Add Product Identifiers on eBay from today

No primary category set

From today product identifiers will be required on listings in specific categories with the aim of making it easier for buyers to quickly find what they’re looking for.

Product Identifiers include Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPN) and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN). GTINs include European Article Numbers (EAN) and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN).

Today this might appear like even more seemingly meaningless work just to comply with eBay’s requirements when listing. However in the future it should not only enable eBay to give better visibility and conversion by showing buyers the products they want, make it easier to give trust to buyers and enforce standards and ultimately better SEO and at the same time give inventory insights and tools to help sellers perform even better in the future.

The problems with eBay product identifiers

Item SpecificsI see multiple issues that eBay will have, even on something as basic as the “Brand” product identifier, let alone MPNs.

Take for example a product which practically every eBay seller will be using today – mailing bags. Searching for “Mail Lite” on eBay, a quick browse down the first page of listings demonstrates the issue.

When specified, sellers had variously entered the brand as ‘Mail Lite’, ‘Sealed Air’ and ‘Mail Lite by Sealed Air’ all of which are technically correct, although ‘SEALED AIR & PP Padded Envelopes’ is about the worst we saw. The problem is that Mail Lite is a brand of Sealed Air (the parent brand), not to mention mis-spellings such as MailLite which we’ve also seen. If sellers can’t even get the brand correct then eBay can’t match listings as being an identical product.

Whilst Brands aren’t particularly well entered on eBay, MPNs are even worse with sellers variously ignoring them, making up totally fictitious part numbers (e.g. ‘padded envelopes style bubble lined cd dvd’) and very occasional even getting them correct.

IBM Power SupplyThe problem becomes even worse for certain products – some items have multiple manufacturers part numbers! Take a standard IBM power supply – it has an MPN of 08K8206 and right next to it another MPN of 08K8207. Which part number should you enter on eBay and what if a buyer searches for the other equally valid MPN.

Worse still, IBM change the MPN of their power supply each time they make a small update – that means many (in some cases 100s of) power supplies which are almost identical will have the same part number. That’s why when you see some listings on eBay for power supplies they’ll have a list of 100s of compatible manufacture part numbers – it’s so that (hopefully) the buyer can find the part number that they’re looking for.

Naturally each part number will also have a unique GTIN so that won’t help either.

Whilst eBay’s aim to move towards catalogued products makes a lot of sense (think Amazon single product page), unless there’s some uniformity in brand names and MPNs enforcement it might end up being a lot of work for sellers with no real end benefit.

Dates you’ll need to include product identifiers on eBay

From today (29th June), you must include product identifiers for single item listings in affected categories to complete your listing. This applies whenever you manually relist, or revise certain fields within, existing eligible listings too.

Listing with product identifiers will become compulsory for multi variation listings from the 1st of September. Currently it’s only possible to add identifiers to the parent of a variation listing on eBay so by September they’ll need to add fields to enable GTINs etc for each individual variation.

27 Responses

  1. We implemented product identifiers when it was announced a few weeks ago (we already had to do this for Amazon, so was relatively easy to ‘turn on’ for eBay) and one issue we found was that eBay were matching / displaying incorrect information.

    For example, we sell a pub spirit measure with a really simple MPN like 1234, which is the same as a Lego set, so the item specifics showed the Lego brand and something like “Sunshine Family Set”
    We also submitted the barcode for the item as well, so you would think that the eBay database would be able to recognise that because the barcode doesn’t match the Lego set, so it shouldn’t display the Lego branding.

    I contacted eBay and they said they had a few reports of the same issue so to just remove the MPN we submitted and the eBay techies would work on it for when it rolled out properly.

    Has anyone else had the same issue? or has anyone found this is working properly now?

  2. with the aim of making it easier for buyers to quickly find what they’re looking for…

    It’s an interesting excercise to put a product indentifier into ebay search. I do hope the ebay Catalogue Team are not involved in this…

  3. Nothing on Turbo lister yet for multi variations, and if you try to put EAN in for single item, it fails more often than not.. Where is the supposed tool that was going to be made available early June to help us with these?

  4. I have checked lots of best match listings in the same categories I am selling in and the vast majority have no product identifiers.

    After speaking to eBay at length they state that from today only items with product identifiers will be listed on google shopping, thus meaning that hopefully listings with these will get the extra boost and should rise up best match and ones without should fall down best match. Apparently from September all GTC listings will need these so hopefully this will be a re-shuffling of the pack over the next couple of months.

  5. This opens up the door for future product reviews, which could be a blessing or a curse for many. As its hard to get customer to leave good reviews even when they are happy. When they are unhappy however, its another story.

  6. Even Amazon is far from perfect – even on books you get the identical item listed 3 or 4 times because the seller has set it up differently.

    Tamebay correctly identify the issues, but as another contributor says, put an EAN on TurboLister and very often it doesn’t show in the listing.

    And if Ebay truly want to help buyers find the item they are looking for it is easy – get rid of Best Match. It does more to screw up search results than any other single thing.

    Just a typical ebay poorly executed change.

