The holidays mean a lot of things in the world of e-commerce but, to eBay sellers especially, it means it’s newbie season. This is the time of year when bargain hunters who would never have otherwise shopped online at all finally take the plunge and make their first online sale. This means that, in what is already the busiest time of the year, there is a flood of people buying things who may not understand the most basic rules of shipping, shopping, feedback and buying online simply because they haven’t done it before. Or they’ve only bought one or two things before and it was years and several eBay policy changes ago. This can lead to a host of problems where inexperienced buyers and experienced sellers can clash, big time.

I know how most of us feel about newbie season. Some sellers have said they dread it. Others avoid the problem entirely by blocking bidders and buyers that don’t meet a minimum number of feedback ratings which I feel isn’t the answer.

The holidays can be stressful in general and even more so when you are running an online business. It’s very tempting to lash out at the person who has no clue what they are doing that is making your job that much harder. And while I have that same knee jerk cringe when I see a buyer with less than 10 feedbacks, I can think of a few really good reasons why we should be extra nice to them.

  • The newbie buyers of today are the ideal buyers of tomorrow. Everyone was a newbie once. I know that we’re all overworked and overstressed at the holidays but we should still go that extra mile with inexperienced buyers. Any one of them could become a steady customer in the future and the extra patience you have with them when they are new can mean loyalty and additional sales once they are old hat.
  • You have a chance to educate the buyer. You know things like this? Where buyers pick up bad habits from bad sellers and you end up looking like the bad guy because you’re actually following the rules? If you’re one of the first sellers they ever buy from, you have the chance to show them how it should be done and set the tone for the rest of their eBay experiences. Which leads us to…
  • Ensuring that a newbie has a good experience is good for all sellers and the eBay platform as a whole. Remember my friend who had one bad experience on eBay and proceeded to rant online warning everyone she knew not to use the site because her one bad experience had taught her that no one on the entire platform could be trusted? (See “DO NOT EVER BUY ANYTHING ON EBAY. Those people cant be trusted!” for a refresher.) We all know the story about how an unhappy customer will tell many more people about their experience than a happy one. This rule applies on a percentage basis. If I have one bad experience on eBay out of thousands, that one bad experience doesn’t register much on my radar as its less than 1% of my dealings with the site. But if I’ve only ever had one experience on eBay and that was bad, well then, as far as I’m concerned, 100% of my eBay dealings have been poor.

    Newbie buyers are already going into the sale with a certain amount of doubt, mistrust and other misgivings, otherwise they would have been using the platform before now. They are quick to jump to the offensive because they are expecting to be scammed and every positive transaction they have or act of seller kindness they encounter helps cure them of that a little bit. Even if that buyer never buys from you again, the newbie buyers other sellers were kind to will. It’s a “treat your buyers as you wish other sellers would treat yours” kind of thing. The more new buyers there are on the marketplace as a whole, the more that benefits all sellers.

So, in the spirit of holiday kindness and just plain old good business sense, be kind to the newbies. Santa is watching!