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In Brookline, Mass., Talia Glass runs a local market called Allium Market, an independent specialty foods market selling cheese, baked goods and coffee. Like many such businesses, the market has been forced by the coronavirus quarantine to close its storefront. Glass has responded, in part, by moving her business online, photographing every item on the shelves and placing them on a website built by her café’s dishwasher. This has helped the shop survive, but not every small business has a tech savvy millennial working in the kitchen. For them, eBay recently announced Up & Running.

This program is designed to help small businesses without a web presence transition quickly to selling online. As quarantines shut down storefronts across the country, every opportunity to connect with customers counts.

Here’s how it works.

What Is Up & Running?

A small business ownerIn announcing its new program, eBay cited the urgent needs of small businesses around the country. Many single-shop retailers tend to run on thin margins. They often have limited resources, without the cash reserves to sustain a shutdown lasting several months. This has led retailers to search for any ways to keep their businesses alive. Unable to invite customers in, many have tried to offer delivery and remote ordering services. Some have begun to rely on their websites to sell their products online. But it’s been a struggle for small businesses.

Yet many small shops don’t have the resources to move their business online. Many more don’t even have a website to begin with. This is the problem that Up & Running attempts to address.

eBay calls its new program an “accelerator” that helps businesses without a web retail presence move their products online and process customer orders digitally during the quarantine. According to the company’s website, participating businesses will receive a basic eBay store free of charge for three months. The company will waive some sales fees for this period, allowing businesses to sell up to 500 items with no transaction fee. eBay estimates the total value of Up & Running at $100 million.

At time of writing SmartAsset had not been able to confirm whether this meant that companies could list up to 500 items or that eBay would begin charging fees after 500 transactions. However, third party reporting indicates that it is the latter, and eBay’s no-fee offer only applies to the first 500 transactions on a new seller’s page. Past that, the business will have to pay eBay a percentage of every item sold.

Businesses will receive discounted shipping supplies. They will also get access to webinars and individual support on how to build an online retail presence, along with marketing and merchandising tools that eBay offers through its website.

This program follows on the heels of eBay’s announcement that it will begin offering some free listings for its existing sellers in order to help retailers that already use the platform.

How Can a Business Sign Up (and Get Running)?

A person shopping onlineBusinesses which do not currently use eBay can enroll in Up & Running by creating a business account through eBay’s signup page. As part of the registration process they will receive an e-mailed promotional offer to participate in the Up & Running program. By accepting the invitation, the business will be enrolled.

However, this program is only for new subscribers to eBay. Any business which had a presence on the site as of April 1, 2020, cannot participate.

The Bottom Line

To help small retailers move their businesses online, eBay is offering discounts for new business accounts. The goal is to provide another lifeline for mom-and pop businesses struggling with the effect of the coronavirus quarantine. In combination with other initiatives aimed at helping small business, it can be a life-saver for a struggling business.

Tips for Managing in a Crisis

  • Could you use a financial professional’s help during these unprecedented times? Use SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool to find the right pro for you. After you answer a handful of questions, we’ll connect you with up to three advisors who fit your needs and preferences. If you’re ready to find an advisor, get started now.
  • There are many programs available to help struggling small businesses. Be sure to check out the Paycheck Protection Program loan. Be sure to use our PPP calculator and locate PPP lenders who might best suit your needs.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Dontstop, ©iStock.com/jacoblund, ©iStock.com/golubovy

Eric Reed Eric Reed is a freelance journalist who specializes in economics, policy and global issues, with substantial coverage of finance and personal finance. He has contributed to outlets including The Street, CNBC, Glassdoor and Consumer Reports. Eric’s work focuses on the human impact of abstract issues, emphasizing analytical journalism that helps readers more fully understand their world and their money. He has reported from more than a dozen countries, with datelines that include Sao Paolo, Brazil; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Athens, Greece. A former attorney, before becoming a journalist Eric worked in securities litigation and white collar criminal defense with a pro bono specialty in human trafficking issues. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and can be found any given Saturday in the fall cheering on his Wolverines.
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