eBay Shops - what are they and why should you have one?

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What is an eBay Shop?

An eBay shop is simply adding a few extra features to your existing ID - your details remain exactly as they are, but you have the shop name and logo next to your user name, and you have a lot more flexibility in creating your listings and "branding" yourself. The Listing Fees are much less than a normal auction and items can be listed on a rolling 30 day listing - although only BIN, but the exposure that Shop listings receive is significantly reduced. Keyword Searches will only show listings if there are less than 50 matching items in Auction or BIN, and even then they appear at the very bottom of any results. There are currently 3 levels of shop available –
- Basic Shop: an ideal solution for sellers who are just starting out and want an affordable and easy-to-use platform to sell online.
- Featured Shop: a more comprehensive solution for small-to-medium sized sellers who want to aggressively grow their online business.
- Anchor Shop: an advanced solution for higher-volume sellers who want maximum exposure on eBay

For the purpose of this article, the focus will be on a Basic Shop.

How do Shop listings differ from normal listings?

Shop listings are pretty much the same as a Buy It Now listing, except they run continually until sold or ended by the user. The Insertion Fees are considerably less than Auction or Buy It Now listings, although exposure is reduced, and Final Value Fees are also slightly higher

As Shop listings are on 30 day recurring cycles, it is also a useful place to “park” any unsold auctions or Buy It Now items. For a relatively small charge, these previously unsold items are still available for buyers to purchase – if they find them of course, but more on that further down.

What do you get for your money?

A Basic Shop on ebay.co.uk will cost £6 GBP per month, although the first 30 days are free. Looking at the pure economics of listing, a 10 day Buy It Now listing with Gallery will cost around 30p, depending on the starting price and quantity available, so 30 days will cost at least 90p. The same listing in a Shop Format would cost a mere 6p. From this principle, it would only take 24 listings to break even on insertion fees on the pessimistic assumption that nothing sells to incur Final Value Fees!

However the benefits go much further than just cheap insertion fees and long term availability to purchase. A shop subscription on eBay.co.uk also offers –

- An entry-level online e-commerce web presence, with a unique URL and brand identity for your shop
- Up to 300 customisable categories for your own range of product lines.
- Bulk editing options for converting auctions and Buy It Now listings into Shop Format, and back again.
- Traffic Reports to analyse where your visitors are coming from and what they are looking for, as well as growth trends and early warning signs.
- Basic Sales Reports to analyse your most effective category and selling format, your average selling prices, sell through rates and much more.
- Email Marketing facilities to create and send flyers and newsletters to your buyers.
- HTML link building tools to easily create cross-promotion tools for your listings.
- Use customisable pages to boost your brand, communicate store policies, and connect with customers
- Promotional boxes to highlight featured merchandise in your Shop to trigger sales.
- Options to run promotional sales with Markdown Manager.
- Custom listing frames to add your Shop header, search box, and category navigation to all of your listings.
- Listing Feeds to automatically publish and send product data to customers or comparison shopping sites via RSS Feeds.
- Customisable Search Engine Optimisation tags to guide traffic from outside of eBay to your store

Who has a shop?

Shops are not just for the high volume sellers or even entry level PowerSellers, but many hobby sellers are also eBay shop owners.
To open a Shop, you must be a registered eBay user with a seller's account. You'll also need to meet one of the following requirements:
- Feedback score of 10 or higher, or
- Have direct debit on file for payment of eBay fees, or
- Have a Paypal account linked to your eBay account and a Feedback rating of at least 5.

As mentioned above, it is a cheap way to have listings available on a continual and automated basis, rather than having to spend time and money re-listing unsold auctions.

For sellers of one specific type of product line, it is also a useful way to list multiple variations of similar products without falling foul of the Choice Listing Policy. Simply promote the most popular selling line in a regular auction or Buy It Now listing, but make prominent links to the various colours or sizes available in your store.

How do I get people to my shop?

It’s widely publicised that the exposure that Shop Format listings receive is significantly reduced, but when balanced with the insertion fee, you are getting what you pay for. The key is finding ways to let people know you have an eBay shop.

The fundamental method of gaining Shop exposure is to ensure you have enough signposts to your shops. These sign posts come in many forms such as the following –

Link store items through from existing Auctions or Buy It Now. Using the HTML link builder can provide simple text links such as “Buy It Now in my Shop for £9.99” to place in an auction, to impressive scrolling galleries of your shop listings that can showcase whole product ranges.
Create cross promotions .When buyers view, bid on, or win an item, your other items (including Shop Inventory items) are promoted in a special display. As a Shop seller, you have complete control over which items are shown.
Create an effective Shop listing header. Include your own banner, called a Shop listing header, on your Shop and all other listings to create your own unique and identifiable brand
Optimise your Shop for Internet search engines.  By carefully wording your text in the shop header, and specifying appropriate meta-tags, you can increase the chance of your shop listings being found by Search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Include these keywords in your Shop name and Shop category names where possible, and also in the content on your pages.
Utilise Customisable pages, Reviews & Guides, Blogs and About Me Pages. All of these pages are content based with static URL’s, and therefore highly favoured by search engines. Reviews & Guides in particular can be used as sales tools for our own products, by demonstrating to your buyers that you know your products well.
Promote your store “off-eBay”. There are many ways of getting your Shop URL out to the buying public, using modern techniques and more traditional methods
o If you post on eBay forums, or discussion groups focused on products that you sell, consider having a clickable link in your posting signature.
o MySpace & Facebook are proving to be effective marketing and networking venues where you can showcase your products and brand to a vast audience.
o There are also many sites that will advertise your eBay store in online directories.
o Google Base Store Connector is a free download that puts info about your store into their index, so that when people search Google for the products you have to sell, you'll show up in their search results, along with a link directly to your site on eBay – it can be downloaded from base.google.com/base/storeconnector/index.html and is simple to operate – enter your store name, copy products from your shop, then publish them to Google Products.
o Include your Shop URL in an email signature block, on return address labels, any paperwork sent with your sales, and any invoice or payment acknowledgement templates sent after purchases.

In summary, an eBay shop is arguably the easiest path to establishing an online commercial presence that is available to one of the largest buying markets in one of the world’s largest shopping venues. The work involved is not significantly more than existing eBay sellers are already used to, and the costs involved are easily worth the many benefits that owning an eBay shop provides.

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Please take a few moments to have a look at My Other Guides, and why not have a look at Shelfridges - My eBay Shop! I also have more information on my About Me page.

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