Diving Into the Data:
The Specifics of Item Specifics
This is the third 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 are 4 parts to the series:
In our previous posts, we have examined the details of eBay's Gold Standard for listings as well as optimal image counts for listings by category. This installment will reveal our findings from an analysis on over 8 million listings to determine which Item Specifics are most commonly found among best selling listings in each eBay category.
Item Specifics are the structured attributes displayed under the images and pricing information on a listing, and they play a key role in the visibility of your items. Item Specifics are used for search ranking, and they are also used as navigation filters in each category. Our theory (and that of our friends at Tamebay) is that not all Item Specifics have equal importance. eBay define which Item Specifics apply to each category, but sellers can create their own custom attributes as well (they just aren't used for search or filtering - only for display on the listing).
The scope of our study included the following:
- Top 2% of listings (by sales) in each category on eBay UK over a one month period
- Over 8 million total listings
- Single item listings (variations are excluded)
We then identified which Item Specifics were present on those best selling listings, and at what frequency. The result is a list of the Top 5 most commonly found Item Specifics on top selling listings by category.
It's important to note that we excluded GTIN or product identifier values when identifying the Top 5 Item Specifics. At this point, all listings should contain EAN, UPC, MPN, Brand, and/or ISBN. Those are table stakes. If your listings don't have product identifiers, you may want to stop reading now and go add those to your listings! Anyway, we figured it would be more valuable to get to the meat of Item Specifics by category.
If you take one thing away from this article, it should be that the Item Specific "Type" is king. Of the 29 categories we studied, "Type" was the #1 most common Item Specific among top selling listings in 19 of those categories. "Type" is in the Top 5 for 24 of the 29 categories. In most cases, "Type" is one of the top navigation filters, and it's essentially a way to more deeply categorise an item.
“From 70,837 listings down to 1,920 at the click of a button”
Let's say we're shopping for a laptop. An Ultrabook, to be exact. There are over 70k listings in Laptops and Netbooks - pretty overwhelming. The first thing I'd do is filter those results so that I don't have to sift through non-Ultrabooks. Boom. From 70,837 listings down to 1,920 at the click of a button. There are undoubtedly several Ultrabooks in the 68,917 listings that I filtered out, but they won't show because those sellers didn't have "Type" populated with a value that eBay understands (i.e. from their pre-defined list of values for "Type" in the Laptop category). In fact, there are 47,195 PC Laptop listings that do not specify the laptop type. As a seller, that screams opportunity. As a buyer, that's super frustrating.
"Style" is similar in importance - especially in categories where Type isn't as relevant (like Clothes, Shoes and Accessories). "Style" is the 2nd most commonly found attribute among top selling listings in Clothes, Shoes and Accessories - "Main Colour" is first.
Let's take another example and pretend we are shopping for a pair of women's ankle boots. I'm totally clumsy, so I need a pair with low heels. The Women's Boots category boasts over 1 million listings (and we thought 70k laptops was a lot!).
“The coolest ever ankle boots at the best price in the world could be in those 89,207 listings...but I guess we'll never know (sigh).”
First, we'll select "Ankle Boots" from the "Style" filter. That brings us to 366,718 listings from sellers that have provided that Item Specific value. There are 229,908 listings in Women's Boots that don't have "Style" populated or are using a value that doesn't match the 25 options for "Style" that are presented to buyers in the filter. Almost 1/3 of boots won't be visible for buyers looking for a specific type of boots! Shame. If we go on to filter out all those dangerous boots with heels, we get 18,852 listings for ankle boots with flat heels. Sadly, 89,207 of the 366,718 listings for ankle boots don't have valid values provided for the "Heel Height" Item Specific. The coolest ever ankle boots at the best price in the world could be in those 89,207 listings...but I guess we'll never know (sigh).
Here's the full list of categories with the Top 5 most commonly found Item Specifics among the top selling 2% of listings - as well as the percentage of the top selling listings that contain each Item Specific. Remember, product identifiers (EAN, UPC, MPN, ISBN and Brand) are excluded.
Click image for larger version
“list that little black dress as "Main Colour" = "Black" and "Exact Colour" = "Midnight Onyx"
A Few Things to Note
- "Country/Region of Manufacture" appears in the Top 5 for 6 categories. This field is required in other countries, so it's quite possible that it's so common because sellers already have this data. It is my opinion that you shouldn't drop everything to go populate "Country/Region of Manufacture" on all your listings and expect a massive uplift.
- "Main Colour" is the most common Item Specific in Clothes, Shoes and Accessories, and is in the Top 5 for 7 categories. It's important to provide one of eBay's predefined values for this if you want to show up in filtered navigation. If your item has a fancy colour name, use the "Exact Colour" for that. E.g. list that little black dress as "Main Colour" = "Black" and "Exact Colour" = "Midnight Onyx".
- Compatibility is important too, especially for laptop/mobile/tablet accessories and even musical instrument accessories. Fields like "Compatible Brand" and "To Fit" - and even "For Bike Type" will help ensure visibility when buyers filter for their specific needs.
Some common Questions regarding Item Specifics.
Q. My eBay item specifics aren’t working or available? A. eBay are constantly updating their category structure (category tree) as they try to better organise their massive inventory of listings. Sometimes a category you were in will disappear. Because ListSmart checks eBay daily, we can let you know when something big like this changes.
Q. Does eBay provide anything to help me lookup the relevant item specifics for my category? A. eBay provide an item specifics lookup tool which will provide you a full download of current item specifics relative to your product and also the eBay site/country that you list in.
Q. The item specific ‘EAN’. What is it, and where do I find it on eBay? A. This is a unique code for your product, like a barcode, or other identifying ID number (MPN, GTIN). eBay and other marketplaces are starting to make sellers provide this information when listing an item as it helps them to better understand what you are selling, and helps search engines like Google to better find your products.
A Helping Hand
Managing all of this listing data can be daunting, so we built ListSmart to help. We analyse your listings, compare them against your competition, and tell you how to tweak things to make them more competitive. Sign up now and see what ListSmart can do for your store.
Stay tuned for our next article to study the anatomy of an effective title.