Thursday, October 12, 2017

Etsy Tips: Make an Order Status page

I think an important part of setting your customers expectations is to keep them up to date on their order, especially when the item is custom or made to order and has a long production time such as 2 weeks or more.

I know how it can be difficult for small business owners to send updates besides a simple "processing" one when they're constantly busy working on orders or other aspects of their business. You don't really want your customers guessing when when when throughout the process but I also understand you can't be online constantly to give updates when you need to be finishing your orders.

When I was making amigurumi for my Adorably Kawaii shop years ago, I wasn't able to keep up with the demand and have a stock of the items on hand so I created made to order listings. I would get multiple orders a week and each plush would take at least 6 hours to make so it would take me several days to finish them and then get them shipped out.

I had already set up my production time in my listings to about 3 to 4 weeks to accommodate all the orders I would receive. Even so, I would still get inquiries on their order after about a week they ordered. Why haven't you finished my order? Why are you taking so long? Why haven't you shipped out my order yet? Where is my order?

Many of them simply didn't understand how something so small could take so much time to make but it was also due to the fact they didn't read my production time or check the ship by date. And I was so busy working on their orders that I had no time to send individuals emails to everyone often enough.

I would get told to stop taking so many orders at once if I couldn't keep up but I was afraid by deactivating my listings that my shop and those listings would lose their spot in search (which took me so, so long to build!) or I would lose a sale from someone that was willing to wait for those 3 to 4 weeks.

I figured out the best way to keep everyone informed was by mentioning about how long each item takes to make at the top of the listings (even if most don't even read it, unfortunately!) AND by creating a private Order Status page on my blog. After they purchased, they would get sent the link to the page once I added their order to it. I would quickly update the page before I went to bed about every day or two.

I listed the customer's name & order date on the page. I usually didn't take on rush orders so I would work on them in the order I received them. This way they knew where they were in the queue and would get a better idea of when I'd start their order or make progress on it.

As for the order status, I kept it simple and to the point. I would write by their name: payment received (when I got their order), in production (with a %), and the shipped-on date (after I already sent out an shipping notification on Etsy).

By keeping dates next to each one, new customers could also see how long it could take for their order to finish from the moment they ordered to production to shipment. I also kept the finished orders listed on that page for weeks solely for that reason.

I think having an order page is a great way to keep your customers from guessing and it can lower the number of order inquiries you get so you can finish your orders without delays. It may not work so well for some shops but I remember getting good reviews that mentioned how useful the Order Status page was for them so it's definitely worth a try!

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