Did you realize that the way you communicate with your customers can actually promote repeat business? We’ve put together a list of tips, tricks, and snippets of advice that we gleaned from the forums, the Online Labs chats, sellers, and the admins that are sellers here at Etsy Central. Add these to your repertoire of skills that in turn, promote repeat business.
Communicating on Etsy:
- Talk to your customer.Simply acknowledging that you received the order and providing an estimated ship date will go a long way to build customer confidence. This also might eliminate some of those inititial questions your customer might have.
- For example: “Hi SallySue, Thank you for your recent purchase and for helping to support my shop. I plan to ship out your xxx on xxx date via priority mail; you can expect to receive it within 3 business days. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me with a conversation.”
- Return convos and emails quickly. Answer them! What may seem like a simple question may not be so simple to your potential customer. Who knows — perhaps they’ve never bought online before! Treat your computer like a store front. You need to be there and “man the shop” for your customer.
- Referrals. If you can’t accommodate their requests, but know another Etsian that can, by all means, refer them! You won’t go out of business by letting Mrs. Nice Lady know that Shop Over There has just what she wants. This will build trust with the customer and they will likely feel even more comfortable buying from you in the future or recommending your shop to a friend.
- Create an opt in mailing list. You can invite your customers to sign up for your mailing list by providing them with instructions on how to do so in your shop announcement, profile, and item descriptions. Some people do not want to sign up for extra emails, so be sure to let them know you will never spamthem. Try inviting them to sign up for something enticing, like receiving exclusive sales and shop updates before anyone else.
- For example, “If you’d like to stay in touch with me and my shop, receive exclusive sale invitations, and be the first to know when I’ll be listing new items, please join my mailing list. You can click the ‘contact seller’ link and provide me with your email address to be added to my mailing list.”
- Start a blog.Blogging about your shop updates, works in progress, sales, and general life experiences will create a sense of style and make your shop a little more human. Many shoppers want to know a little more about who they are buying from and some will want to come back to read the updates and potentially be enticed to shop.
- Shop for a cause. Some customers feel good about coming back to shop if they know that some of the proceeds are going toward a good cause. Offering a percentage of your proceeds to an organization you care about might be something to consider. You can also make them feel good about buying from you by making your products as environmentally friendly as you can.
- Be honest. If a customer is only able to buy one thing, and they ask you your opinion, be honest. Don’t automatically go for the most expensive thing. Go for the thing that is right for them. For example, Mrs. Nice Lady is asking about a bracelet that you can make over again, and then is asking about a bracelet that is one of a kind; let her know which one can’t be done again.
Create excitement with your shipment:
- Excellent packaging. When you take the time to create a nice package, your customer will be wowed by the entire shopping experience, remember how they felt when they opened your product, and want to shop with you again. Find out some great tips and tricks for excellent packaging in this article.
- Include a note. Include a personal thank you note in the package as one more way to say thank you to your customer and let them know how much you appreciate their business. This will help make your customer feel appreciated and they will want to shop with you again to help support your business.
- When you can, offer a little extra. Try to add a little something extra in with your package as a freebie. If your customer receives more than they were expecting, they will remember the experience. When sending freebies in your packages, remember to keep them relevant to what they person ordered and useful; for example, if someone orders a large batch of beads from your shop, some extra matching beads of a different design might make a great freebie. Get creative with they types of things you can offer to entice your customer to want to come back and shop with you.
- Coupons. Everyone loves a discount! One of the easiest ways to promote repeat business is by including coupons for repeat shoppers within your shipment. It will not only let your shopper know that you care about them and want their business, but they will most likely shop in bulk knowing they will receive some sort of a discount.
- Make it worth their while. It’s very important to be able to stand behind your products. A unique product that is quality made will be one that your customer can rely on. Make sure your item descriptions are accurate and that you are representing exactly what you are marketing.
Things to avoid:
- Inappropriate Freebies. Candy or heavily scented products do not generally make good freebies, unless your customer purchased something like candy, baked goods, or scented products from your shop. There are too many folks out there with allergies and sensitivities to foods, so it’s best to just play it safe and steer clear of these types of goodies.
