If you've gone over the pros and cons of using an eBay store as the main online commerce website for your small business and come to to the conclusion that an eBay store may in fact be what you're looking for, you're probably ready to get into the nuts and bolts of actually making an eBay Store happen for you. Here's what you need to do.
Make Yourself Eligible
To be eligible to open an eBay store, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- You must have a PayPal account that is verified. To meet this
criteria, obviously you need to have opened a
PayPal account. You also need
either to have linked a bank account to it (your business bank account for
receivables is one obvious candidate) or to have applied for and been issued
PayPal Extras MasterCard.
- You must have an eBay seller account. Even if your plans aren't focused on the main eBay website, you'll still need an eBay seller account to sell using an eBay store. To meet this criteria, therefore, you need to join eBay, then ensure that a current name, address, and phone number are on file at eBay and place a payment method (bank account or credit card account) on file from which your eBay fees and any reimbursements due to buyer protection actions will be taken.
Open Your eBay Store
To open an eBay store, you'll need to visit the eBay Stores Overview and subscribe to an eBay store. The "Subscribe now" button is prominently featured, but before clicking on it, you'll need to decide between the three store subscription levels that eBay offers:
- Basic stores cost $15.95 per month and include your own
storefront, the ability to add your own customized pages to the store,
marketing and research tools, tools for managing direct email and promotions
sales for your customer base, and discounted $0.20 per listing
insertion fees for fixed-price (non-auction) items in your store.
- Premium stores cost $49.95 per month and add to this additional
selling and reporting tools like
Selling Manger Pro, along with the ability
to minimize the prominence of the eBay logo and search box at the top of
your store, while reducing fixed-price listing insertion fees to $0.05 each.
- Anchor stores cost $299.95 per month and offer heavier promotion by eBay (your store logo will be placed on the eBay's main stores gateway page, for example) and expand the general volume of business that you can carry outup to 5,000 of your listings per day promotionally priced using Markdown Manager, for example (compared to 250 a day at the basic stores level), and up to 10,000 email messages per month to your customers (compared to 5,000 per month at the basic level) and so on.
The summaries here only provide an overview of the differences between levels. For complete details, see the subscription levels chart offered by eBay.
For most small business owners just looking to get an ecommerce site up and running, the basic level is a good place to start. If you want to upgrade later on, you can always do so by visiting your eBay subscriptions page.
(Optionally) Get Your Own "Dot-Com" for Your Store
This is a purely optional step but a desirable one for many small businesses. When you subscribed to and named your store, eBay created an address at http://stores.ebay.com/your-store-name where customers can always find you, but of course most businesses would prefer to simply send their customers to http://www.our-business-name.com instead.
Happily, most inexpensive domain name registration and hosting companies like GoDaddy.com or BlueHost.com include free redirection as a part of their service that can be configured on a point-and-click basis. (They also have tech support teams on standby if you have trouble creating a redirect on your own.) Here are the general steps that you want to take:
- Register your desired website address. Register a new domain name that's not already taken ("domain
name" is a fancy term for
a web address like www.our-business-name.com) using one of these hosting
- Get the cheapest plan your chosen provider offers. As you
register and select a "plan" of service, choose the cheapest, most bare-bones subscription
levelsince this is most likely to include a basic feature like
redirecting, and since as an eBay stores user you won't need anything else
that the registration and hosting company is going to provide.
- Log in and redirect. Once you've created your new address and opened a bare-bones account, log into it and use the online tools to redirect visitors to your new address at www.our-business-name.com (or whatever your address is) to your eBay stores address at stores.ebay.com/your-store-name each time they visit.
That's all there is to it. Now you can print the "dot com" address of your dreams on your business cards and send your customers there, but when they go, they'll arrive at the easy-to-manage, inexpensive eBay Store you've opened for your online selling.
List Some Items
Now that you're this far, you're absolutely ready to start filling your store with stuff. This is the easy part: just use eBay's online selling form, or any eBay listing tools like Turbo Lister or Garage Sale, and anything you list will automatically show up both for buyers on the main eBay.com site (a bonus and side-effect of using eBay stores) and as an item in your online store.
You're off and running!
But What About Customization?
Of course, f you're like most business owners, you'll want to do more than a little but of customizing in your online store before too many people see it. Things like:
- Choosing the color and layout of your store
- Putting your business logo prominently at the top
- Providing contact email, telephone and/or mailing address details
- Creating some content that tells visitors about your business and
- Arranging your inventory into "departments" or "categories" rather than having them all show up in the same place
If you're ready to tackle these steps and really make the store yours, continue to this basic guide to customizing your eBay store.