The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Successful eBay Store

Until not too long ago I believed that most people were aware that one can sell merchandise on eBay without the need to first create an eBay store. That’s before I read...

SaleSource Team

How to start an eBay store

open ebay store couple shopping

Until not too long ago I believed that most people were aware that one can sell merchandise on eBay without the need to first create an eBay store.

That’s before I read a couple of posts from eBay novices and it dawned on me that many of them see the ‘eBay Store’ feature as something you have to do, instead of as an optional feature that you can use or not use, depending on a variety of factors.

For the purposes of this post I have therefore decided to compile a ‘guide of all guides’ on how to set up an eBay store. Points that will be covered below include:

  • When the time has arrived for you to launch an eBay store
  • The most suitable store subscription types for different scenarios
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to create your first eBay store
  • The three top features that every eBay store should have
  • Whether you will need any 3rd party tools, and if so which ones

When is the best time to launch an eBay store?

For the majority of independent eBay sellers, an online store is the logical next step in the progression of their business. I was in the fortunate position to launch my online business activities without any ma-jor investment by opting to use eBay as my sales channel. It already had a large enough network of buyers to give my products sufficient exposure.

open ebay store friends looking at laptop

Once my eBay business was running smoothly, I was able to hire new people to help me expand into more sales channels, including additional eBay sites, my own online store and Amazon sites.

Some people will probably say that launching an eBay store instead of directly setting up your own inde-pendent online store is a mistake. They argue that when you set up a store in a marketplace run by someone else, you are basically a guest on their platform, so you have to follow their rules and regula-tions or risk being kicked off for a minor transgression and in the process losing all your income.

Returning to when would be the perfect time to launch an eBay store: to many it is as much a question of costs as it is of branding. Let me highlight a few points that you have to carefully consider before de-ciding to launch an eBay store or not:

Boosting your brand name. One of the most important factors when selling anything is building a brand name that people recognize and trust. open e bay store coca cola brand Even major brands such as Coca-Cola regularly fork out millions of dollars to build and maintain their brands. That is precisely what eBay is doing, and that’s the reason why it manages to attract millions of buyers from across the globe. The question you must give yourself an honest answer to is this: Do you have the skills (and financial backing) to do all of this on your own?

Costs. eBay makes it worthwhile for online sellers who have reached a certain level of turnover to carry the cost of a store subscription instead of continue selling without one. Whether it’s the right decision for you depends on your monthly sales and how many listings you regularly post.

Marketing and promotion. Ask yourself where your products will get the most exposure at the lowest cost per sale. While it’s true that eBay attracts millions of buyers, you will also be competing with mil-lions of sellers. However, prospective buyers are prospective buyers and you will be able to run cost-effective advertising campaigns both on eBay itself and on social media platforms.

If you go solo with an independent online store, you will have to begin promoting your business from the ground up - starting with no or very few visitors to the website. To build a customer base will take time, and it will cost a lot of money.

The question you will have to ultimately ask yourself is on which platform your online business is most likely to succeed and make a profit?

If at this stage you are convinced that eBay is your best option, continue reading. I will now give you step-by-step instructions on how to launch your own eBay store.

Step-by-step instructions on how to launch your own eBay online store

how to open an ebay storefront  man looking at laptop

At this stage I have to point out that before you can open an eBay store, you will first have to sign up for an eBay account, and preferably sell a couple of items. The company places various restrictions on newbie sellers to force them to first find out how everything works before they bite off more than they can chew.

Below I explain the 4-step process you should follow if you want to start an eBay store. No previous knowledge or experience will be necessary to follow this.

First step: Setting up a business seller account on Ebay

Before you can start selling anything on eBay, you must first register for an account. Click on the ‘Register’ button in the top left hand corner.

sell on ebay stores  ebay seller account

  • It’s completely free to open an eBay account. You only have to pay eBay seller’s fees once people start buying your products.
  • It’s probably not the most interesting thing you will ever do, but read the latest eBay seller policies to make sure you don’t inadvertently break any of their rules.
  • If you plan to be in this for the long haul, then choose the business account option instead of a person-al account. Important note: For this option you have to own a legally registered business.

