By Wayne Kawamoto
to broomsticks, you can generally find it, buy it and sell it on the
massively popular auction site, eBay. eBay not only offers a place
to empty your company's warehouse of unwanted items and pocket a few
dollars, it's now a permanent marketing channel for lots of retail
businesses. Some businesses exist solely to market and sell their
wares on eBay.
businesses opt to use eBay Stores -- persistent, dedicated areas of
eBay designed to showcase merchandise from a single seller. Compared
to standard auction listings, eBay Stores can list products for
longer periods and at lower cost, and the price, which starts at
$9.95 per month, can save businesses money over the basic auction or
Buy It Now listings. Another plus is that an eBay Store can have its
own URL that a business may promote to its customers. And it's hard
to argue with the sheer scale of the operation: Millions of
potential shoppers log onto eBay daily.
Stores generally lack the custom-branded look that most want for
has been taking steps to combat this -- Macromedia recently
announced a new version of its Contribute 3 desktop application to
customize eBay Stores and give business owners an opportunity to
improve the quality of their eBay Stores. And eBay is rolling out
new, optional ways for Stores users to tweak their appearance.
Still, eBay Stores remain a part of eBay, and not totally under a
merchant's control. That's why independent Web-based businesses
still continue to flourish, and are growing in number.
selling wares through an eBay auction was separate from selling
goods through a company's e-commerce site. Fortunately, there are a
couple of specialized hosting services that are allowing small
businesses to manage and process their eBay sales with those from
their regular storefronts.
Thanks to them,
a host of online sellers are using both routes as dual storefronts
-- seeking to benefit from eBay's traffic and prominence while
maintaining their own Web site suited for their business's look and
Linking the two
sales channels can make sense for many businesses -- allowing
inventory, billing, accounting and shopping operations to be tightly
integrated for both Web channels and eBay. This can save money and
reduce time and labor.
In many cases,
storefront linking allows small businesses to use their e-commerce
sites to post goods on eBay, manage their auctions and process
auction sales. These days, major shopping cart providers such as
Aplus.net and Kurant provide ways for their shopping cart customers
to move and sell products across eBay. On the down side, the
companies that provide these eBay connections require you to use
their proprietary hosting and shopping cart services. But if you're
determined to integrate your eBay auction efforts with your
e-commerce sales, the companies' solutions are worth considering.
Offering a way for businesses to sell goods through popular sites
such as eBay as well as Amazon, Shopping.com and Froogle, is Aplus.net. The
company is a service provider that offers such traditional services
as domain name registration, e-mail boxes and Internet hosting, as
well as web page design and site maintenance. For its e-commerce and
shopping cart features, the company relies on services from Miva
businesses to list and make sales on Amazon, eBay, Froogle and
shopping.com, Aplus.net offers tools that are known as "connectors,"
which let businesses enter product data into their Miva Merchant
stores and publish the products on the sites of popular online
sellers and shopping directories. As with regular e-commerce sales,
the company processes auction sales through a company's existing
merchant account and deposits the funds into its designated bank
offers comprehensive design services to create attractive,
professional-looking e-commerce sites. A wizard asks users to choose
a hosting plan, select a look from some 3,000 templates and define
some options. After that, the designers at Aplus.net build the
online catalog and e-commerce site. The company charges for website
design, depending on the number of pages - the more pages, the more
money you'll pay, and the more sophisticated the options.
offers a $34.95 per month ePro program that offers basic hosting, a
shopping cart and secure credit card processing, 2500 MB of disc
storage, 500 e-mail boxes and free domain name registration. The
more expensive Maxima plan, at $49.95 per month, handles security
certificates, offers Microsoft database compatibility and supports
purchase Aplus.net's design services without arranging for hosting
through the company, but you will pay more for your web site. And if
you already have a web site, you may pay Aplus.net to integrate its
e-commerce features into it and host it.
Earlier this year,
Kurant Corporation added eBay listing capabilities to its
StoreSense e-business solution. With these features, small
businesses may post products directly to eBay from within StoreSense
and manage the process of selling products on eBay by using the same
interface that they use to manage their online StoreSense-based
To sell on
eBay, StoreSense lets business owners select the products from their
inventory that they want to publish as eBay listings, and then asks
them to follow a step-by-step wizard that guides them through the
posting process. And when an eBay auction is complete, winners are
directed to the merchant's StoreSense store to use the system's
checkout and shipping options. StoreSense also manages the back-end
e-business functionality to process the payment and update
StoreSense offers a suite of e-business tools that are designed to
help small businesses develop e-commerce sites. It features wizards
to build a Web site and integrate e-commerce capabilities into it,
and offers sophisticated site design tools to integrate e-commerce
functionality and management capabilities. Offered on a monthly
subscription basis, StoreSense is available only through Kurant's
reseller, Website Pros.
still something of a split between sales made on traditional e-commerce
sites and those through eBay auctions, moves by leaders like Aplus.net
and Kurant will help prompt more solutions like this in the future.
And with their efforts, and because of the myriad benefits to maintaining
both eBay and Web businesses, the process is bound to get easier.
After all, eBay, like e-commerce, is here to stay.