How to Optimize eBay Listings – an eBay Research Based on 1.5 Billion listing views

A shopping experience group inside eBay conducted a year and a half long research through 1.5 Billion eBay listing views, 300+ hours of focus groups and interviews with both buyers and sellers. All with the aim to find an answer to the question – What do buyers look for in an eBay listing? 
The learnings will you you understand how to optimize eBay listings to boost sales.

Here is what they found…

3 Things Buyers Look For in an eBay Listing

In this week’s post, I’m going to share eBay’s research results and explain how to optimize eBay listings with the research’s insights to increase your eBay sales.

This post is based on a recording from Jason Fletchall’s presentation at eBay’s 2015 seller summit.

Here we go…

3 phases to shopping on eBay

The shopping experience group at eBay distilled their findings to three main phases when shopping on eBay:

  1. Learn
  2. Compare
  3. Convert

Phase #1: Learn

The first thing a buyer usually does on eBay is trying to learn about the product space. Looking to understand – “What is important in this category of products?”

Here’s an example – Bob is going on a camping trip, he’s looking to buy a camera to take photos of the trip.
He doesn’t really know a lot about cameras, so his first step would be to go through various eBay listings and try to figure out what the important things about buying a camera are.

Bob is going to use the camera on a trip, so he’s probably looking for a durable one, might be water proof / shock resistant etc…
At this stage, Bob is going to narrow his choice down to a specific camera he’s interested in buying.

Try CrazyLister for free! Easily create professional, mobile-optimized eBay listings

How can you help your potential customers “Learn”?

Jason mentions “Consistency” as a key focus point when trying to make learning easy.

Look at your competitors’ eBay listings. See the features, aspects and “in the box” lists of the item they add. Make it easy for your potential customers to learn about the product, its features and what it is good for.

Make sure your eBay listings mention the same aspects as your competitors’ do, so it’ll be easy for potential customers to learn “what’s important for this specific product?”

This finding backs-up our approach of mentioning the key features buyers are looking for in a visual, fast and easy way:

*Pardon my design skills, we didn’t have CrazyLister back at the day, so I had to learn some Photoshop 🙂

features of an eBay listing

features of an eBay listing

You can see how we “visually” mention the fact that the GPS comes with: Vocal navigation, speed cam alarm, touch screen and a windows operating system on our eBay listings.

On a side note – Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, I talk about this in our post about the elements World’s Top eBay Sellers add to their listings to increase eBay sales?

These are the features that most of our competitors were highlighting as well – so we made it easy for our potential customers to learn about them.

Here is another visual way we used top optimize our eBay listings and help customers learn:

how to optimize ebay listings - add main functions in a visual way

how to optimize ebay listings – add main functions in a visual way

Do you see the 2 years warranty badge above? We noted that most of our competitors mentioned a 1 year warranty on their eBay listings, so we knew that potential customers were looking for this aspect in our product.

We tested adding a longer warranty period and its effect on sales. By doing so, we killed 2 birds with one stone:

  1. First – we were “consistent” with our competitors in helping the customers learn that warranty was an important aspect when buying a GPS.
  2. Second – we were able to stand above the competition by offering a better deal on a specific important aspect.

Let’s get back to Bob and his search for a camera for his trip – Bob has now learned about the camera’s space and decided which model he wants.
Next, he’ll want to compare and decide which seller he should buy this camera from…

Phase #2: Compare

So now, Bob has learned about the camera model he wants to buy, but there are so many eBay listings out there from various sellers that are offering the same camera.

Bob wants to compare the different sellers and choose the best option for his needs, in terms of – price, service, shipping methods, return policies etc…

How can you help your potential customers to “Compare”?

The key point Jason mentions here is “differentiation” – how does your offer for an item differ from the other sellers?

This brings me to the importance of focus, an aspect which I mention in almost every post.

Read point #3 “Focus, focus, focus!” in my previous post about eBay Hacks we learned growing eBay sales from zero to $100k/ Month.

Differentiation is where you show your strongest side! If you promise the best customer support on eBay – this is the place to shout it out, so those buyers who compare your eBay listings to others can clearly see that your differentiation is in the support aspect. Make it easy for the customers to “compare” you to others and see what your competitive advantage is.

Not knowing or not clearly stating your competitive advantage in your eBay listings is one of the most critical eBay selling mistakes that will kill your business.

Of course, you need to make sure you fill in as much “item specifics” as possible when creating an eBay listing. It’s critical for filtering the search results on eBay.

Back to Bob…

Finally Bob wants to convert.

Try CrazyLister for free! Easily create professional, mobile-optimized eBay listings

Phase #3: Convert

Bob wants to be convinced that this specific eBay listing, from this specific seller is the one he should buy from.

