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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Apr 5 2012 23:01:00

Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
Does being an eBay Top Rated Seller improve a seller's sales on eBay? That's a question we posed to readers this week, and the results are fascinating.

eBay created a designation called "Top Rated Seller" based on Detailed Seller Ratings and other performance criteria. In addition to displaying a badge next to listings of TRS sellers in search results, eBay also boosts visibility of TRS listings.

We decided it was time to test the premise that a TRS designation would help improve sales, so EcommerceBytes surveyed readers to ask them.

Over 1,200 sellers responded to the survey (announced via social networking channels). The results show that respondents are sharply divided on whether being a top-rated seller help a seller's sales: 43% said TRS does help sales, 57% said it did not help sales.

We selected two sellers with differing opinions and asked them to expand on their comments in the survey outlining their experience with TRS. In Friday's newsletter, we run the two articles. In the first ("Point") one seller explains why being a Top Rated Seller helps improve sales. In the second article, another seller explains why being a TRS sellers does NOT help improve sales ("Counterpoint"). Thanks to Gail and Sally for participating!

Now have your say - does TRS status help your sales?

Reading EcommerceBytes Blog: Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Apr 5 23:57:07 2012
Sally has misunderstood.

Does TRS improve her sales? Only because of ebay's contrived manipulation of search results to favor TRS.

If ebay's search results were not being manipulated she would be on an even footing with others in search. Since they are, she is being taken from by ebay. Deliberately.

So no, TRS does not help her. The truth is that search results are being manipulated to get us all in line with ebay's policy of the day.

In this case, pushing free shipping and return policies that while they might be fine for $1.99 Chinese cellphone chargers won't work for people selling more expensive, heavier items.

And for used items being sold at a large discount, no buyer wants to pay the cost of a generous return policy like ebay is pushing- it's not free, there is a cost to that.

Nordstrom has very generous return policies but that $500 cocktail dress costs the whole $500.

You can buy the same dress on ebay for $45. Should you expect the same generous return policies on your ebay purchase at over 90% off, or is the low price enough reward?

I think buyers make their choice where to buy. On ebay at a good deal, or locally with generous return policies at full price.

Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
       Web Site
Fri Apr 6 00:26:40 2012
Interesting feature. One was TRS and the other still TRS.

Their experience with the search/sales is interesting. The ex-TRS said that lost sales meanwhile the TRS said the badge don't give advantage.

I will not be surprise to know that eBay has a ''I don't care'' search algorithm for the old TRS until they drop ''standards'' then eBay apply the ''kneel to me and you will see sales'' search algorithm to make them get in fear and follow all that crazy requirements added to the TRS.  
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: Brainiac jones This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 00:45:57 2012
I think that TRS for most people would be a mixed bag--so both pro and con folks are probably right--for them.

My personal thought when I was a regular seller was that the stress of working any harder or with more attention to detail much more than I currently bring. Strange--I had 99+% feedback and DSRs of generally 4.8 to 4.9 which--by most any criteria would be nearly perfect (and certainly better than most corporations) yet...eBay's TRS demands make it impossible to succeed.

eBay is unfair--not that they need to be fair, but then, they are like any soulless corporation out there...only moreso.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: manny This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 05:22:51 2012
Knowing eBay and how things are done there, you have to kiss good-bye to things called logic, scientific reasoning, and lucid deductions.
I will challenge anybody to show me any proof that the “Best match” criteria actually work based on scientifically input pre-requests. I do believe, that the coded algorithm has the functionality to upgrade and downgrade a seller’s ID in the visibility order (not a miracle, we all did similar stuff at college)  but other than that, I honestly do not believe they employ individuals with the level of intelligence capability to make something like that work correctly, otherwise, why don’t they come out here and answer some of these questions face to face.
Easy being patronising to other drivers while traffic is flowing and your windows are up!
They sent me THE condescending email saying that they have removed one low DSR on a NAD transaction with no details to support their statement. I have extracted reports on my dashboard performance on regular basis over the period they quoted and there was definitely NO low DSR on any of my transactions.
I have 100% TRS over nearly 4000 transactions with 4 @ 5s and 1 @4.99 (shipping), and my sales have taken a 70% nose dive over the last 4 weeks for no apparent or logical reason, and trying to discuss any feasible reason behind the drop with them on the phone is like trying to discuss it with a ventriloquist dummy, if it can’t be cut, pasted, and poured down the phone, they don’t have it.
    I AM BEGINNING TO WONDER IF IT IS HELD AGAINST US TO SPEAK OUR MIND IN HERE!
FOOD FOR THOUGHTS!
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 06:56:41 2012
Bear in mind that eBay's Great Auction give-a-way for store subscribers in March over-saturated listings, so a lot of people experienced a ''down'' March.

