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Saturday, January 05, 2013

My Guide to Selling Lolita Clothes on the Egl Comm Sales

♥ dollonstrings' guide to selling on the egl community sales ♥

 I experienced much grief with my first sales posts. I didn't know how to respond to buyers, or gauge pricing, deal with ridiculous post office staff, unreasonable customers, estimate shipping, pack clothes (I received a 4/5 rating for shipping a skirt in a most expensive bubble wrap envelope) and I didn't realise that the rules on the egl comm sales profile page were NOT the full set of rules (it's on the rule page, which is linked on the home page, and I didn't notice). It was aggravating have to try for unmoderated posting when I got warnings for small things here and there. >___>

You can cut through all that hassle with this step-by-step guide using my personal experience. =) I have sold over 50+ items, though I have not received feedback for all of them. ): I've bolded the main points, so you can skim over the text for the tl;dr.

here we go!


The Basics: Getting your post approved - the hoops sellers must jump through

Step 1. Start your post with 'DS'
Step 2. Put all text under an lj-cut
Step 3. Add your feedback link and make it clickable! This can be done by using the hyperlink option. You have to apply for a feedback page on eglfeedback. =)
Step 4. Add location in the location field. (mentioning your location in the post does not count)
Step 5. Add the '!ds' tags to your post. Add brand tags if you like.
Step 6. Make sure your stuff fits with the 75-25 rule. I have never encountered problems with this as I rarely bother selling loliable goods, but *shrugs*. A loliable item would be something like an offbrand bolero or cute necklace or a cute bunny bag. This is subject to moderator judgement, and if you can be bothered to, you can ask for it to be put to a moderator vote if your item was rejected and you think it shouldn't have been.
Step 7. Don't repost the same items without a 20% discount within 4 weeks. If you included the shipping in the original price, you need to reduce that as well. This is why I list the cost of shipping separately. Don't make another post within 4 days(ATTN posts don't count).

Do all of the above and you should have no problem.
I strongly recommend everyone to apply for unmoderated posting when they can (3 mistake-free posts), because I find it stressful to wait for my post to be approved in the middle of the night and having people lose interest in the item by the time I get back to them in the afternoon.

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Actually selling items

1. How to appeal to potential buyers.

Now you've got the framing for your sales post, it's time to sell your items. These are just some guidelines that I personally use for my own sales, and I think it will help you to get your items sold as well.

- Take good photographs.

This means no blurry photos. Get a camera that has at least 8 megapixels. What I also do is upload my photographs to flickr and use the free photo editor provided to adjust the colours as clothes will look different in different lighting. Try to take pictures in the daytime, when there is the most sunlight. Don't overexpose your photographs unless photographing black items to show details. Iron your clothes before photographing them and arrange them nicely on a white background or on a clean, pretty bedsheet. I'm biased against clothes-on-the-floor photographs, but some lolitas like it, so I won't comment on that. Tie bows and do a criss-cross with neck-ties if there are any.

I spend a lot of time trying to take nice photos, so sometimes I keep the photographs even after the items are sold. XD Here are some photographs I'm proud of.
IMG_0002Lief Regimental Stripe Print Long SKLief Gardenberries
The main point is to make your items look good! Make sure the whole item is visible in the picture and all bows are not hidden behind the item.

- Arrange what you think are the most appealing items at the top of your post.

Let's say you handmake headbows or wristcuffs. You are selling 11 headbows in 11 different colours, a Priscilla wig and some used under-knee socks. You also want to sell, say, a Vampire Requiem corset skirt and a beautiful non-print chiffon JSK from Baby the Stars Shine Bright.

Put the VR skirt and the BtssB JSK at the top of your post, and the headbows, wig and socks below. Buyers have short attention spans. Having to scroll past huge-ass images of headbow after headbow with no variation except for colour, I am guilty of simply clicking the red 'X' at the top of the window instead of scrolling all the way to the bottom. Sure I could miss out on a cheap and cute brand skirt at the bottom of the post, but I don't really care.

