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Ever since it launched in 1995, eBay has enabled buyers and sellers to transact like no other platform could. And as the eBay community grows, so do eBay's services and offerings. Here's a rundown of the recent additions that have been introduced to make the eBay experience more efficient and exciting than ever before.
For consumers looking for a more traditional e-commerce experience, eBay launched a new site earlier this year called eBay Express. In response to feedback received from thousands of shoppers requesting a quicker and more straightforward shopping experience, eBay Express has done away with the auctions and bidding. Instead, eBay Express features items that are available for immediate purchase at fixed prices, with only new items being shown by default (you can also find used and refurbished items with one click of the mouse). Adding to the convenience is the fact that shoppers can place items from multiple eBay Express merchants into a shopping cart, then pay for everything, including shipping, in a single transaction. Finally, all purchases on eBay Express carry full buyer protection, including the cost of shipping. Currently, eBay Express is available to buyers within the U.S., and eBay Express Germany will launch this fall.
For a closer look at eBay Express, read Express Yourself.
Category expansion: In an effort to help sellers grow their businesses as well as improve the purchasing experience for buyers, eBay Stores are more sophisticated than ever. eBay Store owners can now create up to 300 custom categories with up to three levels of categories and subcategories. This is a significant expansion from the original system, which only allowed 19 categories and one level. The improvement enables sellers to create category structures tailored specifically to their items, and it assists buyers by making it easier for them to browse through a specific seller's items.
Custom listing frame: Another recent addition, the Custom Listing Frame, greatly benefits sellers while making it easier for buyers to navigate a seller's eBay Store from a listing. With the Custom Listing Frame, sellers are essentially able to frame their listing description with content and branding from their eBay Store. Store owners can now also include most of their Store category navigation--or, in other words, the links on the left-hand side of the Store. Best of all, adding this new navigation feature to listings is easy for Store owners. Just go to the "Listing Frame" link in the "Manage My Store" section of My eBay.
Resource center redesign: eBay has put even more power into the hands of eBay Stores sellers by redesigning the eBay Stores Resource Center site and greatly enhancing it with the addition of more advanced tools. For example, the site now spells out invaluable information on how to build, manage, promote and track a Store. A checklist detailing the necessary steps to being successful is now easily downloadable. A visual showcase on the anatomy of a Store has been added to help Store sellers better understand the layout of both a Basic and an Advanced Store. And the site now offers extensive tutorials and audio tours that guide users through a model of an eBay Store so they can then create one of their own.
In the largest upgrade since ProStores was launched, the fully customizable online store solution for small and midsize businesses got a full makeover just this past June. Key changes include a "what you see is what you get" editor, which enables users to drag and drop text and images into place and eliminates any need for HTML knowledge, as well as new shipping options that allow you to offer a variety of shipping methods to your customers and even pay for postage using PayPal. The upgrade allows for expanded integration with eBay as well. Now, not only can users create and save unlimited eBay listing templates, but those who have an eBay Store can also easily transfer their colors, designs, categories and logo to their ProStores site. And just as it's easier to create a unified brand, that brand is also easier to promote. The upgraded version features enhanced options, including the ability to display up to five feature products or categories on the home page or choose to have images alternate randomly for maximum exposure.
One hundred million users can't be wrong. Popular internet calling provider Skype was acquired by eBay in late 2005. That in itself was big news. Since that time, the service has been busy introducing new innovations, such as the ability to add a Skype button to your eBay listings in certain categories. Still, at its core, users get the advantage of big savings on phone bills.
Skype isn't just for consumers. The Skype for Business small-business solution includes a site dedicated to business support and simplified management of grouped users and prepaid services. Specially designed phone hardware is available to help Skype for Business users take full advantage of the service. Check out the $24.99 lightweight Plantronics Audio 50 PC headset with in-line volume and mute controls. A cordless phone, Bluetooth headset and speakerphone are also available.
A host of extra services are available from Skype and third-party providers as well. Online customer relationship management service Salesforce.com has integrated Skype into its system. Interested businesses can try it out with a free 30-day trial. Those that rely on Outlook for managing contacts and e-mail should check into Skylook (www.skylook.biz). Skylook brings Skype and Outlook together in a seamless package. Businesses on eBay can save both time and money by leveraging these new Skype offerings.
You don't have to be tied to a computer to use internet calling services. Skype and Netgear have teamed up to bring Wi-Fi to Skype's users. The $250 Netgear Skype WiFi phone lets customers go wireless and make free Skype calls from their own wireless networks or at open hot spots all over the globe. A color display and easy navigation make the phone user-friendly. Expect to get up to three hours of talk time. On-the-go eBay sellers will appreciate the flexibility of a Wi-Fi phone.
eBay University Online
eBay University Online allows you to build your own customized lesson plans based on your interests and level of experience. You can choose courses from a catalog consisting of almost completely refreshed content, and initiate a system to follow your progress through the self-paced coursework. Visit the website for more information.
PayPal has long been at the forefront of offering payment methods that are easy and affordable for both customers and businesses. Tight integration with eBay is just one of the benefits created by eBay and PayPal joining forces.
The big news coming out of PayPal is the introduction of PayPal Mobile. With PayPal Mobile, users can securely send money, purchase items or donate to charities with their mobile phones anytime, anywhere. PayPal Mobile users make payments by sending a text message to PayPal. PayPal calls the user back to confirm the mobile payment, then sends the money to the recipient.
Every PayPal Mobile payment is PIN-protected and backed by PayPal's state-of-the-art fraud prevention system. With PayPal Mobile, financial information is never shared with the recipient. Each user's financial information is stored on PayPal's secure servers, not on the mobile telephone, so even if the phone is lost or stolen, the user's PayPal account remains secure.
Look for a "Text to Buy" option for various goods both online and offline. PayPal Mobile is also a nice payment option eBay sellers can offer their customers.
If you've been a follower of eBay Radio online, you'll want to tune into the new PayPal Radio. Host Jason Miner is well-known as a monthly regular on eBay Radio with the PayPal Hour. He leverages his extensive PayPal expertise and eBay knowledge on the program to cover the latest news and features. Miner also answers questions from callers and interviews guests who use PayPal. Expect topics to cover both eBay and non-eBay uses. The program airs every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. PST, following eBay Radio. Visit the PayPal Radio website for more information and to access the archives.
You probably already know about Turbo Lister, but the free bulk uploading program recently got a makeover. Ease of use is the buzz phrase here. Now listings can be created within a single page, and editing of prices and titles can be done from the main inventory list.
The revamped Turbo Lister also sports upgrades in speed and reliability. eBay has a helpful guide to successfully upgrading from the previous program to the new version. To take advantage of the new features and functionality, sellers must download and install the new version, which can be found at www.ebay.com/sellertools.
--Amanda C. Kooser