eBay Companies to Help You Grow
There's more to eBay than buying and selling items auction-style. Whether you grew your business on eBay or brought eBay sales to your existing business, chances are there's another component to eBay that can help you as you advance. We're going to take a look at some of the many facets of the eBay Inc. family, from advanced billing solutions all the way to apartment-finding help. Some of these websites are fairly new to the eBay family and are full of potential. As an advanced seller, you'll want to keep an eye on their progress in the coming months--and take advantage of what they can offer you today.
PayPal Merchant Solutions
If you've been on eBay for a while, then you're already familiar with PayPal. What you might not know is that PayPal can extend far beyond eBay to facilitate other transactions in your online business. PayPal Merchant Tools come in four flavors: PayPal Website Payments Standard, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPal Email Payments, and PayPal as an additional payment option.
With low transaction rates and no setup or cancellation fees for any of these services, PayPal gives you a risk-free way to grow your business. PayPal allows you to accept all major credit cards, debit cards and bank account payments. Plus, all four solutions offer the option to apply for PayPal Virtual Terminal, the easy way to accept credit card payments via phone, fax, e-mail or in person. You can even integrate PayPal with your existing shopping cart. With more than 86 million accounts and growing, PayPal helps you acquire new customers that trust PayPal as a secure payment method.
PayPal Website Payments Standard allows you to accept online payments easily. With no shopping cart or application required, most merchants can get set up in less than a day.
PayPal Email Payments lets you bill customers by e-mail and send them to PayPal to complete the transaction.
Website Payments Pro, a traditional merchant account and gateway, targets more experienced entrepreneurs. For $20 per month plus transaction fees, Website Payments Pro lets you accept credit cards directly on your site, with PayPal working behind the scenes. Comprehensive online reports help you keep track of your sales.
Already have a merchant account? You can also add PayPal as an additional payment option on your website.
If you're looking for a fast and easy way to sell from your own web store with your own web address that's independent of the eBay Marketplace, consider ProStores. With ProStores, merchants get all the tools they need to build their own fully customizable web stores-including domain registration and hosting, a shopping cart, easy store setup wizards, and secure credit card processing. And ProStores is integrated with eBay and PayPal, so merchants can easily submit listings to eBay as well as other marketplaces such as Froogle, Shopping.com and Yahoo! Shopping. Try a free one-month trial; the popular ProStores Business package costs $29.95 a month.
Sixty million users can't be wrong. eBay began its acquisition of Skype, a leading internet communications company, late last year. You might be wondering what VoIP communications has to do with the eBay Marketplace. As it turns out, a lot. "One reason we acquired Skype was to help accelerate e-commerce on eBay by removing a key friction point," says eBay's Hani Durzy. That friction point is communication. Some types of transactions don't work as well in a traditional auction-style format--services, new cars and travel are all purchases where the buyer may need to ask a lot of questions or the seller may need to customize an item.
"Skype could really make a difference in high-involvement, expensive, complex transactions--things like used cars, industrial equipment and collectibles," says Durzy. Skype could be integrated with eBay in many ways, but in the meantime, it's a strong service on its own. Business users who want to get a jump on things should sign up to use Skype and showcase their Skype ID on their "About Me" page so buyers can get in touch. (For more on Skype, read "Improve Your Customer Service With Skype".)
Half.com offers a bonanza of fixed-price items. Books and DVDs are hot categories, along with music, video games and gaming systems. Many eBay sellers use Half.com to augment their e-commerce strategy, but it can work just as well as a stand-alone endeavor. Entrepreneurs involved in book or media retail can get in touch with Half.com's large customer base and benefit from cross-promotions between eBay and Half.com.
Sadia Ashfaq, a student at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, started selling textbooks on Half.com a couple of years ago. She had been buying books on the site and decided to try selling. It worked out well. "It's pretty simple, but there are a couple of things people have to keep in mind. Make sure you read the policies," says Ashfaq, 21. She also recommends sellers get tracking numbers for each item they ship. To get started, sellers can search for the item they're listing, get a suggested price and match it up with a description that's already posted online. Half.com's simplicity makes it a low-hassle enterprise for growing your business.
Shopping.com is one of the largest price-comparison sites on the net. With user reviews from Epinions.com integrated into it, it helps consumers navigate the sometimes-choppy online retail waters. eBay brought Shopping.com into the fold in mid-2005. "Shopping.com is just a different kind of marketplace," says Durzy. "It's the same general idea of bringing buyers and sellers together."
eBay hasn't announced specific plans for integrating Shopping.com with eBay yet, but it's no stretch to imagine that eBay listings could augment Shopping.com's search results as buyers seek low prices on products. Businesses that stock new retail items may find a place for the site in their e-commerce plans. "A suggestion to sellers: Take a look at [the site], and if part of your inventory would make sense to try to sell on Shopping.com, see if it works as a complementary channel," says Durzy. Keep an eye on future developments as Shopping.com settles into the eBay family.
Rent.com is another fairly recent addition to the eBay family of companies. "There's a lot of activity in terms of apartment rentals, and we wanted to be a part of that. We felt that Rent.com was the market leader there. It does expand our presence into a new and complementary piece of the online real estate market," says Durzy. Rent.com holds listings for millions of apartments in just about every major community across the country.
"It's very similar to eBay in that it's a transaction-based business as opposed to a classifieds business. People who rent apartments need to furnish them and get services. We may look at ways to integrate Rent[.com]'s offerings with eBay, Shopping[.com], Skype and PayPal," says Durzy. That's an intriguing glimpse into the potential future of eBay's family of companies. Growing businesses certainly have a lot to look forward to.