I think one of the best things about selling is every time you get a new order, it should give you a buzz of excitement no matter what the value. It does for me and has done so for the last 35 years in what ever I have sold.
I usually get up around 6am in the morning and go straight on my computer to see what has happened during the night (UK) time and if I have any new orders from the 7 web sites that I sell from.
One of the down sides of being self employed is when the orders stop coming in, you start to wonder how you are going to pay those bills, luckily for me is that I now do this as a hobby and don't have to rely on it for a living, but then as I will be 76 in September, I should not have to.
Selling online is I believe a way of life, I just wish that the shipping costs were not so high as the costs are getting rediculous, especially to send overseas.
Good luck everyone.
Best advice for selling onlne ? in 30 seconds or less ? "Golden Rule:" Put yourself in customers' shoes and do your best to answer questions and make them comfortable buying from you.
Otherwise - remember your customer can't look the item over in person so do your best with a description and offer a reasonable (hopefully generous) return policy.
Be honest in descriptions and if there are defects or downsides, mention them right along with assets.
Take plenty of photos and present the item so that when Customer opens the package, the first reaction is, "WOW this is better than I thought it would be!"
Offer as many types of payment as you can. Lots of people still like to use checks/money orders and snail mail.
Once payment is made, get the item packed and out the door ASAP. Stay in touch to make sure it is received and your customer is happy with it.
Some pros of selling online:
Dealing via email gives you an opportunity to compose those "difficult" replies.
You can build up a series of stock messages to deal with potentially stressful situations. Then when the worst happens they will provide you with a roadmap to use. This prevents you getting "sucked in" and investing too much of yourself when you get the odd challenging buyer.
Things sell and money rolls in while you are in bed (because I am on GMT) and most of my buyers are outside the UK.
Some cons of selling online:
In Europe we have some of the most incredible bureaucracy which I dont believe folks in the USA would put up with. For example there is a rule that says you must make the "physical location of your business" available so that even non buyers can see it! This is potentially very bad if you trade from home as a "mailbox" is not considered acceptable. Are you supposed to risk undesirables and nutcases turning up to rob you? (I have been stalked once and it was very scary). Most of us rent a virtual office address which provides us with a "street address" to get around this silly regulation.
Some very interesting reads here. Ken, I agree with you that one should get a little high with each and every sale. I know I do. I also get a bit depressed when my items aren't selling and I am in a down time. I know, however, that we all have those times now and then.
I must admit....I love selling in my bathrobe. I am at my computer while the coffee is still makiing over across the room. My computer center is in a corner my big country kitchen. Now that's bad...or good depending on how you look at it.
I toy with leaving this crazy business, mainly because of my age, but then what I do to occupy my mind?
We have been in the antique business for over 40 years and I must say that the internet has opened up another entire world of opportunities.
We started on line selling back in 2000 and have been extremely happy with the results. With ecommerce available, we have customers from all over the globe buying and looking for items that they must have. An example are the women in Japan that are into quilting. Japan has very limited fabric choices available and women look anywhere for what they want and need. We fortunately carry several hundred different vintage fabrics from 1860 to more current times. We have had women buy several hundred dollars of fabric and then pay an additional several hundred dollars to have the fabric air shipped to them. These are the buyers you want and hope they keep coming back for more.
The unfortunate thing is that the antique business have undergone several changes in the last 10 years. With the downturn in the economy in 2005, people did not have the extra disposable income to spend on antiques. Almost everyone suffered through those years wondering if we could make another year. God smiled on some of us and we are still here. The other change was the change in generations. Too many old time collectors are getting out of collecting and the new generation is not collecting antiques like in the past. The unfortunate thing is the arrival of the "shabby sheek" and the "cottage look" trends. With these we see good antique furniture painted over to meet the needs and wants of this trend. The economy also has not been kind to the furniture dealers and the glassware dealers. However, we can take some consollation in the fact that the antique market has undergone these trends and changes before in the past 40 to 50 years and we are still here.
I guess the secret is to go with the flow and adapt to the changing market place or be left behind. Nothing every stays the same and if you are to succeed, you need to know how to change and adapt. This is still the best business to be in and we have enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to several more years selling.
Every time I think it is time to give this up, I look at the money I make from antiques and compared it to income from other sources and I find that eye opening data starring me in the face saying "dummy, you made 4 times more profit in antiques that you did in anything else." This dose of reality is needed ocassionally to keep me on track and continuing to buy and sell.
Good luck to all and Happy Antiquing !!