Last year we welcomed a miniature dachshund to the family. Unfortunately, she immediately started terrorizing the family’s garden gnome collection and they were forced to seek refuge in the shed.
When tidying the shed this spring, I rediscovered our collection of twenty gnomes (what can I say, we like gnomes!) We can no longer have them on display in the garden, so I have decided to sell them on eBay.
I would ideally like to use some eBay software to help me with the process. I think the gnomes would fetch a better price if I do my market research up front, and build attractive listings for all the other gnome-lovers out there. However I don’t intend to build a real business selling on eBay just yet, so I’m looking for free software that can optimize my selling.
I’m aware that free eBay software exists, as I have previously used Turbo Lister. But, eBay are retiring this ancient tool in June so I’m looking for different software, that I can use long-term. If my gnomes sell well, maybe I’ll make a business out it.
What exactly do I mean by “free”? There are so many shades of “free” these days that it needs a little explanation. The software I’m looking for should be free forever, not just a free trial for 14 days before you have to pay. Trials are great, but I really want tools that I can use again and again without getting stung. If I need more features, then I’ll consider upgrading – but only when I’m good and ready!
Market Research and Valuation
Now that I’ve decided to sell my gnomes, I need to work out what price to sell each one for, and which eBay marketplace globally will give me the biggest return. This is where I need to find some free market research and valuation software. The best known name in this area is Terapeak, but sadly they have no free-forever plan so I’ll have to pass them over.
Algopix is one option, as it lets you do single searches for free without even registering on the site.
So, that’s what I’m going to do. By typing “garden gnome” into the search field, and setting my shipping option, I can see the prices on eBay’s global marketplaces. I also changed the condition of the product to “used”, as my gnomes have been pre-loved. Algopix also lets you enter the price you paid for the product, so it can do a full profit calculation.
My search returns a picture of the product, in this case my lovely garden gnome, and some key facts. It also shows my likely expenses and gross profit if I was to sell at the highest current market price. It can also show the level of market demand, but only for new products.
Scrolling down, I can see several marketplaces where my particular type of gnome has sold. In this case, I learn that on five of the six listed eBay marketplaces I would be selling my gnome at a loss. My only choice is to sell on eBay US, where I could make $19.27 in profit.
Finally, Algopix shows an estimated breakdown of my expenses including eBay and PayPal fees, and a graph of demand for my product over time.
It looks like the best time to sell a gnome last year was in July and that so far this year, the demand for gnomes has been slow. Based on this information, I may decide to wait and sell my gnomes when the demand becomes higher.
Algopix also offers two paid versions, Plus which allows 3,000 SKUs to be uploaded per month or Master, which allows up to 10,000 SKUs per month and includes features like phone support and a marketing consultant.
A slightly different software is ShelfTrend, which also offers free-forever use. This allows you to search live inventory data from 22 global eBay marketplaces. When I select eBay US and search for garden gnomes, ShelfTrend brings up 500 listings that best match those keywords. It’s a good start.
ShelfTrend allows you to see who your competitors are and what types of product they are selling. You can take this further and hone in on just one seller. In my market for gnomes, I took a closer look at the top-ranked seller nanafind, to see which products were making them so successful.
It turns out that a merry gnome drinking a large pint of beer is a great product, selling 65 of the 71 available but a helpful gnome carrying a pair of garden shears isn’t, as little more than a quarter of the stock has sold. This gives me a good idea as to what kind of gnomes sell well, and which of my five I may have more trouble selling.
A key point here, is to check the median delivery charge. If the norm for your market is free delivery, you don’t want to risk making you product unattractive by passing on your shipping fees. This appears to be the case in the market for gnomes, as the vast majority of sellers have median delivery fees of zero.
There is the option to upgrade to a paid-for plan with ShelfTrend, which is $9.99 a month. It allows you to filter your search results and search for data on specific brands. You can also download the data in a CSV for further analysis.
