Consignors... They Can't Read Your Mind

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

Last week, I forgot to remove the ability to allow people to comment on my blog. I don't mind if people comment, however, when I first started this blog, it was frequently commented on by spammers hoping to get a link to their site. As a result, I usually try to remove the ability to make comments before I publish the post.

But before I realized I forgot to disable comments, I had two really good comments pop up. One of them was about how frequently, sales tend to not make their expectations and rules clear and when consignors show up for drop off, consignors leave angry because they spent time preparing items that were not accepted for the sale.

As a sale organizer, I must admit I tend to assume people know how to read my mind. It's something my team has been very good to stay on top of me about, and it's also the reason there are 32 pages of content on my website. I try to make it perfectly clear what I expect you to know about my sale.

No two sales are the same. What I accept at my sale, may not be the same as what you may accept at your sale. Here in Nashville, we have 100+ sales. I accept school appropriate shorts and short sleeves at my Fall/Winter sale. I also accept jeans and long pants at my Spring/Summer sale. Some other sales do the same, some do not. It's frustrating when a sale organizer doesn't give clear information about what types of items they accept at their sale. Consignors are perfectly happy when they know the parameters of your sale. It lets them plan accordingly. If sale A, B and C accept shorts and sales D, E and F don't, then they can make sure ahead of time that they are bringing the correct merchandise to the correct sale.

No one wants to prepare and have to go through inventory at drop off. Likewise, as a sale organizer, you don't want to have lines backed up at check in because you did not state your intentions clearly enough. Consignors can't read your mind and what's Fall/Winter to you, may not be the same as Fall/Winter to me.

When I first started my sale, my husband would read through my website and write page after page of notes because he didn't understand what the heck I was talking about. I would get very angry with him and say "All of these women know how to do this!" And he would respond with "do they?" That got me to thinking. Most people don't know how to prepare, how to tag, what to expect, so it fell to me to explain it to them. I assumed there was a level of familiarity, but there actually wasn't.

Be clear and concise when it comes to expressing your sale. What you accept and what you expect as a sale organizer should be clearly expressed to your consignors so they can properly prepare for your sale. It sounds simple, but as I am learning this season... too many sale organizers forgo necessary information. As you think about starting a consignment sale, be sure to view your website through the eyes of those who know nothing about consignment sales. It will help your consignors tremendously.

Google Insights

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

My husband introduced me to a handy little tool called Google Insights. You can check out just about anything. For instance, he typed in "consignment sales" and you can see that the overall trend is trending up. You can see which months are popular for sales, and which ones are not. You can even see what Google anticipates the forecast to be on that search term.

My husband was particularly impressed with the map feature that shows which states have the highest searches in terms of those words... which can be helpful if you are looking to start a consignment sale and want to see how often the words "consignment sale" are searched in your state.

It's a handy little tool that can be used to help your business. Make sure you break it into a smaller more focused search for your sub region or metro area to maximize it's helpfulness.

Don't Assume the Position

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

Most sale organizers assume a familiar position. That position is that most people who have shopped a consignment sale know how to sell at a consignment sale. We are talking about two totally different things here folks.

Just because someone has shopped your sale, doesn't mean they understand what is needed to consign with you. Too many sale organizers out there assume that if you have shopped a sale, you automatically know how to prepare, hang and tag for a sale, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

Your website should include detailed step by step instructions on how to prepare for your sale. Detailed instruction should be given to better prepare your consignors in addition to cutting down on non-accepted items at check in. Your detailed instructions should cover:

  • How to sign up for your automated software (if your sale is automated)
  • How to prepare toys and clothing for your sale (with pictures)
  • Your tag format (for non automated sales)
  • What is accepted and not accepted each season
  • Links to recall websites

Don't assume that your future consignors know anything about consigning. Most of them don't. Spell it out as much as you can for them. Each sale is different. I accept shorts and short sleeves at my Fall sale. Putting on my website exactly what type of shorts and short sleeves I will accept saves consignors and check-in personnel time because people aren't bringing the wrong merchandise.

One thing I do is to have my husband read my websites "How to" pages. If there is anyone who doesn't know a thing about consigning, it's him! If he gets it, then I'm good to go! But I will tell you, if you used this method, it will take you days to get your wording straight! My husband likes to play devil's advocate, and I think he takes a little too much pleasure in making me squirm over little details. On the flip side, my website is very clear as to what we accept and how to prepare merchandise for our sale!

Whether you are an existing sale organizer or someone who is just starting a consignment sale, know that you can not assume the "familiarity" position. Potential consignors aren't as familiar with your consigning policies as you think they are.

Visual Aids For New Sale Websites

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

One fatal mistake that new sale organizers make is putting pictures of someone elses sale on their website. With permission or without, it's not a good idea. In fact, it's a fatal mistake. Think about it... you see pictures of a sale with 500 consignors, and you attend and the sale only has 25 consignors... you'll never go back.

So, without pictures, how do you show off what a consignment sale is?

  • Descriptions. Create a picture of a consignment sale with your words (not someone elses words, that's copyright infringment). Use words like organized, gently loved, affordable, ect. You can even go so far as to give a description of what it would be like to walk down a row of toys, or shop the clothing racks.
  • How-to pictures. Show step by step how to prepare and present merchandise, so that your customers have a visual of what you are talking about.
  • Videos. You don't have to shop a sale to make a video. You can create one with things you have at home. Hang and tag merchandise, then make a video showing how you can save money and focus on the kinds of deals your customers can find.

There are all kinds of ways to get creative with visual aids before you have your first sale. Put a little thought into it and you'll come up with something unique just for your site. We'd love to see the videos you come up with, so be sure to friend us on YouTube!

Copyright Jenifer Gifford 2012. All Rights Reserved.