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Does Your eBay Shop Suck? I have an Invitation for YOU on Friday!

The eBay “Shop” is one of the most under-loved parts of eBay and I’m going to change that with your help.

This Friday I’m going to be making a very special invitation just for you, to come work with myself and  several other business owners as a team to turn your eBay shop from drab to cool and deliver a strategy so that it becomes the “hub of your eBay business“.

ebay Shops LogoI’ve not hammered out the exact details yet, however, to give you an insight around this, for many years the eBay shop has been one of the most under-loved and under-tapped resources on eBay. I’m currently writing a book that will be given away free on this site that will be “Ultimate Guide to eBay Shops” that is going to change this forever.

When I say the ultimate, I really mean the ultimate guide. It’s going to have my name attached to it and as such I am looking for it to become the defacto-standard for any business that uses an eBay Shop or eBay Store as they call them outside of the UK.

I might be setting the expectations high here, but why write something that is not going to be ultimate resource ever created? I’m 10, 000 words in already and I expect it to be over 30,000 by the time I finish, covering upwards of 80 pages of quality insights to help people just like you maximise their businesses on-line.

 

Where Could You Improve?

I’ll be posting the full details on Friday. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you on the areas where you feel you could improve your eBay shop.

Let me know in the comments box below.
(I reply personally each comment left on this site!)

Do I Need an eBay Shop Design to Sell on eBay?

The short answer to this question is no, you do not need an eBay shop design to sell on eBay.

While having you eBay shop custom designed by a third party design company may look fantastic and most are able to offer features and functions that are not found in the basic eBay shop structure, it is not a requirement that you have your eBay shop themed or custom designed.

This article is quite brief, I’m just making the point that you can easily use one of the standard templates that eBay provides for your eBay shop and I will be covering the entire eBay shop in great detail in the forthcoming weeks.

 

You can theme the eBay shop yourself

While I’m not going to cover the fine detail of the eBay shop here, you are able to change many aspects of your eBay shop very easily using the tools that eBay provide to you.

For example, you can pick from approximately 30 pre-built themes and advanced, more customisable themes are available.

Example Standard Themes

A couple of examples are shown below:

Selecting a Standard Theme

Selecting the one of choose is really easy and you can pick your standard eBay shop design in eBay here:

http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreMgmtChangeTheme

While these are not specifically tailored to your business and branding, these themes are perfectly acceptable, can be enabled in seconds and included free on your subscription level.

Advanced Themes

There are five advanced themes provided by eBay that allow you to have more control over the elements of the eBay shop without needing to know any CSS or HTML, or if you are comfortable in making design changes, these themes, especially the ‘Custom header Only’ theme easily allow the insertion of HTML & CSS to extend the eBay shop design further.

Paid-for Themes

There are many design companies out there offering eBay shop designs for various prices and at various standards. I recently covered the eBay listing templates in a two part series here and here and also an interview with DZine-Hub whose business is focused towards eBay Shop and eBay listing template creation.

Summary

As I mentioned in the beginning, this article is quite brief, just to answer this question specifically as its been asked too many times now. So… No, you don’t need an eBay shop design to sell on eBay.

One of the basic designs will be fine for the interim and while the designs offered are not all equal in what you can do with them, you can easily save yourself several hundred pounds of outlay and focus on shifting product first.

I will be covering the entire eBay shop in minute detail in the forthcoming weeks. If you’d like to be notified when its released, use the subscribe box below to be notified.

Do I need an eBay shop to list items on eBay?

Surprisingly a common question for new businesses starting out on eBay and the short answer is no, you don’t need to have an eBay shop to list items on eBay.

However there are a few scenarios that we should consider to answer this question fully and in this article I cover them.

The Private eBay Seller

If you are only selling the odd couple of personal items per month, then an eBay shop for you would be almost pointless and an expense you can easily avoid. While you are now allowed to open an eBay shop as a ‘private seller’, insertion fees for the 30 day listing format is 20p would probably mean you are verging on the ‘Semi-Professional seller’ covered in a few moments.

So for a few items per month, opening an eBay shop is not really required, unless you wish to upgrade your account and use the additional features of the eBay shop and the 30 days listing format.

The Semi-Professional Seller

If you are selling items continuously on eBay, then it may be prudent to open an eBay shop. There are many reasons for doing so and these reasons are covered in articles on this site, however a brief outline is below of the key features

  • Its your own, brand-able slice of eBay
  • Potentially cheaper to list on eBay
  • You can categorise your listings in a matter that makes sense to you and your customers
  • You can add a minimum of 5 custom pages to your eBay shop
  • Increase exposure on eBay
  • Put your listings on hold, if you are away
  • A “listing frame” for your listings
  • A single point of reference for all your live items
  • You can add & control cross-promotions
  • Newsletter list & email marketing tool

These are just a short list of the benefits of opening an eBay shop, the main benefit other than having your own slice of eBay is that you are able to use the Good Till Cancelled (known as GTC) listing format, which allows you to list items for much less than it would in 10 day listings.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself

The best questions to ask yourself if you are considering opening an eBay shop are these:

  1. Do I have lots and lots of items to list on to eBay (eg more than say 40 per month)?
  2. Do I have lots of stock of one or more items?
  3. Do I want the extra features included with the eBay shop?

