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Is opening an eBay store even worth it?
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ASLANstore



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 704
Location: MidWest

Posted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:35 pm    Post subject: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

After reading about some of the frustration many of you sellers have experienced with this "roll back" eBay dumped on you in regards to appearing in searches - I wonder now if I should definitely icksnay on the whole Store idea!!??

I'm paying the bills now (but then again I'm also lining the pockets of the rich ebay honchos) - but just one year of doing my taxes and claiming all those ridiculous fees awakened me to the need for change (hence my registering with this site)

But what I'm wondering is - is it worth it to open a store? In general I know that these sorts of things depend on what your selling, etc - but for the most part, what is the consensus from those who have made the upgrade? Was there a tangible increase in sales?

Because my first impression is - even if I only break even, perhaps my money is better spent on a different site (ie; onlineauction.com) rather than pour fees and listing time into a "store" that doesn't boost sales anyway... I'd be very interested to read your comments.
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knappschiles



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4074
Location: Wi

Posted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:43 pm    Post subject:  

I just went thru some records for 04, 05 and 06 for Jan up to May as those are MY best selling months. I've had an eBay store for several years until I closed about mid June last year.

05 was a bit of an off year for me. 04 was better, but for the most part 06 is doing better still.

The surprise is when I totaled the breakdowns of what came from where. In 04 eBay was about 60% of my sales and my web site was about 40%. I wasn't at any alt sites until Feb 05.

In 05 eBay was 47%, my site 41%, and alt sites 12% of my sales.

This year I didn't have my store until March 4 and then only because things started to pick up with that 10 cent sale the end of Feb. In Jan and Feb I couldn't seem to sell anything on eBay. Lost money on several groups of listings.

But so far thru March, eBay was about 30%, alt sites about 20% and my web site about 50%. And the only reason eBay is as high as it is is because of a fantastic March. Sales have sucked since the search change. So the eBay % will most likely drop even more.

The other thing would be to look at the costs of the income whick I haven't done yet. But it's obvious that there are less fees on the alts or my own web site than at eBay. This March when eBay was doing so well, I actually matched the eBay sales at my web site. My web site costs me 9.95/mt. The eBay fees were about 5x at least.

Do you see a trend here. eBay is becoming less and less relavant. Not that any of the other alt sites have been any great shakes tho. But people are beginning to realize that eBay isn't the only place to get things any more.

I know it's different for everyone, but your best bet if you are still thinking about the eBay store is to USE eBay as they have used us. Have the store, but be carefull with your listings, set your prices and S&H a bit higher at eBay. And then every customer gets a pitch to your own web site where they can get the same things AND more for the same or a better price.

PSU even has the web stores for you here. I haven't looked at them because I already had mine, but I hear they are well set up and easy to get started with.

Just a lot of food for thought
Carol
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ASLANstore



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 704
Location: MidWest

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 12:00 am    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

That's actually A LOT of food for thought - thank you

Am I to understand you correctly that it's allowed thru eBay policy to promote your website via your store?

And your suggestion to up the prices on eBay (using them like they use us) is noted - and I've done so - but the bottom line is, a mid-priced item like I am selling will always result in a competing fee - the most terrible months seem to balance 50/50 between fees and profit - for lack of a better word, this is robbery!

At any rate - I did visit your website and I liked it! My wife and I have started our first garden this year (we transplanted from Big City California to small town Illinois last year) - your neato greenhouse tip for tomatos will be tried out!
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knappschiles



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4074
Location: Wi

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 12:15 am    Post subject:  

No you can't promote your own site ON eBay.But as long as eBay doesn't REQUIRE us to use their checkout or invoices I don't. Every buyer gets a personal invoice with my web site in the siggy and a special offer of no added S&H if they want anything additional NOW from the web site.

Every package gets a mini catalog with my web site and my store as saveral alt sites. I also add an extra package of seeds and lately a sample pack of my hot sauce. All my seed packs also have a sticker with my mane and web site on the pack.

It's just some of the things you can do to "convert" customers to your site instead of eBay's.

