Getting started on eBay can be overwhelming for the newcomer who has no idea where to begin. That’s why it’s helpful to look at those who have built successful businesses in this venue. To get to where they are now, there are six things these accomplished entrepreneurs all learned to do. All six require willingness to study and learn—but then, so does being a successful online retailer.
1. Identify Emerging Markets
An emerging market is one in which the bid rate is growing at a greater rate than the listing rate. Unlike a hot market, which has reached its capacity, an emerging market still has room for growth. Don’t chase after hot-ticket items with saturated markets. You’re looking for neglected niche markets with greater demand than supply. Andale.com and Hammertap.com are two research market tools that can show you what’s selling and what people are looking for.
2. Look at Your Competition
Find out who the big sellers are in your category, and look at what they do to put themselves on top. Its okay to borrow some of their more successful tactics for your business, just don’t be a carbon copy. Distinguish yourself—cater to your particular niche market. You have to be unique to build a following and create loyal customers.
3. Set Your Prices
The first place to look is your competition’s prices. Bear in mind that the greater the range you average, the more reliable that average is going to be. Again market research tools can give you your item’s average selling price and also show you all the factors that influenced prices. They can interpret the data for you and show you how to get the most from your item—the best day and time to end an auction, which listing features draw the highest bids, etc.
4. Know Your Seasons
Seasons affect trends and, therefore, sales. By recognizing and anticipating the trends, you can make wise product sourcing choices. Look at your product research. In what season does it not sell well?—that’s a good time to source that product. Stock up and bring it out later, when you know you can get the most for it. If you know a product’s seasons, you’ll know the best time to list it.
5. Create Effective Titles
Picking keywords for your listing titles is not unlike picking keywords for search engine optimization. You want words specific to your market. Generic words cause your listings to get lost in the crowd. Gregg Gunn, of market research giant Terapeak.com, says, “Pick keywords that are unique to your category. You don’t just want a ton of exposure—you want the right exposure.” Terapeak is beta testing a product designed to help you create optimal titles for your merchandise based on eBay data (www.Terapeak.com/TitleBuilder).
6. Keep Records
You’ll see trends emerge over time and how products fare from season to season. Don’t just look at last years’ sales results—look from year to year. Gunn states, “It’s long term thinking, not just day to day.” Studying a longer period of time allows you to gain a better understanding of how trends and seasons affect your market. This, in turn, lets you analyze your current market circumstances and make smarter business decisions.