Finding What´s Hot on eBay—For ME


By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant

Ever listen to eBay Radio? Every week Jen Cano, PR Director for HammerTap (and my boss!), highlights a weekly spot titled, "What´s Hot on eBay." Jen uses HammerTap to research specific categories that have high sales rates, and finds specific items within that category that are exceptionally hot.

For example, last week Jen found that bike racks in the Sporting Goods category were one of the hottest selling products. These racks had a Listing Success Rate of 75%. (Average eBay success rate is below 50%.)

Although this is a hot product on eBay that has a high selling success rate and a high selling price, it doesn´t mean that it is a hot product for you. Huh? Just because it´s hot on eBay, doesn´t mean that it is hot for you. What´s hot for you depends upon two things: what you can sell and what you can make a profit on.

A Not-So-Hot Story

Let me tell a story to illustrate my point. A friend of mine sells basically whatever he can get his hands on, and one day he took the plunge and bought a lot of iPod Shuffles (a hot product on eBay). Unfortunately, what was hot on eBay wasn´t hot for him.

He knew very little about iPod Shuffles, and spent a whole day reading through the user´s manual and becoming familiar with it. The lot he purchased was as-is: some were working, some were partially working, and some did not work at all. He spent several days working on his merchandise to get as many complete working iPods ready for sale as he could. However, his average sales price was also the average price offered on eBay.

What went wrong? First, he knew very little about the product, and therefore wasn´t the best iPod salesman. Second, his product source was not the best. Many of the iPods didn´t work or were only partially functional. Finally, when it came down to sales, he ended up selling in a saturated market, with a large supply and diminishing demand for iPod Shuffles.

But this isn´t going to be your story. Your story is confident. Your story is profitable. Why? Because after reading this article, you´ll know how to find out what´s hot for you and sell, sell, sell!

What´s Hot for You Depends on What You Can Sell

What do you mean, "what’s hot for me depends on what I can sell"? If it is selling on eBay, why wouldn´t I be able to sell it? A lot of factors go into being able to sell a product. For example, you first need to understand the supply and demand of that product, and then you need to be able to find a product source.

First, know the supply and demand. You should never commit to selling a new product without trying to gauge what the demand for that product will be. Demand is the key to eBay business profitability. Remember that demand is always high for a product that is relatively new to the market.

Once you know the demand, you need to know the supply of that product. Remember from economics class that when demand is high, many sellers enter the market. Pretty soon, as the supply increases, the demand and price both decrease.

You can find the supply and demand for a particular product using HammerTap. Research a product you think is right for you, and check the Results for the Total Listings (supply) and Listing Success Rate (demand).

Now that you have a product that is in high demand, with a relatively low supply, you need a product source. Product sourcing can sometimes be difficult, especially if you are going after a name-brand, hot product on eBay. When you are sourcing a hot product, keep these things in mind:

* How easily can I get the product? (Although it´s hot, is it hot enough for you to go to the ends of the earth to find a source?)
* How much will the product cost? (Don´t forget shipping and storage overhead if applicable.)
* How much do I know about this product?

That last suggestion is very important. The key to having a successful business is to have confidence in the product that you are selling. If you do not have confidence in the product yourself, then you probably won't be successful at selling it.

What´s Hot for You Depends on How Much You Can Make

So, by now you should have discovered a hot-selling product, determined its supply and demand within the market, and found out where you can get it. Unfortunately, that is only one side of the equation. Although you are confident you can sell it, do you know how much money you can make?

Let´s go back to our Results.

We can see that the Average Selling Price for this product is $169.19. But we won´t sell it at the average, will we? No, sir. We´ll use HammerTap to power up our auctions. This is when you should take a close look at all the listing features to find ways to sell your product at a higher-than-average price.

Here´s the golden question—the one you should ask yourself every time you decide on something to sell. Will your profit margins pay the bills? Keep these expenses in mind when you consider jumping on a "hot-product bandwagon":

* How much will the product cost? (Don´t forget shipping and storage overhead if applicable.)
* How much can I sell it for?
* What are my shipping costs? (Don´t forget to include boxes, tape, packing materials, etc.)
* How much will my listing and closing fees be?
* What is the cost of my resources? (Are you paying a neighbor boy to box up your products? Are you spending hours listing and packaging and shipping?)
* What is my profit margin?

Once you calculate all the above expenses, determine how big your profit margin will be. For example, if the cost of the item, cost of shipping, cost of listing fees and cost of resources totals $45 for your "hot product" and you can sell it for only $49.95, it may not be a hot product for you, unless you are satisfied making $0.05 for each product from shipping charges. The key here is to sit down and do the math before you go buying a large inventory of hot products that either 1) you can´t sell or 2) you can´t make a profit on.

Move Forward with Confidence

Remember the steps:

* Sit down with a pad and pencil and determine if and how well you can sell the product.
* Then determine if and how much money you can make.
* Finally, start building your inventory.

That´s it. That´s all there is to it. I´m so excited that you´re going to go out and find a hot new product today—something that works for you. Because you´ve got the skills and tools to do it right!

Look forward to next week´s auctionography, when I will be explain the magic of the product life cycle, and how you can predict what´s going to be hot before it happens.

Until then, I hope you have a very successful week!!

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