Get a Different Perspective on your Category with some eBay Data

Approach your category or channel assortment with insights from online customers. Shake up your product and pricing strategy. Try ShelfTrend Data FREE.

Here is a common corporate scenario. Your strategy presentation needs a compelling story. You are on the hunt for pertinent data insights or different customer assertions. Yet, the data is not relinquishing anything new. The analyses and research reports don’t uncover anything of note. There isn’t any time to pull new data or commission new studies – and anyway, there is no guarantee that it might unearth something of value.

You’re looking for something fresh, but you’re not exactly sure what that could be.

It’s time to try something different.

It’s time to add ecommerce data to the mix.

There are a lot of macro level statistics and studies about ecommerce as a growing part of retail spend, increased mobile shopping, social media advertising and shopping and general online basket size studies. Most of these make it into the business news, but it’s not terribly useful practically.

This is where eBay inventory and sales data could be interesting. Offered at SKU level, the data is rich with insights about supply, range, available competing brands, distribution (online sellers), sales volumes amongst many other data points.

eBay data is an excellent proxy for overall ecommerce data. It’s sheer size as the largest marketplace in the world with more than 1.1 billion product listings, 171 million active online buyers per quarter, in tens of thousands of categories across more than 20 countries make it the best representation of what is altogether being bought and sold online.

As an open marketplace, eBay’s inventory is enormous and the selection unmatched. Chances are your brand, products, vendors and competitors are on eBay …and chances are, your buyer is also.

To get the most out of eBay data, a bit of background will help. Here are three perspectives to keep in mind when you venture into exploring this new data source.

1. eBay is a search led online shopping experience

With over a billion product listings in tens of thousands of categories, an online shopper cannot just walk through the aisles peering through every single product. To turnover $21.6B of quarterly sales, the eBay shopping experience must be efficient and focused on landing the buyer on the product they want to buy as quickly as possible.

This is where product search comes in. It’s a two staged process.

First, every listing is indexed with masses of data about the product, seller and the category it belongs to. So, when that lucky-dip random search term is used by an online shopper, the best matching product listings can be called on to form a collection-set of products.

Second, a complex algorithm called “Best Match” takes in a barrage of buyer demand signals in the live shopping environment. By observing how buyers are interacting with product listing up and down the purchase funnel, Best Match is able to assess and rank listings according to relevance and what it believes will give buyers what they want – and ultimately secure that purchase.

In a 2017 study of iPhone covers, one of eBay’s fastest moving categories, ShelfTrend observed the day to day shuffle of merchandising favouring different types of iPhone covers from crystal to shockproof to wooden to leather.

In a 2017 study of iPhone covers, one of eBay’s fastest moving categories, ShelfTrend observed the day to day shuffle of merchandising favouring different types of iPhone covers from crystal to shockproof to wooden to leather.

2. Best Match offers insights to what buyers want

Best Match is eBay’s visual merchandiser, category planner and retail executive, optimising the product assortment real-time to appeal to changing buyer preferences. It’s a big job with a lot of varied inventory.

Search results co-mingle all sorts of merchandise. New-in-season stock could be presented alongside second hand or vintage inventory. Refurbished branded goods could be merchandised with generics from overseas. This is part of eBay’s unique shopping experience and it makes for an interesting stage for watching buyers make trade-off decisions on their next purchase.

In a 2017 study, ShelfTrend examined the price distribution of women’s yoga pants against average weekly sales. Inventory was saturated in lower priced generics, however, sales volume was noticeably better for medium and higher priced branded products. Price alone is not the only determinant for a purchase – even on eBay.

In a 2017 study, ShelfTrend examined the price distribution of women’s yoga pants against average weekly sales. Inventory was saturated in lower priced generics, however, sales volume was noticeably better for medium and higher priced branded products. Price alone is not the only determinant for a purchase – even on eBay.

From a category and brand management perspective, there is a lot to glean from how eBay’s Best Match ranks product listings. Analyse the share of search results and a dominant brand or product feature could indicate an emerging trend. Slice the data further by price to identify the sweet spot for purchase transactions. Compare competing products merchandised together and uncover how customers are voting with their wallets when presented with alternatives. eBay can be an excellent inspiration for building new strategic hypotheses, customer insights and ideas for new product features or innovations.

3. The eBay buyer gives you a richer customer profile

Finally, being a horizontal shopping experience, eBay data can be used to build a really rich profile of your customer. The eBay buyer is the “Every-customer,” opportunistic and looking for great value. They, like other retail shoppers, are influenced by their beliefs and ideals. Monitor their purchase behaviour across multiple complementary categories to gain a broader perspective of the customer’s spending preferences and priorities – and contrary to common belief, price is not always the determinant.

eBay data is new and different, and quite possibly the supplementary narrative needed to help strengthen your retail plans and strategies. As a monolithic global shopping destination, eBay data is an excellent proxy for gauging overall ecommerce trade. It offers a different perspective on assortment and demand, right now in the live open market. It can also offer that missing customer insight that could be the source of your next big product development hypothesis. The possibilities are up to you on how you might want to use the data – but, it is out there and maybe it’s time to add some new data to your mix.

ShelfTrend offers retail, brand and category management professionals live eBay marketplace intelligence, with pre-made reports providing insights across recent sales performance, search rank, new competition, and supply and demand. eBay data is an excellent proxy for wider ecommerce market data. Many brands use ShelfTrend assess marketshare, brand positioning and identifying brand misuse. Looking for a fresh data perspective? Try ShelfTrend today.