The Professional Seller

If you are listing multiple items onto eBay every day, or every few days and possibly have multiples of stock, then opening an eBay shop would be a great choice and probably quite a cost effective one also.

The listing fees would be much less than listing items through auctions / fixed price listings for 10 days. For example the current ‘Basic’ eBay shop fee is £14.99 per month and owning your shop would allow you to list items for 30 days for 10p.

There are a three subscription levels to the eBay shop, briefly we’ve covered the basic eBay shop level above, however there is also a feature eBay shop for £49.99 per month, with listing fees for GTC listings at 5p each and the level above that called ‘Anchor’ is £349.99, however the listing fees are free for GTC listings.

Quick Note on eBay Fees

While in May 2011 eBay made steps towards simplifying the eBay fees structure, they can still be a little confusing and that’s why I’m covering the basics here.

We’ve mentioned some fees for the eBay shop and the fees for the GTC eBay listing format, however we have no covered the final value fees and there are incentives to upgrade your account to a business seller on eBay IF it meets your business requirements.

For one the “Final Value Fee” or known as FVF for business sellers are almost always less than it would be as private seller, along with some discounts for reaching certain criteria as a seller. These are too complex to cover here in this article, however you should be aware these are to be noted and investigated thoroughly.

Summary

There are advantages to both account types, personal and business. However to sell on eBay doesn’t require that you create an eBay shop, although there are advantages such as lower fees and owning your own slice of eBay to market customers too. It really depends if you are a professional seller or a part-time seller.

A question is, which eBay shop description level do you have? Comment below!

How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages

In reviewing several eBay accounts for a client, I noticed that they were not using any of the eBay shop pages to promote niches of their products. Taking note that they were are paying for the anchor stores as well, that comes in at a cool £350 per month, none of the 15 customer pages are currently being used.

What’s an eBay Shop?

eBay ShopsCovering off the ground work first before we progress, as not everyone that reads this blog is professional eBay seller yet.

You may hear me and others mention ‘eBay Shop’ and ‘eBay Store’, this is because the USA have ‘eBay Stores’ and a few years back we ensured (via Jamie Parkins, who then ran the original (and in my opionon better) eBay PowerSeller Program) that the UK version was called ‘eBay Shops’, not ‘Stores’ as we felt ‘stores’ was sooo American.

An eBay shop is brilliant for the following reasons:

  • Its your own slice of eBay
  • Potentially cheaper listing fees
  • It features only your items
  • You can change the way it looks using eBay’s own feature addons or have a store graphically designed to follow the consistent branding from different channels
  • Categorise your items in a manner that makes sense to your customers (not you, I hasten to add) in up to 300 categories that can go three levels deep.
  • You can have a smaller eBay header on the eBay shop for Featured and Anchor levels
  • You can put all your live listings on ‘Hold’ for a holiday or similar time away.
  • Increased promotion, through various means, logo, relating shops etc…
  • Included cross promotion tools for listings
  • Listing frames, to ‘frame’ your listings
  • 5 Custom pages on the basic store, going up to 15 on Anchor level
  • Email Marketing, starting at a minimum of 1000 emails, right up to 5000 on the Anchor shop

There are other features as well, such as RSS feeds, reporting for both traffic and sales. The eBay shop is the most underrated tool available on the entire eBay platform.

I used to run the largest eBay UK group called ‘eBay Shops Making eBay shops work for you’, but someone closed it, to be fair I had not spend much time on it in a fair while, although I would like to find out whom closed it…

Open your eBay shop and watch the sales roll in…

ebay-shops-homepage-navigationWell maybe not, starting off on negative points, the eBay shop has slowly received less and less promotion by eBay. They used to be featured on the homepage header, that ran throughout the entire ebay site, that got dumped for eBay Outlets, its even been dropped from the main category menu and the left hand bar on the homepage. Its still on the homepage, but in a section that is rarely used and is sporting a colour scheme that only the sharpest of eyes could spot. See the picture to the right!

On a positive note, your eBay shop will be promoted in numerous places around the eBay site. However, just like a website, the only person who is going to reallllllllllllly push it is you.

You may also want to read my article called ‘A Previously Unreleased eBay Shop Exposure Tip‘ for a little tip that may help you expose your items to a wider audience than just by yourself. Also this article is one of a series of articles on eBay shops, check the related articles at the bottom of this page.

Custom eBay Shop Pages

Custom pages are the focus of this article and the keywords that you can use in them. For the differing shop subscription levels you receive a set number of pages, these are:

  1. Basic – 5 Pages
  2. Featured – 10 Pages
  3. Anchor – 15 Pages

I’d personally suggest that you do not upgrade your eBay shop purely on the amount of pages you are offered, while what I am explaining here will gain you extra, tarted exposure, a leap of £300 from Featured to Anchor levels are not worth the returns and such a increase should because the number of listings V’s fees dictate this shop level.