As to the give-a-way, you've got to know that eBay has some ulterior motive for that. One would have to think that eBay was trying to drive more people into store subscriptions. Once they get them there, are they going to eliminate base-level store subscriptions and/or a raise everyone's store fees?
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: godivagirl57 This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 07:40:30 2012
I really don't think the lack of TRS was what slowed sales for Sally during the last few months.  Even with the TRS, my sales have dropped like a rock, as well as the watchers and my page views.  It's extremely unusual for me not to have 6-10 sales a day, but there have been days that I haven't had even one.  I do think ebay is manipulating our visibility and I think it has been going on for quite a while. It just doesn't seem to be a coincidence that most of sales come from California and Texas (anyone else notice most sales from specific areas).  Also, it certainly hasn't help sales that ebay seems to be running very, very slow (have used ebay for years & have never had this problem). ALSO... buyers are complaining that when they go to pay, paypal is showing errors (this has happened to about 4 buyers in the last couple of days). The combination of so many things is driving away buyers - it isn't a lack of a TRS badge.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: 10 year seller This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 10:40:07 2012
I'm wondering if Ebay is on a path to hide all sellers except large name brand merchants.
I wish Yahoo hadn't fired  2000 employees and had instead used them to re-create their auction site.
They are the only ones big enough to do it and get enough sellers to switch.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: BetterThingsToDo This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 10:56:28 2012
When Fleecebay keeps dangling all these carrots in front of people it makes me wonder.

There is no way to prove that TRS - DSR - FEEDBACK or anyother combination of letters does anything to improve or unimprove sales.

All this garbage that Fleecebay preaches is just that. They dangle the carrot and people jump for it.

We could care less what they dangle. We do 3-5 day shipping, calculated on most shipping, No returns. If Fleecebay doesn't like our way of doing business then they should just toss us. We have hear nothing about it from them.

You have leaders and followers and Fleecebay is full of followers.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: Lynda This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 11:52:09 2012
I have been selling on ebay for 10 years and find that this last change they have made is just to inhibet the sellers more and take away any discounts we recieve from them . By making 14 day return and 1 day turn around shipping mandatory it is almost impossable to have your 20 % discount saved on part of your sales . We have to do or our top rated seller is not more that a little gold button on the screen . So we have to comply with ebay again just so we do not loose the tiny bit of a gift they give us .
Also with the 9% taken out of the shipping even before we know were it is going we loose and it is hard to charge enough as then we get bad feedback for over charging and if we don't we loose on the shipping due to the fact that they take 9% off the top not counting the 3 % from paypal so that is 12% off the top of the shipping charge before we know how much it is going to cost. Thanks
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: Lynda This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 12:05:53 2012
As a long time seller who and buyer on ebay and I know I am not a 500 item a month seller but I am one who has seen it all and feel that the seller is being treated like a second class citizian more and more . Soon we will not care if we have our TRS as it will do not good the only thing it is worth is the 20% at the end of the month I am sorry it does not give me any advantage other than that .

Oh and speaking of that You know that it does not give you 20 percent back on the shipping that they take 9% from the only way to get that back is to add it in the selling price when you list and put free shipping then you can get 20% back on the shipping charge . Other wise you just flat loose 9% on shipping . You know you do not think much of it at first but when it turns into 12% and you let ebay calculate the shipping you loose I use flat rate shipping to all and send a lot of refunds so that I am fair but not the looser all the time.

As I see it Ebay is the  win win and we are the sheep and can do nothing else as we still have nothing better.
This is a hobbie and my pleasure as a 70 year old retired person to have a hobby and sell what I have collected for 35 years but I am very aware of what they are doing . I feel most seller do not pay attention to the percentages that they are slowly eating away at us.

Thanks for the place to speak my mind I am sure it will not do much good but love to say it .
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: Lynda This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 12:16:01 2012
Speaking of sales from areas I have noticed that in the 2 sites I run I have been selling out of the US a lot more but I think that is because I ship there which is great for us . As so many do not . I sell antique items so it is different and I do not expect major sales .

