Regional (and inter-regional) trading in EVE involves buying items at a low cost in major trade hubs like Jita, transporting them elsewhere, and selling them at a higher price. (This contrasts with station trading, which involves buying items at a low price (typically using buy orders) and selling at a higher price (typically using sell orders) within the same station.) I personally don't have the patience—or time—for station trading, but I run a few specific, small regional markets and make decent isk, by my lights, and find the activity rewarding. As I describe in an earlier post here, I started with a relatively small investment of around 500m isk and some T1 haulers and have made a growing business which nets 3-4b a month at this point, with plenty of room to grow. That's more than enough for my modest needs—and more than enough for most players, I suspect. However, I also put relatively little time into the business, and much of that time is semi-afk—compared with, say, the time required in exploration.
There are many great traders and market gurus in EVE (some of them have very helpful blogs which can be found on my blog list, and most of them make many times what I do) and not a few great trading/market tutorials. A number of trade/market streams have even popped up on twitch. However, only some market traders divulge much information about where and what they sell—doing so results in more competition, especially for regional trading which thrives on low competition.
In this post, I'm going to offer a tutorial of sorts for players wanting to get involved in a regional trade business. It will involve a specific and detailed example of exactly where I would trade and what I would trade there—readers can freely borrow my ideas, as I will only be partially setting up this market with 100-150 key items.
I. Getting Started
What does a player need to get started with regional and inter-regional trading? Really, just two ingredients: Some kind of start-up investment in isk, and some kind of knowledge of where and what to trade. How much isk you will make depends on those factors plus the amount of time you devote to the business (shipping items and updating orders particularly). My assumption will be that we only ship items and update our orders a few times a week—so no babysitting orders all day.
I.I. Investment and Profit: the 1–10–30 rule
There is no minimum amount of isk needed—just enough to get something for sale on the market at a slightly higher price than what you bought it for. I started my markets with around 500m isk—however, I poured all of my income from exploration into investment in the market, which amounted to somewhere around 8-10b isk from other sources feeding into my market investment over the first 4-5 months.
In order to make decent profit, I suggest starting a regional market with at least 500m to 1b isk. But don't stop there! For a regional market to be successful, expect to support it with other isk making activities—station trading, exploration, missioning, PI, FW, etc. I did all of those and more to support my market experiment while also funding PLEX and PVP. It is far easier to make that initial few hundred million doing pure station trading somewhere like Jita, as many recent market streams on Twitch have demonstrated. The modest rule I've developed to direct my own trading I call the 1-10-30 rule: The building-blocks of my business are individual orders which I can expect to make roughly 10% profit at least every 30 days. Ideally, you will have a lot more than 1 order, make a lot more than 10%, and do so more often than 30 days—but that's our baseline case.
So, if we start with around 1b isk, our default goal will be to make 100m in 30 days. Yes, it is very, incredibly modest--comparable to high sec PI but at a few hundred times the start up cost! Yet I find it best to start with easily obtainable goals, and, remember, we are not planning on putting much more than a few updates worth of time into this market every week—if you restrock and update orders more frequently than once or twice a week, and you pick high margin, fast moving items, you can make much, much more than a modest 10% every 30 days. What are our long-term goals? That's really the key question. I'll assume the first long-term goal is to make enough to afford a PLEX plus some spending money for activities like PVP. So, let's say our goal is to make a stable 1b a month. By our default rule, that means we are going to need to grow the market into, roughly, 10b in sell orders.
Reality has kicked in, and you've realized that if you invest 500m-1b and only meet the default 1-10-30 goals, it will be a long time before you reach 10b in sell orders simply by investing (all) your profits! That's the catch with regional trading: it is very long term and heavily dependent on how much you invest into it, particularly if you do not want to micromanage your markets. If you are looking to make quick isk, station trading somewhere like Jita is probably much better for you.
So, our “sweet spot,” then, is going to be to reach 10b isk in sell orders. That means we need a suitable location, and 10b worth of suitable items.
II. Locations for Trade
Finding the right spot to trade is the first big hurdle. Here are two basic qualifications:
1) The system usually has at least 50 players, ideally using a single, specific station.