This applies especially for gorgeous non-print items! You WANT people to look at your dress to know how beautiful it is. For coveted prints like Amour d'Amants and Vampire Requiem, simply listing the name in your sales post title will induce shoppers to scroll all the way to the bottom of your agonisingly long sales post. But if your dress is nameless and printless, your customers don't know they want to buy it!
136256-ivbaby_jsk_dollheroine_color1
Put these items at the top of your post!

- Draw attention to the nice details

I love brand clothes. If that makes me a brandwhore, I am one. Nothing makes me as happy as a branded dress that doesn't colour-run. The texture of the fabrics used, the little details. Some of these aren't apparent or visible in photographs, so as a seller, do draw attention to them.

For example, pockets are a nice bonus to lolita dresses, but you can't see that in photos. Mention it in your item description. Also provide close-ups of the different types of lace on the dress and do a short ramble about the parts you love. The back-corsetting, the rose lace, whether you think the dress is suitable for a casual night out and/or has an inner petticoat. Some dresses like Alice and the Pirates' Relief JSK have different cotton rose lace for the hem, straps, bust and and side ruffle. These are the small details that push like into LOVE.

- Point out the retail price
If the relief JSK that you are selling went for 30000 yen retail, and you're selling it for $250 - mention it! Let your customer know she/he is getting a bargain.

- Note if there are missing elements
Missing waist bow or waist-ties? State it in your post and emphasize that the price has been reduced to reflect this. I've found that somehow, cheap stained stuff sells better than expensive new-condition stuff.

- Provide stock photos
Some buyers don't believe your items are branded if they're not familiar with the fashion. They request for the name of the item, the hellolace page (as if we could somehow find it if they can't!) the lolibrary page.... The fact is that there are a ton of Victorian Maiden and Mary Magdalene dresses and cutsews and blouses that are not in the hellolace database. It doesn't contain information on older Angelic Pretty or Baby items either, and that's perfectly fine. It is a good guide for the recent years when lolita has been gaining increasing consumers. A stock photograph is a good proof if you can get one. Kindly let your buyer know that not having a hellolace entry does not negate the authenticity of the item.

This sometimes has the added bonus of deterring requests for worn photos, which I find annoying. I only entertain worn-photograph requests for dresses of ambiguous cut and only when I'm in a good mood/need money badly. Does anyone have any idea what a hassle it is to get out my tripod stand, focus my dslr properly, put on a reasonable coordinate and set the timer and pose?
In addition, my friends and I have discovered that out of 20 buyers who request worn photographs, only 1 will actually buy the item when provided the photograph. This is because most of them are only buying time to vacillate on the item and are not very serious in it.

My suggestion is to state very clearly in your terms and conditions that indicating interest on an item does not put anyone in line for an item. The item should always go to the first person ready to pay. This will save you a lot of grief from buyers that back out. Other serious buyers may also have spent their cash on something else by the time you get back to them after the first buyer jerked you around.

-Provide the hellolace page or lolibrary page if you can get it
Saves needless questions from lazy buyers and has a reassuring effect on first-time buyers.

2. The Money Matters

There are other ways to receive money such as Amazon or Google Checkout, but I haven't used them. So far I've only done transactions via Paypal, Bank transfer for local buyers and cash on meetup, so I'm only going to talk about them.

For international buyers it really seems that Paypal is the only option. Some buyers refuse to use any other method because Paypal is what they are used to and it has a reputation for siding with the buyer. I've had my own problems with Paypal as a buyer, so I can't answer for that rumour. =)

Let us assume that the customer is legitimate and won't provide you with too many problems.

- Always get tracking with delivery confirmation.
If you don't have tracking, should your buyer decide that she hasn't received the item, even if she did, and files a paypal claim, you have nothing at all to defend yourself with. Paypal will side with the buyer unconditionally and the customer's payment to you will be reversed. Don't trust the buyer. Protect yourself. If you get scammed, you have only yourself to blame.

