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AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Sat June 14 2008 18:19:02

Let's Talk Storefronts

By: Ina Steiner

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Online storefronts come in many flavors. Some businesses simply use an online site as "brochure-ware" to point people to their marketplace listings or physical locations. Other merchants use sophisticated web-hosting solutions to create a true retail presence. And then there are the millions of solutions in between, from ProStores to GoDaddy, from TIAS.com and eCrater to Yahoo stores. The 5-page AuctionBytes "Online Storefronts at a Glance" chart lists some of the more common solutions for small sellers. (If you're a service provider, you can click the "Submit your service" to add your solution to the chart.)

Have you set up an independent web presence to sell your wares? What are you using - a storefront like eCrater, or your own hosted site? What are the benefits and limitations you've run into? Are you finding it to be a revenue generator? We want to pick your brain! Feel free to include the URL to your website. We'd like to see your site and hear how it's doing.

 




Comments (54) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Patricia

Sat Jun 14 18:26:01 2008

I've had my own website online continuously since 1996, www.watercolorsbypatricia.com  Mostly, I used it as a display for my works and received some commissions because of it.  In the past year, though, I've been beefing it up like crazy - shopping cart system - advertising.  I put it thru Google Base and use Google AdWords and AdSense.  In effect, all the fee money that used to go to Ebay is now going into beefing up my online presence.  Just recently, I opened a large section of ACEO's the popular little paintings that are being collected like baseball cards.  www.ACEOart.net

Sellers - you have to do something other than sit and wait for Ebay to find their brains again....I'm afraid its not going to happen.  So, please - get proactive!

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: oakteakstore

Sat Jun 14 18:38:10 2008

I've been on eCrater (oakteakstore) for a few months now and have many item there. I like the site very much for the clean look, the ease of listing, being able to show 10 pictures of each item (BIG plus for vintage and antique items), and also being able to have a longer title than is allowed on eBay helps a great deal. The Google interface is great.

This site has had a steady and strong climb in its listings this past year.

It needs more traffic, but that will come in time as more and more people list there.

It's just a nice place to be.

I have had several sales, they went smoothly.

There is not such an emphasis on feedback there, although it does exist and there is very little nastiness.

I also have a storefront on Etsy (Lavender2Lace). Another very nice and easy and friendly place to be. Also had several sales there. Etsy has a pretty strong buyer base for the items they specialize in.

Both of these sites are a relief from the awful negativity of eBay of late.

eBay traffic is still much more than other sites, so far, maybe not always.

I still sell on eBay as well.

I say try these sites, what is there to lose?

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Keith

Sat Jun 14 21:08:49 2008

I have almost 900 store items on eBay and I am sick and tired of all the nonsense going on.  With that said I am very tight on time  as I have a gourmet farm and grow for restaurants.  I wish I could find a person who could copy my store items and put them on a few of these new sites such as ebid, ecrater, ola etc... What a great little business for a high school kid with all the unhappy eBay sellers.  Anyone know of someone???????

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: a litle lost

Sat Jun 14 21:11:06 2008

INA,

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU!
for touching on this subject!
we need much more blogs/articles on this topic. i am really tired of reading all the b.s. to do with ebay.
what i (and many others) want are solutions.

i have had an ebay store for 4 years and am a gold (big whoop, i know) powerseller.
right now, i am looking to move on to my own site and am considering using GoDaddy for hosting and shopping cart, but don't know if that's the best route or not.

i really feel the same way i did the first day that i started on ebay.

where do i begin and what's the best route

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Lars

Sat Jun 14 22:48:50 2008

This is a topic I believe worth discussing. My shopping cart spins circles around my Ebay store.

I use Network Solutions for my store and have had great success. Although my advertising is quite a bit more than Ebay it's easily digested by the Google credits I get for accepting Google Checkout and being an Adwords Advertiser

Let me highlight one of my top sellers.  I sell this item on Ebay for $6.99 and FREE shipping, I easily get 8.99 and $3.00 shipping in my website shopping cart store. My margins are much better in my shopping cart and customer service is easy to adminster on my web site vs. my ebay store.

I am a firm believer that you utilize as many selling channels as you can, but the more and more effort I put into my Ebay store with less and less return means I need to reevaluate my business plan.

I spend 80% of my time focusing on managing my Ebay customers and sales and only realize that Ebay is about 40% of my business and shrinking. This doesn't make sense to me.

Ebay will continue to thrive off of dysfunction. The more dysfunction in the marketplace the more money Ebay will make. It's a great short term strategy for short term CEO's, but that is the new America.

