Seller Blog

A seller's guide to the silly season

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With Christmas looming it’s important that you’re prepared for the silly season and the ramp-up in sales this can bring. To help you stay on top of things, we’ve put together some short and sweet tips for all sellers.

Plan ahead

Stock levels:

  • Make sure you’re aware of your stock levels. You don’t want someone purchasing the perfect gift from you only to later find out it’s not in stock. Remember, you can always add stock or additional listings if you have extra stock.

Best selling products:

  • Make sure you have plenty of stock available for your best selling products. If these items sell well outside of the holiday season, chances are they’ll fly off the shelf in the lead up to Christmas!
  • You may also want to consider giving these items a bit of extra promotion during the Christmas rush.

Supplies:

  • Make sure you have everything you need to get your parcels out the door – from courier bags to bubble wrap and sticky tape.

All hands on deck:

  • Over the lead up to Christmas, ensure you have enough staff to help steer the ship.
  • If you’re a one-man band, it can help to rope in a friend or family member for back-up. An extra pair of hands can make packaging goods and getting them out the door much easier. This will allow you to concentrate on maintaining awesome customer service for your buyers.

Market your products

Make sure your listings and Store details are perfect:

  • Have a look through your photos, titles, and descriptions to make sure they’re clear, easy to understand and accurately represent the product you’re selling.
  • If you offer pick-up as a shipping option, ensure you have clear instructions detailing when items can be picked up in the lead-up to Christmas. This information should be visible on your listings or your ‘About the Store’ page.

What makes your items great Christmas gifts?

  • Sell your products to your buyers – utilise your description to convince buyers why this is the ideal gift for their loved ones.
  • There are loads of ways to market yourself inside and outside of Trade Me. For some good tips and tricks on standing out from the crowd, check out our marketing blog post.

Know what the big companies are doing:

  • Big companies spend big bucks on researching the ‘up-and-coming’ gifts each year. Take note of what they’re advertising and use their research to your advantage.

Shipping

Cut-off dates:

  • If your postal or courier company has cut-off dates, make sure you’re aware of these so you can plan accordingly.
  • If you won’t be shipping for more than a few days you’ll need to temporarily stop your listings or advertise this hiatus period clearly in your description to save any disappointed buyers.

In time for Christmas:

  • Make it clear the last day goods can be purchased from you in order to arrive in time for Christmas. This will ensure that buyers are presented with clear expectations.
  • When it comes to shipping, it’s always best to overestimate than underestimate shipping durations. Couriers can often slow down during this period, so be sure to keep this in mind when setting your dates. 

Returns:

  • For returns, ensure you have a clear policy and process in place so that if someone needs to return a gift it’s a quick and easy process for everybody involved.

Great customer service

Post-sale:

  • When it comes to receiving gifts in time for the big day, buyers may seem extra needy. To combat this, make sure you have great people on-board doing your after sales support. Or, if you do it yourself, be ready to hold your emotions.
  • Before it gets really busy it could be a good idea to create some canned responses or templates in your email programme to help speed things up.

When something goes wrong:

  • Do your best to resolve the issue. Emotions can run high at this time of year so it’s important to keep this in mind when sorting out any issues with buyers. 
  • If you find yourself stuck with any feedback-related issues, have a read of our feedback post for options on how to handle this.

We hope these tips help keep your stress levels low so that you can have a jolly good time come 25 December. If you get stuck or need a hand, we’re here 24/7 to offer support - just give us a buzz

Thou shalt not spam

1466 1808 Communicating With Customers

Fun fact: emailing buyers about your other products or general business after a trade has been completed isn’t legal. Who knew, right!?

In this day and age, email is one of the best and most common marketing tools out there. It’s a way to own your brand, demonstrate your differences, draw people in, and increase sales. However, when you contact a member outside of a completed sale to promote your business or your products, you’re not only breaching Trade Me’s policy, but the law as well.

Sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages breaches the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act (UEMA). In short, this means you can only send marketing emails to those who have given their consent to receive them.

When you obtain a member’s email address as part of a Trade Me sale, you effectively have permission to discuss this trade, and this trade only, with the buyer. Exchanging pleasantries about the weather and your grandchildren are perfectly fine, but at the end of the day, that email address isn’t intended for anything other than that particular transaction.

