Creating Custom Headers to Drive Traffic to eBay Stores
By Mark O'Neill
I finally took the plunge last week. After months of procrastinating, lots of calculations as to whether I would save or lose money, and after reading through the AuctionBytes.com archives, I finally opened an eBay Store.
The hesitation as to whether or not to open a store stems from the fact that eBay Stores are, by and large, not as popular or well known on eBay Germany as they are on eBay USA. Sure, lots of German eBayers have stores, but they are not quite as popular with buyers as they are in the U.S. Recently, after asking some German eBayers why this is, I discovered the reason was that many buyers on German eBay use the search engine when looking for items. Since shop items don't routinely show up in the search engine, persuading cash-strapped Germans to open eBay stores is a hard sell. They would rather start an auction and pay the higher listing fee knowing that their auction can be found in the search engine.
But what personally swung it for me was the cheaper listing fees (especially for gallery pictures - a saving of 74 Euro cents each) and the challenge of advertising my store myself. In the absence of the eBay search engine promoting my listings for me, I would have to do the hard work myself, and hard work is something I relish (well, most of the time).
While doing my research into eBay Stores, I came across a feature on eBay USA called "create your own custom store header," and it was features like this that got me excited about opening a store.
eBay requires photos included with items showcased in Store headers be gallery pictures, otherwise the photos won't show up. (Quick explanation of Gallery: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/gallery.html.)
Gallery costs 25 cents for non-Store items in the U.S., and 75 Euro cents in Germany. But since the Gallery feature for Store listings are 1 cent each, it's no big deal http://pages.ebay.com/storefronts/pricing.html. Just fill in the required information, give the eBay item numbers you want to advertise in the header, choose your colors, and then cut-and-paste the HTML code into the Store Designer page. It's that simple. You can see my store header by going to my store (the link is below). I have kept my header simple by keeping everything white.
The eBay Store header also allows you to place a promotional banner at the top or bottom. I put a statement that all buyers get a discount on their next purchase, and this has caught the attention of a lot of people. Already my Store header is paying off by attracting customers who have bought enough from me in 5 days to pay for my store for the next 3 months!
But it doesn't stop there. You can place the custom header inside each of your listings (including the regular auctions that come up in the eBay Search engine). Right away, you are advertising your store to everyone that stops by, and in the face of increasing competition, advertising is the way to get ahead.
I personally do not place the header inside my auctions as I sell a lot of single, unique items through the "buy now" feature, so I would be updating the header in all of my auctions every day with new items. (If you put four things in the header and those four things sell quickly, then you have to update the header with four new items. If you have a rapid turnover then you could be updating constantly. Unfortunately, eBay doesn't have a feature where you edit one auction header and it automatically updates the others for you. You need to edit each header in each auction!)
One word of note to international users of the custom headers: the links inside the header take you to your listings on eBay.com. If you live outside the U.S., you may want to slightly alter the HTML so the person is directed to your auction on your own eBay site. This is just a simple matter of replacing the ".com" with your country ending, whether it be "co.uk," "de" or whatever.
I also found something else that piqued my interest. Did you know you can download eBay Stores business cards, headed notepaper, envelopes and thank you notes? At eBay's Business Resource Center, you can find Microsoft Word templates you can customize with your details and use to spread the word about your eBay Store.
There are ways for people to find items in eBay Stores, but the main way to publicize the Store is to have regular auctions running as well (which will come up in the search engine) and promote the store inside the regular auction listings. I am also advertising on forums, message boards, advertising leaflets and business cards.
What works best for you? Has anyone had any positive or negative experiences with the custom header? Has anyone found any novel or unique ways to advertise their eBay Store? Email me and let me know and it could form the basis of a future AuctionBytes article.
eBay Business Resource Center
eBay Custom Store Header
Other eBay Store Resources
"Customizing Your eBay Store"
"Promoting Your eBay Store"
My eBay Store: Camelot Verkaufsagent
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