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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 248 - October 04, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 7

eBay Rolls out Top Rated Seller Program

By Ina Steiner

October 04, 2009

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eBay rolled out the Top Rated Seller (TRS) program last week, which it had announced in July as part of the SR2 Fall Release. Top concerns from sellers are whether eBay has made the bar too high to qualify, and whether shoppers will be fearful of buying from sellers whose listings do not display the TRS badge. One seller said he believed the absence of the PowerSeller logo on his listings resulted in a decrease in sales because buyers are unaware of eBay's decision to hide PowerSeller status from shoppers.

What Is the Top Rated Seller Program?
eBay has a new designation for sellers who meet certain criteria. Shoppers on eBay will no longer see the PowerSeller logo, although eBay is keep the program for sellers. Instead, shoppers will see a "Top Rated Seller" (TRS) badge in search results. On seller listings, messaging states that a TRS seller "Consistently receives highest buyers' ratings; Ships items quickly; and Has earned a track record of excellent service." The requirements for meeting TRS standards are explained on this eBay help page.

The TRS program is of vital importance to sellers because of the benefits, in particular the increased visibility in Best Match search results, the TRS badge seen next to listings on search results, and a 20% discount on final value fees. Here is a page that explains Top Rated Sellers to shoppers (link).

The TRS help page also explains that eBay has a new way of looking at DSRs - the percentage of 1s and 2s must be below 0.50% for each criterion.

Another area of concern for sellers who were familiarizing themselves with the implementation of these changes last week was the purple box in search results that shows shoppers how to filter out non-TRS sellers. Said one seller, "I never thought a Top Rated Seller being advantaged in search meant there would be a filter to eliminate everyone else."

Sellers react to Top Rated Seller Program on the AuctionBytes Blog.

Changes to Search Affect Antiques, Collectibles, Toys & Memorabilia
As part of the Fall Release, eBay also made changes to its Best Match search algorithm. You can read about the changes on the eBay announcement here. Significantly, Fixed Price listings in most categories will have a listing performance score based on the listing's recent sales in relation to the number of recent impressions it received. Sellers can view a Search Visibility tool under the "reports" column in their account.

If you sell antiques, collectibles or toys, make sure you know how Best Match will work in those categories to try and get the best exposure for your listings (link).

Sellers react to new Search Visibility on the AutionBytes Blog

How Readers Rated Changes in July
It's interesting to look back and see how AuctionBytes readers viewed the changes when they were announced in July - but before they actually rolled out. Here are the results on how eBay sellers viewed the Top Rated Seller program:

Starting in October, a new eBay Top-rated seller status will be added to the PowerSeller program to based on the new way to look at DSRs (very few 1s and 2s). eBay Top Top-rated sellers will receive the highest PowerSeller Final Value Fee discounts (20%), increased visibility in search results for Fixed Price listings, exclusive access to purchase Featured First and a prominent Top Top-rated seller badge on item pages.
Good: 31.0% Neutral: 27.5% Bad: 41.5%

The new eBay Top Top-rated seller badge will be displayed on sellers' item pages and other member profile pages. eBay will also begin testing the badge in search results pages.
Good 31.9% Neutral: 37.8% Bad: 30.3%

A total of 1,113 readers took the survey, and the full results are in this August 4th article.

eBay to Answer Questions
eBay will host an online discussion about the TRS program on October 5, from 10:00 - 1:00 AM, Pacific Time, and a discussion on changes to search on October 6, from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Pacific Time. Visit this page for more information.

Changes to Item Condition Attribute
Finally, some sellers were briefed several weeks ago on upcoming changes to the Item Condition attribute, you can learn more in last week's AuctionBytes Newsflash newsletter.

Sellers react to changes in Item Condition in the AuctionBytes Blog

As you can see from the links to the AuctionBytes Blog above, we've been tracking the changes and allowing sellers to react to each story as it develops. Stay tuned for this week's news as sellers continue to absorb how these changes affect them, and please post your comments on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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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