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eBay Introduces New Top-Rated Seller Program

eBay Top-Rated Seller Badge
Well… here it is folks… People have been speculating and wondering what was going to be announced regarding the eBay marketplace for the second half of the year. Wonder no more. Today, eBay announced those anticipated changes, most of which will launch between September 22 and October 1, 2009.

There’s a lot to digest, but from what I can tell, the news is broken down into 3 primary initiatives:

1. Rewards for sellers delivering great buyer experiences
2. Enhanced search presents more relevant listings
3. Easier, more profitable selling on eBay

Of course, as with all announcements, the meat of the news is not in the headlines, but in the fine print. Feel free to dig deeper into the news by checking out the AB post.

I’ve read through everything and, rather than regurgitate what was announced, I wanted to try and understand what it means for the good, small seller on eBay (a group of business entrepreneurs that we continue to claim a very strong affinity for but that has, for the most part, shared ill-feelings in the comments section of this blog since inception).

With regard to delivering a great buyer experience:
1. Getting Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) of 1s and 2s is bad. No brainer, right? Moving forward, eBay will shift from focusing on average DSR scores to the number of low DSRs (1s and 2s) as a way to better measure buyer satisfaction.

2. Because international transactions can be more readily subject to factors outside a seller’s control, only domestic DSRs will count toward eBay.com requirements. Another benefit of this is that sellers will be able to expand their business globally without fear of impacting their status on eBay.com.

3. The PowerSeller program is getting a new eBay top-rated seller status in October that will reward sellers for providing great buyer experiences based on the new aforementioned way of looking at DSRs. eBay Top-rated sellers will receive 20% Final Value Fee (FVF) discounts, increased visibility in search results for Fixed Price listings, exclusive access to purchase Featured First and a top-rated seller badge on item pages.

Top-Rated Seller Badge (below and right):

RS_NGVI_badged

According to a press release earlier today, this Top-Rated Seller program is a change to the current PowerSeller program that will immediately qualify 150,000 Top-Rated sellers when the program goes live in October. Any seller with at least 100 transactions a year and $3,000 in sales volume can qualify (based on buyer feedback). If my math is right (let me know if it isn’t), this means that any seller, based on buyer feedback, that sells an average of 2 items per week at an average cost of $30 an item, now qualifies as a Top-Rated Seller in the PowerSeller program. It’s estimated that 70,000 sellers who do not currently meet the volume requirements for the existing PowerSeller program, will earn eBay Top-Rated Seller status.

One thing I did see in the AB post, that I need to get more clarification on, is the following: “Starting in October, there will be a new minimum standard for all eBay sellers based on the number of low DSR (1s and 2s received). The minimum standard will be more strict in April, 2010.” More strict how, exactly?

More key updates:
1. Updates to the Seller Dashboard means that starting in September, you’ll be able to see daily updated snapshots of your low DSRs (1s and 2s) and standing toward the new Top-Rated seller requirements through a link at the top of the Seller Dashboard.

2. A new Search Visibility tool will help you evaluate how your Fixed Price and auction-style listings are performing in search results.

3. A new automated unpaid item resolution process will cut the time in half. It’s being rolled out for the holidays and will block negative feedback when a seller opens a claim and a buyer doesn’t pay.

Like I said, a lot to digest. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback below. I’m also taking suggestions for follow-up posts that dig deeper into certain aspects of today’s announcements. This blog works only with your feedback – regardless of sentiment – so please let me know what you’re thinking.

If you’re discussing the announcement on Twitter, please use the following hashtag in your tweets so we can easily track feedback and answer questions: #eBayTRS.

Webinars
There will be informative webinars on Tuesday, July 28 and Thursday, July 30. You can access those by clicking here.

Other key pages:
- Overview
- Details
- FAQ
- Seller Standards Chart
- Low DSR calculation examples
- Best Practices
- Seller Checklist

Related Reads:
TameBay: eBay.com Announce Changes for Sellers
AuctionBytes: eBay Revamps PowerSeller Program as part of September Changes
eBay Strategies: Major eBay Changes Announced Today: Part I/III
Cheers,
RBH

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By Richard Brewer-Hay

27 Comments

MsFish213

2009-07-27 09:57:17 Reply

Well. I’ll be darned. This is the first time in over 2 years that I am even slightly optimistic about my Ebay selling career and its about time! Will wonders never cease? :) The TRS program sounds like it might be a winner!
Thanks.

Amber

2009-07-27 11:55:40 Reply

I have one word for this program:

Worthless

And for sellers like myself that selling primarily internationally it is a HUGE slap in the face.

