EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 130 - November 07, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

eBay Store Owners Can Save Money with Referral Credits

By Mark O'Neill

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It was a big decision to open my eBay Store for the first time. But when I finally took the plunge, I was really proud to be a storeowner and I was even more pleased thinking about the cheaper listing fees. (eBay charges a $9.95 month subscription fee for a Basic Store, but insertion fees are only 2 cents per 30-day listing in the U.S.:

Then I discovered that Store listings don't routinely show up in the eBay search engine listings, and I almost barfed a lung in shock. "I'm going to have to work to promote my own listings," I thought indignantly. But I've since discovered that eBay's Store Referral Credit program takes some of the pain out of self-promotion.

In a nutshell, the Store Referral Credit rewards you when you promote your eBay Store and drive traffic to your Store listings. If you send customers to your Store and they buy from you, eBay will refund you 50% of the final value fee for those items purchased.

One question immediately springs to mind: if you are driving traffic to a site, why not make it your own where you don't have to pay eBay any commission? Two answers immediately spring to mind; one, some people don't want to have their own site, and two, running an ecommerce site has its own costs. But if you don't have your own Web site, you may as well drive traffic to your eBay Store.

Okay, I'm sensing some skepticism. "Can it be this easy?" you ask. Well, let's look at the hoops you need to jump through and then judge for yourself.

First, you have to start to promote your Store. This can be done in a variety of ways: on Web sites, in printed materials, emails to buyers and perhaps even word-of-mouth.

The easiest method is to include your Store URL in your automatic email signature ("sig line"). Most email clients have a signature line you can edit that gets automatically included at the bottom of every email you send. Are you sending an email to a buyer requesting payment, or an email to your Uncle Arthur? Include a link to your Store!

Another easy method is to include your eBay Store URL in printed materials. Are you printing a leaflet or running a newspaper ad advertising your Store? Do you have your Store URL on your business cards? If someone sees your leaflet or ad, goes to your Store, and starts a madcap spending spree, then you can look forward to some credits on your monthly eBay statement. You can also publicize your eBay Store on your Web site, if you have one.

Finally, use word-of-mouth. Are you at a sophisticated dinner party, dressed to the nines in your tuxedo, with a champagne in your hand, and the conversation has just suddenly died? There's a way to revive the party. Tell them about your eBay Store! Give them your Store URL and encourage them to give in to their buying impulses. They'll be so excited at the sudden upbeat in the conversation that they'll rush home and visit your Store. More credits!

But of course as with everything else, there are catches that you need to remember. First of all, the item being bought by the customer must be a Store listing. Regular auctions and fixed-price items don't count. Second, the customer must buy the item in the same browser window they used to enter the store. If they enter the store and then close their Internet browser window, eBay's cookie will expire. Oh, and that brings me to another catch - the customer's computer must accept eBay's temporary cookie, otherwise no referral credits!

Lastly you need to insert a special referral ID at the end of your store address: ?refid=store. So for example, my store referral would be

Suddenly it's so much fun being an eBay store owner!

NOTE: Be sure to read the information on the "Qualifying for the store referral credit" page of eBay's site very carefully to understand how and when to use the referral codes:

eBay Store Referral Credit

eBay Store Referral Credit FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'

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