An eBay Store gives you a unique URL (Web address) which, in effect, belongs to you as long as you maintain and pay for your Store on eBay. This is much easier and less expensive than establishing your own independent website. In addition, you have built-in eBay traffic which would take a huge amount of marketing (e.g., getting found by the search engines) on the Web to duplicate. In my opinion, most eBay retail businesses will not find establishing an independent website to be a cost-effective way of doing business on the Web. At least, not as long as they can have an eBay Store instead. An eBay Store gives you most of the good characteristics of a viable ecommerce storefront. It gives you a place, and more importantly, a place where there's traffic. It gives you a storefront look. It gives you a catalog of products. And it gives you a checkout mechanism. The checkout mechanism, of course, includes payment choices. You've got it all on with an eBay Store. Or do you?
The primary shortcoming of an eBay Store, as I see it, is the lack of capability to add content to your retail website. An eBay Store is pretty straightforward and does not provide you with the opportunity to add the kind of content you might add if you had an independent website. Content is a huge attractor which helps sell merchandise. Content also provides, or helps provide, great customer service. I see content as being an essential part of every retail business. In many cases, a business that cannot provide content on the Web is less than the best it can be.
Content can consist of tutorials, reports, articles, checklists, and useful links. In short, content is useful information relevant to what you sell. See Chapter 22 for more on content as an attractor for retail businesses.
Even simple straightforward content such as how to use, clean, repair, and protect your products is better than nothing. Now to provide those four things on your website you may simply put links to a manufacturer's website. This does not mean that you have not provided content. Indeed, you have provided the content necessary to customer satisfaction just a click away. Customers certainly can't complain about that. What they can complain about is the lack of that information being readily available to them.
Some products are more complicated than others. For instance, if you sell chess sets, you may want to inform people how to care for them, clean them, and repair them when they get broken. This instruction will be straightforward and undoubtedly short. In other words, it's not a great deal of content. Nonetheless, it's content that helps customers use your products and shows them that you care.
On the other hand, if you sell radio-controlled self-powered model airplanes, there is a huge amount of basic information that you can give your customers on how to maintain and repair such a product. After all, it includes a high-tech radio controller and a motor as well as a fuselage with operational wings and stabilizers. Consequently, until eBay offers you substantial capability towards customizing your eBay Store into what will compare favorably with an independent website, you may have to resort to offering your content in a different place. Read more about this in Chapter 22.
Note that in both of the examples above, there is a second level of information that can be valuable to your customers and provide you with an opportunity to offer more content or even sell content. For example, chess players will want to learn how to play chess better. Give them a tutorial on playing chess or sell them a book on the same topic. Hobbists will want to learn how to control their model airplanes skillfully and put the planes through flying maneuvers. Give them a tutorial on flying or sell them a book on the same topic.
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