Knowing What to Sell in Your Store - dummies

Knowing What to Sell in Your Store

By Marsha Collier

Part of Making Money on eBay For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition)

The key to successfully selling items at eBay is to find things people actually want to buy at the right price. That might seem obvious, but having stuff to sell isn’t always the same as having things people want to buy.

Finding the item that may be ‘the next big thing’ takes lots of work, timing and sometimes a dose of good luck. Here are some tips for researching what your customers want and need — because that’s what they come looking to buy.

Researching the market

Just as successful stockbrokers know about individual companies, they also need to know about the marketplace as a whole. So, to get a leg up on your competition, you need to know the big picture as well. Here are some questions you should ask yourself as you contemplate making serious buckets of money by selling items at eBay:

  • What items are currently hot?

  • Do I see a growing interest in a specific item that might make it a big seller?

  • Should I hold on to this item and wait for its value to increase or should I sell now?

  • Is a company discontinuing an item I should stockpile now and sell later?

  • Was there a recall, an error or a legal proceeding associated with my item?

  • Do I have access to an item which is hard for others to come by?

  • Does the item satisfy Australia safety standards?

Catching trends in the media

Catching trends is all about listening and looking. You can find all kinds of inside information from newspapers, magazines, television and, of course, the Internet. Believe it or not, you can even find out what people are interested in these days by bribing a kid. Keep your eyes and ears open. Here are some places to look:

  • In magazines: Magazines geared to the 18-to-34 age group (and sometimes to younger teens) can help you stay on top of what’s hot. See what the big companies are pitching to this target audience. If a celebrity’s suddenly visible in every other headline or magazine, be on the lookout for merchandise relating to that person.

  • In newspapers: Newspapers are bombarded by press releases and inside information from companies the world over. Pay close attention to the various sections of the newspaper, looking for stories on celebrities and upcoming movies and see if any old fads are making a resurgence (you can sell items as ‘retro chic’).

    Read the stories about trade conventions; new products are introduced and given the thumbs up or down by journalists. This way you can start to think about the direction your area of expertise is going in.

  • On television: No matter what you think of television, it has an enormous impact on which trends come and go and which ones stick. More and more celebrities are talking about eBay, and that buzz brings people to the site.

  • The web: Of course! Keeping an eye on your favourite sites, blogs and other auction sites can yield some great ideas. Spend time online looking for product ideas, researching and gathering information.

  • Tune in to morning news shows and afternoon talk shows. See what’s being featured in the programs. The producers of these shows are on top of pop culture and move fast to be the first to bring you the next big thing. Take what they feature and think of a marketing angle. If you don’t, you can be sure somebody else will.

Keeping up with youth culture

At the least, keep tabs on youth culture. Children, especially preteens and teens, may be the best trend-spotters on the planet. See what kind of marketing tips you get when you ask a kid questions like these:

  • What’s cool at the moment?

  • What’s totally uncool that was cool two months ago?

  • What music are you buying?

  • What could I buy you that would make you really happy?

Checking out eBay

Researching popular searches is a great way to find out what’s hot at eBay. The eBay website even provides a special section for those of you that want to view the day’s most popular search words, as well as the largest stores and most viewed items: How more up-to-date can you get?

To be ahead of the pack, check out eBay Pulse. Simply type (if you leave out the au you can view the US site) into your browser; the drop-down box allows you to drill into specific categories and check out the same results in different categories. This tool provides a great insight into what others are looking for today.