Huge online traffic generated by eBay caught the eye of Henry’s decision makers back in 2000.

“We taught it would be a great channel for our hard-to-sell items and potentially an additional revenue stream,” according to Max Payne, director of marketing at Henry’s. 

Nestor Arellano

The company never expected the move would become so big that it would open the 100-year-old Canadian photo supply store to a whole new group of American customers.

Payne wouldn’t specify how much its auction store on eBay brings, or what percentage of the company’s total revenues it accounts for.

“It’s substantial enough for us to keep the store open for 10 years,” he said.

But before Henry’s developed a strong eBay clientele, the company did experience some growth pains, according to Payne. (For more on this story read: Henry’s snaps picture perfect profits with eBay presence )

For example, it failed to anticipate the resource drain that would result from running an extra online store.

Henry’s began by posting 50 to 100 items on eBay. However, the task of cataloguing, taking pictures and writing descriptions for these items soon became a burden.

Here are key lessons that Henry’s learned as it grew its eBay store:

1. Get a definite idea of what you’re getting into. Investigate the market. Study how other retailers executed their campaign. Determine how operating an eBay store will affect existing operations and resources.

2. Allocate adequate resources and staff for the project. Add staff if the volume demands it, and cut back when traffic is slow.

3. As much as possible take advantage of existing backend facilities and IT resources. For instance, Henry’s eBay store “piggybacked” on its warehouse as well as CRM, and payment engines. “Resist the temptation to reinvent the wheel,” said Payne.

4. Focus on long term growth rather than short term profit. It took Henry’s eBay store more than 18 months to become self sustaining. “Sometimes it could be a long haul, you have to keep your eyes on the prize,” said Payne.

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