The Etsy Blog

Service Tips for Sellers: Promoting Repeat Business

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Dear Sellers,

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.

  • yaelfran

    yaelfran says:

    After reading this great article, I added this to my shop: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=12705041 Thanks a lot for this great idea!!!!

    6 years ago

  • bubblegirlknits

    bubblegirlknits says:

    So happy to see WildChildCreations here! I just bought a pendant from, love her shop!!

    6 years ago

  • phydeaux

    phydeaux says:

    I'm so glad to read your article -- all of the above do add up to an incredibly positive shopping experience, which isn't just invaluable, it's essential, to we sellers! :)

    6 years ago

  • kittycrossbones

    kittycrossbones says:

    Great article!

    6 years ago

  • HandmadeNaturals

    HandmadeNaturals says:

    Wow, you learn so much being a seller on Etsy. Fabulous article! Thanks so much!

    6 years ago

  • SeaFindDesigns

    SeaFindDesigns says:

    After working with the public for more than 20 years, this article speaks volumes to me!! People sometimes just don't understand the value of KINDNESS!! I try to incorporate everything in this article, it works!

    6 years ago

  • CarPort

    CarPort says:

    I'm only a buyer at this point, but I can't emphasize enough the importance of the first bullet point above: "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." Even if everything went smoothly with the order and there are no questions or corrections needed, just knowing that there's a real person on the other end makes the transaction that much more enjoyable. Otherwise it feels like 'the sale that no human hand has touched.' In other words, very impersonal. I also always appreciate it when the seller takes time to carefully wrap and package the item. Using colored tissue paper closed with a sticker or putting jewelry in some sort of nice container adds to the uniqueness and one-of-a-kind feel of buying on Etsy.

    6 years ago

  • WildChildCreations

    WildChildCreations says:

    Wow, what a great article, I will have to save this great advice! Thank you so much for using my pendant, such an honor!

    6 years ago

  • SupernovaDesigns

    SupernovaDesigns says:

    REFERRALS. I really appreciate referrals when I'm shopping, and working in retail we're sometimes discouraged from doing this. But really, if you know that someone else has exactly what the person is looking for, tell them the truth. Knowing that a seller was willing to help me find what I wanted even if it meant sending me elsewhere, to me conveys tremendous honesty and integrity and speaks volumes about their customer service, and you can be sure that if there's something I need that they *do* have, I'll be getting it from them.

    6 years ago

  • BoutiqueCandle

    BoutiqueCandle says:

    Fantastic article! So much info and food for thought! yaelfran, I love your coupon idea!! I wish I knew how to make a graphic to post in place of a photo.

    6 years ago

  • chainchainchained

    chainchainchained says:

    great article!

    6 years ago

  • Piggy

    Piggy says:

    Great article! :) Wonderful tips & advice that I can learn from.. thanks!

    6 years ago

  • selflesh

    selflesh says:

    Wonderful article! Thanks for all you do Etsy!! xo >s

    6 years ago

  • meeabee

    meeabee says:

    If you mention another Etsy shop on your front page (as a referral) it's now a click-able link. I make stuff for kids and bags from Japanese fabric but my friend makes zippy purses and small things. I send everyone over to her.

    6 years ago

  • kseeber

    kseeber says:

    Really great article - a little customer service goes a long way! :)

    6 years ago

  • paulaberryjewelry

    paulaberryjewelry says:

    "Dear Sellers, Did you realize that the way you communicate with your customers can actually promote repeat business?" Um, is this a joke? You actually have the balls to lecture sellers about communication skills when Etsy expects its users to get critical information by digging through the forums and sifting the Storque guano? Not to mention all the crap that's been going down in the forums this week? This is why I'm moving to my own site, I don't have the time or the patience to deal with Etsy's hypocrisy anymore.

    6 years ago

  • BeadedKeepsakes

    BeadedKeepsakes says:

    As a seller who is still trying to establish myself on Etsy, I value your insight. Thank you

    6 years ago

  • starstar

    starstar says:

    Super article. I like the part about taking the time to satisfy your customers. I know this is important by my own experience as a buyer. A little goes a long way. Thanks for the ideas and motivation.