Hundreds of satisfied INTERNATIONAL customers will now be invalidated in terms of helping me make any performance goals or achieve search standing.

Thanks for nothing, eBay.

Esteban

2009-07-27 12:43:35 Reply

“one of the top complaints from US-based sellers is that cross-border trade was hurting their overall DSR score and thus hurting their status. Today’s announcement is a direct response to that issue”

So that’s the explanation you’re going with? LOL

Let me get this straight – You mean to tell us that eBay’s solution to bad international DSR scores (I assume you are specifically referring to the low shipping scores) is to stifle international sales?? So was that the plan when they introduced the international exposure fee? Or how about the biased scoring method that the DSRs have created to begin with? There are so many thing wrong with this I don’t even know where to begin.

msfish213

2009-07-27 13:50:53 Reply

Off topic here…the second post attributed to me isnt mine..if you notice, they added a line at the end, and now when you click on my name, it takes you to a website. Hey, Richard, would you be so kind as to delete that second post?
Thanks

my thoughts

2009-07-27 17:00:39 Reply

I like the changes, for the most part, and may even start shipping international again. Now that my DSR won’t be dinged for delays from the postal service.

Amber

2009-07-27 17:03:37 Reply

Richard,

I understand your point. MY point is that the change actually hurts the sellers who are GOOD at selling internationally. Who have made selling internationally their focus.

Of my last 10 transactions, 5 of them were international.

Meaning that if EVERY buyer left feedback (ha ha), only 1/2 of them would count in terms of DSR averages. NOT a good thing for a lower volume seller.

In addition, if I were considering ramping up my selling here to qualify for “Top Seller” status, 50% of my sales WOULDN’T COUNT!

And since about 66% of that 50% (LOL) is to Australia, the inclusion of UK and de sites does nada for me.

And hasn’t eBay always claimed that international DSRs WEREN’T lower than domestic ones?

And while I’m on the subject–the whole TOP SELLER program is a back handed slap at hobby sellers. The little 3 line notice next to the user id in the listings implies that those without that badge: Do not Ship Quickly, Are not highly rated, and Do not give a hoot about Customer Service.

All patently false, but now subtly messaged to the buyers.

Amber

2009-07-27 17:06:19 Reply

Esteban is 100% right–this move stifles international sales completely.

People with a high % of Cross Border sales will be losing PS status because their overseas sales won’t count towards their minimum sales amounts.

TheBrewsNews

2009-07-27 17:10:49 Reply

Sounds really great in theory. However, the devil is in the details.

A Top Rated Seller can sell 10 items to 1 buyer and if that buyer leaves all low DSR ratings (in even just one rating section like S&H charges) then the Top Rated seller must have 1,990 other transactions to offset that one buyer or else the seller is no longer eligible for the Top Rated Seller program.

This reminds me of the feedback recalculation saga recently — lots of folks cheered about the feedback recalculation until we realized (too late) about the details…. eBay was going to count neutrals as negatives. We all know how that turned out — lots of gnashing of the teeth and lots of “noise”.

I think this Top Rated Seller program (and ultimately the Powerseller program where sellers can have no more than 1-2% low ratings) will cause great angst among sellers and will definitely drive good sellers from the site.

Anytime one buyer’s ratings have to be offset by 1,990 other transactions… well, that is just a disaster in the making. Did anyone at eBay really think this all the way through?

I hope eBay sellers take a look at all the details of the announcements before making a decision about whether the news should be labelled “improvements” or “changes”.

TheBrewsNews

2009-07-27 17:34:23 Reply

To clarify, the percent of low DSR ratings allowed (0.5% for Top Sellers and 1-2% for all others) will be calculated with each and every rating received included in the computation.

So, one buyer who leaves a 1 rating for 10 items would count as 10 total low ratings (and NOT one low rating for one buyer as eBay currently does in the computation for feedback percentage and for DSR average calculations).

This is a VERY IMPORTANT issue that eBay needs to make more clear to sellers. Many very good sellers will be blown out of the water next April and these sellers don’t even see it coming.

There is no transparency for sellers where DSR ratings are concerned so we have to “trust” eBay to tell us how they are calculating the numbers being used to evaluate us.

It is not enough for eBay to create new standards by which sellers are judged; eBay needs to be forthcoming with the DETAILS. eBay has a responsibility to inform sellers and not expect that we should have to spend hours digging for the details as if it is some big mystery. But, then again, if the details were what eBay considered to be “good news” or fall into the “improvements” label then I’m sure we would have been much better informed.

I’m sure eBay doesn’t want to make the details clear because then the new program would receive many more unfavorable reviews.