2) The players in that system engage in activities there, or nearby, which would likely lead them to make purchases.
The best way to find the right system in which to set up shop simply comes from experience—think about where you PVP, mission, mine, explore, live, etc., and think about what other players do in that system, and sell the items you know people there use. This applies to every type of system—from rookie starter systems to low sec hotspots.
Fortunately, we have some tools to narrow down our search. This table of trade hubs is one helpful, though not completely accurate, place to start: http://eve-marketdata.com/station.php?step=Rank :
In my experience, hubs in the top 10-15 are competitive and often over-saturated with traders already (for the more casual trader like myself). There are literally hundreds of good options, but a recent change to EVE has opened up a few new opportunities. The Sisters of Eve agents have become much more profitable, drawing a huge amount of missioners. Osmon—one of the locations for level 4 SOE agents—is a fairly established hub, and very close to Jita. CCP added new level 4 agents in Apanake, Genesis, making the system active with 50-250 players at any given time. Similarly, Simela, Genesis, where level 1-3 SOE agents are located often have 50-200 players active.
Check out the 2014 statistics (thus far) for top systems for NPC skills:
The Bherdaspot-Simela pair is one of the highest, while in previous months/years they were not even in the top 10. On the chart of trade hubs linked above, Apanake has clearly risen up to the ranks to around #20 quite quickly! Apanake is also fairly close to Dodixie and Oursulaert—two of the bigger trade hubs. Where does Simela rank? Roughly around the high 70's or low 80's over the past few weeks. While it has grown over the past few months, it would still just about have to triple in its current isk in orders to match Apanake. Of course, Simela is not without its disadvantages. For one, it is a wonderful 22 jumps from Jita (and I'm assuming we are going to make many of our purchases at Jita). Amarr is 23 jumps away. Simela is 12 from Dodixie, but Dodixie is a strange market where some items we are going to purchase are quite a bit higher than Jita (or even some close regional markets).
If you've ever been to Genesis, you also know this: it sucks. There is no main market, and many goods are spread around in all sorts of random systems. Apanake (as well as the other big hub, Tar, due to its location along a popular travel route) cannot easily serve as the sole market, as it takes 14 (high sec) jumps to go from Simela to Apanake—better to just fly to Dodixie! Simela is also close to Gonditsa—a notorious low sec entrance system which currently ranks 24th in systems on zkillboard. PVPers don't typically want to fly 14+ high sec systems to refit their ships, either. While, again, not completely accurate, here is the ranking of all trade hubs in Genesis:
If Simela makes for a decent trade opportunity, why share it? Well, for one, it is an experiment for me, not a main venture. Primarily, though, I also know this: Simela and even Apanake can easily contain many more traders—in fact, Simela especially needs more traders to draw in more customers. If a player is looking to buy a ship for missions, say, and finds the ship at her local market, but does not find some of the mods—rigs, the right tank mods, etc.--the player will typically just fly to a major hub to purchase it all. Players get used to buying at certain locations, opposed to going elsewhere—I do, at least. When I'm PVPing, I will pay many times the cost of a needed item simply if it is in my current station or system. I lived in Simela for a few months when I first started EVE, and I was rarely able to buy items on the market there due to their sparsity—I simply got used to the long trip to Dodixie. As a result, it is likely that the extra traders in these systems would actually help, not hurt, the trade profits of each individual trader—as we will see later, there are certainly enough profitable, moving items to hold enough traders, granted they sufficiently diversify their goods. Furthermore, markets like Simela are not terribly attractive to established traders--compared to the movement of isk/items in markets in the top 10, isk moves at a glacial pace in Simela. What we lose in potential, quick profit, though, we make up for in the time required to keep it bringing in a slow and steady profit.
So, we are going to experiment with setting up out market in Simela, at the SOE station. Of course,there are many other potentially great areas to set up a trading business, so feel free to take my suggestions here and apply it elsewhere.Virtually any station where a few dozen people are regularly docked is a potential market.
Our next step in part II is to find items to sell. Spoiler: there are far more potentially profitable items to sell here than one trader could likely cover, so we will have a plethora of options.