A common way for retailers to determine what products to sell is to analyze what has the highest demand right now and which things are rising in popularity. You can pay to have research conducted for you, but you can also get free information on popular products through online tools to find hot product trends. eBay’s Catman Tool offers some great tools for seeing product trends on eBay. Even if you don’t plan on selling on eBay it’s a good tool because the online marketplace is so widely used it’s a good barometer for what people are looking for, regardless of where they’re buying from. The tool allows you to see, by product category, what are the most common search terms. If you sell on eBay, it has the added value of keying you in on terms that you might be able to include in the title to make your listings appear higher in the eBay search results. You can select the date range you want, in case you want to see product trends longer or shorter than the default time range of one month. The ratings will also tell you if those key words are rising, falling or staying at the same popularity level. Aside from popular keywords, you can also see items most bid upon, which is another great way to gauge the interest of customers.
Amazon, also offers a way to see what is in demand now. The only thing that I don’t like is that the numbers are only for the last day and you can’t adjust the time frame. Still, it is comprehensive enough where you can see product trends. Similar to eBay’s tool, you can see what’s in demand by category. However, different from eBay, instead of seeing what was searched for you, you can see what people actually bought.
What I like is that by clicking on the tabs, you can also see “Movers and Shakers” and “Most Wished For” by category.
“Movers and Shakers” show the items that have risen the most in demand by percentage (picture below), while “Most Wished For” shows the things that people would like to buy or receive in the future.
Google Trends is a powerful tool isn’t specially built for learning about shopping trends, but it can provide you very useful information. It shows you how many people have been searching for certain keywords on Google. Web searches is a good way to tell what’s on peoples minds. Two examples are how Google can predict how successful a movie will be and how bad flu season is (and where the sick are) based on how many searches it’s getting.
There’s many ways to use the data, but I generally use it for few things:
- Validate a product trend
- See if the product has been getting more popular or less over time
- See if there are seasonal trends as to when people buy products
Below is an example of what showed when I entered the keyword “mousetrap”. Just by glancing at this info, it’s very easy to see a few things. The first thing that jumped out to me was that the amount of searches for “mousetrap” has been falling for years, although it looks to have stabilized now. It also shows a definite seasonal pattern where the amount of people looking rapidly rises at the beginning of the year, plateaus, then has a rapid drop off towards the end of the year. Also, the search is heavily concentrated in a few places in the world – the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia; which seems to have the most interest per person [of all the countries]. Simply based on this information, I’d say that it probably wouldn’t be something that I’d be interested in selling since the popularity has been falling. If I did sell it, I’d concentrate my marketing on the middle three months and cut my ad budget to a very little amount by year end. I would also think about the feasibility of selling to Australia and the UK. Another tool people use to find trends is by typing into the search box of Bing and Google. Each search engine has an auto-complete feature which will try to determine what you are going to type before you complete the word(s). This is done by trying to match the letters you type with the most common search terms using those letters. For example, on Google when I just type ‘A’ I get: Using these tools by themselves shouldn’t be the sole reason for deciding to sell something, but it can be very useful for either generating ideas or validating the demand for ideas that you have.