After achieving a certain level of success, many professional eBay sellers look to take their businesses to the next level. The key growth strategies used by professional sellers include:
Entering new product categories
Targeting new eBay marketplaces
Differentiating products to meet customer needs
Optimising listing practices and service to improve visibility.
Although sellers may be aware of these strategies, being able to assess which one is best suited to them requires data. In this article we will go through each growth strategy and the data available to support decision making.
Growth Strategy 1: Entering new product categories
Entering new product categories to expand is a popular growth strategy as sellers can achieve sales without cannibalising the sales of their existing products.
However, investing in stock of a new product category that a seller may know little about can be risky, especially for a small or medium sized business with limited resources. Without sufficient tools, Sellers tend to rely on rudimentary techniques, such as copying each other, “Trending now” lists, or on gut feel. Unfortunately, each technique brings with it its own set of additional risks:
Copying other sellers can instantly put the new seller on the back foot as they struggle to compete for search rank against an established seller. The new seller is forced to lower their prices to compete, and then it becomes a race to the bottom.
“Trending now” or “Best selling” lists are often derived from dubious sources. Even those from more credible sources, such as eBay themselves, should be assessed with caution as they ignite fierce competition. For example, eBay UK’s tiny list of 10 items is shared with their 200,000 professional UK sellers (https://www.ebay.co.uk/trending).
Gut feel is an excellent starting point often derived from years of experience and trend-watching, but verifying instinct with data can provide the necessary confidence to commit to an investment.
What is the product’s current performance?
Whether the product ideas are sourced from wholesaler catalogues, trade shows, competitors, ShelfTrend reports, gut instincts or trending lists, use marketplace data to see how products are currently performing.
eBay’s search rank provides an indication of success as, on average, 90% of sales on eBay are made on the first page of search results. Thus, viewing the rank of the potential product, in addition to the usual sales metrics, is important.
Assess the product’s competition
When entering a new product category, it’s useful for new sellers to know what they’ll be up against. A fragmented market of small sellers is much easier to compete in than one dominated by a few powerful sellers.
Using marketplace data, see the number of sellers competing in that product category, the number of high ranking listings that each competitor has, how much they’ve sold, and for what price.
Running a Seller search on ShelfTrend lets sellers gauge the size of each competitor and determine if they will be targeting a large competitor’s best-selling products – a high risk move.
Being able to compete on price and postage is critical on the eBay marketplaces. ShelfTrend’s reports quickly reveal average pricing and postage metrics for the top-ranking listings and for each competitor.
Growth Strategy 2: Targeting new eBay marketplaces
Exporting, or “Cross Border Trade” as eBay likes to call it, is another strategy professional sellers use to capture new customers with their existing product lines. Despite potential barriers from postage costs or exchange rates, there are items that can do particularly well internationally, such as:
Seasonal items (targeting markets with the opposite seasons)
Items unique to a specific country that are hard to get elsewhere
Items that are priced higher in other markets.
ShelfTrend’s reports can be applied to over 20 eBay countries, so sellers can assess which eBay marketplace has the most potential.
Growth Strategy 3: Differentiating product lines to meet customer needs
As not every customer wants the exact same thing, most products are available in different variations, with different features and at different price points. Professional sellers look to see how they can improve on a product instead of just copying the best seller, and how to create a niche instead of targeting large competitors directly.
To determine how to differentiate, they turn to ShelfTrend’s Supply Demand report, which can reveal niche products and features that buyers are willing to pay more for and have lower levels of competition.
Growth Strategy 4: Optimising listings to improve visibility
Professional sellers know that achieving higher search rank can make a significant difference in sales. Therefore, they continually review and try to improve their listings, as well as focus on delivering great customer service as these have an impact on their rank.
Professional sellers use ShelfTrend’s Top 500 report to see the terminology and listing practices used in listings that have a higher rank.
Data is available to help you determine the strategy that will bring you the most gain with the least amount of risk.
ShelfTrend is a real-time eBay marketplace intelligence tool with ready-made reports that helps professional online sellers to research competitors and visualise eBay’s merchandising and sales activity.
Users can search by product, category, or competitor across more than 20 eBay countries on 3 different data reports: Live Listings, New Listings, and Supply Demand.
Try it for free and upgrade for US$14.99 per month when you need more. No commitments or annual contracts.