He wants to be sure that his transaction will be as easy as possible, that he’ll get his camera on time for his trip etc…

eBay’s research shows that there are two focal points you need to trigger to make the potential customer buy from your eBay listing:

  1. Confidence
  2. Urgency

Bob wants to get confidence in 3 main aspects:

  1. Confidence that he’s getting a great deal
  2. Confidence that he’s going to have a great transnational relationship with the seller
  3. Confidence that if anything goes wrong, or he eventually finds out that this is not the camera he wanted, he will be able to return it and not have any hassles.

eBay found that a big factor for making the customer feel confident is the “sales history”:

ebay listing sales history

ebay listing sales history

As Jason explains – “When a buyer sees that a bunch of other buyers have bought it before, he sees that as a confidence indicator”
In the example above you’ll see that 410 people bought this item, that’s a strong indicator that people trust the seller and it most likely make more buyers comfortable doing business with that seller.

This is called “Social proof” –
“What is social proof?  Put simply, it’s the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.”
Aileen lee, Founder & Partner @ Cowboy Ventures

I’ve discussed social proof in the past in relation to tracking eBay sales down reasons and optimizing eBay listings with social proof signals.

In another post about the top eBay sellers, which I mentioned before, I explained how our research showed that most of the world’s top eBay sellers add indicators of trust and social proof to convey confidence.

Now let’s dive into each of the “confidence” aspects:

Confidence that he’s getting a great deal

It may sound too simple to be true, but by simply stating that we guarantee the best deal on eBay, we were able to gain confidence points for our eBay listings and increase sales.

Here is a snapshot of a heading from our eBay listing –

ebay listing description with social proof signal

ebay listing description with social proof signal

Make sure your eBay listing clearly states the reason for this being a great deal for the specific segment of customers you’re after.

Remember – you can’t win them all! If you’re the fastest shipper on eBay – make sure your potential customers understand that your added value is ultra fast shipping!

Confidence that he’s going to have great transnational relationship with the seller

Our experience shows that transparency is the key to assuring a buyer he’s in good hands.

If you’re a one man show – don’t be shy about it, don’t try to hide behind your eBay listings. On the contrary! Share this fact proudly, tell your story – make the buyer know that the founder and CEO of the business (even if it’s a one man business) is the one who will answer all his messages and ship his orders! It has a magical impact on confidence.

“There is nothing more powerful than truth”  Amaka Imani Nkosazana

Check out this sellers eBay listing –

ebay listing confidence indicator

ebay listing confidence indicator

He shows you himself, his wife and his children! I feel confident doing business with this guy!

More about this under “Convey trust and authenticity” in the eBay selling hacks post.

Another example for transparency doing its magic is Philip Bourdon’s success story – How This Seller Increased His eBay Sales By 76% With A Simple Change

Peter managed to increase his sales by adding an image of himself to his eBay listing –

ebay listing trust signals

ebay listing trust signals

Pro tip: Be the first mover – show your potential customers that you are trustworthy, don’t hide behind your eBay listing!

Confidence that if anything goes wrong, or he eventually finds out that this is not the camera he wanted, he will be able to return it and not have any hassles

The best way to make your potential customers tick this point is to show that you have made things right for all your previous customers.

Share your feedback and add testimonials to your eBay listing. If you don’t have many  customers and feedback yet, go for quality rather than quantity –

Ask for 2-3 testimonials with photos from your customers. It makes a ton of impact and gives your eBay listing a lot of “confidence points”.

When you create your eBay listing – make sure you indicate a competitive return policy! (check what your competitors offer)


What does “Urgency” on eBay mean?

One example is the “Auction format” when there is a time limit to fore the potential customer to make a decision.

Jason also mentions “time limited deals” – You can try stating on your eBay listing that the current price is valid until X before going up.

The “Why to buy” section

Jason describes the fascinating mechanism that helps decide what to show to potential customers in order to increase the chances of conversion.

These are the selling points that eBay internally calls “why to buy” that you see on the screen-shot below, and they are actually buyer specific! This means that you and I can see different selling points, according to various data points that eBay have about our buying behavior –

Optimize eBay listing with 'why to buy'

Optimize eBay listing with ‘why to buy’

As you can see, eBay determined that the important selling points for me are:

  • “Free shipping” – which is true, I’m in Israel so shipping here is not taken for granted
  • “Limited quantity remaining” – eBay are showing urgency, pushing me to make a decision
  • “More than 50% sold” – You already know what it is… That’s right – a classic “Social proof” element

It’s fascinating to hear Jason explain about this mechanism and how eBay “push” potential customers to convert –

I was surprised to see that by the time of conducting the research for this post, this video only had about 90 views on YouTube!

I recommend watching the whole recording – hoping you’ll find it as insightful as I did!

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