Ecommerce marketplaces have gone from popular to paramount in recent years.

People like the easy usability, reliability, and comfort of buying from marketplaces — so much so that they often default to their favorite marketplace for the majority of their purchases. Not to mention the perk-loaded subscriptions of some channels that ensure brand loyalty.

It’s no secret that marketplaces are where products see the most exposure. If you sell products online but not on marketplaces, you’re probably missing out on a ton of sales. 

That said, transitioning your product data from site to marketplace isn’t always 1:1, but your efforts to adapt it won’t go unrewarded.

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How marketplaces work (and how your products fit in)

The way marketplaces work is simple: your products get mass exposure and you pay seller fees relevant to what you sell and the services you utilize.

“An online marketplace is a website or app that facilitates shopping from many different sources. The operator of the marketplace does not own any inventory, their business is to present other people’s inventory to a user and facilitate a transaction.” - Richard Kestenbaum, What Are Online Marketplaces And What Is Their Future?

The four main marketplaces:

If you sell problematic products, are inconsistent with order fulfillment, or have unsustainable costs to keep up with, chances are marketplaces aren’t for you. But if you have a solid business model and sell honest, good products, the profits should greatly outweigh the expenses.

With this in mind, let’s talk product data.

Even if your products sell themselves in the physical world, in the digital world they’re only as strong as the data that represents them (tiles, descriptions, images, etc.). Furthermore, to succeed in a marketplace, your catalog needs to be tailored to the target channel’s standards. 

Here are some key differences between marketplace product data and an ecommerce website’s product data:

  • Typical site product data requirements are minimal in comparison to the data requirements of marketplaces
  • Marketplace data specifications differ across product categories
  • Marketplace product listings benefit from hyper-detailed, descriptive product information
  • Certain products are not eligible for sale on marketplaces

Simply copying your site catalog’s product data for use on a marketplace can yield lackluster results… or worse. Learning about what works best on the target marketplace, augmenting your catalog, and mindfully tweaking your data is the answer.

How to prepare your products for top marketplace performance

Even if you have a functioning ecommerce site, the product data that works for you there is most likely unfit for marketplace use.

That said, chances are your data isn’t too far from where it needs to be. Platform differences call for some nuanced considerations but these big picture ideas apply to all marketplaces.

1. Consider categorization

If you’re just starting out and your catalog isn’t effectively categorized or if you use a personal categorization system based on the needs of your business, you’ll need to prioritize this area of your data.

Product categorization is at the core of how marketplaces handle product data. Each product category has different data requirements. You need to have your general categories sorted out, as you’ll need to refer to the individual data requirements of the categories relevant to what you’re selling. 

For example, if you only sell books and you’re looking to list your products on Amazon, you’ll need to refer to Amazon’s specifications for book product data. In that case, one product feed would suffice — but if you sell anything else that belongs to any other product category, you’ll need to refer to that category’s data specifications and make a separate feed.

If you sell a wide range of products, you’ll need several tailored product feeds to get all your products on Amazon or Walmart.

Google and eBay are a bit different. Google products need to be categorized effectively and certain products have advanced data requirements, but one well-crafted feed is all you need. The same can be said about eBay, but eBay’s data requirements can be a little tricky to identify. We recommend using Frooition’s Categorization Tool to better understand eBay’s category-based data requirements.

While there is a lot of overlap, marketplace data requirements differ from one another. Google’s product data specification is public and easily accessible. Other platforms keep that info in their respective seller portals.

The importance of honing in on your product categories and optimizing your data around channel requirements cannot be overstated. Many marketplace product data optimizations depend on the categorical specifications and related best practices.

Not to boast, but GoDataFeed makes product categorization a breeze and streamlines the task of building out feeds to peak channel and categorical standards.

2. Optimize your product titles

On your site, your product titles might be straightforward and concise, but marketplace listings benefit from the opposite.

The more descriptive your product titles are, the better.

optimized marketplace product data title
Anker Power Bank title states the most important product details

In general, product titles are extremely important from a SEO standpoint. That applies to how products are searched for on marketplaces. More often than not, customers are searching for desired product features or attributes rather than a specific brand. Hence, why we're all used to seeing excessively long titles on sites like Amazon.

While it’s important to make your titles descriptive, order of information matters and titles have character limits. Be sure to follow the best practices of individual product categories for order, format, and other specifics. Depending on its category, any given product benefits from the inclusion and order of certain key data points. Refer to marketplace FAQs and support documentation for further details. Additionally, there's no better insight than studying what your competitors are doing.

If you don’t properly detail and structure your product titles, you’ll miss out on traffic that your competition will capture.

