Unsuccessful Selling and Ruby Lane's Secret Shopper Program
inApril 22, 2011 - 7:27pm
I once misplaced an item and when it turned up, sent it immediately for only the cost of shipping. On a few other occasions, there were small issues I overlooked that weren't disclosed which were noticed during shipping preparation. The issues were minimal and I felt the buyers would still be pleased so I shipped the items but first provided them with appropriate discounts. Twice were the issues greater and both times the buyers still requested their items but were compensated without having to ask. Yet another time there was an issue that was entirely overlooked on my part. That one cost me return shipping as well, it was the very least I could do.
So why am I admitting all this? Because these experiences represent less than 1% of my online sales and because I'm human like all the sellers on Ruby Lane. Mistakes are bound to happen, after all, this isn't Target where there's a dozen of the same dresses hanging on a rack. We all sell hard to find items and one-of-a-kinds and can't just go into our backrooms and pull out another dress if the first one got damaged. Plus, we sell items that have been used. We rarely get the joys of new with tags or careful storage and I think buyers are aware of this. While I'm not a fan of "excellent vintage condition" listings (whatever that means?), I do believe buyers understand the item won't be absolutely perfect and are prepared to accept a few minor imperfections. In truth, I've been repeatedly asked by buyers why I even bothered to mention some flaws because they would have never noticed them at all!
This last point is especially significant and somewhat disturbing. Look, we've all had negative experiences online. I don't doubt for a second that if my experiences happened to sellers at some other online market sites, the items would have been shipped out regardless with the hopes the buyers wouldn't notice or care. Hasn't this happened to all of us? These are the sellers who typically, when confronted with complaints, run for their halos or blame USPS.
While I realize 33% is unacceptable, it was good to see that RL sellers chose the honest route by canceling the sale. Yes, 3 out of 10 buyers go away without their purchases but they don't have to go away angry with RL. Whether or not the item was shipped, I made sure to stay with my buyers every step of the way and was surprised by their gratitude for this. I mean, here I'm the one goofed and they're thanking me? They're used to sellers who avoid responding so when you answer immediately and offer amends, they're assured right away that you intend to stand behind your reputation...and you are, aren't you? In my final correspondence, I always add, "I hope I haven't compromised your opinion of RL in any way". Hey, I want buyers to return to our community even if their confidence in me has been jeopardized.
Honesty is simply the best policy here and having a good sense of humor always comes in handy. Put your buyers at ease with those two qualities and you'll discover RL has the greatest clientele on or offline. They do understand and only want to know that you care about their satisfaction and are sorry for having wasted their time.
So please, turn that negative into a positive for all of us here on the Lane. Let your buyers go away happy and get cracking on a good inventory system with adequate storage space that will keep your stock safe. Do your best and take extra care with those descriptions! I'd be willing to bet most sales were canceled owing more to issues overlooked rather than damage or loss. When these situations arise, handle them with grace and sincerity and you'll help to ensure our continued success on Ruby Lane.
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