Lesson 10

How Do I Plan My Sales and Inventory?

This is your last lesson! Can you believe it?! Congratulations on making it this far!

No doubt you now know HammerTap inside and out, and you’re light years ahead of everyone who didn’t get the Power to Profit (and everyone who dropped out after the first couple lessons too!). You know exactly how to use HammerTap to decide what to sell, to optimize your listings, and to effectively compete within the eBay marketplace, and I’m sure you’re already seen a difference in your eBay listings. But, we’ve only been looking at one side of the equation.

Every experienced business executive knows that you can’t just focus on your product and market in the here and now—you have to plan for the future! But how do you lay your plans when the future is always changing?

Well, all markets experience trends, and eBay is no exception. There are both general trends (like increased sales around the holidays) and product-specific trends (like clothing fashions), and today I’m going to show you how you can discover and use these trends to make your plans. I’ll show you how HammerTap saves the day yet again!

Using Last Year's Auctions

When planning for the future, what has happened in the past is one of our greatest resources. Unfortunately, finding accurate information from anything but the recent past can often be difficult and time consuming. But not with HammerTap! HammerTap’s exclusive Last Year’s Auctions feature makes it easy for you to quickly predict and plan for what is going to happen.

Let’s open up our Filtered Earbuds report, and I’ll show you how it works!

Once you’ve opened up the saved report, go ahead and click . This will show you the Product Search window with the same search criteria we used to get the results for the past 30 days, or what’s happening right now. Now, we’re going to take it a step further and check out Last Year’s Auctions and discover what’s going to happen.

To do this all you have to do is check the box to include Last Year’s Auctions instead of Current Auctions, and hit .

Notice the dates when you select Last Year’s Auctions. Instead of searching closed listings for the last month, we’re now searching listings that closed last year within the upcoming 30 day period. This will give us a good idea of the trends we can expect to see in our current market. Keep in mind that a Category Search will allow you to search up to 90 days of information, and the Seller Search does not allow for a Last Year’s Auctions search because of eBay’s privacy policies.

Once you’ve run your search, HammerTap will bring up the same 5 windows we’ve talked about in all of our lessons, and you can use the same techniques we’ve discussed within these new search results to get an idea of what was working last year. However, we don’t just want to know how sellers could optimize their listings last year. We want to discover our product’s trends.

Trending For Success

Spotting trends can be very hard if all you have to work from is a single set of search results. For example, if I showed you a picture of a ball in midair, would you be able to tell me if it was on its way up or down? Probably not. It’s almost impossible to decide if the ball’s rising or falling based on only one picture. However, if I then gave you a second image that was taken just a few seconds before or after the first, would you be able to make a better decision?

Our HammerTap searches are the same. When we examine our research results, we’re essentially looking at a “freeze frame” of our product market, and it’s very difficult to see whether the product’s performance is rising or falling. However, if we can compare several searches from various time periods, we can get a much better idea of what’s going on.

So, instead of trying to decipher trends from our overall Last Year’s Auctions search, let’s conduct four searches for four different time frames.

To do this, simply click , again select Last Year’s Auctions, except this time use the arrows to adjust the time frame to one week, then hit . Do this three more times, but change the dates each time so that you end up with four searches for four subsequent weeks. Now, your have four reports that you can easily compare by clicking between them at the bottom of your search windows. (Remember, that the time period I’m searching is different than yours, so our results will be different.)

Now, we’re going to compare these search result to one another and try to find the trends. Here’s a chart of my search results that I put together:

I conducted my research at the end of October, so, my results pretty much show the month of November, and I can see that as we enter the holiday selling season, both supply and demand for my product are on the rise. (For a more thorough discussion of Supply and Demand, check out this article.) Even though each week’s individual ASP and LSR vary, we can see that our potential for sales and profit are definitely increasing by looking at the Total Sales, Average Sales Per Seller, and Average Revenue Per Seller. These numbers all steadily increase, showing us that this is a market we can expect to sell more in.

This is great information as we plan our inventory and sales. It may be somewhat of a no-brainer that sales are going to increase during the holiday season, but we now know how much we can expect them to increase by (the Total Sales more than doubled from Week 1 to Week 4). We can also continue conducting this research to pinpoint exactly when sales started to drop off. Knowing when to expect decreasing sales is incredibly valuable because it allows you to plan you inventory and sales in a way that ensures you make the majority of your sales when you can get the best prices, instead of missing your window of opportunity and having to hold excess inventory or move into liquidation.

Now, you may be thinking that this seems like an awful lot of work just to sell one set of Skullcandy earbuds, and you’re exactly right! Doing this kind of trending research is much more worthwhile when you have a large inventory of an item. If I was only interested in selling one set of earbuds, I probably would have just figured out how to optimize my listing. However, if I’m selling this item many times, this trending research gives me the information I need to build an inventory based on anticipated sales levels, just like a retail store.

Building Your Plans According to Trends

The Last Year’s Auctions search is a great tool as we plan our sales and inventory, and we can also use it to see how buyers behave on certain days. For example, if I wanted to see if sales for my product decreased or increased on Thanksgiving Day I could run that research, although I would probably want to make sure I had an idea of normal day-to-day sales so I could make an effective comparison. Understanding what happened in the past, is a great way to build your plans for the future.

So now you can not only optimize your listings with strategic decisions based on facts, and not just guesswork, but you’ve now learned how to use HammerTap to predict and plan for the future! You are now officially a HammerTap Master, and you’re armed with information that will not only make you a powerful seller, but it will also help effectively build and grow your eBay business. Congratulations!

Assignment #10: What trends are in store for your product?

You can’t get away from the last lesson without at least a little assignment!

Go ahead and run a Last Year’s Auctions search for one of your own products. Are sales levels going to stay the same, increase, or decrease? Just in case you need a little more help interpreting the data, I’ve put together this short list of articles that may help.

See what you can predict about the future of your products!

CONGRATULATIONS on officially finishing this Power to Profit course! I promise that you’re miles ahead of the competition with all of the techniques you’ve learned here. HammerTap has the facts and numbers you need to make educated and strategic decisions, so you’ll never have to just guess again!

Remember, if you have any questions, you can always send them to our support team. You can also find support contact info, frequently asked questions, and a ton of other educational resources in our forum. I look forward to seeing you there!

Congratulations on completing the course!

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