Case Study – Betty’s Treasures

Betty Shriver is the owner of Betty’s Treasures, a small shop that sells collectible porcelain figurines and collectible pottery. Betty’s shop carries many items that she purchased from estate sales and regional auctions, but the shop also sells handcrafted items made by local artisans, including greeting cards, stuffed toy animals, small pottery items, and knitted sweaters. The shop is located in Metamora, Indiana, which is a popular tourist destination for weekend travelers in the Midwest. The town of Old Metamora is a small historic area in a rural setting that is less than a day’s drive from seven major metropolitan areas: Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, and St. Louis.

The shop is very busy on weekends and during the spring and summer months when tourists flock to Old Metamora. In the early fall, the tourist traffic slows considerably, and in the winter months, the town becomes almost deserted. Several years ago, Betty began to pick up extra business during the offseason by auctioning items on eBay. The auctions helped keep inventory moving during the slow months and Betty found that she could afford to carry a wider selection of items in the store. In the past, she would avoid buying unusual items at estate sales and auctions because they might not sell quickly in the shop. Now Betty knows that any item that does not sell in the shop can be auctioned online quite easily. Another unexpected benefit of participating in online auctions is that Betty developed relationships with regular buyers of figurines and with people who run collectibles stores in other parts of the country through their transactions on eBay.

Betty’s online auction experiences prompted her to consider expanding the online portion of her business. She has heard from other shop owners that eBay allows people to create online stores within the eBay site and that Amazon.com offers a similar service that lists seller’s items on Amazon.com’s regular product pages. She is also interested in creating a Web site that contains photos and descriptions of popular figurines with additional information about how they are made. Betty is thinking that including a list of figurines that are no longer manufactured (which makes them more valuable) and a guide to buying collectible figurines that could help her customers and bidders on her auctions make more informed decisions as they add to their collections. She believes that such a site could attract a large number of people interested in figurines. She wants to find ways to direct these site visitors to her auctions and her proposed Web store.

Betty has hired you as a consultant to build on her ideas and to help her develop an expansion strategy for her online business activities. Your assignment this week is to use your favorite Web search engine or your library to search for information about selling on Amazon Marketplace, eBay Stores, and an additional platform, Etsy.com. Based on your research, compare these three options for Betty’s online sales of figurines. Include relevant facts, including specific costs of operating each type of store and specific benefits provided by each option. Summarize your recommendation and supporting facts in a report to Betty. Include in your report an outline a general social networking strategy that Betty could use to increase online sales of figurines that would work for all three platform (the Amazon Marketplace, eBay Stores, Etsy) options. Be sure to consider including a Web site in your strategy that would be separate from the Betty’s Treasures Amazon Marketplace, eBay Store or Etsy presence.

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