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Out of Stock Woes Benefit eBay and Liquidation.com

Retailers have reached out to potential customers earlier in the year, ahead of the traditional shopping period, spent more on paid search, and competed heavily on price. That price competition, according to analysis from Susquehanna International Group, (SIG) may have been a little too good.

As big retailers sought to outdo each other by sacrificing some profit margin in exchange for greater sales volume, customer responded by not only buying, but buying out inventory.

“Some retailer inventory levels may be replenished between now and Christmas, but in the near-term we think these stock-outs are likely to play to eBay’s benefit,” SIG said in their analysis.

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It’s simple supply and demand, with a measure of profit motive added in as well. If a shopper has a coveted item in hand, like one of the newest gaming consoles from Sony or Microsoft, they may be tempted to flip that for a profit on eBay, who in turn claims their usual fee from a sale as well as possibly a payment processing fee if the sale goes through their PayPal service.

So while some retailers and shoppers deal with the unenviable out of stock situation, another group of buyers and sellers are working on restocking their shelves as quickly as possible.

In yet another instance of attempting to tie a brand name to a holiday shopping day, e.g. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, there is a Restock Tuesday according to Liquidation.com.

The site deals in returned and overstocked merchandise arriving from several sellers. Liquidation.com says many of these items come from seven of the top ten US retailers, and are resold in volumes from single units all the way up to truckload quantities. The company said Restock Tuesday represents one of their busiest days, with traffic rising 15 to 20 percent as businesses look to resupply themselves.

EcommerceBytes also spoke with Rob Caskey, VP of Marketing for Liquidation.com, for some further insights into this aspect of the holiday shopping season.

EcommerceBytes.com: Which items categories were the most active in terms of sales volume for Liquidation.com?

Rob Caskey: Consumer electronics are historically our most in-demand and heavily purchased item and this year was no exception. This certainly stems from the trend of gadgets and electronics being the number one gift wanted by consumers this year.

EcommerceBytes.com: Were these categories the same in 2012 or did they change?

Rob Caskey: This year’s in-demand products mirrored what we saw last year; consumer electronics (TVs, computers, Chromebooks, tablets and gaming systems) were an extremely popular category, followed by apparel and home goods.

EcommerceBytes.com: How did this year’s Restock Tuesday compare with 2012 in terms of sales volume?

Rob Caskey: Unfortunately we don’t release sales figures- what I can tell you is: Traffic to our Liquidation.com website this Restock Tuesday was up 33% over the week prior and surpassed our expectations; typically traffic is up 15-20%.

EcommerceBytes.com: Were there any unusual points of interest for Liquidation.com sales on Tuesday, like a previously static category gaining a lot of traffic, or higher than expected site traffic coming from unexpected sources?

Rob Caskey: We completed a large amount of sales for Mongoose brand bikes and bicycle accessories on Restock Tuesday. Sounds like we’ll be seeing a lot of families out riding bikes in the days after Christmas!

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David A Utter

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR’s “All Things Considered” with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.


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