When to Open an eBay Store

An eBay store (or ‘shop’ in the UK) is a subscription based service that enables a seller to have a customisable ‘storefront’ on the website. It presents all of a seller’s listed items together in one place, offering a more ‘traditional’ online shopping experience to a buyer.

Becoming an eBay store owner is relatively easy, but certainly is not free. Subscriptions range between $19.95 and $199.95 a month on ebay.com. At a minimum, sellers must have an account with a credit card on file plus a verified PayPal account to be eligible as a store owner.

Features and benefits of having an eBay store

  • Lower insertion and final value fees – For a lot of sellers, this will be the number one reason to upgrade to a store. Without a store, final value fees run at a flat 10% rate with a $750 maximum. With a store, fees range from 4-9% depending on the item category and the maximum is only $250 (aside from a handful of exclusions). Insertion fees are lower too, being at least 5¢ less per listing for store owners. The lowest store subscription also offers four times the amount of listings with free insertion (200 compared to 50).
  • Good ‘Til Cancelled format – This is a type of fixed price listing exclusively available for eBay store owners. It is basically a listing that automatically renews every 30 days until cancelled, helping save the seller both time and effort in re-listing.
  • Vacation/holiday mode – Be sure to check out the full article on this, but vacation mode enables sellers to put their business on hold by making fixed price listings unavailable to view for a specified period of time. Vacation mode is the easiest way for eBay sellers to take a break without risking low feedback from buyers.
  • Brand establishment – A store subscription offers a custom store home page with a personalised web address. The custom header and logo of the store also appear in listings, which can build brand recognition and credibility (and potentially repeat customers!)
  • Markdown Manager – Exclusive to sellers with a store subscription, this feature allows price discounts on items (up to 75%) or a free shipping discount. Promotional emails and e-newsletters can be used to advertise the discounts and further sales.
  • Organization – A small feature with big effect, having an eBay store enables sellers to bring their listings together in one place. Buyers can find all listings from a seller by clicking on the store icon next to their user ID. Within the store, sellers can also create custom categories to present their items better to browsing buyers.
  • Search engine keyword management – Sellers who have stores can customise the keywords associated with each store page to help more buyers find their listings via search engines.

Disadvantages of eBay stores

  • Excluded from special offers – eBay has regularly promotions for sellers such as free insertion fees for a certain period of time. Store subscribers are typically not included in these promotions, which some sellers see as unfair.
  • Subscription cost – For new sellers, the price of a store subscription can be off-putting when just starting out. The fee is taken every month whether the seller makes any sales or not.

The right time to open a store

Setting the special features and selling tools aside, for most sellers the question of when to upgrade to a store is based on whether it makes financial sense for their fledgling business. Paying out a fixed amount every month regardless of sales numbers can be an intimidating prospect.

According to eBay, the ‘vast majority of higher-volume sellers who sell more than 50 items per month can get significant savings’ by using a store. Put simply, a seller who is paying more on insertion fees than the cheapest subscription (e.g. $19.95 in the USA) will save money with an eBay store.

To work out whether it would be better value to have a store, eBay has created a useful Fee Illustrator for sellers. It is not an all-encompassing application (it does not include listing upgrade fees for example) but it offers a good indication of the potential savings based on volume and category of sales.

Comparing subscriptions

The aforementioned Fee Illustrator not only helps to indicate to sellers whether upgrading to a store may be worth it, but it also displays some of the main differences between a Basic, Premium and Anchor subscription. eBay offers a further breakdown of the subscription packages in a comparison chart. In simple terms, the more a seller pays, the more free listings and lower final value/insertion fees. There are other benefits too, like a larger promotional email allowance and more sales management tools but for most sellers these will not be the main reason to upgrade.

For each type of store subscription, there are recommendations (general guidelines for sellers) and requirements, with the latter being especially important for the Premium and Anchor variety. For any subscription above ‘Basic’’ the seller must not have a ‘below standard’ performance rating. Eligibility is continually assessed, with sellers given 60 days to rectify the situation once notice has been given – if performance does not improve, the subscription will be automatically downgraded.

Becoming a store owner

Owning an eBay store is not a prerequisite to being a successful seller on eBay, however it is clear that the lower fees and exclusive features could save high volume sellers both time and money in the long run. The choice to upgrade to a store is not a cheap one, so some consideration and calculations should be made before making the leap.

Have you taken the plunge into setting up an eBay store? If so we’d love to hear about it – get in contact via the comment form below.