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eBay Strategies

Removing Active Content from existing eBay listings

This post is by Jonathan Pollard CEO & Co-founder of Codisto – a provider of Amazon & eBay integration and listings tools.  I met Jonathan Iain Jonathan at Birmingham Online Seller Meetupin 2016 at Birmingham Online Seller Meetup and we have been in touch since to discuss how we can work together. This post is just a start and I’d like to help Codisto tools reach more eBay sellers in the UK.

Marketplace Connect’ is a lightweight extension offering full integration for Magento, WooCommerce & Shopify.

Xpress Lister’ is a browser based tool offering bulk edit of existing listings and bulk creation of new listings from spreadsheets.

eBay’s new ‘Active Content’ for listings from June 2017 has been well reported. However, reports have generally focused on what Active Content is and recommendations of what to do for new future listings. Which leaves some important questions unanswered:

  • What about the thousands of sellers and millions of existing eBay listings containing Active Content?
  • How do sellers remove Active Content from existing listings to enable sales history to be retained?

Are personalised eBay sales templates a good thing?

Personalised eBay listing templates are a good thing for sellers. They allow sellers to stand out from the crowd and promote their brand. However, sellers have often created different forms of their templates over time leading to listings with inconsistent templates that all contain Active Content. Quite often we see the HTML contained in listings varying from product to product depending on when the products were first listed, sometimes stretching back several years.

The heart of the Active Content problem for existing listings is eBay’s ugly architecture.  To remove Active Content, the eBay template must be updated. The best way to architect a software solution that allows the updating of templates is to have separate ‘template’ and ‘product description’ elements (that is how we built Xpress Lister because it allows bulk updating of either templates and/or descriptions).

However, eBay’s architecture is such that the “ebay description” is a joint blob, containing BOTH the ‘written product description’ AND the template HTML (used to make the listing look good).   This means the HTML is intertwined with the ‘written product description’ and any Active Content is intertwined in the HTML – a messy ‘blob’.

Why is it difficult to remove Active Content from existing eBay listings?

For merchants to remove/replace active content from existing listings they must either:

  • Identify and replace the offending active content code intertwined in the HTML of the “ebay description” – possibly on many different templates across many products. This involves using the “Sell Your Item” flow, clicking “Revise listing”, scrolling to “Description”, switching out of ‘wyswig’ editor into html mode, copying that and pasting to a separate editor and picking through the HTML line by line!  Moreover, it has to be done listing by listing!  Very time consuming and a real struggle for many merchants; or
  • ‘Wipe the slate clean’ by removing the old templates and applying new active content compliant template to every listing.  However, there are two significant challenges here to this approach.  Namely:

#1 Applying the new template to every listing:

eBay doesn’t provide sellers with a suitable tool (Turbo Lister doesn’t include any template functionality).   3rd party template design services will provide Active Content compliant designs but they offer no means of distributing to the listings other than copy/paste listing by listing.  Furthermore, even if merchants are prepared to apply the new code listing by listing on eBay by copy/pasting on each individual listing, once it’s deployed the template code is ‘dumb’ or ‘orphaned’ – there is no way to make changes to the template later and have it automatically flow to every listing e.g. updating a logo or terms of sale – it’s a case of going listing by listing AGAIN!

#2 Having ‘clean’ product descriptions to apply a template to:

Unless merchants have ‘written product descriptions’ readily available elsewhere, the product description is only available on the existing eBay listings and is intertwined with the template HTML! This means sellers have to pick through the ‘ebay description’ blob one by one to retrieve their written product descriptions.

Are there any tools to help make existing listings Active Content compliant?   

Due to the reasons explained above, removing Active Content from existing listings to retain sales history is going to require a little effort.  If you have written product descriptions available on a spreadsheet it will save you some time as some 3rd party listing tools offer the ability to import and bulk update your existing listings with ‘clean’ descriptions and add an Active Content compliant template separately.  But it’s also possible to clean Active Content if your descriptions only exist on eBay listings and you can’t import from another source.

You can use Xpress Lister to remove Active Content for free by following our guide here


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