Many moons ago, when eBay wanted to implement a change in policy or code they would just roll it out whenever they felt like it. I remember one change in particular that eBay decided to roll out in mid-November – right before the busiest time of the year. The change had bugs in it and sellers were deeply impacted by it. A few years ago, eBay very smartly began to roll out changes in planned sequences which they called Seller Updates. Today, eBay released the Spring 2014 Update. Let’s talk about them.
What I want to say is that in general, eBay casts very broad, very wide nets with the changes they make. Depending on how much you sell and what you sell, these changes could impact you negatively or positively. I’m just going to hit some of the highlights. Here we go:
From eBay’s website:
“Starting with the August 20 monthly seller evaluation, a new measure, the transaction defect rate (“defect rate”), will replace the current four individual detailed seller rating requirements in evaluating seller performance. This new rating may impact your status”
This is going to be the most contentious of the changes and I am going to predict that sellers are going to be the most vocal about this one. Couple of things here:
1. So, Amazon has had this measurement for a while now. They call it the ODR, or Order Defect Rate. If you sell on Amazon at all, you’ll recognize this new rating immediately. It’s very interesting that eBay is, once again, moving towards Amazon with policy
2. They are REPLACING the current DSR system.
“Starting with the August 20 evaluation, to meet eBay’s minimum standard, sellers can have up to a maximum 5% of transactions with one or more transaction defects over the most recent evaluation period. A maximum 2% will allow a seller to qualify as an eBay Top Rated Seller. Only transactions with US buyers count.”
1. I don’t think they stated the penalty, but you can have a max of 5% “defective” transactions. How this will work out is anyone’s guess. For various reasons, I don’t think you could ever do an apples to apples comparison of Amazon ODR and eBay DR – the platforms are just too different.
2. So now, instead of a feedback goal, you’ve got a Defect Rate goal of 98% perfect to become a Top Rated Seller and be boosted in search results.
“The defect rate won’t affect your status until you have transactions with defects with at least 8 different buyers (at least 5 different buyers to impact Top Rated status) within your evaluation period”
1.This is the “casting a wide net” that I was talking about. So, a small seller might take months to have 5 different buyers that affect their Defect Rate. A large seller will be affected in a single day.
2. Also, this will really affect sellers of used/refurb items over sellers of new goods.
To summarize these particular changes: eBay is doing away with their Detailed Seller Rating System in favor of a new Defect Rate metric. The DR looks to be one of the only determining factors now in Top Rated Seller status and search results, even above overall Feedback %.
At first glance, this seems to be a pretty dramatic change in policy. Unfortunately, it’s also going to be very tough to determine if the change is a good one or a bad one for sellers. eBay spent a ton of time and energy developing the DSR system. Yes, it was a really flawed system, but I’m not sure that the new DR system is going to improve on it or just confuse the heck out of both buyers and sellers for a while. In reading through the changes, eBay doesn’t appear to be adding any additional rewards for meeting the new qualifications.
” To qualify for the Top Rated Plus seal and 20% final value fee discount between November 1 and December 31, your listings must include the new extended holiday return option, with returns accepted through January 31. Bullion, Gift Cards, Tickets, and all Business & Industrial categories are exempted from this requirement”
I don’t know how I could be reading this wrong, but is this saying that sellers must have up to a 60 day return policy at Christmas? Wowza, that’s a long time. Again, though, I don’t know what this new policy is fixing – most sellers offer a very generous return policy and guarantee anyway. Personally, I think that eBay is the only marketplace where sellers have to state their own return policies – wouldn’t it just be better to standardize them?
eBay then moves on to the returns process. Of course, every seller deals with returns. Recently, eBay launched a returns portal for sellers and continue to integrate the eBay returns process into the platform:
“Buyers using hassle-free returns are happier. The process is streamlined for you. And now, with the latest enhancements, managing returns is easier than ever”
“Confidence-boosting message to buyers on your item page: Buyers appreciate knowing that they can initiate a return and print the shipping label—and if necessary pay for shipping—right from My eBay. Now, to encourage the purchase, eBay lets buyers know right on your item page that you offer that service and they can buy with confidence”
Returns is another “your mileage may vary” system. I would imagine that small sellers like the returns process built in. Large sellers, however, are using completely different systems to handle returns, and I think the last thing they would want is to have their returns processes dictated by eBay and be forced to generate shipping labels and pay eBay postage rates. By the way, I think that is exactly the plan – eBay will require all sellers to use eBay returns at some point.
The rest of the update concerns Best Practices for sellers to prepare for the updates, category changes, etc – the usual.
What do you think, sellers? Are the changes going to help or hurt you?
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