Seller Survey 2014: Results & Actions

We'd like to extend a huge thank you! to all our sellers who participated in this year's annual seller survey. After gathering data for a few weeks, I wanted to share what we learned, along with the actions we plan to take in the coming year to respond to your input and keep Bonanza's distinction as "the most seller-driven marketplace" online.

Where you're coming from

Bonanza was born in a multi-channel world, and that trend clearly continued in 2014. Here are the other marketplaces you used during the past year:

The largest contingent of Bonanza sellers are those active on eBay. No big surprise there. More interesting is Amazon's emergence as the runner-up platform, now representing almost half as many Bonanza sellers as eBay. I believe this is a testament to having built a toolset that can handle the needs of both small and large stores. With all the great merchandise listed on Amazon, we are excited about the opportunity to provide an increasing number of Amazon sellers with a platform that's more affordable and less anonymous. The key to repeat customers is to build a relationship with the buyer, and we will continue to help you cultivate those relationships.

As we refine Background Burner Pro over the course of this year, I suspect our Amazon contingent will grow further still, since the burner provides an essential missing tool for sellers that post their images to Amazon (which requires white backgrounds). As you'll read below, we've got big plans to improve photography this year, both for Amazon sellers and for merchants in general.

What takes time?

This question ties directly into Bonanza's Core Mission: to spread the joy of entrepreneurship, minus the busywork. What busywork kept you busiest in 2014?

The top five time-suckers are 1) taking and processing pictures 2) finding merchandise to sell 3) shipping 4) managing and locating inventory and 5) determining price for your items.

So many exciting opportunities for us to reduce your busywork lurk in this data.

The highest "bang for the buck" time savings lie in making it easier to take pictures and get them into your listings quickly. This makes a lot of sense, when you break down how many hoops the average seller has to jump through to get a single item's pictures in place. Roughly speaking, you must setup your photo room / lighting; position the items; take pictures from various angles; review whether each picture has the proper lighting & colors (re-take if not); transfer the pictures to your main computing platform; browse the import folder to collate images with items; adjust colors/contrast as necessary; remove picture background if selling on Amazon (or seeking to maximize item conversion rate); login to however many platforms you sell on; and upload the groups of pictures for each item, separating out the item's main photo from its other angles. It's exhausting just to read all these steps! But the reality is that this routine has to be repeated hundreds or thousands of times as a new store is being created. Little wonder that so much time gets spent on photography.

One of our main goals for 2015 will be to reduce your time spent taking/processing item photos by half. We believe that we can automate almost all of the steps listed above. In particular, I believe Bonanza has the opportunity (and the tech talent) to create a mobile experience that can combine with Background Burner Pro to get studio-quality pictures posted to all of your selling channels in about one minute per item. That is one of our audacious goals for the year.

Shipping is another area we can help. We've taken a big step in that direction during 2014, with the addition of shipping labels purchased & printed from Bonanza. But making sure you have the materials you need, and making it easy to schedule your pickups are both opportunities that could reduce the time you spend prepping and shipping. (Not to mention streamlining the process between making a sale -> being ready to print a shipping label).

Determining the right price for items is an area we've already started work on, and one we'll continue to progress on throughout 2015. There's no reason that sellers should need to manually research similar items when we already have the data to find similar items and provide a price range and confidence interval. Determining the best price for an item shouldn't take more than 10 seconds, and should be automated.

Finally, while communicating with buyers barely missed the "top 5," I think that, too, is an area Bonanza has a lot of room to improve during the coming year. Providing automated responses, and allowing frequently asked questions to be saved with products can save sellers time and help buyers get responses faster, increasing conversion.

Bonanza Support

Another question we asked users was how satisfied they had been with their Bonanza support experience over the past year.

It ain't perfect, but it's pretty darned good, with about 80% of responding users saying their experience was great! It looks like we have some room to improve in making clear how our response relates back to the original question, and trying to be as specific as possible with our answers. On the whole though, this appears to have been a pretty great year for Mark and his team of happy little elves.

Webstore Traffic & Sales

We also asked sellers to give us input into how they drive traffic & sales within their successful webstores:

With this data, it's clear that, along with rapidly increasing the number of themes available, the biggest opportunity to improve webstores this year will be to ensure that stores get quickly and effectively indexed into search engines as new items are posted.

"Integration into other shopping engines," and "allowing social media campaigns to be setup" are other webstore opportunities we plan to explore in detail as the year progresses.

You've Got More Ideas

This is what makes our selling community so awesome: the freeform feedback we get when asking how to make the platform better. Here were some of the top ideas we heard.

It's all about the sales, dummy

There's never been any doubt that sales are the reason you are here. It's the reason we're here, too.

All the efforts that we make to improve Bonanza must ultimately lead back to you making more sales, and earning more profit. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to free up the time you would have spent on some non-profitable task (e.g., taking pictures) so you have more time to work on the parts of your business that generate new customers and increase sales (e.g., finding great merchandise).