Note: I’ll be posting an article shortly that includes an excel file that tells you which level you should be using for the different subscription levels for the differing eBay sites

How to Access Custom Pages

This needs a special mention as I feel eBay do a good job at hiding most things, to navigate to the custom shop pages, follow these steps:

Go to My eBay > Hover on the ‘Account’ tab > Select ‘Manage My Shop’ > Left menu, under ‘Store Design’ select ‘Custom Pages

A direct link is here http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreManageCustomPages

A screen shot of this section is below, I have removed the sellers ID and page names for animosity.

ebay-shops-custom-pages-overview

eBay Shops Custom Pages Overview

About Me Page

Its also worth noting, you can also have an ‘About Me’ page, these pages are special and are not going to be covered in this article.  You can find out more on this page type on this blog in a week or two’s time or read the help file on eBay here http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/account/about-me.html

Standard Pages

The customer pages allow you to expand upon points or add content in more depth that what you could possibly do (without scaring people anyway) in a eBay listing. You should also try and keep information about your business to the About Me page, its best kept there and its better to leverage the custom pages for other information.

I would personally suggest that you start with two standard pages, these are:

  • Contact Us
  • Delivery & Returns

The reason for adding these two as pages of their own, because they are there for reassurance purposes. Even if people do not read them, by only their existence people will feel reassured (trust me on this one, I am not going on a bender about the factors that aid websites convert more through visual Talisman’s any further here).

Examples

Actually finding good examples of the custom pages being used was extremely hard, so few sellers use this functionality and its such a shame. However I found a few, which are below and most are poorly done, BUT top marks for using them!

Don’t skimp on the content either, Add Value

Please don’t be tight on the content and always add in some artwork too, don’t be doing a SuperDryStore and see this article for more information Part 3 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Not-So Good Points.

Add value to the person who has clicked on the page by giving them the information they were after in a cleanly laid out format that is in plain English.

Using the Extra Pages

I’m sure without any creative thought you could think of at least three more pages to fill up with topics, however this is not the purpose of the article and would be a waste of what is about to follow.

With the extra pages, you can reinforce your dominance in a category by expanding upon strains of products and information and as I am about to show you, promote products too.

For example, if I was a DVD seller, I could make a couple of genre sections, such as:

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • TV Programmes
  • Action & Adventure
  • Documentary
  • Horror

Then add some background or more information on popular series etc and maybe what makes a great Drama, great Horror and even add in some personal recommendations too.

You know more about your items than what I do, grab a sheet of paper and brain storm some ideas and use them as a base for the shop pages, you can always go back and alter them later. The next section may help with this task.

eBay Shop Keywords

There are several keywords that can be used in the eBay shop, its also worth noting that they do not work in listings and the About ME page has its own set of ‘tags’ that can be used.

Note: eBay call them tags, I call them keywords, if you see either of these terms, they mean the same thing, they are a special term like {eBayUserID} that can be used in the eBay shop and can be clearly spotted by the curly brackets either side of them. Also to help I will always mention them in a bold font face.

The eBay shop keywords that can be used are:

  • Your User ID
  • Your Feedback
  • Item List
  • Item Showcase
  • Individual Item
  • Item Details
  • Search box
  • Promotion box

I’ll now go through each of these and include where apt a use-case for each of the eBay shop tags

Your User ID

This tag is really handy for including your eBay ID and extra icons into a custom page. It does lack the extra control on choosing to show the different sections, but at least it shows the latest feedback count and the extra icons an ID may be sporting.

Keyword: {eBayUserID}
Example Usage:  My eBay ID is {eBayUserID}
Example Output:

ebay-shop-eBayUserID-tag

An example using the {eBayUserID} shop tag

Your Feedback

This is handy for bringing the latest customer feedback into a a customer services page, its also handy to bring in and then take a screen shot of and use in your listings if you feel you need that extra little boost to them.

There are some extra attributes to this tag, that can change the way it appears, these are:

  • COLOR – Used for the main colour
    eg GRAY
  • ALTERNATECOLOR – The colour used for alternative feedbacks
    eg PLUM
  • BORDER – The border around the table
    ie 1 or 0
  • TABLEWIDTH – I’ve never tried fixed widths, the default is 90%, I usually set this to 100%
  • CELLPADDING – The default is 0, probably best left at 0 too.

You can play around with the different colours that you can use for the table, personally I prefer the simple version, however you could try a mash-up using these colours from http://www.w3schools.com/HTML/html_colornames.asp for the ALTERNATECOLOR and COLOR attributes.

Keyword: {eBayFeedback}
Example Usage: {eBayFeedback SIZE=”5″}
Example Output:

ebay-shop-eBayFeedback-tag

An example of the {eBayFeedback} in use, ID's and times have been blurred, they're not blurred in real life!

