what is mpn on eBay

Product Identifiers on eBay: What Is an MPN and How Do You Use It?

December 14, 2023

There's a seemingly endless number of product identifiers in the ecommerce world today. From market-specific to product-specific, product identifiers have become a powerful tool in ensuring consistency in products and listings around the globe. But when you're just starting out, the sheer number of product identifiers – some with overlapping applications – can be disorienting. What is an MPN, and how does it differ from a UPC? Can you use both an ISBN and an ePID? In this guide, we'll take a look at the product identifiers you need to know as an eBay seller, explain what each one is used for, and break down how to use them for SEO to increase visibility for your listings and drive sales.

what's mpn on eBay

What are products identifiers on eBay?

Product identifiers have existed long before eBay and long before ecommerce. As their name suggests, their purpose is identifying products based on an assigned product code. Each product identifier system assigns its product codes a bit differently, but they all serve the same purpose: identifying products in a standardized way across their supply chain. On eBay, they function much in the same way and are used to accurately identify and categorize products on the platform.

By helping you identify and categorize your listed products more accurately, product identifiers such as MPN also ensure that your products to appear in more accurate buyer searches, which is an important aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) on eBay. There are many product identifiers used on eBay, and one item may have more than one type of product identifier assigned to it. In the next section, we'll take a look at what product identifiers are used on eBay, and examine each one to better understand its origin and how it works.

What’s the Difference Between MPN, GTIN, EAN, UPC, ISBN, and ePID?

MPNs, GTINs, EANs, and more are all different kinds of product identifiers, or codes assigned to products based on a certain system in order to more easily identify and categorize them. Product identifiers are also referred to as "product IDs", with each one having a different and unique application. One product can have more than one product identifier associated with it in some cases, which simply means that it can be identified based on more than one product ID system. In short, the acronyms may sound confusing if you're not familiar with them, but product IDs are actually a very simple concept, with many useful applications on eBay for buyers and sellers alike.

This section will go over the different types of product identifiers used on eBay, review the specific applications of each one, and examine how it can be used in your eBay listings.

What is an MPN?

MPN stands for Manufacturer Part Number, and it is a commonly used product identifier for products listed on eBay. It is a unique identifier assigned by the manufacturer to a specific product or part, with a new MPN oftentimes being assigned to new versions of products. MPNs are often identical or very similar to the item's model number, but not always. MPNs are used on eBay as a way to provide detailed information about a product and associate it with the most accurate product category.

When dealing with products that may have similar names or descriptions, having an MPN on your listing can make it easier for buyers to find it, since eBay allows users to search for products using the MPN. MPNs are also useful in cases where a product is a part or accessory that is compatible with a range of devices, as it can oftentimes be used to verify compatibility with a specific device.

MPNs are a required attribute for listing in some product categories on eBay, and if you're a business seller you'll be required to include either an MPN or other relevant product identifier on all your listings.

What is an EAN?

EAN stands for European Article Number, and is another type of unique product identifier assigned to products. EANs are often used in Europe and other regions for product labeling and inventory management, and consist of a unique 13-digit code that is often represented with a scannable barcode on the product packaging. Just like with the aforementioned MPN, buyers a will be able to find your listing by searching for the EAN if you've included it. eBay encourages sellers to include EANs, MPNs, and any other relevant product identifier to provide as much information as possible about the item in your listing. Just like with MPNs, business sellers will be required to provide either an EAN or another product identifier for all listed items.

EANs on eBay are useful for both sellers and buyers. As a seller, you benefit by providing accurate and standardized product information that improves your listing's ranking in search results, and your buyers benefit by being able to find and purchase the exact products they are looking for more easily.

What is a UPC?

UPC stands for Universal Product Code, and is the code represented in the barcode you commonly see on products when shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. It is a unique identifier assigned to products, and while it is primarily used in North America, it's recognized globally. Compared to EANs which are 13-digit codes, UPCs consist of 12 digits.

It's one of the product identifiers sellers can use on eBay, along with the previously mentioned EANs and MPNs, and can also be used as a search term by buyers to find your listing if you've included it.

What is an ISBN?

Unlike the previous product identifiers we've reviewed, ISBNs serve a more specialized product identification purpose: they're product identifiers used specifically for books. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and a unique ISBN is assigned to every book and every edition printed.

If you're selling books on eBay, you'll be required to include an ISBN for every listing.

What is an ePID?

eBay has its own internal item catalog through which it assigns an eBay Product Identifier (ePID) to various items. This number will be used only within eBay, and currently encompasses a much more limited range of products than the product identifiers mentioned above. ePIDs used to appear on listings but have since been removed by eBay, so buyers don't have access to ePIDs and cannot use them to find your listings. ePIDS are more a behind the scenes tool for sellers and eBay alike to better categorize products, Finding your item's ePID within eBay (usually by UPC or other product identifier) is recommended to help you more easily create your listing (more on that below), but it is not required.

What is a GTIN?

GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number, and actually refers to a standardization of a group of product identifiers used to identify products across the global supply chain. GTINs include UPCs (Universal Product Code), EANs (European Article Number), and ISBNs (International Standard Book Number), which we discussed above.

why is MPN essential for eBay sellers?

Why Are Product Identifiers Essential for eBay Sellers?

Product identifiers are an essential part of modern-day commerce, and they are especially important in the world of ecommerce. eBay is slowly moving towards requiring a GTIN for more and more listings in order to provide buyers with a better shopping experience, and to ensure that sellers are indeed selling the item in the listing. Aside from being required by eBay for listing many items, GTINs like EANs and UPCs (when applicable) are practically essential when listing items on eBay, even when they're not outright required. This section will go over the benefits of adding product IDs to your eBay listings, as well as give you a brief overview of how to find product identifiers for your items.

Benefits of Adding Product Identifiers

When you sell online, including the most accurate information about your products is essential. It helps categorize the item correctly, makes it easier for buyers to find your listing, and adds additional information about your product, and boosts your ranking in buyer searches. This is incredibly important on eBay in particular, since the quality of product listings varies so wildly on the platform, and getting ahead of other sellers in search results is an incredibly important factor for making sales.

Additionally, the more product identifiers (like MPNs and UPCs) you add to your product listing, the better its chances of being picked up by search engines off eBay and appearing in off-site searches. Your eBay listing could then be found by buyers who search for an item through Google, for instance, giving you another traffic avenue and an increased likelihood of making a sale.

Finally, product identifiers are a great way to keep things organized for you. If you work with a manufacturer who's updated a product and assigned it a new MPN, you'll be able to keep track of the new and old stock more easily if they have different MPNs or UPCs. This can help you avoid buyer dissatisfaction, cases, and costly returns.

How to Find Your Product Identifiers

Sometimes, you may not know the product identifiers for every item you wish to sell on eBay. Luckily, finding most product identifiers is relatively simple, especially if you have a point of reference like a model number or another product identifier to start with. Here, we'll go over how to find product identifiers like MPNs and EANs for your eBay listings, so you can create better quality, more optimized listings on your eBay Store.

How to Find an MPN

If you get your stock directly from the manufacturer, finding the MPN will be incredibly simple. It will be either on the packaging, or in the inventory file associated with your stock order. If you don't have access to this information, you'll easily be able to find the MPN on the manufacturer's catalog, as shown in our example of a Stabilo Trio Scribbi pen in pink. Oftentimes, the MPN and model number are very similar or identical, but this isn't always the case, so you won't be able to use them interchangeably unless you've verified that they're one and the same for a certain item/manufacturer.  

how to find EAN

How to Find an EAN

Much like the MPN, you'll be able to find the EAN of an item – if one exists – directly on the packaging or by finding the product in the manufacturer's catalog. In our Stabilo pen example, you can see that the EAN is printed in digits right below its barcode representation. You'll be able to differentiate between an EAN and a UPC by the number of digits – EANs will have 13 digits, while UPCs will have 12 digits.

How to Find a UPC

If the item you're listing doesn’t have an EAN it will have a UPC, which can be found much in the same way as an EAN. It will be listed on the packaging next to the barcode, and will consist of 12 digits. If you don't have the original packaging, you can usually find the UPC on the manufacturer's website.

how to find UPC

Here, you can see the UPC for this BIC gel pen pack on the BIC website.

How to Find an ISBN

Unlike MPNs, EANs, and UPCs, ISBNs are specific to books. They can be found on the back cover of a book, usually on the lower portion, printed next to the barcode. In our example, we can see the ISBN as printed on the back cover of the book All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

how to find ISBN

How to Find ePID

An ePID is an internal eBay catalog number. It no longer appears on eBay listings (with a few exceptions), so you won't be able to find it on eBay by looking at similar products; you'll need to match the product you're listing with one of the aforementioned identifiers – UPC, MPN, EAN, or ISBN – with its ePID (if one exists). You'll also be able to search for an item's ePID with the title or model number of the item, but this may be less reliable than using a GTIN product identifier.

If an item has an ePID it means that it exists in eBay's catalog, which can make your life much easier when listing products. ePID catalog items have everything you need to create a listing built in, so as soon as you've matched an item to its ePID, you'll get various product attributes for your listing directly from eBay.

To find out if an item has an ePID, search for it on eBay's catalog. Below, you can see the ePID for Nike Air Force 1 shoes, along with additional product attributes from eBay's catalog including the band, size, color, etc., as seen on eBay's catalog search.

how to find ePID

How to Find a GTIN

GTINs include ISBNs, EANs, and UPCs, and can be found on the product packaging beneath the barcode, or, if the item is a book, on the back cover. Your item will have either an EAN, a UPC, or an ISBN, depending on the item type and where it was made.

Including a GTIN in your eBay listing is important for many reasons, including improving your listing's ranking in search results both on and off eBay. Furthermore, GTINs are now required for most items listed on eBay, so you won't be able to list an item without providing a GTIN.

