What began as little more than an online second hand good store has grown to become a force within the global business community with small and large businesses alike now having a presence on eBay.
Often overlooked is that eBay isn't just about auctions. The ability to place fixed priced items on the site has been highly attractive for business owners for several years. Why open a store on eBay?
- 17 million unique visitors come to eBay each month to buy a vast range of goods
- Stores on eBay can be set-up in a matter of hours
- Start up costs are low and eBay won't charge you until your first month of trading is complete
- Payments are received quickly and securely via PayPal so there's no need to apply to Visa etc to take credit cards
- The sales and performance of your store can be easily tracked
- Promotions can be set up and used easily from your eBay account
"There are 10,000 businesses in the UK selling on eBay," explains an eBay spokesperson. "They are attracted to it because eBay is a ready-made e-commerce solution – everything is taken care of, all you need is a computer and a digital camera."
To open a new store on eBay you must have one of the following:
- A minimum feedback score of 10 on your personal eBay account to open a basic store and also be PayPal verified
- Registered as a business seller to open a Featured Store and also have a Detailed Seller Rating of at least 4.4 or above in each of the four areas
- If you want to open an Anchor Shop your Detailed Seller Rating score must be 4.6 or better
You also have to consider the costs associated with the type of store you want to open. Currently costs are:
- Basic Shop - £14.99 each month
- Featured Shop - £49.99 each month
- Anchored Shop - £349.99 each month
If you're not sure what type of store would suit your business best, eBay has a handy feature comparison chart you can use to help you decide. Also, new businesses that set up on eBay may have listing and selling allowances applied to their store. Ensure you fully understand the possible implication these could have on your new store before you move forward and create your shop.
Also note that eBay doesn't allow certain items to be sold on their site. These include alcohol, firearms and drugs. A full list is available here and the other rules that could apply to your new store can be viewed here.
You also need to carefully consider the on-going running costs in addition to the basic shop cost that are associated with your new store. You have to pay your monthly subscription, but you also need to take into account:
- The listing fees you will pay on each item
- The final value fee that will be applied when a customer buys an item from your store
- The fees that PayPal will charge to process your customer's transaction
What to charge?
For new business on eBay deciding on a pricing strategy can be highly complex. However, the price you charge should take into consideration all the usual fixed and variable costs you would associate with any store.
What you do need to think about is how the price you set impacts on the fees you pay. Don't forget, listing items on your store with a fixed price will attract a fixed listing fee, but also a final value fee that is a percentage of the price you charged with the percentage depending on the category your store's goods are in.
For instance, if you have a Basic Store, your listing fee is £0.10. The final value fee for goods such as computers and video games is 3 per cent. Media such as books and DVDs is 9 per cent, with clothing and accessories costing 12 per cent. These costs should be carefully considered when you are setting the prices for your new eBay store to ensure you get the return you need to ensure a good level of profit.
Design and layout
It is possible to make your eBay store as simple or complex as you want. Basic templates are available that allow you to choose a design that can then be customised. You can change the colour of your store and add logos and other design elements.
One of the most important aspects of any eBay store is the quality of the images. People that buy on eBay want to see what they are purchasing. The better your images the more sales you will make – it's as simple as that.
Try and make your images as appealing and attractive as possible, and don't forget to optimise them for the web to ensure they download quickly. Customers want pages that load fast, and won't wait for large images to appear. You can even buy third party store templates to use for your new eBay business. Leading services include: Auctiva and Vendio.
Before you decide how your store will look it's a good idea to take some time and research how other business on eBay that are selling similar items have organised and designed their stores. You need to think about how your store can be designed to standout from the crowd. There are many third-party additions you can make to your store, such as image and photo viewers, that give you more creativity over how your store behaves. By using the right tools you can build a highly attractive eBay store that visitors' will return to again and again.
Ads and promotions
Once your store is live on eBay you can start to promote it. You can use a couple of tools that eBay offers to help you shout about your new business. The first is called the Markdown Manager that allows you to set a discount of between five and 75 per cent that will automatically appear on all items you attach the discount to.
The second service that eBay offers is their email newsletter. Your store can have an option to 'sign up for store newsletter'. The tool allows you to create newsletters that can be used to promote your store to everyone that has expressed an interest in hearing more about your store and business.
Outside of the tools that eBay offers, you can use a wide range of promotional activity to drive customers to your eBay store. If you already have a website, linking to your eBay store for exclusive discounts can be highly effective.
You could also use ad services such as Google's Adwords, and you should also make your eBay store search engine friendly. This simply means making sure your store loads quickly into your visitor's browser and that you have used the appropriate keywords in the text your pages contain so that anyone using Google or any other search engine will see your store.
Follow this checklist to ensure you set up your eBay store properly and give it the best chance of success.
- Do your research to see how other businesses in your sector are using eBay. Ask yourself what you can do better?
- Ensure the design of your store is engaging and professional. Make sure your text is search engine friendly and that each image is attractive and optimised for the web
- Look closely at all the costs associated with your business before deciding on the prices you will charge
- A good reputation is vital on eBay – some people won't buy from stores with a low positive comments percentage. Deal with problems quickly and efficiently to protect your business' reputation
- Track every aspect of your store to see what is working and what needs to be changed. Stores that are updated regularly make more sales
- Use the social media networks including Facebook and Twitter to make personal connections with your existing and potential customers
Opening a store on eBay is now quick and easy. With a raft of promotional opportunities and a ready and waiting audience for your business' goods, what are you waiting for?