Item List

This is one I use a lot, its one of my favourites. The reason why is because you can create  a custom page, say to ‘High Heels’ or even ‘Horror’ using the suggested example and then set the keyword just to bring back ‘Horror’ or ‘High Heels’ items using the KEYWORDS attribute.

As a tip, you can also specify the shop category number too, if you wish to narrow the results even further using the STORECATID attribute.

This keyword is also handy if you are creating a custom shop homepage as well, so you can bring in live items, just like the default store does, but then without hard-coding anything, the latest items can be shown with your filters.

Again there are some extra attributes to this tag, that can change the way it appears, these are:

  • SORT – You can change the order in which the results are returned
    2 – Ending first (default), 4 – Newly listed, 0 – Highest price, 1 – Lowest price
  • DISPLAY – Using this, you can swap between list view and gallery view
    0 – List view, 1 – Gallery view
  • TABLEWIDTH – The default is 100%, I’d suggest you leave it at this value
  • STORECATID – This is a super option, as suggested you can narrow the results down using this option and the next. You can find the eBay shop category ID’s here
  • KEYWORDS – If you can sort by store category ID, then adding a keyword here will focus the results
  • MINPRICE MAXPRICE – When your products are very varied or you have ranges within ranges, then using a minimum or an upper cap with the MAXPRICE option can help you really drill the results.
  • LISTINGFORMAT – The two numbers you may want to abuse here are 1 for auctions only, this is super handy if you create a ‘see all our auctions’ page on the shop and 9 for fixed price listings.

Keyword: {eBayStoresItemList}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItemList SORT=”4″ DISPLAY=”1″ TABLEWIDTH=”” KEYWORDS=”bag” LISTINGFORMAT=”9″}
Example Output:

ebay-shops-eBayStoresItemList

An example using the eBayStoresItemList keyword to return just bags on a custom shop page.

 

Item Showcase

I’m utterly amazed that no-one has caught on to this keyword properly. Why? Because it could so easily be framed as a daily or weekly deal on your eBay shop and needs little to no formatting by yourself.

In the easiest example I’m refering to, pop the item numbers of say three items (max 4) and then it’ll automatically make you a featured item gallery.

eg: {eBayStoresItemShowcase ITEM=”w,x,y,z”}
eg: {eBayStoresItemShowcase ITEM=”280475881234,280475881234280475881234,280475881234″}

I covered this in detail in an earlier article called How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals check this article out to see a more detailed description.

ebay-shops-daily-deals-example

The Example Code Output with Live eBay Items

Individual Item

This tag is handy for promoting a single item, say within a custom eBay shop page. Just because it brings through just a single item, if you combined several of these together with content, then the page would quickly fill out.

Although to be frankly honest, you’d be better off with the “eBayStoresItemList” keyword to return multiples or the “eBayStoresItemShowcase” tag for bringing through a larger picture.

The attributes for this are limited:

  • ITEM – Specify the eBay item number to be used
  • DISPLAY – Using this, you can swap between list view and gallery view
  • 0 – List view, 1 – Gallery view
  • TABLEWIDTH – The default is 100%, I’d suggest you leave it at this value
  • BORDER – The border around the table
    ie 1 or 0

Keyword: {eBayStoresItem}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItem ITEM=”01234567890″ DISPLAY=”0″}
Example Output:

eBayStoresItem Example

eBayStoresItem Example

Item Details

This keyword, in the right scenario makes the inclusion of live listing data into a custom page very easy and also very simple for users that want that little extra power when making their eBay store custom pages.

Using the “PROPERTY” attribute you are able to bring in specific attributes of a listing and then format them as you desire. From the listing title, price, picture, prices and direct link to the item. Its the internal components of the larger modules we have been playing with up until now.

Note: If you are after this level of control, then its probably time you looked at making an external application to query the eBay and add the level of control you are probably after. Not that I’m saying this tag is not useful, just that you can gain far more control by other means.

This tag has several attributes as detailed below:

  • PROPERTY=”title” – The item title
  • PROPERTY=”price” – Current price
  • PROPERTY=”binprice” – Buy It Now price.
  • PROPERTY=”time” – Time left
  • PROPERTY=”picture” – Gallery picture.
  • PROPERTY=”URL” – The item’s URL.

Keyword: {eBayStoresItemDetail}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItemDetail PROPERTY=”title”}
Example Output: This is the Listing Title

eBay Shop Search Box

This is one of the best eBay shop tags there is, as it allows a user to easily add the search box to custom pages.

A prime use of this is if you were making a custom landing page for your eBay shop (You can do this after creating a custom eBay shop page and then setting it as the landing page. I’m really tempted to mention some shockingly poor designs (and probably expensive) that a certain company produces, but I’m not, I’ll just leave this link and leave you to make your own mind up).

Keyword: {eBayStoresSearchBox}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresSearchBox}
Example Output:

eBayStoresSearchBox Tag Example

eBayStoresSearchBox Tag Example

 

Promotion Boxes

I’ll be quite honest, I never actually got this to work. It didn’t work when it was first introduced and I’ve not used them since. However, when coming back to test them for this article, they’re working and they must have been fixed by eBay in the last 7 or so years :)

The idea is that you can create your own promotion boxes, then using the name you have set for them, bring them into a custom page. This could be handy if you want dynamic data from the promotion boxes on all the custom pages.

