eBay’s Gold Standard: Item Specifics

No primary category set

ListSmartAltViz recently announced ListSmart, which currently in private beta, to help sellers optimise their listings. Their aim is to uncover the ‘Gold Standard’ secret sauce of eBay listings. Using their ListSmart engine, AltViz have mined the data of over 15 million eBay listings and 5,000 sellers to quantify the performance impact of listing aspects.

In their first article they looked at listing content and features and the second instalment examined images.

Today ListSmart turn their focus to Item Specifics.

The Specifics of Item Specifics

eBay Item Specifics are the structured attributes displayed under the images and pricing information on a listing. They play a key role in the visibility of your items both on eBay and on external search engines.

Item Specifics are used for search ranking, and they are also used as navigation filters in each category. Our theory 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 Analysis

The scope of the 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)

ListSmart 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 GTIN or product identifier values were excluded when identifying the Top 5 Item Specifics. At this point, all listings should contain EAN, UPC, MPN, Brand, and/or ISBN.

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 number 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.

Type Item Specific Example

Let’s say we’re shopping for a laptop. An Ultrabook, to be exact. There are over 70k listings in Laptops and Netbooks. The first thing a buyer is likely to do is filter those results so that they don’t have to sift through non-Ultrabooks.

From 70,837 listings that one filter cuts search results down to 1,920 at the click of a button. There are undoubtedly several Ultrabooks in the 68,917 listings 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.

Pro Tip

NB If you don’t use an eBay pre-defined value your listing will be categorised as “Not Specified”.

eBay Item Specific Laptop Type

Style Item Specific Example

“Style” is similar in importance – especially in categories where Type and is the 2nd most commonly found attribute among top selling listings in Clothes, Shoes and Accessories – “Main Colour” is first.

When searching for a pair of women’s ankle boots you’ll find over 1 million listings in the Women’s Boots category. Selecting “Ankle Boots” from the “Style” filter gives 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 eBay pre-definded options for “Style”.

Filter out boots with heels and there are 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”.

eBay Shoes Item Specifics

Item Specifics the top 2% performing listings use

Here’s the full list of categories with the Top 3 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. If you pop over to the ListSmart blog they have the Top 5 most commonly found Item Specifics for the selling 2% of eBay listings.

ItemSpesifics-Categories-TopSellers-01 (2)

How ListSmart can help

Here at Tamebay we’re only to aware how hard it is to keep on top of Item Specifics and ensure that they’re always correct and up to date. It doesn’t help when eBay have category updates which will automatically result in moved listings needing Item Specifics to be amended or added.

It can always be done manually, or the ListSmart recommendation engine can help identify which Item Specifics are missing from your listings, as well as which ones don’t match eBay’s predefined filter values. It also makes it easy to select from eBay’s list of predefined Item Specific values for each category.


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