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New eBay tools for independent sellers

ProStores service is designed to give small and midsize businesses the ability to operate e-commerce sites on their own for a fee.

eBay on Thursday unveiled a service designed to provide small and medium-size businesses with training wheels to move beyond eBay's marketplace Web site.

ProStores allows businesses to customize their storefronts with their own brand, categories and a unique Internet address. The service will include shopping carts and the ability to integrate sales with major shippers.

The service costs $6.95 a month and carries additional fees of 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent per transaction. The stores will be able to accept payments from PayPal, an eBay division.

"Listening to the eBay community, we believe there's a clear role we can play in helping them scale their businesses," Bill Cobb, eBay North America president, said in a statement. "ProStores can be customized to meet sellers' specific needs."

eBay's latest offering comes as Web giants Yahoo, Google and America Online are emerging as competitors and seeking to bolster the number of merchants and buyers on their own sites.

eBay's PayPal recently unveiled its Websites Payment Pro software, which allows customers to process credit card payments on a seller's site without redirecting them to PayPal.