The gems hobby-business ran with love

Seller: sungems
Name: Heleen Rossouw

Heleen describes her bidorbuy selling venture as a “semi-full-time-hobby-supplementary-income business”. Her main income derives from a family-run company in the services industry, the Cape Town based Enviro-Safe Pest Management and Pathogen Control. Heleen occasionally relies on the Enviro-Safe employees to help with the bidorbuy administration and the dispatch of items sold on the site.

What do you sell on bidorbuy?

Precious and semi precious gemstones. Recently, I have acquired 925 pieces of sterling silver jewellery to sell on bidorbuy, but I am still struggling to find time to photograph them and list them.

What first prompted you to sell on bidorbuy?

I used to have three clothing and accessories shops in Cape Town. To source stock, I travelled to Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, China. At the same time, I was co-managing Enviro-Safe.

I loved the sourcing, buying, travelling, organising part of my clothing and accessories business. I did not like the brick-and-mortar retail part of it. So I sold two shops and simply closed the third.

However, I missed the travel. I decided to use my experience in importing and my love and knowledge of the wonderful world of gems. In 2007, I started buying at international gem and jewellery fairs in various countries and selling them on bidorbuy.

What are the biggest benefits that you find selling on bidorbuy?

Selling on bidorbuy has allowed me to delve deeper into my passion, the gemstones. I love everything about my bidorbuy business: sitting in front of my computer, travelling, and, of course, handling the gemstones. I enjoy surrounding myself with the UV light, gravity scale, RI meter and other lab equipment and exploring gemstones. I obtained a few really nice collectors’ pieces, which would not have been possible if I did not go to the international gem fairs as a part of my bidorbuy hobby-business.

I also love the flexibility of the bidorbuy trading platform, that is, being able to work when and where I want to, even in bed on my laptop. No need to have additional premises to sell from and be OPEN during specific hours!

Gemstones are difficult items to sell. They are among the lowest priced items on bidorbuy. I do not even sell high-end gemstones, because I think that buyers on bidorbuy are looking for bargains, and even a well priced high-end gemstone would seem expensive to a bargain-hunter. Besides, I myself would not buy a high-value gemstone over the internet. I want to see that gem, because there are too many variables that influence the price of a gemstone.

If you want to make money, gemstones are not the best type of merchandise for you. However, this is a field I love and know. It also allows me to travel, because I personally hand-pick each and every stone I buy at the international gem trade fairs world-wide. But it is not really possible to generate a liveable income from gemstones. That is why I refer to this as my hobby business.

To be perfectly honest, the time I spend on bidorbuy is not worth the money I make from it. If I utilised that time in my other company, I would be able to earn three to five times more. I would also make much more if I were to sell electronics or something else on bidorbuy. But then, the whole thing would change from a hobby I love to just another company I own.

What sets your company or products apart from the rest?

I do want to make a reasonable amount of money from selling gemstones. If I do not make money, I can not buy new stock and I cannot travel. However, I am not doing it for a living. So, I am more relaxed. I do not stress if I do not make a certain amount of money each month.

Although I have been for quite some time among the top 10 sellers in the gemstones category on bidorbuy, I am not doing anything to promote my products. The only reason why I think I stay in the top 10 is my knowledge of gemstones, my love for gemstones and my client service. That, together with my relaxed attitude, comes through in my interactions with the buyers.

Sellers who are desperate to sell can sometimes make desperate moves, like behaving dishonestly and tricking buyers. Personally, I hate dishonesty. I try to be as honest as possible in my listings. I might try this or that selling strategy, but I would never lie or try to hide some important information about the gemstone I am selling or about shipment or any aspect of the selling process. My philosophy in life is to treat everybody, regardless of age, race, gender, personal preferences, opinions, etc. with respect and dignity. I think that this is very important, both offline and online.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt?

I learned on bidorbuy that buyers are understandably wary of buying an item sight unseen, from someone they cannot look into the eye. And still, those same buyers go on to place a bid or make an order without reading the seller’s description of the item and the seller’s terms and conditions.

Since I am aware of this, I try to make the shopping experience as smooth and as easy as possible for my buyers. I provide them with a long list of dos and don’ts on each auction.

Although this is a hobby of mine, it is not a joke. I cannot afford to waste time on buyers who are not serious, who treat bidorbuy as a playground and do not pay for their orders. People who sell on bidorbuy do it for a reason: to make money, either as a hobby income or as a serious income generator. I understand that, unfortunately, there are scammers among seller and that bidorbuy needs to enforce certain rules. However, those rules sometimes also protect the buyers who are not serious and who waste the honest sellers’ valuable time.

How to resolve this – that’s a tricky issue. I have learned that it is necessary to have strict terms and conditions and stick to them very tightly.

What advice would you give to sellers who are new to bidorbuy?

Do not list only a couple of items and then disappear from the site for a prolonged period of time. List regularly. Buyers want to know you are in it long-term, and not just a fly-by-night. Next, know your product. Try to give as much information as necessary in the description. There should be no reason for buyers to ask questions if you provided all the information upfront. And above all – be honest and be patient!

What are your favourite features on bidorbuy?

The new sellers’ tools. I just wish we would get the additional improvements we were promised, like templates for the messages to the buyers. Alas, we are still waiting for that one.

Additional comments about bidorbuy?

bidorbuy is a good platform for selling your goods. It is very user friendly. I am sure the people working there are doing their best to keep all users happy, but sometimes double standards can be discerned. Perhaps that happens because some of the bidorbuy staff members are stricter than others.

And talking of the bidorbuy staff – I would like to see a section where they are introduced to us: their photos, hobbies, likes and dislikes, what their functions are on bidorbuy, etc