EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3144 - September 03, 2013     4 of 4

Amazon Crackdown in Fashion Category

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A clothing brand has reported Amazon has begun shortening titles in the Clothing & Accessories category as the marketplace changed the maximum field length from 250 characters to 80 characters. The owner of a fashion brand who sells the apparel on said he's seen a drop in sales for every item that Amazon shortened.

"While 80 words or under might look better on Amazon's site and maybe be better for grouping sellers who sell or make the exact same thing as everybody else," he said. "The lack of being able to put a more descriptive title minimizes the key word draw the title has."

The proprietor said Amazon had informed merchants in the apparel category that it would suppress listings that did not conform, but said the company did not warn him that it would actually shorten his brand's titles.

In a response to our query, an Amazon spokesperson said, "I have included the details that were communicated to sellers alerting them to the title length requirement change back in May" and provided the following:

"Amazon is working continuously to identify opportunities to improve the selling experience and our customers' buying experience.

"Our research shows that listings with complete product information and titles (parent titles) with less than 80 characters improve the shopping experience by making it easier for customers to find, evaluate, and purchase products. To improve the customer experience, we have decided to hide (or suppress) listings that do not meet certain standards."

The proprietor believed a robot may be shortening the titles with some human editing. When asked what happens if sellers don't change title lengths to conform to new requirements, and whether Amazon was using humans and/or robots to shorten titles, the spokesperson replied, "We don't describe our internal processes."

That is of little solace to the clothing brand founder who said, "Since buying clothes is a rather subjective process, (the shorter titles) eliminates the ability to give the title a soul and character. Much like a book title, unless buying absolute basics like underwear, fashion shoppers want something they can relate to and 80 characters or less makes it extremely hard."

About the author:

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

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