The Listing Quality Lever of eCommerce Growth

Friday January 28, 2022 | Posted at 3:14 pm | By Paul Dicken
January 28, 2022 @ 3:14 pm

We recently introduced the Levers framework for thinking about how we can move the dial in our favour when it comes to growing sales and increasing efficiencies in ecommerce on marketplaces and webstores. In this post we cover listing quality. If Amazon listing optimisation or eBay listing optimisation is important to your business, then this is the post for you.

You are what you list. It’s as simple as that. For your customers to engage in a transaction with you and buy one or more of your products, they have to see them. In order to see them, they have to be able to find them. In order for your customers to find them, your listing quality has to be high.

It’s all about the quality of data that you have to manipulate to make it right for each marketplace or channel that you’re going to list on. This places more emphasis on how you structure your listings data. Then, it’s down to keeping the data up-to-date and accurate over time.

The better you list, the more you get found, the more conversions you get, the more you grow. This growth comes at a price, and the price is research, effort and time. Let’s start with best practices around titles and data. You need to put yourself in the mind of your customer and design the exact title that they would search for. Listing titles are used by the various marketplaces to match against search keywords popularised by the end users. Different marketplaces have different character length requirements for titles. Use the full length available for that marketplace and prioritise the more important words at the beginning.

As well as your own research, you should study the competition. Use a resource like eBay’s Terapeak, for Amazon, pay-for tools like Jungle Scout or Helium 10 to identify relevant or high-volume keywords your competitors are using which you may be missing.  Google’s Keyword Research tool can help you identify relevant keywords with high search volume and add these to your titles.

ecommerce growth chart

Data manipulation is important when you’re optimising for high listing quality. If you’re using a supplier feed for example, you may have less than perfect information.  Having a process to optimise this data can pay dividends for you in the long run. Optimising your data helps you stand out against those competitors using the same suppliers and the same or similar products as you. After all, on Amazon, for example, there could be many more than you selling the same item, and you need your version of the item to be noticed and clicked on.

If you use a system to unify your work across multiple marketplaces and webstores, the technology should help you share the data manipulation workload between your team members.  In Volo, for example, you could flag all new inventory items as ‘optimise title’, ‘check images’, ‘optimise specifics’, ‘list item’ and so on. When a team member has completed the work, they simply remove the relevant flags and the inventory is ready to list. Within Volo, you can automatically download all the eBay Item Specifics for your products via the Volo API, and you can also download data in bulk from Amazon or other catalogue-based marketplaces to do something similar. This means no more copying and pasting values to create your specifics and it also ensures you’re using the exact value required by eBay in order to show up in eBay-filtered searches.

Google factors marketplace behaviour and traffic into its search algorithm, so using the same data on all marketplaces and your website can hurt your web traffic. In Amazon, if you own the ASIN listing we recommend reworking your eBay and website data to create your bullet points. Ensure you include the top product features and reinforce its benefits. It’s a short space to convince people to buy, so make sure you leverage your most important purchase triggers.

Similarly, with Amazon search terms, you have 5 fields, each allowing 50 characters. Ensure you’re entering the relevant keywords that will bring in traffic. Recycle your eBay Item Specifics and your website keywords to fill all 5 fields. Remember that title, merchant and brand are automatically included, so avoid repeating these.

When it comes to images, the more product images you have, the better you perform. The visual aspects to purchase conversion are hard to underestimate, so it’s worth getting your images right. We recommend using at least 4-5 images per SKU to increase buyer confidence, and using more images has long been proven by eBay research to increase your sales conversion rate. Volo’s listing software can host all your images for you, at no extra storage cost. Primary images should be on a white background, occupying about 80% of the space. Images should be of the product on offer and not include any accessories or other items not included in the box.

With eBay we recommend that image sizes are at least 1600 pixels on the longest side to enable the free ‘zoom feature’ in search results. This helps your products stand out against your competitors. Although Amazon recommends a minimum of 1280 pixels on the longest image side, we’d advise you go larger for a higher level of detail. Amazon state that images should ideally be 2560 pixels or larger. For Amazon in particular, your images should not include any text, watermarks or logos.

Mobile has long been extremely important on the major marketplaces, as buyers continue to buy via mobile or at least use mobile for some of the buying process. When browsing eBay items on your mobile, or using the eBay app, the full item description is hidden from view. Instead you see the images, title, variations and item specifics.  For this reason it’s extremely important to complete item specifics on eBay – and indeed this is mandatory in many categories – as they act as a short description. This allows customers to see the details they need and make a purchase, all without viewing the item description itself, Volo’s creative services team produces web shop designs for that are fully mobile-optimised, giving the customer a rich user experience from browsing through to selection, drill-down and purchase.

When it comes to search rankings, the majority of online marketplaces uses item-level sales history to rank products.  If your item sells well, these marketplaces deem it relevant to the users’ search. They have confidence in your ability as a business to deliver and so boost your item’s visibility in the search results. Clearly you want to be ranked first and seen first every time if at all possible. With this in mind, you’re much better off combining related items into a variation listing, because each sale will increase your score on your variation listing, rather than diluting the score over multiple individual listings. Furthermore, customers expect to see drop-downs and filters when searching for a product, so it delivers a better buying experience. You should factor this into the way you structure your listings.

Since search on eBay is largely based on its historical conversion rate, you might be better off wiping your history and starting again in cases where you aren’t ranking well. Be careful though, since the history at the top of an eBay listing page should not be confused with the conversion history used to determine its ranking (which is hidden). eBay’s relist functionality can preserve your conversion history while wiping the listing history.

To conclude: when you have high listing quality, and you can list update many items quickly and easily, you can grow your business more effectively. Vehicle parts and accessories merchant The Green Spark Plug Company uses Volo to manage its listings and variations. Here’s the final word from Tom Green of the Green Spark Plug Company: “It’s hard to single out one thing about the platform because it does so much. We can list many thousands of items easily and quickly. This is really important in our business with there being so many variations.

To talk more with us about listing quality and other growth levers in your own business, please send us a note here

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