Are You Selling as Much as You Could?


by Allison Hartsoe, President of Internet Business Skills

Every month we work with a variety of eBay sellers to answer the question, “Are you selling as much as you could?” Sellers often think eBay is an unlimited market and if they simply post a product, buyers will come.

Experienced sellers know better, but even they may be leaving money on the table. Here´s a step-by-step guide to understanding if you´re selling as much as you could.

Step One: How Big is My Market?

The first question to answer is, “How big is my market?” Although it´s attractive to think that your market could be all of eBay, your real market is the eBay category or categories where you sell.

For example, let´s say I sell drawer pulls. My market is found by drilling into the eBay categories of Home & Garden > Building & Hardware > Cabinets & Cabinet Hardware > Handles & Pulls.

Note: if I sold knobs in addition to handles and pulls, then I would combine the two categories to find my market size.

To determine market size in DA:

1. On the research panel, select the Handles & Pulls category using the handy category picker HammerTap category picker.
2. Then click on Data Estimate button to find out the total number of auctions in the category. (When I did the Data Estimate, it was 6967 auctions.)
3. Next, set the number of auctions to the closest level which includes the entire data estimate number. In my case, 10,000 auctions.
4. Then click Start and let HammerTap crank away.

When the results come back, the Findings tab will show a total sales figure. In this case, $36,312.58. This is my market size for this category on eBay over the last 30 days.

Step Two: Where am I in the Market?

Once I know the market size, the next logical question to ask is, "Am I seller number one, two, or ten?" Before I can determine the answer to this question, I need to know roughly the number of auctions I listed, the number I´ve sold, and my $ sales for the past 30 days.

TIP: Use the eBay Seller eBay Seller research feature in HammerTap research feature in HammerTap to find out if you don´t know.

Once I know my own sales numbers, I look to see where I fall in with the other sellers:

1. I start by clicking the Seller tab in HammerTap.
2. Then click the Total Sales column head to sort by Total Sales (click the column head twice to make top sellers appear at the top.) Now I have sellers in my category ranked from number one in sales onward.
3. To find my selling account, I find it easiest to scan the sales column for the approximate sales number, then compare the # of auctions and the Auctions with Sales to find the exact match. When I´ve found figures that match mine, I know I´ve found the figures for my own account.
4. Look at the number on the far left. This is your rank by sales.

Step 3: Now what?

Let´s say I am the number 3 seller in the category. "Am I selling as much as I could in that category?" The obvious answer would be no. However, the obvious answer is not always correct, as we all learned years ago taking the SAT´s.

Look More Closely at the Other Sellers
If we look at the DA Sellers tab, and sort it as we did in the last step (according to Total Sales), we may notice in the Number of Auctions Column that seller number 2 only had two large lot sales. That could be a temporary seller liquidating old stock. Not a great comparison for my brand new inventory.

By looking more closely at seller number 1, I see “seller flame out” in action. This is when a seller lists lots of products very aggressively but only sells a small percentage. In this case, the Auction Success Rate will be significantly lower than the average (See the Findings tab) and the number of auctions will be significantly higher than other top sellers.

My advice if this happens to you is not to match their listing volume or you may find yourself in the same boat. But do try to stand out with fewer perhaps feature or highlighted ads and maintain sales while you wait out their crash.

Find the Growth Potential
So, even though the sellers above me represent a small amount of additional sales volume, I might find more growth potential in the sellers listed below me. I pick out healthy sellers by looking for those with an auction success rate at or above the category average (see the Findings page) and whose sales volume is fairly robust.

HammerTap gives some valuable statistics on these sellers, including number of listings and average selling price per auction and per item. Here are a few things I try to glean from that information:

* Am I running fewer listings than the competition? Perhaps I need to boost my listing volume.
* Is my competition selling more items per auction? Perhaps I´ll try dutch or multiple quantity listings.
* Do I have a lower auction success rate than my competition? Since I know there are many reasons for that, I´ll first check other sellers´ listings on eBay and see what´s changed.

Step 4: Dig into the Data

Once I´ve identified the size of the market, found my place in it, and then analyzed where I can grow, I´ll come back to HammerTap and dig into the Report tab to see what specific tactics I can use to adjust my strategy and gain more market share.

Special Thanks to Allison Hartsoe

We´d like to extend a special thanks to Allison Hartsoe, President and founder of Internet Business Skills. Internet Business Skills is an eBay Certified Service Provider.

A few months ago, I went to dinner with Allison Hartsoe, President of Internet Business Skills. During dinner, we shared our thoughts about strategies for growing eBay businesses. I was impressed with her grasp of the subject and excited about some of her unique approaches to the research. After our discussion, I felt her experience with helping other business owners was too good to keep to myself. I´m excited to have a featured article by Allison about determining the size of the market, identifying your place in it, and discovering room to grow.


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