Carol
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knappschiles



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4074
Location: Wi

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 2:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

Quote: › docWrite("quote")And your suggestion to up the prices on eBay (using them like they use us) is noted - and I've done so - but the bottom line is, a mid-priced item like I am selling will always result in a competing fee

I sell low priced seed packs. There is lots of competition. When the stores were in search, there were about 1500 listings just for tomato seeds. The prices are all over the place too and I'm 1 of the higher priced sellers, tho I think I give a larger pack than most.

To show you how I try to USE the eBay site to my advantage, here is a sale from yesterday. Guy ordered 1 pack of tomato seeds last nite. I sent him my personal invoice with my offer for additional packs for my web site price (.24 / pack cheaper than on eBay) and NO additional S&H.

This morning I had a reply -- "I love your web site. Please add these seeds to my bill." He ordered 5 more packs. I then sent him a PP request with the total itemized in the "message" box.

I don't get that response from all my eBay sales, only maybe every third or fourth sale. And it does slow down the process a bit. But the results of the upsells are good enough to make it worth while. I also get a few responses that they don't want any more right now but will go to the web site when they are looking for more.

I also have gotten a very few responses of people irritated that I didn't send the eBay invoice for them to pay right away. Only about 4 or 5 so far this year. Then you just send the eBay or PP invoice and drop the upsell attempt. Those I hope will like the seeds and extras in the package and the catalog and find the site that way.

Carol
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ASLANstore



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 704
Location: MidWest

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 2:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

Carol,

Thanks again for offering more information - and I hear ya on the whole "upsell" thing. Sometimes there are some "wierd" customers who just get irritated - period. Usually folks that aren't too happy being alive in the first place lol.

Although I appreciate your detailed answers and great advice - I'm still kinda left unanswered about a store being worth opening or not. I do understand your percentages - what generates more sales either your store or auction, etc... but let me ask you this way: Do your sales thru the store alone make a profit - or is it ONLY that you are able to USE it as an upsell tool that makes it worth having? If you didn't upsell (and be successful at it) would you close the store?

Last time I looked, I think the varying store packages bottomed out at $15 per month - i know that doesn't seem like much, but just one more "per month" charge is the nickle and dime thing that makes eBay richer and me poorer. I've reached a peak with Featured Plus upgrades, etc - and I'm seeking ways to boost sales - I thought I'd just ask around to see if opening a store increased sales for the average seller. But their rollback on search has seemed to skew opinion on this question.

Marty
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angelsolutions



Joined: 09 Mar 2005
Posts: 3293
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

I have to agree with Carol about the "use eBay against themselves"

Angelsolutions Boutique eBay AboutMe Page

eBay AboutMe Guidelines

Use your own email to send your ebay customers email---and include a SIGNATURE with a link to your web store. :mrgreen:

EVERY email to your customer should have an upsell attempt---thank you for your purchase (don't miss these newly listed items at my web store...); thank you for your payment (on sale this week at my web store...); your item has been shippped (thanks again for your business & come see us at my web store). Get the idea? :mrgreen:

My suggestion would be NOT to customize your ebay email templates & NOT to use the messaging system to promote your store. Bad idea.

Do all of this CAREFULLY and ABIDE BY EBAY'S RULES! And you won't have any problems...getting shut down, suspended or banned before your own site is ready.

Make yourself a yahoo group or get an email marketing account or system of some sort and EMAIL your customer base! Offer something for them to refer their friends to your web store.

Get the idea? winky, winky?

It's a slow drain of eBay's lifeblood....US...the sellers that built them.

IMHO...having your own site is the way to go these days. TOO many alternative sites and none of them ready for prime time.

sylvia
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ASLANstore



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 704
Location: MidWest

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

Thanks Sylvia

tried the own website thing - too much maintenance and not enough traffic... it works for some people, just not me for some unearthly reason

However - the free Yahoo listings along with the USE them philosophy - it has no monthly fees, and although hasn't generated astronomical sales - it has provided a place to keep inventory on the web permenantly (that is, until Yahoo stops offering for free)

At any rate - I am already familiar with all these marketing techniques and utilize them accordingly (and within reason) - but in an effort to really give sales a boost, I was considering opening the eBay store - but again, it's not clear to me thru these answers if a store opening actually increases sales... marketing is noted, but what about actual sales thru the store? Have you seen a marked increase???

