Why eBay Fashion Item Specifics are a nightmare to work with

By Chris Dawson November 8, 2018 - 1:55 pm

We’ve just published a post regarding eBay Fashion Item Specifics and how sellers are starting to discover listings which fail to renew due to item specific changes. Over the years we’ve highlighted many times just how difficult Item Specifics are to manage and in view of today’s news it’s time to revisit them.

With millions of categories it’s impossible to address all the issues, so we’re narrowing our focus to just men’s suits and we’re only going to address size Item Specifics, although there are many more attributes eBay would like you to complete and they’re all just as confusing for both buyers and sellers.

As a man, when buying a suit there are only three measurements I really need to know – Chest size, waist size and trouser length (something like a 48″ Chest, 36″ Waist and 34″ leg (Or possibly 36L for a 36 waist long leg) works well for me) and are pretty standard fashion Item Specifics so you’d think buying from any retailer (including eBay) these would be easy to search by.

eBay Size Item Specifics for Men’s Suits

Looking at men’s suit sizing, on checking eBay today the size attributes are

Chest Size

Could be a number (presumably inches, maybe centimetres in some cases, but ranges from 34 to 72?)
Could be letters (S, M, L, XL etc)
Could be ‘Trousers only’

Trousers size

Could be a range from ’26 in.’ to ’68 in.’
Could be letters (S, M, L, XL etc)
Could be One Size Regular or One Size Big and Tall
Could be Jacket Only

Even looking at the inch sizing, no one has a clue whether it’s the waist size or the leg length when listing or when buying (although it’s unlikely there’ll be 68″ legs.

Size Type

Regular, Big and Tall or not specified


Athletic, Classic, Modern, Portly, Slim

If anyone can tell me what the difference between an athletic and slim fitting suit is then you’re more informed than me.


Extra short, Short, Regular, Long, Extra Long

Both size Type and Length are subjective measurements and therefore not much use, especially when considering international sellers where “Long” in China is “Short” in the UK.

How useful and logical are eBay Size Item Specifics for Men’s Suits

Buying a suit on eBay is a nightmare – the sizing is ambiguous both as to the units and what’s being measured. When numbers are used sometimes they’re specified in inches but in some cases they could be centimetres. Many sizing attributes are subjective and so not helpful.

It’s somewhat telling that out of 172,000 results for a ‘Suit’ in the ‘Men’s Clothing – Suits & Tailoring’, for each of the size attributes somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 listings have the attributes ‘Unspecified’. Sellers can’t understand eBay’s Item Specifics. Buyers can’t understand eBay’s Item Specifics. They are simply too complex and difficult to work with.

Knowing how hard it is for sellers to work with Item Specifics, those sellers who have seen listings fail today following eBay’s fashion updates are naturally irate and frustrated with the workload they face to fix them at the busiest time of the year.

  • 10 months ago

    We’re not in clothing, but we’ve never bothered with item specifics for several reasons.

    Firstly, the specifics offered by Ebay are often irrelevant and making up your own is pointless – they will never be seen.

    Secondly, in these unstable times on Wenig-era Ebay, sellers don’t feel sure that investing effort in making changes is worthwhile. The whole thing could change again and make all the work pointless. This has happened several times in recent years. Hundreds of hours of work down the drain.

    Finally, if Ebay would actually get the searches working properly, and stop trying to soak sellers with their visibility racketeering, then the need for all these “extra” tweaks would vanish.

    The four years of Wenigland have been wasted – just going round and round in pointless circles.

  • 10 months ago

    Now seeing the following advert banner on Ebay listings: Use compare the market and get an Amazon voucher

    Are they nuts at Ebay?

    • Mark
      10 months ago

      Hi no its a good move to pay eBay shed loads of money to be on their site and then have them advertise a rivals site for Milions of pounds. (irony)

      Have you not received you dividend share of their fee for doing so.

      Nah!!!! me neither. The site is so far up its own backside they have lost the light at the end of the tunnel.

      On Tuesday for the first time ever 25 years i sold not one item from leaving the warehouse Monday 4.30pm to arriving at 8.30 Tuesday morning then just 2 items before dinnertime. I knew the trend of sales were falling i did not realise they would reach the bottom so soon.
      All same listings, all same prices as 3 years ago, so not a price increase killing the sales just eBay themselves the public are fed up if they want to have Tesco and Argos and other huge sellers rammed before their eyes they would just log into their website as after all they have all heard of them.

      Wake up eBay

    • alan paterson
      10 months ago

      @ Andy. Yet ebay turnover is up. it sounds like you are just getting a smaller slice of the pie for your particular items and category.

      I concluded a few years ago that if I didnt increase my range by at least 40% per year my ebay business would either remain static or fall back.

      Obviously with more and more sellers on ebay, especially big chains we need to increase our range every year just to “stand still”. This is the sellers responsibility – not ebay. It frustrates me that everyone points the finger at ebay and accuse ebay of failing when they should be looking at their own business model.

      My ebay is up slightly on last year but I had to put 40% new inventory to achieve this (and thats with a 10% price increase across my range).

      If you are not putting additional new items on every year expect an ebay business to fall back. ebay overall turnover is up so it doesnt take a genius to see where the problem is and whats happening. The exception to this rule is probably collectibles and rare / unique items.

    • james
      10 months ago

      and you didn’t even venture into the “Jacket Vents” specific.
      Who, when buying a new jacket, doesn’t immediately wish to sort them by Vent?
      I can’t remember when i last purchased a suit and “Jacket Vents” was not my primary concern.
      forget the size problems, when will the Jacket Vent issues be addressed?

      Clearly our ebay overlords know better, they know this would happen exactly like it has, which is why they’ve been ignoring all our stupid advice and pleas for years, and steaming ahead with these schemes.
      ebay knows that most people are regular, so more sales will be had if you just put all trousers down as “regular” the fools who haven’t specified just don’t get it. regular is the only option, regardless of actual size.

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