I would like to encourage visitors to this page to “buy small”. By “buy small” I mean, buy from smaller sellers, whether that be on a large portal like eBay or Amazon, or at a small, locally owned and operated store. For this post, I will focus on the online experience, because that is what I do.
Three Reasons to Buy Small
1. Attentive, personalized, customer oriented service: In short, smaller online sellers have more to gain from making a single customer happy and more to lose from making a single customer sad. Even one bit of negative feedback (even left accidentally-it has happened to me!) or one return or one anything that is not wonderful in the customer’s eyes has the potential to not only impact the small seller’s income that day, but their ability to even sell on a particular website going forward. Stakes are high, and if you buy from a small seller you will notice the difference in how they take care of you.
2. Your purchase supports someone’s kids. This one is near and dear to my heart. Buy from the big folks and you are increasing shareholder value, feeding someone’s ego, but when you “buy small” you are literally making a huge difference in the lives not only of the seller but the seller’s family. Maybe that week the kids get to go to a movie instead of watching You Tube. Sounds silly, but it’s true.
3. You can’t always buy small, so buying small when you can helps balance the forces between big and small. Maybe this is easier to relate to for Star Wars fans or those who grew up in totalitarian states, but to me it’s a big deal.
How to Spot a Small Seller
1. They sell on a big website like Amazon or eBay but they aren’t Amazon or eBay.
2. They have a limited number of feedback ratings. The difference is easier to see on Amazon than eBay, but if a seller has like, 50,000 feedbacks they stopped being a small seller a long time ago. I’ve been selling on Amazon and eBay for a year, on Amazon I have just over 50 feedbacks and on eBay something around 500. Most people, especially on Amazon, don’t leave feedback, so it isn’t totally indicative of how many transactions a seller does, but you can weight the number of feedbacks into a buying equation by looking at the different sellers that are selling that item.
When You Might Not Want to Buy From a Small Seller
1. If a small seller’s small number of feedbacks have a lot of negatives you might want to go with someone else, at least until that seller works the bugs out of their operation.
2. If a small seller’s price is way out of range for the condition/type of item, I would pass. I say “way out of range for condition/type of item”, because for an item described similarly I will almost always pay more from a small seller, because I know I am almost guaranteed better packaging, better service if something goes wrong, and receiving the item in stated condition of better. I’ve bought books from large sellers described as new that I would list no better than “good”. I have not had a similar experience with a small seller.
Thanks for listening!