eBay Stores: The Virtual Alternative to Brick and Mortar Ready to set up more permanent digs for your eBay business? eBay Stores will give you an online home, and help you increase your sales.

By Jacquelyn Lynn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Editor's note: This article is excerpted from Make Big Profits on eBay.

For a small, part-time eBay seller, an eBay store could behelpful, but it's not necessary. But for someone who wants tobuild a substantial, profitable business selling on eBay, a storeis an excellent tool.

An eBay store is a place on eBay where you can display all yourlistings in one customizable place, encourage multiple purchasesfrom buyers, cross-promote your merchandise, and maintain a largerpermanent inventory than you sell through auctions. eBay supportsstore operators with a variety of promotions, including the storeicon in the Seller Information box of every listing that links toyour store. The eBay stores directory is designed to promote allstores, and you'll also have your own web address (URL) thatyou can use as you wish. The Stores E-mail Marketing Tool lets yousend e-mails directly to your buyers; you can use this tool toannounce new items or specials, or to deliver other informationthat will propel the buyers on your list into your store toshop.

The process of opening an eBay store is almost as simple assetting up your initial User ID. The only requirements are that yoube a registered eBay seller and have a feedback of 20 or higher, orbe ID verified, or have a PayPal account in good standing.

Store Levels and Prices

The cost of an eBay store ranges from nominal to substantial,depending on the level you choose. Check the web site for currentrates. The three levels are:

1. Basic. Ideal for sellers who are just starting out andwant an affordable, easy-to-use platform for online sales, a basicstore is automatically listed in the eBay stores directory and willappear in every category directory where you have items listed.

2. Featured. Designed for small-to-medium-sized sellerswho want to grow their online business, a featured store rotatesthrough a special featured section on the eBay stores home page;receives priority placement in "related stores" on searchand listings pages; and is featured within the category directorypages where you have items listed.

3. Anchor. The advanced solution for high-volume sellerswho want maximum eBay exposure, anchor stores offer the samebenefits as featured stores, plus your store can be showcased withyour logo within the eBay stores directory pages and will receivepremium placement in "related stores" on search andlistings pages.

In general, the more you invest in your eBay store--both inlevel and effort--the more your store sales will be.

Setting Up Your eBay Store

From the eBay home page, click on eBay Stores, then on"Open a Store" and follow the steps to get your store setup. You should come up with a name for your store before you beginthis process.

Your eBay store name, which will also be its URL, can be amaximum of 35 characters that will be displayed in lowercaseletters. Choose a straightforward name that tells buyers what yousell.

Your store name must start and end with a letter or number;cannot start with four or more consecutive letter A's; cannotstart with an E followed by a number; and cannot infringe on anyother company's trademark. Your store name can be the same asyour User ID, assuming it meets the store name requirements.eBay's Help Center offers additional advice for naming yourstore.

Keep It Staffed

Your eBay store will be open for business 24/7/365--whetheryou're awake or asleep, at your computer, or playing golf.Though it doesn't need to be physically staffed around theclock, you need to pay attention to it every day. Monitor yourstore closely, answer questions from shoppers promptly, shipmerchandise on schedule and as promised, and deal with any othercustomer service issues that might arise as soon as possible.

If you go on vacation or are going to be away for any reason,try to arrange for someone else to monitor the site and take careof your business. If that isn't practical, take advantage ofeBay's vacation hold service. You can choose a setting thatwill hide your store inventory or one that tells shoppers that youare gone and when you will return.

Wavy Line

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