Stay One Step Ahead in Holiday Decision-Making with Terapeak

By Aron Hsiao  on September 27, 2016

As we mentioned in our previous post, the final quarter of the calendar year is about to begin and sellers are gearing up for the holidays by streamlining workflows, planning for the boom, and padding their inventory.

This last item deserves special mention. Many sellers plan ahead for the holiday season all year, but late-year sourcing and product pricing is where many sellers make (or break) their ultimate holiday outcome.

Wish you had a magic crystal ball that analyze of how things played out for any product or category over last year's holiday shopping season, including total sales, average prices, sell-through rates, and number of competing sellers? You do. It's called Terapeak, and it can help you to stay a step ahead of this season's sales trajectories. (Image: © Melpomene / Fotolia)

Why are late-year heroics so important? Because in today's e-commerce world, the market moves quickly.

  • Shopping trends can turn on a dime. Because a forgotten product can become a "hot seller" overnight, sellers that have the right inventory can make a killing. Meanwhile, sellers that stock up on the wrong thing can lose big.

  • The inventory of your competitors matters. One of the most successful strategies in e-commerce is to find ways to stock a desirable product that nobody else seems to have, supporting higher prices and exclusive access to sales—until and unless a competitor suddenly ends up with a huge inventory of the same product and there's more supply than demand.

  • Pricing fluctuates rapidly. Related to these last two points, items that are worth one price while supply is high can easily be worth twice as much when supply dwindles as the season goes on—and sellers that fail to capitalize by repricing can leave a lot of money on the table.

And so on. In simple terms, the holiday selling season is an e-commerce melee and knowledge—of your inventory, of your sources, and of the market—are the keys to making great decisions that let you stay ahead of the game and profit over the fourth quarter.

Make Good Guesses About the Holiday Season with Terapeak

This month and next are some of the most important times of the year to make use of Terapeak's product research tools and trend charts, precisely because they let you see into the past—into this time of year last year—to see how particular products fared, how supply and demand played out, and how timing affected volume and pricing.

  1. Start with a product. Identify a product whose sales potential you'd like to research, then the most important keywords associated with it. Then, log into Terapeak, open product research, and search for them. Remember to use any relevant filters (item condition, price range, category, and so on) to make your search as specific (and as accurate) as possible.

  2. Set the date range to the fourth quarter last year. Open the date range selector and select a period from early October through late December last year. Yes, you can get sales data for last holiday season for any product, in order to understand this holiday season. Just remember to do your research promptly—data goes back one year, so each day that you procrastinate is another day lost when digging into last year's season. Apply the new date range you've selected.

  3. Note key metrics in the high-level overview. Select the high-level overview, scroll down, and make a note of the key metrics about fourth quarter sales: number of items sold, average sell-through rate, total dollar volume, average price, and number of sellers per day. This gives you a baseline understanding of what the market will look like this year. Yes, there will be some variation from last year as other sellers try to adapt, but using last year as guidance is far better than using guesswork.

  4. Switch to the trends view and chart key metrics over time. Select the trends view, then look at the charts for number of listings, average price, and total sales for the last year's fourth quarter. You'll be able to see on a day-by-day basis when prices for the product peak, how much volume moved on eBay over the period (and then extrapolate to other marketplaces based on size), and how sell-through rates evolved over time. This gives you a leg up on predicting how you'll need scale your offering and make ongoing adjustments as this season plays out.

These four steps are deceptively simple, but they can help you to maximize profits and sales and to minimize your exposure to catastrophe this season, particularly if you take them for each the products that represents a significant portion of your inventory value.

With this information from last year, you'll be armed to make good guesses about which products will see flat holiday sales or even a holiday decline, which are going to peak early and which will peak late, and which are going to see sales or average prices double or triple leading up to the actual holiday—and with numbers on the total sales volume and the number of sellers that were in competition last year, you'll be better able to estimate your chances at a safe and profitable slice of the pie.

Bonus Tactic: Category Trends

For those sellers willing to invest a few moments' extra time into profit-generating research, follow similar steps to those above, only at the category level using Terapeak's category research tool.

Browse to a category in which you sell or search for a product that you sell in the category research tool (you'll be able to choose from a list of matching categories afterward), then switch to the trends view. Select your time frame and look at the same charts and metrics.

Looking at the charts and back over time, you'll see how the category as a whole behaves over the holiday season—and if your category sees big holiday gains but your particular products don't, you'll also know that there are products that you haven't yet stocked that drive holiday sales in the category—while you still have a chance to identify what they are and to go out and find them.

Research a full year of online sales in detail for any product or keyword—average prices, sell-through rates, top listings, and more. Try Terapeak Professional today!

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