Item Specifics on eBay: What Sellers Need to Know

Item specifics are becoming increasingly important on eBay, with more and more listing categories requiring their inclusion. This is undoubtedly due to eBay’s commitment to move towards product based shopping, a process that will apparently help buyers find items more quickly and easily.

This article will first clarify what item specifics are before concentrating on the growing importance of them and what this means for sellers. 

What are item specifics?

Put simply, item specifics are keywords that tell the buyer about the item. They help universally identify items that otherwise have different listing titles, descriptions and photographs. 

Item specifics include the brand and physical details about the item being sold, such as size, color, style, width, make and model. 

Item specifics vary depending between items. For example, item specifics for a dress would include basic information like color, size, condition and brand as well as more detailed information such as occasion, season, pattern, sleeve length, material, country of manufacture and more. 

How to find item specifics

Item specifics can be located in a few different places. First, use eBay’s Item Specifics Lookup Tool, to retrieve item specifics for each category selection.

To source the less obvious details of an item, check the item’s packaging or the supplier website. For inspiration of additional item specifics to include, try to think like a customer and consider what information they may want to know about the item. The eBay search bar and other similar item listings can be additional sources of inspiration. 

The importance of item specifics on eBay

eBay sellers should consider providing item specifics to be important for a number of different reasons. 

Increased visibility

For many sellers, this will be the number one reason to use item specifics. eBay openly states that complete and accurate item specifics have a ‘direct impact’ on a listing’s visibility in search results on eBay and also on external search engines. 

Starting in 2019, eBay requires listings in selected categories to provide item specifics that ‘matter most to buyers.’ The 2020 Spring Seller Update announced that more categories would have requirements for item specifics. New listings that do not use the required item specifics will not publish, reducing visibility completely. 

Filtered searches

Item specifics offer a way for buyers to filter search results to find exactly what they’re looking for.

For instance, someone looking for a blue dress can filter search results to include only items with the blue color item specific provided. Even if a dress is described as blue in the title, it will only appear on filtered search results if the blue color was provided as an item specific. 

In a listed example, eBay claims a 81% sales increase for dress listings with the ‘style’ and ‘dress length’ item specifics completed compared to those with this information missing.

Professional appearance

Item specifics are listed at the top of the listing description, in a standardized format. This offers a clean and professional look, making it easy for buyers to read an overview of the item. 

Return rate decrease

Item specifics help buyers to understand exactly what they are buying. This is incredibly important for categories that have many variables, such as electronics and fashion. The better the understanding, the more realistic the expectations of the buyer will be. With realistic expectations, return rates decrease. 

New item specifics requirements

It is clear that the importance of item specifics is being increasingly emphasized by eBay, with continued strong encouragement to complete item specifics. 

The switch from encouragement to ‘targeted guidance’ has been swift, with the introduction of item specific requirements for selected categories in 2019. 

A requirement was introduced in 2019, for example, to include item specifics for color, dress length and style for listings in the women’s dresses category (63861). 

From spring 2020, sellers will be required to use certain item specifics in the Electronics (see list for details) and additional item specifics within Home and Garden categories (see list here). 

Implementation of new item specifics requirements

Item specific requirements apply to all new and revised listings. The roll out of these new requirements is category by category and sellers will receive ‘prompts’ on Seller Hub to update their listings if needed. 

There will also be a new tasks feature and quick filter in Seller Hub to help sellers quickly find and update listings with required item specifics. Alternatively, the third party tool Optiseller can be used to help identify listings with missing Item specifics. 

New listings that do not use the required item specifics will not be published. Revised listings without required item specifics may not show up in buyers’ filtered search results.

Based on eBay’s emphasis on item specifics, sellers should be prepared for further requirements in the future. 

Experienced sellers, what do you think about eBay requiring item specifics within selected listing categories? Is it a hindrance or a help?

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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