Using a secondary eBay category for your listings

Using a secondary eBay category for your listings

The age-old question – is it worth using a secondary eBay category when listing a product on eBay?

But first of all, let’s take a look into what this actually means and what an eBay category is. eBay is also home to an extensive category system into which sale items are organized. So if you want to sell an item, you need to make sure that it’s in the correct category. Simple, right?

Just like when you go to a super-market and see all the products laid out nicely, per category, well this is the online version of that. eBay’s categories are logically laid out and are made in order to cover all possible types of products and their accessories.

Here’s an example of different types of categories

Let’s say that you’re trying to sell a stapler on eBay. Before listing, you get to choose the eBay category, but now you’re faced with multiple options:


1) Business, Office & Industrial > Office Equipment & Supplies > Office Equipment > Staplers

2) Home, Furniture & DIY > Stationery & School Equipment > Other School Equipment

3) Home, Furniture & DIY > DIY Tools & Workshop Equipment > Hand Tools > Staplers

4) Collectables > Pens & Writing Equipment > Desktop Items

5) Business, Office & Industrial > Office Equipment & Supplies > Office Supplies & Stationery > Paper Products

Quite many choices there. But which one do you pick? You have to make sure that the category that you’ve chosen correctly represents your product. You have to make sure that the category is correct so that potential buyers can easily find the product that you’re selling. It can also potentially place your product higher up in the search results.

Let’s say you’ve settled for the first option. Office equipment > staplers. Can’t go wrong there, right? Well, it’s the correct category, but it can also be potentially limiting. This is why eBay offers the possibility to place your product into an extra, secondary category.

Secondary category?

Yep, it offers you the ability to have your product in two categories. It makes your product easier to find, potentially driving up sales. Listing in two categories can be very effective, especially for auction products. Also, if more than one category is available, changing the category when relisting can get new eyes on the listing. Sounds great, right? It is great, but…

… is it worth it?

You might be asking yourself, why wouldn’t it be worth it? Adding your product in two categories is better than in one single category. Two is better than one! Then why don’t we add our products in two categories all the time? Well, two words for this – eBay fees.


As you might be aware, eBay charges a hefty fee for listing a product in a secondary category as well. For the first category, you either don’t pay a fee, or you pay a small insertion fee, depending on your current store subscription. But for the secondary category – you’ll always pay a fee.

And let’s be honest for a moment here. How do the vast majority of customers find products on eBay? They search for them using keywords. This means that even if your product uses a secondary category, it will be just as visible with or without a secondary category if the search has been done by using keywords. As previously mentioned, it might end up a bit higher in the search results, but not always.


So is it worth it? Probably not. Again, studies show that the vast majority of people find the desired products on eBay by searching for keywords, not by going through categories and sub-categories.
Seriously, when was the last time you’ve went on eBay to buy a stapler, for example, and you went into the main category “Business, Office & Industrial”, then selected “Office Equipment & Supplies”, then “Office Equipment”, and finally, the last sub-category –  “Staplers”? Probably never. If you want to buy a stapler, you’ll go to the search bar, type in “stapler” and hit Enter.

This is why we’re saying that it might not be worth it. But it really depends on your situation, the product that you’re selling, its price, whether it’s an auction or a GTC, etc.

Final words

For certain products, especially those that are of higher value or products that are being auctioned, it might be worth adding a secondary category. But for the vast majority of products, it’s probably not worth using a secondary category.

If you’re selling a £5 product, is it really worth paying £1-2 in fees to have your item placed in a secondary category? Of course not. But if you’re auctioning a rare guitar that starts at £999, then quite possible yes, might as well go for it.


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