How To Maximise Your Item Specifics To Turn Your Listings Into Bestsellers


When you sell items on eBay, the item specifics field lets you highlight certain details about the product being sold. This is intended to provide information in a concise and easy-to-read format for potential buyers.

Item Specifics - ListSmart

Depending on the category in which the item is being sold, item specifics will tend to include commonly searched for information such as Brand, Colour, Material and Type. As part of eBay’s effort to standardise and better structure its marketplace, these kind of product identifiers are becoming increasingly important and often mandatory.

Making better use of item specifics allows buyers to discover products with specific attributes more easily. This is more convenient for customers and can also help to boost sales for eBay merchants.

Below we explain why you should always include as many product identifiers as possible for your listing. We also highlight why using eBay’s recommended item specific values is so important.

Why are item specifics important?

At a basic level, adding as much information about your product as possible helps buyers make an informed decision about whether they need or want to buy your item. It can also improve the flow of information to users and potentially convert eBay users into buyers.

However, more than this, users are more likely to land on your product listing if you adhere to certain item specific requirements and formats. This is because eBay is increasingly focused on providing users with more relevant and diversified product discovery routes.

Item specifics allow eBay to better filter product listings, so they can better guarantee relevance for user searches. It also allows eBay to guide users to your listings in different ways, enabling different kinds of customer journeys to your products.

eBay’s New Browsing Flows

eBay has introduced a number of new routes, beyond the traditional listing-based architecture, to make product displays more relevant and personalised for customers. These new browsing flows mean that eBay’s inventory is accessible via a variety of avenues that are both personalised and curated.

ISBN Code - ListSmart

To allow this process to be automated, eBay requires the identification of products through simple denominators so as to allow inclusion in the various browsing flows. One way of doing this is through the provision of a standardised identification number such as a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), European Article Number (EAN), Universal Product Code (UPC), Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) or an International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) for books as an item specific.

Furthermore, eBay will accept non-standardised product identifiers that include Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASIN), Google Product Identifiers and Private Label Product Identifiers (seller-generated product identifiers), recognising the impossibility of always supplying the standardised format.

Lastly, eBay allows for Brand, Size and Colour to act as a unique product identifier in categories such as Clothes or Shoes.

Featured Collections - ListSmart

Looking at examples in practice, Featured Collections on my personal eBay account include such pages as Done and Dusted, Gifts for Furry Friends, Great Deals on Big Brands, All Hands on Tech and Curve Fashion.

“Without the provisioning of clear and accurate product identifiers, a listing will simply not be a part of these browsing pages and lose valuable air-time in this structured data approach”

This content is curated and personalised, based on popular searches across eBay’s user base and my own previous searches. Making products clearly identifiable, using the correct product identifiers, makes it easier for eBay to match them up and include them in these new browsing flows. Without the provisioning of clear and accurate product identifiers, a listing will simply not be a part of these browsing pages and lose valuable air-time in this structured data approach.

Curated & Personalised Content - ListSmart

Google Product Search

Part of the reason for these new browsing flows eBay has created is also to provide context for people arriving on eBay via Google searches.

To land a potential place in the Google Product Search results, Google has to also be able to match your product to the search with a degree of certainty. This is done using the standardised product identifiers used in your item specifics as mentioned above.

Inclusion in this opportunity for discovery is, therefore, tied to including valid product identifiers that Google can pick up on and verify.

eBay recommends listing an item using the information provided via the new eBay catalogue-upload feature when possible. This ensures the product listing is automatically structured correctly for Google Product Search optimisation and will also generate customised eBay Product Identifiers (ePIDs).

Persistent Product Pages

In a bid to further increase product discoverability, eBay has also created persistent product pages, displaying multiple offers of the same or similar product using corresponding product identifiers to isolate these.

Structured data empowers an improved shopping experience for buyers by increasing the ease at which buyers can find items, and delivering the information they need to make a purchase decision.

How does this work?

Imagine you are looking for a new mobile phone. You know you want to purchase the newest iPhone 7. You click on the Shop by category tab on the eBay homepage and select the Mobile Phones category.

You will see a number of brands and phone type options. These are the so-called Persistent Product Pages that allow you to click straight through to the Apple iPhone 7 option and further refine filtering by Storage Capacity, Price Deals, Bestselling, Top Picks and so on. This allows for further filtering in turn as to whether it ought to be a Brand New or Pre-Owned iPhone 7.

According to eBay these persistent product pages have higher sell-through rates than Best Match search results. To make sure you make it into these, include important product details such as Brand, Model, MPN, Network, Lock Status, Storage Capacity, Colour in your item specifics.

