Looking for ideas on how to take advantage of the holiday shopping period? Matt Brossard, Director of Community for ecommerce research firm Terapeak, offered some tips on how online retailers could make the most of the expected influx of sales during Cyber Monday.
Brossard clarified that the tips are for beginner sellers. And while the first tip is basic, it’s one even experienced sellers may overlook in their zeal to get more inventory listed quickly in time for the important shopping period:
Calculate shipping costs before pricing your for-sale items.
“If you’re listing items of all shapes and sizes for the first time, test pack and weigh one of each item then consult shipping rates online from USPS or whatever courier service you plan to use,” Brossard said. “This will keep spare you any unpleasant surprises when you go to ship to your buyer.”
The second tip may not be as intuitive for some sellers, but is well worth considering:
Never underestimate the resale potential of broken gadgets.
According to Terapeak, 9,878 eBay.com listings with the word “phone” with the condition “For Parts or Not Working” ended or produced sales in the last 30 days. 27.63% of those listings were successful, producing a combined sales revenue of $175,000.
Brossard said much like the demand for vintage automotive parts, there is a significant market for replacement electronics components. “As long as the condition is clearly and accurately communicated, there is no such thing as a device that’s too damaged to resell.”
Are eBay and Amazon appropriate markets on which to sell broken items given the risk to a seller’s reputation? Yes and no, respectively. eBay is the right platform for broken item sales, while Amazon is not.
“There is a healthy market for broken sales on eBay. So long as the seller is careful to set the item condition right and to include language like “BROKEN, FOR PARTS ONLY” in the title and description of the listing, there is comparatively little risk.”
eBay has explicit item condition settings, and in addition, buyers understand broken item sales. However, Amazon shoppers do not have the expectation that they should look for this possibility when making a purchase, Brossard said.
“Damaged electronics are commonplace and they have an overlooked potential for resale. The average person would probably throw out or recycle damaged gadgets rather than attempt to recover some of the value.”
The expanded item condition options for consumer electronics helps when listing used and damaged products – sellers have encountered greater difficulty marketing used items in other categories because the item condition options lack definition, according to Terapeak.
“While I don’t feel that used items are inherently risky, the seller should be careful to describe the condition completely and accurately, and document the condition in product photos. A flexible return policy will help with situations where the item was listed correctly but the buyer was still unsatisfied with the item. That’s as much as any seller can do to ensure a smooth transaction.” And, Brossard noted, even new condition items can produce unsatisfied buyers.
Terapeak’s third tip is one that requires sellers to do their homework:
Consider grouping items.
Some items gain value by grouping as a complete set, while other collections are more lucrative though selling off individual pieces. Check online for related purchases and indications of whether the pieces are more valuable than the whole, Brossard said.
“Anyone with a collection, whether its tea sets or collectible figures or trading cards should review the value of the components of the collection vs the collection sold as a whole.”
In an extreme example, the seller of this remarkable collection feels that grouping 5,700 games and 50 video game consoles is the best way to produce $164,000 in sales.
“Would it be more effective or lucrative to break up the lot into smaller chunks, or does the completeness of this lot put it in a higher tier of value than every other video game auction which has come before? It’s hard to say since the listing hasn’t ended, but putting this many related items up for sale in the same listing has produced a staggering amount of visibility online.”
What’s indisputable is that sellers can list items more quickly by grouping them into lots if they’re looking to move a lot of inventory in the days before Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday.
Note that sellers wanting to be more strategic about grouping items can learn more in Creating Unique Bundles to Win the Buy Box on Amazon published in EcommerceBytes last year.
Terapeak recently published data on “hot” categories and searches on eBay, and sellers who subscribe to the service can do their own research as well.
Edited for clarification on 12/1/14.