Who Really Knows the Science of Selling Success?
inAugust 16, 2012 - 6:11am
As I have blogged before, I used to have a very limited genre of items for sale, and while for years the sales were great, one day the market for these particular items seemed to suddenly take a nosedive and the sales were few and far between! I had many regular, repeat customers, and a couple of buyers that were always in competition for what I had, which really helped me, since at the time I was selling on an auction site rather than on Ruby Lane. I came to the conclusion that perhaps at least two of those particular buyers had bought SO MUCH of one item, that their houses were full and they had no room to even display their favorite collectible, so they finally quit buying! I love corner cupboards too, but there are only so many corners available in one home! There was even a concern I had about one buyer who seemed to run the bids so high in order to win, that she might be a compulsive buyer who was quickly spending her inheritance from her mother. Still, if I didn’t list regularly, she would contact me to find out what I had found, so I kept selling to her.
It was after the decline in sales of one particular item, that I began shopping for a wider variety of goods that might be interesting to a larger buying audience. There were some categories that I said I would NEVER sell, one being glassware, mostly because I didn’t want to be responsible for the all important task necessary of packing for safe travel. The other reason was that I didn’t want to have to store glass items that would take up more room in my home, and also would have a greater likelihood of being damaged before selling. I quickly got over that when I saw how much Fire King mugs were selling for a few years ago, and began the hunt for myself! The success in that collectible “lane” led me to expanding my shop inventory to vintage kitchenware, cookware, dinnerware, and even a few lamps!
The other item that I was NEVER going to get involved with was jewelry! Anyone who shops Ruby Lane at all will quickly find out how many thousands of pieces of jewelry are listed in the hundreds of shops! I just never dreamed that any jewelry added to my shop would even be found, let alone bought, as much jewelry was for sale in so many shops! I have to laugh about that mindset today, as I continue buying more and more, AND MORE jewelry to sell!! Just today, for instance, I ended up writing 3 checks to the same local seller, as she kept finding more and more jewelry to show me. There is rarely a week that goes by without me buying jewelry for resale, and amazingly, the more I list, the better the sales, even in a such a highly saturated market. I still am surprised when I check my transactions, and several jewelry items have sold, because I just wonder how in the world the folks looking in my shop for the very first time, found jewelry they wanted to buy, when there are shops that ONLY sell jewelry, and always have wonderful pieces to offer.
Plus, it seems like the variations of sales from my shop are a constant. For instance, you may have sold Fire King glassware about as soon as you listed it, and then for awhile, your FK sales slowed down for some reason. In my case when that happened, I knew a lot of times if wasn’t because my prices were too high, because I saw it selling for much higher prices in a few shops. Then of course, I have to remember, that unless I travel out of the area where I live, I don’t find nearly as much to list, so perhaps a smaller inventory kept buyers from purchasing one or two pieces, when they could buy a number of items from the same dealer and save money on combined shipping. Just about the time you may decide that kitchenware glass is no longer a regular successful seller for you like before, you may have at least 2-3 buyers place orders that just about wipe out your inventory of Fire King mugs, cups, Hazel Atlas dinnerware, Pyrex and Corning Ware cookware, glass coffee pots and teapots. It’s like all of a sudden, new buyers appear on the scene who want the inventory that has been listed a long, long time! That’s always a pick-me-up when you can move a lot of glassware out of your cupboards and have room to restock! I know one time at the brick and mortar mall where I have a showcase, the owners discouraged us from removing items, because either new shoppers come, or someone who may have been interested before, and may have even been saving for one particular item, comes back hoping they haven’t let the treasures get away from them.
I guess my point is, there are ALWAYS new shoppers who have just found Ruby Lane for the very first time, so even though we love repeat buyers, we can’t depend on them to carry our business for us. We must always be researching and looking to see what kinds of things are selling every day, or at least once a week, check the “Items Sold” to stay abreast on what we need to be searching for when we restock our shops. Trends come and go; buyers come and go; but there are always new ones to replace them. We can’t afford to ever get stale or be “buying snobs” when we look for what our online shoppers want. It may not be something we would want in our own homes, but we aren’t buying to please ourselves, but the customers we serve. This is part of what makes the world go round!
I LOVE THIS BUSINESS. I love the hunt, and love meeting and corresponding with those I’m hunting for! Sometimes it’s kind of nice to be the picker instead of always buying from an antique dealer who had a picker they had to pay themselves, thus the price hike in goods. Your Ruby Lane rent may cost you more, but you may find yourself more successful as a seller if you continue adding items from a large variety of genres, which will in turn lead a larger viewing audience visiting your shop and making purchases. When you have a moment, stop in a take a look for yourself, perhaps I picked something just for you!
Written by Marsha Beaton
The Loft Antiques on Ruby Lane