3. Supply high-quality product imagery

An effective marketplace listing’s visuals showcase the product in a plain, direct way.

optimized effective high-quality marketplace product image
PEAK Design Cuff Camera Wrist Strap images effectively showcase the product

Always check platform image requirements to get best results on any channel. That said, there are some universal best practices that will contribute to your success on any marketplace:

  • Prioritize basic, high-quality, white background shots of the product from all angles
  • Emphasize features, build quality, and other details with close-up visuals
  • Provide useful contextual shots that highlight use cases
  • Include stylized imagery if you have it, don’t force it

Marketplace listings excel with simple high-quality imagery. Stylized imagery is of secondary importance.

You want prospective customers to be able to see every angle and detail they might want to see. Close-ups aid in conveying quality details and product features, and including contextual visuals, like in-use examples, helps address sizing and usability concerns.

There’s no such thing as too many images as long as they’re serving a purpose.

4. Optimize product descriptions and bullet points

After titles, product descriptions and bullet points are the next best places to convey value propositions and to optimize for search.

When optimizing these attributes, you want to make sure it’s accurate and information-dense. Information overlap here is more than okay, it’s encouraged.

To maximize bullet point effectiveness, you want to provide a tailored list of the product’s features and benefits — everything you want customers to take with them if they were to leave without going any further.

To maximize description effectiveness, you want to provide a rich, thoughtful summary of everything there is to know about your product. This is also the best space to utilize keywords that you couldn’t naturally fit into the product title… but don’t just stuff your descriptions with keywords. For a better customer experience, it’s best to weave in keywords around additional useful context.

5. Include relevant product identifiers

Major marketplaces require universal product identifiers (UPIs) such as GTIN, UPC, or EAN.

If you aren’t familiar with these, check out our article on product identifiers.

UPIs enable search engines, marketplaces, and all other platforms to recognize the product as original; they ensure it’s the real deal — at least from a product data perspective. Even spare components, repair parts, and other products devoid of a formal barcode can be formally recognized by these platforms by supplying brand and manufacturer part number (MPN) values.

If you’re selling products online through an independent store, your product catalog may or may not already include universal identifiers. While they may not be necessary for your personal site, that info would benefit you across all platforms.

6. Provide accurate product size + shipping dimensions

Another requirement for marketplaces is to provide accurate shipping weight and dimensions. Having this info accurate and ready enables streamlined fulfillment on any applicable channel. 

You might want to go beyond shipping information though. Including detailed product dimensions can improve the customer experience and result in better conversions. 

The apparel category universally requires sizing information, but many other categories and more specifically, actual products, benefit from raw product dimensions. When applicable, plug that info into the appropriate fields. Otherwise, this is information that fares well in product descriptions and bullet points, and/or in secondary imagery with graphic overlays.

Documenting and presenting relevant product dimensions ensures customers don’t need to go looking around for important details that you can easily provide.

7. Provide as much optional information as possible

Ecommerce site product listings require far less product info than what a marketplace like Walmart requires. Some site catalogs might even function with nothing more than title and price, but such a product dataset wouldn’t go live on a marketplace.

Marketplaces require certain product details and accept an optional range of information that varies across categories. Just because that nonrequired info is labeled as optional doesn’t mean you should treat it like it is.

It’s always best to maximize your catalog by including as much information about your products as possible.

product data feed completeness weak data strong data
Left: working product data void of important details / Right: optimized product data

Give buyers all the context they could possibly need to make an educated purchase. An informed buyer is much easier to sell to than an uninformed buyer. This is especially important because the more information a buyer has about your product, the more likely they are to find reasons to buy it.

The more info, the better — aim for full data completeness.

8. Make the most out of being the brand owner (if possible)

If you own the rights to your products as the brand owner, you can boost your credibility by verifying your brand on your target marketplaces.

All you have to do is register your brand on any given marketplace and you’ll unlock brand-exclusive perks.

Benefits include badges and other markers of authenticity that automatically add credibility to your profile, counterfeit control measures, and other channel-specific perks.

The Google Shopping Optimization Handbook

Finding marketplace success

Maximizing your potential on any given marketplace can be boiled down to providing complete, high quality product data with channel and category-specific considerations.

When in doubt, refer to what your successful competitors are doing and use that as inspiration to do something better.

Transitioning your site’s product catalog to perform well on a marketplace doesn’t need to be complicated. With the right mindset and toolset, expanding your business to any marketplace can be a lot easier than you think.

GoDataFeed lets you import data from anywhere, enables you to easily build out and optimize feeds for any ecommerce channel, and automates the process of maintaining your products across your product marketing platforms.

Your products, from site to marketplace with ease.