Amber

2009-07-27 18:04:08 Reply

For RBH:

In April 2010, the standards will be stricter. All eBay sellers will need to have low DSRs (1s or 2s) on no more than 1.00% of transactions for item as described, and no more than 2.00% for communication, 2.00% for shipping time, and 2.00% for shipping and handling charges.

Amber

2009-07-27 18:36:07 Reply

You’re very welcome, Richard :)

Now…on to the OTHER details (sigh)


Depending on how the buyer’s complaint matches what was in the listing, we may:

* Tell the buyer that the item was described accurately, and dismiss the claim
* Accept the buyer claim and tell the buyer to return the item to you. Once the item is returned, we would refund the buyer and, if we find you at fault, seek to recover the amount of the refund from you.
* Accept the buyer claim, but not require the buyer to return the item to you (for example, if it is a very low cost item or if the buyer obtains manufacturer’s or law enforcement certification that the item was in fact not authentic). In these cases, eBay would refund the buyer directly.

Ummm…so now buyers can just file NAD claims (notice the complete absence of SIGNIFICANTLY?)and NOT have to return the item–because eBay considers it “low value”???

Henrietta

2009-07-27 20:34:51 Reply

This is a crying shame.

There are so many good ideas in this update, things which should have been implemented years ago and it has been over-engineered to the point where the good will be completely overwhelmed by the idiotic.

When riding a spirited horse the aim is not to hobble it so it can’t move but to train it so you are able to achieve your goals in harmony. Forward movement is not possible in hobbles.

Too bad, and too too utterly sad.

Full disclosure: I no longer sell on eBay but write about it.

MsFish213

2009-07-28 07:22:17 Reply

Well, it looks like buyers who buy but don’t pay, wont be allowed to leave feedback. Another positive change IMO.

“The Unpaid Item Assistant automates some features of the unpaid item process – making it more efficient for you and reducing the average time to resolve the dispute.

When enabled, the Unpaid Item Assistant allows you to automatically open a case if your buyer doesn’t pay after a specified period of time. You can choose to set that time as four, 16, 24 or 32 days after the listing closes. If four days pass without payment after the case is opened, an unpaid item will be recorded on the buyer’s account, the case will be closed and your Final Value Fee will be automatically refunded. At that time, the buyer won’t be permitted to leave Feedback for that item”

Ray R.

2009-07-28 07:27:52 Reply

I think the new program can be a great way to attract smaller sellers as they will only need to reach $3,000 in sales in a year. This is very achievable by most.

the tough part will be staying within the Top-Rated Seller Program. For sellers that dont do many transactions each month or year, a couple low dsrs could really affect their business greatly. I hope the dsrs are measured on a monthly basis so that if one month you have some fraudulent buyers or some buyers that can never be pleased leave low dsrs for you, the next month you can recover and be reinstated to the top-rated seller program.

Richard if you could please respond on how you think eBay will deal with Smaller Sellers who have fewer transactions and who can be greatly affected by just 1 negative dsr, then I would greatly appreciate it. I am sorry that you have been out sick and I hope you feel better. People were complaining where is Richard from ebayInk?

I have a few ideas on fixes.
1. Count international sales as part of your total sales as well as the feedback. Don’t count international Dsr’s. This sounds fair to me as you get credit for the work you’ve done but you dont get the average lower dsrs that international transactions seem to get.

2. International Sales – International sales are very important for many sellers so you might want to figure how you will measure the transactions for sellers without affecting their dsr’s but at least giving them recognition. Also UK and DE may not be enough as their are now several global eBay sites. Top-Rated Sellers that deal in FR or AU or any others should get exposure there as well.

I think the changes will bring better customer service from most sellers and will be beneficial to those sellers who can maintain their dsr’s. I am just worried though that if the order gets lost, you have a fraudulent buyer or their is a total misunderstanding on the buyer’s part and you get low dsrs for it, then you will lose all of the benefits instantly even though you tried your best and you worked really hard.
If eBay can measure the new ratings properly not making it too difficult for smaller and medium sellers alike to be in the Top-Rated Sellers Program then I will definitely be very happy with the way the system works. You have to make things easier for the seller as well, not just for the buyer.

Amber

2009-07-28 07:58:56 Reply

Good Morning, Richard.

Can you clarify something for me? I know that the DSR requirements will use domestic only (still not a great thing for those of us who actually do well internationlly). Will the sales requirements ($3000/year and 100 items) also only use domestic sales or will that be total items sold regardless of buyer?

