Sellers are ignoring eBay’s Product Identifier requirements

We all know that ticking all the boxes on your eBay listing template and filling in Item Specifics and Product Identifiers is tedious. It takes time, it’s sometimes a pain to find the relevant information. When you’ve got hundreds (or thousands) of listings to complete it’s going to become tiresome.

Still however we also know that if eBay is to grow and prosper we need to do the donkey work, especially if it’s our own listings we want to attract the sales.

I’ve been looking at light switches and electrical sockets and whilst it’s in some ways understandable sellers aren’t getting every last bit of structured data correct, it’s dismaying to see just how appalling the situation is.

Having checked dozens of listings I’m only going to highlight the first three that I looked at for a basic MK Electric light switch. It’s typical of the endemic failure of sellers to complete the structured data across a whole raft of products and this would be a very long article if I detailed all the listings I looked at. Trust me, the first three were pretty typical of the others though.

I’m going to start with a great example of a listing. The title has the part number, manufacture and is descriptive enough for me to know I’m about to buy 5 MK K4871WHI Light Switches. The product data confirms they are manufactured by MK, that they are the K4871 part and has the EAN 5017490243188. The seller has completed what should be the basic requirements.

MK Listing with Product Identifiers

The next listing I looked at is a car crash as far as product identifiers go. It may be laziness, it may be too much workload to get hundreds of listings completed with product identifiers included, it may be an old listing hurriedly edited to meet eBay’s new requirements. Either way it has the brand “MK” in the title but specifies the product as “Unbranded” and has the Manufacturer’s Part Number (MPN) specified as “K4871WHI” in the title but specifies the MPN as “Does Not Apply”.

MK Listing without Product Identifiers

The third listing was even worse, although I didn’t think that could be possible. Unbranded (MK in the title), MPN Does Not Apply (K4871WHI in the title) and the seller specified both the GTIN and EAN as Does Not Apply.

MK Listing without Product Identifiers 2

What makes this listing the worst of the three in my opinion is that within the description the seller has added “Manufacturer: MK (ELECTRIC)” and “Manufacturer Part No: K4871WHI”.

It’s worth noting that MK are not some virtually unknown manufacturer – MK invented the modern light switch and a safety socket with a three-pin shutter system and if you have a look at the plug sockets in your home and the chances are that you’ll have an MK switch or plug socket. MK will have part numbers and EANs for everything, it’s just that sellers aren’t entering them on eBay.

This is an interesting situation. eBay have requested sellers enter product identifiers but it seems many sellers simply aren’t, or if it’s mandatory they’re simply added Does Not Apply as a short term stop gap. What eBay will do remains to be seen – will they live with the current situation or will they impose more stringent controls.

Perhaps it’s time for eBay to start scanning listings for manufacturers who they know have GTINs in place and enforcing compliance?