Six Big-Picture Tips for Fourth Quarter Seasonal Sales

By Aron Hsiao  on August 15, 2017

The fourth quarter of the calendar year is around the corner once again—and with it comes changes in strategy and product lineup for many sellers. Between back-to-school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the end-of-year holidays, the fourth quarter of the calendar year is a time when many sellers try out new products and listings.

  • Research the size of the market. Before you decide to stock a product, and certainly before you try to forecast your earnings from sales of a product, figure out how many potential buyers there are for it. Just because someone else has sold one doesn't mean that you will—no matter the price. If there was only one buyer out there, and they've already made their purchase, then there may be no one left to buy using your listing, no matter how low your price or how great your listing.

  • Spend extra time honing your listings. Search engine optimization (SEO) is always important, but it's even more important during the fourth quarter months, when the number of listings and the amount of inventory in the channel increases dramatically. Fail to optimize for eBay's search engine or Google search and your listings may never even be seen. At the same time, be even more meticulous than usual about listing and image quality and differentiation, to stand out from the larger-than-usual crowd.

    Work hard to optimize your titles during the fall using Terapeak SEO, as competition levels are higher in the last three to four months of the year—as is the chance that your listings will disappear in the noise.
  • Understand the practical limits of pricing changes. As the fourth quarter progresses and competition in hot areas increases, margins can get razor-thin, with dozens of sellers in the fray for many products. Very often, you're simply not going to win on price, whether because you can't match others' prices or because when you do, you're selling at a loss. So focus on other things—listing quality, SEO, and your customer service policies, for example. Differentiate yourself in ways that serve your bottom line, rather than destroy it—and consider avoiding or discontinuing products with which you can't do this.

  • Set some basic thresholds. To keep inventory moving and ensure that you don't end up spinning your wheels or caught without operating capital to invest in new stock during any of the big shopping periods coming up, know how long you're willing to wait for your seasonally acquired inventory to turn over before considering it unsold and either liquidating it, bundling it, or shelving until down the road.

  • Avoid making unfounded bets. Finally, don't play to hunches—rely on real pricing, SEO, supply, and demand research to make your decisions over the fall selling period. You don't want to miss out on the biggest opportunities of the year by betting on the wrong horses, and you don't want to end up losing your shirt because you gambled on products that didn't pan out while missing products that would have.

  • Consider drop-shipping. Think about taking advantage of some of the seasonal boom by drop-shipping, where you won't have as much skin in the game and aren't as exposed to ending up with a lot of overstock to liquidate. This goes double if you're planning to sell products you don't normally stock or that are in categories that are relatively new to you.

Use Sales Predictions to Help

If the list above makes sense to you and your business model, it's probably also time to put our Sales Predictions tool to work, as it can help with each of the points above. Use Sales Predictions to find out:

Use Sales Predictions as a quick aide to adopting each of the strategies above.
  • How likely a product is to sell irrespective of price—a rapid snapshot of just how in-demand a product is likely to be based on recent trends.

  • Which SEO-optimized title and keyword combinations are likely to actually convert, rather than just generate a boost in search rankings (use our SEO tool for that part).

  • Just how significantly pricing changes affect a particular product's sellability—and whether you'll likely be able to liquidate overstock effectively simply by reducing prices.

  • Which products are most likely to sell within a 30-day window, and are thus likely good seasonal and temporary stock candidates, as opposed to products that are likely to remain in your inventory when the season is over.

  • Where to invest your time when pursuing strategies like drop-shipping—so that you can separate products that are likely to pan out quickly from products and listings that probably aren't a good use of your time.

Log in to Terapeak and open the Single Prediction tab on your MySales Dashboard to get sales predictions for products, titles, and prices you're considering over the fall—and see how likely each combination of item, title, and price is to sell on eBay over the next thirty days.

Then, pick and move on the winning products, titles, and margins—and leave the losing combinations to someone else that doesn't do their research.

Research a full year of online sales in detail for any product or keyword—average prices, competition levels, top listings, and more. Try Terapeak Research today!

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