 33.48 38.99 56.16
13 9.16 9.49 10.04 17.17 29.77 34.83 40.37 58.16
14 9.31 9.75 10.14 17.86 31.44 36.79 42.38 61.05
15 9.44 10.05 10.26 18.22 32.65 37.48 43.50 62.66
16 9.95 10.56 10.70 18.70 34.50 39.58 45.89 66.11
17 10.03 10.90 10.94 19.19 36.26 41.65 48.31 69.59
18 10.14 11.04 11.25 19.67 38.17 43.69 50.74 73.10
19 10.27 11.42 11.64 20.16 39.89 45.74 53.16 76.56
20 10.45 11.78 12.04 20.64 40.90 47.44

55.61

80.10

 

These are the Commercial Base Prices (non-TRS)

 

Zones
Weight Not Over (Lbs) L, 1 & 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 6 Zone 7 Zone 8 Zone 9
1 5.75 5.95 6.05 6.20 6.33 6.62 7.16 9.76
2 6.01 6.15 6.60 8.15 8.92 9.70 10.77 14.95
3 6.09 7.09 8.17 9.75 11.47 12.40 14.47 20.28
4 6.71 7.90 8.75 10.66 13.37 15.14 17.09 24.41
5 7.39 7.99 9.01 11.26 15.22 17.41 19.81 28.30
6 7.55 8.10 9.06 12.11 17.08 19.85 22.69 32.43
7 7.63 8.14 9.50 12.99 18.91 22.38 25.48 36.40
8 7.92 8.66 9.74 13.64 20.79 24.63 28.61 40.88
9 8.42 8.87 9.89 14.42 22.61 26.68 31.82 45.45
10 8.69 9.07 10.04 15.27 24.43 29.33 34.60 49.43
11 9.00 9.27 10.13 15.93 26.21 31.92 37.49 54.00
12 9.22 9.56 10.23 16.81 28.58 34.51 40.19 57.90
13 9.44 9.79 10.35 17.70 30.69 35.91 41.62 59.96
14 9.60 10.05 10.46 18.41 32.41 37.93 43.69 62.94
15 9.73 10.36 10.57 18.78 33.66 38.64 44.85 64.60
16 10.26 10.89 11.04 19.28 35.57 40.80 47.31 68.15
17 10.34 11.24 11.28 19.78 37.38 42.93 49.80 71.74
18 10.46 11.38 11.60 20.28 39.35 45.05 52.31 75.36
19 10.58 11.77 12.00 20.78 41.12 47.16 54.80 78.93
20 10.77 12.15 12.41 21.28 42.17 48.91 57.33 82.58
Defect…What’s That?

Defect…What’s That?

Even though it's been over a year since the defect system was announced and close to a year since it has been in place, there seems to still be a lot of confusion over what a defect actually is. There are 7 ways to get a defect on eBay. No matter how many defects you get per transaction, only 1 will count per transaction.

  1. Low detailed seller ratings for item as described.  (Rating of 1, 2, or 3.
  2. Opened cases for items not as described.
  3. Return Requests: items not as described.
  4. Low detailed seller ratings for shipping time. (Rating of 1)
  5. Requests: items not received.
  6. Neutral or negative feedback from buyers.
  7. Transactions you canceled. If you cancel because the item is out of stock, you can't find it, you broke it, but ultimately it is your fault. When a buyer requests a cancellation it is not a defect.

These are the only ways that you can receive a defect on a transaction

You can also check your seller dashboard to:

  1. See how many defects you have and for what and
  2. Run a report to see exactly which transactions received the defect.

This is a short video that walks you through this process.

 

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