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Lesson 9

How Do I Beat Out My Competitors?

You’ve learned how to identify products to sell and how to quickly and easily optimize your listings. We’ve covered everything you need to know, right? WRONG! There’s a lot more to an eBay business than just picking a product and knowing how to list it. eBay is an ever growing marketplace and you have to know how to compete!

Today, I’m going to show you how HammerTap can help you scope out your competition. In order to compete, you need to know what you’re up against, and HammerTap has the tools to help you out!

Who Am I Up Against?

First, we want to get an idea of how much serious competition we’re facing within a market. Open the Should I Sell My Product on eBay? report and scroll to the bottom. Let’s look at the graph on seller competition and market potential.

This graph shows us that about a third of this market is being taken up by one seller, another third by the next nine sellers, and the last third by “casual sellers,” (which is the area it will be easiest for us to move into if we’re just entering this market). Since there’s an over $900 difference between the total sales of seller number one and seller number two, we can conclude that the top seller is definitely doing something right. If we can figure out what exactly that something is we may be able to successfully compete in this market.

But first, how do we figure out who seller number one is?

The Sellers Window

This is where the Sellers Window comes in handy. The first thing most people notice about this report is that there’re only nonsense strings of characters where the seller IDs should be. The seller IDs aren’t given in this report for privacy reasons, however, I’m going to show you how you can use the information in this report to figure out who the top sellers are.

First, we want to order the columns in a way that will make it easy for us to find what we’re looking for. Drag over the Auction Success Rate, ASP/Item, and Total Sales columns and drop them next to the # of Auctions column. Then sort by the Total Sales column in descending order. Your columns should be ordered something like this:

Ordering the data in this way gives us a lot more information on our top seller. We already knew that he (or she) had total sales of $1,131.90, but now we also know exactly how many listings he had and what his personal LSR and ASP were for these items. We can use this info to find his seller ID.

Now, we’re going to move to the Listings Window. Most sellers use very similar titles if they’re selling the same item more than once. So, if you sort the data by the listing titles, you’ll often be able to spot groups of listings that belong to one seller.

I searched though the listings in my research and found this long section with lots of titles that look very similar.

These titles are almost identical to each other with just a few changes here and there. These listings also all have the same start price, another good indicator that they’re from the same seller. To find out which seller posted these listings, simply click on the title (which is a link that takes to the actual closed listing on eBay), and check out the Meet the Seller section, where the seller ID is listed.

Sure enough these listings are from the same seller (I didn’t click on all of them, just one or two to make sure the seller was consistently the same), and there are 39 listings with this listing format (the Seller Window told us the top seller had 39 listings). I’ve found my top seller!

Now that I have the seller ID, I can use the Seller Search to pinpoint my competitor’s strategies.

The Seller Search

We’ve run a Product Search and Category Search together in other lessons, now let’s try a Seller Search!

Simply plug in the seller ID we just found into the search field and hit !

The search results look just like our Product and Category searches, and will provide you with a quick look at the seller’s individual LSR and ASP. The most valuable windows for this search are the Listings Window and the Summary Window.

Check out the Listings Window first to see what else this seller is selling. In my research, he’s also selling another model of Skullcandy headphones, but the majority of his other listings are for completely unrelated items.

You can also use this window to easily see what else your competitors are selling successfully. If you have similar suppliers, this can be a great way to find other products to move into.

Next, we can use the Summary Window to figure out what strategy our competitor is using to list his items. Let’s walk through the various tables and see what we can find.

  1. Listing Type – This table shows the number of listings the seller had within each of the various listing types. In my research, the top seller only used Fixed Price listings. By listing with a different listing type, we may be able to attract a different audience. However, this seller might be at the top because the Fixed Price format is simply the most effective within this market.

    I did a little research on the number two and three sellers as well (I found there IDs the same way we found the top seller), and both of these sellers used an Auction without BIN format. There was over $900 difference in the total sales numbers of these sellers and the top seller, and it could very well be that Fixed Price listings just get higher prices within this market. This very well may be the top seller’s edge, and I may want to carry it over into my listings.

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  3. Starting Day – The seller I researched started the majority of his listings on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with very few listings on the other days of the week. Listing on other days, might give me an edge. For example, I looked at the Summary Window starting day table for our Product Search on the Skullcandy earbuds, and starting on Friday returned the highest price. So, optimizing my listings by using the results of our general research combined with this competitor research will get me the highest price and increase my ability to compete.
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  5. Ending Day – The majority of listings ended on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday for the seller I researched. Again, comparing those results to the Summary Window for our Product Search, it looks like Friday will actually get us the best price for our products. So, again, combining our research techniques will get us a better price and help us stand out from the competition.
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  7. Ending Time – Another pattern can be seen in the ending times. The majority of this seller's listings ended between 12 – 1 p.m. and 8 – 10 p.m. This gives you an idea of what time the seller usually lists or schedules his listings and may also indicate when many of this seller’s buyers are active, great information for making decisions on when to end our own listings.
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  9. Listing Duration – We can use this last table to determine the listing duration the seller typically uses. In my research, the top seller exclusively used 7-day listings.

    The Other section in the duration table includes all listings that don’t fall into the 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 day categories. So, if a fixed price listing was purchased after 6 days it would be considered an Other listing duration. The same is true of auction-type listings with Buy It Now.

The Summary Window gives us an excellent look into our competitor’s strategies and can be a great tool as we formulate and implement our own techniques. You can use these same research methods to identify and examine any other competitors within your market.


Assignment #9: Check out your competition!

If you’ve been doing the assignments so far, you’ve learned a lot about how you can optimize your own listings to maximize your profits. I want you to now take it one step further and evaluate the competition you face within your product market.

Identify your top competitor and see what you can find about his or her strategies by running a Seller Search. What did you learn that you can apply to your own listings?

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve completed yet another session, and you only have one to go before you’re a HammerTap Master! If you have any questions, be sure to send them to our support team!

Look for Lesson 10 in your inbox in a day or two. Or, if you can't wait, move forward to Lesson 10 right now.

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