Richard Falconer COO Optiseller

eBay has long been one of the most popular marketplaces globally. Unlike other online commerce marketplace platforms, eBay doesn’t sell from its inventory and instead relies on independent sellers to list products for sale on the platform.

But like other online commerce platforms, it had to adjust to the ever-changing eCommerce landscape to keep up with buyer demands. Often, small sellers become discouraged with these platform changes. Still, in a world when customers become increasingly accustomed to better search, faster delivery, and more options, eBay had to update its platform and policies to help sellers be more competitive.

With all the rapid changes in eCommerce just over the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, eBay’s renewed focus on its core marketplace, we were delighted to have an opportunity to talk with Richard Falconer, Chief Operating Officer at Optiseller.

Optiseller is an eCommerce data platform that helps sellers with tools to better control, manage, and monitor their performance on marketplaces, including eBay.

He has a unique insight into the challenges and strategies successful eBay sellers use to maximize their profits by optimizing listings using eBay offered features and Optiseller tools. 

Q: What do you believe are the most significant challenges eBay sellers face today operating on the marketplace? 

A: It is absolutely crucial for all businesses to ensure they are visible and easily accessible online; their customers need to know they are still here and know where they can easily find their product and services. As a business Optiseller is set-up to assist online retailers improve their sales, and automates the whole process for users. In the digital world, data is king; it drives business decisions and growth. Optimizing your data is key to success, whether you run a huge multinational or a small family-run business.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives during 2020/21 and eCommerce is no exception. By some estimates, daily global online shopping has increased by 66%.  Lockdowns across the globe have accelerated online shopping as brick-and-mortar retailers shut down. However, due to this explosion, competition is now fiercer than ever, so it is vital that sellers give the customer what they want and when they want, and probably most importantly, catch their eye as online shoppers demand results quickly. In traditional retail, they say eye level is buy level. It’s the same online: if buyers can’t see your listings, they won’t buy. Two crucial things to boost your sales are increased visibility and differentiating yourself from your competitors. eBay is also constantly changing with new mandates and updates. It is vital that sellers are aware of these changes to ensure their listings comply. Spending just one hour a day fine-tuning your eBay site can pay huge dividends.

Q: To help eBay sellers overcome these challenges, what solutions does Optiseller offer to help them improve their sales and profits? 

A: Optiseller is an eCommerce data platform that provides over 40,000 online retailers with the tools they need to control, manage and monitor their performance. Optiseller is now used in over 100 countries and has analyzed over 1.1bn products. It reviews over 70m listings every week. The system produces rich data which can be analyzed to grow sales and improve performance across multiple eCommerce channels, as well as proprietary and own brand. Optiseller can also provide clients with bespoke data tools and solutions, and the platform is fully scalable with users ranging from niche sellers to global enterprise clients.

Optiseller offers a range of Software as a Service (SaaS) tools to help online retailers optimize their data and online presence to ensure sales are maximized, the customer experience is enhanced, and retailers are following the policies laid out by the marketplaces. Optiseller utilizes the data that flows through marketplaces, captures, analyses and reviews it, and then ensures the data is of the highest quality so it can be used to make the right (and informed) decisions that will transform growth.

In simple terms – Optiseller helps online retailers sell more. Through our dashboard tools, we give sellers the opportunity to make the most of their data in order to increase sales. The Optiseller Store Performance Dashboard is designed to give online sellers an overview of their listings and help them identify where they need to make changes. If you want to improve your listing ratings, this dashboard is the perfect place to start. 

The Dashboard tracks and offers insight into KPIs including: 

  • Total listings, SKUs, quantity sold
  • Duplicate listings  
  • Use of title length
  • Item Specifics quality  
  • Shipping options offered  
  • Use of images 
  • Items missing fitment data  

In our experience, these KPIs are the ones that provide the most value to business owners.

Item Specifics are critical to your visibility on the eBay marketplace: the more relevant Item Specifics you populate, the more views and sales you will receive. According to eBay, listings from business sellers with at least 6 Item Specifics have 47% more impressions per listing than listings with less than 6 Item Specifics. But with their many fields and constant updates, populating Item Specifics can feel like a never-ending task. Optiseller scans your listings to identify any that are missing important Item Specifics. If you already have this information stored in other parts of your listing, the tool will retrieve it for you. This feature will save you considerable amounts of time when updating your listings, especially if you have a large inventory.

