Using HammerTap to Sell Vintage and One-of-a-Kind Items

By Amy Kendall, Research Education Specialist

First off, I would like to take this opportunity to officially introduce myself. My name is Amy Kendall, and I am an eBay Certified Consultant, as well as Steve Nye's HammerTap-Jedi-in-training. If you visited the HammerTap booth at eBay Live!, have attended one of our HammerTap Basics webinars in the last month, or have been poking around the forum lately, you may have noticed me (or at least my name) popping up and offering advice and education on HammerTap and eBay market research strategies.

Attending eBay Live was excellent this year because I was able to talk to hundreds of eBay sellers. Throughout the conference, one of the main questions I was asked by eBay sellers was how HammerTap can help when selling vintage, one-of-a-kind and collectible items. Several sellers remarked that HammerTap seems like a tool that only works well for mass-produced items. But, I'm here to report that HammerTap gives you the power to gather valuable market research for a much larger variety of products, and this week I'm going to show you how your unique items can benefit from HammerTap research.

HammerTap for Vintage and Unique Products

The goal of any eBay listing is to attract a buyer that will pay the highest price for a product. Every listing strives to rise above all of the others and be noticed by buyers—whether it's by including the right keywords in the listing title, ending on the day when most buyers are searching, or writing the best sales copy. However, for one-of-a-kind items your job as a seller becomes a little bit harder. Often, buyers don't know what exactly they are looking for; they are just browsing around trying to find something that strikes their fancy and meets their needs.

To overcome this, sellers who list collectibles, antiques, or other unique items should have two goals—1) to stand out from the competition and 2) to attract the high-paying buyers.

1. Stand Out

Since the item you're selling is by definition one-of-a-kind, it may be tempting to assume that there is no competition within your market. But every listing competes to be seen and for the dollars buyers are willing to spend—it's just a rule of the market.

Search Similar Products and Categories

A good way to get an idea of the market for your product is to search for similar products (using the product search) and in categories that you might list your product in (using both a product search in a specific category and a category search). For example, if I was selling a 1950s vintage diamond ring, I can do a product search for the keyword “vintage” in the category for Jewelry & Watches>Vintage, Antique>Fine>Diamonds>Retro, Vintage 1940s-1980s (category #52571).

My search preview window shows rings of all different types. I could even get more specific by including and excluding keywords. For example, if I was selling a 14K white gold ring, I would want to include those in the “Include Keywords” field, and perhaps exclude yellow, two-tone, etc.

Even though no two are exactly alike, they're at least similar in each being vintage and from the same time period as the ring I'm selling, and I can use HammerTap to analyze the selling strategies my competition is using. By searching for products that are similar to the one I'm selling, I can at least get a feel for what my chances of selling are and what I can expect to make on my item.

Differentiate Your Listing

Now that we've conducted our search, I can see what the competition in my market is like. I can see what my competitors are doing, and even look at other successful listings and see what they're doing that works. But the real gold (no pun intended) in the HammerTap results is how easy it is to find areas where I can make my listing stand out from the competition. Areas where you may be able to differentiate yourself include:

  • End Day
  • End Time
  • Starting Price
  • Features (such as Bold, Gallery Pictures, etc.)
  • Category (listing in an appropriate category few of your competitors use)
  • Title Keywords

In my search to find the best way to list (and hopefully sell!) my vintage ring, I've found that end times are a good way for me to differentiate my listing. I want to make sure I'm not ending my listing when everyone else is ending theirs. The more listings I'm ending with, the more competition I have.

The first yellow column shows us how many auctions ended at the various times. We can see a large spike in the number of auctions that end between 6 and 9 p.m. (circled in blue). This is the time when most of my competition are ending their listings. By listing at other times, I can avoid a lot of those competing listings and increase the chances of my listing being found by a high-paying buyer. To choose the best time to end my product, I looked for the times that had Average Sales Prices (ASP per Item) that were higher than the category average of $263. I've circled the most profitable times to end my listing in red.

Setting my listing apart from the competition is only a matter of ending my auction at a time that's different than most of my competitors. Imagine how much more power your listing will have if you're able to set yourself apart from the competition in more than just ending time!

2. Attract High-Paying Buyers

As I mentioned before, attracting the highest-paying buyer is the ultimate goal of any eBay listing. And now that we've set ourselves apart from the competition, we need to make sure those buyers are going to find us!

Watch for Trends

If I'm going to sell my ring and attract buyers to my listing, I have to make sure I understand my buyer. I can use the search we pulled up with the similar products and category to figure out buyer behavior and consumer preferences. By watching general trends, I can predict what to do to my listing to attract the buyers I want.

The keywords you build into your listing title are your most important weapon in making sure you're attracting high-paying buyers. Even if I stand out from my competition by ending my listing on a different day and time, it'll do me little good if I don't have the keywords I need to attract the buyers who will be interested in my ring. But with HammerTap's keyword tool, I can easily see which keywords I should use to increase my Average Sales Price by attracting the high-paying buyers.

All I had to do to find this information was go into the What Title Keywords Should I Use? report (located on the Findings Report in HammerTap) and presto! I now know exactly which words will make sure that my listing sells for the highest price.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Another way to ensure you are attracting the high-bidders is to monitor your own success and failures. I know that many of you have built (or are building) your eBay businesses on selling all kinds of one-of-a-kind items. You can use the Seller Search with your own Seller ID to keep track of your own progress and monitor the success of various trial and error campaigns. For some products, there may not be a large number of similar items and you may have to try out various options on a trial and error basis. The Seller Search allows you to quickly look at all of your listings over a 30 day period and see what options and features worked or didn't.

Selling vintage, collectible, and one-of-a-kind items on eBay doesn't have to be a guessing game. HammerTap isn't just for mass-produced products, and it can provide you with invaluable market research for your unique products!

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