Ina Steiner is the editor of one of the best sites about online auctions – Auctionbytes.com. This, her first book on eBay How to turn eBay Data into Dollars, is a combination of advice on data analysis, software reviews and advanced eBay strategies. The book is in a good guide on how to collect and analyse eBay data, but is less strong on how to apply what you have learned. The books is divided into three parts, The joys and pitfalls of eBay data, Using data tools and Putting eBay data to work.
The joys and pitfalls of eBay data covers the kind of metrics which you should be gathering from you eBay sales such as average selling price, sell through rate and visitor tracking data. It them moves onto the problems which can be encountered with eBay data, for example the fact the same item can have many different titles or that items with the same title can vary in listing quality. These subtle or not so subtle variations lead to varying prices which can make your data less consistant. Before drawing any conclusions it is therefore important to clean your data set to ensure that you are analysing the items you want to be analysing.
Part II of the book looks at the tools which are available to analyse eBay data. Ina starts off with the most simple of data analysis techniques, the eBay completed items search, a very useful for getting a rough picture of the market value of liquid items. Also useful and free (to eBay shop subscribers at least) is the eBay sales report, which give the user a quick snapshot of their sales metrics by category and format, buyer information and eBay fee breakdown. Another freebee to shop subscribers is the ebay store traffic report which gives the paths and keyword used to find items. Unfortuately these figures are on a shop wide basis and it is not possible to view reports of individual items.
I have to confess I did not read the second section of this book too carefully as most of the products are not available in the UK. A product that I will be looking into in more detail in future is Sellathon. This product overcomes the limititation of the eBay traffic reports allowing the user to track traffic on a per item basis working like a web analytics tool specifically for eBay. This is an excellent tool for tracking the effectiveness of your promotions, search engine optimisation and effectiveness of your custom pages. You can also analyse your conversion rate of browsers into bidders, something which is mostly overlooked on eBay.
The third part of the book is all about putting the data to work and improving your eBay sales. Whilst the suggestions are all sound, not enough is done to give real life example or to illustrate the suggestions and show how to use the data to hone your sales techniques. For advice on how to analyse your eBay business and implement auction strategies, I would recommend Scott Wingo‘s book eBay Strategies.
That said, in the plethoria of eBay books available I think that this is one of the more informative and definitely worth a read.