A few weeks ago, I landed my biggest Etsy sale to date. Every once in a while, I’ll sell something for a couple bucks on Etsy that goes towards my “play” money (let’s face it – it really goes towards more craft supplies). This sale made me feel really good about my silly little critter candles. I had a custom order for nine dinosaur candles that were going to sit on store shelves in a Florida boutique! It wasn’t just a bulk sale – I was gaining real storefront exposure!
I gave my customer a 1-2 week window for pouring and shipping and got the order processed a few days ahead of time. I spent an entire morning wrapping candles in bubble wrap and placing them carefully in the box, making sure they were extra protected by padding the box on all sides. I ended up paying double what I charged in shipping, but felt it was worth it to get these candles out to my customer in an expedited amount of time.
I was nervous on a whole about this sale being it was my first big one through Etsy. Would my customer like the items I custom made for her? Would they be well-received by her customers? Apparently that was the least of my worries.
Two days later, the candles arrived in Florida. Damaged. I was PISSED! The USPS not only damaged the contents of the box, but the box itself. In fact, it looked like they played soccer with the box before re-taping it (and believe me, I use a ton of tape when it comes to packaging). Somehow the mason jars remained in tact. My dinosaurs didn’t do as well. Six out of the nine candles I shipped had damaged toppers. Dinosaurs broke off. Paint chipped from the mason jar lids.
I blew off some steam, ranted about the USPS and apologized to my customer over and over again. Thankfully my customer was really easy to work with in coming to a fair resolution. I am working on replacing her broken items and filed a claim with the USPS.
Moving forward, I am taking this as a good learning experience as a small business. I could have turned this positive selling experience into an ugly one. Instead, I’ve kept it a positive one because it could have been worse. I could have dealt with a nasty customer who wasn’t willing to work out a decent resolution. Instead, we promptly agreed on a fair fix and are keeping this transaction on good terms. I could have had to replace all of the candles, jars included, and lost a ton of profit on this sale. Instead, I got off easy only having to replace toppers.
The biggest lesson learned (business and otherwise) is that no matter how much care you take, bumps in the road happen and will happen. It’s how you compose yourself and move forward that matters. At the end of this transaction, I want this boutique to see that although my shop is small, I handle my sales in a truly professional manner. Maybe even in such a manner that they would want to do business again!