|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2670 - November 09, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 3|
A majority of sellers surveyed predicted their holiday sales would be about the same or worse than last year, while 32 percent said they believed their holiday sales would be higher compared to last year. EcommerceBytes conducted the survey of readers in early November. Half of the sellers responding said their sales were down in October across all of the channels on which they sold compared to October of 2010. The majority of sellers responding to the survey sold up to $100,000 in goods online over the past 12 month; 85% of them sell on eBay and 29% sell on their own website.
Up to $50,000: 62.2%
Respondents were asked which one category best described the type of item that they most frequently listed to sell online - the top categories were:
Only 35% of respondents said their October sales were higher year-over-year, 15% said sales were about the same, while 50% said sales were lower. Predictions about how their holiday shopping sales fell along similar lines as seen in the tables below.
Respondents were then asked how their October sales were for each venue on which they sold, including their own website.
October 2011 sales higher: 33.3%
Summary & Conclusions
Although there was a general sense of pessimism about this year's sales as compared to last year's, there was one group of sellers who were doing better this year than last. The higher the respondent's annual sales volume, the more likely they were to report improved sales in October compared to last year - 31.5% of sellers with up to $50,000 in annual revenue reported higher year-over-year sales, while 56% of sellers with over $500,000 in annual revenue reported a better October compared to a year ago.
There could be a number of reasons for this ranging from a better business model, more advantaged in search, or more marketing activity than low-volume sellers. In addition, a number of sellers left comments indicating they had done the same amount of sales in October because they had double their inventory - in other words, they are working harder for the same amount of sales.
Very small marketplace sellers are seeing less growth and are more pessimistic about holiday sales. In general they may have less flexibility over their inventory and fewer resources to spend on marketing and for exploring multi-channel selling, also leading to less diversification.
Things were better on sellers' own websites - only 24% of respondents reported lower sales on their own website year-over-year in October; 43% said sales were the same; and 33% said sales were higher on their own site compared to October 2010.
The marketplaces who saw the biggest year-over-year boost in sales for the month of October were Addoway, Artfire and RubyLane. The marketplaces with the biggest year-over-year drop in sales for the month of October were TIAS, eBay, Alibris and eCrater. (Interestingly, some respondents said they would like to see Sears, Buy.com, and NewEgg Marketplace added to the list of venues.)
Both Google and Facebook played a role in how marketplaces performed in October. The three best performing marketplaces actively facilitate sellers' engagement and promote sales on social networking sites such as Facebook. And the change in Google's algorithm that penalized sellers for duplicate content (called Panda) was cited by sellers as continuing to negatively impact exposure to their listings.
Sellers also cited deteriorating conditions on eBay and pricing wars on Amazon.com as negatively impacting sales.
You Speak Your Mind
One respondent said they were encountering more buyers who wanted to make deals, while another noted they had to list more inventory to keep up sales: "I think that the economy is going to depress overall holiday sales... my growth in inventory is fueling my overall increase in sales ... net result will be that I do as well as last year but not appreciably better."
Another seller said, "I sell patterns and think the poor economy has people making gifts and clothing, more than last year," while another wrote, "I am selling more fabric than I have in 12 years on eBay. Don't know if it is the economy but it is not just quilting fabric, but all kinds. It is outselling all of my other items by $400.00 per month."
A jewelry seller explained how she was impacted by the rising price of silver. "We sell silver jewelry and the price of silver has skyrocketed, so people have less money to spend and we had to raise our prices. We went from gross sales of $400,000 in 2008 to $280,000 in 2009 to $200,000 in 2010 and so far this year $51,000. There was actually one month this year that we made more money having a yardsale than what we made online."
Sellers who rely on visibility from Google's search engine also weighed in - one referenced the changes Google required clothing sellers make to product feeds, and wrote, "I sell vintage clothing.... they need a size and a label.... It seems as though every holiday there are editing demands coming from all of these places and that does make listing difficult... the past 2 months when I should have been introducing new items, I am EDITING!! What is wrong with these venues! and especially Google! Why can't more companies be like Apple!!"
"I think the new Google comparison is hurting," wrote another seller.
Said another seller, "I think both the economy and the Google Panda updates which make no differentiation between new. repro and vintage items in their search results is disastrous...as well as the favoring of certain sites due to financial agreements has dealt a double blow to small vintage dealers and most online sites. My customers say it is almost impossible to find antiques/collectibles on Google anymore...the results are skewed to new and many fewer results come up. Where we used to show #1 we are now 7 pages back."
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About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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