If you haven’t received consent to send someone further marketing material, it’s likely you’re in breach of the UEMA. To learn more about consent, and spam generally, check out the Department of Internal Affairs’ help page.

All this said, we’re certainly not going to tell you that you can’t build an email database – it’s great to do that, but the key here is to ensure that you ask your Trade Me buyers first.

The best way to do this is to build a wee blurb and set up a link that will sign members up for future promotional emails. If you include this in the trade process (e.g. your payment instructions or a manual ‘your purchase has been sent’ email), you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

Buyers who are keen to purchase from you in future can take up the offer and enjoy getting the emails, rather than getting frustrated and upset that they need to unsubscribe. You’ll end up with a happy and interested buyer base, and keep everything above board too.

Have you built up a good email database? Why not share your experiences on the Message Board thread for this post. 

Back to the basics - Understanding your sales summary and listing allowance

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As a seller, you’re most likely to be familiar with your sales summary, listing allowance and high volume listing fees, but do you know the breakdown of how they all work?

When members fully understand the rules behind these numbers, they open up a wider understanding of their sales – meaning they can really make the most of the site.

Sales summary

Your sales summary is where you can take stock of the last 6 weeks of trading, and see a breakdown of your sales. It’s got a number of rows set up for you, but often members find “Total purchases”, “Value of sales” and “Sell-through rate” most valuable as they link in with the necessary requirements of becoming a Top Seller.

It’s worth noting that the sell-through rate calculated for Top Seller status isn’t an average of the last six week’s percentages, but is calculated by the total purchases divided by the total purchases plus total unsold listings. I.e. total purchases / (total purchases + total unsold listings).

Listing allowance

Calculating your listing allowance is actually super easy – we just take the highest number of sales in the last six weeks, times it by five, and there you have it! Your listing allowance is the number of listings you can have on the site without incurring high-volume listing fees.

Everyone has a base listing allowance of 50, but of course if you sell more than 10 items a week then this will be bumped up.

Your listing allowance can go up and down over time depending on your best week of sales, so you’ll need to keep an eye on this if high-volume listing fees are important to you.

High-volume listing fees

The basic concept here, is that any listing that’s created over your listing allowance is charged a high volume listing fee of $0.10. Each seller on Trade Me is allowed to list a certain number of items without incurring HVL fees to prevent flooding categories.

Confusion around HVL fees can crop up particularly when a member is using My Products or Tradevine, as listings are continuously ticking over. As each auction ends and another is relisted, the site recognises that it’s a listing over the allowance and will charge each listing.

Example: What if the number of my live listings falls, but stays above my allowance?

If Jane starts five live listings above her allowance of 100, so that she now has 105 live listings, she will be charged 50c in listing fees.

If three of Jane’s listings close, leaving her with 102 concurrent listings, she will still be sitting above her allowance of 100 concurrent listings. She will then incur HVL fees if she starts any more listings, or re-lists any closed listings.

Jane should also be aware that our site handles relists one at a time.

This means that if Jane has 105 concurrent listings, and 10 of them are set to expire and relist at the same time, Jane will be charged $1 of HVL fees for 10 relists because at the time each listing expires and is relisted, she is still over her listing allowance.

Even though Jane has paid for those extra five listings, she is still above her allowance so can’t list for free until she has less than 100 concurrent listings, or her listing allowance changes (based on the calculation outlined above).

Jane’s listing allowance may increase or decrease when recalculated each week.

You have a few options when it comes to HVL fees – you can either manage your auctions so that they all end before any more go back up (so that you’re only being charged for the listings that are over your allowance), or factor these fees into your budget and absorb these costs.

If you’re ever unsure about these costs or if you want to know more, check out the HVL help page, or touch base with our CS team.  

Warranties, returns policies, and keeping buyers happy

1466 1805 Customer Satisfaction

A customer unsatisfied with their purchase is never an ideal situation, but it also gives you an opportunity to turn a potentially negative trade into a great customer experience that will make you stand out from other sellers.

Have clearly written policies on your listings and Store pages, and deal with warranty claims and returns promptly and your customer is more likely to return and not impact negatively on your feedback.

