Friday, October 31, 2008

Marketing for eBay's ProStores

Don't let it ever be said that I can't be positive about something eBay does. Though, like in the post you are about to read, I have many caveats.

ProStores 9.2 With Pay-Per-Sale Marketing - The Announcement

"Hi everyone...this is Matt Ackley, VP of Advertising and Internet Marketing at eBay. Many of our sellers who run their own Web stores face the challenge of marketing their stores in a cost-effective way. With the release of ProStores 9.2, we can now offer sellers a way to take the hassle out of marketing their stores online with zero upfront cost or risk.

ProStores 9.2 includes Pay-Per-Sale Marketing (Beta), a new feature where ProStores can market your store for you and you pay a commission only on sales linked to the traffic we drive to your store. Just set a minimum commission rate of 8% and increase it for more exposure. This makes it possible to get more potential buyers to your store while controlling your advertising costs—with Pay-Per-Sale Marketing you won’t pay more for advertising than you make in sales.

And remember, ProStores is the online store solution for eBay sellers—with ProStores you can open your own Web store instantly using your eBay listings and other settings.

Learn more about Pay-Per-Sale Marketing and all the new features now available in ProStores 9.2."
So what does this mean? Basically, you can set a minimum 8% FVF for sold items in your ProStore if eBay drove the traffic to you. Once again, in theory this is a good idea. An AdWords campaign can get scary because it takes a lot of effort to dial it in and get the right ROI (Return on Investment) With this new program by eBay, you only pay for an actual order that they drove to your ProStore. It is kind of like having eBay be one of your affiliates in an affiliate program.

If you have a ProStore, I would highly recommend participating in this program, hopefully there won't be too many glitches.

Just my 15%


Cliff said...

Wonder if I'll be eligible for this. I'm tinkering around with ProStores, but after reading horror story after horror story about their hosting platform, I'm trying it through a 3rd party host--this means I pay a flat monthly fee, but there is no commission I guess I'm out(?)

Of course the eBay import has been a royal PITA and I have to go in and hand-edit every don't look for an announcement of my opening til at least the New Year!


the-savvy-seller said...

I wonder if you think this is a 'band-aid' after the fact.

I'm aware of a number of sellers who signed up for ProStores during a promotion early this year and have since closed them due to lack of sales.

TheBrewsNews said...

I spoke with a Prostores rep a few weeks ago and I asked about the ability to change the percentage and I was told that a store owner could make a change that would go into effect after midnight that day.

So, I asked if it was possible to first list that I was willing to pay 20% (so that I would get more effort on the part of Prostores) and then when the orders started rollling in and I changed it to 8%, what would I pay? I was told that the rate is effective as of the date the order was placed and that, yes, the higher the percentage I allocated the more effort that would be given by Prostores to market my items.

Of course, I'm not advocating that anyone "game the system", I only wanted to do my part to inform folks. ;)

Randy Smythe said...

Cliff, if Pro Stores is still having those types of issues it may not be worth it. Maybe they could ask Bonanzle how to import listings :)

I think its a way for ebay to make more money, but mostly if people can't get any traffic to a website they lose interest and move-on, so this is a good idea if they execute properly.

My guess is that they will use eBay's traffic to people to the websites. In theory, I like the idea.

Randy Smythe said...

Brews, I think it has potential, I'm not sure I trust eBay enough to open a ProStore just because of this program, but if I had a ProStore already I would sign-up for this.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me if this is a step to do away with stores on eBay, funnel everyone into a pro store, and do away with the store format like in europe.

It's so hard to try to build a business with a company like eBay that is moving all the time and doesn't tell anyone what their plan is.

If I remember correctly, Google was working on something similar awhile back. Pay per sale vs pay per click.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous, yeah Google tried a PPA program that never really got off the ground.

Again, I like the idea but am concerned about eBay's ability to execute. The nice thing about this is you have fixed expenses and you acquire the customer as well.

Cliff said...

I'm going to take it slow, my host explained that they stay an update or two behind the eBay platform in order to make sure its stable before introducing--I was told there might be one implemented in the next couple of weeks that fixes this. Since I'm early enough in to still have plenty to tinker with on the backend I have no problem paying while waiting.

I thought ProStores was the death knell for eBay stores from the time they bought it...not sure if I think that or not anymore, but they sure are taking their sweet time if that's the case.

Another reason I originally thought they'd made this purchase was an assumption that they'd apply the cart technology to eBay Stores...guess that ain't right either.

It's been what, 3-4 years under eBay control now, maybe longer?


Henrietta said...

Please forgive me if I am being dumb here because I really do not understand what the benefits are.

You are paying for hosting, presumably you pay to have the site template and the integration.

When you add up what you are paying why not have your own independent site, use google base, and whatever other search platform turns you on and cut the cord?

You are trusting that eBay will do what they are agreeing to and so far historical evidence does not make that a valid assumption.

Explain this to me and sell me on it

Cliff said...


For me, it's because I've already gone the "my own store" route and found the maintenance fees too much. The "please update your site or you put our entire database at risk" and "we can do it for you for $X hundred dollars" too much. The design too much. Etc. etc.

I'm paying a monthly fee for simplicity and peace of mind.

If you look at the complaints on ProStores, you'll see that just about every one posted is about downtime and the hosting platform. The software itself is very rarely the complaint.

So by doing it through a third party I'm escaping the main issue, and also escaping paying a percentage on sales entirely in exchange for a slightly higher monthly fee than offered directly by eBay. And I'm also escaping the numerous headaches that went with the other site in order to have my host do all updates, etc.

Beyond this import issue I'm not having any problems on the back-end as yet. It's pretty easy to navigate.

With eBay my main sales venue, the absolute #1 benefit of ProStores is the real-time integration with eBay. I've already seen items disappear from stock in my backend simply by being sold on eBay--a lot easier than my weekly or so updates to Bonanzle and the #1 reason I don't branch out to other sites.

I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to incorporate the ProStores checkout into my eBay I've never been a fan of third party checkout personally. (But there is one condition I'd consider this under: there's a Google Checkout module for ProStores, I'm wondering if I pay to have that installed if it becomes a payment option for eBay sales checking out through ProStores--obviously an option unadvertised in eBay listings.)

Again, I'm very early in the process, so I'm not saying I'm going to be in love with this if you ask me about it in a few months, but for now it makes a lot of sense for me.

Randy Smythe said...


I'm not trying to sell you on this. I said if you already have a ProStore then this would make sense to drive traffic to your store. You only pay a fixed % on the order.

If you don't have a ProStore already, this is not a reason to start one, IMO.

ms.pat said...

Am I the only one who feels that Ebay has totally given up on enticing new buyers and is now concentrating on parting the seller with more and more money? What is the difference between this plan and uploading your own items to google base? I do that with my own online store and its working out well. I may go back to google adwords for a couple of months as well. So far, I'm doing good. I don't have thousands of items on my site - just a bit over 200 but I find I can handle it and I'm making sales.

AuctionWally said...

Hi Randy, it's a great idea in theory, but I'm very sketchy about it.

I TRIED to open a Pro-Store about 3 months ago, but the platform was so full of bugs that I was unable to even get the store up and running.

I've since set up a GoDaddy store and never looked back.

Right now, it's all about trust for me, and I really just don't trust eBay to keep things simple enough for me to give them a second chance.

I still sell some things via eBay's auctions, but all other efforts are focused on things I have more control over.


Randy Smythe said...


I think it all does come down to trust. As I said. I don't think this idea should encourage anyone to start a ProStore but if you have one already and it is working then it make sense to try it.