If there's one thing the Web has made abundantly clear, it's that people like information in easily digested, well packaged chunks. One way to effectively present information that way is through Top 10 lists (who can resist those?), or "Best Of" compilations.
Our own contribution is the article that follows covering Web resources for eBay sellers. By "resources" we meant sites that can help a seller with the various tasks related to running the business, from product and market research, to sourcing. To compile these resources we surveyed a number of top eBay sellers, and in the process uncovered some sites we bet you never heard of, yet would find very useful.
We only included a site if a seller mentioned it, so this list is far from complete. You likely have your own favorite sites and tools. If so, feel free to e-mail your suggestions to us so we can include them in future articles.
To adequately describe my items and to price them correctly, I must do research
General research and news
The Web makes it so easy to stay up to date on any topic that interests you, and we're betting that Google is the first place you go when you want to research something, anything.
Google: "I could not exist without Google," says Herb Oberman, who sells on eBay as herwoldallas. Oberman sells collectible paper, including photos, menus, postcards, programs, brochures, booklets, books and more.
"I find that to adequately describe my items and to price them correctly, I must do research," he says. "Many old paper items have no dates, places or other identifying information on them. Learning to do searches and squeezing significant words from the item I'm researching has helped me identify the city or area an item is from, the date of an item and often significant historical information."
Yahoo: With all the attention Google gets, other useful search engines get lost amid all the noise. But Yetty of kneesntoes is just one of many eBay sellers who uses Yahoo.
ColderIce Blog: "John [Lawson] has a unique view on online happenings and tends to be up on the very latest news," says Jody Rogers of eBay's Beachcombers!. "I also follow him on Facebook."
eBay Strategies: Rogers is also a fan of Scot Wingo and his blog. "Scot is great about tying in multiple venues into his thoughts. He mentions how an eBay change may affect Amazon, or how a Google change may affect eBay or Amazon," Rogers notes. A news source that can help a seller make sense of the multiple channels out there is important to Rogers, as she sells through several channels, including her own Web store.
TameBay: eBay U.K. seller Clare Haines of Lingerie Outlet Store recommends this site for eBay news.
No matter what you sell, there's a site that can help you determine the market value of your items
No matter what you sell, there are niche Web sites that can help you assess the value and determine reasonable price points for your items. We present a few here, just to give you an idea of what's available.
Let's start with books. If you sell books online, we don't have to tell you that you have a lot of competition from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the many smaller sellers in this arena.
Isbn.nu provides "a quick way to compare the prices of any in-print and many out-of-print books at over a dozen online bookstores," so definitely check it out if you compete in this marketplace.
Addall.com: Similar to isbn.nu but broader in scope, this is a "wonderful place to determine prices, scarcity and information on out-of-print books and back issues of magazines," according to herwodallas' Oberman.
WorthPoint: This is a site Oberman finds useful for gathering information and past sales prices of "all sorts of collectible items."
Delcampe.net and Playle.com: These sites provide information and pricing on postcards. There are many others, but these are the two sellers mentioned.
The Road Map Collectors Association: This site can be a big help if you have road maps and related items for sale.
Again, no matter what you sell, there's a site that can help you determine the market value of your items. As one seller mentioned, there are many collector sites with fantastic information in niche areas, like airlines, train and ship collectibles, stamps, coins, stock certificates, and just about anything you're likely to find for sale on eBay.
Just about every eBay seller we know spends a lot of time trying to get a handle on the markets in which they compete.
eBay: Experienced eBay sellers already know that a wealth of useful data is available through the site itself, but a list such as this one wouldn't be complete if we didn't mention eBay anyway.
There are all kinds of ways to use eBay for research. One way is to search Completed Listings (available through the advanced search link), to see how the items you're thinking of selling have recently done in the marketplace. When Oberman checks eBay, he looks for similar or identical items to those he's thinking of selling. If he finds items selling for well below what he thinks they're worth, he'll put his item for sale as part of a batch or in a giveaway pile, delay listing his item, or buy the item/items for his own inventory.
Top Seller: PowerSeller and author Skip McGrath uses this site to gather competitive data and see what's selling well and "to help me spy on the big sellers," he says.
Sellers tell us Vendio is useful for eBay market research. Several sellers also mentioned Terapeak as being useful for eBay market research.
Omniture is where a lot of eBay sellers go for online analytics. In 2009, Adobe Systems acquired Omniture and made it part of its Online Marketing Suite, so if you haven't checked out Omniture in a while, you might want to.
There is no substitute for hearing directly from other business owners about how things affect them
Auctiva and Auctiva EDU: You're on the Auctiva site, so you know that there are tools and services here that can make listing your items for sale much easier, whether on eBay or your own off-eBay store. While you're here, be sure to check out the Education tab, loaded with articles and information for online sellers.
Here is McGrath's favorite eBay fee calculator.
Stephanie Inge, longtime eBay seller and founder of the eBabes and eMales eBay sellers groups in Texas, is passionate about online commerce, so it's no surprise she had many favorite sites to share with us.
For photo editing, Play With Pictures provides an image masking tool Inge uses. Picasa, from Google, is useful for photo editing, she says. She also uses Picnik for editing her gallery images.
Bay Estimator is one of her favorite tools for keyword research and optimizing listing titles.
Many eBay sellers promote their listings through Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other creative ways. Individual eBay listings have long URLs, so McGrath uses BudURL to shorten the links for his listings before posting on Twitter and Facebook.
AuctionMercial: This is a tool Inge uses to transform her auctions into video "commercials." You just enter your eBay item number to get started.
Vzaar is another tool she likes for adding video to eBay listings.
Remember those kids in high school who belonged to five, maybe 10 clubs and organizations? Perhaps a guidance counselor told them it would look good to college admissions officers if they did that, or maybe they were just joiners. Well, even if you were never a joiner, per se, as a seller on eBay you may want to change your thinking about groups and organizations.
The PeSA and ECMTA forums: "There is no substitute for hearing directly from other business owners about how things affect them and getting ideas for overcoming or managing issues," says Beachcombers!' Rogers. We know from our own experience how valuable these groups are for networking and gathering information.
We hope you found at least a few Web sites here that will help you run your eBay business!