Sofas No. 1 on eBay
By Brian Carroll -- Furniture Today, April 13, 2005
High Point — Internet auction powerhouse eBay is publishing daily search and sales rankings for furniture and other products, the first time the e-commerce giant has offered aggregate buyer and seller data to the public.
Early this year, the top-selling furniture categories were sofas, which ranked No. 1, leather upholstery at No. 2, and No. 3 TV furniture, a category dominated by armoires.
Called eBay Pulse and on the Web at http://pulse.ebay.com, the daily e-commerce barometer is searchable by product category, including furniture and its many sub-categories.
The site offers only rankings, and doesn't provide raw numbers, at least not for free, nor does it publish longitudinal data. The rankings could be valuable, however, in charting and perhaps predicting trends, since they reflect the buying and selling of millions of items throughout the United States. The data could be used, for example, to inform pricing, manage inventory and plan marketing efforts.
The rankings reflect the most searched categories, products and retailers. On a mid-January weekday, for instance, the top-ranked eBay furniture retailer was VisionDecor.com, the online presence of Vision Decor Furniture in California. VisionDecor has been selling via eBay since December 2003.
"Our sales are 40 times that of our sales approximately one year ago," said Eric Lau, CEO of Vision Décor.
Pulse data also is available on the highest-priced items and most-watched items. Site visitors can access the data using drop-down menus.
For those who seek more detailed eBay sales data, a new data-mining product from Canadian company Terapeak promises to provide it. Terapeak's "smart search" technology accesses data from eBay auctions in most of the major product categories and analyzes it in a number of ways.
An Internet research company based in Victoria, British Columbia, Terapeak says it is the first company authorized by eBay to perform statistical analysis of eBay's categories as a member of eBay's data licensing program.
"When we were selling on eBay, we wanted a quick and easy way to find out what was happening in our category and what factors had the biggest impact on our sales success," said Anthony Sukow, Terapeak's chief executive, speaking of his days selling items on eBay. "We weren't satisfied with what was out there, so we decided to build our own system that could give the depth, accuracy and timeliness that we were seeking."
Another company offering eBay sales data and analysis is Paris-based Trendease International, an online consulting and publishing company.
Trendease analyzes eBay sales statistics in the following categories: Dining & Bar, Home Décor, Bedding, Bath, Rugs and Carpets, Women's Apparel, Women's Accessories, Furniture, Lighting, and Decorative Collectibles.
"We are supplied with information such as the top categories by number of products, top buyers' searches, and top individual items sold based on price," said Jennifer Castoldi, creative director. "We combine this information with our on-going market research to come to a current market analysis."
For November, Trendease used aggregate data to determine the 10 most active eBay furniture categories were, in order, floor mirrors, bean bags, file and storage cabinets, youth chairs and tables, CD and videotape racks, office chairs, dressers and chests, accent chairs, bed frames, and china cabinets.
Castoldi calls Trendease, at www.trendeaseintl.com, an "online guide to international design trends." Of the roughly 5,000 images on the site, 23% are of furniture, she said.