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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2089 - July 28, 2009 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 2

Absorbing the News in eBay's 'SR2' Announcement

By Ina Steiner
July 28, 2009

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eBay's expected announcement of forthcoming changes to its marketplace came on Monday and covered a lot of ground. eBay Senior Director of Seller Development Todd Lutwak said in an interview with AuctionBytes that the changes would benefit a large number of sellers of all sizes on the site. The company introduced a new Top Rated seller program and said it expects to immediately qualify 150,000 eBay Top-Rated Sellers in the U.S. when the program goes live in October 2009. It will launch at the same time in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Lutwak also said that 80,000 sellers who are not currently PowerSellers would now qualify to become Top-rated sellers.

eBay also introduced a new way of evaluating seller performance by looking at a seller's low DSR scores - 1s and 2s out of a possible 5 - and would use that as a standard by which to include PowerSellers into the new Top Rated seller program. Lutwak said, "We feel these changes reward the sellers that create great buying experiences, and we believe that great sellers come in all sizes."

He said the magic number is to keep the incidents of low DSRs to under one half of one percent - and that calculation will be used on all transactions, not just on those in which they receive feedback, a major shift in how eBay calculates DSR scores. For example, if 1,000 buyers transact with a seller and only 800 of them leave feedback, eBay will measure the 1 and 2 DSR scores against 1,000, not just the 800. Sellers had long complained to eBay that satisfied buyers often did not take the time to leave them detailed feedback.

eBay is also beginning to count repeat buyer DSRs rather than "deduping" them. Lutwak said this will, by and large, benefit sellers: "As a general rule, people who decide to transact with a business multiple times usually do so because they had great experiences." However, sellers are concerned that one buyer can wreak havoc with their scores. Lutwak said no single buyer could ever take down a seller on eBay - it needs to come from multiple sources. "We are monitoring that they come from unique buyer before taking any action," he said.

Another major change affects sellers who trade internationally. eBay will only count domestic ratings left for sellers when calculating low DSR scores. Some sellers had actually reported curtailing cross-border trading because of the effect international buyers had on their shipping time and shipping costs DSR criteria, factors they said were outside of their control.

eBay is promoting a message of transparency with the introduction of new features on its Seller Dashboard. Lutwak said, "One of things I'm really happy about this set of announcements that we made today is that eBay is providing an unprecedented level of transparency to support these changes. Literally available today to sellers is what we call a snapshot of their seller performance using the new calculation for eBay Top-rated seller. They can literally go in and see today where they stand based on the previous 3 months for people who do over 400 transactions, or the previous 12 months for people who just do over 100 transactions, and where they stand on Top-rated Seller."

eBay, which had promised sellers it would limit major announcements to two per year going forward, made additional changes that we'll continue to report on throughout the week. The first announcement, made in April, was launched as part of SR1 and rolled out in June. The fall changes (SR2) were announced in the U.S. on Monday and were announced in the UK on Tuesday.

eBay is hosting webinars on July 28 and 30 and will be holding a virtual Town Hall meeting on July 29.

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About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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