Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Advantages of Having an eBay Store

I am debating the advantages and disadvantages of opening an eBay store, and yes, this is coming from someone who five years ago had no desire to ever have an eBay store.  My obscure series books move very slowly in my Jennifer's Series Books booth, and this has something to do with Google exposure.

That is, the obscure books sell if a repeat buyer who already knows about me is interested, but aside from that, the books do not sell.  About the only books that consistently do well are Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls.  Around two to three times per year, Trixie Belden does fine for some inexplicable reason (three to five sales in a few days and then nothing for months), but otherwise, the Trixie Belden books do not sell.

I experimented with free listings last month on eBay.  I received two "by invitation only" free listing offers last month and listed well over 200 books in the fixed-price format or as auctions with Buy It Now.  I listed many different types of books but avoided ones that do well in my booth.  Books that had languished for months sold fast.  Many, many others did not sell, but I was thrilled to finally move some of my Beverly Gray and Judy Bolton books plus most of my Hardy Boys books.  I also sold many other books that are typically of very low interest.  That was very nice.

I did so well on eBay in June that in June alone I fully met my top-rated seller requirement by both dollar amount and number of items sold.  Top-rated sellers must sell at least 100 items per year at a total value of $1,000.  My June eBay sales exceeded both those numbers.  The main reason is because I had a large number of desirable books that have been up for sale for many months outside eBay, and as I have mentioned in the past, many buyers refuse to look outside eBay.  I kept the prices the same, and the books sold fast.

Based on my June sales results, I am considering opening an eBay store as a supplement to my Bonanza booth.  I hate taking on a monthly eBay store fee, so I have to think about this.  Since I don't have an eBay store, I currently have no monthly fee and get 50 free listings each month.  Those listings can be auction or fixed-price.  The fixed-price listings can be up to 30 days.

I have figured out that eBay auctions are completely pointless unless an item is valuable and extremely scarce.  The 30-day fixed-price format is best for most books.  Only a small percentage of prospective buyers will see a 7-day auction or 7-day fixed-price listing.  Unlike 10 years ago, many buyers check eBay less than once per week.  By listing a full 30 days, the seller reaches far more buyers.

Booksellers are fortunate, because fixed-price listings in the books category cost only $0.05 each.  A seller can have a book available for a month at a cost of only $0.05.  I hate even letting eBay have that much, but it is a low listing fee.  As we all know, eBay gets sellers on the final value fees, which are a flat 10%.  Even worse, eBay takes 10% of the shipping charge as well.  For $5.00 books, my final value fee is close to $1.00, or 20% of the selling price.

The cost of a basic eBay store is $19.95 per month, or $15.95 per month provided that the seller commits to one year.  The final value fees are 9% for eBay stores, which saves 1% over what non-store sellers are assessed.  Basic eBay stores get 150 free listings per month.  Sellers might still get invited to some of the eBay promotions and be able to supplement those free listings.

Part of me wonders whether an eBay store is worth it.  The seller gets a storefront page with a list of categories that can be customized.  Do buyers ever go to that page?  I don't.  I seldom click the little red store icon that appears next to a seller's user ID.  I click on "see other items" on the right side of the listing page, then run a search for whatever I want to see.  I am curious as to whether other people actually go to sellers' eBay storefronts.

I have not made a final decision, but I am leaning towards opening an eBay store.  Several times today, I have thought about going ahead and doing it, but then I wonder whether I am fine listing the way I am.  I am on the verge of taking the plunge, but I keep holding back.

No comments: