Researching eBay’s vast marketplace can be an intimidating prospect—figuring out what to sell, how to list it, and what prices to expect. Says Greg Cole, president of research giant HammerTap.com, “On eBay, there are over twenty thousand categories, multiple listing types, duration options, bold, highlight, all these features you can choose from.” With so much to consider, it can be hard to even know where to start. There are some great research tools available, such as Terapeak.com and mpire.com. If you’re just beginning, you can type in your product, and get stats and recommendations on the best way to sell. As you advance and gain experience, you can dig deeper and adjust the way the data’s summarized, to focus it more toward your niche marketplace. Choosing WHAT to Sell The first question you need to answer is “How do I pick a product?” And the answer is, in a word, RESEARCH. You will save time and money by eliminating the guesswork from your product selection. There are so many things you can sell that you have to just pick an area as a starting point for your research. It’s okay to begin by looking at a category that appeals to you or that you’re knowledgeable about—but if the data tells you that’s not a good market, you need to be willing to move on and consider different options. During the course of your research, you’re going to find many other things that will sell well. Start with a category and see which keywords in that category are doing well. Look at how much competition you have, and what kind of final prices and close rates they’re averaging. Narrow your category down to specific products that will be successful. Deciding HOW to Sell Figuring out what to sell is only half the challenge—you still have to figure out the best way to sell it: • Which listing features will be profitable? • What keywords should you put in your title? • What time of day should you close your auction to ensure the largest section of your target market is online? • What’s the best day of the week to end your auction? • What duration will bring in the highest prices? The answer for all these questions varies from product to product. Don’t let your listing tool do all the work—look at who’s selling this product successfully and how they’re selling it. Knowing WHEN to Research Research is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your product data is going to change constantly. Advises Cole, “You need to update your research at least monthly, [especially] when you’re starting out.” Track your sales and profits and see what’s working, and where you need to tweak your listings or phase products out of your line-up. Maintaining your research on a continual basis can help you stay on top of trends and predict what’s going to happen in your market, so you can make smart, well-informed decisions.

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