Xbox 360, Apple iPod Nanos, Star Wars action figures, American Girl items and decorative collectibles are the sizzling hot selling items this year, says a new eBay sales-tracking service that forecasts trends in online sales.
With less than a week until the official holiday shopping frenzy begins, eBay Inc. on Friday gave buyers and sellers an early glimpse into this holiday season's trends. The new eBay Marketplace Research service, launched just last week indicates, is starting to paint a rosy picture for Microsoft, Sony and Apple, among others. It also may be at the forefront of a new type of web services.
"All you need to use the tool is an eBay user ID and pay the subscription fee," said Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman. "Let's say you are selling electronics and want to see the fair-market value for a product that was hot a year ago and has since eclipsed."
There are 168 million registered users on eBay. People buy $1,400 worth of goods every second, Durzy said. Hot this holiday season is the Xbox 360, the new game system available next week. On eBay there has been nearly 8,200 items sold during the last 30 days at an average price of $525. Sony Playstation Portable, the top search term on eBay just ahead of Xbox 360, has sold at a rate of 14 per hour during the past week versus 22 Xbox 360 systems an hour over the same period.
iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Mini rank No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6, respectively, in searches on eBay, and this is translating into high sales numbers. Over 3,400 of the recently-released iPod Nanos have sold -- the black model selling more than 2-to-1 over the white. Of the iPod Minis, blue, silver and pink models are the most popular among eBay shoppers.
The new tool takes consumer behavior, analyzes the results and predicts sales. The analytics could essentially become a software-as-a-service platform for merchandising and category management, providing an intelligent software engine for smaller retailers that don't have the funds to invest.
And, eBay isn't the only Web portal offering analytics. Google launched a similar service earlier this week to offer enterprise-class Web analytics. Google acquired San Diego-based Urchin Software Corp. in March and lowered the monthly cost of the company's hosted Web-analytics service, Urchin On Demand, from $495 to $199. The search company re-branded Urchin as Google Analytics and made it available to everyone for free
eBay's and Google's methods for analyzing demand is not dissimilar to the analytics retailers are beginning to do with science-based software applications. "It doesn't mean the retailers are executing on all cylinders just yet," said Robert Garf, research director for retail at AMR Research. "The vision is to get to a more analytical planning and execution process."
But if eBay and Google are the market barometer for consumer sales, the new services that offer insight into listing, bidding and pricing trends in the eBay and Google marketplaces could morph into something more.
Retailers are investing heavily in analytical based applications to better forecast consumer demand. "Essentially this tool becomes a service to the eBay merchant," Garf said. "How powerful is it that eBay provides a service to Bob's Electronic, a small retailer in small-town U.S.A., about how well not only the electronic products they sell are performing, but how electronics are selling across the merchants on the eBay shopping portal."