That is why entrepreneurs and I mean real entrepreneurs need to take their power back and open their own online store. For me it works and I have the numbers to prove it. No emotion here!

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Lars

Sat Jun 14 23:01:24 2008

I made a great discovery. I was thinking with the way commerce is conducted on the internet, that auctions by definition could be on the way out. With that said, I thought this site auctionbytes may be come obsolete by name alone.

I was thinking what direction I am headed and what blog/forum would be a great addition for auctionbytes. I came up with ecommercebytes.com and typed it in my browser. Guess what? It brought be back here.

Ina and team, you guys are on it!

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: oakteakstore

Sat Jun 14 23:03:15 2008

I forgot to add the links to my eCrater and Etsy sites. Here they are, also my blog.

eBay.com, search for seller: oakteak http://oakteakstore.ecrater.com/ http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5570960
or search on Etsy.com for seller Lavender2Lace

Check out my blog too: http://oakteak.blogspot.com/

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: bite me

Sun Jun 15 02:55:00 2008

If you guys have all these thriving storefronts then why do you all complain so much about eBay?

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Scott TradingAssistantJournal.com

Sun Jun 15 07:51:54 2008

We have had goDaddy as a hosting provider for 2 years (on a three year contract) and for ''little lost'' the people out there who are considering GoDaddy for anything beyond domain name registration, please look elsewhere.  I am saying this as a former GoDaddy re-seller and partner. GoDaddy is to hosting what eBay is to Auctions - bloated and over concerned with upselling and putting it to th customer.  We just went through almost two weeks of constant outages on all of our sites hoted on GoDaddy (5 seperate sites) with each customer service rep telling me a different story, all blaming the problem on our installations (5 different back ends). The problem was they had too many sites on one server, and they knew it. Thye just wanted to try and convince me to buy a dedicated server package. Not with dishonesty and deceptive Customer service tactics like that, I won't.  
We are now a LunarPages affiliate and re-seller and have several sites all happily running there. Go to: http://allbusinessauctions.com/blog if you want to find the lunar pages info or see one of our sites.

Shopping carts are not as mysterious as they once were and I would really take a hard look at Amazon Web Services, or installing your own cart in a solid backend like WordPress or Joomla 1.5 .  
It really is not as hard as everyone makes it out to be...
Good Luck, and be very careful on choosing your hosting provider, when your sites go down, service is what is needed, not upsell.

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: materialpleasures

Sun Jun 15 09:34:30 2008

I think a serious business needs to make a natural progression.  For me it was ebay...then RL, TIAS, and for the past few years my own independent site hosted by 3dcart.  Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a successful website.  It takes constant work, updating, maintainence, and I am constantly educating myself not only in my niche, but also in Marketing, Optimization, web development, etc.
I also vend at antique shows and quilt shows, and that adds to cash flow and advertises the website.  
The benefit is I am in control.  No one can bully me or tell me how to run my biz.  I also am able to add information articles about my antique textiles and quilts...and good content yields higher SE placement.  ebay and the mall sites do not have that capability.  I still have a few items on TIAS, I only add recently acquired merchandise to my store...duplicate content is frowned upon in SEs.
I am very happy with my decision.  eBay is super controlling of it's sellers vs its buyers, and have gouged the smaller businesses for every penny that can wring.  I haven't seen updates or improvements on the popular malls in years, they are getting to be as ancient as the products listed on them.  
There are so many ecommerce options, and it is quite affordable.  
My best,
Dana
Material Pleasures, LLC
http://www.materialpleasures.com

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: gardenpartytea.com

Sun Jun 15 09:54:27 2008

My website is hosted by powersellersunite.com. In about a year and a half, we've had one occurrence of downtime. I've been pretty happy with it.

But for those of us that are computer illiterate, building any of the websites is difficult. But it can be done.

And it is SO worth the effort!

Jo

http://www.gardenpartytea.com

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Henrietta

Sun Jun 15 11:10:21 2008

Your first decision would be whether to go it alone or go for a shop on an existing site, eCrater is easy, free, your SEO is done for you and has lots of traffic.

If you want to go it alone you will either have to pay someone (caveat emptor) or do a lot of learning yourself.

GoDaddy is fine for a static vanity type web page, if you want a cart, forum, forget it. You can't get past their firewall which means you have to pay for their inferior cart or solution and you might as well be on eBay. You will get nickled and dimed to death. GoDaddy stuffs thousands of sites on each server so they run like a constipated snail.  They do have really friendly CSRs, you pay for the call but at least they are live human beings located in the USA.

DO NOT waste your money on SunShop, it is a zen cart (free) with 2% custom coding ($249) and worse CS than eBay, ask me how I know LOL.

