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Is it time for a tune-up with your eBay shipping?Posted Saturday, August 28, 2010, at 10:17 AM
The Christmas shopping season is fast approaching, if not already here for some. We have an Australian customer who has bought well over 30 items for Christmas so far this year she is not done yet! We are thinking about calling intervention groups to see if she needs help.
But I digress.
eBay is big on FREE shipping but as we all know, it is not free, so we do not use that approach much. It depends on what your competitors are doing as a general rule, but our products do not sell better using that approach. It also makes our "buy it now" price look less competitive and we pay Final Value Fees (FVF) on the extra amount, so.... that is one recommendation we do not use, but our sales & marketing approach is always evolving, so one never knows what will be our strategy in 6 months.
In October eBay will automatically award anyone with free shipping a five star DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings) rating, so if you are having trouble with low DSRs in shipping, it is something to consider. Free shipping sellers used to get lower ratings than if they used calculated shipping costs. Maybe the customer thought neutral was the best choice since the fee did not apply, but little did they know the damage being done. Even "Good" is not good enough, so a neutral was costing the seller their discounts and high search rankings.
Anyway, my real reason for writing is to remind new sellers that as the Christmas season gets into full swing, the length of delivery time stretches out, so try not to ship by economy methods during the last three weeks before the holiday, unless the customer insists of course.
eBay will now be showing estimated arrival times with different shipping methods on the buying page, and we list estimated times in our listing, so hopefully the customer will have less confusion and anxiety about the arrival of their purchase.
It might be overkill, but we may include the estimated time in our confirmation e-mail as well. Some customers do not pay when they make the commitment to buy, but they judge shipping time based on when they bought, not when they paid. The confirmation e-mail when they have paid will hopefully refresh the starting time in their mind.
We normally list the least expensive method as the primary shipping value because it is the price displayed to the customer when they look at the item. If we had an expensive method like overnight shipping as the primary, many might not look further.
eBay's search algorithms also consider the overall cost of buying something, and the primary (first) shipping cost is what the algorithm looks at to consider rankings. However, if you are shipping high value items, you may not use economy methods at all. They have a higher chance of being delayed or lost.
All this talk has been about the primary shipping method, but consider offering alternative methods for a second and even third choice. It costs nothing extra (as long as they are paying for it) and gives the customer more control over their delivery.
They may want Priority or even overnight service. Offering it saves the customer an extra e-mail and the time it takes to ask. That may not seem like much, but we are in a world that has come to expect instant answers. They do not know how fast you will respond, so having the answer up front resolves the issue.
The holiday shopping season is a great time to re-evaluate and adjust. If you have additional opinions, don't hesitate to voice them, but we would prefer it stay on topic. I will be happy to make another post for something different.
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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.
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