    6 years ago

  • matouenpeluche

    matouenpeluche says:

    OH! Terrific article! Always a good idea to brush up on customer service and find out any other important points to remember! Thank you!

    6 years ago

  • CreativeFocusDS

    CreativeFocusDS says:

    Good advice! :)

    6 years ago

  • HeathersHobbies

    HeathersHobbies says:

    Great article!

    6 years ago

  • HeathersHobbies

    HeathersHobbies says:

    i dont know why but that went twice

    6 years ago

  • LTheval

    LTheval says:

    Great tips especially helpful for newbies like me.

    6 years ago

  • muxoriginals

    muxoriginals says:

    When I started my shop I bought a big package of Blow Pops at Sam's to include with my orders. Now that I read that, I not sure whether I ought to or not :( Otherwise, very helpful article. Thanks, Etsy!

    6 years ago

  • Croppehopper

    Croppehopper says:

    Thanks for all the great tips! I have printed your article and included it in my customer service file. I plan to use some of these right away! I am new to Etsy, but want to do it right, and feel that with these tips I can do just that!

    6 years ago

  • cloud9designstudio

    cloud9designstudio says:

    wonderful tips. i can vouch for these things, because they work. i have had several repeat buyers, and i do all of the above....

    6 years ago

  • GoodScents

    GoodScents says:

    I was happy to note that I'm already doing everything you mentioned. I always thank the customer with a convo as soon as I notice the sale. I tell them when their item is with the PO. I include at least one free sample (usually something different from what they've ordered) and I write a note on their invoice. I just did what seemed reasonable to me. Glad to know I'm doing it the right way!

    6 years ago

  • marjiew

    marjiew says:

    Great article and good ideas! :)

    6 years ago

  • paintdrops

    paintdrops says:

    Loved your article and plan to put these ideas to good use.

    6 years ago

  • mpatrizio

    mpatrizio says:

    I agree, great article. I wish one day that some of these ideas will be integrated into Etsy's current check out system. For example an area to type in a coupon or discount code and box to check off if you want to sign up for a seller's mailing list. For those who offer coupons how do you go about giving the discounts? Partial refunding via Paypal? I would love to offer some special deals for return customers!

    6 years ago

  • EarthyElegantJewelry

    EarthyElegantJewelry says:

    Great article and sooo very right. When sending an order, I want my customer (once they get past the mailing envie or box) to feel like they are receiving a gift. A pretty gift box, nice tissue, a ribbon can go a long way, a personal note, and a nice little free gift does not hurt either!

    6 years ago

  • Katja8

    Katja8 says:

    at the moment I'm just bamboozled with all the helpful info on getting started, thanks a heap

    6 years ago

  • ollieandjo

    ollieandjo says:

    Great advice! I love my repeat customers and keeping them happy is key.

    6 years ago

  • Georgiagem

    Georgiagem says:

    Great advice.....wonderful customer service goes a long way.

    6 years ago

  • aptrick

    aptrick says:

    sweetems thanks - me likes new ideas

    6 years ago

  • polishedtwo

    polishedtwo says:

    Great article! Thank you for these helpful tips.

    6 years ago

  • NovemberRoseAtelier

    NovemberRoseAtelier says:

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your experiences! They are greatly appreciated, not to mention encouraging!

    6 years ago

  • Divaliscious

    Divaliscious says:

    What wonderful points in closing the deal, sometimes as artists we underestimate our truth worths. Thank you kindly for your sage advice... As a newbie to Etsy...I am looking forward to being a part of this successful website!

    6 years ago

  • HandMeDowns

    HandMeDowns says:

    Love this article!! Everything is soo true, and I have to say my repeat customers are the ones willing to make big purchases!

    6 years ago

  • Asianexpressions

    Asianexpressions says:

    Thank for the helpful tips! Extra thanks for the tip about how to handle customers when they ask for discount! I have some repeat customers but I did not offer them any discount yet. I'll keep it in mind though.

    6 years ago

  • lyoungstudio

    lyoungstudio says:

    Great article..I really loved checking out Inside a Black Apple and Kitty Genius blogs. I've learned alot.

