*I am NOT a seller so I am making this guide from a buyer’s perspective.
Kittymama’s Guide to Good Manners and Online Businesses for Sellers*
1. Post clear pictures and describe your products honestly. Describe even the condition of boxes. Don’t say an item is brand new when it is not. Show tags as much as possible to provide buyers with date of manufacture.
2. Provide measurements or comparisons as much as possible. An item seen through macro lenses may appear gigantic, when in fact, it is only a few inches tall.
3. Indicate clearly which items are included if the buyer is interested in a set.
4. Please post your prices. It’s difficult to have to keep asking “how much?” (or in my friend Cynthia’s case the very unique “how muchie?- cute!) especially when multiple items are involved. Unless you are open to haggling, indicate if your prices are fixed and non-negotiable.
5. Don’t change your prices midway through a transaction. A short example: I was looking at some cellphone cases a while back. I took a screenshot of the item to show my husband but didn’t bother to peruse the posting closely (my fault, see number two of previous post; I learned from this mistake). I then left a message for the seller, asking her for the price. The seller quoted a number and in turn, I passed on the price quotation to my husband. He quickly pointed out that the picture I sent him had indicated a much lower price. I chose not to pursue the transaction anymore.
6. Once an item is posted for sale, it is fair game for anyone. Unless you mark it as reserved or taken, the first person who reserves an unmarked item should have the right of first sale. Better yet, if you have promised it to someone else, remove it from the album.
7. Don’t say it is on sale when it is not. Some sellers use the word “SALE” loosely to entice buyers. For most of us, the definition of a sale is the opportunity to purchase at reduced prices.
8. Money isn’t everything. We all know that sellers sell to make money, but for patrons of a seller, it does not feel good to be duped or misled. The most common reason for buying online is to cut on costs by shaving off big retailers’ mark-ups. So to find the same items you are selling in the malls at a much lower price than the sellers’ is a big, big letdown. Of course, if you are selling unique or handmade items, a significant premium based on these qualities is understandable, but even then, know how much profit your market can take.
9. Reply to inquiries promptly. Don’t put off your correspondence. Buyers hate waiting and by not acting promptly, you may lose their business. One seller I met promised to text back with details and didn’t; I did not pursue the transaction as I felt ignored and my business unimportant.
10. Provide clear instructions on payment modes. Give your buyers all your options, be it bank payments, money transfers, COD, or electronic money (for example, Gcash). If the last is one of your chosen options, indicate if you are passing on the 1% charge (cash-out fee) to your clients, and only then, charge only the amount which is being transferred via this mode.
11. When products have been paid for, acknowledge payment with your thanks. An acknowledgement of payment assures the buyer that their business is real, solid, and based on mutual trust.
12. Package your items carefully, especially breakables and fragile items. Also, special touches mean much. Just this morning, I received a package in the mail from someone who I did business with just two days ago. I didn’t spend much, just PhP270, but the seller’s packaging made me feel like a VIP. It really made my day.
13. Send your buyers’ tracking numbers or air bill numbers right away. This should be a seller’s responsibility. Tracking numbers also assure buyers that the contract has been consummated. Trust me, unless you are a good friend, buyers hate running after waybill numbers.
14. If you opt for a meet-up, indicate upfront if the buyer must shell out part of your gas expense. Meet-ups are usually done at the seller’s convenience, not the other way around. The rationale behind this is to save on shipping costs. As such, meet-ups do not usually require charges. Don’t say you can meet her somewhere then later ask for extra money for a service you volunteered because this action shows bad faith.
15. Freebies are very nice and heartwarming, but they not absolutely necessary. Good service, honesty, and a real concern for your buyers count more than whatever it is you can throw in for free.
16. Lastly, keep an accurate database of your buyers’ contact details. Remember their names and match it with their online handles. It’s frustrating to have to keep giving your contact details to someone you’ve done business with repeatedly. Besides, when you start treating your customers as your real friends, they are less likely to defraud you.
What can I say about my experience as an online buyer in Multiply/ Facebook? I have been immensely blessed by the people I have met in the forum that the successes still far outweigh the occasional disappointments. I have tried my best to be an honest, reputable buyer and this is a reputation that I would like to maintain and keep.
In the end, we–buyers and sellers alike–must remember that an online business, like any other business, relies on good faith and a reciprocity of service, goods and trust. That we are able to develop friendships beyond the confines of the material world is a blessing that makes this world a much smaller, less colder place to live in.