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Make better Purchasing Decisions with Marketplace Data

by trevor. Average Reading Time: about 3 minutes.

Deciding what products to sell online can sometimes feel like a stab in the dark.  Sellers not only have to make strategic decisions about the categories of product they wish to stock but also have the time consuming task of selecting individual product to purchase from a almost endless selection.  Broad sweeping marketplace data, dealing with a specific market such as baby products is helpful for making high level decisions but no help in deciding whether to purchase Fisher Price of Infantino activity mats.

Market research agencies collate and publish reports on consumer trends. However, the cost of this data is out of the price range of all but the largest retailers. Fortunately, there are some free or keenly priced sources of data which the resourceful seller can use to inform their purchasing decisions.

eBay Marketplace Data

eBay is in many ways a barometer of consumer demand.  Analysing the products being traded on eBay can give a good indication of popular brands, products and consumer trends.   Anyone with an eBay account has free access to the completed item search which, for a given search, shows a list items which have been bought and sold over the last 2 weeks.

The completed items search is only of limited use as the data is unstructured.  However, eBay makes historical data from its marketplace available through third party provides such as Terapeak.  Using a tool like Terapeak to query past eBay sales data gives not only a filterable list of listing but will also provide statistics such as the average selling price and quality of sold and unsold listing.  If a seller wishes to research a particular item, they can enter the product name into Terapeak and learn how many units have been sold, the average selling price and other interesting data such as the time of sale and the sellers.

Unfortunately, there are limits on the usefulness of eBay data.  Whilst overall eBay is a huge marketplace, demand on eBay can be limited for specific products and therefore not representative of market potential.  There is also no way of ensuring that all the products returned in a search are exactly the same, for example many will be second hand.

Prices on eBay can also be misleading as the transparency of the eBay marketplace and its reputation as a place to secure bargains means that prices are lower on eBay than on the web in general.

Google Search Volume Data

The leading search engine Google has recently made its search volume data (i.e. the number of searches for specific phrases) available through its keyword tool.  The Google keyword tool allows users to see the search volume for the specific keyphrases and also generates volume data for similar keywords.

Search volume data is useful in two ways.  Firstly, the absolute volume of searches shows whether there is an interest in the market for a brand or a product.  Sellers should investigate both search volumes for brand names and individual products to gage the popularity of a brand and it products.

Secondly, by comparing the data for different brands can be used to make relative comparisons between the popularity of products.

Amazon Best Sellers

For each of its sales categories Amazon provides a bestsellers list (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/baby-products for baby products), listing the products in order of their sales.  It also provides list of movers and shakers (products rising in popularity), most gifted (product orders as gifts) and most wished for (added to Amazon wish lists).

Whilst this data does not provide data on volume or prices, it does provide inspiration for new products to investigate, perhaps using eBay or Google Data.

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