eBay Seller Release: New mobile friendly Item Description Summaries

By Chris Dawson April 5, 2016 - 1:25 pm

eBay Mobile Description SummarieseBay are announcing in today’s Spring Seller Release that from July this year mobile friendly item description summaries will be introduced.

We’ve long thought that eBay should tidy up mobile descriptions stripping out all the code heavy listing designs and now they’re going to do it. From July 2016 eBay will add description summaries that will complement your current descriptions and will only appear on the eBay mobile site and app. These summaries contain the relevant information for mobile shoppers and are optimised to help surface your listings in search engines.

Whilst the description summaries will appear on eBay’s mobile site and app, buyers will still be able to click through to read your full description. We know many mobile buyers don’t and that’s where the description summaries will help.

How it works – Default scenario

If you do nothing, eBay will automatically generate these description summaries based on the description you’ve included in your listing. If you prefer, you can customise the summary text by editing your listings’ HTML tags.

You don’t have to make any changes to your account or your listing processes as the new description summaries will be automatically generated based on your full item description.

How it works – Controlled Scenario

We know exactly what you’re thinking, eBay picking bits of your description and leaving out the important parts. What if they miss the one line that’s essential to the product condition? Although eBay tell us that they’ve tested and tested and got pretty good at picking up the salient points.

Fear not, there are two solutions. If you limit your description to less than 800 characters and use basic HTML, CSS or text-only, eBay will display the entire description.

Your other option is to take full control for which content is used for the description summary by using a special HTML tag. The format you’ll need to use to embed your mobile friendly item description within your desktop description HMTL is:

<div vocab=”” typeof=”Product”><span property=”description”>
[your description summary goes here]

What changes should you make to item descriptions?

The phrase “Item Description” should give you a clue, it’s a description of your item.

Cut all the extraneous material such as payment details, return details, business seller information, shipping details, all the details about you and most importantly all dump all the terms and conditions you’ve added over the years just because someone left you a negative feedback 10 years ago.

Hopefully most of that information is already in the fields eBay provide. If not then it’s time to revamp your item descriptions to be simply “Item descriptions”!

Put your images in as eBay Gallery images and if you can limit your item descriptions to no more than 800 characters. To give you a clue what 800 characters looks like, the text of the last four paragraphs (including spaces) is exactly 800 characters long.

  • Andy
    1 year ago

    Q: Do we count spaces as characters?

    Presumably “yes” as that’s the last 4 paragraphs (=800).

    Ouch – I have some editing to do.

  • Gareth
    1 year ago

    In the newsletter of today I see they’re raising store fees by around $5 a month for a basic shop, $15 for a premium and a whopping $150 for an anchor!! Of course they’re trying to gloss over it by saying you can list a few more items for free.
    I suspect this will also be coming to soon.

  • Chris
    1 year ago

    A good thing.

  • Gary
    1 year ago

    ebay UK recently have been issuing seperate seller releases setting out fee changes. Other than shop fees difficult to guess what else than can squeeze out of sellers now that fees are charged on shipping and that generally they are a nice round number. TRS discount surely cannot be reduced from the already low 10%?

  • Andy
    1 year ago

    Does the new ebay for mobile implicate us if we have listing templates? are we being told to ditch these?

    • 1 year ago

      No, it’s a way for mobile to benefit from shorter concise descriptions.

      You can do nothing to your desktop (hopefully responsive) listing design and let eBay pick out some key words and phrases for you.

      Or you can specify exactly which 800 characters you’d like for the mobile description summary using the new HTML tag and your beautiful template will show on desktops and the description summary will show on mobiles (with the option for the buyer to click to see your full description)

  • Tom
    1 year ago

    If I use the html is there still an 800 character limit or can I include my entire, mobile friendly description?

    • 1 year ago

      Your entire mobile friendly description is in the “Item Description” field. eBay will scan this and pick out what they think are the most relevant 800 characters for a text only “Mobile Description Summary” which the buyer will see without having to click into the full item description. If a buyer wants to they can still click to see your full mobile friendly description but many don’t.

      If your Item Description is less than 800 characters eBay will use the whole lot.

      If you want control over the text of your Item Description Summary then you can specify this in 800 characters or less using the HTML code in the article above and eBay will then use this.

    • Tom
      1 year ago

      Is this the word from eBay – so far I have heard that the description will be truncated at 800 characters starting from the beginning and I was also told it would revert to the 250 character description generated by the algorithm. Now you are saying there is an algorithm that will generate an 800 character description? Please let me know if your answer is the definitive answer from eBay as I have yet to get anything directly from that source.

  • Paul
    1 year ago

    I wonder if eBay could include an electric shock for the mobile user if they haven’t read (AND UNDERSTOOD) the entire field.

    I’m sick and tired of people who can’t understand, “Collection Only”.

  • ifellow
    1 year ago

    Can some one give a brief HTML example of how this would work.

    I mean can you goto the bottom of your listing and simply put

    the code
    [your description summary goes here]
    the code

    and it will work ?

    • 1 year ago

      You can, however make sure that in whatever listing tool you use that you put the code in the HMTL editor view and not in the WYSIWYG view

  • Steve
    1 year ago

    If a seller uses the special HTML tag in their description does the contents show on the desktop version of the webpage or just the mobile one?

    • james
      1 year ago

      supposedly just the mobile (but knowing ebay, no doubt it wont work as intended).
      the HTML tag is basically to say “this is a product description, short version, only for mobiles”.

      the rub is, you’re going to have to use it if you formatted your description for humans to read, like a normal person may.


      (enter uses 50 chars)
      (enter uses 50 chars)
      brief summary
      (enter uses 50 chars)
      actual description starts
      (enter uses 50 chars)

      – and thats a simple, fuss-free product description.

      simply paragraphing for humans to read apparently really annoys ebay. they prefer machine code instead. because all your customers are machines?

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