eBay Stores and Ecommerce Website Options: Build It In-house or Hire a Professional?

eBay Stores and Ecommerce Website Options: Build It In-house or Hire a Professional?

When you’ve made the decision to put your products online through eBay and/or your own eCommerce website, what’s the next step?

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

Yes, you can build your company’s eBay store and website with the talent that already exists within your organization.

Website design is taught in most high schools or community colleges these days, so there’s a good chance your employee pool has budding talent as a web designer. Are you ready to entrust your company’s marketing and image to internal talent is the real question?

eBay provides numerous tools and a wealth of information to help anyone with the task of starting a store. The question is… Does Ebay provide these tips and tricks to help you as a business or to help your business? Obviously, if you’re a seasoned business professional, you’ll soon realize that a company like eBay doesn’t do anything without a reason.

eBay Stores

Most of eBay’s teaching tools, and to some degree, eBay’s entire growth strategy, is based on making the process of creating an eBay selling account, and consequently an eBay store, easy for home based businesses. eBay wants Mom and Dad to go shopping at the garage sale to earn a few extra bucks for the cookie jar. To that end, they want to get mom and pop up and running with an eBay store ASAP (and funnel the fees to eBay).

Just because eBay has based most of its marketing focus on home-based businesses doesn’t mean that an eBay store isn’t a valuable asset to any established brick-and-mortar retailer or other “real” business venture. eBay simply searches for the largest number of potential users of its products. Unfortunately, this also leads to numerous failures in eBay shops…

These home-based eBay store owners have no background, sources, or resources to take advantage of the global marketing and revenue-producing giant now known as eBay. So while getting your company’s eBay store up and running may seem like an easy inside job for any intern or kid just out of college with a great degree in computer science… you’re better off leaving a store. eBay or an eCommerce solution or both (best option) in the hands of professionals who work with eBay and eCommerce every day. If you’re reading this because you’re interested in moving your business more toward an Internet sales-based program, you should consider the wisdom of hiring eBay and Internet marketing professionals to help you and your business get a head start toward those goals.

Are you still thinking of doing it yourself?

Building an online business requires skill in several completely different fields: graphic design, programming, database development, web design, writing, photography, and online marketing. This is just a short list of what it takes to start from scratch or add internet marketing to your sales operation. If you have these skills internally or plan to learn them yourself, take this advice to heart.

Make a list of the skills available to your employees, as well as the skills they can learn. When faced with a choice between learning a skill that will translate directly to making more money for your business or learning a skill that will enable you to do great things on the web, make a careful choice. Decide how much time you really want to spend learning and doing things that don’t really help you sell more products. Do you want to be an online retailer or do you want to be a web developer? The biggest and best use of your time and available resources is probably not learning the ins and outs of XHTML, but serving customers, finding new products, and promoting your business.

Make it happens

Anything you can do yourself in designing a website or eBay store can be delegated or outsourced. You can hire certified eBay Stores design professionals to design your eBay store from scratch, create a custom logo, develop a corporate identity with unique colors and fonts, create your store’s product database, take product photography, write sales copies, search. optimization on your site, custom XHTML templates that do just about anything you want them to do, and even manage your orders and provide customer service. It all depends on your budget.

Once you have decided that you need help, you have many choices to make. The first decision is the size of your budget, which determines who you can hire. You can find prices for “build an eBay store” ranging from $300 to $5,000 and up. You can get a bargain with foreign designers (working anywhere from Eastern Europe to India), college students, or even professional designers working as a side job out of your basement. If you want a more “professional” experience, expect to pay up to $15,000 for a complete branding, marketing, and design package from eBay Store and top-tier internet marketing company. Both your eCommerce website and your eBay store should present your brand and image the way you expect them to. Your goal is to make the image on eBay and the image on your website match almost perfectly; this can be quite difficult even for experienced web designers.

Using a CMS or Content Management System type of website design can significantly reduce web design costs. There are a lot of new and exciting options available for web development, don’t think you have to use a “hand coded” html site to showcase your brand and image to the public. Some companies even use simple blogging platforms like WordPress or Typepad as the foundation for corporate websites. These blogging platforms are very cheap to set up and the software is free. These CMS or blogging platforms can also be used in conjunction with an eBay store or eCommerce plugin (or both) to create a unique internet marketing funnel for your business.

You get what you pay for…

eBay store designs can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 from a qualified eBay store designer. Ecommerce website designs sometimes cost tens of thousands of dollars with ongoing maintenance costs and webmaster fees. If your budget makes you choose between the two options, an eBay store is the cheapest and fastest path to success when managed correctly. Subsequently, an e-commerce site can be developed outside of eBay 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 setting up an eBay store is that once it’s set up the way you want it, you have very little outside maintenance costs. Your business will be in complete control of product display (with the use of a template) and inventory management is an easy matter to learn on eBay. Advanced tools are available to assist you with managing large inventories and to help you create a list just as you would within a word processing program or text editor.

When you get quality eBay store design, sometimes the results are more than skin deep. Skilled designers enhance the shopping experience, which can dramatically upsell your existing traffic by increasing your conversion rate. Additionally, many layouts, when set up correctly, also improve the appearance of your site to search engine spiders. (This is the power of an eBay Store “me” page and other exclusive features and benefits of eBay Store Packages.)

After you’ve determined which parts of the shop-building process you can do and what you can’t do or would rather not do, you’re ready to seek help with the heavy lifting. First of all, you need to decide what type of vendor you want to work with because there is a big difference between working with a freelancer or independent consultant and working with a large design company or StoresDesigner, eBay Stores certified design specialists.

Certified eBay Store Design Specialists – eBay Store Designer

Certified eBay Store Design Specialists (Certified eBay Store Designers) provide the best overall experience. Your business will receive the personal attention it deserves and you will know that the design is based on eBay marketing principles. Take a look at the portfolios of these certified eBay store designers and decide which company best represents your company’s image. Steer clear of home-based eBay store designers with eBay templates with flyers and flashy bouncing mouse pointers. You should look more for a corporate image that sells the product and more importantly, cross-selling of 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 designer portfolios and ask if the features you think are most valuable are available in their design packages. Some eBay store designers may offer very advanced packages designed to promote more than one main product at a time. If you’re looking for growth in your Internet sales segment, these are the designers to hire. Talk to several designers to find the one you’re most comfortable with and the one you think will best represent your company’s image with an online design. If the same designer can also develop the eCommerce design for your website outside of eBay, you should put that designer high on your candidate list.

Having a web presence for your business that flows from eBay to your own website with the same “look” is very important. Your goal should be to make your customers feel confident with your products and your company. If you (and your design company) have worked to create a near-seamless shopping experience between eBay and your own eCommerce website, buyer confidence will go up and so will your conversion rate. Attracting eBay buyers to your website from eBay is not only possible, but highly likely with an eBay store design done right.

Ask your prospective design firm the right questions, and you’ll know right away if you’ve made the best decision. Example questions:

  • Are you a Certified eBay Store Designer?
  • Do you have examples of cross marketing designs?
  • Can you create an eBay store layout that matches my current website or can you create an eCommerce layout that matches your eBay store layout?
  • Is SEO important for eBay?
  • How important is an eBay About Me page?
  • Do your templates appear correctly in all major browsers?

What kind of changes can be made to the design after the job is done? (Can I feature a special sale item in my ad template?)

If your chosen designer is unaware of these questions, you should look further. Not all eBay or Internet design companies have the necessary skills or experience to help your company market its products effectively. Find the right design firm that will give your business a solid foundation from which to grow and prosper in the new world of online retail.

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