Researching the competitive landscape

Although direct competitors could have an immediate impact on sales, there are also other market forces that could cause as much business and sales disruption. Therefore, it is just as important to keep a broader view of the wider competitive landscape. This article takes you through how to use ShelfTrend’s reports to understand the competitive landscape for the example product of Complete Go-Karts.

 

Start top down at the categories.

 Select a higher level category when you run a new report. Use the Browse by category feature.

Select a higher level category when you run a new report. Use the Browse by category feature.

Start with a category search at a level higher using the Live Listings (Top 500) report.  At the top category level, Best Match is forced to select products across the full category range the top 500 listings that has the best potential of generating a sale.

In our example, we would start at the top level Go-Karts (Recreational) category.  You will see that under Go-Karts (Recreational), there are 4 other lower level categories.

  • Clothing & Protective Gear

  • Complete Go-Karts & Frames

  • Parts & Accessories

  • Other Go-Karts (Recreational)

 

ShelfTrend’s Live Listings (Top 500) report gives you an overview of:

  • The total number of Listings in the category

  • Overall pricing and postage range

  • The number of sellers in the Top 500

  • The number of Brands in the Top 500

Use the Formats filters to exclude auctions and used products to reveal the business sellers that are engaged in the category. The report data will change per your filters.  

The resulting Top 500 report shows the below summary data.  It is 495 listings because we filtered out 5 that were auctions.

 This is the summary data for the top category level Go-Karts (recreation). It is from the Top 500 Best Match Report, but 5 auction listings have been filtered out.

This is the summary data for the top category level Go-Karts (recreation). It is from the Top 500 Best Match Report, but 5 auction listings have been filtered out.

From here you will see that the overall Go Karts (Recreational) category is not big. 

  • In total there are 16,575 listings.

  • There are 126 sellers within the top 495 fixed-price listings.

These results are small compared to other categories on eBay.  

To see how eBay views the selling potential of lower-level categories, click the category filter on the left to see the distribution of listings.

 The category filter on the left reveals how the listings are distributed across all the lower level sub-categories.

The category filter on the left reveals how the listings are distributed across all the lower level sub-categories.

Clicking on the category filter reveals:

  • The vast majority of listings are in the Parts & Accessories sub-category, which means this category has the most engagement and potential for sales.

  • Of the 495 listings, only 4 are in the Complete Go-Karts leaf category. This suggests that sales within the Complete Go-Karts leaf category are very slow moving.

For more information, download the data to csv/excel file
Check the start dates of the listings.  For the Go-Kart (Recreational) example:

  • 25% of the 495 listings are older than two years old.

  • For page 1 of search results only 22% are older than two years old.

This suggests that there is a good renewal of stock in the category.

There is other data available within the csv/excel download that has not made it into the application including the item specifics, product identifiers, and Top Rated Seller Status.  Downloading the data is a Premium feature, and it is worth it.

Dig deeper into a lower level category.

Next run the Live Listings (Top 500) report for a specific category that peaks your interest. Keyword searches may be more relevant for products that are very niche or exist across categories. To continue with this example, we have re-run the data for the Complete Go-Karts leaf category.

 This is the summary data for the sub-category level Complete Go-Karts & Frames. It is from the Top 500 Best Match Report.

This is the summary data for the sub-category level Complete Go-Karts & Frames. It is from the Top 500 Best Match Report.

In the Complete Go-Kart example (see image above) we can see that:

  • The number of listings within this leaf-category are 10% of the top level category of Go-Karts (recreational) which was 16,575. Refer to the first image above from the first report for Go-Karts (recreational).

  • There are 130 sellers within the top 500 which means on average each seller has 4 listings in the top 500.

  • The price range is very broad with the highest price at $75,000, whereas at the top level category of Go-Karts (recreational), the top price was $798.95. This tell us that prices above $798.95 have less potential of a sale.

Using the Rank filter on the left, select Top 50 to isolate the first page of search results - which is where most of the sales is happening.  The summary data and the category filter break down will be even more focused.

Get to know your competitors

Use the Seller view in the Live Listings (Top 500) report to see who your direct competitors are and the number of high ranking listings that they have.

In the Complete Go-Karts example, we can see that the top-ranking competitors only have a small number of listings.

CompetitorList.png

For the Sellers that you are unfamiliar with, run a new Live Listings (Top 500) report using the Seller ID search to gauge the relative size of the seller and the categories that they focus on.

Spot upcoming competition

The New Listings report reveals who is investing in inventory and their pricing, giving you time to determine your response before it impacts your sales.

This report can also be used to identify emerging brands and product features.

Using the Complete Go-Kart example, we see that 98 listings were created in the last 7 days and that the sellers with the highest quantities of stock are not names that are currently top-ranking. They could be emerging sellers. Clicking on the Seller’s ID will reveal their listings.

 98 new listings were listed in the last 7 days into the Complete Go-Karts & Frames sub-category.

98 new listings were listed in the last 7 days into the Complete Go-Karts & Frames sub-category.

Highest ranking products

Use the Listing view of the Live Listings (Top 500) report to review the highest ranked listings. Notice the products, features and presentation that buyers will see first.

In the Complete Go-Kart example we see that dirt bikes and quad bikes are being listed in the category and ranking high, competing directly alongside the go-karts.

Listings.png

Generics or Brands?

Use the Brand view in the Live Listings (Top 500) report to see which brands are being ranked high against your own inventory.

In the Complete Go-Karts example, we can see that unbranded products are popular.

Brands.png

The chart in the Supply Demand Report also highlights listing supply and sales by price tranche, revealing if supply and sales are predominantly in the cheaper range, or if sales also exist at higher prices.

In summary

Being able to see the broader competitive landscape enables sellers to build hypotheses and hunches that can be investigated further. Start from top level categories and work your way down into leaf level categories or even specific product SKUs. The more specific your deep dive the more meaningful the insight you uncover. Use ShelfTrend’s multiple reports together to gain different perspectives. You will be able to draw some clear conclusions on what is and is not selling, who is or is not a real competitive threat and where opportunities are to make more sales.