Book Review: eBay Rescue Profit Maker

Kevin W. Boyd's latest eBay how-to book aimed at helping established sellers prevail in tough times.

eBay Rescue Profit Maker
eBay Rescue Profit Maker
Kevin W. Boyd
Alpha Books/Penguin Group 2009
233 pages; $16.95

With the economy teetering, jobs vaporizing, and a world-wide belt-tightening in progress, Kevin Boyd is again riding in to the rescue — with "eBay Rescue Profit Maker," his latest eBay how-to book aimed at helping established sellers prevail in tough times.

The cover taunts us with the challenge, "If you want a profitable business instead of a shipping hobby, this book is for you." In Chapter I "shipping hobbyists" are defined as eBay sellers who do not increase their gross sales on the site nor even know their level of profitability, yet continue selling the same products month after month, sometimes year after year. Boyd tells us the antidote for this business treadmill is deep product analysis with the goal of uncovering the increasingly elusive profitable product.

Become the Second Mouse

Eschewing the "early bird" principle, the heart of Boyd's business model is the "second mouse." Because the trap is sprung on the first mouse, the second mouse gets to eat the cheese: "The second mouse may not be the first to find the biggest hunk of cheese but it has the lowest risk." In business terms the second mouse is called a market follower. The follower avoids the risks of leading the pack, hence makes fewer product investment mistakes, selling only products proven to be profitable. Boyd tells us this is the model he uses for his personal eBay businesses and the one adhered to in this book.

The book has nothing to do with finding or marketing one-of-a-kind collectibles, rather the goal is to improve seller selection of replaceable products by showing how to avoid low profit items ("hot" or otherwise,) in favor of high-demand, low-competition products of proven eBay profitability. To put it mildly, Boyd is methodical in his search for what he terms " the golden egg."

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No One Said it Would be Easy: Doing the Research

This book is not for those averse to paperwork. Here the path to separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of product selection is strewn with worksheets and check lists, and forms in sufficient number to require a binder. Boyd provides the worksheets for free on his Web site. There readers can download the various PDF file forms required to implement this system; samples of each are also shown in the book.

The required research is formidable. Here is the detail of the first worksheet — Product Idea Worksheet #1: 1.keyword category; 2.manufacturer contact info; on eBay; sold; 5.sell-through rate; 6.average selling price; and 7."passed all tests."

Subsequent worksheets each contain at least seven columns of criteria, the last being "passed all tests," and include: Giant Competitor Worksheet; (Specific)Product Idea Worksheet; Product Idea Worksheet With Analysis Tools; Product Profitability Worksheet; Successful Product Worksheet; and Product Supplier Worksheet.

Each worksheet comes with detailed, step-by-step instructions, and there are a number of other forms to be completed within the book. But after conducting a doctoral-thesis worth of research, page 73 offers the user a dispiriting possibility: "You may be disappointed to discover that few or maybe even none of your products passed all the tests. I understand your frustration that a lot of effort did not produce any approved products."

Boyd then points out that at least we saved a lot of money buy not filling the garage with unprofitable products, and advises us to just pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

Resources for Sellers: HammerTap, Worldwide Brands

The book is succinct when it comes to recommending software market and product analysis and sourcing tools. Though he mentions freeware, Boyd claims the time spent determining if a product has a favorable combo of sales, demand and competition can be reduced from hours to "about 20 seconds each" using the following two software tools: HammerTap and Worldwide Brands' Instant Marketing Research.

Boyd likes HammerTap, a monthly subscription service. This tool helps determine if a category is worth pursuing, finds a profitable niche within the category, analyzes the top sellers and discovers their most successful products. It also allows for micro-analysis such as historical data on seasonal items (when sales on a seasonal item peaks,) and the minutia of supply, demand and sales of specific products. A 14-page appendix at the rear of the book gives detailed information on using HammerTap.

For sourcing, Boyd recommends Worldwide Brands' Instant Marketing Research (IMR), which requires a one-time, lifetime use fee. According to Boyd, the product sourcing membership provides access to databases of hundreds of reputable light bulk, standard, and large volume wholesalers, importers liquidators and drop shippers.

Finding reliable, legitimate wholesalers is critical as the market is fraught with middlemen posing as wholesalers, and this product covers the entire Internet. Appendix A gives detailed instructions on using Worldwide Brands tools. The important 16-page Chapter 6 deals with the pitfalls and red flags in "Finding Reputable Product Suppliers."

Accentuate the Positive

Acknowledging that most MBAs and CPAs don't believe a "positive attitude" affects profits, Boyd argues that the combo of positive attitude and mindset along with specific knowledge will lead to professional-sized profits.

(Continue to Page 2 for tips on pricing, listing, shipping and more.)

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