Marty
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angelsolutions



Joined: 09 Mar 2005
Posts: 3293
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 5:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

Marty....

Quote: › docWrite("quote")too much maintenance and not enough traffic

just gotta create your own traffic...not as hard as it sounds, honest.

My reference to Yahoo was to create a user group so that you can have email marketing capability with your customers, but you bring up a good traffic point. Yahoo allows you to link to your web site IN YOUR AUCTION LISTINGS. Use that too!! :wink:

Regarding increased sales through the store itself & profitability. I have a basic store & sales have increased monthly since I opened it in October.

I do not run auction or fixed price listings to drive traffic to my store, but rather publish my store RSS feed any & everywhere I can.

In my experience, I have seen a marked increase in my sales Marty. But I attribute the increase NOT to eBay's store format, but to my own promotion & marketing efforts. Indeed, their costs/fees only serve to convince me to redouble my efforts to finish my new store all the faster!

Put pencil to paper & cost it out, Marty....

$800.00+ sales in March
$89.57 Net ebay fees (8% FVF, store format insertion & gallery)
$42.01 Net Paypal fees
$15.95 Store Subscription

Now....imagine this:
$800.00+ sales in March
$10.99 web hosting fee (actually, I pay annually)
$42.01 Net Paypal fees

Do you see any difference?

I realize I'm leaving out most of my chart of accounts (product costs, shipping, etc) but we're talking about the eBay store, here.

Consider further that,

eBay does NOT include your items in search unless there are 30 or less items pulled in a search. (correct my wording if I'm putting it incorrectly)

eBay does NOT promote you or your store listings unless you pay HEAVILY.

So I guess my long answer would be NO opening a store BY JUST THE ACT OF OPENING A STORE does not increase sales. As with anything else, you have to work hard at it. And uhm...in my book, that decreases the profit margin.

It has been MUCH easier to make a success of my web store (the old one) than to drive traffic to my eBay store. Traffic driven to my web store converts to sales MUCH more often than traffic driven to my eBay store.

hope this helps,
sylvia
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knappschiles



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4074
Location: Wi

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 5:19 pm    Post subject:  

Actually NO.With the exception of March, when stores were in search, my store sales at eBay peaked in 04 and have been going downhill ever since. Without the personal invoices and upsell stuff, eBay has been rather a bust for me this year.

Part of the reason my sales were better in 04 was that I ran a fair amount of fixed price listing in addition to my store listings. I tried to keep enough listings up so that I showed up in the "shop stores" box in the lower left column. But there are a couple of sellers that are listing too many things now that I can't afford enough listings to stay in that box.

But as I don't spend any money on other types of advertizing such as adwords or banners, I figure the eBay store for my prime season is my advertizing money.

I will keep the store open for maybe another month or so, unless something dramatic changes again at eBay.

I really don't think express is going to be much of a help. For one thing I need to revise all my listings as at the moment none are being picked up for express even tho I qualify.

After May/June seed sales drop off anyway. I may close it down and just open it for Jan - May again next year. We'll see.

Carol
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sarajane



Joined: 15 Apr 2006
Posts: 129

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

Yes!
I like my basic eBay store and consider it worth the cost with respect to Online sales. However, there is another advantage to eBay, respect. I sometime sell at flea markets/ swap markets and hand out business cards with my eBay store and my other Online selling venues listed. Potential buyers seem to have more confidence in buying from me, an eBay member Also, I notice a bump in hits after selling at a flea markets/ swap markets.

All but about a hundred of my store listings are now in eBay Express. It'll be interesting to see if hits go up.
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ASLANstore



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 704
Location: MidWest

Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

SaraJane, Carol & Sylvia

Again, I appreciate the concise responses. You have been very helpful in my desicion NOT to open a store.