Keyword: {eBayPromo}
Example Usage: {eBayPromo ID=”eBay Guided Setup Position 1″}
Example Output:

eBayPromo-Example

eBayPromo-Example

 

Summary

The eBay shop tags can be very powerful and make adding dynamic content easy-peasy for any level of skill user. Combine this in with the more powerful functions and methods, you have the components at your disposal to create a dynamic and rich custom page experience for your eBay shop.

How To: Knowing the 10 eBay Shop/Store Design Mistakes

Oh how these drive me nuts, please, please do not make the same mistakes. We can’t blame the shop owners featured in this article, they just don’t know better. You however cannot use this excuse after reading this article though!

Top 10 eBay Shop Mistakes

Here are top ten common mistakes sellers make when designing their eBay shop.

#1 The Giant Header

connies-bargains-galore
This award goes to http://stores.ebay.com/connies-bargains-galore

Check the header area out on this page!

Navigating the page to the line items means you need to scroll an entire page (yes an entire page I could not believe it) and more to get to them. Plus the header is on every page, so they’re all doomed pages.

Matt’s Tip: Keep your header to 250 pixels high as a maximum, anymore than this leaves the buyer having to think what to do next and we all know that’s a bad idea.

#2 The logo is not a Link

Camisera-Clothing
This award goes to a previous winner, http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Camisera-Clothing

Oh how this drives me nuts, the logo in the top header should always be a link, I covered this off in an earlier article, you can see the full details My #1 Pet Hate of Poor WebSite Design

Top left logo = Link to Homepage

Never forget this. Its basic common manners on the net. Making user the think again is a bad, bad idea.

#3 No categories

phatpocket-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/phatpocket

102,169 that is over one hundred thousand items and no categorisation?

Even adding categories by Author Name (which they have, see the listings) would help.

You can have up to 300 categories, three levels deep, there is really no excuse for this.

#4 No Description

AZCARPARTSUK-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/AZCARPARTSUK

Take a look here http://stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/_sl.html?_an=1 and note that these are anchor stores, each paying £350 a month to be in this list. Now how many have no description?

Even though this store uses a custom header, you can still fill out the shop description area, because this description is not only used in the header, the shop search page (which we just saw), but also in the meta description.

#5 CAPS LOCK

YES-4-CAR-PARTS-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/YES-4-CAR-PARTS

Using caps lock is widely regarded as SHOUTING, also using caps lock for all the text, does not make the text clearer to the reader, it actually helps the person typing the text.

Never used excessive amounts of caps text in a description, title, or in the case the categories because its VISUALLY VERY ANNOYING.

PS. I am ignoring the image in the header that is in the header, they appear to have forgotten to re-register their domain name

#6 Paying for a design but forgetting how it will look

megabooksuk-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/megabooksuk

Never fork out cash for a design without seeing how it will look with your information in it.

I’m guessing that if this seller had realised that they have no categories and that they were not using any gallery images at all for their listings, they might have ended up with a different design and layout.

It all looks a bit bare.

#7 Forgetting the rest of the Shop

superdry-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store

This one is brilliant and had already earned a ribbing in six articles, you can view them here: http://lastdropofink.co.uk/?s=superdry

So what’s wrong? They have a stunning homepage, but kinda have forgotten about the rest of the eBay shop, no categories, no real header, no left navigation, just a stark white page. This is the best case of ‘homepage blindness’ I have seen in years.

#8 Not doing anything

all-your-music-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/all-your-music

Well, lets be fair here, they did open an eBay shop, 1/10, but have left it as that. No categories, pretty sure that the default design, no description, no logo, no nothing.

Quite sad really.

#9 Main logo, not a home link

RSJ-Motor-Factors-Ltd-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/RSJ-Motor-Factors-Ltd

Nice design, although was a contender for #10 spot, however as I was typing I spotted the issue. I recently included this in an article My #1 Pet Hate of Poor WebSite Design.

They’ve forgotten to realise that the default user action to go back to the homepage is to click the icon in the top left, the logo part where RSJ is written, sadly this entire header contains no a single link, so the browser is left flapping with no-where-to-go.

#10 No custom pages

WHATEVER-LAPTOPS-ebay-shopAwarded to: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/WHATEVER-LAPTOPS

I’m not knocking this store to much, the owner has completed a great job, added a logo, changed the header, added a shop description (not shown on this layout, but it is there), has really nice categories, two feature boxes along the top, nice product images, decent titles.

But has not picked up that there are up to 15 ebay shop custom pages to be abused.

Not making the Common Mistakes

For those eager readers, yes the lack of header logo link is here twice, it drives me bonkers, don’t do it! Its like a door to a house, but with no handles.

