"Selecting the best product to sell can become the factor that's most critical to your e-commerce success," says Brandon Dupsky co-founder of ICE: Internet Commerce Entrepreneurs, an industry trade and education group.
You know quite well that a company like Procter & Gamble, for example, would not introduce a new product without carefully assessing how many people will buy it. That's what many focus groups are all about, as are limited product introductions, e.g., opening in a few "select" theatres, and the like.
But while you may not have the resources of a Procter & Gamble, as an e-merchant you must also assess the market for something you are thinking of selling. The last thing you want to do is go to the trouble and expense of acquiring inventory that won't sell. Without the resources of a Procter & Gamble, however, how can you do this important market research?
Completed Listings provide a current snapshot of the demand for a given item on the site, and what (if anything) it's selling for
Of course, you can use the Internet at large to learn more about the marketplace for product "X." Dupsky explained how to do this in part 2 of our "What I Know Now" series with him about sourcing. For example, he does Google searches for products using the best keywords he can and then assesses the results.
"I'll check to see who is at the top of these searches both organic and on Google Product Search," Dupsky told us then. "In Google Product Search I like to also see how many sellers are selling the top products and competing head to head, as well as the brand power in that product category."
But for eBay sellers, you can also use the site itself for market data on what's now selling—and for how much. The challenge there is that resources on the site keep changing. For instance, eBay Pulse, which showed you the most popular searches being conducted on eBay, is no more. So in this article we will cover some of the most important market research tools now on eBay to help you assess what to sell and how to price it. For some answers, we spoke with Ryan Moore of eBay's public relations department.
Start with Completed Listings
Rightly so Moore began with Completed Listings, which provide a current snapshot of the demand for a given item on the site, and what (if anything) it's selling for. To get started you simply click on the "Advanced" search link along the top right of eBay.com, enter your keywords and then where it says "Search including," click the Completed listings box. (As part of this search you can also further refine your search in many ways, such as by sellers using a given format, but we're keeping the example simple.)
Finally, click Search for your results. Items with a red price didn't sell; a green price means it did.
If you're not now using Completed Listings, please read this article and follow the links below to learn how to use them. There are few better ways to spend your time as an e-merchant. The information you learn may represent only a fraction of the online marketplace as a whole, but it does represent a subset of the online market you just can't learn enough about as an eBay seller: eBay buyers.
Our team has a running hot list on the Selling Information Center. This information is regularly included in the monthly seller newsletters as well
Our Q&A with eBay's Moore follows.
Schepp: How can sellers use Completed Listings to gauge what they should list, and what they may expect a given an item to sell for?
Moore: [The] basic info on Completed Items searches is here. We mention using Completed Listings as a way to set price in our basic "how to get started" communications. [You can find] more basic information here. We also have a video on how to use search and completed listings as a seller.
Check out hotlists
Schepp: Are there sources on eBay that reveal what's currently selling well, such as a hot list for example?
Moore: Our team has a running hot list on the Selling Information Center. It's located in the Hot Products section of this page.) We [had] one for Father's Day as well. This information is regularly included in the monthly seller newsletters sent by Seller Marketing as well. There's also a third-party app called Marketplace Analyzer that provides a similar service.
Schepp: Along those lines, is eBay Marketplace Research still available, and if so what kind of information can be gleaned from it?
Moore: This was discontinued and replaced with Terapeak's Marketplace Research. You can get it through the eBay Apps Center. Note, apps like Terapeak sometimes provide information not available elsewhere, but for a price. Terapeak, for example, runs from $20 to $50 per month depending on the plan you choose. So be sure to take advantage of any free trials. In Terapeak's case you can try out the service for seven days.
Stop by eBay's Apps Center
Seller Information Center is a terrific source of researching tips—this is definitely the first place I would send people
Schepp: You mentioned Terapeak. Does eBay work with any other third-party partners to provide market research data to its sellers?
Moore: Again, we've had a long-standing relationship with Terapeak, as you know. eBay offers a range of research and reporting apps through the Apps Center as well.
Schepp: Are there other sources for information about what is selling well on eBay or trending on eBay—for example social media venues on eBay itself and elsewhere?
Moore: See [the] hotlist/merchandising list above.
Seller Information Center is key
Schepp: It's no secret that mobile is responsible for a greater and greater percentage of eBay's sales. How can sellers use this information as they hone their own listing and overall selling strategies?
Moore: We provide best practices for optimizing your listings for mobile. Here's some specific material on how to optimize photos for mobile.
Schepp: Is there anything I've missed? What else should we be telling sellers about the market research that's available to help them make more money?
Moore: Overall, the Seller Information Center is a terrific source of researching tips and information for all sellers—this is definitely the first place I would send people. Our archives of newsletters is another great source of information as well.
Schepp: Thanks, Ryan!