There are quite a few ways you can go beyond the basic buy/sell transaction and give your customers something they’ll value. We’ve summarized some of the best here.
A personal touch
Whenever I buy on eBay, it’s always so nice to get a card in the box that says something like “Hope you like this, please just let me know it arrived safely – or get in touch if anything’s wrong”. Yes, that’s in the terms and conditions, but it is so nice to get the message direct – even more so if it’s handwritten and signed.
Just don’t be corny. But a little personal, or branded, message goes a long way to making your customers smile.
Anticipating your customer’s needs
You almost always have a good idea why someone’s buying your product. (Not always: a friend buys chopsticks as tools for making models. I’m not sure if he’s ever bothered to try eating with them.) So think about what they need to make the best use of it.
For instance, with cookware, they’ll want to use it. So why don’t you provide a couple of recipes that work really well with your product? A garlic press could come with a printed recipe on the box, and a link to your web page of recipes using garlic. An olive oil spray could come with a few recipes that work much better with the spray than they do by just pouring oil into the pan or baking dish.
Helping customers achieve their goals
Open up a two-way channel and help customers achieve their goals. If you sell stationery and pens, look at what customers are saying and offer, say, a chance to win a Zoom class in improving their handwriting, or getting started with sketching – depending on what message is coming through.
For fitness equipment, you could even let customers ‘duel’ each other for fun via your Twitter feed, or offer a random motivational or exercise suggestion on an auto-responder. Anything like this is particularly good for this sector, because customers so often buy gear, use it for a bit, and then get bored, give up, or find they’ve plateaued.
Give a little
I bought quite an expensive package of professional photographic kit recently. When I opened it up, the vendors had included a little pack of gummy bears as well. It can’t have cost even one percent of their margin but it made me smile, and got shared around the office so now all my colleagues know which supplier to use!
Be there for them
It’s no good doing all this and then when there’s a problem, not being there. Provide as much support as you can, whether that’s by phone or email – make sure if the product’s broken in shipping, for instance, you can replace it as soon as possible. Okay, life’s a bit different when you sell via Amazon rather than through your own site, but the principle is the same; never leave a customer waiting for help.
If you mess up, fess up… then help!
If for whatever reason something goes badly wrong, be honest. Apologize, explain, and then try to make things better. It’s better to lose an entire shipment of inventory because there’s a problem with it than to lose your reputation as a business and a brand.
Whatever you do, make sure it fits your branding. My photographic vendor is goofy and geeky – gummy bears fit their brand really well. If you’re selling high-end beauty products or weight loss supplements, maybe not so much!