What do you think of the new picture set up It is auful to go view an item if it has more than one picture as mine do . I think veiwers are not going into the pictures as much as they are so hard to see with the new viewing option it is so bad and I mean bad .

I have been on here for 10 years and this is the worst it has ever been for us to list and be viewed . I see no one mentions the pictures  so I assume that you all may only use one picture to sell and that is something I can not do .
Well guys it has been nice but don't know if it helps just feels good to put it on paper .
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
This user has validated their user name. by: Marie
       
Fri Apr 6 13:55:50 2012
Some people are holding BM [what a great acronym for best match] in too high of a regard.  Think about this one a little.  When you yourself are out there searching to buy something, do you search with BM?  I know I don't.  I change it to Lowest or ending soonest, depending on my needs at the time.  I would venture to guess that there are a whole lot of buyers out there that do the same thing.  

Your boost in searches is ONLY in BM.  So for it to have such a big affect on someone's sales, then that is saying that the majority of their potential buyers search with BM.  I don't believe that.  The average buyer is far more concerns over pricing than that.

The fluctuations in sales for a seller when they are TRS and went they are not is more likely due to the time of the year or other economic factors.  I've been selling a long time.  Every year around the middle of March I see sales decrease and they don't pick back up until after April 15th or whatever the date is that year for filing taxes.  Then once everyone knows where they stand with IRS, the buying returns.

August and first part of September are another particularly bad time for sales, at least in my experience.  January will often exceed December.  Stuff like this.  And it has nothing to do with TRS, it has to do with the buyers.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser
       
Fri Apr 6 15:40:29 2012
Marie is right - no one uses best match.  Especially serious or regular ebay buyers.

For most searches, it doesn't matter if you are below standard or TRS - buyers find you by keywords.  Buyers look at your FB, your policies, your pictures, and your price.  All things considered, for the same price, I would go with the TRS seller only because I know if there's a problem they will be quick to take care of it.  That's about the only real edge.

As a seller, the 20% is VERY significant, especially for a store owner since most fees are in FVF's.  

Slow sales....yep.  Very slow after Feb this year.  Trying to track sales to TRS or non-TRS is almost impossible.  I lost my TRS for about 2 months last year and it was completely insignificant.  One month was a bit less than usual, but the next month was a 2 year record - anecdotes like there are so unscientific and mean nothing.

You know what always seems to sell well?  Stuff people want.  If you are selling stuff that people want right now, and you are selling it at a good price, nothing else matters.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Fri Apr 6 17:33:27 2012
Part of me is cynical and suspicious of the new breed of dishonest buyers that eBay attracts.

I wonder if those scammers actively look for and target TRS sellers.

Because TRS sellers are eager to protect their 20% discount... at all costs (or nearly all costs) the seller will be a bit more pliable and easy to manipulate when the dishonest buyer starts making unreasonable demands or specious claims about ''smelling of smoke'' or ''not the same shade of beige shown on the screen'', etc etc.

Depending on the total dollar amount that TRS sellers actually save with the 20% discount... it's probably easier (or cheaper in the long run) for them to just roll-over and give the scammer what he wants.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: godivagirl57 This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Apr 6 19:02:22 2012
I got a chuckle Anonymous Annie about the 'shade of beige'.  I can't tell you how many times buyers have asked about that (and one even filed a claim). I agree that TRS's will be easy pickins for scammers. When a buyer is dishonest, there's always a way for them to get a free ride (especially now with ebay's upcoming claim/%refund offer)!!  That'll really bring 'em out of the woodwork!  
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Fri Apr 6 23:01:22 2012
Until ebay is named and successfully prosecuted as a co defendant in a criminal fraud case, they will continue to do whatever they think they can get away with.

In the meantime, their pro criminal, pro fraud policies will cost sellers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What these sociopathic corporate criminals don't realize is that the can be criminally prosecuted in their individual capacities.

There's nothing I'd like to see more than John Donahoe and Devin Wenig wearing orange jumpsuits followed by denims and blue work shirts with number over the pockets.

If only a northern California seller would file an emergency petition in federal court requesting the court to issue an emergency cease and desist order to ebafia to prevent widepsread and irrevocable harm to sellers.

