EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 149 - August 21, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 8

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your eBay User IDs

By Greg Holden

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You're probably familiar with the use of multiple User IDs for buying and selling on eBay and for participating on its discussion boards. Many sellers create special User IDs so they can go "incognito" when they are placing bids or leaving comments in the site's community area. That way, other bidders won't immediately recognize that a PowerSeller with "shooting star"-level feedback is bidding on something. Having a well-known seller place a bid might give other members the idea that the item in question must be worth a lot more than it seems.

Some eBay sellers make use of multiple User IDs when they're selling on eBay, too. They're not inventing the wheel. In the traditional retail world, it's not uncommon for a company to sell in multiple places under different names. Think about Toys R Us and Kids R Us, or Gap and Gap Kids. The same company has two different names to reach different groups of customers. Many department stores have a "bargain basement" or an "outlet store" where they unload merchandise that's out of season or being discontinued.

You, too, can set up two or more eBay Stores to sell different types of products, or use different User IDs to reach different groups of bidders.

This sort of approach isn't for everybody, of course; with two User IDs you divide your feedback in two, and you also divide your potential customers rather than steering them all to one location. Two reasons why sellers might consider branching into two or more sales IDs are listed below.

Approach #1: Distinguish Different Types of Merchandise

The more than 724,000 Americans who rely on eBay for their primary or secondary source of income (see AuctionBytes article http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m07/i25/s02) want to sell in quantity. But once they have hundreds or even thousands of separate items for sale at any one time, logjams can occur. In the rush to put a new batch of items up for sale each week, it's easy to overlook the merchandise you've had for sale in your eBay Store for weeks, even months.

That's what David Hardin discovered. He's a veteran shoe wholesaler and one of eBay's best-known PowerSellers. Hardin operates an eBay Store called Fashion Outlet Mall (http://stores.ebay.com/Fashion-Outlet-Mall) where he sells shoes. This store corresponds to the User ID fashionoutletmall. He also uses the User ID shoetime to auction off...you guessed it: shoes. Why the two User IDs? Hardin says it enables him to separate his new merchandise from the items that have been online for a while and that he considers "closeouts."

"A while back, I couldn't figure out what was going on," he explains. "My sell-through rates were going down, and it dawned on me that my eBay Store items were covering up my new items. If you don't take your merchandise out of the store once in a while, it keeps people from noticing all the merchandise you have there."

Once he separated his sales by auctioning off new items and relegating unsold merchandise to his eBay Store, his sell-through rate improved. "One site is like Filene's Basement," he says. "That's where I put my "lesser goods." That way I don't get the reputation of selling "damaged merchandise" on my main site."

Approach #2: Make Shopping Easier on Your Customers

When you sell hundreds or even thousands of items, you help people find individual objects by dividing them into different categories. But what if you sell items that all fit into the same category? You can divide them into two separate eBay Stores.

That was the approach followed by David T. Alexander. He's been selling comic books, art, and pulp magazines for 35 years. He has a warehouse full of merchandise in Tampa, Florida, and at any one time, he might have 15,000 separate comic books and other items for sale on eBay.

For David, splitting up inventory and feedback into two User IDs wasn't a problem. Neither was the additional monthly cost associated with operating two eBay Stores. He created two selling IDs and two stores to make life easier for his customers. If it's easier for them to shop, he figures, it's easier for them to make purchases.

"We split into two selling IDs because when we launched 2,000 items at a time people told me, "I can't scroll through so many things at once." It makes for a really long list of items."

Now, David sells comics under the User ID Dtacoll. This User ID corresponds to the eBay Store David T. Alexander Collectibles (http://stores.ebay.com/DAVID-T-ALEXANDER-COLLECTIBLES).

He also sells movie posters and memorabilia under the User ID topnotch13. This User ID corresponds to the eBay Store called Topnotch13's Mags/Movie Items/More http://stores.ebay.com/TOPNOTCH13s-MAGS-MOVIE-ITEMS-MORE). At this writing, Alexander had more than 9500 items for sale in the Topnotch13 store, and 7200 in the other store.

Both stores, however, have the same design, and they both link to Alexander's Web site, where he sells even more items to the public. It's another lesson to take away from the multiple ID/multiple eBay Store approach: more sales venues give you more ways to promote your Web site and develop a brand that will encourage trust and repeat business.


About the author:

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.


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