Prepare for the Holidays, Part 3

Create clear, attractive listings that sell.

by Sarah Brown
- Aug 05, 2013

Summer is one of the slowest times for online sellers. But—as we've explored—it's also a great time for merchants to prepare for the busy holiday season that's just around the corner.

In Part one of this series, we looked at ways to source the right inventory. In Part two we considered ways to make your packing and shipping processes more productive. This time, we remind you how to create successful listings that pop and sell quickly to holiday shoppers.

Keep mobile in mind

You can bet holiday shoppers will turn to their mobile devices for purchases this year. Last year, shoppers bought $25 billion worth of goods on their mobile devices and, in the next three years, mobile transactions are expected to make up more than 27 percent of e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer.

If a quarter of our sales will come from mobile devices, we need to know how our listings appear to mobile shoppers. As some may know, websites often appear differently on smartphones and tablets than they do on desktops, so if you're only using your computer to review your listings, it's time to make an adjustment.

If the photograph appeals to us, we will look at the title next and look further into the listing

When a mobile buyer shops via the eBay app, the most prominent feature is the gallery image, followed by a clear price tag and the first six words of the title. Upon opening a listing, the gallery image and price are still prominently featured, followed by basic seller, shipping and payment information. Below that resides your product description. It's an incredibly intuitive design, but clearly the first photograph, price and title are key.

Remember, shoppers are very visual

With that said, you need to take really good photos of your items. That is, unless you have a supplier who's giving you professionally produced images to use. The background should be white or another solid color, and it should be very obvious in the photo what you are selling.

Our society is becoming more and more visual, meaning we're going to rely on images to give us our first impression of something. If the photograph appeals to us, we will look at the title next and look further into the listing.

Don't forget about the description

Currently the listing title is one of the most important elements of a successful listing, so you need to put good keywords here to improve your ranking in search results. eBay's search engine, Voyager, scours and indexes the words you place in your title, so that when a user enters a search term, Voyager returns results it deems relevant to the customer.

Keep this in mind when you write your title, and think like a buyer. If you were shopping for your product, which words would you enter in the search engine? Think about brand, color, size and similar such ideas. And don't just jumble the keywords in there. Your title needs to make sense. Users are more likely to click on a listing that is easy to read and understand at first glance.

Be clear and have a little fun if you want, but don't overload your description with too much information

Consider this listing title I recently posted, "Womens Skechers Shape Ups Trim Step Walking Shoes size 8.5 brown walk sandals." I placed all the keywords in a way that rolls a little smoother off the tongue, and then I add other potential keywords at the end, where it's less likely to confuse but still bring up search results.

By next year, eBay is expecting to have its new search engine, Cassini, fully rolled out. One exciting feature about this upgrade is Cassini's ability to search the product description for keywords. This means you won't have to rely on the title to do all the work to gain attention.

Just the facts, ma'am

In your product description, feel free to repeat much of what's in your title, and then add more details. Tell users what the product is constructed of, its condition, its measurements, etc. Be clear and have a little fun if you want, but don't overload your description with too much information.

Only tell shoppers what they want to know—and should know—about the product, and don't push them with all caps or colorful text. You want to keep your text easy to read and in black. Shoppers prefer that.

If it helps, pretend you were at a market looking at an item that interested you. You have a few questions that will help determine if that product is something you are ready to buy. The salesman comes over to help you and starts talking to you. At what point does his assistance become information overload or too much of a sales pitch?

So, just stick to the facts.

Colors and themes help tell a story about what you're selling and why a user should buy it

Add a template

If possible, take advantage of designer templates to enhance your listing. I use Auctiva for my listings. The company provides a myriad of services for my eBay sales, including a huge selection of listing templates that frame my images and product descriptions with a professional looking design.

When choosing my templates, I try to find colors and themes that are relevant to my listing and help it look better, but aren't obnoxious.

Think of it as adding an experience for the user. Colors and themes help tell a story about what you're selling and why a user should buy it. It also makes it easier for the shopper to find what you have to say about your item by often breaking listings up into easy-to-digest segments.

eBay provides some designer templates as well. If you're not using a third party to create your listings, you can select a template from a few hundred choices on eBay. The marketplace is still new at template design, so the workload is a little heavier for you to find the right one, and it will cost a few dimes to use eBay's templates. But you can think of it as a marketing investment in user experience.

If your goal this summer is to improve your listings for better holiday sales, make a checklist, start chipping away at it—and check it twice. Create relevant keyword titles that are easy on the eyes, take clear photographs, use brief descriptions that inform but don't overload, and use designer templates that enhance your sale.

Next time in this series, we'll tell you why you should polish your policies now. Until then, happy listing!

About the Author

Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

Other Entries by this Author

Follow Us