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eBay Will Open On-Site Stores

In a move designed to enhance its revenues and streamline the sales process for users, auction leader eBay is launching eBay Stores, designed to be customized shopping destinations that "will significantly expand the way goods and services are traded on the site."

"eBay Stores is the next step in eBay's evolution," said Meg Whitman, eBay's president and CEO. "Our sellers should realize increased sales as buyers become familiar with their stores. And our buyers will enjoy the added convenience of quickly being able to browse through the inventory of their favorite sellers."

The San Jose, Calif.-based company said that for sellers, eBay Stores represents "a supercharged way" to reach eBay's nearly 30 million registered users. For buyers, the stores will make it easier to participate in auction-style or fixed-price trading.

The company's stock was up on the news in early trading, rising $1.27 in the first 10 minutes to $64.82.

Pricing for sellers who choose to use the stores includes an initial monthly subscription fee of $9.95 and an initial fee of 5 cents per item. Final value fees range from 1.25 to 5 percent will be based on selling price.

A pilot program began today featuring a select group of sellers, mostly small business operators looking to expand their sales. Larger companies such as IBM and Hard Rock Cafe also will set up shop at eBay Stores.

Beginning June 18, eBay Stores will be open to all qualified online sellers. eBay said that in coming months, based in part on user feedback from the pilot program, enhancements will be made to eBay Stores, including a shopping cart feature, integration of Half.com listings (set price) and addition of more customizable options.

By mid summer, the company will aggregate all the stores and launch an eBay Stores Hub as a directory of eBay Stores.

The basic category listings remain as they have been, allowing users to follow various links to hone in on specific kinds of merchandise. Insertion fees there range from 30 cents to $3.30, and final value fees are 1.25 percent to 5 percent of the final sale price.

To encourage seller adoption eBay is offering a free trial period, charging only final value fees until Sept. 1.