- Misrepresenting your items. Never misrepresent your item in your photos, descriptions, or other form of marketing. You want to exceed your customer’s expectations, not send them something they thought was one thing, but is really another. This is a quick way to get your shoppers running far, far away.
- Writing off unhappy customers. Take the opportunity to try to satisfy your unhappy customers. When you make it up to an unhappy customer, they might just end up feeling valued and return to your shop.
How do you handle a mess up or unhappy customer?
Let’s face it: sometimes transactions don’t go the way we hoped or planned and we end up with a less than satisfied customer. Before you write them off forever, try to keep in mind that trying to turn their frown upside down is in your best interest. When you encounter an unhappy customer, chances are they are going to spread the word about their shopping experience to their friends and family. Similarly, if you can manage to appease your customer and take an extra step to assure they are satisfied with their experience, you can bet they will be just as vocal about what a wonderful shop you are to everyone they know. So take that deep breath, and see if you can extend a solution to the problem.
The following advice and personal selling story comes from Lori Anderson of Limamike:
How many times have you been asked, “Can you discount that?” You probably reacted by either:
1) Biting your tongue and then explaining why your price was fair, that you MADE this beautiful piece of art they are now holding, etc, etc, until the customer’s eyes glazed over and they handed you their charge card.
2) Caving in immediately and discounting your already-priced-too-low piece of wonderful beauty.
In the first instance, you’re doing what we all should do — explain why what we make is worth what we charge. But an opportunity is missed to invite that customer to come back and buy even more of your lovely things. In the second instance, you’ve started a precedence that you’ll have a hard time getting out of. You will now hear, “But you discounted once, why not this time?” I’ve done both; the biting the tongue, and the caving (Sometimes at the same time — oh yes. It can be done.). I’ve since come up with a method that works wonders for me and has made my internet stores and my craft shows successful.
When someone asks me if I can cut the price, and they’re a first-time buyer, I explain to them that no, I work hard to make my prices very fair considering the time and materials that go into them, but I DO reward repeat customers, and if they would like to either receive an email newsletter, or receive a postcard when I’m in their area for craft shows, they’ll then receive 10% off their next purchase.
My email newsletters go out every 2-3 weeks, feature two pieces of jewelry, info on my next craft show, and a fun little factoid (about my blog, a featured artist, etc). People who get newsletters get secret sales that no one else gets, and when I tell them that, it’s like Christmas — eyes light up. Everyone loves to be part of an exclusive group, particularly when the words “free shipping” and “discount” come with the package.
If the email newsletter recipient gets tired of it and unsubscribes, I just ask them if they would prefer to keep their discount by getting a postcard instead — and the answer is 99% yes.
For people who hate email, get too many emails, or have just chucked their computer out the window because it crashed for the umpteenth time, the postcard works. I explain that they don’t get the secret sales, but they DO get 10% off at my craft shows, and at the end of the year.
The majority of my sales are repeat customers. Those customers come back to my store or my booth, and they bring their discount coupon, but they *also* bring their friends. I’ve gotten to KNOW these customers, because they come back. They feel comfortable buying from me. Sometimes they forget to bring their discount card, but I know them, and I give them the discount anyway.
I’ve added up my sales over the years to see if the repeat customer discount has hurt my income. It most certainly hasn’t. It’s helped. With a discount, people tend to buy more, and buy more comfortably. The new customers now know that they can “join the club” if they like. If they don’t want to share their email or address, I won’t treat them any less kindly, and I’ll still back up my work 100%. But there IS a way to make a discount work for your business — it’s all in knowing when to give it.
A big thanks to Lori for sharing her story and tips for promoting repeat business with us! We are looking forward to your feedback and questions. Etsians know the power of sharing best practices, so we want to hear from you. Please share your own tips and advice for promoting repeat business as an Etsy seller in the comments section below.
More about Service Tips for Sellers Series: Running an online business has many perks, like the ability to remain somewhat anonymous behind a computer screen (maybe even in your ‘jammies). But that computer screen does not preclude interaction with customers. Rather, good online customer service may be even more important: it gives buyers the peace of mind that they are buying from a trustworthy and reputable seller. Being an online entrepreneur offers the opportunity to provide excellent communication, create a friendly face for your shop, and promote repeat business, all while remaining behind the curtain.