How to optimise your eBay listings for mobile buyers

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eBay Mobile featWe’ve known for some time that mobile commerce is vital for eBay with a reported 52% of sales volume being touched by mobile.

It’s clearly no coincidence that eBay is currently testing hidden descriptions on desktops. It fits into a strategy that is increasingly putting mobile first.

So, as a seller, what should you be doing to make sure your descriptions are best optimised for mobile shoppers? Here are some ideas:

Pictures perfect
Shopping on eBay using a mobile is a visual experience and that makes the images you include in your listings even more important than ever. Use the eBay system to upload images rather than embed them in your description, in the first instance.

Where possible, use multiple images (You can add up to 12 for free). With your best lines it’s well worth investing in tip-top images if you’re going to use them a lot. Keep the attention of the snaps on the product and crop tightly.

Clear, zoomable images are the aim. And don’t forget eBay’s picture standards on size and no borders or other crud. (And whilst it’s frustrating that eBay is only half-heartedly implementing these rules, that doesn’t mean following them isn’t best practice.)

No HTML in the description
We think the age of fancy backgrounds, slideshows and the like is over. Check out how it all looks on a mobile and you’ll see why: it’s a mess on a small screen. We also wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Best Match penalty for such descriptions. Go back to basics and just use black text on a plain background. (And if you must add a fancy HTML design, use one that’s responsive. They are available.)

Only relevant text in the description
There’s a lot of advice bandied about regarding the optimal length for your eBay written Item Description (80 words? 200 words?). But we’ve never been persuaded and if anyone has definitive evidence that word count really matters, please do share it. By all means repeat the title in the description but otherwise stick to factual, punchy bullet points describing the goods. There is no need to ramble on.

Everything in its place
Don’t clog up your description with stuff that has a home elsewhere. Things like returns and postage can be expressed elsewhere in dedicated fields. It may make you feel better to reiterate things in your blurb but remember than noone ever read your screeds anyway.

Use the catalogues and product identifiers
eBay is increasingly moving to an Amazon-style model of using product identifiers and other catalogue details to help buyers find goods. The system isn’t perfect but use them where you can to aid findability.

And check out your listings on mobile devices
Take some time to get to know the eBay buying app so you have some notion of how people are using it to buy and view your listings. You might never buy on your mobile but it is now increasingly the norm so dismissing it as a passing fad is an eccentric notion these days.

So, not only try and have at look at key listings on other people’s phones when you get a chance but also use tools like that simulates the behaviour of mobile phones so you can see what users see on your own machine.

What other advice do you have for sellers trying to maximise mobile sales?

16 Responses

  1. Sizes in item specifics, not only can customers clearly see this but if they leave negative feedback due to the size or anything else you have in item specifics ebay will remove the feedback.

  2. HTML does work in mobile view. Complicated HTML with lots of flash and embedded images or scripts is a real problem, but all web browsers and email clients use HTML to render the display. In regards to detailed description sometimes you need to spell things out. We sell refurbished mobile phones which come with warranties and need detailed descriptions of the condition, features, etc. ebay want this because they refer back to it in case of any dispute (for example we currently have a customer claiming we offered a 24 month warranty – which is not quite accurate).

  3. HTML can work well on ebay listing.

    I use alittle HTML and have just checked a few of my listing on the Google “Mobile-Friendly Test” they all pass the test just fine.

  4. Yes that is strange on my mobile with the same listing the text is at least twice the size of the screenshots you sent me and everything fits on the screen just fine.

    I’m browsing via firefox on my android phone, so I’m not sure what is happening. I guess different devices and browsers read it differently…

  5. Yes that is abit shocking and quite concerning…

    However my screen is fairly small on my mobile and using the ebay app all I do is turn the screen horizontal and it fit’s fairly well, maybe a little pinching is required.

    So do we really have to change all our listing to suit mobile phones? I mean the listing look great on a large desktop monitor. I think we need a balance and not too much focus on mobiles all the time.

    I much prefer using my large desktop monitor to browse ebay anyway and have made all of my purchases via my desktop, you get a much better idea of the item by viewing it on a large PC monitor in my opinion.

    Best Regards

  6. eBay say that we’ll over 60% of sales are touched by mobile…. do you cater for the 60% on mobile or the (shrinking) 40% who still use a desktop?

    Have to say personally I almost always buy on the eBay mobile app these days.

  7. millions on trains buses taxis airports stations pubs cafes restaurants , idling away time on ebay
    you would be daft not to cater for mobile

  8. I tried using a responsive HTML design on my listings, and while it looked fine and appeared to work when I first tested it, i noticed that on mobile ebay site it would occasionally not work. I think it depends if they serve up the description in an iframe or not. If they do, then the width of the iframe is taken as the viewport width for the css, and it is no longer responsive.


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