Online marketplaces offer sellers the option to either list all the different variations in one single listing, or rather list each one in a separate listing. In some cases it is not always clear which option is better - product listing with and without variations. In this post we address this question.
Many of the products sold online come in different variations. The same shirt can come in different colors and sizes, the same pendant may come with different stones etc. Online marketplaces offer sellers the option to either list all the different variations in one single listing, or rather list each one in a separate listing.
In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of each option, and help you understand which one fits your online store.
Listings with Variations
On eBay, for example, most categories offer listings with variations. Sellers can add up to 5 variation attributes, such as size, color, type, compatibility, etc. and up to 50 values for each of those attributes. That means that in total, sellers can add up to 250 different variations in the same single listing, with no extra cost.
Many shoppers are browsers, meaning they do not have a particular product in mind, only a general idea of what they are after, or rather they are looking for something to catch their eye. In this case, providing browsers with one listing which contains multiple variations, gives them plenty of options to choose from without leaving the listing, which increases the chances for conversion. Not to mention it makes the listing look much more organized and trustworthy.
Since some variations may be more exclusive, sellers can set different prices for different variations of the same product, allowing them to conduct A/B testing on different prices and see which one generates the most sales.
In contrast to listings with a single product, where shoppers are not even aware of the other products sold by the same seller, listings with variations encourage them to purchase several variations of the product, like a different color. Additional sales like that improve your seller status in the marketplace, and can help boost your listings to the top of the search result pages.
Since listings with variations tend to sell more than listings with a single product, marketplaces favor and promote them to the top of the search result pages. This becomes a positive feedback loop, because ranking at the top of the search result page only increases the listings’ exposure which in turn boosts sales even further.
Every listing has its own history of how many products have been sold. The more products the listing sold, the higher it will appear in the search result page, ensuring the most relevant shoppers will most likely see it. Listings with variations tend to monopolize the top to the result pages.
As mentioned above, eBay allows sellers to add up to 250 variations, all in the same one listing. When each listing costs money to post, it is easy to see how listings with variations can cost a mere fraction of what posting the variations individually would cost.
Product titles are one of the most essential parts of the listing, because not only is it the first thing shoppers see of the product, so special attention should be given to them. However, when creating a listing with variations our optimization options are more limited, since the title always stays the same. The title should be informative and engaging, without mentioning any specific attribute, such as size or color.
The same difficulty arises with the product description and item specifics. Both should be accurate, complete and relevant, and in the description’s case, also engaging, without getting into the specific variations of the products on sale. Adding specific attributes and values in the description and item specific can cause confusion, which might lead to returns and negative feedback.
Some marketplaces, however, provide generic templates for their product titles, descriptions and specifics, which makes listing products with variations that much simpler.
Sellers can ensure that no reference to any specific attribute slips into the listing’s title by including such terms in the keywords blacklist of their keyword management tool. The tool will block and remove any mentions of sizes, colors, types, etc. that should not be in the title, preventing unnecessary confusion.
While pretty straight forward in single product listings, listings with variations require images that show the entire variety (specifically in colors), either in separate images, or in one image depicting all the variations. What is important here, is that all the variations must be represented in the images, and note not to include any variations that are not actually on sale.
Here too, sellers can rely on automatic tools to grab relevant and appropriate images for listings with variations.
Single Product Listings
It is much easier to upload single product listings in bulk than listings with variations. Sellers can upload plenty of listings together, using default product title, description and item specifics. Contrary to listings with variations, no editing is required for single product listings, since the default content already covers it.
Creating single product listings gives sellers much more freedom in choosing which keywords to use in the title and description of each listing. This enables sellers to use more accurate or efficient keywords for specific variations.
Online marketplaces charge sellers fees for every listing they post. Naturally, posting many individual product listings cost several times more than posting listings with variations. In addition, depending on your seller status, posting too many listings might take you over the selling limit usually imposed by the marketplace.
Contrary to listings with variations, where shoppers who look for different products may end up in the same listing, in single product listings the traffic is divided among the different listings. Since they are more specific - offering only a single variation of the product - it is likely that only shoppers that look for this product specifically will click through to the listing. This, in turn, will affect the listing’s sales history, which will cause the listing to drop further down in the search result page, which, of course, leads to less traffic.
Earlier, we mentioned the browsers - shoppers that only have a general idea of what they want, and are browsing the store looking for something to catch their eye. Presenting the browsers with multiple variations increases the chances of that happening.
However, if the browsers are required to move from listing to listing to see different variations of the same product, they would most likely give up pretty quickly, without even knowing there might be other variations that they might like. They will simply move on to the competition, and you will lose a sale.
We already discussed how and why marketplace prefer and promote listings with variations - they enjoy better conversions rates and lead to more sales. Listings with variations, in effect, aggregates in one listings the traffic and sale history of all separate variations of the product.
After reading this article, we hope it is clear to all that listings with variations are much more preferable to single product listings. Sellers who sell products that come in different variations, such as size or color, should list them together in a listing with variations. Such listings perform much better than single product listings, which leads to more exposure and boosts sales. Single product listings should be left for unique products that have no variations.