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How to optimise your eBay listings for mobile buyers

By Dan Wilson July 14, 2015 - 1:12 am

eBay Mobile featWe’ve known for some time that mobile commerce is vital for eBay with a reported 52% of sales volume being touched by mobile.

It’s clearly no coincidence that eBay is currently testing hidden descriptions on desktops. It fits into a strategy that is increasingly putting mobile first.

So, as a seller, what should you be doing to make sure your descriptions are best optimised for mobile shoppers? Here are some ideas:

Pictures perfect
Shopping on eBay using a mobile is a visual experience and that makes the images you include in your listings even more important than ever. Use the eBay system to upload images rather than embed them in your description, in the first instance.

Where possible, use multiple images (You can add up to 12 for free). With your best lines it’s well worth investing in tip-top images if you’re going to use them a lot. Keep the attention of the snaps on the product and crop tightly.

Clear, zoomable images are the aim. And don’t forget eBay’s picture standards on size and no borders or other crud. (And whilst it’s frustrating that eBay is only half-heartedly implementing these rules, that doesn’t mean following them isn’t best practice.)

No HTML in the description
We think the age of fancy backgrounds, slideshows and the like is over. Check out how it all looks on a mobile and you’ll see why: it’s a mess on a small screen. We also wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Best Match penalty for such descriptions. Go back to basics and just use black text on a plain background. (And if you must add a fancy HTML design, use one that’s responsive. They are available.)

Only relevant text in the description
There’s a lot of advice bandied about regarding the optimal length for your eBay written Item Description (80 words? 200 words?). But we’ve never been persuaded and if anyone has definitive evidence that word count really matters, please do share it. By all means repeat the title in the description but otherwise stick to factual, punchy bullet points describing the goods. There is no need to ramble on.

Everything in its place
Don’t clog up your description with stuff that has a home elsewhere. Things like returns and postage can be expressed elsewhere in dedicated fields. It may make you feel better to reiterate things in your blurb but remember than noone ever read your screeds anyway.

Use the catalogues and product identifiers
eBay is increasingly moving to an Amazon-style model of using product identifiers and other catalogue details to help buyers find goods. The system isn’t perfect but use them where you can to aid findability.

And check out your listings on mobile devices
Take some time to get to know the eBay buying app so you have some notion of how people are using it to buy and view your listings. You might never buy on your mobile but it is now increasingly the norm so dismissing it as a passing fad is an eccentric notion these days.

So, not only try and have at look at key listings on other people’s phones when you get a chance but also use tools like https://developer.chrome.com/devtools/docs/device-mode that simulates the behaviour of mobile phones so you can see what users see on your own machine.

What other advice do you have for sellers trying to maximise mobile sales?

  • Stuart
    2 years ago

    Sizes in item specifics, not only can customers clearly see this but if they leave negative feedback due to the size or anything else you have in item specifics ebay will remove the feedback.

    • 2 years ago

      I’d emphasise on item specifics. I am surprised quite a lot of retailers are not filling the listing form. It does take time but missing this means not appearing in search result when mobile customers select certain specifics. Result no sale !

    • 2 years ago

      I also thought I read somewhere that if you filled out the item specifics it would also help you rank better in their search results vs missing item specifics listings

  • 2 years ago

    HTML does work in mobile view. Complicated HTML with lots of flash and embedded images or scripts is a real problem, but all web browsers and email clients use HTML to render the display. In regards to detailed description sometimes you need to spell things out. We sell refurbished mobile phones which come with warranties and need detailed descriptions of the condition, features, etc. ebay want this because they refer back to it in case of any dispute (for example we currently have a customer claiming we offered a 24 month warranty – which is not quite accurate).

  • 2 years ago

    HTML can work well on ebay listing.

    I use alittle HTML and have just checked a few of my listing on the Google “Mobile-Friendly Test” they all pass the test just fine.

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Gaz, sorry but I have to disagree – on my mobile (using the eBay app) the text is too small to ready on your descriptions unless I pinch to enlarge it. Once enlarged I have to endlessly scroll side to side to read the text.

      I’m not saying yours is one of the worst listing designs, but it could be better. On mobile a responsive design should get rid of your category list as that would save some side to side scrolling. Also it would be so much better if the text flowed to the size of the screen rather than having a fixed width.

      Passing the test is one thing…. being easily readable is something else :-(

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Chris

      Are you sure you’re looking at the correct listings?

      Because I’m looking at my mobile now and the text is large and reads fine, I didn’t need to enlarge it at all.

    • 2 years ago

      Sending you a couple of screen shots from the eBay app by email…

  • 2 years ago

    Yes that is strange on my mobile with the same listing the text is at least twice the size of the screenshots you sent me and everything fits on the screen just fine.

    I’m browsing via firefox on my android phone, so I’m not sure what is happening. I guess different devices and browsers read it differently…

    • 2 years ago

      Interestingly it renders fine in the Android browser on the same mobile….

      However download the eBay app if you don’t already have it and check the description in that. Obviously eBay’s own app doesn’t appear to render eBay HTML descriptions as well as a browser which is a bit of a shocker :o

    • 2 years ago

      The mobile browser version has always been pants to design for compared to the app. I am not sure why they would have things rendering differently.

      But I suppose….eBay…

  • 2 years ago

    Yes that is abit shocking and quite concerning…

    However my screen is fairly small on my mobile and using the ebay app all I do is turn the screen horizontal and it fit’s fairly well, maybe a little pinching is required.

    So do we really have to change all our listing to suit mobile phones? I mean the listing look great on a large desktop monitor. I think we need a balance and not too much focus on mobiles all the time.

    I much prefer using my large desktop monitor to browse ebay anyway and have made all of my purchases via my desktop, you get a much better idea of the item by viewing it on a large PC monitor in my opinion.

    Best Regards

  • 2 years ago

    eBay say that we’ll over 60% of sales are touched by mobile…. do you cater for the 60% on mobile or the (shrinking) 40% who still use a desktop?

    Have to say personally I almost always buy on the eBay mobile app these days.

    • 2 years ago

      I think eBay should update their concept of listing templates and embrace something more comprehesive that does not require sellers to hack their way around listings. If any of you looked deeply into what Frooition had to do to make their themes work, well it was impressive (last used them 4 years ago).

      Why not build out a theming system like what Shopify & BigCommerce etc do with themes, build a solid foundation that allows all of us to style the listing how we want them to be and then we all can be sure that our listings work on both mobile and desktop and if eBay wanted to cash in build out a theme store and take a cut.

  • tinker
    2 years ago

    millions on trains buses taxis airports stations pubs cafes restaurants , idling away time on ebay
    you would be daft not to cater for mobile

  • 2 years ago

    I tried using a responsive HTML design on my listings, and while it looked fine and appeared to work when I first tested it, i noticed that on mobile ebay site it would occasionally not work. I think it depends if they serve up the description in an iframe or not. If they do, then the width of the iframe is taken as the viewport width for the css, and it is no longer responsive.

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