Optiseller enables sellers to meet eBay standards in categories where Item Specifics are mandated, as well as in categories that have no mandated Item Specifics. Adding and improving non-mandated specifics can help gain visibility and increase the views of your items. Last but not least, the tool includes the Buyer Demand indicator. The 5-star indicator displays the importance of each Item Specific in terms of how often it’s used by buyers to filter results. This information can help you prioritize and focus your efforts on the most commercially relevant Item Specifics.

From the seller’s perspective, item specifics have become increasingly important, as now more than ever, you have to make your goods stand out in an overcrowded marketplace, where shoppers are demanding results in literally seconds. People don’t want to waste time trying to find what they are after so the use of filters has increased dramatically.

Q: Could you explain the importance of SEO on eBay in more detail? Presumably, many sellers have heard the term in context to search engines like Google but may not fully understand how important SEO has become on eBay. 

A: Just as most companies want to be on page one of Google, it is no different on eBay. eBay is essentially a huge search engine, you need to cover the right fundamentals – and more – to rank as highly as possible in eBay search results. To appear in the results, you need to understand how it works and the data points that matter. Many sellers think that the title is all they need, but this is incorrect. You need to optimize your listings just like you would your homepage.

The first thing to look at is your product categorization. Select the one which not only best describes or relates what you are selling (our tool can help you with this) but also has the strongest buyer demand. You must choose the correct one before you begin any product optimization. Consider listing in a second categories but remember fees may apply. By optimizing item specifics alone, some companies have seen an increase of over 80% in sales, so it cannot be overemphasized how important they are. These cover all the details about your product such as brand, make, model, size, type, color and style. They make it easy for buyers to find what they are looking for. According to eBay, some 55% of buyers will use filters to search for goods. In certain categories such as women’s fashion, this rises to 80%. Therefore, the greater amount of relevant item detail you can provide, the greater your chances of being found.

It is also important to have the correct product identifiers, known as Global Trade Identification Numbers (GTIN), which are found on product barcodes. This can take the form of Manufacturer Part Number (MPN), Universal Product Code (UPC) or International Standard Book Number (ISBN). These are important because customers may also search by one of these numbers if they know the specific product they are looking for. For example, in laptops and mobile phones, there are so many variations that buyers may need one of these codes to find the exact model. GTINS are now mandatory in selected product categories, and they link to the eBay catalog. They can also improve your rankings on both eBay and Google search engines and drive more impressions to the right buyers with cross-promotions.

Good quality hi-res images can help lift your ranking on both Google Shopping and eBay. They should have a white background and no watermarks. Use multiple images for the same product from different angles (up to 12 per product are allowed), including stock photos, lifestyle, in situ shots, etc. If a product is available in different colors, have images in all of them. Also, include alt tags in all images, as this has been shown to increase search visibility.

Sellers must also be aware of the listing title, remembering that the first four words are the most important, but use all 80 characters available if possible, and include keywords but avoid acronyms. Don’t be tempted to spam as your conversion rates may suffer: you may drive higher impressions but from poor quality buyers that don’t convert, which won’t help your listing. Keywords are the words people are likely to use in search engines when looking for items they are looking to buy. You need to choose the keywords which will make it as easy as possible to find your products; keywords should make up 5-7% of the description. As 50% of online sales are now on mobile, descriptions need to be concise.

Q: Looking ahead 12 months, where do you see the best opportunities for sellers to profit most on eBay? Are there any categories that you believe are underserved?

A: The online boom will certainly continue as people’s shopping habits have been irreversibly altered, and we also expect to see greater use of AI assistance, improved site search, more personalization of the shopping experience and a significant shift towards mobile phone shopping.

eBay is constantly expanding the product categories for which item specifics are mandatory. For example, in the latest set of mandates, antiques, collectibles and certain luxury goods have to provide items specifics for the first time. For many sellers, this may appear to be a daunting task.

Fortunately, Optiseller is here to help with tools, advice and support to help sellers cope with these changes and take the hard work out of updating and optimizing their listings.

Thank you!

We want to thank Richard for his great insights on how eBay sellers can successfully take advantage of the eBay marketplace and online commerce in general.

eCommerce is all about managing data. While eBay continues to expand its data services, solution providers such as Optiseller can offer advantages that sellers who only rely on eBay may not have.

To learn more about Optiseller, please visit optiseller.com.

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