I know its really hard, there is normally a lot going on in a small sized business, its not surprising I was able to find all these issues in a few pages. But at least you now know what the most common mistakes are and to avoid them.

I have been working two other articles on the eBay shop, these are linked to below, the first article is already live, the second is due in the next 2-3 working days:

How to: SEO for eBay – 10 Minutes Per Day

Just because you pay eBay a fee for your eBay shop, insertion of a listing and a final value fee when items sell, unfortunately this does not mean that eBay unleash a team of experts to promote your business.

In many ways you’re left to your own devices and as long as you convert buyers now and then, it kind of keeps everyone relatively happy. But why should you be happy with mediocre?

chocolate-cake

I'd like to eat the entire cake, but I can only take one slice at a time

Cumulative effect

Once you’re in the game (see my earlier post on “getting in the game“) its only a matter of “practice to make perfect” and it does not need to consume hours each day. Just a few minutes here and there and the combination of lots of little things, make one monster!

Take this article for example, I conceived this while eating lunch on the back of a napkin, nothing major, a few notes, then prepared the layout, back filled it and this morning added some images and annotations. It is putting everything together, the idea, the notes, the layout, the back filling, the visual candy. The cumulative effect of this is the final product, this article.

Breaking it down

I was once asked this question:

How do you eat an elephant?

I paused for a few moments and honestly thought *k, that is a an enormous beast, I’m going to need a slab of garlic butter to go with that steak. While day dreaming on it for a few seconds, I was given then answer:

With a spoon

Yep a spoon. I got the point instantly. I’m hoping you do too.

elephant-car

See even elephants need spoonful sized mouthfulls too. Yummy. (Look at the people in the car, the dent on the roof and I'm pretty sure he's got his pinkie out too, rofl)

Only 10 minutes, set the calendar right NOW

Before you continue with this article, open outlook, Google calendar or write on your diary for the next two weeks, a 10 minute block at the same time each day, to look at and make these changes.

If you drink tea or coffee, all we’re saying is that we are going to have a quick 10 minute break, with a cuppa at a set time each day. With this done, lets dive in.

The areas of eBay to focus upon

We’re going to focus on a few key areas and then make the tasks really simple to do. These areas are:

  1. Research
  2. Listings
  3. The eBay Shop
  4. Reviews & Guides
  5. Outside of eBay

Research

If you are just starting the ball rolling, your first few mini sessions should be focusing upon looking at your competitors and understanding how they are better than you and how you can learn from this to ultimately sell more.

Firstly we need to identify who the real competitors are, do not use gut-feel for this, use facts. Go to Terapeak/ and sign up for the ‘advantage’ account, its $25 or £16, it’ll be the best £16 you have ever spent.

Searching by category and keyword searches to find the real competitors, compile these into an excel list based upon value of turn over and make a point of reviewing each of these, noting the points you like about them and equally the points you dislike.

Oh and do not forget eBay Pulse, somewhat limited, but can help with identifying top keywords and top sellers.

Once you have found your list of true competitors, check this list once per week to see how they are doing. Then once per month, go back and review the list and see if any new competitors have arrived and track those too.

I know companies that know more about their competitors than they do about themselves. A healthy paranoia is good, although some to border on excessive.

eBay Listings

To focus on this effectively, we are going to break this down into further sections, these are:

  1. Listing Titles
  2. Listing Descriptions
  3. Additional Text

Listing Titles

Even the most seasoned sellers can improve their titles, using the research in part one, you should already know top keywords for your categories. If you only do 20 titles in the 10 minute session, in a week you would have done 100, two weeks, 200 and in a month, a staggering 800 titles. Get started now!!!!

Listing Descriptions

I’m pretty sure every single description every written could be improved in some way. Again do not panic, we’re not after the entire elephant, we’re just after a tasty spoon full. You may have already learned through research that others may be creating clearer, more friendly descriptions that what you have.

One by one, with some time. That’s all it takes.

Additional Text

I’ve added this as an extra section, because we’ve covered the main two sections, title and description, however what about the rest of the auction contents?

I’ll give you some idea on the degree of scale I was recently given from a client, there had two lines, totalling no more than than 40 words for the description. The other 1454 words were terms and conditions and other useless scary junk.

Make all other content so simple, you’re mother could read it with her glasses off. Shipping, simple, terms, simple, anything else, simple. Customers are paranoid creatures, do not scare them. Caress them with nice information. Kinda like I am doing to you now :D

The eBay Shop

Again, this needs to be broken down in to spoon sized chunks so that it can be tackled in just 10 minute chunks.

  1. eBay Shop URL
  2. eBay Shop Pages
  3. eBay About Me Page
  4. eBay Shop Description
  5. eBay Shop Categories
  6. SEO Keywords

eBay Shop URL

The first task when looking at the eBay shop is to look at the URL. If we are dealing with an extremely well known & established eBay shop, then do not alter it.

However, if you are just starting out or have only a small following, then choosing a eBay shop name, making a URL that includes a nice keyword right name is strongly advised.