It just so happens that one of gnomes is a fairly rare collectible, so I want to see whether one has been sold on eBay before to try and gauge its value. I’ve done a completed listings search on eBay but that only shows items that have ended in the last 15 days, and none matching my rare gnome show up.
So, I’m going to use ListingsHistory, where I can search a database of every collectible sold on eBay since 2014. Without logging in, ListingsHistory only shows the listing title, image, end time and category, but it’s free to register and get access to prices and full descriptions.
First I enter my keywords, which in this case are “garden gnome riding a turtle”. I want to make sure that my search only returns products that actually sold, so I selected the option “only auctions with bids”.
With ListingsHistory you have to search one year at a time, but that definitely beats the 15 days available on eBay’s own completed items search. I can see from my search that my gnome has sold plenty of times since 2014.
Because these items have ended, the “current price” listed is actually the price that the item sold for. The market value seems to be around $65, and demand is good with an average of around five people bidding on each item. As is usual for collectibles, an auction will be a better option than a fixed-price listing. If I want to be careful I could list the gnome with a starting bid as high as $50. But, with demand being so good I could perhaps get more buzz going with a really low starting price.
I can also see the original listing for the product, which will be helpful when I come to list mine, as I know the key points to include.
Having found my optimum price, I now want to find some free software to help me build my listings.
When creating listings on eBay, two of the most important factors for SEO are title and category. To make sure I get these right, I’m going to use Title Builder.
First, I’m going to generate my title by searching for two keywords, for my next little fellow I choose “gnome light”. Title Builder suggests a category and shows the most searched-for terms, and also the keywords most used by sellers in the category.
Picking a category is something that is very easy to get wrong, as eBay has over 18,000 to choose from. I would approach this part with caution, and not simply select the first category that Title Builder suggests. Instead, search a few of the listed categories on eBay and see what type of products are listed.
In my case the top suggestion was Collectibles/Fantasy > Mythical & Magic/Elves > Gnomes, Pixies, but an eBay search showed me that this was more for indoor figurines and not really suitable for gnomes of the garden variety.
The second suggested category of Home & Garden/Yard > Garden & Outdoor Living > Garden Decor/Statues & Yard Art proved to be a better match, with gnomes similar to mine listed.
By selecting this category in Title Builder, I now have two new lists of relevant words. You can delete the words that aren’t relevant and re-arrange the ones that are left to make a suitable title.
From my selection of words I’ve decided to title my listing: “Garden gnome statue with solar powered light”. This includes all of the words that have received medium search volume, and a selection of the top words being used by sellers of similar products. Importantly, it is also under eBay’s 80 character limit on title length.
UPDATE DECEMBER 2017: It looks like Supreme Lister is no longer available in English as the website has not been available for several weeks. It’s still going strong in Germany.
Because some of the gnomes are collectible I want a professional set of eBay listings that reflect the quality of the items. I don’t simply want a description written in Times New Roman against a white background! This is where Supreme Lister is useful.
After you’ve registered and logged in, and selected “new project”, Supreme Lister will open another window. This is where you create your listing. I encountered a few glitches getting it working, mainly down to needing the latest version of Flash Player installed and enabled in my browser.
First, you enter basic data like your title, price and so on. You can also assign a category and enter your shipping and returns information.
When you’ve done this, you just simply select the next tab. The texts tab is where you write your product description and media is where you upload your images.
Take care with the design tab as the free design templates are hidden below the paid-for templates. If you scroll down to the bottom there is a good range of free options under the “Basic Designs” heading. I selected the “garden in wild” option, as it best reflected the natural habitat for my gnomes.
When you’re happy with your listing, you can preview it and if it looks good then click finish. A loading screen will appear as eBay verifies your item and, all being well, the item will be listed on eBay.
Now, despite the family’s gnome collection hiding in the shed away from the dangerous dachshund, not everyone knew about the gnome embargo and I received one for Christmas as a gift.
Because this chap is new I’m going to use WowLister, a software tool that takes a product from Amazon.com and converts it into an eBay listing. All I have to do is find the same product on Amazon, copy the URL into WowLister, set the item’s condition, and it will list the gnome on eBay within sixty seconds.
