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How to manage eBay templates due to rule changes

It is clear that eBay are steadily discouraging the use of eBay listing templates. The most recent announcement is their intent to stop eBay Shop Fronts.

Active content and outgoing link removal from listings were the first big changes that signalled the move. And those changes came hard on the heels of image size guidelines being tightened up.

It seems clear that eBay are steadily moving to a situation where they want the user experience to be as consistent as possible, regardless of who the seller may be. At the same time the eBay catalogue will no doubt get expanded and improved.

It would appear that a move to a more Amazon style catalogue would be the end goal. Though that can't, and won't, happen overnight, if that is the intent.

So what should eBay sellers do?

The one thing that is essential, is to stay organised, and have good control of the raw copy and specification data for your listings. That means having your listing copy seperate from your listing html. By doing that it means that whatever eBay do with templates and html rules that you will still have the underlying data to fall back on. That's why you should be using listing software that keeps the html away from the copy, and only combines the two when the listing needs pushed onto eBay.

If you only have the listings as they exist on eBay, then they will be full of html. When eBay introduce the next set of changes, whatever those changes may be, you'll not have the copy available to you as text. Instead you'll have a pile of html, with your precious copy buried inside it somewhere.

To extract the copy from the html listing you'll need to parse the listing and discard the unwanted html, but without losing too much of the formatting information: such as carriage returns, and new paragraphs. Extracting copy can be troublesome. It's something we do for clients, and we've found that it can be a time consuming process. It all depends on the complexity of the underlying template, and any peculiar html that is in there. You have to be careful to avoid inadvertantly discarding important copy, in short: it's easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So remember: If you want to make yourself resilient to any new rules that kick in from eBay, with respect to listing html, the best thing to do is to ensure you've got your product and listing information stored and managed separately from the formatting html.

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