Edit your eBay shop name (thus URL):
http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreMgmtEditDetails

eBay Shop Pages

I have an entire article dedicated to this. You can view it here:
How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages
(This may not be live at the time of publishing this article)

Edit your eBay shop custom pages:
http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreManageCustomPages

eBay About Me Page

I have this noted to dedicate an entire article to this page, however in short the eBay about me page is a very handy page, as it gives you an extra icon next to your eBay ID. Its the ideal pace to promote your business and is the only page you are allowed to include a link to an off-eBay store on.

Edit your eBay About Me page:
http://cgi3.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?AboutMeLogin

eBay Shop Description

The eBay shop description can appear in more than one section. The first section you need to be aware of is that its used in the meta description tag for the eBay shop, also on some eBay shop templates its also used in the header area.

You’re allowed up to 300 characters for the description. I’d suggest the first 40-50 are human readable and then the majority are a list of the brands or other unique attributes and then are ended with another human readable sentence of 10-15 words. This way it reads well for both humans (primary goal) and search engines (secondary goal).

Edit your eBay shop description:
http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreMgmtEditDetails

eBay Shop Categories

You can have up to 300 categories, down three levels. Named what ever you want with in reason, up to 30 characters each. The added bonus is, that you can set separate keywords for these categories too!

Edit your eBay shop categories:
http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreCategoryMgmt

SEO Keywords

You can give each of your shop categories up to two primary keywords and six secondary keywords, plus you can specify your own keyword sets for the homepage as well.

If you are dealing with a wrath of categories you created in the earlier step, just plod your way through them, Just think in a few weeks, they’ll all be super hot, loaded keywords words and the task will be complete for a short while. Because you’ll want to be coming back to look at these again later to improve them further!

Tip! Refuse the urge spam the keywords. Think or even better, research what people are searching for an how that matches your category and match the keywords you use to the products you have in that given category.

Edit your eBay shop keywords:
http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreMgmtViewCustomKeywords

Reviews & Guides

These are stellar places to pick up well targeted browsing buyers. The last time I had a stab at the reviews, I got an account to the top 100 reviewers on eBay UK. It took a lot of work and I did have a team to help me achieve this. But it can be done.

Take a look at http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/ You can review almost anything within reason. I’m not going to cover why you should be doing this in great detail here as again I have this already noted for a future article. But in short, it will help you be seen as the ‘Authority’ in your given area.

Tip: Stuck for an idea? Pick three items and say why you like one more than the others, now go!

To create your first review:
http://cgi3.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?CreateProductGuide

Outside of eBay

Its all about tipping the scales in your favour

I’m not going to be lame and suggest Facebook, Twitter as you already know this. What I am going to suggest is that you start your own blog, so you can talk about your items with your own community.

In short ‘blogging’ only requires some time, you have 10 minutes each day, thats all that is needed. Articles do not need to be huge like this one is, short and sweet works well too. Just be honest and show your passion.

If you’re worried about costs, do not be, here are two free options and they’re both great:

  1. http://www.blogger.com/
  2. http://wordpress.com/

Forum posting and generally just talking about your business and products will attract people. The more you talk, the more people will follow, its quite simple.

One crucial point I feel I need to make is that you should categorically should not use paid search such as Adwords or similar to promote your eBay shop. If you are at this level, then focus your attention on a creating your own web store outside of eBay.

Again the 10 minute rule applies here too, get in and get going and by the end of the month you could have created at least 20 blog posts!

Summary

I have shown you that all you need is 10 minutes with a cuppa to make a difference. We’re not after eating the entire elephant, or a VW with two people in it for that matter, but we can have a scoop of it each day and finally reach our ultimate goal. Now go get started!

Stop - Take Action!Take Action
Now that you’ve read this article, grab your calendar and put down a 10 minute window to make one small change, you’ll be amazed at the effect of this after just a week.

Part 2 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Good Points

SuperDryLets start by looking at SuperDryStore ebay shop, you can view it here: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store. There are definitely some great points to be noted and also some silly mistakes. I’m looking forward to explaining these to you in the next few paragraphs.

Here is a full screen shot of the SuperDryStore eBay shop:

SuperDryStore eBay Shop

SuperDryStore eBay Shop

The Good Points

Lets start with these, its very easy to be negative and point and poke’n’point at someone else’s work, but thats not constructive and there are some great things to note; In no order of importance, these are:

  1. High Impact Design
    It has to be said, that branding is absolutely key. In this instance the ‘SuperDry’ logo is melded nicely with the ‘eBay Store’ text (note on this later).Then use of three primary colours, black, orange and white (yes white is a colour) is great, the objective of a great design is to carry across the companies ‘branding’ and to be ‘rememberable’.Jump of their page for a few moments, then ask your self ‘if my life depended on it, could I draw their shop’, if the answer is yes, the company has done a pretty good job.
  2. High Quality Images
    This is another key factor to a great looking design. If you have poor image quality or a sheer lack of product or lifestyle imagery then you’re letting yourself down.While I feel there is a lack of a singular ‘front of house model’ (I’ll cover this later), the flash slides are good and have a common feel to them. Its very tempting to whack together some slides and upload them. Doing so will give a junk yard feel, sit down and draw a maximum of two slide outlines/templates and stick to them.Flash objects such as the one being used on the SuperDry store are very easily picked up using Google for free, if you are after a custom layout, flash developers are pretty darn cheap if you can specify exactly what you want. My guidance on this is be wary of total file size of the flash object and the slides and keep to common theme and template the slides, so not to ‘visually confuse the browser’.

