Monday, 27 September 2010

When shopping on Etsy

After years of trouble-free on-line shopping, last week was a certified un-success.
It was late and I was relaxing surfing on my computer, while listening to the news from the TV.
As it were, I was surfing Etsy. I love independent crafters and retailers. I appreciate the low prices of big super market chains, but I enjoy my shopping in smaller, family owned shops, especially for groceries and accessories, the two edges of my shopping agenda, as it were, as much as I can.
I know I should have put the items I liked in my favorites and not in my shopping cart, but as it were, but i decided I didn't want to search back and forth, so I  had a cart stacked with virtual goodies ready to materialise on my doorstep, when the unimaginable happened: I hit an OK too many, and I woke up with the screen bluring with "Pay"-"Pay"-"Pay".
Now, if I were in a supermarket or a large chain, all I'd have to do would be to empty my cart then and there, or abandon it, or put everything back on the shelves, or tell the cashier, "sorry, can't afford it; would you please cancel?".
That might cost me some looks from those behind me in the line, the cashier and her supperior, but it would be OK, no one would repremand me on my decision, and I would walk away a free person.

If on the other hand I were in a small shop, the shop owner would do his best to assist me, accomodate me with a better price so as not to lose a customer, and even if I had to leave, he'd say "Ok, maybe next time". And there would be a next time, because I'd know he or she would be nice and helpful time. Because if he were to give me the looks, I wouldn't go anywhere near his establishment next time I wanted to shop such stuff.

I experienced all this and more last week. The uggly and the nice, all in one, be it unwilling, transaction.
As soon as I realised what had happened, I began to "convo" as Etsy jargon has it, all the sellers, or as many as I could in one late night sitting.
As a sales person myself, I did not want to disappoint anyone who saw their transaction appear in their real-day time, and were pleased to sell their junk-my treasures.
So I went ahead and bought these transfer patterns (Fri-Sun missing!)

and these vintage somewhat yellow-ish pillowcases.

and some more. 

 A Holly Hobby pillowcase, because I am occasionally regressing into childhood and I felt like my 8 year old came across it.

 and a blanket that has certainly seen better days, but I saved in my cart because I liked the way the seller dispayed it.

Then the responses began piling up. Some people said "OK, I'll cancel. Thanks for lookign at my stuff". And that was great, because I will certainly look at their stuff if and when I shop Etsy again. 

One person wrote to me, "OK, I'll cancel, but what about my 20 pence for re-lisitng the item?"
Another lectured me on being more careful with my transactions.
One person said, "OK, no worries-thanks for letting me know",  then went ahead and marked all 7 items I had nearly bought from her with a minus, in Etsy jargon, she gave me negative feedback.
And another person marked her feedback: refused to pay.

Now, as I said, I am a sales person. And I know all about the ups and downs, and the frustration of a sale that does not go ahead as planned. Bur spare me please the lecture, and the negativity.
All these Etsy people are trading their stuff on Etsy, not just because they are independently  minded, in some no-war-in-'nam way, but also because they can't possibly afford to go all out and open a shop selling their grandma's unfinished cross-stitch, yellow-ish pillow cases, or torn books for 20 bucks, to give you just an example. And so, they find the Etsy umbrella quite convenient, which is a great opportunity and a great accomplishement of Etsy, which accounts for its success. Same goes for mums who sell their knitting efforts which amount to scarves for your coffee mug and key fobs from fabric remnants. And that is OK, too.

But these people who want to sell, and who are supposedly refusing mass consumerism, must also learn some rules that mass market trading has embraced, and thus reached the masses.
One of them is, "customer comes first". And if you  really want to make it, you must do better than repremand a customer who happened to hit the check out button by mistake and let you know as soon as they possibly could. 
And another rule to consider: In a global trading experience as Etsy is, you must be prepared to show some understanding when shipping comes to three times the cost of the item in question, and either accomodate the buyer, if the order is large enough to cover part of the cost. Most of the time, I ship to my clients paying the expenses myself. They trust me enough to place orders over the phone, and I always include a lavender sachet or a pair of slippers to show my appreciation. Trust me on this one: Learn to trust your customers as much as you can afford. They will come back for more!

love, Irene

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