Patrick Coughlin knew the quality of his photos was indispensable when he started his jewelry store, American Diamond Importers (eBay User ID: american_diamond_importers). Coughlin, 45, invested more than $4,000 in high-quality photo equipment--including a digital camera and a top-notch light box. Says Coughlin, "If you're going to take pictures of jewelry, you have to have a very good digital camera and light box system," specifically to avoid the flash effect that can make jewelry look cloudy or unclear in a low-quality photo. "Pictures are more important than anything [else] on an eBay listing."
Coughlin also found that clear communication with potential buyers broadened his market attraction. "List everything you can imagine in your template--all the general questions that [buyers] could ask," he says. "But even if you have it in your listing, people will ask questions. Be very prompt answering those questions. Be courteous and send them a note right back."
To avoid answering the same questions over and over, Sharon Guldner, senior manager of eBay Education Programs, recommends responding to questions from potential buyers within My Messages in My eBay. There, you have the option to add the questions and responses to your listings for other interested buyers to see.Coughlin is attentive to his customers because he knows that with each sale, he's building his database of customer contacts whom he can update with monthly e-mails about his newest products and latest sales. He's aiming for the repeat customer who returns to buy his jewelry through eBay as well as his website, americandiamondimporters.com. Coughlin says that with each listing, "not only do you have the potential to sell that one particular item--you have the potential of gaining a customer for a long time." He adds that it takes time to build up a good customer list, so be diligent. Coughlin's loyal customers have helped him push his St. Clair, Michigan, company to projected sales of $350,000 for 2007. --Nicole l. Torres and Sara Wilson