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How Big Data Boosts eBay Sales

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

Consumer brands today are driven by big data. Hardly a product is unveiled or a marketing campaign launched without reams of data about a company’s consumers, trends, markets, and competitors being considered. 

A Canadian company called Terapeak has been aggregating and analyzing big sales data since before the term had buzz. A decade ago, the company’s founders—college-aged brothers with their own eBay store—were the first ever authorized to analyze raw eBay transactional data when software they engineered to drive more traffic to their listings caught eBay executives’ attention. 

“The founders of this company deserve credit for being big data pioneers, at a minimum in ecommerce,” says Kevin North, who became Terapeak CEO two and a half years ago. “For 10 years we’ve been getting terabytes of information—every single eBay transaction—piped into our offices. We provide analytics of that data to eBay merchants who sign up for a Terapeak subscription to research any given product or trend or customer.”

Terapeak has evolved to analyze data of other online marketplaces too, including Amazon, Magento, and Yahoo! Japan. All told, the company parses more than 2.4 billion transactions and $68 billion in online consumer spending worldwide. 

And North explains that it’s not just sellers on those channels who can benefit from Terapeak insights. “You want to use Terapeak to understand what to source and what to sell and how much to sell it for; you don’t have to be a seller on Amazon to benefit from that data,” he says. 

To be sure, Terapeak’s several hundred thousand customers—who pay $29.95 monthly or $179.95 annually—range from Fortune 500s to small brands to businesses like ChannelAdvisor that serve the ecommerce industry. “Everybody who wants to understand ecommerce or how their brands perform in ecommerce uses the platform,” North says. 

One fact about Terapeak’s relationship with eBay is telling: “eBay provides the data to us free,” North says. Why? Because merchants who rely on Terapeak insights outperform merchants who don’t—every time, he says. Successful merchants tend to ramp up and sell more things on eBay, and are less likely to abandon the platform. “The number one thing eBay gets from providing its data to Terapeak is increased Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV),” says North. In other words, when eBay sellers are successful, eBay the public company generates more revenue. 

In the 2013 calendar year alone, Terapeak influenced $4.4 billion of eBay GMV, according to North. This year, he says, “We’re on track to at least double that.”

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