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When and Why of eBay Stores


Unscheduled hiatuses happen to the best of us. You are plugging right along, all of your balls in the air, everything going as planned, and then something slips, a ball drops, you scramble to get it and then… bounce. bounce. bounce. bouncebouncebounce. All of the balls drop around you.

When you find your balls unexpectedly dropping, one of the most convenient features of an eBay Store is the Vacation Settings option. You can keep your “eBay Store ball” at the very least hovering by putting your store on vacation while you are unavailable.

In short, the Vacation Settings feature allows you to keep all of your listings available for buyers to search and buy, however it automatically notifies them in each listing and/or your store header that you will be unavailable to answer questions or ship until a specified time. This keeps your buyers’ options open, but prevents them from having a negative buying experience because they are expecting immediate response times from you.

Hmmm, I could have used one of those while I was unavailable the last couple of weeks here at eMoms at Home, huh? Sorry about that. But I digress.

The Vacation Settings feature is just one of dozens of fantastic features available through eBay Stores. However, as a new or prospective seller, do you need an eBay Store right away? Can you be a successful seller without one? When is the right time to open one?

No. Yes. And when you have enough inventory that your volume begins to demand more flexible selling options.

Huh? What? Let me explain.

When I first began selling on eBay, I did not have an eBay Store. In fact, I was already a PowerSeller before I opened my store. I did perfectly well just listing all of my products individually, using only the most basic of eBay selling tools to do so.

At a minimum fee of $15.95 a month, I saw no benefit to opening an eBay Store in the beginning. Aside from the fee I would have to pay, I did not want any of my listings to show up in the “search stores” results rather than the primary search results. I knew that most buyers don’t even know that they can search Store Inventory listings, in addition to the basic listings search at the top of the page. Were you aware of that?

Simply put, when a buyer goes into eBay to search for something, they usually only use that little search bar at the top of each page. Items listed as “Store Inventory,” meaning that it is not an Auction-style or Buy It Now listing, only show up via a link below the search results that says “See additional Buy It Now items from eBay Store sellers.” Store Inventory will show up in the main search results only when 30 or fewer results are present in the Auction-style or Buy It Now primary active listings. Depending on what you are selling and what search terms your buyers are using to find your listings, hitting a result of 30 or fewer listings is uncommon.  Therefore, if your buyers don’t know how or don’t think to search the Store Inventory listings, your listings go unnoticed.

I should note that there are visibility benefits to the alternate search results available through eBay Stores and Store Inventory, including showing up in search engine results (with proper SEO managment), as well as the opportunity to be included in eBay Express listing results.  However, at the time, I saw listing products through an eBay Store as too little return for the effort, particularly because eBay Express was such a new feature that few buyers yet understood.

As far as I was concerned, I was doing just fine without an eBay Store at that moment. I made a point to include a link to my “view seller’s other items” page in the content of every listing and that seemed to be all of the cross-promotion that I needed.

Eventually, my needs did change, however. I began selling an extensive line of bath and body products, encompassing half a dozen scents and a dozen products for each scent. Not including the combination packages I sold and relists of sold items, I was launching more than 75 individual listings for that single line of products each week. Including the combination packages and the other unrelated listings I was running, I was launching well over 100 listings every 7-10 days.

Taking into consideration relist fees for items that didn’t sell immediately, and I was seeing an eBay fees bill of hundreds of dollars a month. Something had to change. I needed a better way to manage my volume. Cue the eBay Store.

I opened my eBay Store in order to be able to utilize their Store Inventory listing option. Store Inventory listings allow you to list items for a fraction of the listing fees of regular Auction-style and Buy It Now listings, as well as choose for the listings to run either 30 days or Good ’til Canceled.

Store Inventory listings allowed me to list dozens of products at a fraction of the price, organized by category, and allow them to run until sold. I organized my store in such a way that buyers could easily build their own gift packages, seeing all of the products I had available in a format I could control. I finally had a use for an eBay Store and it worked beautifully.

However, I absolutely believe that I had no real use for an eBay store before I reached the point of running into volume control issues. Sure, I could have begun building my brand sooner, but I also would have cut into my primary search result returns and marketing opportunities, something that is very important for beginning sellers.

I chose to open an eBay Store when it became clear that the benefits would outweigh the detriments (i.e. lower listing fees coupled with ease of package-building for customers vs. lower main search results), not to mention when it would easily be able to pay for itself in both money and saved time through managing relistings.

You don’t have to be the most polished, professional seller right out of the gate, complete with a dazzling storefront and logo.  You can be polished and professional on a smaller scale, at first.  Focus on your individual listings. Learn what works. Keep it simple. An eBay Store is a fabulous tool, well worth every penny… however, hold off until you are no longer pinching those pennies. You can always open one tomorrow.

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