Even before a shopper purchases, they may look at your policies to gain confidence in the transaction – so present yourself as a professional seller who knows their stuff, and will keep their buyers happy.

Warranties

Warranties are your legal obligation to fulfill – in New Zealand, all in-trade members must comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and Fair Trading Act (FTA).

The CGA makes sure customers get what they pay for and, if needed, a repair, refund or replacement for a faulty product or substandard service.

The FTA requires that consumers are not misled or deceived.

As an in-trade seller, you must offer products that are:

  • of acceptable quality
  • fit for purpose
  • match the description given
  • match any samples or demonstrations given
  • able to be legally sold.

Returns policy

You may choose to accept returns in circumstances not related to a warranty or the CGA, for example, if the buyer orders the wrong item or changes their mind.  

As these are not legal requirements, you have more flexibility about the terms that you offer, but your returns policy should be clear, and if possible, consistent across all of your listings to avoid confusion.

Let the customer know exactly how long they have to return a product and what timeframe this refers to – the date of purchase, the day they received it, etc. This is especially crucial if your return period is shorter, such as 30 days or less. Common return time periods offered by sellers are 30, 60 or 90 days.

You may require that the buyer who has changed their mind must pay for return shipping costs.  You may also choose not accept ‘change of mind’ returns at all, however, if the buyer does return an item because it was defective, you must cover the cost of return.

If a member is returning an item because of a misrepresentation made in the listing (including the image) then your warranty or returns policy does not apply, and again, you must cover the cost of the return.

Know your stuff

Overall, your warranties and policies must not in any way mislead a buyer about their consumer rights.

We sometimes see sellers confusing returns and warranties, leading to:

  • Statements that the buyer is responsible for paying the cost of shipping returns in the event that the goods are faulty. This is not correct, under the Consumer Guarantees Act the buyer must be reimbursed for all shipping costs. This also means that Return To Base (RTB) statements are misleading.
  • Statements that may mislead the buyer about their rights. Any statement that attempts to limit the rights of buyers would not be enforceable. For example, to say that any complaints must be made within 15 working days is incorrect. The CGA allows a claim to be made, regardless of time.
  • “As is, where is” statements must not be made, because it misrepresents the buyers consumer rights (the CGA applies regardless of statements like this) and is likely a breach of the FTA.

It is best to ensure that you are clear on your legal obligations (warranties) and what policies you personally want to offer buyers to ensure they are satisfied (returns). The best way to ensure a positive trade for both yourself and the buyer is to clearly communicate both policies and keep them separate in your listing.

Not all trades will go as planned, but these tips can help both you and your buyer end up satisfied with the trade!

Ping for professional sellers

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We’ve got good news! Starting from Monday 28 May, we’ll be migrating all professional sellers onto Ping. We’ll be in touch once you’ve got Ping, and from that point the majority of your sales will go through your Ping account.

What are the benefits of Ping?

It’s instant

  • Payments are processed instantly(regardless if a buyer has paid via bank account, credit/debit card or their Ping balance).

It’s easy

  • Ping works seamlessly with your listing tools – no more mucking around swapping bank details, waiting for payments or missing references.
  • You can make as many refunds on a sold item as you need to (up to the value paid).
  • There’s no limit on transaction downloads, unlike Pay Now.
  • Enjoy flexible balance withdrawal options – either on an automated daily basis, or manually when it suits you.

It’s safe

Reach more buyers

  • Over 2 million member accounts have access to Ping!
  • Ping allows you to accept bank transfers instantly, giving you access to a wider pool of buyers who prefer bank transfers. Buyers can even do split payments, making it even easier to purchase your items.

Important things to note

  • Afterpay operates on the old Pay Now ledger, so if you offer Afterpay you’ll need to monitor the Afterpay ledger. This means you’ll have two bank payments made to you – one from Afterpay and one from Ping.
  • Buyers who use Buy Now and pay immediately with Ping will be sent a link to view your payment instructions. Payment instructions will be sent as an email for listings won via auction or Fixed Price Offer.
  • The Top Seller discount applies to Ping transactions, bringing the 1.95% fee down to 1.65%.

Have more questions?

Head over to our help page for sellers, or drop us a line.