eBay Stores and e-Commerce Website Choices – Build It In-House or Hire a Professional?

When you have made the decision to get your products online via eBay and/or your own eCommerce website, what is the next step?

First Question: Build it in-house or hire a professional?

Yes, you can build your companies eBay store and website with talent already existing within your organization.

Website design is taught at most high schools or community colleges these days so, chances are good that your employee pool may have budding web designer talent. Are you ready to trust your company marketing and image to that in house talent is the real question?

eBay provides numerous tools and a great deal of information for anyone to accomplish the task of getting a store up and running. The question is… does eBay provide these tips and tricks to help you as a business or to help their business? Obviously, if you are a seasoned business professional you will soon realize that a company such as eBay does nothing without a reason.

eBay Stores

Most of eBay’s teaching tools and to a certain extent, eBay’s entire growth strategy is based upon making the process of setting up an eBay selling account and consequently an eBay store easy for home based businesses. eBay wants mom & pop to go garage sale shopping with an eye towards making a few extra bucks for the cookie jar. To that end they want to get mom & pop up and running with an eBay store as soon as possible (and funneling fees into eBay).

Just because eBay has based a majority of their marketing focus on home based businesses does not mean that an eBay store is not a valuable asset for any established brick and mortar retailer or other “real” business concern. eBay is simply going after the largest number of potential users of their products. Unfortunately this also leads to numerous eBay store failures…

These home based eBay store owners do not have the prior background, sources or resources to take advantage of the world wide marketing giant and revenue producer now known as eBay. Therefore, while getting your company eBay store up and running may seem to be an easy in-house task for any intern, or kid just out of college with a great computer science degree… the real nuts & bolts set up and operation of an eBay store or e-commerce solution or both in tandem (the best option) is better left to professionals who work with eBay and e-commerce each and every day. If you are reading this because you are interested in moving your business more into an Internet sales based program you should consider the wisdom of hiring eBay and Internet marketing professionals to help you and your company get a head start toward those goals.

Still Thinking About Doing it yourself?

Building an online business requires ability in several completely different arenas: graphic design, programming, database development, Web design, copywriting, photography, and online marketing. This is just a short list of what is required to start from scratch or to add Internet marketing to your sales operation. If you have these skills in-house or if you plan on learning them yourself, please take this advice to heart.

Make a list of your employees’ available skills as well as which skills they can learn. When you have a choice between learning a skill that will directly translate into making more money for your company or learning a skill that will let you do cool stuff on the Web, make a careful choice. Decide how much time you really want to devote to learning and doing things that really don’t help you sell more products. Do you want to be an online retailer, or do you want to be a Web developer? The highest and best use of your available time & resources probably isn’t learning the ins and outs of XHTML, but taking care of customers, finding new products, and promoting your business.

Making it Happen

Anything you can do yourself on a website design or to a eBay Store can be delegated or outsourced. You can hire eBay Stores Certified design professionals to design your eBay store from the ground up, create a custom logo, develop a corporate identity with unique colors and fonts, build your store product database, take product photos, write sales copy, perform search engine optimization on your site, custom-build XHTML templates that do almost anything you want them to do, and even manage your orders and perform customer service. It all depends on your budget.

After you’ve decided that you need help, you have lots of choices to make. The first decision is the size of your budget, which determines who you can hire. You can find prices for “building a eBay Store” that range anywhere from $300 to $5,000 and up. You can get a bargain using offshore designers (working anywhere from eastern Europe to India), college kids, or even professional designers moonlighting out of their basement. If you want a more “professional” experience, expect to pay up to $15,000 for a complete branding, marketing, and design package from top-drawer eBay store and Internet marketing firm. Both your web e-commerce site and your eBay store should present your branding and image as you expect them to. Getting the eBay image and your website image to mesh almost seamlessly is your goal, this can be quite difficult for even experienced web designers.