Candy

2009-07-28 11:16:42 Reply

Ebay has far far more rules and requirements than the IRS now. Small sellers particularly can’t hack it. I think Ebay has neglected certain areas for so long that now they’ve gone completely overboard. I can see circles of Ebay people sitting around nitpicking by the hour and this is the final result. So, my last item rolled off Ebay and now I’ll just be content to sit back and watch.

Maurizio

2009-07-29 09:49:03 Reply

We are powerseller and we sell on Ebay from 1999 with 100% customers satisfaction and DSR close to 5 for all the 4 ratings (please check yourself STUBNIB is our nick).
We run a lot of auctions (95%) using FEATURED PLUS feature since is the ony feature that works on our items. Now with the rules released yesterday by your company from October this feature will be available only for US sellers so we that sell on the Ebay.com site from Italy will be excluded. Loosing such feature we will loose any possibility to beTOP RATED SELLER then we will loose also standard powerseller status and at the end all our business, shortly we will be forced to leave Ebay since it will not be intresting for us anymore due to lack of sellings (we have test this several time in past and only FEATURED PLUS option is valid for us and produce sellings) . Please note we spend in average more then 1000$ each month on Ebay to pay such FEATURED PLUS option, on conseguence your company will loose such money and our money will be loosed aside many hundreds other of other sellers at the end this will surely hit your revenue too. I kindly ask you to check our seller status and confirm us once again if this no sensed new rules with its limitation will be indeed applied to cross borders sellers like us. Thank you so much to take care of this… we have spent so much efforts and money on Ebay 10 year long activity and in these 10 years we have seen growing of difficulties to sell on your system, new rules, rising costs and at the same time reduced visibility and also reduced bidders that now find “boring” puchase here since to many rules are and theyaren’t easy to be understood… I hope this your last idea to limit FEATURED PLUS option to crossborders sellers as we are do not write the world END to longlasting relationship as our one but i’m sure this will happend since without such features and lossed of TOP RATED seller status and Powerseller status will hightly reduce visibility of our auctions. Awaiting your kind answer hooping on a faster revision of this very odd limitation before it will take effect on October closing our business of incoming Christmast season on your site.. Hooping to get and answer here…
Best regards from Italy
Maurizio Stura
Grifos Pens Italy
http://www.grifos-pens.com

ben

2009-07-29 11:29:15 Reply

maybe you should talk about how ebay has been plummeting because it introduced those favoratism type of rewards to their power sellers. Face it, ebay has become a powerseller market. Rarely do you see a person sell his garage stuff on ebay because for him its not exciting anymore. Fees and implimentation of the Seller Rating system, is what caused many to flee and start their online business away from ebay. Seller Ratings dont reward anybody only penalize. They penalize because to sustain good rating you must offer free shipping. Free shipping means ebay takes more from product value. What is feedback for? You can have 100% feedback but if your seller rating falls below 4.2, you are toast. You might as well pack and go.

If ebay wants to fix itself, it needs to get rid of playing favoritism game. Get rid of seller ratings, and lower the fees. I wish that one day ebay will have a competition and then it will know what to do right away.

TheBrewsNews

2009-07-29 13:45:47 Reply

Today, a buyer who leaves a low DSR “anonymously” affects a seller’s placement for 30 days.

In the future, a buyer who leaves a low DSR will impact a seller’s placement for 3 months (if they are a high volume seller) or will impact a seller’s placement for 12 months if they are not a high volume seller.

My opinions:

1. I think eBay is measuring the wrong things with their DSRs.

2. I think that eBay allowing DSRs to be left anonymously actually makes buyers leave lower DSRs than they would otherwise (which is what eBay wants) but, in doing so, actually makes a buyer perceive greater dissatisfaction after the fact than actually exists. So, eBay’s “system” is creating buyer dissatisfaction.

3. Despite that, using the DSRs as tools of punishment for sellers does not help sellers “improve” their customer service. Instead, it creates frustrated sellers who feel they have no choice but to put negative wording in their listings which now eBay is going to disallow (not that I think any seller should be including negativity in their listings).

4. There are so many of eBay’s “new” ideas that are simply bad copies of what Amazon has done and is doing correctly.

5. The “good” aspects of the recent announcement (of which there are many) are overshadowed by the poorly thought out ones which will end up harming some very good eBay sellers.

Amber

2009-07-30 10:34:43 Reply

Richard, here’s another reason why I dislike this policy. One that PROVES that small sellers will be HARMED by this new initiative.

Currently, any seller with at least 3 DSRs in a 30 day period are eligible for raised search status based on their DSRs, policy compliance, and rate of neutral or negative feedback–essentially, a measure of customer satisfaction.

