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Wed Nov 9 2022 14:19:15

A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

By: Ina Steiner

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A seller recently noticed Amazon was showing seller feedback inconsistently - most offers on a product detail page showed the number of feedback the seller had received in the past year, but one seller had their lifetime feedback count showing.

Obviously that would be of concern to the other sellers since it implied the outlier had a more thriving business than their competitors. However, it appeared to be an intermittent issue, and we're not sure how widespread the issue might be.

But the seller also shared his thoughts with us about the limitations of the current feedback system in general. Like many others on Amazon (and eBay and elsewhere), he believed raw feedback counts don't accurately portray a seller's history and performance because so few people take the time to leave feedback for sellers even when they have a positive experience. He advocated showing the rate of positive transactions.

"Less than 1% of our customers leave feedback on Amazon," he said. "eBay customers used to be better at leaving feedback, but it is less than 10% now. Discogs buyers are the best at around 50% of them leaving feedback. I suspect that it is because buyers can also get negative feedback.

"While feedback can be useful it is now irrelevant on Amazon. I'd rather see a positive completion rating. If there isn't an issue with an order it should count as a positive transaction. Amazon tracks everything already so why not show it to the buyer?"

The reader is a longtime seller who currently sells primarily used books, movies, and music on Amazon and other sites, but he also sells in other categories and has sold in the past using various models, from authorized reseller to retail arbitrage.

He provided a striking example of how he's impacted under the current Amazon system:

"If we have 1000 transactions without issues and one negative feedback that feedback would put us at 50% positive feedback since we only have one feedback in the past 30 days."

Under his proposed system, one negative feedback out of 1000 positive transactions would leave him with an almost perfect score - a more accurate portrayal of his performance, he believes.

He explained:

"A Positive transaction to me is that the item was as advertised, shipped on time in protective packaging and with good customer service if necessary. The customer has no reason to complain. That same customer may not leave feedback, but the transaction was a positive experience for the buyer. 

"A transaction that would not count as positive would be anything that involved an A-Z claim that resulted in a demerit for the seller. Shipping late, INAD or not received claims, and negative feedback would also count as negatives to varying degrees."

We've heard many other sellers discuss the limitations of feedback at a time when buyers are not as inclined to leave feedback as the early days of ecommerce. 

"I believe in feedback as a valuable metric, however if less than 1% of customers leave feedback, it can't reflect the true value of the business," the seller said. "Give us credit for all positive transactions since the customer can't be bothered to leave feedback. Feedback is no longer relevant if so few customers are willing to leave it."

Do you agree?

Comments (8) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 9 20:20:09 2022

How about this.  Treat FB for what it is, an opinion.

Stop mucking with it.  Censor for safety or ‘decency’ if needs be (it’s not a 1st Amd. ‘right’ on a private site).  Don’t use it as an objective metric, because it’s not objective.  

Often, it says more about the author than it does about the recipient.  Let the consumer who would be ‘influenced’ choose it’s importance.  Many don’t care.  

Stop ‘counting’ it.  The percentages, totals, all arbitrary.  Unnecessary if not needed as a metric.  And it’s not.  Show ‘numbers’ for interest, not focus.  Let the consumer do that work if they care.  They won’t.  

Want to count something?  Count transactions.  Show those numbers.  That’s a ‘useful’ fact.  Show facts.  Not ‘analysis’.  

Let feedback speak for itself.  That’s what it’s supposed to do.  That’s ALL it is supposed to do.

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

by: gyanarthi This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 10 00:44:16 2022

Take the STARS away and only post the comment - then the feedback might make sense.  ETSY dings a seller for receiving less than 5 stars.. that's 5 out of 5!!! That's absurd. In a ''real'' what would distinguish a ''4'' from a ''3'' or a ''2''?  What could a seller have done to receive a ''1''?  Send an empty box or one with only a rude note?

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

by: Stone Cutter This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 10 01:43:41 2022

It all depends on WHAT sellers sell.

If I purchase unique items, or mechanical items, I’ll probably leave feedback. However, if I purchase heater filters, I will more than likely not leave feedback unless something really went wrong. I mean, what can someone say about a heater filter?  

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Nov 10 02:37:38 2022

I've noticed this for well over a year.  It goes back and forth.  Current year sometimes and lifetime at other times.  This inconsistency can and does affect sales for a seller that has even a small history of negative feedback.

On a site that it is RARE, very RARE for a buyer to even leave FB, it is beyond unfair that it can have such an impact on a seller's sales.

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

by: ronhop This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 11 06:57:11 2022

My received feedback all but ceased when eBay made the feedback comments field a burden, by forgetting history. Thereby forcing buyers to spend unnecessary time and thought on the task of leaving feedback.
Prior to that previous feedback left dropped down, so the buyer could select which one was appropriate, with no effort needed.
So, when eBay changed the feedback comments field for buyers, presumably to get more meaningful reviews, the unintended consequence being that the number of reviews was dramatically reduced.

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Nov 11 13:57:11 2022

This article is about Amazon.

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 11 19:19:31 2022

Feedback is most certainly relevant for buyers, I use it very often when shopping everywhere.. if not a Marketplace I check Google Reviews on non-Marketplace sites, if the comments are mostly negative I will pay a little more to buy from a seller with established positive feedback.

Mercari has it right, if a specified amount of time passes after delivery and no problem reported it gives the seller positive feedback for the transaction with a message that says "Transaction complete. This message is an automated posting by Mercari."

ALL Marketplaces should be required to give sellers credit for transactions with no negative buyer experience, in Amazon's case for several years now they have tried to make all customers think they are buying from Amazon and they are not, so asking buyers to rate sellers has not been a main focus for them when they should have been supporting the small business that made them who they are.

Perminate Link for A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?   A Better Way to Calculate Seller Feedback?

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 14 10:27:19 2022

“ This article is about Amazon.”

Actually, it is about FB in a given context.  Amazon was just a ‘prime’ example used, but the issue is ubiquitous.

“ Like many others on Amazon (and eBay and elsewhere), he believed raw feedback counts don't accurately portray a seller's history and performance …”



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