Nov 10, 2010

Don't be an Antique Store, Be a Storefront

Ever walked into an antique store and been amazed by the vast inventory? I have. I used to wonder how they found things. It never occurred to me to ask how they sold things. Generally, most antique and vintage stores aren't completely in the business of selling. They're often more into the business of collecting and showing off those collections.

We're not in the business of showing off our collections. We're online storefronts. While it is important to keep interesting items in your shop to impress customers, it's also critical to price for volume sales. But equally as important is to make your shop accessible.

What are your barriers to entry? What keeps customers from finding you OR from buying? 

Let's discuss shipping. Not altogether a sexy topic, but one that really can make or break a sale. Where do you ship to? Where WON'T you ship to? What won't you ship outside the country? 
A potentially hard to ship item

I see listings all the time that spell out all kinds of negative text for the buyer. "I only ship to the USA. I only ship Priority Mail, or UPS or whatever their chosen shipper is. I expect payment in 1 day or I will leave negative feedback!" Yikes!! Not a good way to start a relationship with a potential customer! (imagine if we started all relationships this way: "And if you don't put the toilet seat down, this is a no go!")

Frankly, I want customers. If they want me to bubble wrap it twice, wrap it in tissue, double box it and ship it to a small island off Brazil, I'm there. Of course, I make sure they pay for that. 

Don't assume your buyers know that "Everywhere Else" in your shipping means them. I put a lot of general countries in my shipping quotes so people get the idea I ship worldwide. Make it easy for customers. Don't make them hunt for information, or worse, assume

Yes, I've heard stories of scams. But if you ship it, insure it and package it well, you are protected. Why not reach as many customers as possible? Selling to a wide international base as been such a boon for me. I ship all over the world-from Spain to Taiwan to Argentina. Nearly 1/2 of all my sales online are from International customers. 

Easy to ship anywhere item
The post office picks up packages from your house now. UPS and Fedex do too. Priority Mail supplies are free. Yes, setting up a few different shipping profiles takes some time, but it's easy with the post office website (and some info from your local post office) and a scale. 

I have set up profiles for: 

  1. Ephemera (light paper items)
  2. Items up to 13 ounces USA only
  3. Items up to 1 pound worldwide
  4. Items up to 2 pounds worldwide
  5. Items up to 3 pounds worldwide
  6. Items higher than 4 pounds worldwide
  7. Freight
Heavy, but under the 4pd 1st class limit

I just learned that while first class (snail mail) here in the USA has to be 13 ounces or less, worldwide it's 4 pounds! So shipping isn't as high as I've thought it to be. The reason I didn't know is because this information is NOT on They push all international shipping into Priority or Express. I had to get this info directly from the post office, along with a rate chart. If you pay for a service like or you can do international first class. 

The barriers to entry for shipping have been removed for you. Now make sure you've removed them for your customers!


Three Chicks Vintage said...

OMG! ""And if you don't put the toilet seat down, this is a no go!"
I LOVE this!

Sabine said...

Oh, that one cracked me up as well! GREAT post, thank you!

Mascara Jones said...

Really appreciate this post...thank you so much!!