- Always invoice the customer. Do Not Accept Personal Payment.
Accepting payments via personal robs you of your seller protection. Should the customer decide to pull a 180^0 you are, pardon me, screwed. It is worth it to pay paypal that additional 5%. You may add it into the price, or charge it separately, or absorb it. But pay it.
  If you need convincing on the matter, check out the recent scammer issue: http://egl.livejournal.com/18929625.html

Many sellers had thousands of dollars worth of transactions reversed.

Accept personal payment at your own risk.

- Only ship to the address registered on Paypal.
Sometimes a buyer may ask you to ship an item to a different address for whatever reason. Simply ask her to add the address to her paypal account and confirm it. Paypal requests documentation to prove your place of residence.

If you ship an item to a different address, see my point above on tracking. You have no proof whatsoever that you shipped the item to the buyer. Buyer screws you, Paypal reverses payment, you end up at square one minus your item and minus the cost of shipping. =)

- Meeting up
Be punctual! Put the dress in a nice plastic or paper bag and prepare some smaller notes as change in case the buyer doesn't have exact.
Blacklist flakers who don't show up. D:<

- Payment by Bank Transfer
This is very easy. Make sure you provide the correct bank account number and mail the item out to the customer at the post office as usual. Do pay for tracking as per usual. I have known of friends who mailed items to their customers, and the postman delivered it to the wrong address. The person living at the address claimed the item and never gave it back.
The end.

3. Shipping and Handling

-Don't charge your customers extra for envelopes and packing materials unless they stipulate for boxes or bubble envelopes. In which case, please do charge extra.
  I generally ship my items wrapped in plastic and in a normal brown paper envelope. Bubble envelopes can add 2-3 dollars to the price of shipping an item because of the extra weight, and is in my opinion extremely unnecessary for dresses and skirts. Fabric doesn't need bubble protection. o__O
  Should buyers request for a bubble envelope (and thus far, none have, despite my stipulation that any buyer who wants nice pretty packaging should ask for it), I charge extra for the cost of the envelope + added weight for the item. The savings from cheap packaging is reflected in the cost of the shipping fee.
  The main point is the dress, not the packaging. Packaging is not important if the item is fabric and unbreakable.

-Ship via airmail.
Avoid shipping via surface mail. The paypal claim will definitely expire before the item reaches and can lead to unhappiness all around. It's cheap, but avoid it. =)

-Retain all your tracking slips.

-Check the condition of your items before shipping it out. No stains no tears no rips.

-Let your buyers know when you've shipped the item. This makes them feel reassured.

-Write a thank-you note.
Completely optional, as is a thank-you gift, but it's a nice touch that I like to do! I don't give gifts to non-locals generally, because I never know what isn't allowed for import into the country, and it's a dumb reason to get the item stuck at customs.

4) Someone filed a paypal claim against me! What do I do?
Stay calm. Contact a sales moderator. If you're sure the fault isn't yours (item didn't arrive, not as described, stains on dress a month after the item arrived...) Let paypal know your side of the story. Make a big fuss of it to PP, show your positive feedback track record, the tracking slip, point out the item arrived long ago, proof pictures of item in good condition, screenshots of your original sales post and your communication with the customer.

Ask the customer what she is dissatisfied with and what you can do to help her.

Keep your cool, don't swear or rant at the customer. Be clear, detailed and polite. Don't drop off on the communication. Try to reply promptly. If you feel too aggravated, take a walk and have a cup of tea before responding, and check to make sure your reply does not sound aggressive.

and good luck. Remember to leave detailed negative feedback and blacklist her.



♥  Additional Tips ♥

Photograph the tracking slip as soon once you get it, in case you lose it! You'll need to photograph it for paypal should your buyer decide that she didn't receive her item.
Keep your tracking slips in a box until the paypal claim expires(45 days).
Read through the customer's feedback page before selling to her. This applies to buying as well. Always request a feedback page
Keep in contact with your customers! Ask if they received the item yet after two weeks, and if there are any problems with it.
Don't be discouraged if you encounter problems! Work your way through them with a calm and level head.
Always be courteous! Being nice goes a long way.
Have fun selling! You can meet some awesome people through sales transactions! I've made several good friends through selling and buying, and I'm sure you will too. =)

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