Sometimes the best way to generate more sales is to add new buyer channels, as we have done throughout 2014, and will continue to do in 2015. Most notably, our Bonanza Affiliate program will be kicking into high gear this January. For participating sellers, we expect to see sale increases in the 20-40% range by mid-year.

Yet another way we'll be growing sales in 2015 will be to dive deeper into mobile. While the mobile-optimized version of Bonanza already drives conversion above the industry average, there's no reason we can't make our mobile site into a destination for buyers who've got a couple minutes to kill at some point in their day. We'll be experimenting with many ideas in this vein over the coming year.

More advertising

More than ever before, Bonanza has many options to experiment with different types of advertising in 2015. Over the past year, we spent about $1 million on advertising through the various buyer acquisition channels we support (Bing Shopping, Google Shopping, Nextag, TheFind, Pricegrabber, etc). In the year to come, we plan to dig deeper into exploring the non-online channels that can increase Bonanza's brand presence and get our sellers direct buyers.

We plan to have a Marketing & Advertising Manager hired by the end of January 2015, whose chief role will be to help Bonanza use its growing advertising budget to find more buyers in more places.

Better options for shipping

In many ways, Bonanza has been a leader in shipping - having offered "calculated shipping" within months of our launch (the first marketplace after eBay to do so), and shortly thereafter growing to allow international shipping, various shipping speeds, and built-in purchase of shipping labels. But because shipping is such a critical piece of a positive buying experience, we'll continue to focus on adding new shipping types that reduce your cost and increase your flexibility.

Other ideas you want us to investigate during the coming year:

  • Better seller analytics
  • More intuitive batch editor
  • Improved item variations
  • Mobile app
  • More webstore themes

Not to mention all of the feedback we get via our standard feedback site.

You're the Boss

Without the input you provide us in our annual seller survey, plus the ongoing feedback you give us in our collection of feedback forums, we could have never built Bonanza to what it is today (the most recommended online marketplace).

It a gift that you care enough about Bonanza to take the time to tell us what you think. It is a gift we don't take lightly. As with last year, we hold ourselves accountable for delivering the features you need. We will provide a report later this year to analyze how good we've done at delivering a better & more profitable selling experience using your ideas.

2014 was an incredible year for Bonanza. Not since the first year of our launch (2009) have we seen sales grow at the rate they did this year. Sales revenues are up more than 300% between last December and this December, even though our count of sellers has increased by "only" 50%. This means the average active seller on Bonanza is making almost twice as many sales as they did a year ago. How did we do it? By combining your feedback with our action-oriented culture.

In Other News

Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for several more features from the Feedback site to get moved into our list of "Completed Features." With the crush of the holiday season behind us, we've got plans to launch some of the bigger+cooler user requests we've been working on.


23 responses to Seller Survey 2014: Results & Actions

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    tomwayne1 says:
    12/29/14 at 23:24:00

    In my Mike Myers/Austin Powers voice: “Yeah baby.”

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    justenergycsr says:
    12/30/14 at 08:07:32

    can’t wait! Thanks!

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    SegundaVez says:
    12/30/14 at 08:33:23

    So much good news here! Advertising manager, mobile app, advertising, better buyer communication, advertising, better item variations, advertising…

    If Bonanza’s 2014’s response to the survey is any indication of how many improvements actually take place, 2015 will be AWESOME!

    Bonanza is my favorite place to sell (not my most profitable yet, but my favorite). Looking forward to Bonanza sales leap-frogging over other venues.

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    Barb'sPlace says:
    12/30/14 at 09:08:15

    Thumbs Up! Here’s a toast to a bigger and better 2015.

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    misskeech says:
    12/30/14 at 09:11:45

    I have to admit, Bonanza is the one site that keeps its sellers updated on every improvement, and asks the members input. Definitely one of the things i love about this site.
    I really hope the “mobile app” means a real app that will be located in the app store for all to see and not just a “mobile site”….I think that would be wonderful advertising for this site and the sales would just explode here if there were an app in the app store. Great job guys, keep up the good work!

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    TimeMall says:
    12/30/14 at 10:56:33

    Bonanza is my favorite place and I really like to sell.

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    jennafashionboutique says:
    12/30/14 at 14:43:48

    I have to say my last ebay import was the best one ever, took about 95% less time to fix the listings. so good job on improving. I would suggest one thing though allow all people to import only what they want and also make a line batch editor for titles and prices so many can be changed quickly kind of like the ebay editor but better

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    jennafashionboutique says:
    12/30/14 at 14:43:50

    I have to say my last ebay import was the best one ever, took about 95% less time to fix the listings. so good job on improving. I would suggest one thing though allow all people to import only what they want and also make a line batch editor for titles and prices so many can be changed quickly kind of like the ebay editor but better

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    LCARPARTS says:
    12/31/14 at 11:03:09

    We love the improvements and the sales we get via organic search is amazing. Sales on Bonanza have really taken off. We are big fans of the webstore option as well. It is absolutely the best solution we found for our ever changing inventory and an absolute deal at $25 a month. Fantastic.

