eBay's Gold Standard:
The Ultimate Guide
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This is the first of a series of articles we have produced and published in conjunction with Tamebay, revealing how sellers can maximise visibility and conversion on eBay - the result of a deep dive into eBay listing performance in relation to eBay's listing best practices. There will be 4 parts to the series:
As an experienced eBay seller, you have likely heard of the "Gold Standard" - a term used to describe listings that demonstrate the best practices to achieve maximum visibility and conversion. Many of these standards are aimed at providing a more positive buyer experience, an important driver of consumer loyalty. But let's be honest - for sellers, the Gold Standard is best described as an informed view on the key factors of the Best Match search rank.
The thing is, there are 28 aspects of Gold Standard listings. That's a lot of optimising. Sure, I'd really like to be a 'Gold Standard' person; volunteer more, learn new languages, save the world, read more, meditate daily, grow my own vegetables, spend quality time with family ... I think you get the point ... but that's not exactly feasible to tackle all at once. Instead, we all make personal goals a few at a time, based on what we expect to have the most impact and be reasonably achievable given our limited time. The same applies to listing optimisation. Not all optimisations are equal ... at least that's our hypothesis.
If you've ever contemplated, "What's the optimal number of item specifics for a certain category?" or "How many images do buyers expect for the items I'm selling?", then this series of articles is for you.
At AltViz, we are first and foremost a data science company, and we tackle complex problems using data mining and machine learning to uncover strategic insights - so that's naturally the approach we are taking here to dissect the Gold Standard and understand the characteristics of high performing listings..
Using our ListSmart engine, we have mined the data of over 15 million eBay listings and 5,000 sellers to quantify the performance impact of listing aspects like: Item Specifics, Titles, and Images across multiple categories. If you've ever contemplated, "What's the optimal number of item specifics for a certain category?" or "How many images do buyers expect for the items I'm selling?", then this series of articles is for you.
#1: eBay's Gold Standard - The Ultimate Guide
For this first installment, let's dive into the primary components of the Gold Standard. There are really 2 areas of focus: Listing Content (the actual information in the listing) and Listing Features (delivery offerings, promotions, etc).
- Use up to 80 characters to describe your item clearly, concisely and as professionally as possible
- Use correct spelling and proper punctuation/capitalisation (read: don't use all caps!)
- State exactly what your item is, even if your title repeats the category name. Include things like Brand, Colour, Fabric, Condition and even MPN (Manufacturer Part Number).
- Avoid using multiple synonyms (like "purse", "handbag", and "bag")
- eBay already map synonyms in the keyword search, so if a buyer searches for "handbag", it will return titles with synonymous keywords like "purse" or "bag". Instead of wasting space with synonyms, use the space to better describe your item.
- Don't use special characters or words that don't describe your item (e.g. "wow" or "l@@k") - that's so 2005.
- Provide multiple, high quality images (ideally at least 800 pixels on the longest side, to allow for zooming in). eBay allow up to 12 at no charge.
- Show multiple angles of your item - front, back, side, etc.
- Use a white background and refrain from any text or image overlays - keep it clean and simple!
- Item specifics allow you to provide products details in a structured way. It's important to populate as many as possible.
- Focus on the item specifics that are used for filtered navigation (in the left browser panel) in your listing's category - and try to use a value from the list presented in the filter.
- Product Identifiers are extremely important so be sure to include these, both in the Product Identifier section of the listing as well as in Item Specifics. eBay has started to mandate MPN+Brand, EAN, UPC or ISBN for many listings.
- Keep in mind that whilst product identifiers can be provided in Item Specifics, many listing methods will have a separate section for Product Identifiers. Be sure to provide them wherever possible.
- Including as many identifiers as possible can help ensure buyers are able to find your item if they're searching for your item specifically.
- If you don't have a Brand, eBay will accept "Unbranded". If you don't have an EAN, UPC or ISBN, eBay will accept "Does Not Apply". However, use these sparingly - only use these values if the actual identifiers are absolutely not available.
- Include a detailed, professional description of the item.
- Optimise for mobile - according to eBay, 40% of purchases are "touched" by mobile. Offer a responsive design template if possible, and be sure to check a sampling of your listings from a mobile device to see how they are presented.
- Keep it simple! Complex and crowded HTML descriptions do not instill confidence in buyers and don't display well on mobile devices. Descriptions should be clean, concise and relevant.
Fast & Free Shipping
- If you can offer free shipping and get the item to a buyer within 3 business days, then your listings will be designated as "Fast & Free". This has been proven to boost conversion, and can also increase visibility in search results.
- Offer 0-1 day dispatch time, free shipping, and 2-3 day delivery time.
Are you a Top Rated Seller?
- Offer Premium Service for Top Rated Seller Listings to maximise listing visibility (as well as the 15% Final Value Fee discount):
- Provide a 1-day express shipping option.
- Provide a free postage option.
- Dispatch in 0-1 working days.
- Offer a return policy of 14 days minimum (This will change to a minimum of 30 days from 1 May 2016).
- Consider using eBay's Promotions Manager to offer order level promotions (e.g. "Free shipping on orders £50 or more") or upsell offers (e.g. "10% off accessories with the purchase of a tablet"). There are several types of promotions offered in Promotions Manager.
- We believe these offers can give a boost in search ranking as well, as well as encourage higher Average Order Value.
- If you are able to demonstrate a valid markdown, then strikethrough pricing can help drive conversion.
- Your eBay Account Manager or eBay Support should be able to help determine if you're eligible for this feature.
Click & Collect
- From a buyer's perspective, the more the merrier when it comes to delivery options. Make sure your items are eligible for Click & Collect at Argos, as that could be the deciding factor between your listing and the competition.
What else impacts Best Match?
Impressions and Recent Sales - For Fixed Price listings, eBay's Best Match algorithm considers the listing performance score - or the number of views (impressions) compared to the number of recent sales for a listing. Recent sales can mean sales up to 30 days, but it is believed that sales within the last 14 days are more heavily weighted. Therefore, if you have listings with a high volume of views and low number of recent sales, there must be something about your listing that is deterring conversion. This could be due to pricing, too few images, or unprofessional presentation, among other factors.
On the other hand, there may be listings with very low impressions and also low sales. Are these listings in the correct category? Perhaps buyers aren't finding your listing because there aren't enough item specifics provided? Maybe the title isn't relevant enough? All of these relate back to the Gold Standard.
Seller Rating - Feedback and defect rate can significantly impact your search rankings. Be sure to monitor for items that generate a high volume of negative feedback or low DSRs. Also, don't neglect your customer service offering. Providing exceptional customer service is key.
Now that we've detailed what it means to be Gold Standard, stay tuned for our next installment, which will highlight the findings from our in-depth analysis of listing content versus performance.