Online auction house eBay is hoping to expand its business into a more traditional form of retailing by launching the eBay Stores service, which will allow eBay sellers to open their doors online with specialised shopping destinations. eBay Stores will have "storefronts" on the site where they can chose to sell items by either auction or fixed prices, or both. Fixed-price items will be put on sale for a period of 30 days. If the item is not sold in that period, the Store must renew the item and repay a listing fee.
The eBay Stores pilot program began Monday, spearheaded by sellers such as musical instrument vendor "instrumentguy" and IBM. The service will be opened to all qualified sellers Monday, June 18, the company said.
To qualify, stores must be registered eBay users and sellers, have an eBay feedback rating of at least 20 and accept credit cards.
The company plans to aggregate all the stores into an eBay Stores Hub in the beginning of the third quarter, which will allow buyers to browse all the stores or just individual sellers.
EBay is charging sellers an initial monthly subscription fee of $US9.95 and an initial fee of $0.05 per item for the service. In addition, sellers will be charged a 1.25 per cent to 5 per cent fee on the final value of each item sold, based on the selling price. EBay said that it is offering a free trial period until September 1, 2001 to encourage sellers to adopt the service, during which it will only charge final-value fees.
The company said that sellers will be able to list items for sale directly through eBay or by using software programs such as Seller's Assistant and Mister Lister, GoTo Auctions' ChannelFusion and FairMarket's MarketSelect, as well as eBay partner Microsoft's bCentral.
Analysts say that eBay, one of the most successful pure-play Internet companies, is looking to diversify its commercial activities and revenue stream to keep on top of the online game.
Although Internet players such as Yahoo and Amazon.com have launched similar services with little success, eBay's wide following and nearly 30 million registered users may give it a leg up on the competition.