Entrepreneur: What are some signs that you're ready to branch out into additional channels beyond eBay?
Julian Green: If you're an occasional seller or hobbyist, then eBay is a great solution. On eBay, there are lots of different buyers. But for entrepreneurs who are getting to the point where they have a high volume of merchandise to sell, they should consider expanding their options and using different strategies. Having an eBay Store or a website that's completely customizable, like those created with ProStores, can help expand the retailer's reach and give customers a greater sense that they're working with an established retailer.
Entrepreneur: Does having a website eliminate the need for having an eBay Store?
Green: No. Having both an eBay Store and a separate website can be a very smart multichannel strategy. An eBay Store is a great way for people to tap into eBay's traffic. When you have a retail website, you need to get buyers there. One of the benefits of using ProStores to build your site is that it helps you easily submit to shopping websites like Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Yahoo! Shopping and others. You can also easily list to eBay from ProStores, and when customers purchase from your eBay listings, it brings them to your customized ProStores site to complete the checkout process. That gives you a chance to make an impression with your brand.
Entrepreneur: How should you decide what to sell on the website and what to sell on eBay?
Green: Your decision will depend on your particular merchandising strategy. It will also depend on who you are attracting to your website vs. the traffic that eBay brings you on your eBay items.
Having a ProStores website and selling on eBay makes for a complementary, multichannel selling strategy. The kinds of items that sell best in a web store are new or refurbished merchandise. In addition, items that have several variables, such as different sizes, colors or flavors, lend themselves well to selling on the ProStores site, as you get unlimited categories to list items and more flexibility in managing your inventory. Clearance items or limited-quantity merchandise are good choices to sell on eBay, often garnering you a better return for your money selling in an auction-style format. ProStores manages your inventory when you list to eBay from ProStores, so you can list in multiple channels, and ProStores keeps it all on track.
Entrepreneur: When building an online storefront, what are some tips retailers should keep in mind?
Green: Take baby steps. People set out to build the most beautiful store ever. What you want to do is set up something nice, simple and clean, start to see some success, then invest more. Good design is important to looking professional and credible. Checkout should be easy. For instance, ProStores works well with PayPal, so you can accept credit cards on your site.
And while the website gives you credibility as an established merchant, some people use the link to their eBay items or eBay Store--where their eBay feedback is displayed--to give their web presence credibility, too. There's good synergy there.
Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans.