I get all kinds of questions on a regular basis regarding my website. I find it both surprising and gratifying that so many people are interested enough to ask so many questions. For those of you who are long-time customers, you know that I don’t keep secrets about the site and am always happy to share what goes into the methodology and execution of running this site. It is my belief that the more you know about me and how Pipestud’s Consignment Shop works, the more comfortable you are about being a customer. I run this website more like a “Mom & Pop” store rather than trying to act like a big operation with a take it or leave it attitude. You know those types, “I am big and too busy for you.” So, for this blog, I thought it would be fun to share questions that I’ve had since expanding Pipestud’s Consignment Shop from a manual to a true Ecommerce operation more than two years ago. So, here we go:
Question: Where do you get all that old tobacco to sell?
That is an often asked question. Some people even believe that the tobacco is mine. I wish! I started this website back in 2006 using the same methodology that I used with the eBay business that I began and continue to run since 2001. I sell on consignment only. Through a variety of advertising means, I solicit tobacco business from individuals who have tobacco that, for many different reasons, they want to sell. The simple answer is that these consignors send their product to me and I sell it for a commission. Some weeks I am selling tobacco for more than 20 consignors at a time. Although time consuming, the listing of the tins is actually the easy part. The actual packing and shipping of 75-100 packages a week all over the world, and making sure that the consignors get credited and paid for all of their sales each week is the hard part.
Question: I have such and such a tobacco that I am looking to purchase. Please give me a private heads up the next time you get some in and I will purchase it from you directly.
There is no way that I can do that. First, I have literally hundreds of loyal customers who have done business with me either recently or for many years. There is no way that I can justify selling privately a tobacco that many of them may also want. The only fair way to sell is to list the tobacco on the website and give everyone the same opportunity to obtain it. Additionally, this is a one man operation. And after selling tobacco on this site since 2006, I’ve had literally hundreds of private requests. Can you imagine me being able to keep up with and trying to fulfill all of those requests? That would be a full time job all by itself and I’d never get the time needed to properly run my website. So, a big no thank you to private requests for a favorite blend.
Question: I’ve purchased tobacco from you on both Saturdays and then some more on Sundays and you always pack them separately causing me to pay extra shipping fees. Your shipping information says you combine the shipping. Why not combine your weekend shipping together to save us some money?
Well, actually I do say this on the ordering and shipping page of the site: “Multiple same day orders will be counted as one order & any extra shipping fees charged will be refunded.” I actually start packing orders just a couple of hours after they start coming in on Saturday mornings after the new updates. As I have already mentioned, I may pack and ship as many as 75-100 orders each weekend. While I don’t want to add to my load by having to add more boxes to ship, it is much easier to do that than hunting for an already packed box, reopening it, including the additional purchases, repacking the box and getting the new weight, going into my PayPal account and cancelling the original shipping label and then purchasing a new one.
Question: I am getting tired of putting items in my shopping cart only to have them unavailable because someone beat me to the purchase. Why can’t our shopping carts be protected for at least 5 minutes or so?
Five minutes does not seem like a long time. But, when I post my new listings, most of the time there are at least 40-45 orders received and sometimes even more, within the first 5-minutes of my posting the new listings. That number sounds incredible and I dare say most websites don’t get even close to that number of orders in such a short period of time. Below is one of the bullet points on the ordering and shipping page of the site:
- The ordering preferences are set so that items in shopping carts will still be available for purchase by other people. The first one who pays is the one who gets the item. That way, no one is able to put a large number of items in their shopping cart to protect them from being purchased by someone else until they decide which items they want. Once a person has made their selections and goes to checkout, any items that were in their shopping cart that have already been paid for by someone else will not be available for purchase.
Can you imagine the confusion on the part of my customers if they see an item on the site marked sold or on hold and then later see it available again? Or worse yet, leave the site and miss out on an opportunity to purchase the tobacco they wanted because someone had put it in their cart for 5-minutes to protect it from being purchased while they decided whether they wanted it? What is to prevent someone from putting a dozen or so tins in their carts to protect them while they mulled over which ones they wanted and which ones to release? I thought long and hard about all of the options before publishing my website, and in my opinion, “the first one who pays gets the item,” is the most fair option.
In closing, I do enjoy answering any questions that you may have about Pipestud’s Consignment Shop. That tells me that you are interested and simply want an explanation or just general information about the operation. I appreciate the questions and the interest and always want to be completely open with all of my great customers. The way I look at it, if you care enough to give me your hard earned money, I darned sure better care enough to explain myself.