To template, or not to template?

By Dan Wilson December 13, 2016 - 10:33 pm

Jane BellJane Bell is the eBay Anorak, business consultant for marketplace sellers and contributor to Tamebay. Yesterday she looked at eBay’s new template designer. Today she looks at eBay templates in general.

First off, I prefer text descriptions for eBay listings for a few reasons, the keywords used in a description are more important than the ‘shop pretty’ as Sue Bailey used to call it and this is the part which sellers tend to neglect.

Also, a description template, if not up to date with eBay’s new standards, can contain active content and also dilute your well keyworded description with non product specific information that just doesn’t belong here eg postage, delivery, ‘we are fab’ type text.

An outdated template can make it difficult to read on a mobile device. I’ve seen templates costing thousands and on a mobile that just display a white screen leaving the seller wondering why people didn’t read the info in the listing!

So why have a description template anyway? Many companies like to display their brand across the web and have their listing templates differentiate them from others. But if the template is not responsive or contains active content then eBay will block the use of templates containing this from June 2017. This leaves you six whole months to fix it.

What are the options?

  1. Change them all to text only of around 800 characters including spaces, using only product specific data, costs nothing.
  2. Have a new template designed from a reputable company (see the Tamebay Guide) and check that the template they design is up to date with eBay’s new changes regarding active content in June. If you have this as part of your agreement and it is blocked by eBay then it’s easier to get them to fix it should it not be compliant. If they ask what these requirements are, run.
  3. Upgrade your existing template with your current designer. Some templates I’ve seen that are new this year still contain active content. eBay announced this change in April this year so make sure your designer is in the know about these changes before you go ahead.
  4. Use eBay’s free template designer provided by i-ways. I’ve tried this, it’s basic but some may find it useful. More on that here.

Whatever you choose to do, make a start as soon as possible and prevent eBay blocking any of your listings in June 2017.

What are you currently using and what are your plans for the change?

  • Dom
    3 years ago

    Anybody know what is going on with Widgetchimp? Will it be updated to be compliant? If so will a bulk update be possible?

    • 3 years ago

      Howdy Dom,

      There is a blog post out on this on the UnderstandingE site. The updates are mostly ready, BUT they won’t be rolled out this side of Christmas because I’m sure you’ll appreciate, it’s totally the wrong time of the year to be changing anything.

      Hope that helps Dom,


  • Dave P
    3 years ago

    I am yet to be convinced that keywords have any impact on your search ranking on ebay. Perhaps it will in the future but at the moment I think that the impact, if any, is so minor that it is not worth worrying too much about.

    • james
      3 years ago

      you dont think keywords have any impact on search results?
      do you just put random heiroglyphs on your titles and hope customers find what your selling through luck and intuition?
      how do you operate google?

  • Andy R
    3 years ago

    Speaking as someone in the middle of a 6 month programme of removing all the Auctiva code from listings, I am loathed to use any 3rd party templates on Ebay any more.

    I’m having to waste an hour each morning removing this stuff daily on listings because of Ebay’s changes.

    Just as a few years ago we had to change the photos on 80,000 listings, because Ebay’s own picture hosting shrank them to below 500 pixels when relisted.

    What hope is there that Ebay won’t throw another rock into the pool again?

    No thanks

    • james
      3 years ago

      Hi Andy,

      i’m sure you’ve explored other options already, but there must be a faster way to remove auctiva code; turbolister bulk find & replace? download a file exchange csv and figure out a formula to do in bulk?

    • Andy R
      3 years ago

      Nope, the fastest way to remove embedded code is to manually edit the html. Bulk removing keywords does not result in compliance as some code is always left – it differs slightly in every listing.

      File exchange simply does not work. In the rare event that the data request is responded to correctly, the files are too large to open and Ebay does not enable selective downloading by category etc.

      What Ebay should have done, this princely massively profitable organisation is provide a TOOL for sellers.

      They drop a large rock on sellers every other year and expect them to sort out the mess.