Once you have completed the registration process, your next step is to decide what you want to sell on eBay. If you already own a physical shop you might prefer to start selling your own products online. If not, I suggest you initially focus on one product category, e.g. ladies’ clothing, or even a specific product such as ladies’ shoes.

Doing this will allow you to build a brand image of being an expert in that field, instead of a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. If you find the sheer amount of choice bewildering, try checking out the ‘Trending on eBay’ page to see a list of the current most popular sellers.

Whatever you decide, don’t overdo it. Initially list only a limited number of items. Remember to do the following:

  • Choose a title that you have reason to believe people will actually be searching for
  • Add a couple of high quality images
  • Write a catchy and complete product description. Try to mention the benefits this product will have for the people you would like to buy it.

Second step: Qualifying to open an eBay store

1. Before you go the eBay online store route, we recommend that you first get a few months of experience as an individual seller. This will enable you to:

  • Learn to fully understand the buying and selling procedures on eBay
  • Get a fair number of positive reviews from satisfied buyers
  • Start your online store without the restrictions eBay places on new sellers

2. Don’t take the jump into en eBay store before you are generating sufficient monthly sales to make the whole thing financially worthwhile. A good rule of thumb is to wait until your monthly sales reach at least $500, but preferably $1,000.

3. eBay recommends that if you open an online store with them you should have at least 25 active listings at any given moment. Make sure you have this number, and that you are able to cope with this level of inventory management.

4. Remember to add a payment method to your account. This is an eBay requirement, because they want to automatically charge you the relevant seller fees as soon as you sell anything.

5. Ensure that you have a valid Paypal account that has been verified. Most buyers prefer this payment method. You will most likely also have to provide the following:

  • Bank account details
  • Credit card details
  • Tax ID number, e.g. your Social Security number

Third step: Choose the most appropriate eBay store subscription type for your current needs

how to start an ebay store  ebay store subscription packages

At this stage you have to decide what subscription type will best suit your needs (and pocket). Before making a decision I suggest you begin with the simplest possible option. You will be able to upgrade whenever you are ready in future. Don’t forget to check whether eBay still offers a special deal for new subscribers.

The benefit of choosing an eBay store plan is that you will no longer have to pay individual listing fees. You will, instead, pay a flat monthly fee and for that you will be allowed to list a certain number of prod-ucts. At the time of writing the company offered five different store categories: Starter, Basic, Premium, Anchor and Enterprise. Prices varied from $4.95 to $2999.95 per month (paid annually).

  • Below is a screenshot of the relevant page on their website.
  • You will notice that these store categories offer a fixed number of listings included in the monthly fee. Above that, you have to pay a small amount per additional listing.

    Starter. 100 listings included in the monthly fee, thereafter $0.30 per listing and $0.30 per auction listing.

    Basic. 250 listings included in the monthly fee, thereafter $0.25 per listing and $0.25 per auction listing.

    Premium. 1,000 listings included in the monthly fee, thereafter $0.10 per listing and $0.15 per auction listing.

    Anchor. 10,000 listings included in the monthly fee, thereafter $0.05 per listing and $0.10 per auction listing.

    Enterprise. 100,000 listings included in the monthly fee, thereafter $0.05 per listing and $0.10 per auc-tion listing.

    Choose a name for your store

    naming your ebay store

    Now it’s time to give your store a name. This will also become the store’s web address (URL), so think a bit about this one and don’t choose something you will regret later. Ask yourself whether real people will easily find the store and its products on a search engine. Don’t try to sound funny or cool, it’s unlikely to work. Rather use something like ‘Ladies fashion wear and accessories’ instead of ‘Stingy Maria’s dirt cheap dresses and handbags’.

    Once you have decided on the type of store you want to sign up for and a name for the store, there’s one step left: agree to eBay’s T&C (terms and conditions), and then hit the Subscribe button.

