EBay Moves Toward Structured Data — And Why It Matters

January 5, 2016

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor


When eBay and PayPal famously parted company last year, many predicted the journey ahead would be tough for the online marketplace. Last quarter’s results, however, reveal that eBay is actually doing pretty well on its own, with revenues up from $2.275 billion to $2.325 billion and active buyers also slightly up from 157 million to 159 million from the previous quarter.  

EBay’s Future Success Rests on More Structured Data

As eBay officials recognize, organic search through search engines plays a vital role in driving traffic, especially when it comes to bringing new users to the site. However, eBay’s product listings haven’t traditionally been consistently structured for retailers, making it difficult for search engines such as Google and Bing to index eBay inventory.

That’s why, in a bid to stay competitive with the likes of Amazon, eBay is making an effort to gather more structured data on its listings.

The main benefits of more structured data:

  • Increased exposure for items in wider organic searches
  • Users will be able to perform more precise searches, making it easier for them to find items on the site

What Does This Mean For You?

EBay is asking sellers to increase the accuracy and detail of their listing information by filling in all required item specifics. Using product identifiers in listings has also now become compulsory for many sellers.

Time to Revisit Your EBay Strategy?

Despite eBay’s push, many sellers are still failing to address the platform’s requirements around more structured data. In China, sellers tend to be more listing-centric and focused on selling across multiple accounts. So it’s time for Chinese merchants in particular to take heed of eBay’s requirements, both to get maximum exposure for their products and to avoid getting their listings suppressed altogether.

To increase the effectiveness of your listings, there are two main elements to focus on:

  • Item specifics

Fill out all item specifics in as much detail as possible so your items get filtered into the right eBay categories. Shoppers search through the left-hand filters, so if you leave these fields empty, they’ll miss your items altogether. Adding item specifics also gives the shopper more details about your products, enabling them to make a more informed decision on whether to purchase.

  • Product identifiers

Sellers of new or manufacturer-refurbished products must now include product identifiers to complete listings in certain categories. Include the brand, manufacturer part number (MPN) and global trade numbers (GTINs). These include Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and international standard book numbers (ISBNs). These will increase visibility in eBay search results, including deals and promotions, as well as improve your placement on search engines like Google.

In addition to the above benefits, adding identifiers will give you:

  • The ability to match your item with a product from the more robust eBay catalog
  • More accurate pricing guidance when you list your items
  • Trending price alerts — when your listings are priced lower than the trending price

EBay suggests adding identifiers even if they’re not yet required for your category — doing so will earn you an early competitive edge.

To check which of your listings you need to update, go to your Seller Hub in eBay, select all your active listings and click “edit”. Find out more here.

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Blog post by James Huang, managing director for China, ChannelAdvisor