eBay market research for consignment sellers – Part 1

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As many of you have asked me how to be a successful eBay consignment seller, I’ve put together a 3 part tutorial on the finer points of eBay research for consignment sellers. In this series, you’ll find tips on:

  • Communicating with your clients and;
  • Best practices for conducting the eBay market research so you both make the most money possible

***NOTE:*** Click to learn more about my eBay Consignment business and how I can help you turn your treasures into cash!

eBay research & consignment selling – Transparency is important

I have a local friend named Anne. She loves to travel! She also loves buying items for her personal ‘collections’ and traveling gives her the opportunity to score some unusual finds.
Now, my friend Anne is a smart cookie! While traveling, she buys items and brings them back to me so I can sell them for her on eBay! Anne doesn’t much like selling on eBay but she LOVES shopping and has a wonderful eye so we make a great team!
By ‘hiring’ me as her eBay consignment seller, Anne is able to fund her trips and ‘personal collection buying sprees’!
The items she brings are always very interesting and always a surprise as the consignment items can range from vintage clothing to jewelry to collectibles.
The eBay selling process with a consignment client is pretty simple and standard.
1. Anne schedules an appointment.
2. I free up a few hours to work with her as she usually brings about 20 items at a time.

3. Once she arrives, I open Tereapeak on my large screen TV/computer screen and, together, we research items to determine if they are worthy of listing on eBay.
By walking through the research with your client, they better understand the selling process and it helps them to trust that you have their best interest at heart.
4. Anne also brings print-outs of each item she has found on ‘Current Listings at eBay. I ask clients to ‘pre-research’ their own items so we can share opinions about listing price, style, etc.
I’ve found that consignment selling is much more successful (IE – a happier client) if the client is involved in the selling process at some level. However, Anne is a client who trusts my listing and selling decisions 100%.
5. Because there is no way I can know about every designer, jeweler, collectible, etc. so we learn and work together to create the best opportunity for both of us.
This process helps with my future listings as each time I research something new to me, I learn more and can do a better job the next time!
6. After going through all items, I am always upfront with clients about items that are not ‘eBay selling worthy’ and I do ‘send back’ items that I know I won’t sell.
My clients always appreciate the candor – especially because we split profits 50/50.
7. Once we have ‘the keepers’, I make a list of the items. Then we sign a simple contract and both keep a copy. This procedure keeps us on the same page of the items that have been left in my possession.
I cannot overstate how important contracts are so please do yourself a favor and be sure to have clients sign a contract. You can download my eBay Consignment Contract Template. Please see my disclaimer at bottom of this page.
Contracts cause some to feel uncomfortable but you will be taken far more seriously as a business person if you enforce their use. Further, you will save yourself so much drama!
8. Be clear about timelines. I was not able to list Anne’s items right away because I did have a bit of a ‘line’ in front of her. Ideally you would state the ‘selling start time’ on the contract.

Show them the money! Using Terapeak for eBay market research.

When a client is giving up 50% of potential profits, they want to know you (the eBay consignment professional) are making them the most money possible.
Below, I’ve detailed the eBay research and listing process for several of Anne’s items.
Follow along and check back for updates as this information can help you learn more about how to make money on eBay as a consignment seller
I usually like to start with the items I feel are the most valuable and the following pieces of jewelry fit the bill.

Terapeak, eBay research, and a Tiffany necklace

It’s a necklace by Tiffany – a “Paloma Picasso’s Scribble Zig Zag”.  
After doing a simple search on Tereapak for just the words “Tiffany Picasso necklace”, I was amazed to learn about all the different styles!
There were over a thousand listings! The sell-through rate is nice at 31%!
When I added the word “Scribble” to that search, Terapeak showed the same necklaces that we have for sale.

