Ebay Inc. has launched a new service which will allow eBay sellers to set up their own online "storfronts" or retail showrooms to sell their merchandise. EBay Stores is the growing effort by the company to expand beyond its core auction business.

EBay Stores will cost sellers $9.95 per month, plus an initial fee of five cents for every item listed for sale and a commission of 1.25% to 5% of revenue, depending on the final value an item fetches.

Company officials state the new service will make it easier for buyers to browse for merchandise from a particular seller on the site. Sellers will be able to list items that buyers can purchase immediately for a fixed price. Ebay has previously allowed sellers to list items for a fixed price through a feature called Buy It Now, but it required them to let buyers bid on an item if they wanted. Ebay will also require its eBay Stores sellers to accept credit card payments from buyers. In its main auction business, credit card payment is optional. ?Sellers on eBay Stores will still be able to auction their merchandise if they wish,? says Bill Cobb, eBay?s senior vice president for global marketing.

Although very dominant in the auction venue, Ebay has some competition in the ?online shopping mall? arena. Services from Amazon.com and Yahoo! Inc. have been operating with some modest success for quite a while now. However, eBay has a strong following among its sellers and buyers, which should give it a leg up on its rivals.

Will eBay Stores enjoy the same level of success and more important, acceptance by sellers and buyers, as its Auctions do? Only time will tell.