Sizing Up the Competition, Part 1

How HammerTap research tools can give you a competitive edge

by Brad and Debra Schepp
- Aug 20, 2010

Do you believe you have to spend money to make money? Of course you do—it's one of those facts of business life that only becomes clearer the longer you're in business. The only problem is that you usually have to spend that money at a time when you feel least able to do so. Like when you're looking for a job and you need new clothes.

For eBay sellers it's the same thing. Newer sellers may find this unbelievable, but there was a time when all you had to do to sell something on eBay was list it. Buyers were enamored with the Internet. It was all so new and incredible. Amazon was just peddling books. Etsy? Forget about it. eBay was the only real game in town. (To see early versions of millions of Web sites, including eBay's, hop aboard the Internet Wayback Machine).

We all know the days when eBay was a cash machine are in the distant past. With millions of competitors a click away, selling today is more challenging. So, yes, you have to spend a bit of money to make (hopefully) much more.

This will all become clearer as we consider HammerTap and Terapeak—two services that enable you to pull the curtains behind what's really happening on the eBay marketplace to source, list and sell better. Specifically, we're going to look at how these services can help you focus in on whom your competitors are, and what they're doing successfully so you can better compete against them.

Observing others' successes and failures has proven to be a wonderful use of the HammerTap tool

Let's start with HammerTap, which has been in the eBay market-intelligence field for several years. Michael Johnson, the company's chief operations officer, answered our questions.

Schepp: Your site mentions that HammerTap can allow a seller to "keep a close eye on the competition." How can an eBay seller use HammerTap to gain an edge over competitors?

Johnson: Our software allows you to do keyword searches for specific items. Once you have a search for the item you're looking for, you can look at all the completed listings for that search. You can then click on a link for each individual listing directly in our software that will take you to eBay to see the listing. This will provide you with a great competitive advantage because you can actually see how your competitors are presenting and selling their product in comparison to you.

Schepp: What sort of data along these lines is available through HammerTap?

Johnson: You can look at the title of the listing, total sale price, high bid, start price, number of bids, quantity available, quantity sold, auction type, insertion fee, upgrade fees, final value fee, end date, end time, duration, end day and category number, to name a few. With a bit more analyzing you can also extrapolate more information by evaluating more of the data as it pertains to each other.

Schepp: How can I use HammerTap to help me decide who my primary competitors are?

Johnson: After searching and finding the listing for the same or similar products you're selling, you could start to go through the listings that come up and look at them on eBay. By doing this, you can quickly learn who your competitors are, how they're being effective and how they're not.

Schepp: It seems like, by using HammerTap, I can zero in on products I should source, by observing others' success rates. True? Using HammerTap data, what are some examples of products sellers might consider looking at sourcing right now?

Johnson: Observing others' successes and failures has proven to be a wonderful use of the HammerTap tool. There are so many different categories we could pick from in determining a product's success that to go through and find just one would be a disservice to the tool.

What I can say easily is that once you have determined a niche of products you would like to go into, you can very quickly determine what products within that niche are going to work, and which would be a waste of your time. The ability to determine product performance prior to getting too deep with purchasing that product makes HammerTap an invaluable tool to save you massive amounts of time, and ultimately massive amounts of money.

You can get an extensive amount of information about what keywords are performing well for your product

Schepp: Will the 10-day free trial give a seller access to all of HammerTap's tools to assess how they can help with competitive research?

Johnson: Our current offer of a 10-day free trial allows the user to take full advantage of our software, no holds barred. We, of course, believe once you try it, you will love it and want to continue to use it in the future.

Schepp: Once my free trial has passed, what pricing plan makes sense for experienced eBay sellers (but not those at the Titanium or Diamond level)?

Johnson: Currently, HammerTap is $19.95 per month after your free trial has ended.

Schepp: Finally, are there any very new features or services from HammerTap that Auctiva's readers may not be as familiar with (having to do with any type of research)?

Johnson: Most people are not aware of the extensive amount of research that can be obtained using HammerTap. One of the surprising areas of research many people don't realize they can examine through the tool is keyword research for eBay. You can get an extensive amount of information about what keywords are performing well for your product, and which ones are not. This often proves to be highly valuable when working on getting traffic to your products.

Next time, we'll take a look at Terapeak. In the meantime, we know it's difficult but remember that it's true: You may need to spend a bit of money to make much more. But with a 10-day free trial you can see for yourself whether HammerTap is right for you. The only thing you have to lose is a bit of time.

About the Author

Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book, which Deb co-authored with John Lawson, Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs: It's Not About Likes—It's About Sales, was recently named the 2015 Small Business Book of the Year in the social media category.

For further information, visit Brad and Deb's website,

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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