How Should eBay Sellers Use Product Identifiers?

Product identifiers are important for eBay sellers, and can be used in many different places in your listings to give them an edge over the competition. This section will go over how to add product identifiers to your listings, how to use them to help you find additional product information, and how they can help improve your listing's SEO.

Adding Product Identifiers to Your Listings

Product identifiers are an important part of every listing, whether they be GTINs or MPNs. They not only help you match your item to an ePID (if one is available) and enrich your listings, they're also great for SEO both on and off eBay. Here, we'll take a look at how to add MPNs to your listings on eBay, how to add GTINs to your listings, and what the potential benefits of each type of product identifier are.

Adding MPNs to Your Listings

MPNs are more often than not interchangeable with model numbers, which is what most buyers will be using as their search term if they're looking for a specific item. For this reason, using the item's MPN in your listing title, in the product specifications, and in the product description can go a long way towards getting your item found by buyers on eBay, and towards getting it indexed by off-site search engines like Google, bringing in more traffic and more potential buyers for your eBay listing.

Adding GTINs to Your Listings

For most products listed on eBay, you'll be required to include the relevant GTIN in order to publish your listing. Aside from including it in the product specifications, we recommend you don't add it to your product title or description. In our experience, adding them to titles and descriptions can make those fields unnecessarily clunky, while giving you no benefit in terms of SEO.

Using Product Identifiers to Find Missing Details

Product identifiers can be used to get more complete and accurate information about the items you're listing. With the correct GTIN, for example, you'll be able to find compatible products per the manufacturer (particularly important if you're selling auto parts on eBay Motors, for instance), and find all the item specs per the manufacturer more easily. Product identifiers enable you to track down the original specifications of a given item per the manufacturer, so you can get more accurate product information on your listing more easily.  

Using Product Identifiers to Optimize Listings for SEO

Product identifiers are an integral aspect of listing optimization, both on and off eBay. When you include product identifiers on your eBay listings, you ensure that eBay's search engine, Cassini, is able to match your listing with the most relevant buyer searches. Plus, when you use product identifiers to find and include as much information about your product as possible, your listings will rank much higher in those searches, too. Off eBay, including product identifiers will enable search engines like Google to find and index your eBay listing in their search results, giving you another source of potential buyers.

product identifiers on eBay

Final Thoughts: Using Product Identifiers on eBay Listings

The use of product identifiers is widespread in today's world of global commerce, with product identifiers becoming an inseparable part of selling online. One of the biggest challenges that the world of ecommerce faces is also its greatest strength: everything happens online. While this makes products available to a global audience, it also means that buyers do not have the ability to interact with an item prior to purchase. Product identifiers ensure that buyers have a consistent experience when purchasing an item, and that sellers are able to provide the most accurate information about the products they sell online.

Furthermore, product identifiers enable sellers to include the most accurate information about the product they're selling to optimize their eBay listings for SEO. When your eBay listing includes the product identifier, MPN, and accurate product specifications and compatibilities from the manufacturer, it has a better chance of ranking well in relevant buyer searches, and a much higher chance of converting buyers who engage with your listings.

FAQs for Product Identifiers on eBay

Still not sure what's an MPN on eBay or how you should use product identifiers on your eBay listings? Check out these frequently asked questions to find out everything you need to know about how to use MPNs, GTINs, and more on eBay.

Q: How should eBay sellers use product identifiers?

Product identifiers are an important tool for eBay sellers. For many product categories, sellers are required to upload a GTIN (ISBN, UPC, or EAN) to their listings in order to publish them, meaning you'll have to find the correct GTIN for your item in order to list it on eBay. With the correct GTIN for your product, you'll be able to find additional item specifications, compatibilities, and information to add to your listing, which will help you create a more complete and optimized eBay listing for your product.  

Additionally, non-GTIN product identifiers such as MPNs should also be included in your eBay listings. Make sure you use all common iterations of a given MPN (i.e. the same MPN may appear in some places with a space and in others with a dash, for instance), and include the most commonly used version in your listing title.

Q: How can I optimize my product identifier for SEO?

GTIN product identifiers each have a most commonly used format, but even within each one, there are slight variations. UPCs, for example, have different subsets like UPC-E, which compress standard 12-digit UPCs into 6-digit codes. If your product uses more than one format of its GTIN, include the standard format and the additional iterations that are used in your listing. Do the same for MPNs; if an MPN is written as 1234.ABC in the manufacturer's product catalog but 1234-ABC is also commonly used, your listing should include both versions of the MPN.  

Q: Should I add all product identifiers to my listings?

As a general rule, you'll want to make every effort to add all relevant product identifiers to your eBay listings whenever possible. As explained above, you should use all common iterations of the MPN and all relevant versions of the GTIN when creating your eBay listings. Adding as many product identifiers as possible to your listings will have a positive impact on your SEO both on eBay and on search engines like Google, and can dramatically increase your traffic with relatively little work.

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