On Underpromising and Overdelivering

There’s an old saying that the way to make someone happy is to underpromise and overdeliver. I think that this certainly holds true on eBay. However, that notion can also conflict with wanting to make your items look as good as possible in your listings, to increase buyer interest. On the one hand, you want your items to look great, but not better than they do in real life, to avoid those dreaded “item not as described” cases.

Here are a couple ways I try to achieve balance in my eBay sales:

Take the most accurate pictures possible, and describe all flaws.

The one thing that I never, ever want one of my customers to be is disappointed. If there is even the tiniest flaw in one of my items, I make sure to both take a picture highlighting the flaw and to describe it in my listings. I’ve recently started using the advanced listing tool, so I will also be filling out the condition description box.

advanced condition descriptionAdditionally, I take pictures of my items from all angles and include both far-away and close up shots. I’m a big fan of the macro function on my point-and-shoot, and I use it to take really close up pictures in an attempt to convey the texture of the item. If someone is expecting a thin, silky cardigan, I don’t want them to be upset when a nubby linen knit arrives at their doorstep.

Ship faster than your stated handling time, if possible.

My stated handling time is one business day, but the vast majority of my items are shipped the same day. (At least, those purchased before the post-office closes.) I would be well within my rights to use that full 24 hours before shipping, but buyers love when items are shipped ASAP.

Below are the twelve most recent transactions on my feedback profile. Two of them are for items that I purchased from other sellers, so that leaves 10 pieces of feedback for me as a seller. The 8 that I’ve pointed to all mention my quick shipping time.

quick shippingI realize that I have an advantage as a stay-at-home mom on this point, and that eBay sellers who also work outside the home aren’t available mid-day to ship. But my point is to find a way to exceed expectations. Maybe you could have really beautiful packaging, or a clever note that you include in your packages. I think it’s these little touches that increase the perceived value of purchased items and can help ensure that your buyers are totally satisfied.




3 thoughts on “On Underpromising and Overdelivering

  1. Yes, I agree! When I sold a lot of vintage toys on eBay, I took care with the packaging. I wrapped all individual parts in tissue paper and included a note. That seemed to up the customer satisfaction.


  2. Mine’s one business day too, and I will ship it the same day if I can get the item packaged. But I mostly send out the next day and also get that feedback most times. Having the one business day handling is a must though!


  3. That’s great that you can ship it mid-day! The post office is too far from me, so I drop everything off first thing in the morning in our closest blue box on the way to work. Not perfect since it then has to get transported to the post office, but I know it will be out that day since it’s collected ~11AM.

    I have a friend who ships first thing and again mid-day, and he has similar feedback to you regarding the quick shipping. I really think it makes a difference.


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