Renovating Your eBay Store

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted February 16, 2005

Getting an eBay store up and running is fairly easily done directly with eBay.com. However, if you really want to "punch it up a notch," make it look great and do all kinds of things that you may not have thought possible, you'll use Macromedia's Contribute for eBay.

Macromedia Contribute 3 is an easy-to-use tool intended that lets "average" users create, edit and maintain content on their sites. The extended eBay functionality in Contribute for eBay takes Contribute 3 a step further and is specifically customized and geared for the creation and modification of eBay stores.

Contribute for eBay is not a different version of Contribute 3. Rather, it's the core package together with something called the WA eBay StoreBuilder. Existing Contribute 3 owners can simply download the eBay module to add the functionality to the product.

Getting Started
Before getting started with Contribute for eBay, your first step should be to set up an eBay store. eBay offers the first month free and the setup is a painless experience. If you already own Contribute 3 (or are trying the trial), you can get the WA eBay Store Builder as a free download. Macromedia also sells a bundled version. Installation is a simple matter of clicking the next button on the startup screen.

The eBay Store builder's getting-started documentation is superb. It's the first thing you see when you start the program after installation, and the left side bar has easily accessible help pointers as well. The start screen guides users through a five-step process that walks you all the way through posting your first page to eBay. Sounds easy? Well it is, but don't relax just yet. You still need to have some idea of what you want your store to look like. This program offers nearly 800 different possible customizations. That's where the wizards come into play to weave their magic.

Usage
The custom-page wizard menu should be your first stop in your Contribute for eBay activities. The wizard starts you off with a choice of different layout possibilities including:

Home Page Item and Listing
Item and Categories
Item and Categories and Promotion
Banner and Categories
Featured Item Testimonials
Visual Sell
Marketing Pitch
Feature Tour
Sales & Promotion Single Highlight
Dual Highlight
Highlight and List
List
Calendar Traditional
Event List
About Us
Store Policies

You can customize your layout page further with 11 different color schemes and four different styles. I found the choices overwhelming at first, but once I got used to the idea and the different layouts, it wasn't too bad. By selecting a style, the program automatically selects an appropriate font as well as borders and other page elements (i.e., bullets) to match the same look and feel.

Customizing the pages goes a step further with the use of eBay Stores store tags. Contribute for eBay includes seven of these tags that embed certain functions inside of your stores pages:

  • Contribute for eBay: eBay Stores Store Tags options:
  • Single Item Attribute
  • Single Item Listing
  • Multiple Item List
  • Multiple Item Showcase
  • Search Box
  • User Feedback
  • User ID

You can also add and edit various custom headers (Dual Promotion, Featured Item, Featured Categories, Item Listings and Blank Header). The header feature is yet another great tool in the Contribute for eBay design arsenal, and it helps build better cross promotion and proper site navigation.


Macromedia Contribute 3 for eBay
Build it Better — The main help screen on Macromedia Contribute 3 for eBay can help you build a better Web site.

Editing text and images is a straightforward, point-and-click affair. Macromedia products make it easy to add a flash mechanism so that you can embed rich media into your eBay store.

Page Management
Ebay stores, of course, let you manage pages directly online. Rather than force Contribute for eBay users to go online through an external browser to manage their custom pages, the program allows for the remote management of the custom pages so you can edit, re-order, activate or de-activate them.

We tested Contribute for eBay over a 30-day period didn't encounter any bugs or connection issues when publishing our pages to eBay stores. Simply put, the program works, and it works well.

Contribute to your eBay earning power
Design has long been recognized as an important component of sales. The better your site design, the more likely your customers are to buy. Contribute for eBay's professional layouts are designed to help you sell.

Yes, there are a lot of layouts and choices in this application, and certainly it helps if you know how you want to present your wares. Yet considering how easy it is to create the custom pages, it's no big deal to try out multiple layouts in a trial-and-error fashion to see what works best for your store.

When you sit down and really think about it, the custom layouts are this program's great strength and provide an almost unfair advantage to people who don't use the program.

Contribute for eBay is easy, accessible and favorably priced at $149 for a single, full license and $79 for the upgrade. I'd say that it's a competitive advantage you can't afford to ignore.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com, part of internet.com's Small Business Channel.

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