Saturday, September 3, 2011

Biz Buzz - Handling Buyer Requests

Ever get a request from a buyer that is so out of this world that you don't even know how to answer them? I know you have, because I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I just got a request to change the red lace on an Apron to blue lace. I get a lot of these requests. Of course you could assume that I don't carry blue lace in stock, and you would be right. Now you know I am not about to go out and buy blue lace at $1 or more a yard when I buy the few colors I have at $.20 a yard especially for a customer that got a pretty good discount on the merchandise in the first place.

Here's a good one. A buyer has to wear a red apron to work, so could you please make this Star Wars Apron with a red background instead of white. Well I probably could if you would like to pay $500 for it instead of $39, because I will have to design fabric and have it printed. Or I could get a red fabric marker and "paint" the background red, but you could do that yourself for a lot less money.

I know all of you sellers get requests that just make you want to pull your hair out, or reach through the "net" and throttle someone.

I am always as sweet as possible when the buyer asks the next day to give them the shipping information for their hand made merchandise that says on the listing to allow one week for completion. I am always as understanding as possible, even though I just want to say, what and who do you think I am? and can't you just take 2 seconds to read the whole listing of items you are buying.

I sell on eBay and many buying off their phone apps which do not see the whole listing. I also used to get a LOT of really dumb questions about merchandise and I would sweetly reply that all the information they need is on the listing. They would reply that they are looking at it from their phone and can't see the whole listing. EBay has worked on that issue now though.

I bet you thought I had an answer to this problem. I really don't. All I can say is that you have to remain as calm as possible, and if your buyer has angered you, don't even answer until you have calmed down. You will be able to think a little better the next day and if you don't answer immediately it will not be the end of the world. Always try to let the buyer know that you are working hard on their order. If they ask where their merchandise is when it should take a week, I let them know that they will probably be getting it a little early. "You are in Luck, I'm going to be able to get this our sooner than one week"

As far as colors I don't have, I focus on something else, "You will love it just the way it is listed". And I'm sorry that I can't make the Red fabric Purple, Or make the Onyx centers of these flowers with Moss Agate rondelles that aren't available.

I really will do what I can to please a buyer, but some things, you know, are just not possible at the cost they are willing to pay. And often request are made after the item is paid for.

As I don't really have a solution for you. I wonder if you can add your suggestions in my comments. How do you handle unusual or impossible buyer requests?

12 comments:

Pili said...

As a buyer, I just shake my head at the things other buyers ask from sellers I know... It might be cause I'm very much into the handmade movement, or the fact that I do read everything (even the back of shampoo bottles down to every ingredient) but I usually know what to expect and when not, I tend to be polite and realistic on questions and customs from sellers... But then again, some people DON'T read...

beanbun said...

Once I had someone ask me to make something so specific, she wanted a certain color and type of zipper that I am certain she just made up out of her head. I just told her that unlike Betsey Johnson (who inspired the request)I don't have manufacturers at my beck and call. And then I declined it, telling her I prefer to make things more like what I already sell.

Catherine said...

Hahaha! Yeah, I get some weird requests, too, for changes/custom pieces. Will bend over backwards to satisfy a customer if it can be done. But those that can't, I will say something like, thank you so much for your interest, but . . . it really can't be done and here's why . . . "

vintage eye said...

It happens to us vintage peeps too. I had a buyer ask me to combine shipping on a large order of milk glass vases she wanted to purchase. I had to explain to her that I do not sell all the milk glass vases listed on Etsy but only the one I had listed in my own shop....I never heard back from her!

akaCINDERS said...

Vintage eye, that is a good one. Even I haven't had that request before. I guess the best thing would be to explain it like it's a shopping mall and not all the stores use the same shipping. (or are even in the same state).

Anonymous said...

I always give the seller everything they ask for, then often throw in free shipping as well. I'm just that kind of person, always going the extra million miles :)

Rocky the Zombie said...

I think the only ones that REALLY annoy me, are those who buy something and pay for it, and only then ask if you can make it in a different size or colour. As if I can just wave my wand and utter a magic spell and sit back and watch at the item grows or shrinks by a few inches, and changes from red to blue.

Or those of course who think you can churn out a 2 week project overnight, and have it arrive the very next day.

I think sometimes people get lost on the internet and think they're talking to a factory warehouse, rather than a designer.

Jane said...

This is a tough one. I've had a few requests for changes and I try to acccomodate. But I am starting to learn to say no when I can't or really don't even want. I recently was gone from home and got a few orders. One was a rush, custom fabric, etc., only to have the customer return it because it has no zippers (which is not listed!) I also struggle with custom orders. I promote myself as being open to custom sewing, so I have to accept it as part of my business. But I will often spend a long time searching for fabrics online that will meet the customer's needs, just to have them ditch me. And I've also learned anyone asking for a larger quantity is simply window shopping for the cheapest. I rarely get those sales. So no pearls of wisdom from me, just comisery!

akaCINDERS said...

Rocky the Zombie - I agree. I think the customer who wanted blue lace didn't realize that the Apron was handmade (although the listing clearly stated it) many also think they get the exact item in the pics although I use vintage fabric that varies.

Jane - I can relate, but you just need to curb the desire to please everyone and if the request is too difficult, make a suggestion of something you can get. Most buyers aren't designers, just let them know theirs will be unique and beautiful with the fabric you've chosen just for them. That's what they want anyhow. As we used to say in the product business, some buyers just want to pee on the design (leave their scent).

Judy said...

I've enjoyed your post and the reply's too. I know I've had some interesting requests but I can't remember any right now.

Anonymous said...

Think of how much time and expense creating the Star Wars Franchise was in the first place before you go stepping on your own toes with a post like this. The worst thing anyone can ever do in business is rant about a customer showing interest in your wares! Get a grip and count your lucky stars Lucas has not sent you a lovely letter from their lawyers.

akaCINDERS said...

Anonymous, Maybe you should do a little research before you go ranting dear. The Apron is reconstructed of Vintage fabric, over 30 years vintage. And even if it is new, it is legal to resell merchandise under the First Sale Doctrine. Meaning that you have the right to do whatever you choose with any commercial merchandise you pay for. Wow they make OTC for PMS these days.

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