When you next take a walk down your local High Street take a look at the names of the shops you pass. You’re likely to see stores such as ‘Next’, ‘TK Maxx’, ‘River Island’, ‘Currys’, ‘Starbucks’, ‘Clarks’, ‘Burton’, ‘Moss Bros’, ‘HMV’, ‘Animal’ ‘House of Fraser’ and so on. These are all ‘High Street Names’…but they only mean something to you because they are also well known as brands. Many of these names actually have little to do with the products they sell – and if they do it’s all rather cryptic. For example HMV stands for ‘His Masters Voice’ which was a record label depicting a dog called ‘Nipper’ who is seen looking at an old wind up gramophone with his head cocked to one side, presumably having recognised ‘his master’s voice’! Some people will know this – many won’t! Here’s another example – take the DIY store B&Q. Why is it called B&Q? Well it’s made up of the surname initials of its founders Richard Block and David Quayle…But what about stores that don’t use initials – Starbucks for example? This comes from the coffee-loving first mate in Moby Dick…and GAP – this was the first retail store to sell Levis Jeans, and the name GAP was used to differentiate the way the young generation of the sixties was dressing compared to the formal way. In other words the ‘generation gap’ – emphasizing the gap or distance between the younger crowd and adults. interesting isn’t it! But online, things are a little different due to the huge quantity of information and options available and the use of search engines to find what you are looking for. It helps if your web address, eBay or Amazon ID’s include important keywords that potential customers will search for online when looking for the types of products you sell. Of course these brands I’ve mentioned are already well known and so their leap to internet sales didn’t require a name change to ensure they are easily found. But if you are just starting an online business you need to look at things a little differently when choosing the name of your store or your eBay or Amazon ID. You should try and incorporate keywords relating to your business or products into your ID to give you the best possible chance of being found in a search engine search and also to show potential customers exactly what you sell in a professional business-like manner. eBay remains the best starting point for your online selling career and setting yourself up with the right ID from the start is really important, so here’s my ten step strategy to make sure your username is helping your business grow. Step 1 – Take it seriously but don’t panic Although a user ID is certainly important to your business, if you get too hung-up about it you could end up spending weeks pondering the best choice without ever getting started with selling. So, spend time coming up with a suitable option, but not so much that it stops you moving on with your business. Step 2 – Make it memorable Memorable eBay seller ID’s are great because they can help previous buyers to find your presence online again. You want your ID to stick in their mind so it should be easy to remember, and easy to tell to a friend should a buyer want to recommend you. Joe-bloggs-120654 may be easy for you to remember or might have been your ID on everything for years, but it’s not going to help buyers to find you again! Step 3 – Make it unique Finding a completely unique eBay ID is a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack sometimes, because there are a lot of sellers using the eBay website. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though, do some research into the sort of words that your competitors are using and try to find a word or a phrase that they haven’t considered. The last thing you want is for your buyers to end up at your rival BestShoeUK rather than your store, BestShoesUK. Step 4 – Your website address is not an eBay user ID If you’re running your own website then you might be tempted to set your eBay user ID to something like mywebsitename.com, but this is against eBay’s rules. eBay has no problem with you having your own website, but remember it wants to keep people on eBay buying through its pages, not sending potential buyers off to another site. As I’ll explain in just a moment, you can of course use part of your website domain name as your ID but don’t use the www. or the .com. Step 5 – Match your website with your eBay ID What? Didn’t you just say not to use your website as an eBay ID? Absolutely! You should never use your full website domain name as an ID, but that doesn’t stop you matching the two. If your website is www.bestshoesuk.com, then you could try for the eBay user ID bestshoesuk. www.homemadefudge.co.uk could give an ID of homemadefudge. This is powerful because if a buyer does remember the name of your eBay ID from a previous purchase and they enter it into Google they could also find your website. Step 6 – Keep numbers and symbols to a minimum Sometimes you’ll need to use a number of a symbol if you’re really struggling to come up with something unique, but if you can avoid it, do. This goes back to making your ID as memorable as possible; as soon as you start adding numbers, hyphens, underscores and more then it becomes more difficult to speak the name of your store, and that makes it harder for visitors to find it again. Step 7 – Obey eBay’s rules In general you can set your eBay ID to most things, but there are a few rules that you have to stick to, for example it needs to be more than four characters long and can’t have any spaces in it. You aren’t allowed to use multiple underscores all together (and why would you want to?! A buyer would have difficulty knowing how many underscores there were in a name like my_____shoe__shop). You generally can’t start your eBay username with a symbol at all, and you certainly can’t use an ID that’s already in existence. eBay will provide an error message if you try to create an ID that it doesn’t allow. Step 8 – Avoid profanity This should go without saying! It doesn’t matter what you’re selling; it doesn’t mean that your ID needs to incorporate anything obscene or any profane language. Step 9 – Incorporate keywords A person interested in buying shoes on eBay may be reassured to see that they’re purchasing from ShoesDirectUK. At a glance it shows the buyer that this is a shop specialising in this niche market, and likely to have a lot of experience dealing with any specialist requirements. Don’t use your own first or last name (unless that happens to be the name of your business, in which case you should also try and put in a keyword or two), but instead focus on words that correspond to your niche market. Step 10 – Resist the temptation to change your name If you haven’t sold much through eBay yet then changing your name isn’t too much of a problem, but if you’ve established yourself as a seller using a particular ID then changing it could be damaging to your business. If you do feel the need to change your name then you can do so by clicking on the Account tab within My eBay, and selecting Personal Details. Picking a great eBay ID isn’t rocket science, but getting it right and sticking to these ten rules can really help you to make the most of this element of your eBay store. As always I wish you the best of success,