Quick: how many customers that buy from you on eBay are return customers? Not sure? Here’s a fast way to get an idea of the percentage. Divide your unique feedback by your total feedback
(total is usually higher) and that will give you an idea. The number isn’t perfect, of course, because some of those extra feedbacks are from multiple-item auctions and the like, but it will at least give you an idea. If you have higher han 3 or 4 percent retention/return, you’re doing pretty well compared to most eBay sellers.
A 4% return customer rate for any other business (especially wholesale/retail) is pathetic, though. If you are selling fairly unique items that can be used or purchased more than once (gifts or
craft supplies for example), customer loyalty should be very important to you. If you are selling something that is purchased once and probably never looked for again in the near future (automobiles, some collectibles, etc.), customer retention is less important while the recommendations from those customers is very important.
Retaining Your Current Customers
If you sell an item that bodes itself to repeat purchases, you NEED to get your customers to continue coming back again and again. If you sell jewelry, for example, your items may complement one-
another, but if a current buyer or past purchaser doesn’t know that, he or she may not buy more than the item they’ve originally purchased. In addition, the buyer may come back a few days or even
weeks later and be looking for a similar item. Chances are they don’t remember you at all.
Branding Yourself on eBay
eBay goes to great lengths to keep everyone on the same level. The only thing that sets you apart from other sellers on eBay’s site is your username. So how do you beat the competition? Here are a few ideas that you can use during the eBay-free portion of your transactions (the “after sale”).
Keep lists of those who buy from you; try to include names, emails, and even addresses. When a buyer first buys from you, send an email asking if they would mind being added to your “contact list” for future correspondence. Make sure that every email you send includes your company name, address, phone (if published), website address, email address, etc. You’ll find that a good percentage of your buyers, if the approach is made well, will wish to be included in your future “alerts.” Send out a regular email to this list -weekly or monthly is best, more than once a week may be
considered “intrusive.” Alert them to new auctions listed, new products being introduced, and so on. Including “special offers” and other incentives is a good idea as well. Offers like “if you
are the winning bidder and you mention this list, we’ll include a FREE GIFT with your order!”
When you package items to send to your buyers, make sure to include the proper inserts with the item. A packing list/invoice is imperative for a professional appearance. A catalog, “thank you”
note, branded gifts (pens with your name on it and the like), or other types of inserts or special offer fliers are nice bonuses that will encourage further contact from your buyers.
About Me Page
Your eBay “About Me” page is very important to the professional look and impression your business gives to buyers and potential buyers. This has been discussed several times before in this newsletter and throughout our training program and can’t be emphasized enough. The more information the better.
Do you have a business website to advertise or sell your products? If not, you need one. Aaron covered many aspects of these in his series of articles in issues 36-40. Like the “About Me” page
information, though, the importance of a good seller website for your business can’t be over stated.
The most important aspect of customer retention is good customer service. If you provide all of the professionalism of a legitimate business, accurate listings, efficient shipping, and fast response
time to queries, you will greatly increase the good impression and the chance of your customer returning for more.
In conclusion, retaining customers and getting them to come back to you for more is possible and even essential to doing well as a business. A retention rate of over 10% is a rarity on eBay and is a
short-term goal to aim for in your selling. Most regular businesses expect a customer retention of 80% or higher and most online businesses expect nearly the same. If you work hard at your
customer service and “branding,” you too can realize high retention rates in your eBay sales.