I have lost count of the number of times I have come across poorly described books and vinyl records on the internet, particularly on auction sites, where attracting the right eyeballs is doubly important on time-sensitive items.
Your title and description is of vital importance and will ultimately determine whether your item sells or remains in your inventory. Below I have provided a few tips to help you attract your potential buyer’s attention in the first instance.
Once they are looking at your offer, there are a couple of things you can do to answer some if not all of their questions before they have even been asked. Then I’ll discuss what should happen once you have received payment.
I have put together the information below from observations I have made from a buyer’s point of view, as well as from my own experience as a seller of books and vinyl records over a number of years. I do genuinely believe that some online sellers are giving the rest of us a bad name purely because they are failing to adhere to a few simple guidelines based on common sense and unwritten law (either by mistake or because they haven’t thought about it before).
Here are the crucial points to remember when listing a book, vinyl record or other tangible item for sale online:
As with everything else you may sell on the internet, the title or headline is of paramount importance as this will almost always be the first thing a potential buyer sees. A detailed and informative headline will also help search engines like Google index you that little bit faster.
Here’s a tip I usually keep close to my chest: make the actual address of your page as close to the title of your listing as possible. A URL such as: http://yourstore.com/products/book12.html is not nearly as good as http://yourstore.com/products/the_man_with_the_golden_gun.html
If your store script or service does not allow you to make search engine friendly product URLs then find another one. (Years ago I made a fatal error that cost me a bucketful of sales. I used to hand build every product page and the URL was also the name of the product, as mentioned above. This method got me on the first page of Google many times, which also led to a lot of sales. Then I got lazy and used a store script to generate my product pages (these contained a bunch of numbers and the dreaded ?) and within a week of putting it up sales plummeted and I was nowhere to be seen in the search engines. Don’t make that same mistake. Spend a little time on your titles and product URLs)
A detailed description of the item will give you a greater chance of a sale. Don’t try to deceive the buyer by omitting important information, even if it means you lose the sale (in which case the product you are offering is not as good as it should be). I have had first hand experience of this, where I have purchased a book, for example, on the understanding that it was a first edition, first print only to find that it was a reprint or a book club edition. I was not best pleased.
Mention the condition of the item, whether it is new or used, in mint condition or damaged. In short – be honest and open. It’ll pay dividends in the end.
If possible give the weight of the item, the ISBN or catalogue number and year of manufacture or issue if appropriate.
Provide photographic images of the item in support of your description. Include any major selling points such as the author’s signature, or a number representing a special or limited edition. Photograph any damage to the item, such as tears, bumps or splits.
When sending the item, include a personal thank you note with your web site URL at the bottom.
Do NOT overcharge on shipping costs. Postage should not be a way to booster profits but should be a fair reflection of how much it actually costs to send the item.
Special note regarding shipping:
Ask at your Post Office for information on current postage rates or visit their website, which will probably have a postage rate calculator.
Weigh the item in packaged form and find out the rates for posting to different parts of the world. Add this information either in the description or in the shopping cart. Admittedly, this can be time consuming when you have a lot of items of varying weights, but it will be time well spent to do it correctly and fairly.
Add a reasonable cost on top of the actual shipping rate to account for packaging and handling.
Always ship items promptly and certainly within 24 hours of payment. (Some sellers won’t ship an item until a banker’s cheque has cleared. I never wait. I always ship as soon as the cheque arrives and out of the hundreds I have received I’ve never once had a problem.) Don’t make the customer wait unnecessarily. After all, if they like your service they will be more inclined to buy from you again.
By: Bob Evans
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Bob Evans has been selling items on the internet since 2000 and books and vinyl records in particular since 2006. He has a wide range of first edition books, some of which are signed, and many collectible classical vinyl records, all of which he is in the process of listing on his own website, Books-And-Records.com
FREE VINYL from motorcity record stores promoting Record Store Day – Saturday April 18th. Check out www.RecordStoreDay.com. 27 pieces of vinyl going to 3 winners donated by local detroit record shops …. Owner Chris Flanagan (who also plays in the multi-genre tackling combo of gents going under the names the Volcanos, the Hellbenders, the 3-D Invisibles and others) has been buying and selling choice finds from record swaps.