In August’s profit update, reader Jesse mentioned that he had started a bubble. The item was a limited edition Dragon Ball Z Heat Activated mug and was only available from Hot Topic stores. Jesse had found that a sale at the store made it really profitable! He posted over on Reddit, and the whole thing kind of blew up.
I combed through ~460+ sales and analyzed the data. I compare of sales over time, auctions vs. BIN, and impact of free shipping or TRS.
First, there are a few caveats on the data:
- I didn’t include international sales because the shipping got weird. There were only 4 and all were from Canada.
- I only included the sold price for Best Offers. I didn’t want to think about both prices.
- I only looked at new mugs that were selling as individuals. There was one broken and a few pairs/sets that sold – these were left out. A lot of 6 did sell for $250!
- If a listing was an Auction/BIN, I only counted it as a BIN.
I had to use Watch Count to find out the best offer prices for most sales. eBay has really obfuscated this information recently, but I’m not sure why.
One seller had 40 mugs sold! He must have gone to all the Hot Topics within 50 miles of his house!
In total, there’s been over $27,000 in sales on eBay alone for these mugs. That blows my mind!
It’s interesting to see a bubble right as it happens, especially on eBay. I’ve heard of this happening on Amazon all the time. Someone posts a “BOLO” from Rite Aid or Target and 200 people all go out to their local store to grab the item. All of a sudden, the “hot” item becomes routine and the price plummets.
Also interesting to look at the listings that are available on Amazon right now.
|$ 208.95||$ 30.00||$ 60.98||$ 17.58|
I’d have loved to be the $200+ sale! On average the mugs sold for $64.60 +/- $17.78. When you’re buying them at about $12, you’d be making ~$30 profit (assuming $20 in fees plus shipping). Not too shabby especially for such a quick turnaround. I currently aim for $20 profit, but I also try not to buy things for $12.
Trend Over Time
It looks like the mugs are starting to dip now. Selling for ~$50 total instead of the original $60. If you can still find them, it probably wouldn’t hurt if you’re into this kind of thing.
|Free Shipping||Average of Total (Sale + Shipping)||Count|
OK, the free shipping debate is hot and heavy between eBay sellers. For some reason, people get way too emotional about it (myself included). I’m on the free shipping side. eBay claims that you’ll have 11% more sales if you offer Fast n Free. It’s definitely easier to do free shipping if you have routine items or similar sized items (think clothing).
I think the data shows two things. The free shipping people made more sales, but the people who charged shipping made an extra $1.50 per sale.
Honestly, it’s a lot closer than I would have thought. Both seem to work fine.
Can we put this argument to rest now?
One thing that I’d have liked to compare would be whether or not calculated vs. fixed shipping works better. I’m not able to do this after the fact though.
Auction vs. BIN
|Auction/BIN||Average of Total (Sale + Shipping)||Count|
|Grand Total||$ 60.98||446|
Take that Auction people! You’d expect a BIN to go a bit higher, but I’m sure they took a little longer to sell. The highest BIN sale was $208.95, and the highest Auction was $119.95. So it just goes to show you, the fast money isn’t always worth it. We’re talking about less than a month of sales!
Free Shipping and Auction/BIN
|Free Shipping?||Average of Total (Sale + Shipping)||Count|
|Grand Total||$ 60.98||446|
Here’s the breakdown of free shipping in auction listings vs. BIN listings. Within BIN, those listings without free shipping sold for the highest amount (about $5 above the next highest). However, there were fewer number of sales in this category in comparison to all the other categories.
I’m not sure what is driving this difference. It’s not possible to tell whether there were just fewer listings that were BIN/free shipping that all sold out or if they actually weren’t selling well. I could look at eBay listings that are still up, but it wouldn’t tell the whole story so I’m not jumping to any conclusions here.
Top Rated Seller Impact
|TRS?||Average of Total||Count|
|Grand Total||$ 60.98||446|
Well, I’m not sure what to take away from this. TRS sellers did sell for slightly higher for auctions but not for BIN. They also had a higher percentage of BIN sales. TRS sellers only sold 40 of the 446 mugs that went on eBay. Again, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about sell through rate for this. It may just be that there are less TRS sellers on eBay?
In the end though, I’m going to be about a month late on this wagon, but I’m going to swing by the local Hot Topic today to see if they have any mugs. It seems like the bubble flattened out to something that’s still profitable. I’m already headed over to the post office, so what do I have to lose?
Worst case, I have a kick ass mug!
Update: I did run to my Hot Topic, and they let me know they ran out right after they went on the shelves.
Overall, this has led me to realize that getting data from eBay is a pain in the ass. I’m looking into figuring out queries on their API, so who knows. Ideally what I would do is create a tool to export search results into a spreadsheet. If I do figure it out, I’ll make sure to talk about it here since I think it could be really helpful for market research!
For anyone interested in the data set, here you go!