    If you are thinking ‘High Quality Images’ are expensive, get real. Lookup iStockPhoto and start searching, also you can use images from Flickr if you read the licenses properly. Take the header image of this site, as part of the creative commons licensing, I was able to use the above image as long as I post and link back to the author. Oh and if budget-challenged, try Paint.net its a free image editing software and is excellent.

  3. Organised Layout On-The-Homepage
    The note here is ‘On-The-Homepage’, I’ll cover off the sub pages later. Its what I call a ‘Split 2 column layout’, there are two main columns, but the right content block for the first section is broken into two.Categories categorically go on the left.Now there there is room to maneuver on this for homepages, I’m sure you’ve seen how the vast majority of the bigger internet shopping sites will move from 1 column layout for the homepage, 2 column for category view and then either a double or single column layout for the item detail pages.I’m a bit disappointed about the limit of just three real items on the bottom, I’d have personally preferred six and from a wider product range.
  4. SuperDryStore HeaderClarification on being ‘the only official outlet’
    When you have an unique selling point, SHOUT ABOUT IT. The statement below is pretty good:

    “Superdryebaystore is the only authorised re-seller of superdry on ebay. Buy with confidence.”
    I’d however suggest they alter it to:“Buy direct from of SuperDry, Quality, Service & Value Assured”

    But I do like the ‘the only authorised re-seller’ part and maybe the following is a short alteration to maximum impact:

    “Superdryebaystore is the only authorised re-seller of superdry on eBay.”

    Although this is quite hard without knowing their business goals for the platform.

    If we think about this for a moment for your business, try and summarise what your business is and how it is different from every other business into no more than 12 words. Adding ‘Established 2006’ or similar are also killer terms, as they immediately add ‘age’ and ‘trust’ to a brand, especially if its situated below a brand logo.

  5. Item PickerSuperDryStore Picker
    Now I suspect this is one of OBaid’s creations. Obaid is a developer that worked on Amazon.com’s TV picker. While I am not a complete fan off such ‘item pickers’ (mainly because I think it can be done in less code and be more widely accepted in Javascript) the decreasing numbers of items is cool and in this instance the levels have been well thought through, but some plonker has forgotten his alphabet when it came to ordering them!If you sell complex item types, then such a ‘tool’ is suggested to help your buyers locate the items they are looking for.
  6. SuperDryStore Fit Model

    SuperDryStore Fit Model

    Sex Sells – Use It
    I don’t care if you take offence here, Sex-Sells and thats been a known fact since year dot.So… SuperDry have have almost got it. The woman on the left is pretty ‘fit’, the same for the model in the middle ‘featured items’ section. However the minger, I mean ‘model’ n the flash gallery could at least simile and push the chest out. The same goes for the male model, bush the pec’s out and hunch forwards a bit more.

    SuperDryStore Eaten a Wasp

    SuperDryStore Eaten a Wasp

    When some is buying an item, especially clothing, ignoring the brand, they are asking themselves ‘will this make me look good’ and if the model looks great in it, then that helps them to believe they will do too.

    This does not mean, getting a lap dancer and a male stripper, it just means if you use a model, make sure they look hot and push their ‘assets’ to help the customer make a decision on whether this item is good to make them look ‘great’.

  7. Content Pages
    At least SuperDry has actually created some shop pages, most sellers don’t even know they exist let alone use them. The content is pretty poor, but 5/10 for actually using them. See http://stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/The-Superdry-Store/About-Us.html as an example.If you’re not using the shop pages, then you’re missing out, see http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/stores.html for eBay’s pants help files on the subject (there isn’t one). I’ll be covering this off later in more detail.

The ‘Good Points’ Summary

I think I’ve remained pretty positive so far. There are some good points to be learnt from SuperDry’s store, even though I suspect they got it for free from eBay’s Indian designers whose designs have been pretty crap, eg Dune, hell, them all bar Office Shoes.

Just remember these key points for now:

  1. Great Quality Design.
  2. Organised Layout to Industry Standards.
  3. Promote your ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USP(s)).
  4. If you offer complex items, make it simple for the buyer to find them.
  5. If you have control over whom is wearing or sporting the goods, put the best ‘assets’ forwards, it sells.
  6. Use content pages, with proper content.

Next Time

Keep peeled for the next instalment [I’ll be getting the daggers out] as there are some shockingly silly mistakes that are being made. After I’m done you won’t be making these same mistakes and it won’t cost you hours or thousands of pounds either.

Click here to view part 3