Feb 23, 2011

What's Trivial to You May Be Vital To Your Customer

When you have an item right in front of you, it's often easy to overlook the obvious. That's why it's always important to pretend you're looking at your item from your computer screen. If you only had a 2 dimensional view, what kinds of questions would you want answered about it?

1960s Sterling Modernist Dove by mascarajones

Take for example sterling and gold. Most listings I see think about these objects in terms of color and condition. I suggest you consider weight as well. With silver hovering around $30 an ounce and gold around $1400, it's worth mentioning what these items weigh. I use a digital kitchen scale to measure ounces.

1904 US Coin Gold Quarter by FascinatingHobbies

If you're not sure if your item is gold, I suggest testing it. For what gold is currently selling for, it's worth that little bit of effort. eHow has suggestions on how to test for gold. If you're listing items that are made of precious metals, I suggest checking that days price per ounce, just so you price accordingly. I'm not suggesting you judge a vintage item just on the per ounce value! Certainly not. But knowing the baseline is always good information to have.

Taxco Inlaid Silver Earrings by YesterdaysSilhouette

Another piece of information to provide is the makers mark. If you can, always provide a photograph of it. Always. I know five photos often doesn't seem like enough for some vintage items, but that makers mark is critical. Even if you describe it, most people just want the visual confirmation. Think of how much info you glean from a makers mark-provide that same data to your potential customers.

Chadburns Engine Telegraph CheekyChicVintage

Along with that, try to show an interior shot of the entire inside. I have had some nasty experiences with partial shots. I invested in a Dansk cooking pot last year and trusted the sellers "good condition" and partial photo. The hidden corner was badly rusted out. Again, let your customers trust their eyes. Give them the same amount of information they would have if they were holding the item in their hands.

Dansk Paella Pan by bitofbutter

When describing items, be very specific. Don't just say "great condition". Condition is variable with too many definitions. One thing I now try to remember is be very clear. I'm wary of customers who just skim the page. I used to say "there are no chips, cracks, crazing, etc". Now I say: "there are no chips, no cracks, no crazing, blah, blah, blah." That extra no makes a difference.

Federal Eagle Wall Mirror by moxiethrift

Lastly, try to mention the potential flaws that are NOT present.

For metal: there are no dents, no cracks, no repairs.
For ceramic & glass: there are no chips, no cracks, no crazing and no hidden repairs. (this will require black light testing-something I highly recommend)
For paper items: there are no wrinkles, no fading, no writing, etc.

Providing this level of detail will build confidence in your potential buyer. It will also cause you to examine your items even more closely, which can help with hidden flaws you might have missed. A little extra time spent when listing, means no wasted time & money after the sale.


jenscloset said...

Great information, thanks!

Suzanne@threepeats said...

I agree about "weight." When I buy at estate or garage sales, picking something up in my hands and feeling its weight helps me judge how solidly and well it's made. You can't do that with pictures but it's very important to mention in descriptions, particularly with jewelry!

Laura@YesterdaysSilhouette said...

Yes! Details, details, details! I always try to give the most accurate description of an item as possible. Sometimes I even question if I'm over doing it, but my method is confirmed by my feedback. So many customers are appreciative of the fact that the item was "EXACTLY as described." As a shopper, I hate those little "surprises" that were left out of photos and/or descriptions. I mean, after all, a customer should be excited when they open your package, not disappointed, right?!

garage sale girly said...

This is a fantastic post! I agree with all of the above. Sometimes I worry about over doing it in the description, but if I was a buyer I would want to know everything about the item. I find it so frustrating when I am looking at a vintage item and it only says Good vintage cond. and I have to contact the buyer to inquire about specifics. I also find that spelling out little condition issues is a little bit of a protection for the seller. Customers shouldn't be able accuse you of not disclosing flaws.

bit of butter said...

I've started drawing little arrows in photoshop so that customers can zero in on any flaw in the product. It's cut down on a lot of questions!

Leah said...

I like the idea of putting NO before each description. I am amazed by the amount of people that ask us questions about the item...and we go to the description we wrote, copy and paste it into the convo back. =S

Great info and hints!

Amber said...

This was a WONDERFUL post. I've heard about including weights, but I never knew about blacklight testing or ways to test if something is actually gold or silver. Thank you!

beca said...

what a great, informative post!