My children are really into LEGO right now. So into LEGO, in fact, that they really whined when I stole all of their "guys" to take this picture for the article.
eBay happens to be a great place to find lots of LEGO parts, "minifigs" (the little men that come with LEGO sets), and other LEGO accessories. Tonight I happened to be shopping on eBay for LEGO minifigs (they make great stocking stuffers), and I found two very similar listings:
- Listing #1 listed 10 LEGO minifigs for $12.99 plus free shipping
- Listing #2 listed LEGO minifigs for $1.69 each, with 1 free figure for every 10 purchased — so essentially 11 for $16.90 — with a small shipping charge
In this case, on price alone, Listing #1 is the clear winner. So why did I end up buying from Listing #2? During the course of my transaction, I e-mailed both sellers to ask if I could get some female minifigures included in my purchase, as my daughter would appreciate having more than just little men everywhere. The seller for Listing #1 replied that the selection was chosen randomly and I could not elect to have a mix of male and female figures. The seller for Listing #2 replied that I could, indeed, receive some female figures with my purchase.
Not only did the seller of Listing #2 receive my business at a greater profit, but I also purchased several other items before checkout.
I have been told by people that eBay is a hard place to differentiate yourself, and I believe that to be true in some aspects — but clearly there are ways to separate your eBay store from the rest and customer service happens to be one of them. I will admit that free shipping is an attractive pull for many buyers, and has worked on me in the past. In the end, however, you will not build a loyal fanbase with free shipping alone — but you will build a following with excellent customer service.
Need more examples on how people selling the same thing can differentiate themselves?
- Seller forkidsofallages has very clear images of the products with their name on every picture, excellent communication with buyers, and they recognized me as a repeat buyer. Also, they throw in extra pieces on every bulk LEGO purchase. These small things have a nominal cost for the seller, but they pay off in later sales and referrals.
- Seller toybrickcity switched an item from an auction to a Buy Now so that I could grab it as I was checking out with 2 other auctions from the same seller. This move added over 30% in additional sales to the order.
- Seller audi2005 sells small lots of specific LEGO parts. By bagging these parts in individual plastic baggies to keep them separate during shipping, this seller earned a spot on my favorite sellers list.
- Seller svetlana718 has listings for multiples of the same pieces. Need a bunch of single round dots, car seats, wheel axles, or finishing tiles? This is the place to go. (These can be really important when you are trying to build something specific or need to replace certain parts — so the niche/need is definitely there.)
As you can see, there are ways to build a fanbase and differentiate yourself on eBay, even when you have hundreds of people selling the exact same thing as you are. These tools, however — customer service, staging photos for marketing, going the extra mile, etc — can be used in any business. Whether or not you sell on eBay, how could you use these techniques yourself? I bet all of them could be applied to your own business today!
P.S. The original minifig seller is bricks_4_u, in case your child wants minifigs for Christmas too!