Every now and then I watch one of these Antiques Roadtrip programmes, and while I would enjoy such an adventure myself, whizzing about Kent in an old MGB Roadster perhaps, rummaging in vintage and antique hideyholes – now stop daydreaming, Babs and back to the topic. I get hugely frustrated with the show’s experts who buy items, knocking the seller down as far as they can get away with, and then too often make a loss, over and over again. They almost cry when their items sell for a fraction of the price they paid.
Perhaps I am not understanding the point of the programme, perhaps it is for us to learn over again that all that glitters may not be profitable. But one thing’s for sure, I’d not trust many of them to buy anything on my behalf.
So what can we learn from this for our own businesses?
It is often obvious that the issue is not the product but that they do not know the people buying at the auction. They are not keeping them in mind when they buy the original items – for instance, an expert buying a fragile, beautifully decorated champagne glass that will then be auctioned in the wilds of Scotland. I’m certainly not going to suggest Scots don’t enjoy a glass of champagne from something pretty, but perhaps a greater profit for that item would have been made in a city auction… I’d have done a bit of research to see what might appeal to the likely local buyers attending that auction.
How can you know what your customers want? Well that kind of information is at our fingertips, unlike when I started out when we’d have to carry out research at libraries or even ask the public – yes, face-to-face – that is what was suggested to us back in the day, because how else would we know? Now just about anything you want is at your fingertips – right now, in front of you. Awesome!
So have a good think about your customer, even keeping a very particular type of person or business or group in mind when you sell your wares online. What do they want, what will tempt them and tell them that you’re selling exactly what they want? That’s the start, anyway… We’ll go deeper next week, thinking about where you can find those lovely people.