Use Sales Reports Plus to Tune Your Selling

This free tool tells you how you're doing and where you can improve

Sales Reports Plus is a free tool that packs a big punch, giving you enough information to tune your selling practices for your particular audience and inventory. Image: Aron Hsiao

The list of tools used by eBay sellers in support of their selling can be dizzying, from standards eBay Stores and eBay's Selling Manager to the dozens of My eBay apps on offer in eBay's App Center to offsite social media and viral tools like Facebook and Facebook apps.

Long before trying any of these, however, most beginning or growing sellers should enable a free tool available in eBay's subscriptions system called Sales Reports Plus.

Sales Reports Plus does exactly what it sounds like it does, providing sellers detailed information about their current sales performance on a weekly or monthly basis, including:

  • Number of items sold
  • Number of listings ended
  • Total dollar volume
  • Monthly growth percentage
  • Average sale price of items
  • Number of unique buyers
  • Total fees paid to eBay and PayPal
  • Fee breakdowns by type
  • Number of unpaid items
  • Sales breakdowns by item category
  • Sales breakdowns by listing format and duration
  • Sales breakdowns by time of day and day of week
  • Various combinations of these
  • Visual charts to help make sense of this information

If you're just starting out, or even if you've been selling for some time but are looking to grow, examining your Sales Reports Plus results is your first stop in understanding what listing formats, listing times, and kinds of items are working best for you, as well as how well you're doing at managing your fees.

In combination with an analytics app to track your real-time results and competition, sales reports can help you to master the eBay supply and demand environment.

Subscribing to Sales Reports Plus

If you've already opened an eBay store, then you've been subscribed to Sales Reports Plus automatically and can access your sales reports immediately.

Otherwise, follow these steps to subscribe:

  1. Log into your eBay account and click "My eBay" at the top of any eBay page.
  2. Click on the "Account" tab at the top of your My eBay page.
  3. On the My Account page, click the "Subscriptions" link at the left side of your window.
  4. On the Subscriptions page, scroll down to the Available Subscriptions section and click the "Subscribe" link next to Sales Reports Plus.

It costs nothing to subscribe to Sales Reports Plus, and subscribing doesn't create any extra hassle for you—it doesn't, for example, require maintenance, a detailed sign-up form, or anything similar, nor does eBay send you SPAM as the result of your subscription.

Accessing Your Sales Reports

After subscribing to Sales Reports Plus, you can access your sales reports at any time by re-visiting the Subscriptions page (see the steps above for details) and then clicking "View My Reports" in the Active Subscriptions area of the page. You can also visit Sales Reports Plus directly by bookmarking this direct link to the Sales Reports Plus tool.

Though eBay's customer service page for Sales Reports Plus suggests that after subscribing you'll immediately have access to the previous month's data, in practice you may have to wait at least a week for data to begin to appear.

Once it does, however, you're ready to begin using Sales Reports Plus.

When you first visit Sales Reports Plus, you'll be shown the Sales Summary page, which shows you summaries of three critical kinds of information. The first body of information is basic data about your sales activity for the current period and several prior periods, presented along with several charts. The data includes:

  • Sales: The total volume of merchandise (in dollars for U.S. sellers) you've sold during the period in question.
  • Month-to-month sales growth: The percentage change in sales volume from one month to another.
  • Ended listings: The number of item listings, in any format, that came to an end during the period, either because purchases ended the listing(s) or because the listing time expired with merchandise still available.
  • Ended items: The number of items, in any listing format, that ceased to be for sale during the period, again either because purchases ended their availability or because the listing in which they were featured ended with item(s) still available.
  • Sold items: The number of items, in any listing format, sold during the period.
  • Average sale price per item: The average price (in dollars for U.S. sellers) of the item(s) you sold during the period.
  • Total buyers: The total number of buyers represented amongst your sales, each buyer representing one transaction (even if the transaction had multiple items in it).
  • Total unique buyers: The number of distinct individuals (i.e. different people) that bought from you during the period, with each buyer counting only once even if they made multiple purchases on successive days.

