How to handle a custom order

Gnomo online shop 2012 abajo
Gnomo online shop 2012 abajo (Photo credit: álvarozarzuela)

Most online shops that I have come across prefer to do the custom order option. There isn’t a huge pre-existing inventory of products that are ready to be shipped out immediately. They might not even have the product started prior to a purchase. The customer purchases the product and it is made specifically to the customers requirements. So, how does one handle these custom orders? Because you can’t just tell the customer “order any size or color you want”. That overwhelms the customer and will turn people away. There are actually four steps to take when handling customized orders like this.

  1. Choose a product. Just one product. Maybe it’s a toddlers dress or an owl hat or even a wall decal of one bible verse (John 3:16 is a famous one).
  2. Create it in a variety of different colors and sizes. Especially if it can come in many different color combinations (like if it can be striped, polka dotted, or ombré). People need to be able to see a few different options before they will make their own request.
  3. Write out size measurements. If this is one of the options, make sure people know exact measurements. Don’t rely on small, medium, and large to get you through because every brand has a different standard. Small could be newborn, or it could mean a petite adult. Use inches, centimeters, to describe size.
  4. Be open for discussion and compromise. Wen a customer does come to you with a specific question (let’s say she wants a kitty cat appliqué instead of the owl one, and she wants the medium size that is 5″ in diameter, in shades of blue), hold a discussion with her to work out the details. If you can’t do a kitty cat, turn her down (politely of course). If it is going to take a bit more work and effort on your part to accommodate her, ask for a higher price, OR (what I like to do), make this new item into its own product. It is ok to tell her that you can do a kitty cat in 4″ but not 5″, or you can offer it in navy or Robbins egg but not sky blue. Sometimes these compromises are ok, and so e times they aren’t. Communicating with the customer about these options will make for a happy customer and you can ensure that she will e getting exactly what she wants.

If you have never dealt with custom orders before, I encourage you to try it. This option for selling online can save you a lot of hassle and head ache, but there are also cons (aren’t there always). Sometimes a customer can be difficult and picky. You might get a whole lot of custom orders at one time and get back-logged or overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to turn down orders. Some people prefer to not do custom orders like this. In which case, when someone asks (and they will), just turn them down politely.

Personally, this is my preferred method of selling because I don’t have to be constantly creating products that may or may not sell. I make up 3-4 different examples, and I don’t have to deal with a huge inventory that could get damaged or lost or disorganized, etc. I can sell something to a customer that I know she will love because she specifically asked for it. However, it is not a selling method that is suited for everyone.

I do hope that you have found these steps useful, and if you have anything to add, or came across a question, just leave a comment. I would love to hear of any adventures in dealing with custom orders you might have experienced!


Please leave a reply and let the world know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s