Applying Categories

Buyers often browse online stores by "drilling down" through a hierarchy of product categories, so every item listed on an eBay site is assigned to a category. Each eBay site provides its own extensive set of item categories. Some categories are common to many sites, and some are of interest only to a region or culture served by a particular site.

Topics:

Category Basics

Retrieving the Category Hierarchy for a Site

Determining Category Support for Certain Features

Retrieving Suggested Categories Based on Keywords

Maintaining Category Data

Category Basics

When a seller lists a new item, the seller must specify which category the item should appear in. Similarly, when relisting an item the seller may specify a category other than the one it was originally listed in. The category that a seller chooses for an item can dramatically affect how easily potential buyers find it.

Each category has a unique identifier (for such purposes as listing an item). But these category IDs are only unique to the global eBay site on which they are hosted. For example, the ID for the category with sports memorabilia is different on the US site than the ID for the corresponding category on the France eBay site.

An item can be listed in at most two categories (called the primary and secondary categories). For example, a book on tape might be listed in Audiobooks as the primary category and Cassettes as the secondary category. In most cases, the seller will choose as the primary category the category in which they think buyers would most likely browse or search for the listing. On some sites, certain categories are required to always be the primary category if they are used. For example, when listing a ticket for sale on the US site, the Tickets category must be selected as the primary category.

To list an item on eBay or to search for items in a particular category, the user of your application needs to specify the numeric ID of the target category, and the category must exist on eBay. To help the user select a valid category ID, your application can download information about the category hierarchy (which includes category IDs and human-friendly names) and then present the data to the user.

Some listing features are available only in certain categories. For example, a seller can specify a reserve price for an auction list, enable Immediate Payment, or list with Item Specifics only if the category supports such options. The category information you retrieve through the GetCategoryFeatures call includes metadata about the features that each category supports.

An application can also retrieve a list of items various sellers offer within a specific category. This functionality is analogous to the browse screens of listings for categories seen on the eBay site.

To browse the categories with their IDs, see the All Categories eBay page. For more information about how sellers can select appropriate categories for their listings, see the Selecting a category help page.

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