With the new program, all of the high performing sellers who would otherwise MEET the CS requirements regarding low % of 1s and 2s but do NOT meet the volume requirements WILL BE LOSING THEIR RAISED SEARCH STATUS.

Essentially, eBay is now tying raised search exposure to volume–something they haven’t done before. Something I vehemently disagree with.

You cannot claim you are surfacing the BEST sellers when you are excluding terrific sellers based solely on their sales volume.

This isn’t about discounts. It’s not about powerseller status. It’s about stripping high quality sellers of their raised search status because they don’t sell enough on the site.

Gail

2009-07-31 14:58:47 Reply

“I still believe that improvements announced today encourage international sales rather than stifle.”

Richard, here’s an idea, and I’m perfectly serious about this. Sell ten items a month yourself (without anyone’s help) for the next three months; split the items between auctions and fixed price; ship internationally; pay the fees; deal with the buyers. Then give us your honest opinion about your eBay experience.

Get down in the trenches, without the added perk of Powerseller status (à la Griff), unless you earn it. Until you actually do this, your understanding of the impact of eBay’s policies is limited to the in-house conjecture you’re hearing.

Seriously...

2009-08-03 21:56:25 Reply

GAIL’s comment above is dead on…eBay corporate is completely disconnected from the site their working on…this has been dramatically apparent over the last 5 years of poor “big brother” decisions the company has been implementing.

We used to sell at least $10k/month in $10 items…now we’re lucky to sell $2k/month, and it’s been in steady decline for the last two years. Best Match was where things got really bad, it ruined our business…and what’s more, the listings are STILL littered with duplicates…most of which are some of the worst sellers we’ve seen…poor products, high prices, con-jobs and generally bad businesses…it’s like eBay is promoting the bottom of the barrel.

[Sentence edited: see Comment Policy]

I know that catching and stopping blatant fraud is necessary…but eBay has so many restrictions on selling, and feedback, and ratings, and what you’re allowed to have for breakfast before you login to the Seller side of the site (you can eat whatever you want if you’re logging in as a Buyer)…it’s gotten absolutely ludicrous…it’s almost an exact replica of America and the way the country has been run the last decade. It’s a miserable failure due to TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT and OVERSPENDING on needless items.

eBay is now like a Rube-Goldberg machine that’s been built so complicated, it’s broken at every step. The best solution is (always) minimalism…start from scratch, keep it simple, and buyer beware.

Come to think of it, I’m gonna start selling for FREE in the newspaper classifieds again.
Funny how those classifieds seem to work so well, and with very little oversight.

Sorry for the rant, but c’mon guys…you can’t crawl out of a grave if you keep digging!!
When traffic is down, you don’t start restricting sellers from selling…it’s NOT OUR FAULT!!!!!!

Try advertising.

Candy

2009-08-03 22:36:56 Reply

Gail and Seriously – both good posts. I think the trouble is even if Ebay is reading your posts they aren’t following them – not in the least – no matter how much sense they make. Its unfortunate, but true.

Becky Ramsey

2009-08-11 22:12:03 Reply

I am thrilled by this new program. I have been missing the power seller status by about $100-$200 per month for about the last year. As a buyer and seller, it seems to me it is more important for customers to know they are purchasing from someone with his DSR’s than just someone who sells $1,000 per month or 100 items per month. They are rewarding good customer service and follow up. Thank you ebay for including us who the small sole proprietors in your program!

tom

2010-08-07 22:45:17 Reply

I wish they would leave it alone I loved the logo and still do. I sell about 50,000 a mounth I will miss the old and better logo Sometimes change is NOT good.

julie

2010-08-08 12:52:56 Reply

what dose anyone think of ebay’s idea to get ride of the powerseller logo.

James

2010-12-26 05:50:20 Reply

I used to sell on ebay between 2004 and 2007,i was a smalltime power seller with a perfect feedback, things we’re good, i could make money selling garage sale items and things i didnt want around the house. Now i come back to find the power seller program gone and this new TRS system that can be destroyed by 2 customers who leave a neutral or neg feedback for something as uncontrollable as a broken cd case ( neutral i found in Moviemarz feedback area)that the post office mishandled? 2nd, The biggest DVD seller Moviemarz has free shipping on everything they sell, i can conform and lose money on shipping AND be charged more in final value fees or i can charge shipping and be punished by being lower in the search listings because i want to cover costs? Am i reading this right? I’m spooked, i can’t walk into a barn if i see them throwing gasoline on the outside of it and somebody with a torch is smiling at me, saying “no problem, go on in, its safe!”. Time to go see what Amazon is doing or investigate some other sites. This doesn’t look good at all.

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