Drop Dead, Donahoe.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Apr 7 01:49:17 2012
It's a matter of having organic (what google provides) search results, which is fair and even handed results, and what eBay tries to get everyone to use, their "best match".

But "best match" isn't really best for anyone except eBay.

It's manipulation of search results to favor certain results they want to reward. In this case sellers who give free shipping, one day handling and 14 day returns. The eBay flavor of the day.

The eBay management just knows that to compete they must get their myriad sellers to just do all this and the money will then roll in for them.

It's not true of course, only by finding a way to get the prices on eBay up to some semblance of normal and getting rid of the blatant crooks (eBay must be overrun with crooks as much time as they seem to spend on "buyer protection, we've got you covered!"). I don't see the crooks but they have to be there with all the stuff eBay focuses on.

So there's the problem and this it eBay's unstable business model of the day. Yeah, they change it like I change my socks.

But eBay doesn't want to acknowledge that what made eBay what it is isn't going to be helped by free shipping or fast shipping or even unreasonably generous return policies, for mail order for crissake, messy!

No, what made eBay what it is was that you could get things on eBay that you just can't buy locally. And usually cheaper than you can find them locally, but that now is part of the problem because eBay buyers now thing things are worth nothing. Items that cost $400 for the parts to manufacture it selling for $49 is unsustainable, since how can you get more product to sell if you have to be able to get everything free or at least buy it for less than it costs to make?

There's no way to maintain a business where you have to sell mostly things you got for free!. I have been saying this for years. "Ebay is a great place to sell things you got for free".

You can't make a long term viable business selling only things you got free. I sell as much stuff like that as I can but clearly it's impossible to have an actual sustainable business based on that.

So when eBay stops manipulating the search results and starts treating their sellers fairly, and I mean the sellers who bring the unique non-commodity items to eBay that you just can't get anywhere else we will all be able to make a little money.

If it's not too late, that is.
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: TrulyYours This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Apr 7 13:01:06 2012
I completely agree with Gail on almost everything. I also have TRS and have not seen any advantages of having it. My items are never shown on the first or second page of the search, unless of course, I am the only seller offering an item.
I do buy frequently from eBay, and I NEVER pay attention to the TRS badge.  I pay attention only to price/ feedback score/shipping cost/return policy.  If all 4 requirements are satisfactory to me, I buy the item.
Great post Gail!
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
by: used2luv2sell This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Apr 7 18:31:15 2012
I don't believe it will matter much longer about TRS, as Ebay has a big master plan in place.  

Eventually every seller will encounter the buyer who leaves those sets of 1's in DSR's, and after 2 of those, you are booted from the program.  

Once every seller is booted, the program will end and it will have been the sellers fault for "earning" those low marks.  

I believe that Ebay is changing DSR scores of 5's to 1's on sellers accounts, slowly enough that it's not noticed by too many sellers at a time.  

We are "not allowed" to contact buyers regarding these feedback numbers, so this gives Ebay free reign to change numbers.  Who would know???  As a buyer, I have no clue how to check what numbers I've left for a seller after the fact.  I don't play the game, so I leave 5's, but I can't check and make sure Ebay didn't change them!  

Because I live in free America and not in communist Ebay, I contacted my buyers who left me 1's - nicely - and asked what I did wrong so I could correct my mistake.  They ALL said they'd meant to leave good marks.  Sure, they could lie, but I've found that liars on Ebay do not bother responding to emails - Non payers for example.  This leads me to believe these folks left good marks that were changed.  Conspiracy?  It's Ebay & we've seen evidence of no morals - usually power trippers don't stop until they are caught red-handed.

Donahoe - Look up these words - "morals" and "ethics".  Next, look at the rules you give your expected-to-be-perfect sellers to follow. Now go look in a mirror.  Ugly?  
Perminate Link for Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?   Point, Counterpoint - Does TRS Improve Your eBay Sales?
This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY
       
Sun Apr 8 12:21:54 2012
@Annie. Off topic.  FYI. I also buy on ebay. Its very weird.  I would say that around 1/3 of the vintage items that I buy smell heavily of smoke.  Says something about a good chunk of the person that sells on ebay.

On topic.  TRS helps when there is a lot of competing items.  When they are one of a kind items, it most likely doesn't do much.

It's all about the 20% discounts that Ebay is stealing from the rest of the sellers through the 20% plus postage discount they get from the post office.
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