There's something about an attractive and well-maintained store that makes buyers feel welcomed and appreciated. And it's that sense of being valued that can help turn casual visitors into loyal customers.
Gina Bianchi of Precious Jewelry understands this and puts it into practice in both her eBay Store and her eBay-affiliated storefront on Auctiva.com.
Having used the free Auctiva store for about two years, Bianchi considers it an important element of her e-commerce identity, she says. Despite it being free, the Auctiva Store provides visibility and branding benefits on par with high-priced Web stores.
Bianchi has customized the look and feel of the site to allow buyers to move seamlessly from Auctiva to eBay and back without feeling lost. By choosing her color and style preferences, and uploading a custom logo to her storefront header to match that of her eBay Store, she has created a brand identity that buyers can easily recognize, no matter which site they locate her products on.
Bianchi recognizes that the free Auctiva Store is a great opportunity to cross-sell her merchandise and promote her business. For this reason, she's made sure to thoroughly fill out the store's "About Us" and "Contact Us" pages, adding a personal touch: "Please e-mail me with any questions you have." Doing this not only lets buyers know her specialties, store policies and payment methods upfront, it also tells anyone visiting the site that she is a real person, and a seller who cares about her customers.
She takes advantage of many of the free features that are built in to help increase the exposure of her eBay items to people searching on sites like Google and Yahoo.
We utilize all the features that Auctiva has to offer
"Auctiva offers store templates, meta tags and all the listing tools your need to add your items to your storefront," Bianchi says. "We utilize all that Auctiva has to offer. We use Google Base store connector, and we also use the Auctiva community boards to help others or to just make a comment to drive traffic to the store."
Every user who signs up for Auctiva's eBay listing tools receives an Auctiva Store, free of charge. But while the storefront is provided for free, its features and benefits are evident. Each store is a standalone website that displays the seller's active eBay listings, and has pages where sellers can provide information about their businesses and promote specials or new inventory, and even create communities through the built-in blog.
Used in conjunction with the free Auctiva Scrolling Gallery, buyers can reach your Auctiva Store from every listing you have on eBay, significantly increasing your repeat customers and multiple-purchase customers.
A unique URL for every store allows sellers to easily promote their sites. Or a custom domain can be purchased to give a big boost to branding efforts and increase potential for repeat business. It's like having your own Web store without the additional fees and maintenance time that go along with that.
With more than 2,500 items in the store, Precious Jewelry has felt mounting cost pressures when it comes to adding new inventory during these tough economic times. And while the thought of branching out online is attractive to many sellers, the cost of starting up a new Web site is a challenge, Bianchi says.
That's why she has stayed with Auctiva.
"So many other sites charge you to have your own store," she notes. "Auctiva's storefront is free, so why not use it? This was the way to go for Precious Jewelry."
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.