The listing it creates looks professional and certainly saves a lot of time. It copies across the title, description, images and even categorizes the gnome accurately under Home & Garden > Statues & Lawn Ornaments.
I experienced a couple of minor glitches with WowLister. The first time I linked my eBay account it returned a “page not found” error (update: WowLister tell me this is now fixed). The second time it brought up a message about accepting eBay’s global selling agreement, which I had to go to eBay to fix. That might just have been because I hadn’t sold recently with this particular eBay account.
WowLister was great for selling new items, but I would advise caution with used items because eBay doesn’t allow stock images to be used for products that aren’t new.
UPDATE 5 AUG 2017: WowLister is introducing paid plans, but will remain free for up to 10 listings per month.
From my research, I’ve found that there is a good level of demand for new gnomes. Once I’ve sold my collection of twenty I might consider getting into gnome-selling as a business .
eBay’s own lister, Supreme Lister and WowLister are all based around listing items one-by-one. They aren’t a great fit for creating listings in bulk, which is exactly what I’d want to do if I get seriously involved in the gnome trade. So, I’ve looked at Xpress Lister, which allows you to create bulk listings from simply uploading a spreadsheet.
So, if I was to purchase a large quantity of gnomes from a wholesaler, I could simply take the wholesaler’s spreadsheet and use Xpress Lister to create all the listings in one go. It will also try to automatically categorize each product, which as we’ve already discussed can be challenging. The selected categories can be edited manually if they don’t fit the product.
Xpress Lister also has a paid version, starting from $9 per month, which allows you to edit live listings as well as create new ones.
As my items start to sell, I want a reporting tool to help keep track of which gnomes have sold and how much they went for. This is especially important as different gnomes in the family’s collection actually belong to different people. A reporting tool should make it easier to see how much each of us are owed.
Zenstores Insights has been removed from this section, as it is now included in the paid Zenstores package, and is no longer available as a free standalone tool.
A second option is MySales by Terapeak. As free eBay software goes, it has a lot of features.
First you can choose whether you want to see data from all your eBay seller accounts or a specific one. You can then select which eBay site you want to see data from, and can even filter it further to see just one category. Finally you have to select a date range, and I’ve chosen to see data for the whole of March.
At the top of the page there are three mini-graphs that show how many items you’ve sold, the average selling price and your total sales. All three include the percentage increase or decrease from the previous period, in this case the previous month.
The best feature of MySales is the ability to see the performance of your listings. You get an overview first, which shows the total amount of impressions and page views. From this, the software generates your click-through rate (the percentage of people who clicked your listing from search results) and your sales conversion rate (the percentage of people who viewed your listing then bought the item).
By clicking the transactions tab, you can get product-specific data, so you can see how many impressions and page views a specific listing received.
The final feature is the overview, which shows your data in a graph and allows you to compare metrics like total revenue over different periods of time.
My Top Picks
My mission to find useful free eBay software is now over and it has proven successful. I have already sold four gnomes, so my quest to re-home these little folk is well underway.
To finish, I’m going to pick my favorite tools in each category, starting with market research and valuation. Algopix is very simple to use and displays the data clearly. It does the hard work for you, providing a comprehensive picture of each marketplace and a detailed breakdown of your expenses.
In terms of listing tools, WowLister’s speed is seemingly unbeatable. If you want to list a small number of new products then it is a strong option, providing a detailed and visually pleasing listing in sixty seconds or less.
In the reporting category, MySales seemingly has no competition, but this shouldn’t overshadow the fact that it is a really useful tool. The fact that you can analyze the performance of individual listings allows sellers to drill into the finer details of their eBay business and develop a better understanding of what makes a successful listing.
I’ve hope you’ve found this useful. If you’ve used any of these tools, or found some different free-forever eBay software, let me know in the comments below!
This post was inspired by Sam Carson’s classic tale of gnome trading from 2007.