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eBay Listing Integration – SKU & Product Codes

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This is a short article explaining how to optimise your eBay listings to ensure they are processed accurately by a third party fulfilment house (3PL). It is aimed primarily at eBay business sellers using an outsourced fulfilment service such as James and James.

To ensure complete accuracy and privacy, large outsourced fulfilment companies will not access the seller's eBay account directly to print out packing slips, but will instead request details automatically from eBay. While a human can understand a listing description, it is not sufficient in a more automated process to determine which product(s) are part of the listing. It is therefore necessary to add unique product identifiers to each listing.

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Item Identification

Invariably it is desirable to change the listing title from time to time, or to list the same product with two or more
different titles. The title is also very important on eBay, allowing your product to be found - too important to add an SKU code or product identifier within it.

One work-around to this is to add a SKU code in a a known location in the auction listing itself, which can then be stripped out by a remote web server. This is not best practice though as it requires the listing number of a sold item to be automatically searched for, and the page 'scraped' for the stock code. If the page is badly formatted, has been changed since the sale or any other number of reasons could cause this to fail.

Much better is to use the hidden SKU field present in all eBay listings, but only accessable via an auction uploader or manager, such as eBay's free Turbo Lister. For more details of this, see below.

Mutliple Items in One Listing

What happens though if you wish to list an auction for, say, a pair of trainers and a free pair of socks? Or three bags of coffee granules? Whilst each of these could be made a new product with a respective SKU code, this would make inventory rather inflexible. For example, imagine what would happen if you had an order for one pair of socks, but because you only had 'trainers with socks' left it couldn't be fulfilled. Having 'made up' products like this only increases the complexity of inventory and hampers sales.

James and James Fulfilment's solution is to offer their clients 'product assemblies.' These are known assemblies of products, with a known SKU code. When an assembly is purchased, ControlPort warehouse management software interprets the SKU code and correctly identifies the individual components to the picker to process the order. Thus provided there are enough component products, any combination of assemblies can be sold and stock control is no more complicated as without them as no assembled stock is kept - they are 'built-on-demand.'

Turbo Lister

This is a free piece of software available from eBay and allows you to add a SKU to each auction as well as having additional benefits such as; bulk upload, fast editing, work with templates, duplicate existing, to name a few.

To see an online overview and tour, click here.

Once you have downloaded the software and entered your eBay login details, it will ask you to verify your account login again. Then you are ready to go.

When you add or edit an item, you simply need to make sure the correct SKU code is entered in to the box called 'Custom Label' under 'Inventory Information.'

{I agree this isn't the most obvious name for it, but I can assure you it is the correct box for the field}.

This SKU code needs to be the same as the one you submitted when uploading the product details to us, or the same as the code allocated to the assembly we have listed.

Save you listing. Wait for it to sell, then we'll do the rest.

For more information and help on Turbo Lister, please see the eBay help pages.

April 11th, 2011 by Jonnie Davis

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