    Have you thought about increasing the discount on imported items? We would do more sales with a higher discount setting. As there is almost never a problem on Bonanza with buyers were are happy to pass on additional discounts for making things go so smooth.

    Can’t wait to see the 2015 improvements.

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    annimae says:
    12/31/14 at 18:05:45

    Can’t wait for the mobile app and improvements for adding photos! I haven’t had much luck w/the background burner this year, so hopefully improvements there will help me more this next year! Good job!!

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    Best1decals says:
    01/05/15 at 01:15:40

    Sounds Good!

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    vanscase says:
    01/09/15 at 01:01:20

    Glad can help.

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    KrauseHome says:
    01/09/15 at 01:20:46

    Great ideas here. Just need to work on making Bonanza a known site for people to come buy on. An ap where people can list from their phone or tablet as well as buy from is needed. Need a way like eBay that alerts us when we have a Sale here as well.

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    LIToyGame says:
    01/09/15 at 04:06:04

    This is why Bonanza will eventually become the new eBay. They listen, they respond, they react, and they care about their sellers! Again, EVENTUALLY.

    Currently, it’s not the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd place that customers think of. This needs to change, it needs to become #1. That CAN happen, with the right marketing strategy.

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    winkdeals says:
    01/09/15 at 06:16:51

    One reason why we are here is the investment in the ego system, the team and the vision – we are excited to see the road map for 2015 and the hiring of a marking manager as well. We see many attributes of Bonanza that we love, they listen to the seller and buyer, and the performance of the site along with the user interface and ability to take advantage of other sales channels, allows for for s single point to manage your inventory portfolio vs logging into each one / is something we are impressed with…. But for us we see the passion from the founding and management team to continue to build on features, and stay tuned to performance and the user interface – But we agree / 2015 one of the top things we agree with others and even reviews of Bonanza is building on the brand and focus on a bigger seller audience so that Bonanza becomes a place where buyers will add to their list of shopping sites… honestly I my self had not heard of Bonanza till I saw a post in the Amazon Seller Forums … where we sell as well.

    Off to an amazing year / success to us all!

    Cheers,

    Dave / Wink Deals

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    GaryGag says:
    01/09/15 at 06:19:23

    Lots of success and sales to each us in 2015 / better year than 2014

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    birdhousebooks says:
    01/09/15 at 07:47:06

    Love Bonanza! Thank you for being so responsive to sellers. I also would love to see more advertising and site/item exposure in Google searches.

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    TymesSquare says:
    01/09/15 at 08:42:06

    Thanks To Bonanza’s Staff. They Are All So Great…

    Happy New Year

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    cstrading says:
    01/09/15 at 09:48:04

    looking forward to the “new” and “improved” Bonanza

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    photoarchaeologynot says:
    01/09/15 at 10:36:50

    Bonanza cares about their sellers and that’s a major deal. The site is easy to use and attractive. Great place!!! I’m happy to be selling here. Only block I see is that when I get my Ebay and Etsy customers to come check Bonanza out they all say the same thing: Everyone’s prices are too high; I can get it for less on Ebay! Unfortunately, I think it’s true, particularly high for a free listing site. It discourages shopping. Plus, I have emailed sellers about items and don’t get a response therefore I don’t make the purchase and I buy most everything online….so then I head over to do the purchase on Ebay too. That’s unfortunate….I’d rather buy on Bonanza.

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    Elect_Store says:
    01/09/15 at 20:35:59

    Thank you for all of your supporting in past 2014. I best wish Bonanza will have a wonderful year at 2015 and I will continuously look for more service that you can offer to bring my sale going up and up.

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    Gabriels says:
    01/10/15 at 14:52:17

    I enjoy selling o Bonanza because they are seller friendly, unlike Ebay and Amazon, Bonanza offer help immedetely when I have a question to ask, unlike eBay and Amazon, Bonanza don’t punish a seller if something is beyond a sellers capability, such as a late shipment which is the carrier fault, not the seller, ebay will reduce the amount of items that you can sell and Amazon is ready to suspend a seller because of this, I’ve been selling here for several years, my sales isn’t too great but, I do sell items.

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    vintage_violette says:
    01/15/15 at 10:22:32

    My biggest time suck is not photo processing, but all the manual editing of listings after I bulk upload them. I’d love to see a more comprehensive upload that saves me from having to manually edit my SKUs and other things.
    Also, I seem to recall that there was once an API we could use (for those of us who are computer geeks who can write code). Is that still around? I’d love to hook a custom listing uploader into the inventory management system I wrote for myself. Looking forward to 2015!


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