    Now you have an active eBay store, and nothing stops you from selling like a true professional. This is the time to start focusing on other aspects of your store like:

    • Branding
    • Design
    • Marketing

    Fourth Step: Designing your store

    At this stage you have taken all the necessary steps to set up an eBay store that could become a win-ner. Do not forget the following:

    • People like new things. Regularly add new merchandise to your store
    • They also like promotions, so offering a few special offers regularly will do wonders
    • Constantly keep track of what is selling, and what not. Drop the losers and add more winners.
    • Try out both ‘Buy it now’ and ‘auctions’ to see whether one works better than the other
    • Enjoy yourself. People love shopping so stay positive and keep the ambiance of your shop relaxed

    Setting up the two most important features of your eBay store

    1. Creating the necessary categories

    Don’t neglect creating categories of products for your eBay store. The company gives its online store-keepers the option to organize their products into different categories. Doing this makes a massive difference in how easy or difficult it is for prospective buyers to find the products they are looking for. Ultimately it also makes it easier for the store owner to sell merchandise.

    open ebay store ebay categories by percent of items sold

    Let’s say you are selling ladies’ clothing. A good idea is to put every item in a suitable category, for example:

    • Shoes
    • Dresses
    • Jackets
    • Scarfs
    • Watches
    • Casual tops
    • Hats
    • Gloves
    • Sunglasses
    • Handbags
    • Perfumes
    • Purses

    Creating a mailing list for email newsletters

    If you want repeat business from the same customers, creating a list of their email addresses is a must. Over time, this will become one of the most valuable ways to boost your sales.

    open ebay store mailing list

    The concept behind this is quite simple: think like a shopper. If you purchase something from a particular online store and you are happy with the whole experience, would you rather buy from someone else or from the same retailer next time?

    eBay doesn’t have a problem if its store owners get involved in responsible email marketing by e.g. using newsletters. Shoppers are able to sign up for one of these in two ways:

    • By adding your store to their ‘Saved sellers’ list
    • By clicking on the ‘sign up for store newsletter’ link which can be found on your eBay store’s homepage

    Sellers normally send out these newsletters because they want to:

    • Promote/market their online store
    • Inform customers about special offers
    • Let shopper know when new items have been added to the store
    • Remain on shoppers’ radar, and making sure that next time they want to buy something they will come back to their particular online store.

    Under ‘marketing tools’ > ‘email marketing’ eBay also has several ready-made email newsletter templates and a quick web search will undoubtedly reveal quite a few other places where you can find more of these.

    Your email will consist of the following:

    1. Subject. This is the first part of the email that people will see when it arrives in their inbox. Try to keep it short, simple but striking. Here are two examples: ‘Hot new ladies’ summer outfits’ or ‘Summer sale: 25% off’.

    2. Header. This will show up at the top of the message and could be something striking such as ’50% off all perfumes’ or ‘buy two get one free’.

    3. Personal email message. You should try to keep this part friendly yet professional. Let your audience know what you have to offer today, and why they should buy it from you and not someone else.

    4. Items you want to highlight. In this section you can showcase items that are very popular, or that you want to push. This is also the place to showcase new arrivals and special offers. These products will appear as big images at the top of your email newsletter.

    5. List of items. eBay makes it easy to showcase a list of as many as 50 items so prospective buyers can browse your products without having to navigate outside their inbox.

    6. Seller feedback. You also have the opportunity to include a link to your ratings/feedback page. High ratings and positive feedback are both important motivators when people have to decide where to buy, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. If your ratings and/or feedback are not so hot, leave this link out for now - but start working on solving whatever might be causing the problem.

    The bottom line

    open e bay store man typing on laptop

    You can certainly sell on eBay without having a store. If your selling activities reach a certain volume, however, it makes financial sense to launch one. Apart from reducing the cost of selling, it will also pro-vide you with an opportunity to build your own recognizable brand. Many individual eBay sellers have later opened their own online stores and from there proceeded to make a great success of their busi-ness.

    SaleSource Team