Use HammerTap to Find Hot Products!

By Amy Kendall, Research Education Specialist

I often get asked how to find the hottest products. Just the other day someone asked me if HammerTap would show them what the hottest product was for the past 30 days for a given category (or for all of eBay for that matter). HammerTap doesn’t give you that information… and I’ll tell you why.

When people think of “hot eBay products” they usually imagine things like iPods and other electronics—which are probably what they would expect HammerTap to show them as the biggest sales items on eBay. Well, I did a little research. In the last 30 days, there were over 100,000 iPods listed on eBay. And here’s the kicker--all those iPods were listed by almost 11,000 sellers. That’s a lot of competition!

The more sellers there are for a given product, the more competition there is. And if a certain product is touted as the “hottest product” for a given category then everyone is going to try to jump on that wagon—which means more sellers, more competition, and lower prices.

A hot product is not something that everyone else and their dog is selling or trying to sell. So instead of asking, “How can I do to get my hands on the biggest sales items on eBay?” you should ask yourself, “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 puts you on the path to finding what’s hot for you—instead of just finding what’s hot.

What's Hot For Me

How do we know a hot product when we see one? Well, it’s usually something that sells like crazy and that buyers are just itching to get their hands on, right? Or maybe it’s a product that’s suggested by all the internet hot lists.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are some very specific criteria you should look at very closely before you invest anything in a product, whether it’s been touted as one of the top items sold on eBay or not.

I define something that is hot for me with three criteria:

  1. What do I know a lot about?
  2. What can I actually sell?
  3. What can I make a profit on?

1. What Do I Know a Lot About?

What do you like to do? What are your hobbies or interests? I’m sure you currently do something that you could make a business out of—you just need to do a little brainstorming.

Start with just a broad idea, and I’ll walk you through a possible brainstorming exercise.

I love food (I imagine there are few people who don’t, but I’m a definite fan!). So I’m going to start off by making a list of more specific hobbies I have that revolve around food.

  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Grilling
  • Food presentation
  • Food storage and organization

I can narrow my list further by choosing just one of those hobbies and drilling down even deeper. This time, I’m trying to get down all of the products I could sell that are specifically connected to one of my hobbies. For my example I’m going to go with baking.

  • Baking pans
  • Baking utensils
  • Cookbooks
  • Premade mixes
  • Decorating supplies
  • Mixing bowls
  • Appliances (bread machines, stand mixers, hand mixers, etc.)
  • Measuring tools
  • Ingredients

This is just a short list of potential products, but from here we can go a step further and get even more specific. I’m going to choose one product category (baking pans) and expand it out even further.

  • Cupcake and muffin pans
  • Springform pans
  • Cake pans
  • Pie dishes
  • Tart pans
  • Bread pans and tubes
  • Casserole and baking dishes
  • Baking molds
  • Brand names (Pampered Chef, Calphalon, Pyrex, Kitchenaid, etc.)

So, just by making a few quick lists, we’ve come up with more than 10 specific products that I know a lot about, am interested in, and could potentially sell. This was a great brainstorming session for me because I know a lot about baking. I know that all bakeware isn’t the same—but if I asked my husband the difference between a Calphalon pan and a Pyrex pan he’d have no idea. On the other hand, my husband could ask me the difference between two rock climbing ropes and I would have no idea. So, the point is that when you are trying to find something to sell, start with an idea based on something you enjoy or know a lot about.

2. What Can I Actually Sell?

After we’ve figured out what we might like to sell, we need to decide what actually sells. Here is where we 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 Home & Garden > Inside the Home > Kitchen, Dining & Bar > Bakeware > Bread Pans & Tubes.

Here is what I found for bread pans.

Figure 1: Bread Pans category search results

During the past three months, there were just over 2,500 bread pans listed in this category. Of those, 1,169 sold, which is a Listing Success Rate of 46.3%.

So, in general, bread pans sell 46% of the time. This means that if I have 10 bread pans, I will sell 4 (maybe 5) of them on the first try and have to re-list the other 6 in order to sell all of my pans.

Next, I want to go into the What Title Keywords Should I Use? report. Instead of using this report to just get keywords for my eventual listing title, I can use it to get an idea of how different products are doing within the specific market of this category.

I simply scanned through the report and picked out brand names. Now I have the information on how well the pans from each of these brands are selling.

Table 1: Listing Success Rates for different brand names

Only the Calphalon brand sold less than our average of 46%. Pyrex has the highest success rate at 72%. But what does this mean? It means that it is much easier to sell Pyrex bread pans than it is to sell Calphalon bread pans.

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 just listing a product and actually selling it!

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’re just spinning your wheels.

Determining your profit margin depends upon your cost of the product, so to start, we’ll make a table of the same products we found above, excluding the ones we know we don’t want to sell.

Table 2: Average Sales Price for different brand names

Again, Pyrex tops our list. It might be tempting to say that since Pyrex has the highest sales price it is the best brand to sell, but in order for it to be hot, we need to make a profit on the product.

The golden question we need to ask ourselves every time we decide on something to sell is “Will my sales price pay the bills?” Before you take the leap and invest in a product, keep these costs in mind:

  • 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?)

Once you calculate all of the above expenses, you can determine how big your profit margin will be.

So, let’s say that for Pyrex our total cost is $9 per bread pan, including the cost to buy the pan, eBay listing fees, shipping fees, merchant fees, etc. This puts our profit at $10.74 – $9.00 for $1.74 profit.

The key here is to sit down and do the math before you invest in a product. You might not be satisfied with a $1.74 in profit; maybe you need to do the math on the other brands or maybe you need to just keep researching and find another product all together.

But the point is that to really find out if something is hot, you need to know your cost to source the product and consider all of the other costs you’ll incur selling the product.

It’s only after you compare the performance of the product to your actual sourcing costs that you can decide if a product is really hot for your business!

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