Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Designing & Critiquing An Ebay Listing: Categories & Item Specifics

After choosing a title, there a couple of things in an ebay listing to take care of before getting into the item description and picture.

When choosing a category to list an etopps in-hand, it's quite easy to find a home: Sports Mem, Cards & Fan Shop -> Cards -> Sport of the Card. Then you have a choice of Rookies, Singles, or Lot if you're selling a bunch. After the first two, you then drill-down to Range of Years (such as 2000-Present) and finally the year of the card. In the Ken Griffey Jr. listing, this is shown at the top of the listing and it's more-or-less a no-brainer. But what about the etopps baseball rookie card? It's not considered a rookie card in the traditional cardboard collecting world. An etopps rookie card is a player's first year card the year they are called up.

There are only a few etopps rookie cards that are considered "true" rookie cards. To name a few of the more well-known ones:
2001 Albert Pujols
2001 Ichiro Suzuki
2003 Jeremy Bonderman
2003 Hideki Matsui
2004 Brandon Webb
2004 Kaz Matsui
2006 Dice-K

You may get a few cardboard collectors asking you (via ebay or at a card show) why you would call a 2003 Miguel Cabrera his rookie card while his real rookie card is from 2000. I would recommend explaining that etopps qualifies a rookie card when they have their first major league at-bat or pitch rather than when they are in the minor leagues. This won't be too unfamiliar to them since the rookie card designation for cardboard has taken this approach since 2006.

The biggest mistake that's made with categories is the failure to change the category if needed for each card you list. I have seen etopps cards listed under other collectibles and for categories that have nothing to do with sports memorabilia because the seller forgets to change the category from the last listing they had made. I am quite guilty of this myself. Too many times I have gone back to listings after they have started to change their categories.

You may not care about categories but it does make a difference. No one is going to search for etopps cards in a category for webkinz stuffed animals or music memorabilia. These are actually good buying opportunities to take advantage of the mistakes of sellers who forget where they are listing an in-hand.

Now that there is something called Item Specifics, there are even more search choices (and more erroneous listings of etopps cards). The item specifics helps buyers drill-down more of what they're looking for. In the Ken Griffey Jr. listing, the seller made selections for the cards' item specifics:
Original/Reproduction: left blank
Card Type: "Single"
Year/Season: "2006"
Card Manufacturer: left blank
Card Attributes: left blank
Professionally Graded: No

I was surprised he left three item specifics blank. You've got nothing to lose by saying its an original card manufactured by Topps. In the Card Attributes, there's a set of check-off boxes (so you can have more than one) consisting of Autograph, Rookie, Piece of Authentic, and Serial Numbered. Since this card is serial numbered, I was surprised this seller did not pick the Serial Numbered choice.

Worse, the seller missed the best Card Type pull-down menu choice: there's one for etopps!

Like with the quality of the title, I would give the item specifics a B+ because he has room for improvement. He nailed the Category choice which is an easy A if you don't forget to change it for each etopps listing (that is, if you're listing multiple, single cards one after the other).

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