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Your Year in Review: 19 Things to Learn from Last Year

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Verified Blogger
Verified Blogger
Last Edited 09:06:42 AM

It’s the start of a new year, and many of us are busy looking to the future, making resolutions, and planning for the coming months. But, we should also take time to look back, reflect on the past year, evaluate our successes and challenges, and learn from both our wins and our losses.

 

While it’s helpful to engage in this kind of reflection on a regular basis, we know that’s not always possible. If you haven’t yet performed a comprehensive review of your business, there’s no better time than the start of the new year to do so. Here are a few areas to review, questions to ask yourself, and what you can learn from each one.  

retro1.jpgYour Overall Sales

 

  • How did this year’s sales compare to last year’s? You probably know whether you made more or less money, but it’s also worth looking at the number of items you sold and how that affected sales. Did increasing your number of listings lead to more sales? If not, why not?  
  • Were there any peaks or valleys during the year? What might have contributed to those and how can you better plan for these fluctuations next year?
  • Are there any retail moments, like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day when you experienced more sales?  If so, you could plan strategies around capitalizing off these moments when we know buyers are shopping.

Looking back at your overall sales—and specifically when those sales happened—can help you better forecast your sales in the coming year. And that allows you to plan for everything from seasonal hiring to the amount of shipping supplies you buy.

 

Your Income vs Expenses

 

  • Compared to last year, did you sell more items, but make less money, or did you sell fewer items, but make more money? Do you need to sell a larger quantity of items to increase your profits, or do you have an opportunity to make more profit off each item?
  • Did you have any unexpected business expenses that cut into your revenue? How can you avoid any similar surprises next year?
  • Is there anything you can do to increase your margins so you keep more money from each sale?
  • What are your return rates? Should you adjust your prices to compensate for the cost of returns?

The more you know about these numbers, the better you’re able to make small adjustments to your business to help increase your net income. Check out the Performance tab in Seller Hub to evaluate your margins and other vital stats, and read this article on which numbers matter most.
Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 9.03.58 AM.png

Your Inventory

 

  • What items brought you the most revenue? Can you source more of them?
  • What items are not selling as fast as you’d like? Can you run a promotion to sell them quickly?
  • Did you run out of inventory that you could have sold? How can you avoid missing opportunities in the future? Hint: The Seller Hub Growth tab can help. You can also bookmark and regularly check eBay’s Products in Demand page for insights into what buyers are searching for right now.
  • How did your inventory storage work for you? Did you lose any items or struggle with space constraints?

Your inventory is the backbone of your business, and without the right inventory (and the right amount of it) you’ll struggle to reach your goals. Taking a critical look at what you’re selling, how you’re sourcing it, and where you’re storing it can help you identify any potential problems that could affect your bottom line.

retro2.jpg

Your Buyer Feedback

 

  • What does your feedback look like? Do you see any common complaints, and if so, is there anything you can change in your listings or policies to avoid similar complaints in the future?
  • Do you see any common threads among the reason buyers return your items? Are there any changes you could make to your listings to help avoid these returns?

Feedback from buyers can point to problems that might not be obvious at first. If you consistently receive the same feedback—good or bad—consider it a message about what buyers care about most. For example, if several buyers have received broken items, it may be time to rethink your packing. Or, if multiple buyers tell you they love your one-day handling time, you may want to offer it on all your listings.

 

Your Pricing and Your Competition

 

  • How do your prices compare to your competitors?
  • Aside from price, is there anything your competitors do better than you? Can you make any changes to be more competitive—both with your fellow eBay sellers and with other retailers selling similar items?

Buyers know they have lots of options when it comes to purchasing items, both online and at brick-and-mortar stores. It’s important for sellers to be aware of what their competition is doing—and how they can be a buyer’s first choice.

 

Your Business Operations

 

  • Did you bring on seasonal help? How did it go, and is there anything you would do differently next time? Should you hire more people or fewer? Should you bring on help earlier in the season, or later?
  • Did you have enough shipping supplies? Was your workstation adequate? What changes should you make to make it better or more efficient? 

If you think you’ll need seasonal help next year, mark your calendar now for next year’s hiring date, and create a training manual for the new person so you can onboard them quickly. If your eBay business is taking over your house, consider creating a dedicated workspace now, so that you can stay organized during busy times.

 

Your Marketing

 

  • Did you market your business via social media? How did it affect sales, and do you think the effort was worth the boost?
  • What can you learn from the marketing efforts that worked and those that didn’t?

Social media can be a powerful tool when used correctly—and a big waste of time if not. If you’re going to invest your time in promoting your business, make sure it’s time well spent and that you are seeing a benefit from your efforts. Look at your most popular social media posts and see what commonalities they have and how you can recreate any successes. If you have business pages on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, you’ll have access to analytics that can tell you which posts were most popular, and what time you should post.

 

We know this checklist is a big one, and it’s not one you have to tackle all at once. Spending just an hour or two looking at the past year can provide valuable insight into your business, and help you formulate a plan for the coming year.

 

Are you performing any year-end reviews for your business? Tell us in the comments.

2 Comments
neatstuffmd
Adventurer

 I've been searching eBay for the ability to view my entire sales & expenses for the 2017 year, but have been unable to find out where to do this. Any assistance in this matter is appreciated. 

News Team
News Team

Hi @neatstuffmd - Happy to help. Go to ebay.com/sellerdahboard and log in. Then, on the lower left of the page, you'll see a link for "Sales Reports". Click that, and the new page will offer Sales Reports and Fee Reports. You'll have to download each month for 2017. Thanks! ~Audrey