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Antique Business News (ABN) January 27, 2009
Antique Business News (ABN)
January 27, 2009

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Tips and ideas for merchants in the antiques and collectibles trade
In this issue:
1. Two things you can do now to increase online sales.
2. Top antiques & collectibles in 2008
3. Common mistakes that customers really hate...

Looking for customers?
TIAS.com serves over 718,000 unique visitors each month. Sell your antiques and collectibles with us or advertise your event or business on the TIAS network of Web sites. For more information contact Phil Davies at phil@tias.com or call 1-888-OLD-STUF

1. Two things you can do now to increase online sales.

At TIAS.com every month or two I review customer surveys. These surveys are sent by TIAS to customers who have either bought an item or who have interacted with a TIAS merchant. This gives us a very interesting insight into what customers who buy antiques and collectibles online are looking for. It is no surprise that one of the most important factors appears to be the asking price of merchandise.

--How to tell if your prices are too high--
If you have an online store, be sure to check the current market value of your merchandise. The market value is what the market is currently paying for the item, which can be quite different from what it was worth when you originally posted the item for sale online. To find the current market value,
a) Try an advanced search for the item on eBay using the "completed auctions" feature.
c) Do a search on Google and check out the asking prices your competition has for the items you are selling.
d) Try a service like Priceminer.com which collects realized prices from eBay, TIAS, GoAntiques and data from "brick and mortar" auction houses.
If a customer is looking for a specific item to buy online, they are probably going to use Google to find that item. If they find the same item being offered by multiple sellers, the biggest factor in determining who they buy it from is going to be price. So check your prices!

--Can customers find your Web site and your merchandise?--
Always remember most shoppers start their search on Google. It takes a shopper just a few seconds using Google to find every online merchant that is selling the widget they are looking for. The question is can they find your merchandise? Is your online merchandise being fed to Google "product search" and are pages from your Web site showing up in Google's search results? Most of the online antiques and collectibles shopping malls will feed your merchandise to Google's "Product Search" as part of their service. If you have an independent store, take a look at: http://www.google.com/base/help/sellongoogle.html to learn how to get your merchandise listed.

Another technique for increasing your visibility in Google's search results is to write press releases about upcoming sales, shows, newly acquired merchandise and anything newsworthy about your business, what you do and what you sell. Then after you sell something unusual in your store or your auction of show has ended, be sure to write up a release "post event". In the case of an unusual item sold, publicize the sales. If you completed an auction, write up the realized prices into a release. If you completed an antique show, write up a story about the event, from the pint of view of a reporter. Keep your releases as unbiased as possible and stay away from marketing hype in your releases. If you need information on writing and distributing releases, here are some resources.
a) How to write a press release - This is a blog entry I put together a few months back. See: http://www.bignews.biz/blog/?p=13
b) Where to post your press releases for free - The largest (60,000 visitors a month) online press release distribution site serving the antiques and collectibles trade is http://www.News-Antique.com . There is no cost to open an account and post a press release. Other sites you may want to submit to are:
c) After you have submitted your release to the above sites, consider posting them to this list of general topic press release distribution services. See:
d) If you don't have the time to write and post press releases - You can hire someone to do it for you. There are affordable and reliable writers and pr specialists that would be happy to do the work for you. Here is a tutorial on how to find a writer to work with you on press releases.
See: http://www.bignews.biz/blog/?p=20

2. Top antiques & collectibles in 2008
Kovels.com and TIAS.com both published their annual lists of the top category searches for antiques and collectibles in 2008. Note that these results are based on millions of searches at these Web sites. The search results are not necessarily for what people were buying, just what they were looking for in 2008.

The Kovels.com Top 20 List for 2008
1. Occupied Japan - Up from #7 in 2007
2. Jewelry - Down from #1 in 2007
3. Coca Cola - Up from #4 in 2007
4. Stoves - Down from #3 in 2007
5. World War II - Down from #2 in 2007
6. Furniture - Down from #5 in 2007
7. Capo Di Monte - Up from #12 in 2007
8. Lladro - Up from #13 in 2007
9. McCoy - Up from #20 in 2007
10. Lighters - Down from #8 in 2007
11. Cookie Jars - New to list
12. Knife - Down from #9 in 2007
13. Dolls - Up from #15 in 2007
14. Planters Peanuts - No Movement from 2007
15. Shawnee - New to list
16. Hutschenreuther - New to list
17. Bavaria - New to list
18. Royal Bayreuth - New to list
19. Clocks - Down from #18 in 2007
20. Josef Originals - New to list
For more details on this list, visit: http://www.bignews.biz/?id=792995

The TIAS.com Top 30 list for 2008
1. Cookie Jar - No change since 2007
2. Stamps - Up from #4 in 2007
3. Teapots - Up from #5 in 2007
4. Avon - Down from #2 in 2007
5. Fenton - Down from #3 in 2007
6. Carnival Glass - Up from #8 in 2007
7. Pyrex - Up f rom #12 in 2007
8. Roseville - Down from #7 in 2007
9. Transferware - New to list
10. Dolls - Up from #18 in 2007
11. Crocks - Up from #16 in 2007
12. Bird (related collectibles) - New to list
13. Limoges - Up from #28 in 2007
14. McCoy - Down from #9 in 2007
15. Hutschenreuther - New to list
16. Milk Glass - Down from #6 in 2007
17. Brass (collectibles) - New to list
18. Lamps - New to list
19. Fire King - Down from #11 in 2007
20. Perfume (bottles & related) - up from #24 in 2007
21. Lefton - Up from #26 in 2007
22. Nippon - Down from #17 in 2007
23. Pitchers - Down from #19 in 2007
24. Figurines - New to list
25. Westmoreland - New to list
26. Bakelite - New to list
27. Depression Glass - Down from #15 in 2007
28. Plates - New to list
29. Paperweight - New to list
30. Blenko - Down from #13 in 2007
For more information on this list visit http://www.news-antique.com/?id=785952

3. Common mistakes that customers really hate....

Here are some of the most common errors an online antiques & collectibles merchant might make, that really get customers upset.

1. The item they want to buy is still listed on your Web site, but you sold it months ago - Always immediately delete items that have been sold from your Web site.
2. No shipping cost included at checkout. - Allow customers to calculate shipping from their shopping cart. People want to complete transactions quickly. They don't want to wait to hear back from you about the shipping cost. Whenever possible, be sure to include the shipping cost at check-out.
3. The seller does not answer questions - If you get questions sent to you via email or phone, don't ignore them. If you don't want people to ask questions then take your email and phone number off of your Web site. The problem with doing that is many folks want to communicate with the person they are buying from and you may lose orders if they can't find a way to reach you.
4. Slow order processing - Don't sit on an order for weeks before sending an order confirmation to a customers. Process your orders as quickly as possible and communicate with your customers.
5. Bad photos and bad description - Use good quality, clear photos and include details in your descriptions down to the smallest flaw.

Questions? Comments? Need Help?
Drop me an email at Phil@tias.com

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