One thing differentiating eBay businesses that grow from those that don't is the owners' levels of eBay market knowledge. Marketplace 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. It is offered 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, which uses data licensed from eBay, lets sellers and buyers look back through extended time periods to find price trends on specific products through completed listings, along with other sophisticated research tools.
DeepAnalysis market research software from HammerTap can do a number of powerful analyses, such as studying how starting prices compare to bids. You can also use it to figure out the best categories for your items by looking at the number of bids or selling prices for similar items.
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 sales volume. Services can be purchased a la carte.
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 convenient 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.
The "In Demand" section in Category Tips is especially helpful. It lists the top 10 items in your category and the top 10 buyer search words.
What's Hot gives you a look at the items and categories that are popular 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.
Part of the What's Hot section of Seller Central is the "Hot Categories Report," a monthly listing of categories that meet specific criteria for month-to-month growth in bids and conversion rates. Find out which categories are Super Hot, boasting a 35-percentage-point or more spread between bid growth rate and listing growth, to identify your most promising categories. Get more on the "Hot Categories Report."
The latest addition to this genre of buying analysis is eBay Pop!. Find the latest "Movers & Shakers" as well as the most popular items in several eBay categories. For more details, check out www.ebay.com/ebaypop.
What does that leave? The catchall "Resources" link takes you to a page listing scores of tools and links on topics such as deciding what to sell and eBay's Giving Works charity program.
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 a way for sellers 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 handbooks 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 see exactly what buyers are looking for, in their own words. Buyers can create Want It Now posts to share what they want to purchase with millions of sellers, including you. Learn more about this free service at http://pages.ebay.com/wantitnow.
eBay's 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 for one flat 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 at 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. Get more information about Picture Manager and its features at http://pages.ebay.com/picture_manager.