    6 years ago

  • HumaneCreations

    HumaneCreations says:

    Great ideas, thanks! However, as one who likes to reuse/recycle, am having a hard time coming up with nice ideas for packaging my items while trying to be ecologically responsible. I don't want to go buy all new boxes etc. and don't have time to shlep all over trying to find used ones...any ideas out there? And one of the previous posts had some valid points that Etsy itself could be more user friendly for us newbies. I thought it was just me who found it tiresome to trudge through site areas hoping to discover an answer to a question. As much as I love a creative site, I think creativity sometimes gets in the way of the serious business information some of us need to know, even things like... I see a tag of letters on a listing...I click on it and it doesn't tell me what it means, it just take me to other listings with the same letters! Ack!

    6 years ago

  • colourbazaar

    colourbazaar says:

    great article, thank for all the tips!

    6 years ago

  • Skyerocket

    Skyerocket says:

    Great! Thanks guys!

    6 years ago

  • SewDanish

    SewDanish says:

    That is a superb article. Very interesting. Makes really good reading! Thank you.

    6 years ago

  • mountainashdesign

    mountainashdesign says:

    Thanks for the great article. Really good suggestions. I find lots of relevant advice from the Storque. I'm going to start giving 10% off to repeat customers. Here's a packaging idea for HumaneCreations and anyone else striving to carry out "green" business practises (like me): I get sturdy seconds from a local handmade paper maker and sew my own mailing envelopes out of them. They make really unusual and decorative packaging. I also use unbleached tissue paper. My work is very colorful and I'm out about my eco-friendly packaging, so I don't think my customers feel they are missing something by not getting colored tissue paper. The same mailers are the bags I use at craft fairs to put customers purchases in. People really love them. I offer extras for free if they need gift wrapping. Depending on the size your packaging needs to be, maybe you could partner with a local hand papermaker in your area or one selling on etsy. Good luck!

    6 years ago

  • BlackbirdStudio

    BlackbirdStudio says:

    Very helpful article! I like to include a handwritten message to my customer thanking them again for their purchase & to enjoy their new item.

    6 years ago

  • KathieWeise

    KathieWeise says:

    Wow, that's a lot of info. It's harder than I thought to start up this business, but with you guys looking out for me and helping with these kinds of details I feel like I can succeed. Thanks for all of the tips!

    6 years ago

  • theflashbulb

    theflashbulb says:

    Thanks for all the great advice.

    6 years ago

  • Capree

    Capree says:

    Fantastic advice! Thank you!

    6 years ago

  • stunningannak

    stunningannak says:

    Wonderful Advice!! Thanks a bunch!

    6 years ago

  • WooHooCrossStitch

    WooHooCrossStitch says:

    Great article!! I have a few repeat buyers and I love that they keep coming back to me!

    6 years ago

  • VintageMafia

    VintageMafia says:

    very informative! I'm a newbie an appreciate the help. thanks a bunch!

    6 years ago

  • Tangle

    Tangle says:

    Good advice but I need customers for me to apply it. I hope I will soon.

    6 years ago

  • AmandaYuDesign

    AmandaYuDesign says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing many useful advices!!! :)))

    6 years ago

  • cindycrafts4u

    cindycrafts4u says:

    I need some help been open for a month and nothing just like ebay. Took me a long time to get my ebay score to 208. Is it me or the the time we live in the gas pices killing our shops. Please help i just need some sales.

    6 years ago

  • babooeekids

    babooeekids says:

    i will try if i have customers..

    6 years ago

  • ClockStrikes12

    ClockStrikes12 says:

    Great Article! Thanks for the advise!

    6 years ago

  • ZuliDesigns

    ZuliDesigns says:

    I love to buy items from other Etsy sellers. But I have to admit..I feel a little sad and uncomfortable when that seller doesn't even email me after the sale to say "thanks" "will be shipping soon" whatever. I think it should be something every Etsy seller should do out of courtesy. Next time I want to purchase something, I will be leaning towards the seller who took a couple minutes to say "thanks" rather than the one who didn't.

    6 years ago

  • designbcb

    designbcb says:

    i'm interested in offering coupons to customers who have made a purchase. how do i reflect that if they come back? is there a spot when they check out that has discount or coupons?

