Confused About eBay’s Product Identifiers? So, in the past few days I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the number of emails and Facebook posts I’ve received on the subject of eBay’s new ‘Product Identifiers’ which became a requirement for single items from Monday this week and will be required for multi-variation listings from 1st September. There appears to be quite a lot of confusion over this, and not just from newbie’s, seasoned sellers also are struggling to grasp exactly what is required of them. However, to be fair to eBay, who in my opinion are not known for their ability to explain things in a straight-forward manner – I do feel that on this occasion they have been relatively clear and concise with regard to the steps sellers need to take. It’s also a topic that I’ve been meaning to cover in my eletter for a while – but other topics got in the way! So, this week I’ve pulled together all the important information you need to know about product identifiers to help you work out whether it affects you as a seller…and what, if anything, you need to do. First up – What are ‘Product Identifiers’? This can be the brand name of an item e.g. Sony, Kodak, Next, Adidas and so on, the manufacturer part number (MPN) – usually found on the item itself, particularly electronics goods and the global trade item number (GTIN) or bar code (otherwise known as a UPC or EAN and ISBN for books). Any of these found on a product are unique identifiers for that product and one or all will always be found on most new branded items. To make it clear, we all know that supermarket goods have bar codes on them, which are scanned at the checkout. The bar code identifies the product in the system, making it easily found and added to the total through the till – and it’s much the same with any other product. For example, the unique product identifier for a book would be its ISBN. That number, usually found on the outside back cover or inside front cover above the bar code, is unique to that edition of the book, which makes it very easy to exactly identify. Why are eBay introducing ‘Product Identifiers’? Basically because product identifiers make it easy for items to be categorized (due to the uniqueness of the identifier per product). eBay are attempting to make it easier for buyers to search for products on the site via their ‘Product Catalogue’ which is being collated using these product identifiers that sellers are adding – much line Amazon already do. This might sound like a bit of a faff – however by adding product identifiers to your listing specifics you will increase the visibility of your listing (because the more information you add the more likely your product is to be found in the search results) and also it makes it much easier for more eBay listings to achieve a higher ranking on outside search engines such as Google. In fact this is directly referred to in the ‘MPN’ section on the ‘Sell Your Item’ form when eBay ask you to “optimise your listings for internet search engines”. Do ‘Product Identifiers’ have to be added for all items? No! And this is where I think many sellers have become confused. Product identifiers are compulsory only for the following products: Branded goods in new condition and only in certain categories. The full list of compulsory categories is here So, if for example you sell unbranded items imported from China, or used items (branded or unbranded), or vintage items or one-off bespoke items – basically any item that doesn’t have a product identifier, you’ll be able to select ‘Does Not Apply’ in order to complete your listing. If however you sell ‘manufacturer refurbished’ items you WILL need to include the product identifiers. But all you need to do is look at the packaging and look for the bar code! If you import unbranded products and are already listing them on Amazon then you will actually already have product identifiers having purchased bar codes for your products in order to list them – so you can use the same identifier for your eBay listings as you do on Amazon. Is eBay’s Product Catalogue accessible, to find out if a product is already listed? Well, there is no actual accessible ‘catalogue’ as such that you can simply search through, however when you begin listing your product you will be prompted to search for the item using a product identifier such as the UPC or EAN (bar code). If it matches you can then select that product and use the details about the product that are already pre-filled. More information on this is available here Alternatively, search for the product you are selling using the normal browser search bar and then when you find it click ‘Sell It Yourself’ which will bring up the pre-filled information anyway! Again this is very similar to Amazon’s ‘Have One To Sell’ button. What is the next step? You only need to take compulsory action if you sell new branded products or manufacturer refurbished branded products. There are absolutely no cons to adding these product identifiers – only pros; therefore I would suggest adding your product identifiers as soon as possible. You may earn a potential advantage over other sellers this way as eBay are likely to boost your ranking if you have the information included from the get-go – and that means more views and more sales. Finally, although it’s not compulsory for existing listings (only new ones), if possible add your identifiers to listings that are already running too. I hope that’s made it all clear and if product identifiers apply to you, I’ll leave you with that nice little job to do over the weekend!