One thing differentiating businesses on eBay that grow from those that don't is the owners' level of eBay market knowledge. A number of market-place data and software tools from eBay and third parties can help businesses on eBay research their markets to improve results.
eBay's own Marketplace Research is a recent introduction that provides consolidated metrics on up to 90 days of completed items and allows for sophisticated analysis. Marketplace Research is priced in three tiers: Fast Pass for the casual user; Basic for those who want to handle variables such as starting price ranges and number of successful sales; and Pro, which allows for research by related keywords, among other advanced features.
Third-party provider Terapeak uses data licensed from eBay. The web-based service lets sellers and buyers look back through extended time periods to find price trends for completed listings on specific products, along with other sophisticated research tools. Costs range from $9.95 a month to $16.95 a month. Learn more about Terapeak at www.terapeak.com.
DeepAnalysis market research software from HammerTap can do a number of powerful analyses, such as studying how starting price compares to bids. You can also use it to figure out the best category for your items by looking at the number of bids or selling prices for similar items. Learn more about HammerTap and get cost information at www.hammertap.com.
Andale's Research tools help eBay sellers find the success rate and average selling price of any item and identify the price most likely to increase your sales volume. Research services can be purchased a la carte; learn more at www.andale.com.
If you want to build your business, you should become familiar with Seller Central. It's the mother lode for tips, tools, information and other resources for eBay sellers.
Seller Central is organized into sections. Best Practices presents time-tested approaches for selling on eBay. Its recommendations are based on the techniques used by eBay's most successful sellers. Advanced Selling is for those who are ready to go beyond the basics. Category Tips directs you to specific resources arranged by category to help you fine-tune your approach to fit your category.
What's Hot gives you a look at the items and categories that are in demand, and also provides you with a preview of eBay's merchandising calendar so you'll know about upcoming promotions in time to prepare for them. News & Updates gives you a link to sign up for the PowerUp newsletter, a monthly e-mail with the insider's view of new selling features, promotions and tools.
The "In Demand" section within Category Tips is especially helpful. This shows you the top 10 items in your category and the top 10 buyer search words.
What's left? The catchall "Resources" link takes you to a page with scores of tools and links on topics from deciding what to sell to eBay's Giving Works charity tool. Learn more about Seller Central at http://pages.ebay.com/sellercentral.
What Buyers Want
You can find out what buyers are looking for by using several eBay resources for sellers who want to build their businesses on eBay. Reviews & Guides is a tool buyers can use to decide what to buy and sellers can use to look inside buyers' minds. The "Reviews" section contains eBay user-written comments and ratings for specific products, such as books and CDs. The "Guides" section consists of hand-books written by experts, collectors and other members to give you insight into topics ranging from collectible dolls to caring for antiques. Learn more about Reviews & Guides at http://reviews.ebay.com.
You can browse the Want It Now listings to find out exactly what buyers are looking for, in their own words. Buyers can create Want It Now posts to tell millions of sellers, including you, what they want to purchase. Learn more about this free service at http://pages.ebay.com/wantitnow.
Part of the "What's Hot" portion of Seller Central is the "Hot Categories Report," a monthly listing of categories that meet certain criteria for month-to-month growth in bids and conversion rates. Find out which categories are Super Hot--boasting at least a
35-percentage point spread between bid growth rate and listing growth--to identify your most promising categories. Learn more about the "Hot Categories Report" at http://pages.ebay.com/sellercentral/whatshot.html.
eBay's new Picture Manager is a fully integrated service to help you post pictures for your listings. With Picture Manager, you save time by tapping into all your pictures from the "Sell Your Item" form or My eBay. You won't have to leave eBay to change, add or remove pictures. You won't have to upload pictures for each individual listing, and you can add multiple pictures to any listing without paying an extra fee.
You can transfer all the pictures you already have on eBay to Picture Manager with a single click. Once you do so, Picture Manager gives you a single place to host all your pictures for About Me and eBay Stores as well as listings. Security tools allow you to add your User ID to your pictures as a watermark. Picture Manager is priced in several levels, from $9.99 a month for 50MB to $24.99 a month for 1GB. Featured Store sellers get discounted rates, and Anchor Store sellers can subscribe to Picture Manager at any level for no fee. Learn more about Picture Manager at http://pages.ebay.com/picture_manager.