A lot of people have side hustle gigs that involve selling online via Etsy, eBay, and other platforms. Buying and selling online during a pandemic can still be done safely but there are some important things to remember when you are trying to conduct something close to business as usual.
Up Your Customer Fulfilment Game
In the age of COVID-19, more people are trying to sell goods and services online. The side hustle is becoming more important than ever and if you’re an established online seller or reseller you might be feeling some heat from all the extra competition. How do you remain viable with so many potential newcomers flooding your market?
Get ruthless about your shipping costs and order fulfillment times. Were you taking 7-10 days to process sales from Discogs.com or Etsy?
Change that to 3-4 days and watch what happens in your customer feedback. Cut your shipping costs down to actual expenses to be TRULY competitive. A lot of online sellers like to squeeze a couple of extra dollars out of the shipping fees, but NOT doing this potentially earns you a reputation for being more buyer-friendly.
And while we’re thinking of order fulfillment…
Package Delivery May Be Delayed
Don’t underestimate the commerce-slowing power of the coronavirus lockdown measures enacted in many areas; these restrictions are absolutely necessary but they do have the potential to cause delays in shipping. If you are shipping across the country, keep in mind that multiple post office stops for your products mean multiple places where a delay could occur.
Best practices to avoid customer complaints? Be transparent about these delays and warn your buyers upfront that the U.S. mail is subject to COVID-19 delays.
Beware Price Gouging
A lot of resellers and artisans may think we’re going after them for raising prices, but that’s not actually the point here. Only you, the seller, and the buyer who eventually decides to purchase are responsible for deciding what prices are right for the wares.
But what about situations where there is a (real or perceived) scarcity driving the cost of some things higher? Do you find as an artist or artisan that your source materials are more expensive now?
This is a very real factor to consider as coronavirus issues wear on–a 100-count box of face masks that used to cost six dollars (ish) at one point during the pandemic later cost more than twice that. Some online sellers aren’t hawking someone else’s goods, but items they have made from scratch or repurposed.
And many times those activities may require things like face masks, gloves, and other items that are suddenly much more in demand. If the price of your source materials has shot up during the pandemic, it pays to try and source more local and inexpensive versions if you can.
It is possible to keep your head above water as an online seller during this pandemic, but many hacks, tips, and tricks are required to get the job done. Do you have any online sales tips or tricks that might be helpful during the pandemic? Please feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section and share your experiences.
Joe Wallace specializes in personal finance, military affairs, and consumer protection topics. Since 1995, his work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and collects unusual vinyl records, which gives him an excuse to write the vinyl blog Turntabling.net.