Using a CMS or Content Management System type of website design can significantly reduce your web design costs. There are a huge amount of new and exciting options available for web development, do not think you must use a “hand coded” html site to get your branding and image in front of the public. Some companies are even using simple blogging platforms like WordPress or Typepad as the basis for corporate websites. These blogging platforms are very inexpensive to set up and the software is free. These CMS or Blogging platforms may also be used in conjunction with an eBay store or a with an eCommerce plug in (or both) to craft a unique Internet marketing funnel for your company.

You get what you pay for…

eBay store designs can run between $2,000 to $5,000 from a qualified eBay Stores designer. eCommerce website designs sometimes run in the tens of thousands of dollars with continual maintenance costs and webmaster fees. If your budget makes you choose between the two options, an eBay store is the more economical and faster route to success when managed correctly. Subsequently an off eBay eCommerce site can be developed for your best selling items. This allows you to use the power of eBay for marketing and SEO purposes while saving eBay fees on sales made through your own eCommerce website.

The best part of an eBay stores set up is that once it is installed as you want it, you have very few outside maintenance costs. Your company will have complete control of the products presentation (with the use of a template) and the inventory management is a simple to learn affair on eBay. Advanced tools are available to help with the management of large inventories and to help you create a listing just as you would within a word processing program or text editor.

When you get a quality eBay Stores design, sometimes the results are more than just superficial. Qualified designers improve the shopping experience, which can dramatically increase sales from your existing traffic by increasing your conversion rate. Also, many designs, when set up correctly improve the way your site looks to search-engine spiders, too! (This is the power of an eBay stores “me” page and other exclusive features and benefits of eBay stores packages).

After you determine what parts of the store building process you can do and what you can’t do or would rather not do, you’re ready to look for some help with the heavy lifting. First, you have to decide what type of vendor you want to work with because there’s a big difference between working with a freelancer or independent consultant and working with a large design company or eBay Stores certified design specialists StoresDesigner.

eBay Stores certified design specialists – eBay Stores Designer

eBay Stores certified design specialists (certified eBay stores designers) provide the best overall experience. Your company will get the personalized attention it deserves and you will know that the design is based upon eBay marketing principles. Look at the portfolios of these certified eBay stores designers and decide which firm best represents your companies’ image. Stay away from home based eBay stores designers with frilly eBay templates and flashy bouncing mouse pointers. You should be looking more for a corporate image that sells product and more importantly, cross sells more products for your company.

Look at the online stores you frequent in your daily life, think about the type of image and features you would like to emulate for your eBay store. Look at the designer’s portfolios and or ask them if the features you think are most valuable are available in their design packages? Some eBay stores designers can deliver very advanced packages designed to promote more than one primary product at a time. If you are looking for growth in your Internet sales segment, these are the designers to contract with. Talk with several designers to find the one you are most comfortable with and the one who you think will represent the image of your company best with an online design. If the same designer can also develop your off eBay website e-commerce design, you should place that designer high on your list of candidates.

Having a web presence for your company which flows from eBay to your own website with the same “look and feel” is very important. Your goal should be to make your customers feel confident in your products and your company. If you (and your design company) have made an effort to create a nearly seamless shopping experience between eBay and your own e-commerce website, the confidence of the buyer will increase and your conversion rate will as well. Drawing eBay shoppers to your website from within eBay is not only possible, but very probable with a eBay store design done correctly.

Ask your prospective design firm the right questions and you will know immediately if you have made the best choice. Example Questions:

  • Are you a certified eBay Stores Designer?
  • Do you have examples of cross marketing designs?
  • Can you create an eBay stores design which matches my existing website or can you create an e-commerce design to match your eBay stores design?
  • Is SEO important for eBay?
  • How important is a eBay about me page?
  • Do your templates appear correct on all of the major browsers?

What kind of changes can be made to the design after your job is complete? (Can I offer a special sale item in my listing template?)

If your chosen designer is not informed in these questions you should look further. Not every eBay or Internet design firm has the necessary skills or background to help your company effectively cross-market your products. Find the right design firm which will give your firm a solid foundation from which to grow and prosper in the new world of Internet retailing.

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