Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Trendy sales

There are many sellers out there who live and die by statistics, meticulously plot sales trends, and try to anticipate current/future sales by looking at past sales.

Fortunately, I am not one of them.  Math tends to confuse me, and one of the reasons I went into journalism was to avoid working with digits higher than the number of fingers and toes that I have. However, there comes a time when even the most numerically challenged seller has to look at the numbers, and either shake his head in disgust, or smile in relief.  

After what seemed to be a particularly busy August, and after packing my last item on the 31st, I felt the need to assess my sales for the month.  My sleep-deprived state preventing me from even attempting such an endeavor at that point, but the long weekend provided ample opportunity, as Jethro Bodine would say, to do some ciphering.  Truthfully, I was expecting a moderately successful month (after all, it had been busy), but was pleasantly surprised to see just how well the month had treated me.

Like many booksellers, I use www.theartofbooks (AOB) to manage my online inventory. Not only does it allow me to sell across multiple venues (Amazon, Alibris, Half, Biblio), but also it provides some rudimentary record-keeping, which is just perfect for a rudimentary guy like myself.  In August 2012, I sold 270 items across all venues, plus another 40 items on eBay.  Using simple math (my favorite kind), that equates to shipping approximately 10 packages a day, which wasn’t too shabby.

Impressed with my analytical skills at this point, I decided that to judge just how good August 2012 actually was, I had to compare it against August 2011.  I also decided that number of packages shipped didn’t adequately define how successful the month was, so I decided to use gross revenue.  Now frightened by my own initiative, I opened Microsoft Excel, and created a chart comparing August sales for 2011 to 2012, using data from AOB. 

It was a cute chart, but kind of sparse, so I added sales from as far back as August 2007 (my first year of serious online selling), thinking I may see some trend.  Sheesh, did I actually think about a trend?  I realized at that point that I was dangerously close to becoming a math geek (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the information provided showed that August 2012 was my second best August ever.

More revealing, though, is that it shows just how consistent my sales actually are from year to year, at least in August.

Talk about a smile of relief.

At that point, I was hooked, and decided to compare eBay sales for August 2011 and 2012.  The current year sales far outstripped 2011, but that was to be expected since I was fairly new to eBay selling last year. 

On a totally unrelated subject, Ella and I had our first foray into hunting for our new Barry’s Bookmobile over the weekend. In a previous blog, I had discussed either wanting a Ford Transit Connect or a pickup truck with a cap on the back. After test driving the Transit Connect, I can say that it’s a cute vehicle, and probably would suit our needs, but the pokey engine (4 cylinder for you car enthusiasts) and the high price $22,000 to $25,000 led us to believe that the truck/cab combination probably would be the better deal.  To my amazement, Ella has taken the lead in looking for the truck, and was routinely talking to the salesmen about mileage, model year, and number of doors (she wants a four-door truck).  Unfortunately, everything we (Ella) liked was out of our price range, so we are still looking.

As far as actual thrifting, the weekend was pretty much terrible, with few sales yielding even fewer treasures.  I’ll chalk it up to being a holiday weekend, but August garage/yard/church sales had been trending (there’s that word again) badly, and the first weekend of September followed suit.  Fortunately, there already is a church sale advertised for next weekend, so maybe with Fall upon us, the trend (I just can’t get away from that word) will improve.

How was your weekend?


  1. Amazing and impressive. What a great month you had. Yuck to the vehicle searching. We hate to do that :(

  2. Congratulations on your sales. That's awesome! Ready to ditch the "real" job yet?
    As for vehicles, have you looked at the Honda Element? Most people think it's ugly, (excuse me, I meant "trendy"), but I sat in one at a showroom. It's HUGE inside! Hondas are very reliable and have high resale value. I don't know for sure but it may be better on gas than a big 4 door pickup truck.

    1. We currently have a Honda CR-V that has roughly the cargo space of an Element. It's a great car, but too many times we have filled it, top to bottom, seat to seat, with not a space to spare, even for Ella, and still needed to make multiple trips. In addition, the truck will serve double duty, from hauling pine straw to big dogs to the vet. As far as quitting my real job, it's constantly in the back of my mind. I figure I would have to double my daily sales to make it feasible.