January… the year’s slowest month for eCommerce and retail in general. But it’s also a time when many people are looking to start a new business. I can see that from the number of emails and comments I’ve received so far this year – up more than 50% from the usual figures.
If you’re considering starting an eBay business, Terapeak is the ONE tool you need for market research. I won’t go into detail on how exactly to use it as I have already covered that in this eBay market research post.
Instead today I want to talk about post-holiday research specifically, using a tool like Terapeak, as you have to keep a few things in mind to get accurate results at this time of the year.
So here’s the catch – if you do your eBay research in January, you will get inaccurate results. Why? Well because the results will takes sales from the previous month – which includes December (the busiest month of the year) and January (the slowest month of the year).
Terapeak doesn’t just manufacture data from thin air – they simply use eBay’s numbers from a set period of time. Now if you do research for the past 30 days and half of December is in that time frame, you’ll get skewed results as December, for most goods, will always show better results than in a normal month like March. This is of course due to the fact that in December all sales are spiked because of people buying gifts for Christmas.
So how do you overcome this problem?
By comparing data for the last 30 days with data from past periods. Of course not all products are hugely affected by Christmas sales but you still want to do this to verify you’re not getting misleading results.
By default, you can set customise your Terapeak account to show all research data for 1, 7, 14, 30, 45, 60 or 90 days BUT you can also set a totally custom date range and get data from beyond that 90 day point.
Unfortunately Terapeak doesn’t allow you to set this for more than a 90 day range so we can’t just get data from the whole year. I guess it’s because it would put too much of a strain on their resources to process that much data in one go – particularly for popular items that are sold in huge quantities.
What I recommend you do is set a custom date range and get the numbers for at least 3 consecutive months:
If you’re doing your research in January, pick:
This will clearly show you what affect the time of the year has on sales volume and the sell-through rate.
If you can’t see much difference month by month – that’s not a big deal! It only means that the product you’re researching isn’t affecting that much by Christmas sales.
If you see large discrepancies in these numbers, I would recommend ignoring months with spikes (like December) and just use average figures from other months. This may be a more pessimistic prediction model but at least you’ll be working with real figures and not influenced data, which is skewed by sales from just a few weeks out of the entire year.
And this does not only apply to the Christmas period. If you’re selling any seasonal items (summer goods, winter good, Halloween goods etc.), ALWAYS use a custom data range to verify your research data.
- Total Sales
- Sell-through rate
- Sellers per day
And these can change quite a bit during peak periods, especially Total Sales. You could do research for the last 30 days and see – wow – this item is HOT and selling in huge numbers just to find out that in February sales are 30% of what they are in December.
Don’t just guess; verify this so you get the proper information!
Another tool I like to use to verify an item’s seasonality is Google Trends. It very clearly shows yearly trends for products with seasonal spikes. For example, take a look at a graph for the search term “home gym”:
YES! You guessed right! All those spikes are in January, each and every year. People get on with their new year’s resolutions to lose weight and therefore buy fitness equipment way more than in any other month of the year.
And who said January is the slowest month in sales? Not for everyone….
Another classic example – “swimming goggles”:
June/July, June/July, June/July… with 100% accuracy for the last 10 years! And it only makes sense of course as not that many people will be going swimming in winter!
IMPORTANT! When using Google Trends, make sure you filter the results down to the country you’re selling in, otherwise everything gets completely mixed up.
This is especially true for people based in the southern hemisphere, such as Australia, as seasons are inverted – when they’re in summer, we’re in winter.
So that’s it for today – a quick post just to get things going again on the blog. After more than a month of silence, it’s not that easy to get back to writing (lazy me!!).
It does take some time to get back into the flow again… But I’ll do my best to continue publishing high quality, valuable posts on this blog in 2014 – as the responses I get from you, in emails and via comments, is what really keeps me motivated!
As always – I would love to hear from you on what topics I should write more about. This blog is all about you – my reader – so your opinion is highly valued.
I’ll most likely create some kind of contest in the up-coming weeks with some nice gifts up for grabs. All you have to do to enter is post some ideas for new topics in the comments section. More details to follow…!
On Thursday I’ll publish a step-by-step guide on how to reach that #1 search position in eBay’s search results. Something I get asked about on a regular base.
Wishing you a Happy & Prosperous New Year!