While Etsy has made great strides in their listing process over the last couple years, it’s still incredibly difficult to automate receiving particular information from your customer necessary to create, personalize, or send the item they order. And honestly, it’s difficult no matter what platform you use to ensure that your customer is giving you all the pertinent information.
The other day, I was asking some Etsy sellers what they were frustrated about lately to see if I could help and one of the big things said is that customers don’t read!
The root of the problem for these artists was that on the shopping platform they’re using (Etsy), you can’t require customers to answer enough questions before ordering. You can put a couple drop down menus in the listings, which helps a lot of Etsy sellers. But one particular seller caught my attention when she mentioned that she puts a customer’s three initials on several of her products. And the drop down can’t accommodate the thousands of combinations of three initials. And if she split up the initials into multiple drop down menus, she would have no room to ask other particulars about the product like the color, font, and size.
In the midst of all this confusion, she decided to just ask for the size and color in her drop downs and rely on the customer to provide her with their initials. But she said,
“No one ever tells me. Ever. I always have to ask.”
And she’s right. Customers are often making a purchase excitedly and don’t realize, even though you’ve told them, that they need to provide you with more information. Yet they expect you to ship it to them exactly how they imagine it.
So today I want to talk about the ways you can raise the odds that your customers tell you what you need to know to ship out your products.
First, I’d like to identify the ideal. In case you maybe have tons of control over the interface your customers use to order online. The ideal would be to have required form fields on the order page that ask all the questions you need answers to. For my example customer, she would have 4 fields – 3 drop downs to choose font, color, and size; and 1 short answer to write in the initials they would like. The order would not be able to submit without filling out these fields.
Now, if you don’t have enough control to make that happen, I’d like to talk about some other ways to make it more likely you’ll get all the information without having to go out of your way.
1. Clarify in your policies section that you will not ship an item until the necessary information outlined in a product listing has been acquired. One sentence like this could save you a lot of trouble with customers later.
2. Make sure every listing mentions the information you need and tells your customer how to get that information to you (is there a blank notes field at checkout? do they need to email you? what’s your email?).
3. Put a reminder on the order confirmation page. If you’re capable of editing this page, put a reminder here that says something like, “I may still need information from you before I can ship out your order. Make sure you’ve followed the instructions in the product listing that might ask for color, size, style, and personalization preferences.”
4. Put a reminder in the order confirmation email. A similar reminder should be in the first email a customer receives that confirms their order. And if you can change the subject line to “information still needed” or some such, even better.
You might feel like you’re being obnoxious, but your customer won’t. They’ll likely only notice two of these reminders and will probably not take action until the second time they notice the request for information. It’s just human nature to not take immediate action on things, to put things off and then forget about them.
You’ll still have the occasional customer who doesn’t give you the information. Because you’ve written in your policies section that the item won’t be shipped until they tell you these things, you don’t even have to ask your customer. It’s their responsibility to follow-through with you and make sure you know how to handle their order. However, it’s better business practice to email customers if you haven’t heard from them about the order in 48 hours and can’t proceed until you have more information.
This won’t work for everyone. But it’s definitely worth a shot as I notice, with most online shops, it dramatically decreases the number of people you have to contact about their orders prior to shipping. And that’s more time to work on orders, design new products, and market your business!