I never cease to be amazed by the proliferation and apparent popularity of articles on how to be better at something or other. Ten ways to improve your time management. Five ways to get more sleep. Fifteen ways to leave your lover. Six ways to train your cat to fetch your perfume samples. Because I’m always happy to pontificate about things, I thought it might be fun to start a series in parallel to mass-market Mondays: Self-help Saturdays. I’m going to start with something I’ve written about before, but will expand on here – how to be a better e-commerce customer.
There is no better way to learn what not to do as a customer than to be a vendor for a while. Here are my ten tips for ingratiating yourself with the people who sell you merchandise online. Believe me, if a vendor likes you, you will get the best service they can offer. If you screw up royally, you will go on their no-sell list.
1. Do not try to scam the vendor. I assume none of my readers would try to do this, but it does happen. Scamming behavior is what gets you on the no-sell list.
2. Do pay for your order and give me your correct shipping address. Proofread your order before sending it. If you need to specify choices, do so.
3. Do not start bombarding me with spam or ask me to like your irrelevant Facebook page that I know nothing about.
4. Do like my Facebook page if you honestly like my products, and let your friends know about my business. Leave a review on my website. Every vendor loves feedback.
5. Do not e-mail or phone me the day after you place your order and ask why it has not shipped yet or why it has not arrived already. Small businesses may need a few days lead time on shipping, or more than that if the person running the business and/or doing the shipping is out of town, has an emergency to deal with, or receives an unusually high volume of orders.
6. Do be patient and wait a reasonable amount of time for your order to arrive before asking whether it has shipped and when to expect it. For domestic orders, this would 7-10 days and for international orders 2-3 weeks. There’s nothing wrong with a little delayed gratification.
7. Do not order a large size of a product and then complain that after using it you don’t like it and want your money back.
8. Do try small samples before you buy a large size. For products that can’t be sampled, read consumer reviews carefully and do your homework before ordering merchandise. Be sure it’s what you want. Impulse buys and frivolous returns cost everyone money.
9. Do not communicate with vendors in an abusive way or blame them for problems that occurred in transit.
10. Do send the vendor a polite message if a product malfunctions or a product is damaged in transit. The vendor will almost always work with you to send a replacement, refund your money, or otherwise troubleshoot.
I will end this post by saying that I love 99% of my customers and 99% of the companies from which I order merchandise. None of us wants to be in that other 1%.
[Shop window painting by Isaac Israels (1894), bookseller print "The Bookman" (1896), children in a shop painting, W.L. Laguy (19th century), retro postman photo from Wikimedia]