"38 of a total 837 iPhone 7 listings do not specify a colour at all"

Refined Search

While the inclusion of product identifiers are increasingly being mandated in specific categories to increase discoverability, make sure that these correctly identify your product to allow inclusion in the various browsing flows.

Yet, whatever way shoppers navigate to and through eBay, one way to narrow down searches in all scenarios is by refining the product search using the various filters provided in the left hand column.

Refining by product condition might be the most popular purchasing criteria, but there are also many subtler category-specific item specifics eBay encourages sellers to include.

eBay requires sellers to include a minimum number of item specifics, the exact number of which will depend on the product category. This may sound daunting but more often than not, eBay will have picked up and auto-filled item specifics included in your title. This will not necessarily guarantee a place in filtered searches, however, because eBay only allows item filtering using their choice of pre-defined values.

Search: Apple iPhone 7 - ListSmart

For example, a search for “Apple iPhone 7” can be further refined by various Features including Colour and Screen Size. To work with eBay filtering, the values you choose for these item specifics must match those defined by eBay for that product type.

So, an iPhone 7’s Colour has to be defined as Rose Gold, Pink, Black, Silver, Gold, White or Grey to be successfully streamed into eBay’s filtered searches. In this particular instance, 38 of a total 837 iPhone 7 listings do not specify a colour at all, making them less discoverable than competing listings.

Read more about item specifics, including what our research shows to be the top 5 most important item specifics for improving discoverability. By taking a look at our previous article where we dive deeper into the item specific data and highlight the item specifics you ought to include at all times. This is particularly important when thinking about mobile devices that display significantly fewer item specifics to filter by than eBay on desktop.

How important are eBay’s filter values

Filter Values - ListSmart

One question we frequently hear asked is:
What do I do if eBay’s filter values do not allow me to accurately describe my product?

For example, what do you do if you are selling a Red and Blue Gingham Patterned Scarf from your own brand called FashionX in the Women’s scarf category? Listing this item on eBay requires you to define its EAN and Brand without choice. You do not have an EAN number so you select Does Not Apply.

Scrolling through the brand list supplied by eBay, you have no choice but to select Unbranded or enter your own label FashionX, which is not in fact a filter value that people can use to refine their Brand search by. While Unbranded may not feel representative of the fact that you are building your own clothing line, it may provide you with traffic when people are selecting this filter to search for independent labels like your own.

To be honest, there is no right or wrong answer. Our optimisation app, ListSmart, always flags listings that have values that do not correspond to eBay’s filter values. However, we merely point this out as a suggestion to change the value (food for thought) or correct any misspellings of recognised brands. But the choice is entirely yours and our recommendation would have to be case specific.

Selecting colour and pattern may be more straightforward. Your scarf may be more red than it is blue but we advise you to at least select one of the two colours as your Main Colour or select Multi to ensure it does not drop out of refined search results. You can add an item specific called Exact Colour to then provide further details. What you should not do is leave this field Unspecified as you will then just become one of almost 70k unfiltered listings.

Now, to defining your Pattern. eBay does not give you the choice of “Gingham”, so make sure to select the closest value you can, such as Geometric or Striped. Remember, you can always be more specific by adding your own Exact Pattern item specific.

Wherever possible, we advise customers to use eBay’s list of values, even if these do not seem 100% fitting, as further refined definitions can be included in additional item specifics or the product description. We also advise including as many of the pre-written item specifics as possible. You can always add your own item specific if you wish to go into more detail.

Add Item Specifics - ListSmart

Best Match Search Results

And why not go into more detail? In fact, there seems to be little disincentive, other than time and effort, to not include as much detail about your listing as you can in your item specifics, as long as this is not overwhelming. The amount of detail that can be included under item specifics is potentially infinite.

eBay advises that adding item specifics, especially the recommended ones, results in an increase in bids and sales per listing. Adding details that few or none of your competitors are using may give your listing a certain edge and push you up Best Match search results. This is because eBay tends to favour listings with more detailed item specifics and will also pick up on it when buyers include such detail in their search bar browse.

So, if a user carries out a search using a specific term, and that term is not in your listing title, but is in your item specifics, eBay is much more likely to display your listing. This has the potential to boost your discoverability and put you ahead of your competition.

To beat the Best Match search competition, we advise not only using the essential item specifics but also adding some individual item specifics as well as those used by your top selling competitors (if relevant).

For example, in the Vehicle and Motorcycle Parts categories, supplying extra Manufacturing Part Numbers (MPNs) is popular amongst top sellers. So to make your listing compete, take a browse around your category’s top selling listings and see what you can learn.

How to nail the essentials of item specifics

Looking for more specific help with your item specifics? ListSmart can show you how to optimise every aspect of your listings, including item specifics, to help you match and out-compete the top sellers in your category. Sign up and try it today!

Updated: 19th January 2017

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