Bottom line, as Sylvia pointed out - it takes a lot of work with marketing, rss feeds, etc to increase sales via the store... and not that I am afraid of hard work (I pull in way more hours doing this than I ever did at a day job) - but I just kinda feel the profit margin should be more advantageous and directly benefit me rather than benefiting the online auction mafia.

SaraJane - my items really aren't geared for flea markets (although my wife's crafts would be) - but I concur - I placed a text ad in a trade mag and saw traffic (but not sales) boost at my Yahoo Auction Booth - perhaps I would've seen an increase on eBay sales had I plugged that - but I guess I just wasn't interested in feeding the Giant!

Thanks again for all responses - very helpful board

Marty
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flags1776



Joined: 25 Feb 2006
Posts: 107
Location: Northern California

Posted: Wed May 03, 2006 6:15 pm    Post subject:  

[quote="AslanStore";p="52629"]
Do your sales thru the store alone make a profit - or is it ONLY that you are able to USE it as an upsell tool that makes it worth having? If you didn't upsell (and be successful at it) would you close the store?

Marty

I think trying to evaluate this will be different for someone who already has had a store established for several years compared to someone who is now trying to establish one. It does take time and loss leaders to establish an ebay store, just like the brick and mortar. We all did that when ebay fees were lower. My product line is very competitive but I can say that yes, I am making money. Just like Carol, I am seasonal so I am not sure just how much the search change has effected me as I would normally slow down mid April.

For me it has taken a lot of time, patience, and creativity but I would have to say it is worth it. Although ebay is just one of my sales venues.

In addition to ebay, I have an eCrater store and my on-line store. eCrater has little activity for many of the sellers there, it is new. An on-line store takes upfront money to establish and also an advertising budget, it is very costly. I have done many of the things Carol has mentioned to promote these other stores. I still have the sense that people are more comfortable with buying from ebay for the name recognization and safety.

For an ebay store, the goal is to get your customers coming back. Many of mine purchase multiple items at one time at full price. These are customers who are already established at ebay and don't seem to want to shop off ebay, even with a discount coupon to those other sites.
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ASLANstore



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 704
Location: MidWest

Posted: Wed May 03, 2006 6:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Is opening an eBay store even worth it?  

Flags1776... your detailed response is noted!

I think you are right, the question of it being profitable or not depends on those factors - and I for one am not willing to fork over more money to FeeBay and then turn around and pour even more money into advertising - not to mention the extra time :that much more with listings, inventory, maintenance, etc.... Again, I am not afraid of the hard work and energy put into it, but the trade off of "maybe" boosting sales a few years down the line for a "few" bucks spent right now - not appealing.

Of course ebay is not my only venue for sales either - and it's taken 5 years for a steady flow of return customers to pay off - but if I'm going to work hard at boosting sales, I've pretty much determined that it is not going to happen on eBay (unless a store was the answer, which it doesn't sound like it is) - As long as Yahoo listing is free, then my money is better spent placing ads in trade magazines etc - which has proven to at least break even - and that's a trade off I can live with (literally) while the benefits manifest.

But the question of opening a store or not was really just an inquiry in case I was "missing out" - which it doesnt sound like I am.

Thanks again!
Marty
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Riverwood



Joined: 01 Jan 2006
Posts: 353
Location: Alberta, Canada

Posted: Wed May 03, 2006 7:13 pm    Post subject:  

AslanStore wrote (View Post): › docWrite("quote")
what is the consensus from those who have made the upgrade? Was there a tangible increase in sales?


Hi Marty,

I've had my ebay store open for about 1 1/2 years now and my sales have increased considerably because of it. I was spending a fortune on auctions prior to that, which for me as a bookseller was completely impractical. While it's more cost effective for me, it is by no means cheap when you have a lot of items though. When I have my spring/summer slow downs in sales, it can get a little painful. I've opened my own PSU store, and also sell on ioffer & Biblio and hopefully when these venues (or another one) start making me more serious money, I'd eventually like to let go of the ebay store. Unfortunately, at present, it's the only venue that provides any real income.

Good luck with everything!
Shelley
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