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What are Product Identifiers and why do eBay want them?

By Chris Dawson April 29, 2015 - 10:30 am

Bar CodeWhen eBay ask sellers to change their behaviour on the site there’s normally a pretty good reason behind it, although from a seller’s perspective it’s often a real pain to implement. That being the case, why are eBay asking for product identifiers on new and manufacture refurbished items.

eBay have long wanted to move to a more catalogue based selling environment. This helps on many levels from being able to accurately return products in search results for buyers to adding product reviews and getting your items found on search engines.

Google, being the default search engine across much of the UK is the one we’ll take a look at, although other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo require very similar data. Google provide a comprehensive list of requirements in the Google Products Feed Specification and this gives us an insight into why eBay ask for so many attributes (Item Specifics) when listing products.

Product Identifiers

It’s often thought that the product identifier is the bar code. In reality the bar code is just a machine readable format of the identifier. There are three key product identifiers which Google requires and so eBay will ask for:

  • Brand
  • Manufacturer Part Number (MPN)
  • Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). GTINs can include:
    • Universal Product Code (UPC)
    • European Article Number (EAN)
    • Japanese Article Number (JAN)
    • International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Before anyone asks… No, you can’t use an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) as an MPN or GTIN, ASINs are unique internal codes assigned by Amazon and unique to their marketplace, although normally they’re linked to a GTIN.

Benefits of Product Identifiers

According to eBay using product identifiers will give you:

Better exposure

Generally speaking, sellers who add product identifiers to their listings will have better placement in Best Match, merchandising opportunities on eBay, and higher ranking in search results from search engines.

Faster listing time

When you use a product identifier for an item in the eBay catalogue, you’ll get high-quality data automatically prefilled onto your listing.

Product reviews

If your item is listed in the eBay catalogue and has product reviews associated with it, the reviews will appear on your listing.

Solid pricing advice

You’ll be eligible for more accurate pricing guidance to help make your listings more competitive.

Trending price alert on view item

Listings with product identifiers will include a trending price alert when they are priced below the trending price.

What help do you need

We’d like to know what help or advice you need to fulfil eBay’s product identifier requirements. Are your products already supplied with MPNs and GTINs and all you need do is edit listings or add them when listing new products to the site? Or do you have products which don’t already have MPNs and GTINs?

Are you already familiar with how to obtain GTINs if you manufacture or import your own products, or are you wondering how to get started? Let us know in comments below.

  • 2 years ago

    Ebay are going to have to make changes to the way MVL are constructed, because at the moment they only allow the input of a single EAN for the parent product, Will they get it right ?

  • derek duval
    2 years ago

    I sell unbranded shirts from a one man back street shop house in asia where do i get this unique identify code from

  • 2 years ago

    I have products made for me – do I need to have these codes?

  • Martin
    2 years ago

    The concept is simple – BUT

    Where do we enter this data? I have just looked at some listings in Toys and Games/Diecasts and Vehicles and the only space available is for a MPN and Brand in item specifics – the drop down brand list is never complete or up to date.

    There is no place for a GTIN (according to ebay this is a category where they want GTINs)

    Ebay tried to introduce this in the past, and it would not accept most of the GTINs entered. You could enter them, save, go back to the listing and the GTIN had disappeared. This happened regularly.

    So the first requirement is some clear instruction, and a guarantee from ebay it will work and is worth the effort to add data.

    Secondly some clear guidance on how to handle the following :

    1. Manufacturers who use the same GTIN for all or a wide range of products (there are a number of big Chinese manufacturers who do this). It seems to me with such a broad offering the GTIN offers no value.
    2. What to do with products with no GTINs – typical products come from magazine partwork surplus which is sold through the trade which have no identification, MPN or anything; also products from very small scale or cottage industries who still do not barcode their products and only have a cursory 4 digit (for example) MPN

  • bernie
    2 years ago

    i have been adding ean numbers to my listings for 2 years,
    they have not helped me with more sales,
    infact i have gone the same way as many other sellers,
    less to no sales at all.
    also when i search for a item, i use a title not a ean number,
    in ebays eyes, how is that using a ean number going to improve my experience.
    when i do not now it to start with.

  • RedInkDiary
    2 years ago

    On Amazon there is a real problem with sellers who ‘borrow’ numbers from another unrelated product, which gets accepted into the database and then becomes unchangeable.

    In the seasonal categories, numbers are recycled by manufacturers so your Santa Riding a Reindeer may well have an identical identifier to last year’s Easter Bunny Doing Unspeakable Things With Eggs.

    • Gerry007
      2 years ago

      .
      Easter eggs at Christmas…..yummmmyyy!!,

  • Al Gerrie
    2 years ago

    The only reliable source for GTIN’s is GS1 – https://www.gs1uk.org/get-a-barcode/for-selling-online

  • Rob
    2 years ago

    I by return and ex display stock from high street retailers, what affect will this have on me as I am not allowed to use the store name branding when listing products?

    • 2 years ago

      I guess if you’re not allowed to use the store name branding then the product should be sold as unbranded… in which case you’ll need your own branding or generic product identifiers if the store rebranded them in the first place.

      Chances are that you’re referring to clothing which may not have had product identifiers in the first place.

      Are you selling in one of the affected categories?

  • “When you use a product identifier for an item in the eBay catalogue, you’ll get high-quality data automatically prefilled onto your listing.”

    Oh how we laugh here. “High quality”? I’d hardly call the current “pre-filled” data high quality, much of it is sorely lacking in detail and/or any actual information.

  • anony mouse
    2 years ago

    The communications need to be much clearer on this. I sell handmade items, I am not a huge conglomerate, introducing something like this will in sum, crush my fledgling business, the expense involved is unreal. unless ebay plan to introduce some kind of app or software to accompany their requirements…?

  • didem
    2 years ago

    Some of my products (towels in particular) have no barcodes and they are Unbranded. However, I know that some other ebay sellers are selling the same product.
    If we use different barcodes that we purchased for these items how this is going to help the customer?

    I am really unclear how we need to implement this.

    More advice needed to clarify this.

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