So you’ve set up your account on Poshmark, eBay or Depop and you’ve even made a few sales. Now is the time to start to practicing good habits to keep your account in good standing, earn excellent customer reviews, get repeat customers and grow your business into an income stream for your financial independent luxe life.
Here are 5 tips for avoiding common new seller pitfalls and making your online marketplace store a success.
Never communicate off platform
I cannot stress this one enough. Do not communicate with customers off platform. Most marketplaces, Amazon, eBay, Poshmark, etc. have strict rules and warnings about communicating with customers off platform. With some, getting caught as a repeat offender will cost you your account. With all of them, talking off platform will cost you any seller protections the platform offers.
There is zero reason to message or call a customer off platform. None. If the customer wants to haggle? Do it on the platform. If the customer wants to tell you their life story to get free shipping? They can do that on the platform. If the customer has an issue with their order or wants a return? They can discuss that on the platform. Many new sellers lose return cases, or get scammed out of their products by communicating with customers off platform.
Scammers and cheapskates often look for new accounts to target. The scammers will approach new sellers and ask to email directly off platform to negotiate the price or shipping to “get around” the platform fees. Or cheapskates will buy your item, then claim there’s an “issue” with it and want to negotiate a partial refund via email. Do not do this. You will not save on marketplace fees. What you will do is get scammed, and the marketplace will not step in and help if you take the communications off platform. As far as the marketplaces are concerned, if it’s not on platform, it didn’t happen.
Want to know if a customer is sincere? Insist on keeping all communications on the platform. Scammers and cheapskates will see you’re not as new as you seem, tire of this and move on.
Example: You post a Michael Kors handbag for $159 on Poshmark. A customer posts a message asking you to email them. You email them. They tell you they will buy it today, full price, if you ship it for free outside of Poshmark. They tell you it’s worth it because you can save on Poshmark’s seller fees, a win-win, they say. You’re new. You agree. They pay via Paypal. You box up the bag and ship it. Then…boom. The card is bad. The charge is reversed. You now have no bag, and no money. Don’t communicate off platform!
Never ship to an alternate address
This one is very important for keeping your small business safe from scammers. Only ship to the address on the platform. No exceptions. It doesn’t matter if they “just moved” or their cousin’s brother’s baby sister won’t be home to accept the package, only ship to the address on file on the platform. If they have time to browse, shop and purchase online, they have a few minutes to update the address on their account.
Marketplaces will not protect you if you ship to an alternate address. If you get a request to ship to an address other than the address on file, tell the customer you will cancel the sale, so they can update their address on the platform and then repurchase the item – you can only ship to the address on file. Scammers will disappear if you stand firm. Real customers that are just a bit forgetful, may be annoyed, but will follow the policy – it protects both of you.
Package your items securely
This one not only protects you from returns, but also creates a positive customer experience. If your item gets damaged before it arrives to your customer, you will get a return. Then you will be out of money, out of customer goodwill, and out of a sellable item.
Don’t slack off or cheap out on the packaging. Don’t use a taped up random grocery bag to ship clothing (yes, some sellers really do that). It won’t survive the trip. Don’t use old boxes that contained food or strong smelling items. Don’t use old boxes in such bad shape they need a half roll of tape to hold them together. And always use packing tape for your boxes, not masking tape, or scotch tape – those types of tape will not survive regular postal handling.
USPS offers free packaging perfect for beginners. It will give you a polished presentation and help ensure your product survives bad weather and a random drop kick into the delivery truck.
Don’t ship the same day
This one may be controversial, some sellers insist that offering same or next day shipping increases their business. Maybe. But especially for new sellers that are just learning, 1 or 2 day shipping should be the target.
First, new sellers don’t yet have good inventory and shipping habits ingrained as routine. Rushing to get things out the door will lead to mistakes – shipping the wrong item, shipping damaged items, swapping shipping labels and sending to the wrong address. A new seller can’t afford too many of these mistakes, slow down and double check your work.
Second, scammers often target new sellers. Shipping same day leaves sellers vulnerable to charge back and stolen card scams. The seller has sent the item before the payment even has time to fail. Then the seller is out of their item and the money. Some platforms will protect sellers and reimburse you (Poshmark will do this). But not all, and not every time.
So avoid the hassle. You’re not Amazon. You can’t absorb those hiccups as a new small seller. Slow down, ship it in 1 or 2 days.
Take the time to learn your craft
That’s right, reselling is a skill that takes practice. Once you find your reselling niche, carve out time to learn as much as you can about your selected products.
You want to be able to tell the difference between a good buy that will make a good profit, vs. a bad buy that will sit in your inventory for ages and you will have to sell cheap just to get rid of it.
You want to be able to read the market and price your items to sell and still leave room to make a good profit.
You want to be able to find reliable sources for your products and what you should pay to acquire your inventory.
Whether you’re selling clothing, video games, electronics, beauty items, or books, set aside time in your weekly routine to research supply options, trends, and market pricing.