Tuesday, December 05, 2006

eBay Success Stories - Visibility Unlimited

(By the way, if you are into eBay, here is a $49.95 software package that you can get absolutely free. I believe the offer is available to US residents exclusively.)


Cathy is a smart businesswoman. She started out as a travel agent who just loved to SCUBA dive. She used her knowledge of diving to book recreational vacations for fellow divers-and boy, did word spread. Adding to her SCUBA vacation business, Cathy opened Visibility Unlimited, specializing in equipment for everything H20-from SCUBA wetsuits, kayaks and other watersports goods.

But then the economy took a sharp downturn and Cathy realized that no matter how professional and full-service Visibility Unlimited was, that the Chicago suburbs she served simply couldn't provide her the business she needed to keep her doors open.

Within a few months of selling, Cathy started reading the eBay Store boards. "That's when I realized that an eBay Store was really a branded website within the eBay community. The potential was just huge."

Cathy was further tempted because there's so little risk in opening an eBay Store- far less than what she's already lived through with her brick-and-mortar store. She did a little quick math-and figured out that a Basic eBay Store would cost as little as $15.95 per month and a Featured Store would cost only $49.95 a month. She opened the eBay version of her brick-and-mortar store, Visibilities Unlimited, on eBay in 2004.

"I'm not 25 years old, you know. I didn't know any HTML," quipped Cathy, between answering the live questions of customers in her store and packing up eBay orders. In order to design the eBay version of Visibility Unlimited, Cathy was going to need some help. She was thrilled by easy-to-use Macromedia Contribute 3, available to eBay Stores merchants at $50 off retail value for $99.

But Cathy quickly fell in love with how easy she could customize-and re-customize-her eBay Store's interface. "I change my eBay Store every day, as many times as I want, without costing me any more money," says Cathy, who also notes that she constantly rearranges items in her brick-and-mortar store, too.

We're excited to point out that Cathy, an HTML novice, was one of the finalists in the Best Looking Store category in eBay's Best in Stores!2005 Contest.

But it's not just about the pretty package to Cathy. She also takes full advantage of other eBay Stores features, especially to market her store. Each week, Cathy notifies her customer base as to new products. Plus, Cathy enjoys becoming a more skilled eBay Stores merchant through business intelligence tools that help her discern repeat buyers, what merchandise is moving and more. "Traffic reports keep me focused on which direction my customers are moving," says Cathy. "I can also figure out my busiest days, hours and seasons with eBay Stores tools."

In the year since opening her eBay Store, Cathy has experience unprecedented sales and worldwide growth. "I'm so overwhelmed by the response," says Cathy, who divides her time between her eBay Store and the brick-and-mortar shop. "I just can't believe it."

Before opening her eBay Store, Cathy was content to sell products to the greater Chicagoland area, but because of eBay's worldwide reach, she's opened up her market. "I realized that the dollar was weak abroad," notes Cathy, "and that if I drew traffic to my store from the U.K., people there would buy more product. And they do! I say, 'God Save the Queen!'" She has sold items to buyers all over the Middle East, Europe and North America.

Just how much has having an eBay Store meant for Cathy's business? She's watched her sales increase each month. Cathy is doing so well that she plans to bring in a few assistants in order to keep service levels high. "On eBay, you can't afford to lose your feedback. So I'm increasing and decreasing the number of items in my eBay Store as I have the bandwidth to deal with orders." Quality of service is especially important to Cathy, who sells 500 items per month, many to repeat customers and referrals.

Overall, Cathy says that although she'll never give up her brick-and-mortar store, her eBay Store is more successful. She's selling more items-and much quicker.

eBay Income: How Anyone of Any Age, Location, and/or Background Can Build a Highly Profitable Online Business with eBay