Building a Research Schedule
By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Huh? Honestly, does anyone understand that phrase? For the most part, I´m completely mystified. When it comes to market research, however, this phrase makes perfect sense—and it holds the secret to internet success.
The most constant factor in market research is change—the market is in constant flux, responding to the demands of buyers and sellers alike. What was constant one week may change the next. To make the most of your internet business, you should develop a research schedule to keep you in tune with the market and anticipate shifting trends.
What's a research schedule?
A research schedule is a schedule of daily, weekly, and monthly goals to keep you in touch with the market. Because the market constantly fluctuates, it is important to stay connected, both to adapt to changes and to anticipate them. The more in touch you are with the market, the more you can use it to your own advantage!
For example, when I first looked into selling a product on eBay, I found that Sunday evening was the best time to close my auction. A few weeks later, I went back and did the research again and found that Friday was now the best day to close. Had I not gone back and taken another look at the market, I would have missed out on the best time to sell my product.
When you begin research on products to sell, make yourself a schedule and update your research on a regular basis. At least once a month (or even once a week!), re-research your product to make sure you´re taking advantage of the market and creating the optimal listing. Consider yourself the executive of your internet business—an executive makes decisions based upon facts for the upcoming quarter, not the past quarter. You need to rely on current and up-to-date information to run a successful business.
Predicting Success with Last Year´s Auctions
Last Year´s Auctions is an excellent source to consider when beginning your research schedule, particularly if you are selling a seasonal or holiday-oriented product. Go back one year and research what your product was doing in the coming month—you may be surprised! If you prepare yourself for an approaching shift in trends (change of season, back-to-school time, or an upcoming holiday), you´ll have a better idea of how the market will shift—and a bigger jump on the competition!
For instance, let´s say I´ve been listing kids´ backpacks at a starting price of $3.00. September is right around the corner, so I use Last Year´s Auctions to look up the market for kids´ backpacks in September 2005. I find that backpacks starting at $1.00 sell for even more than backpacks at $3.00—especially now that parents are hunting for bargains! I can lower my starting price and still make a bigger profit—just by doing a little pre-season research!
Turning Reports into Treasure Troves
Saving your reports can help you track trends and compare different products to see what´s most successful. Once you have completed a search, click the Save icon at the top of your results windows or select File > Save Report. Saving your reports allows you to built a base of knowledge about a particular product, from which you can track popular trends, changes in listing success, and the like. Once you have a built a knowledge base for potential products, you can open and compare your saved research reports and track the success of brand names, listing elements, and more!
Regular research can help you not only track your own success, but can give you an edge over the competition. With the help of a research schedule, you can better anticipate market fluctuation and predict your future success. Remember: if you´ve done your homework, the more the market changes, the more you stay the same—successful!