  7. we started using GTINs years ago when bar-coding items for industrial sale

    MPNs suit some of our trade intermediaries (wholesalers/retailers)

    some of the items (small pack sizes) suit retail sale – so both MPNs and GTINs are readily available

    what i can’t see is the relevance of either of these to our retail end-user / customer – in the way in which the marketplaces describe

    i suspect its more to do with the marketplaces working out

    a) better comparison services for customers – as you say description standards on the listings are anything but consistent

    b) what is selling well and how they themselves can further benefit

  8. This has to be one of the most ill thought out rollouts by ebay. We sell a lot of Toner cartridges, both OEM and compatible units. We are having issues with the OEM cartridges where we have EANs for them specified, but ebay doesn’t recognise them. This seems to be an issue on the less common printer manufacturers.

    The vast majority of compatible toner cartridges don’t have EANs, and we source through multiple suppliers, so any manufacturer EANs would be irrelevant. It looks like we’ll have to go through GS1 to get our own EANs for them and be the ‘Manufacturer’

  9. This is just a typical poorly thought out, poorly implemented change.

    1. Ebay says you need 2 of 3 product identifiers. However, even if you have Brand and MPN as all my listings do, ebay won’t let you do a bulk relist of restocked items. It insists you put in “Does not apply” for the EAN, so in fact you need an entry in all 3 fields.

    2. However, don’t think you can use the bulk edit tool easily to do this. Ebay have introduced the change without bothering to update the bulk edit tool. So there is no option in Edit Fields to edit the EAN box. This is rubbish. Ebay should be ashamed of their total lack of professionalism, inability to get even the most obvious thing right. GET IT RIGHT FIRST TIME, EBAY! It is totally unacceptable for CS to have to tell me Ebay will have to change this. IT SHOULD’VE BEEN DONE BEFORE RELEASE OF THE CHANGE.

    3. Instead you have to open the display option to show the details of the individual listing, and laboriously put in an entry for every individual listing.

    4. Did it ever occur to ebay that lots of sellers don’t have their stock in their office or even close? If your stock is elsewhere just to edit any listing, you have to either opt out with “Does not apply” or go through the laborious process of retrieving the stock item or have the number sent to you.

    I’m disgusted

  10. All my items are unbranded, some we now make ourselves. There is no brand name let alone numbers. Anybody know if I just carry on as usual, or must I do something?

  11. is it only the widely recognised GTIN / ISBN / EAN etc numbers that need to be used

    or is it any manuafacturer numbers,

    eg i sell car brochures and similar occasionally, these obviously dont have isbn numbers etc, coz they arent really books, but they do have some sort of codes, that people do look for and i put in descriptions.

    eg ferrari brochure could be FER458/1, /2 /3 for the different editions etc, would i have to include these? or would i qualify for not needed? as they dont actually have an ISBN / GTIN etc code assigned.

    also similar items, such as other car memrobilia, they have some identifying codes, but these are specific to each maker and not universal, say a press pack or press photo for example.



  12. anyone else has these problems ? I list both on and ebay,
    1. EAN is valid on but not in UK
    2. EAN does not exist, how to list ?
    3. Same EAN for multiple products, I sell toys, 5 different barbies has the same EAN, the difference is the color of the clothes, what to do in this case ?

  13. We use a third party to list items onto ebay and yesterday, ebay was rejecting the listing due to no EAN, however today it has changed back to an ebay message saying that an EAN is missing but allowing the listing to be added.

    Have ebay backtracked on the implementation date for the time being?

    Category – Toys & Games


  14. We’re happy enough to play along with eBays wishes, we already have EANs that we use with Amazon so it would be easy to do a VLOOKUP in excel to add the EANs to all of our multi variaiton listings using File Exchange. Does anyone know how to go about this, would we just upload a spreadsheet with the item no. custom label and EAN columns? I can’t seem to find any info in the FE user guide for EANs. I assume that we are able to upload EANs for variants now?

    Thanks for any help.

  15. Turbo lister is saying that the EAN is missing even though I have input it on certain items. Its not recognising it at all

  16. I sell mainly used photography gear , made well before Eans etc …. but most of my ` new ` items , for example Cokin Filters have Eans that the ebay system just will not accept , however you input them using the ebay guide …… I`m wasting valuble listing time with this … and have another concern that I will have policy ` violations ` at some point down the line for listing these items without said Eans which it allows me to do if I ignore the flags .
    I agree with a previous post , they should drop ` best match ` so that when someone looks for an item …. that`s what appears in front of them , instead of a list of items that they are not looking for , 15 years on ebay and it still amazes me how difficult they seem to want to make it for us … and themselves ?

  17. As far as I know, this is much worse then we realise. I noticed by accident that none of my listings were showing up in Google search. Even if I typed in the exact title, it would come up with no matches. After speaking to eBay about this, they confirmed this was because my listings do not have EAN’s.

    I sell clothes/shoes/etc. I tested this with a pair of shoes and added the EAN. Checked on Google a couple of days later and it was not coming up on the front page of search.

    Now the problem is – over half our items don’t have EANS. eBay also confirmed to me that even if I click ‘does not apply’ it still wont be visible. Furthermore, we use Auctiva to list. And there is no EAN option at all for anything other than shoes. They are looking into this now for us. However, according to eBay’s information page, EANs are not required for clothing.

    So from this information, am I to understand that all of our clothing listings will no longer come up in google search ever again – only shoes that we have an EAN for? This cannot be true and I hope I have missed something here. Anyone with any idea???


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