The highest sold one was a ‘Fixed Price’ listing. It had an asking price of $123.00 and they accepted an offer of $100.00. According to Tereapak the average selling price for this item is $81.22.
Not too shabby!
With the knowledge gained by researching on Terapeak, the next strategy is to review eBay’s ‘Current Listings’.
It seems there are approximately 15 necklaces listed with the lowest price as a ‘Fixed Price’ listing at $135.00 (with free shipping).
Based on all this research I have listed our’s at $134.99 with ‘Make An Offer’ and Free Shipping – eBay item # 391341503467.  
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Terapeak, eBay research, and a “Micromosaic” brooch

This next item to be listed is an antique brooch.
I have never seen one of these before so I thought it was very interesting.
After some Googling, I discovered the brooch is an “Architectural Micromosaic (aka Micro Mosaic or Micro-Mosaic) design with silver trim that is stamped “Italy” and is 800 sterling silver.
This fascinating and unusual piece of jewelry is also in the original box! It originated from our local jeweler here in Ocala, Florida – “Roger Hunt & Sons”.
Now the bad news…
Although this is an awesome item, the research I’ve done on this is not very promising as it has a 0% sell-through rate. 🙁
Again, using Tereapeak and searching the keyword term “Architectural Micro Mosaic” I find only 7 listings.
Out of those 7 listings there were only 2 items because the two items were re-listed several times.
The highest asking price at $790.00 on a very similar brooch. That price didn’t work out for that eBay seller but, hey, we can’t blame them for trying.
Plus, you never know when another buyer knows way more than you do about an item. This is why I never judge other sellers. I keep my eyes and ears open at all times!
Moving on, the lowest price was an auction with a starting price of $99.00.
Yeah. That didn’t work out either.
Next I did a search using the same terms for ‘Current Listings’ to see what the marketplace held. The results were showing only 4 items with the lowest price holding and an asking price of $195.00.
Aha! This eBay seller actually has their Micromosaic brooch “on sale” with a 15% discount but I also noticed they do not have “Make An Offer”. This is a strategy I would’ve suggested had they asked me!
The next part of this research is to review the ‘Failed Listings’ and look to see what eBay category they put their items in.  
The current $195.00 listing is posted in ‘Brooches; and the past listings were listing in the Antiques category under Decorative Mosaics.
Now for the good news…

eBay market research and SEO are your friends

Next I did a new Tereapak search for keyword terms, “Micro Mosaic Brooch”. Notice I removed the word ‘Architectural’.
WOW!
The first item that came up was a brooch that sold for $5,000.00!
I immediately noticed their title. Cleverly, they not only had the word “Micro Mosaic” but they also had it in the title as one word “Micromosaic” so I will defiantly add that word to my title as well.  
This search produced over 3,000 listings with a 30% sell-through rate!
WOOT!
BIG difference from the previous search.
It just goes to show you can learn TONS by adjusting a few words.
What to look for:

  • Words that the most successful listings used in their title.
  • Which categories they placed their items in.
  • What type of listings – Fixed price vs Auction
  • Shipping, free or paid.

Keeping all of those things in mind is what helps with the decision on how to list items like this one.
Moving on…
I did another search using the same words but added “silver” to the search because I also noticed the highest priced mosaic brooches had gold trim. Although we cannot compete with that because ours is silver, it is a game changer because it gives us a more realistic expectation.  
The sell through rate was still up there at 29% but the average price dropped down to $39.00.
Ugh!
But, wait! It’s not over till it’s over, right?
Another thing I’ve realized with all of these searches is not only does the gold sell for the most but it also depends on the design.
The famous buildings are doing very well compared to the unknown designs.
Unfortunately, I cannot identify this building but it seems to be a place in Rome. My opinion is based on all the views I’ve had so I feel confident to “call it a place in Rome”! (fingers crossed I am correct)
Okay, after all this research I am going with an auction and a starting bid of $49.99.
I feel this is a safe price because, worst case, it will close with one bid at that price but we will have the hope of two or more people wanting the brooch and bringing up the price.
So, with that said, let the bidding begin!
eBay item # 401041098301.
***UPDATE***
Great news! Less than 24 hours after writing this post, we got our first bid,
SO, this means YES the item will sell for a min of $49.99. All the research paid off. Check back to see what the closing price turns out to be.  
Below is a photo of the current listing…
eBay Listing Micromosaic Brooch eBay Research 700x500

***Disclaimer***
I am not an attorney nor am I qualified to offer legal advice of any kind. The eBay Consignment Contract is the document I use and am sharing it with you to use an example, ONLY. My document is not intended to take the place of licensed legal counsel and I urge you to seek the advice of a qualified attorney prior to executing a contract of any kind with anyone. Please be advised I am in no way responsible for any outcomes should you choose to use the Consignment Contract Template referenced on this page of PowerSellingMom.com
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