Finding What's Hot for Me: Knowing What to Sell

By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant and HammerTap Research Expert

What’s Hot on eBay vs. What’s Hot for Me

People often ask me how they can get their hands on the hottest selling products on eBay. So I reply with a question of my own, “What is the hottest selling product on eBay?”

Their response makes me shake my head.

“You know, like iPods.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the hottest product is not the product that everyone else and their dog is selling or trying to sell.

In fact, I did a little research just to emphasize my point. In the past month, there were almost 80,000 iPods listed. Now here is the kicker, there were more than 22,000 sellers for iPods.

That is a huge number of sellers, which is also the number of people you are competing with to sell. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd.

Instead of asking what the hottest product on eBay is, the real question you should be asking is, “What can I sell that very few others are selling?” or “What can I sell that I know I can make a profit on?”

Asking these questions will put you on the path to finding what’s hot for you, instead of just finding what’s hot.

What’s Hot for Me?

Let’s just take a moment and define what’s hot.

What is hot? Well, a hot potato is hot. The sun is hot. Or, something that sells like hot cakes is supposedly hot. But what is a hot product for me when it comes to selling on eBay?

I define something that is hot for me as having at least four criteria:

    1. What do I know a lot about?

    2. What can I actually sell?

    3. What can I make a profit on?

    4. Where can I get the product?

Something that is hot for you may have its own definition, but let’s look at each one of these criteria in more detail.

1. What Do I Know a lot About?

What do you like to do? What are your hobbies or interests? Surely you currently do something that you could make a business out of, you just need a little brainstorming.

Start with just an idea. Let me walk you through a possible brainstorming session.

I like the outdoors and outdoor sports. I’ll make a list of the activities I enjoy and know a lot about:

  • Snow skiing
  • Camping
  • Dutch-oven cooking
  • Mountain biking
  • Backpacking

Now I can select one of my hobbies and dig deeper. What products specifically are connected to your hobby that could you potentially sell? I’ll go with camping for this next list.

  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Tents
  • Coolers
  • Flashlights
  • Lanterns
  • Stoves
  • Cookware
  • Safety and first aid
  • Canopies
  • Cargo bags and containers

And I could keep going, but I think you get the point. But we can still go deeper. I’ll go with sleeping bags.

  • Mummy bags
  • Regular bags
  • Winter bags
  • Summer Bags
  • Multi-season bags
  • Down bags
  • Synthetic bags
  • Brand names
    • North Face
    • Marmot
    • Coleman
    • Sierra Designs

I am able to do this brainstorming activity because I know a lot about camping and about sleeping bags. I know that all sleeping bags are not the same.

On the other hand, my wife will show me two pair of black shoes and both pair look exactly the same to me. According to her however, they are not even similar. She knows more about shoes than I do, so she could brainstorm on shoes.

So, when you are trying to decide what to sell, start with an idea, based upon something you enjoy or know a lot about.

2. What Can I Actually Sell?

Here is where you need some research. With HammerTap, you can know if your potential product will even sell before you spend time and, most importantly, money investing in the product.

I used HammerTap to research the eBay category Sporting Goods> Camping, Hiking, Backpacking> Sleeping Gear> Sleeping Bags> Synthetic> Cold Weather (+10F & below).

Here is what I found for cold weather, synthetic sleeping bags.

Category Search for eBay Category Sporting Goods> Camping, Hiking, Backpacking> Sleeping Gear> Sleeping Bags> Synthetic> Cold Weather (+10F & below). HammerTap Copyright, 2008.

During the past three months, there were just over 3,500 sleeping bags listed in this category. Of those, 1,478 sold, which is a Listing Success Rate of 41.75%.

So, in general, cold-weather sleeping bags sell 42% of the time. This means that if I have 10 sleeping bags, I will sell 4 on the first try and have to re-list the other 6 in order to sell my sleeping bags.

Now let’s look at the brand names and see how they compare to the average success rate.

Listing Success Rate for brand name sleeping bags. HammerTap Copyright, 2008.

Only the Sierra Designs brand sold less than our average of 42%. Marmot had the highest success rate at 75%. What does this mean? It means that it is much easier to sell Marmot cold-weather bags than it is to sell Sierra Designs cold-weather bags.

Simply put, in order for the product to be hot for you, you have to be able to sell it. There is a big difference between selling and listing.

3. What Can I Make a Profit On?

Now, even if you can sell a product 100% of the time, unless you are making a profit, you are just spinning your wheels.

Determining your profit margin depends upon your cost of the product, so step 3 and step 4 go hand-in-hand.

To start, make a table of the same product you found above, excluding the ones you know you do not what to sell.

Average Sales Price for brand name sleeping bags. HammerTap Copyright, 2008.

Again, Marmot has the highest selling price, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best brand to sell. In order for it to be hot, we need to make a profit on the product.

Let’s say that for Marmot, our total cost is $160 per sleeping bag, including the cost to buy the sleeping bag, eBay listing fees, shipping fees, merchant fees, etc. This puts our profit at $172.55 - $160.00 for $12.55 profit. (Note: We will go into greater detail on how to calculate your profit margin during the Advanced Webinar.

The key to this step is eliminating risk! Instead of just going with whatever sleeping bag we can get our hands on, we are first figuring out if we can even make money on it. Armed with your Listing Success Rate from step 2 and your Average Sales Price in this step, you will never make a bad sourcing move again.

4. Where Can I Get the Product?

I know that I can sell Marmot sleeping bags and I know how much I can expect to make. Now it’s time to find a supplier.

There are several different ways to find a supplier, but when you get into name-brand products, it is sometimes more difficult.

One source I highly recommend is Worldwide Brands. Worldwide Brands is the most comprehensive directory of drop shippers and wholesalers I have found. In fact, I looked up Marmot and found 67 suppliers and wholesalers of Marmot products. Surely I could find the sleeping bags I am looking to sell.

To learn more about Worldwide Brands and to receive $10 off, click here.

Now I have just given you a lot of information here, but I have really just scratched the surface. Our advanced webinar will go into much more depth on how to use HammerTap in this process of finding what's hot for me. In fact, we may even have to make the webinar a two-part series because we know this is something you really want to know a lot about.

If you haven't registered yet for our advanced webinar, use the link below.

Click Here to Reserve Your Seat

I look forward to seeing you there!


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