Thursday, March 12, 2009
eBay Shop Review
Back in 2001 or so, I got wind of eBay shops, tried it for a little while, and then gave up when it didn't seem like I was getting many bites at all. At that stage in my development, I chocked it up to not having enough quality inventory nor much presence on the internet in general. The fees proved too much and I was simply not selling enough to cover the $15 a month bill.
8 years later I decided to try eBay shops again in December of last year. I had built up a decent inventory of art since my first try and had several communities and websites to my name to promote the shop at. eBay shops had improved much in my absence, such as a greater ability to organize your inventory, greater search engine compatibility, cross promotion capabilities, and the integration of Store search results with eBay's main search page (which was one of its main failings previously). Another handy feature is the ability to export sales reports and integrate the eBay shop with organizational software. There are definitely a few more bells and whistles than it had during its infancy.
In the three months I've used it, I've gotten a few inquiries on items, but never sales. I tried customizing my options with the Bold higlighting as well as the international listing option which allows my items to be seen by eBayers in the UK. I got plenty of views, but still no bites even with proper cross-promotion from my other websites. Meanwhile, the wracked up fees from listing my inventory and auctions plus the $15 for maintaining the shop produced a $30 drain per month rather than merely a $15. Add onto that the 12% commission eBay would take out of my final sales and you have a store that eats profits rather than creates them.
The Bottom Line: eBay shops seems best suited for those of you who may be able to move items faster (ie. if you sell collectible items, cosplay, or other in-demand things), therefore making the monthly drain not so detrimental. The interface is customizable with lots of features, but the majority of your pageviews come from active Auctions and not standing inventory (at least in my experience with Shops).
From my time with eBay Shops, it seems to me that to make a shop work successfully, you must keep both a regiment of active auctions and an in-demand inventory, something which is hard to do if your inventory is in less of a demand and you are not producing work for auction monthly. It is a good alternative if you can move items quickly and don't want to deal with the headache of programming inventory pages yourself, but not recommended for those with slower high priced luxury inventory like fine art unless your name just has that much demand behind it and you have the budget to support the shop.
For now, I've decided to focus on revamping my website store with the free shopping cart Mal-E, which integrates Paypal, Google Checkout, and other useful payment methods so that my website becomes the one stop shop for personalized items rather than eBay. (EDIT 1-21-2015: I have since moved my site onto a Wordpress CMS and am using the WooCommerce plugin, which has been a great free e-commerce solution thus far!)
I still plan to post eBay auctions at random per month to give people a chance at acquiring originals and commissions for less and to draw traffic to my website store, but my shop on eBay is closing indefinitely this time unless their fees decrease and their benefits increase.
I welcome any comments from those of you who have eBay shops that are actually operating at a profit. Please share your stories and advice!
Till next time, keep your creative spirit strong!