Ask 1099 Mom: Should I Open an Ebay Store?

Ebay stores have been a popular way to sell goods for quite awhile.  I remember when the auction-style listings were hot, and stores were more of an afterthought.  In today's small business economy, however, many types of mom-owned businesses are successfully using Ebay's store features to easily list and sell all kinds of products.  I have done both the store and auction format, and here is what I have found.

You will need to know your volume upfront.  If you are only selling a handful of widgets a month, the store may not be an affordable option for you.  To get a better idea of your return on the monthly store front fee, use Ebay's handy calculator to figure your costs.  We learned that we needed to list at least 50 items a month at a cost of over $15 per item to really make this investment worthwhile.  Someone who is selling lots of low-priced widgets may see a better value.

You should understand insertion fees and turnover.  We started out our vintage collectibles business by selling items in a fixed format for 30 days.  This required a 50 cent insertion fee.  If the item didn't sell, however, we were forced to relist for another 50 cents.  This could go on and on until the item sold.  A store requires the same insertion fee every 30 days, but it is deeply discounted. (usually 25cents or less).  If you think your items may sit on the shelf for a bit, a store may be for you.

The number of photos is important.  If you are peddling something very basic, where one photo will do, a store won't necessarily be of benefit.  Currently, you get 12 free photos for items listed in a store, something that would cost 45cents or more with a traditional listing.  There are some categories that offer 12 free photos even if you don't have a store (antiques, for example.)  Find out what it will cost to add several photos to your listing in a traditional auction-scenario, and if it's going to be expensive, a store may be for you.

Reporting may be a big deal.  If you are peddling hundreds of items a month, you might benefit for the in-depth reporting that comes with a store account.  I have found, however, that most of the trends and feedback I get for free from a basic seller account is sufficient.  If listing hundreds of similar widgets in a speedy manner and seeing who bought and when is a need for you, the store may be the best thing to happen to your small business.

What about you?  Do you use an Ebay store front?  How did you make the choice?

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