I am running three zen carts & a small forum on my site and building a fourth cart, hosted by TotalChoiceHosting.com for the princely sum of $55 per year or $5 a month. I have never come within sniffing distance of exceeding my bandwidth. TCH has wonderful staffed forums and keeps the density on their servers low. They monitor and take action before a problem gets going.

You are welcome to visit. I built the site myself and will be rebuilding very soon, I have learned a lot about the relationship of design to marketing = sales since doing it.

http://www.200westmain.com

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Gail

Sun Jun 15 13:38:38 2008

>>I wish I could find a person who could copy my store items and put them on a few of these new sites such as ebid, ecrater, ola etc... What a great little business for a high school kid with all the unhappy eBay sellers.  Anyone know of someone???????<<

Precisely our problem only we have almost 7000 different listings on ebay. I wish there was an easy way to move them over. We have opened a store at ecrater http://MoonwishesStore.ecrater.com with at this point only about 200 listings and we are getting sales slowly, but they are coming. You do need to do your own marketing to bring in business, but I would rather be doing that than keep taking it on the chin from ebay where we have been powersellers for years.

Currently the only problem I have with ecrater is there doesn't seem to be a good invoicing system although there are ways to work around it.

Statistically we are selling more on ecrater than on ebay. If we could get everything loaded to ecrater quickly we would hope to see an increase in sales there. We would make the same amount of money with half the sales of ebay just because of the lack of fees at ecrater. If we got to the point of increased sales we would be making a lot more money. It is really sad some months to see ebay scooping up almost half of what we brought in, in fees.

Not sure what the complete solution is but we are working towards it and have goals and strategies to implement, something I have found hard to do at ebay as they just change things as soon as you implement a new strategy.

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Susan Precht

Sun Jun 15 15:21:17 2008

Keith (from Saturdays post) have you tried looking for that ''college kid'' to help you out on 'Craigslist'?

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: disgruntled ebayer

Sun Jun 15 15:38:44 2008

FOR GAIL - try iOffer.com. they have this fast, FREE, transport that takes all your enay listings and puts them on iOffer.com in like 10 minutes FREE.

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Michelle

Sun Jun 15 18:48:44 2008

Has anyone tried BISI here?  I can't decide between it and Ecrater.  For those who have tried both of these places, which one do you like better?  TIA.

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Boycott Ebay/Paypal

Sun Jun 15 22:46:05 2008

Michelle, ecrater is nice and I will keep my store there but any new product listings are now going to BISI simply because it gives you more options, IMO. An ecrater Home Page is very limited. BISI allows HTML and as much as you want on your Home Page so I am able to link to my blog, my other stores, my information pages, etc.

Of course, with either one you will need to market it yourself. That still eats up much less time than revising, revising, revising on Ebay.

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: TNGeneWhiz

Sun Jun 15 23:29:51 2008

We've been selling on-line since 1996, with periodic hiatuses, after 20 years as auctioneers and 45 years as dealers of ''junque'' (had the first used-stuff shop in our region in the mid-1950's).  We've done it all in brick-and-mortar -- flea markets, antique malls, etc.

Recently, we decided to get back into the on-line business again because income is drying up from the brick-and-mortar stores.  We've been closely watching the on-line sales discussions in order to make informed decisions.  Our domain's main page is fairly basic because we want to send visitors off to view wares, not get lost navigating around our pages.

One decision that is clear for us is using Dreamhost.com as our Web-hosting service.  We've been with DH for 4 years and have been consistently happy with their customer response, technical support, and development of services to meet the needs of customers.

One of the biggest benefits is something called one-click installs.  If you want to use Wordpress to drive your site, you can do it with ease.  If you want to use ZenCart to drive your site, just click ''install'' and let Dreamhost set it up for you.

The pricing plans are more than fair for the level of services you get.  And, you can even put a referral link on your Web pages and get paid whenever someone signs up with DH after clicking thru from your site.

I encourage you to check Dreamhost out if you're shopping for a server.  This link will take you to a page with special pricing offers and more information:

http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?69584

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Michelle

Mon Jun 16 03:20:11 2008

"boycott ebay", does BISI allow HTML on the free plan?  I must say that I like the way their stores look better than I do eCrater.  I guess I'm hesitant because I had such high hopes for eBay and it's hard to come to grips with all they've done to us sellers lately.  I know for sure that I need to take some, if not all, of my eggs out of that proverbial basket.

Let's Talk Storefronts   Let's Talk Storefronts

by: Lisa

Mon Jun 16 08:50:34 2008

@Michelle

What is BISI? Does it stand for something. Could you give an address or more information? I've never heard of it. Thanks.

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