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What counts as a ‘character’ for eBay Mobile?

By Chris Dawson April 11, 2016 - 12:13 pm

eBay Mobile Description SummaryeBay recently announced mobile Item Description Summaries, which will display on mobile devices without the potential buyer having to click into the full description.

The eBay Mobile Item Description Summaries will be limited to 800 characters, but what’s a character? Is a space a character? We’ve got the full detail for you here:

What counts as a ‘character’ in eBay’s mobile Item Description Summaries?

Visible characters or spaces

Normal letters, numbers, commas, full stops and spaces all count as single characters.

Line items

If you create lists then the bullets or numbers they’re normally in the format “1: ” and so will count as 3 characters.

HTML Non Breaking Space code

  forces a browser to render a single space. Although the code is 6 characters the display effect is the same as pressing the space bar so this will count as a single character.

Breaks and Paragraphs

Don’t use line breaks or paragraphs in your eBay Mobile Item Description Summaries, they’ll create one or two lines of empty text and so use of <br> and <p> will be counted as a massive 50 characters (approximately one line of text on a six inch mobile screen).

The whole point of an eBay Mobile Item Description is to convey as much relevant information as possible on a tiny screen so putting in empty lines defeats the whole object of the exercise.

All other HTML

All other HTML tags (content within < >) are not counted as characters and will be ignored in the display. You won’t be able to use bold, italics, other text decorations and certainly no complex HTML such as tables.

Strategy for mobile description summaries

800 characters is not very much, so make the most of the space you have. Put in the key information in the shortest format possible.

Stick to factual information and avoid ‘flowery’ text – it might be appropriate to describe something as “A beautiful soft shade of cornflower blue” in your full description, but cut that down to “Blue” in your eBay Mobile Item Description Summary and you’ve just cut 39 characters down to just 4.

Use paragraphs sparingly and remember to put the most important information first. This especially applies if you’re going to leave eBay’s algorithm to automatically create your Mobile Item Description from your full Item Description, if you have a ton of less important information consider cutting it to leave just the key information for eBay to pick from and relegate anything that isn’t “product description” to other fields such as business information, payment and returns.

If you want to specify exactly what you’d like to appear for your eBay Mobile Item descriptions, add the following code to your eBay listing HTML:

<div vocab=”http://schema.org/” typeof=”Product”><span property=”description”>
[your description summary goes here]
</span></div>

  • james
    1 year ago

    oh wow. so the next big needless ebay workload is

    “remove every single space from every single listing, replace it with a ‘different’ space that achieves EXACTLY THE SAME THING, or 47% of customers wont be able to read your listing”???

    P and BR, are correct, perfectly legitimate, standard, for about every webpage everywhere.
    please remove, by hand-and-eye, all ten million of yours. thanks.

    (we could do it ourselves with two lines of code, but we wont. enjoy the 200+ hours of manual graft for zero return).

    i really really really really really hate ebay. so much.

    • vespa1
      1 year ago

      I agree entirely with you , I hate and despise them . I actually fund them but have no f*****g say whatsoever It infuriates me.
      But I have over £30,000 worth of stock and am committed now so I have to take their guff…
      I am currently in debate with them over their returns policy ..
      You have to offer free p&p Otherwise your selling nowt…. ! , Like that free p&p actually exists !
      When a return comes and it’s not our fault but the customers we are expected to refund them in full , but what about our sending and packaging costs ?
      Ah says the ebay rep , but you offer free postage and packaging..
      Only because we have no choice and just where do we get this magical free P&P ? Kind ebay rep ?
      Is that all today sir , thanks for contacting ebay support … AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH !!!!!! feck off ……

  • james
    1 year ago

    “The whole point of an eBay Mobile Item Description is to convey as much relevant information as possible on a tiny screen so putting in empty lines defeats the whole object of the exercise.”

    – keep that phrase in mind while referring to the example image shown.

  • Ol' Peculier
    1 year ago

    ”  forces a browser to render a single space. Although the code is 6 characters the display effect is the same as pressing the space bar so this will count as a single character.”

    It is NOT the same as pressing the space bar! The key is in the non-breaking bit…

  • Ian A
    1 year ago

    It’s all getting a bit silly now isn’t it.
    Might be alright if I was making any money on eBay.

  • Andy P
    1 year ago

    So am I understanding this right? I have to make my listings look shite on a pc by removing all paragraphs so that people who consider a 4″ screen is progress can see my listings better?

    • james
      1 year ago

      no…..
      but actually probably yes….

      instead of making all your listings look terrible on pc.
      you can individually go through every single listing, use the html code provided to insert a seperate mobile description without returns etc. that only shows on mobile.

      the workload involved in doing that correctly is absolutely friggin ludicrous.

      the description already exists, but rather than ebay use common sense or decent programming, they want sellers to put in a combined 20 million man-hours instead.

    • james
      1 year ago

      if you have a listing solution (linnworks etc) they may integrate a slap-dash one-click solution. it may work well for many of your listings.
      for the ones it dont work perfectly on, ebay will hold you fully accountable for everything.

  • Tony C
    1 year ago

    I’m just not going to do it. My pictures and titles will just have to do the job as they are. eBay can sod right off.