ShelfTrend shares the story of two mom entrepreneurs who sell on eBay to earn both an income and the flexibility needed to raise young families. However, like any business, their hard work can be quickly undermined by indiscriminate market forces and competitive disruptors. For this they turn to ShelfTrend for competitive landscape data to defend all they have labored to build.
Anita Garcia is a Professional eBay Seller from Arizona deriving a good supplementary income from eBay. She is also the primary carer for her 7-year-old twin girls: Claire and Chloe. Her husband Matthew is an elementary Math teacher who has a steady, but limited, income.
Last year, Anita's eBay store turned over 5 times what Matt took home. The 8% profit margin afforded them a nicer family holiday, home repairs and some savings for the twins' college funds. She sells children's educational toys.
Michelle Evans from New England is a consignment seller who sells pre-owned and gently used authentic luxury-brand items on eBay on behalf of clients for a commission. Although inventory can be inconsistent, when she is able to obtain good stock, she can maintain a strong average selling price of over a thousand dollars with a commission between 30-40%.
Three years ago, Michelle was an administrative assistant at a busy law firm. When her husband passed away, she found herself a single mother to 4-year old Patrick. With determination and resourcefulness, Michelle built an eBay business that has allowed her to quit her day job. None of this came about without a lot of late nights and hard work.
When she was just starting out, Michelle spent a lot of time on the phone working her network building a reputation for being a good consignment seller that could be trusted. Although she has always been able to obtain stock, the process can be time consuming and tedious, especially when a client has unrealistic expectations of a potential sales price or if they don’t like Michelle’s commission. According to Michelle, “it takes a lot of resilience but with the right attitude and personality, it can work.”
Neither Anita nor Michelle want to build online empires. In fact, neither of them ever thought that they would be self-employed. They laugh at the idea of calling themselves super moms, entrepreneurs or even “mumprenuers”. Today, they are both just grateful to have found something that enables them to earn an income while managing their busy households.
Selling on eBay for an income gives Anita flexibility to spend time with her twin daughters, Claire and Chloe.
“I’ve got a good rhythm at the moment,” says Anita. “The juggle is OK now. I’ve figure out how to dial it up and down as I need to. I need to be really planned, but the business is doing alright and I can still get chores done!”
Unfortunately for Anita, being well planned hasn’t been foolproof. eBay’s marketplace is dynamic and always changing. The low barrier to entry means anyone can have a fair go at selling for a profit.
Not long after Anita set up her eBay store, one of her suppliers thought they too would try to sell on eBay while undercutting Anita’s prices. It took Anita almost two months before she realized what was happening. This was, of course, after she had already purchased inventory that was then sitting in her garage. Anita was furious. She had lost rank and sales for not being as diligent as she could have been.
Michelle has had a different set of challenges. She was entering a space that was already pretty squarely owned by a handful of other consignment sellers.
There were a few incidents, although unproven, when she felt that perhaps one of her competitors might have reported a few of her items to eBay’s Verified Rights Owner Program (VERO) to create a bit of trouble and mischief. She learned a lot through that process and now remains ‘healthily’ paranoid of her competitors.
Anita and Michelle discovered ShelfTrend late last year. ShelfTrend is an eBay marketplace intelligence tool providing real-time data about categories, products, and competitors. For them, they’ve got too much at stake not to be monitoring marketplace activities, especially potential competitive disruptors.
Anita has several analytical reports she runs regularly for the products she sells on eBay. She downloads the data to an Excel spreadsheet so that she can drill into more detail. She uses the data to make weekly comparisons on her performance in Best Match search ranking, sales and pricing against competitors.
When new sellers make an appearance onto the first page of eBay search, she immediately researches them so that she can respond the best way possible to ensure she remains at the very top of search results where Buyers are more likely to buy. She is satisfied that today her position is pretty secure.
Michelle has also saved several analytical reports, but they are focused on competitive sellers. She uses ShelfTrend to monitor their inventory, their sales and their rank. Michelle regularly researches her competitors to determine how she compares against them and whether she might hold back inventory to protect their value or change prices.
Both Anita and Michelle are positive about their futures. They feel more empowered than ever with notches of experience on their belts and the right selling and research tools at hand.
With the business further along, Anita is more confident about growing her product range and ultimately her revenue. Over the last few years, with the help of her suppliers, Anita’s business has become more robust. Last year, they offered her a dropshipping arrangement. It is still early days and there are still teething issues, but Anita is optimistic.
Dropshipping is a business model in which the products listed for sale will be fulfilled directly by the suppliers after they're purchased by a buyer. It means Anita doesn't need to have the products at hand and will only pay the supplier after the product is sold.
When presented with new educational toys from her suppliers, Anita uses ShelfTrend to assess their sales and revenue potential. She uses the Top 500 Best Match Report and the Supply Demand Report together at higher category levels to see what other educational toys are currently being sold on eBay, how they are presented and their pricing. The products that look promising and pass her criteria are then shortlisted for discussion with her suppliers.
Michelle spends a lot of time on the phone working her network to obtain good luxury consignment inventory to sell on eBay.
Michelle, on the other hand, is keen to diversify. There are risks with being 100% dependent on transient consignment stock. She is talking to potential suppliers and researching their brands and products as a complement to her luxury goods. She is glad that ShelfTrend offers data on pricing, sellers who sell similar things and sales velocity – which Michelle uses as a gauge for sales potential. This gives her greater clarity when negotiating stock.
Armed with insights from ShelfTrend, both Anita and Michelle feel more informed and empowered to maintain, and even grow their businesses on the busy and competitive eBay marketplace. They’ve weathered many storms, but they are more confident than ever that they are ready for the challenges ahead, especially since they have been able to enjoy the rewards for their hard work.
ShelfTrend is a real-time marketplace intelligence tool that presents easy to use and easy to understand eBay data reports to help professional online sellers 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.
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