If you sell on eBay, then you will have most likely already seen the announcement about the newly introduced Product Identifiers.
If you haven’t come across the announcement or just skimmed over it, product identifiers, such as an item’s brand name, the manufacturer part number (MPN), and the global trade item numbers (GTINs) will be a requirement for certain products and listings, starting from the 29th June, 2015.
Why Are Product Identifiers Being Introduced?
eBay have been fairly open about why they are introducing these requirements, and that is to make their product catalogue more easily accessible by search. Not only will using these product identifiers increase your listing’s visibility within eBay’s own search results, it also makes it a lot easier for eBay listings to rank highly on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
When creating a listing, under the MPN section, eBay specifically say “enter the manufacturer’s part number to optimise your listings for internet search engines”. And really that’s what I think the main point of this change is for eBay, to make it easier for eBay’s product catalogue to rank highly on Google.
What Exactly Are Product Identifiers?
Now that we know why eBay have introduced mandatory product identifiers, I want to cover exactly what they are, as I’m seeing a bit of confusion about this in a lot of the emails sent to me over the last week.
Basically, product identifiers include:
- The brand name of an item
- The manufacturer part number (MPN)
- Global trade item numbers (GTINs) – such as:
- Universal Product Codes (UPCs)
- International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)
- European Article Numbers (EANs)
To put it simply, these are just unique identifiers/numbers that are used to categorise most new, branded products.
Take the ISBN number for example. If you’ve ever sold a book you’ll know that each one has a unique number specific to that edition and variation (hardcover/paperback etc.). Therefore, with just the 13 digit ISBN, the specific book can be identified.
And all product identifiers are as simple as that really…
What Products Do These Requirements Apply To?
Judging from the emails I’ve received and the posts on various eBay forums online, this is the question that people are most confused about. But really, for once, eBay have been fairly clear with their requirements and who it applies to.
They specifically state in their help pages that from June 29th, product identifiers will be compulsory for “branded items in new condition” in certain categories, which are:
- Business and Industrial
- Cameras & Photo
- Cell Phones and Accessories
- Clothing, Shoes and Accessories (only applies to Shoes)
- Computers / Tablets & Networking
- Consumer Electronics
- DVDs & Movies
- eBay Motors
- Health & Beauty
- Home & Garden (only applies to Tools and Appliances)
- Musical Instruments & Gear
- Pet Supplies
- Sporting Goods
- Toys and Hobbies
- Video Games and Consoles
So if you sell new and branded items in one of the above categories, then you need to include product identifiers in your listings.
If however you sell used or vintage or one-off or custom made or unbranded items, then you DON’T need to include product identifiers in your listings.
I hope this point is clear, as I know a lot of Easy Auction Business customers were very worried about how to include identifiers and brand info for unbranded items sourced from China. Well the answer is you don’t have to, so there is nothing to worry about! 😉
Just a quick note about new vs used – manufacturer refurbished items DO require the item’s brand, MPN, and GTIN in their listings.
But How Do I Find My Item’s Unique Product Identifiers?
Again, this is something that people seem to be fretting about for no good reason, as it is incredibly simple and easy to find the needed identifiers for a branded item, as they’re all included on the packaging! But to make sure you don’t have any trouble whatsoever, let’s go through the Global Trade Item Numbers, one by one.
UPCs are found below the barcode of an item, often with one digit to the left and one digit to the right. There are 12 digits in total for a UPC.
Next is the EAN, which is a 13 digit number also found below a barcode. The easiest way to differentiate the EAN and UPC is by the number of digits, as EANs have 13 whereas UPCs have 12.
Then lastly we have the ISBN, which is the easiest to find, located above the barcode, as well as within the first few pages of a book.
And that’s all there is to it. Very simple, right? If you’ve ever used one of those online trade-in companies where you sell your books, DVDs, games, and electronics in bulk, then you’ll know how easy it is to use UPC to identify products.
And for many eBay sellers, this will all be second nature anyway, as you may have already been using items’ barcodes in your own warehousing set-up. If however you are having trouble with this, then there are two fool-proof methods for getting all this info pre-filled, which I will share with you now.
One is by finding the item in eBay’s product catalogue, and then listing it using the existing product details, which includes the UPCs:
But as eBay’s product catalogue search can sometimes be glitchy and not find the right item, another method is to just search for your item as if you’re looking to buy it, and then when you find the right one, click the “sell it yourself” link.
For example, if I have a Blu-ray of The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey to sell, I simply search for it and then click on a listing, and from there select “sell it yourself”, which will take me to create a listing with all the product identifiers pre-filled for me!
When Will These Changes Affect Me?
Now you know what product identifiers are, why they’re being introduced, and how to find and add them to your listings, and there is one last thing I want to cover – when will these changes affect you?
From June 29th onwards, any new, single-item listings in the applicable categories will require product identifiers to go live.
For multi-SKU listing, with different variations available, this will only be mandatory from September 1st.
BUT, I would recommend adding this info as soon as you can.
There’s really no point in waiting until it’s mandatory, seeing as there are no real downsides to adding product identifiers, and if anything it might give you a competitive advantage. It wouldn’t be unheard of for eBay to boost the search rankings for listings that voluntarily include this info before they have to.
And that same advice applies to any existing listings you have as well. Though at the moment eBay are saying that product identifiers will only be compulsory for new listings from June 29th onwards, for the same reasons mentioned above, I’d still recommend you add them now.
It’s very easy to do, using eBay’s bulk listing and editing tool:
Overall I am very happy with the changes eBay are making here (and I don’t often say that!).
Working towards boosting the search rankings for eBay listings is a huge deal and can mean a lot more traffic and therefore sales!
Plus I also think this will have a big effect on future changes and features eBay might want to introduce, as having products in a more unified catalogue system will make all of that a lot easier.
Funnily enough, considering my recent blog post: Product Reviews on eBay, one specific area that this may have a big positive impact is product reviews. And eBay do actually allude to this themselves, which I was very excited to see!
“Sellers who use product identifiers make it easier for buyers to find what they’re looking for, both on and off eBay, as well as on mobile devices. Items which include product identifiers are eligible for inclusion in more deals and promotions, plus you’re well prepared for future enhancements, such as new product reviews.”
As always, if you have any questions or simply want to share your thoughts, please post below in the comments section and I’ll personally get back to you.
Otherwise, until next time!
All the best,