      So, again, I will not be using any third party tools, besides Ebay is hiding most of the description from mobile device users, so what’s the point?

    • james
      3 years ago

      if you’re spending hours per day doing this, it really cant be the fastest way.

      you can do a search & replace on HTML only, including html tags, from turbolister.

      for example
      find “well tamebay deleted my example, provide your own”
      replace with ” ”
      (need a space, wont work with a blank)
      – even if you did this one line at a time, it would still be significantly faster than manually revising one item description by hand at a time.

      what are you using to open your .csv’s? being “too large to open” means well over a million sku’s, and even then, it can still be opened other ways.

      if you genuinely cannot open it with a csv editor, open it with a text editor, and cut it into smaller parts, before trying to open it with a CSV editor.

    • Geoff S
      3 years ago

      Hi Andy, I had a very similar problem with over 3000 listings and a change force on us by eBay that meant editing all listings. After a few false starts with TL2 crashing I realised there was too many characters for TL 2. I split the content in half using XXXXXXXXXX as a marker and did 2 new html files on notepad, one for the top half and one for lower half. I then used a csv file to enter item description. It was a while ago and my memory is not perfect but it speeded things up 20 fold. Have a think, it may save your valuable time. Oh yes, I also added £2 to each listing as an input fee!

    • Paula
      3 years ago

      Good Idea. Now if we could figure out a way to charge eBay for the time and trouble it takes to make the changes, that would be even better.

  • Ian A
    3 years ago

    There’s a thread on the boards about ‘should I pay someone to do a template’..

    I’m firmly in the NO camp because of active content and so many people using mobiles that might not see it

    I list using my woocommerce store, it has a FREE plug in calld WP lister which I’ve configured to just put my logo and then item description and big photos in the listing description automatically using HTML.

    It works well but still probably uses more code than ebay likes.

  • james
    3 years ago

    why does tamebay use a template?
    why does any website use a template?
    because people prefer it. nobody wants to log on to look at a plain white space with plain black text and nothing of any interest anywhere.
    but ebay isnt a level playing field, ebay wants what’s easiest (not necessarily best) for ebay, and screw what’s best for buyers or sellers. so best just do what ebay says, then do the exact opposite in 6 months when they change their mind again.

    • Andy R
      3 years ago

      James is right. Ebay don’t know what they’re doing, other than trying to do a laughably bad impression of Amazon.

      My advice is just have a blank selling form with the bare minimum of fuss and provide all the details in the item specifics, as this all that most users will now see.

      Spending time or money on bells and whistles is pointless.

      Customers want something as described.
      They want it at the cheapest price.
      And they want it yesterday.

      Hence Amazon will soon be trillionnaires and Ebay won’t.

      Five things ordered on Ebay – none arrived inside delivery estimate.

      One thing ordered yesterday on Amazon – delivered today 11am.

    • DBL
      3 years ago

      eBay give ridiculous postage dates for delivery that Royal Mail can not fulfil. Tracked 48 is in the economy delivery section and estimate is 2 to 3 days … that is not 48 in my book. If you go other 48 hour courier then it is classed as standard delivery 2 days.

      I’m in agreement with the no bells and whistles way of listing though, shop pretty is just what it is and some of it ain’t pretty either!

  • Andy R
    3 years ago

    Can somebody make sure Ebay is not actually charging for this template?

    They used to charge for using the template on relisted items created through turbo-lister.

    It’s not all that long ago they stopped charging 12p for each additional picture.

    Don’t trust Ebay an inch any more.

  • James
    3 years ago

    I can see the pros and cons to templates, however I would be very surprised if the “penalties” for code and non-compliant listings are applied evenly across all sellers.
    Take a look at the Argos eBay store and their swanky templates:
    for example.
    Plenty of code from the look of it, and plenty of “aren’t we fab” content (as well as text on their photos – but I digress).
    I struggle to see how eBay could/would penalise them given how closely both companies work together, and the seller, not to mention advertising fees, they must be paying! I also can’t see Argos binning their expensive branding for plain, but compliant, text.

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