Sell-Through Percentage

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Sell-through percentage (also known as completion percentage) for a category of eBay item listings is the total percentage of available items in that group of listings that ended up being sold, rather than unsold at the end of the listing(s).

Example: If for a group of 50 items represented by 50 eBay listings, 25 sold before the listing(s) in question closed while 25 did not, the sell-through percentage for this group of items would be 50 percent.

Strong sell-through percentages on eBay tend to be in the 80 to 100 percent range, while sell-through percentages below 30 to 50 percent often (though not always—it depends on the kinds of items and listings in question) give sellers cause for concern.

Kinds of Item Groupings Measured

Sell-through percentage is most useful when discussing the kinds of items or listing groupings that matter most to eBay sellers. These include:

  • All of the listings/items from one seller. For sellers, overall sell-through percentage is often one measure of how they're doing on eBay—a sell-through percentage that is trending upward represents increasing skill and success, while a downward trend may indicate the need to troubleshoot listings, address timing, switch business models, or consider supply and demand issues. ("My sell-through percentage has fallen catastrophically since June! I need to re-think my business model!")
  • All of one seller's listings of a particular kind or in a particular category. For sellers, an evaluation of the sell-through percentage of particular kind(s) of item(s) is often a good way to decide whether or not to continue selling them, or to continue selling them in that way. For example, if ten of an item have a sell-through percentage of 100 percent in a computing category but the same items have a sell-through percentage of only 20 percent in an electronics category, the obvious decision is to limit listings in electronics and focus on listing in computing. Similarly, if a seller is seeing a high sell-through percentage of all their clothing items but a poor sell-through percentage in the shoes that they're sourcing, they may decide to eliminate shoes from their product lineup. ("My sell-through percentage in iPhone accessories is through the roof, but it's falling for Android phones. I'm going to find a better source and shift my focus to iPhone accessories.")
  • Categories or families of items in the eBay marketplace. As a component of their market research, most sellers are also eager to know which categories are currently "performing" well on eBay and/or what kinds of items are in very high demand; sell-through percentage is one very effective way to measure this. Sellers whose business models offer them some flexibility in the product line(s) carried may decide to focus on one group of categories during the holiday season and another during the summer months, depending on the sell-through percentages of various categories and their trendlines in each period. ("Sell-through percentage in consumer electronics is very low this month and trending downward, but it is high and rising in clothing and apparel!")

Finding Sell-Through Percentages

The best ways to find the first two kinds of sell-through percentages are using either a seller's own bookkeeping materials, eBay's listing analytics, or a reporting tool like Sales Reports Plus. Nearly all successful sellers keep a keen eye on their sell-through percentages in various ways, since losing sight of sell-through percentages can mean also losing sight of supply and demand and the ability to control fees effectively.

Most successful sellers also use tools to monitor the third category of sell-through percentages, since they effectively tell sellers using several business models what they ought to be selling at any given moment or during a particular season or time of year. For most of these sellers, this means a subscription to Terapeak analytics, a popular tool used to gather and aggregate this information from the eBay marketplace website.

Also Known As: Sell-Through Rate; Completion Percentage; Completion Rate; Success Rate

Examples: As sell-through percentages for tablet devices have risen month-over-month, there has been a rush by eBay sellers to get into the tablet business.