After basic sales data, the summary also shows you your fees, in three areas:

  • Net eBay fees. These are the fees that you paid to eBay for creating listings (insertion fees), listing upgrades like bold text or gallery options, final value fees after having made a sale that are based on the sale price of your item, and fees for any eBay subscriptions that you have that incur a fee, such as a Stores subscription.
  • Net PayPal fees. These are the per-transaction and transaction-amount-percentage fees that PayPal charged you to receive payment for your sales over the course of the period in question.
  • Net eBay & PayPal fees. This is simply a combined total of the two types of fees.

Clicking on the "Details" link at the top of the Fees area of the summary page leads to a more detailed breakdown of fees. Click this link to visit a separate page on which fees are broken down into much more granular categories (insertion fees, listing upgrades fees, final value fees, subscription fees, PayPal fees, PayPal credits, and net eBay and PayPal fees each as a percentage of dollar volume for the month—this last one being particularly useful to anyone trying to stay ahead of eBay's rapidly evolving fee structure).

Finally, after general sales totals and fee totals, the summary page also shows a summary of the unpaid items totals that are currently affecting your bottom line. Ideally, this section will be empty. More realistically, it may have one or two entries; if there are many instances of unpaid sales, you may need to think about adjusting your buyer criteria.

More Detailed Reports: Sales by Category

Though the summary page itself provides a great deal of useful data, on the left side of the Sales Reports Plus tool you'll find a column containing links to even more powerful data about your selling performance.

The first of these, "Sales by Category," shows a summary of the sales you've made during the period and the immediately preceding periods broken down by item category. Links along the top of the Sales by Category data area allow you to filter the category sales report to show the category data for particular kinds of listings only—auction format listings, fixed price listings, or store inventory listings.

More Detailed Reports: Sales by Format

Clicking the "Sales by Format" link on the left side of the Sales Reports Plus page shows a summary of the sales you've made during the period and the immediately preceding periods broken down in a number of ways:

  • Format Summary: Total sales for all categories for each of the listing formats you used during the period.
  • Sales by Ending Day: Total sales for all categories shown as an item count and average item ending price broken down by days of the week, with the results again filterable to include data for all listing formats or just for auction format listings, fixed price listings, or store inventory listings alone.
  • Sales by Ending Time: Similar to Sales by Ending Day, but sorted according to time blocks during the day, rather than days during the week. See how your listings perform, for example, between 12:01 AM and 2:00 AM, or between 6:01 PM and 8:00 PM, and identify the block of time that generates the most activity for the kinds of items you happen to be selling.
  • Sales by Duration: For auction format listings, breaks down sales activity by listing duration, so that you can see how pricing has been affected by increases in the duration of auction listings and select the listing duration(s) that work best for your produc(s).

Viewing Old Data: Archived Reports

Data that has passed off of the current chart because it is several periods old doesn't just disappear; you can view old reports at any time by clicking on the "Archived Reports" link on the left side of the Sales Reports Plus tool. Note that you'll only be able to see archived data for periods during which you were subscribed to Sales Reports Plus; there will be no data shown for periods during which you weren't subscribed.

By Month or By Week: Report Preferences

Astute sellers will also notice the link on the left side of Sales Reports Plus labeled "Report Preferences." This link can be used to change the way that the information is presented to you, including:

  • Whether or not the charts shown in your reports contain number data, or merely visual (bar) data.
  • Whether or not full category names or abbreviated versions will be shown for category data.
  • Whether reports should by default reflect data on a per-month or on a per-week basis. More active sellers can select the per-week data to begin to see smaller trends in their selling activity; less active sellers should stay with per-month data so as to keep the data representative statistically.

Unsubscribing from Sales Reports Plus

Sellers that decide they no longer wish to use Sales Reports Plus can cancel the subscription by visiting the the subscription page in their My eBay area and clicking the "Cancel subscription" link next to Sales Reports Plus.