    6 years ago

  • SpiritedWoodland

    SpiritedWoodland says:

    Excellent advice... I go the extra mile with the packaging. I love to receive pretty packaging, it makes opening the item even more exciting. Great ideas!

    6 years ago

  • KimsCraftyApple

    KimsCraftyApple says:

    Great article! I love how you talked about handling what to say when people ask for a discount...I usually do #1 but now I'll be able to do it a little more tactfully :)

    6 years ago

  • mrsmaddenmakes

    mrsmaddenmakes says:

    Love the idea of getting your customers to "join the club" and giving them discounts. It makes them feel special. Thanks for sharing your ideas

    6 years ago

  • zunebest

    zunebest says:

    I really appreciate referrals when I'm shopping, and working in retail we're sometimes discouraged from doing this. http://www.pspconverter.com But really, if you know that someone else has exactly what the person is looking for, tell them the truth.

    6 years ago

  • sirenedelmare

    sirenedelmare says:

    Great information! I've found that having a Facebook fan page is a wonderful way of keeping in touch with my customers and sharing information. http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Sirene-Del-Mare-Jewelry/26510800386?v=wall&viewas=529550462

    5 years ago

  • TodoCecilia

    TodoCecilia says:

    Thankyou! I am gobbling it all up and have TODAY MADE MY FIRST EVER ETSY SALE... I AM SO THRILLED TO BE IN THE RIGHT PATH :D

    5 years ago

  • allmadewithlove

    allmadewithlove says:

    I'm a newbie an appreciate the help. Very helpful article! Offering coupons to customers who have made a purchase is the very nice idea. Good advice about the discount. Glad to know that I'm doing my packaging the right way! I still have a lot what to learn here. Thank you so much.

    5 years ago

  • AllthingsWood

    AllthingsWood says:

    Great info here. As a seller here on Etsy I always follow the tips you have listed above; customer service being at the top of the list. I provide immediate acknowledgements to include shipping info. I package a nicely as possible, include a thank you note, a little extra gift & a discount coupon, provide an invoice & email or convo them with a tracking number & follow up to make sure that their package was received & definately leave feedback. I try to make their experience with me a fun & memorable one. What I am getting at here is that I have made purchases from fellow Etsians, some who toss the purchase in the package & mail it out, that's it! My heart sinks, it's oh so 'chain store' cold. So if nothing more, at least add a hand written thank you note. ♥

    5 years ago

  • AllthingsWood

    AllthingsWood says:

    Congrats TodoCecilia!!!!

    5 years ago

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares says:

    Wow, I've missed a lot of old posts, and this is one of them. Glad I found it today, just what i needed to hear about promotions and newsletters.

    5 years ago

  • HeartfeltbyAnn

    HeartfeltbyAnn says:

    I just had my first two sales, but no feedback. How do I go about getting feedback from my customers? Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • PipandLola

    PipandLola says:

    Great article!!!

    4 years ago

  • treasurebeachcreatio

    treasurebeachcreatio says:

    Is there a book out or just to much info just for 1 book. I had better start reading because as I enter the world of Etsy I hope to finally share my bead world of www.treasurebeachcreations.com with the world.

    3 years ago

  • BearVillage

    Lola from BearVillage says:

    Nice, thank you

    2 years ago

  • BlissBodyandBath

    Taleda Giallanza from BlissBodyandBath says:

    This is making me crazy lol I know I read in some post re coupon codes and creating them, how to create a Email Thank You coupon that gets auto emailed to buyers after purchasing. example: The receive a email from Etsy, with my shop name, saying Hey thanks for your recent purchase, Here is a $5 coupon to use towards your next purchase. Just enter coupon code $5OffRepeat .. Something like that. Do any of you know what I'm talking about? If so, where and how do I create this!!?? I'd love for my buyers to receive an auto generated email coupon to use next time ... great incentive for repeats. Thanks !

    1 year ago

  • Homepage says:

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    326 days ago

  • Best of the Fortnight ending 6/29/2008 - Art of the Firebird says:

    […] Etsy Storque provides some tips for sellers on promoting repeat business and on creating workable store […]

    72 days ago