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Standardizing Data Helps Products Get Found

Athletic shoes, running shoes, tennis shoes, or sneakers? As an online seller, you want shoppers to find your product in search even when they enter a term different from the one you use to describe your product. GS1 US is working to standardize the way retailers and businesses label product data, and its efforts have gained backing from online powerhouses like Google and eBay as well as retail giants Walmart and Target.

The adoption of the Simple Product Listing (SPL) Standard promises to help make items easier to find amidst the clutter of the modern Internet. The SPL Standard allows sellers of all types to categorize the merchandise they sell in a manner that will permit items to be accurately represented across ecommerce environments. This should help ensure that a seller knows if their products appear on an eBay or elsewhere, the target market will be able to find them.

The adoption of the use of the SPL Standard to further categorize product is voluntary. However, ecommerce pros should note the standard’s backing by Google, eBay, Walmart, and other big names in online selling probably means it will influence adoption by the broader Internet at large.

Currently, six product segments are supported in the SPL Standard’s initial release:

  • Books, Music, & Movies
  • Clothing, Shoes, & Accessories
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Collectibles & Memorabilia
  • Gift & Pre-paid Service Cards
  • Tickets

Rich Richardson, vice president of emerging capabilities and industries, GS1 US, told EcommerceBytes more about the SPL Standard and its emergence. “The standard is brand new, and has not yet been implemented by any retailers. When adopted, each retailer will decide how to implement the standard with their community.”

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He continued, “Some may choose to require a supplier to populate a web portal, others may choose to use predictive analytics to “auto-classify” products, and then have the supplier confirm the process. Suppliers in the released segments who want to be proactive may choose to download the standard and apply it to their inventory.”

Amit Menipaz, vice president, structured data at eBay Marketplaces, said in a statement, “The GS1 US Simple Product Listing will help us to standardize and simplify that information for sellers by reducing complexity of data integrity challenges within our ecosystem. This technology enables eBay’s consumers to more effectively find what they are looking for across our global marketplace with more than 800 million listings.”

Richardson encouraged feedback to from sellers as they use the SPL Standard to categorize products. He also noted the following categories are next in the project’s development plan: Camera Photo & Optics, Food & Beverages, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Sports & Outdoors and Jewelry, Gems & Watches.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to