Does it seem that people are not reading your item descriptions on eBay and/or Etsy? Are they asking questions that are clearly answered in the description if they just “bothered” to look? I see this complaint all the time and I’ve had it happen to me as well. And you know what? It might not be entirely their fault! Especially with Etsy and especially on mobile devices.
I can’t speak much about eBay, since I do very little selling there, but I can speak a lot about Etsy! They, as of this writing, oddly enough, make it, ummm, let’s just say, not very intuitive to find the actual description on mobile devices. Here’s a screenshot of how some books I currently have for sale appear on my phone:
………………..Oh, and before you say anything, I learned long ago, that no matter how easy it is to ship outside the US, something will happen ~for ME~ that either costs me money ($50 one time!!) or there’s a problem that costs me a whole day trying to sort out. That’s why I sell to the US only. It’s not them, it’s me. I might use the global shipping thing, and will usually ship outside the US if asked, but I try to keep my life simple. Now back to the problem at hand.………………..
So, okay. That “Item Overview” is not helpful at all. And the “Item Details”, (I drew the red box around it.) that you have to click a down arrow to see, first, should it be named Item Description instead of Details? And second, maybe we shouldn’t have to click on an arrow to read it? Here’s another:
There’s more information in the “Overview” – and those are pretty much the only choices we have to fill out except for things like “Holiday” and other unnecessary details – but thinking like a buyer here, “Hey, what’s that dark area in the middle of the wood that I can see in the picture? Where do I find out about that?” It just seems to me that if they’re going to show all the “Overview” stuff, maybe there should be a place for more of the important details and the condition. eBay at least has the condition where it can be seen. Sort of. (Not that I like the way eBay does things either, but at least “condition” is there amid the myriad of other things we might not care about.) And then there’s the whole, “Why should I buy this item” that we can talk about in the description….
Note that on the computer, the description on Etsy is actually called “Description” and they at least show about 5 lines before it is grayed out and you have to click to “learn more.” So it’s pretty important to state what could be a deal-breaker right upfront. Not an ideal selling tactic.
So, what can we do? We’re all busy people. We get in a hurry, see something we like and click on that “Buy” button, get the item and wonder why those vintage shoes don’t fit when they were my size or, “I thought it was larger than that” or “Hey! There is only one lid here!” (I once sold 2 bowls with one lid. The title stated it, the first line of the description stated it and all the pictures clearly showed it. But she somehow missed that pertinent information.) But again, we’re human. We get in a hurry. So, we can blame the buyers for not reading or we can blame the selling venues for not making it easy to see, we can complain on social media and complain to the venues, or we can do whatever we can to help the buyer see all they need to see.
Here’s my solution. I’ve only just now started doing this and who knows if I’m still doing it this time next year? And of course, there are quite a few similar solutions other people use. But mine, at the moment, is to make a graphic of the description, either in bullet point or even the whole description, but I believe the bullet point is probably better, and put it as the last picture. Similar to this:
In that particular listing, I ran out of picture spaces and combined the photo of the imperfection with the other condition notes.
Now, of course, not everybody will scroll through all the pictures, and not everyone will bother to read the graphic but in that case, I simply do not know of anything else to do.
What about when a vintage item has a ding/flaw/chip/nick/discoloration/whatever imperfection that vintage things tend to have? I’ve heard that some people use the “Personalization” area in Etsy to ask the buyer to say that they saw there was an imperfection. I tried that once and it confused the buyer. She didn’t want it personalized. Ha! I’ve also tried messaging and emailing the buyer prior to shipping. The last time I did that, she did not see either the message or the email. She was surprised when she got her item and must have gone in to message me, saw that I tried to reach out to her and decided not to complain but to apologize and say it was okay. However, that has saved me more than once when the buyer, in fact, did not see that there was some damage and wanted a more perfect item. It’s more work and aggravation for us sellers and really should be avoided by the selling venue doing a better job, but the venues don’t seem to see there’s a problem. So we do what we can. (Sometimes, it seems like Etsy doesn’t want vintage sellers, but that’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms I won’t open here or I’d be writing for days! And that’s really not true. I don’t think. Of course they want us and our money. I think they just don’t understand vintage.)
Tell me in the comments what you do to try to prevent this from happening.
(You know who does a pretty good job of this? WooCommerce. It looks similar to most of the big online stores we visit. It’s free and I use it on this site. But dang, it’s a lot of work to try to sell on your own website! And I’ll admit to not adding things very often. I should do a better job of the blog all the way around.)
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1 thought on “Are People Not Reading Your Item Description? eBay and Etsy”
I have tried emailing the customer after they’ve bought it to ask them if they looked at the pictures and read description. The ones I can think of who responded said they had and actually thanked me.
To insure they see the email from me, this is what I put in the subject line: Re: the quilt (or whatever) you bought from me on Etsy. I send it to Etsy email and personal email. I USUALLY get a response.
If I get no response, I wait a day, then send it anyway.
I had a lady that bought an old Bible from me, and it had escaped my notice that the cover was hanging on by a thread. I sent her 4 emails and offered to let her out of the sale, but no response. With trepidation, I sent it anyway. The result? Bad feedback.
My regret was that I didn’t respond to the feedback. I just let it go at the time.
I agree with everything you’ve said though. I wish Etsy would give more attention to getting the description more out there. I think they have made some attempt, but I don’t know yet how it looks on mobile.