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eBay Companies to Help You Grow Need help with your eBay business? Don't go at it alone. Check out these six companies just begging to let them help you grow.

By Amanda C. Kooser

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's more to eBay than buying and selling itemsauction-style. Whether you grew your business on eBay or broughteBay sales to your existing business, chances are there'sanother component to eBay that can help you as you advance.We're going to take a look at some of the many facets of theeBay Inc. family, from advanced billing solutions all the way toapartment-finding help. Some of these websites are fairly new tothe eBay family and are full of potential. As an advanced seller,you'll want to keep an eye on their progress in the comingmonths--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 alreadyfamiliar with PayPal. What you might not know is that PayPal canextend far beyond eBay to facilitate other transactions in youronline business. PayPal Merchant Tools come in four flavors: PayPalWebsite Payments Standard, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPalEmail Payments, and PayPal as an additional payment option.

With low transaction rates and no setup or cancellation fees forany of these services, PayPal gives you a risk-free way to growyour business. PayPal allows you to accept all major credit cards,debit cards and bank account payments. Plus, all four solutionsoffer the option to apply for PayPal Virtual Terminal, the easy wayto 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 youacquire new customers that trust PayPal as a secure paymentmethod.

PayPal Website Payments Standard allows you to accept onlinepayments 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 sendthem to PayPal to complete the transaction.

Website Payments Pro, a traditional merchant account andgateway, targets more experienced entrepreneurs. For $20 per monthplus transaction fees, Website Payments Pro lets you accept creditcards 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 anadditional payment option on your website.

ProStores
If you're looking for a fast and easy way to sell from your ownweb store with your own web address that's independent of theeBay Marketplace, consider ProStores. With ProStores, merchantsget all the tools they need to build their own fully customizableweb stores-including domain registration and hosting, a shoppingcart, easy store setup wizards, and secure credit card processing.And ProStores is integrated with eBay and PayPal, so merchants caneasily submit listings to eBay as well as other marketplaces suchas Froogle, Shopping.com and Yahoo! Shopping. Try a free one-monthtrial; the popular ProStores Business package costs $29.95 amonth.

Skype
Sixty million users can't be wrong. eBay began its acquisitionof Skype, aleading internet communications company, late last year. You mightbe wondering what VoIP communications has to do with the eBayMarketplace. As it turns out, a lot. "One reason we acquiredSkype was to help accelerate e-commerce on eBay by removing a keyfriction point," says eBay's Hani Durzy. That frictionpoint is communication. Some types of transactions don't workas well in a traditional auction-style format--services, new carsand travel are all purchases where the buyer may need to ask a lotof 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, industrialequipment and collectibles," says Durzy. Skype could beintegrated with eBay in many ways, but in the meantime, it's astrong service on its own. Business users who want to get a jump onthings should sign up to use Skype and showcase their Skype ID ontheir "About Me" page so buyers can get in touch. (Formore on Skype, read "Improve Your Customer Service WithSkype".)

Half.com
Half.com offers abonanza of fixed-price items. Books and DVDs are hot categories,along with music, video games and gaming systems. Many eBay sellersuse Half.com to augment their e-commerce strategy, but it can workjust as well as a stand-alone endeavor. Entrepreneurs involved inbook or media retail can get in touch with Half.com's largecustomer base and benefit from cross-promotions between eBay andHalf.com.

Sadia Ashfaq, a student at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey,started selling textbooks on Half.com a couple of years ago. Shehad been buying books on the site and decided to try selling. Itworked out well. "It's pretty simple, but there are acouple of things people have to keep in mind. Make sure you readthe policies," says Ashfaq, 21. She also recommends sellersget tracking numbers for each item they ship. To get started,sellers can search for the item they're listing, get asuggested price and match it up with a description that'salready posted online. Half.com's simplicity makes it alow-hassle enterprise for growing your business.

Shopping.com
Shopping.comis one of the largest price-comparison sites on the net. With userreviews from Epinions.com integrated into it, it helps consumersnavigate the sometimes-choppy online retail waters. eBay broughtShopping.com into the fold in mid-2005. "Shopping.com is justa different kind of marketplace," says Durzy. "It'sthe same general idea of bringing buyers and sellerstogether."

eBay hasn't announced specific plans for integratingShopping.com with eBay yet, but it's no stretch to imagine thateBay listings could augment Shopping.com's search results asbuyers seek low prices on products. Businesses that stock newretail items may find a place for the site in their e-commerceplans. "A suggestion to sellers: Take a look at [the site],and if part of your inventory would make sense to try to sell onShopping.com, see if it works as a complementary channel,"says Durzy. Keep an eye on future developments as Shopping.comsettles into the eBay family.

Rent.com
Rent.com isanother 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 themarket leader there. It does expand our presence into a new andcomplementary piece of the online real estate market," saysDurzy. Rent.com holds listings for millions of apartments in justabout every major community across the country.

"It's very similar to eBay in that it's atransaction-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 witheBay, Shopping[.com], Skype and PayPal," says Durzy.That's an intriguing glimpse into the potential future ofeBay's family of companies. Growing businesses certainly have alot to look forward to.

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