|Mon Apr 1 2013 20:16:16|
eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements
By: Ina Steiner
In what is sure to be perceived as bad news by many small eBay sellers, the company said its stricter requirements for maintaining Top Rated Seller status is working - meaning it's unlikely to relax its tough TRS standards. At last week's Analyst Day, Senior VP of eBay North America Christopher Payne said higher standards for TRS sellers has had a significant impact on its business.
One of last year's changes requires TRS sellers to upload tracking information within handling time on 90 percent or more of their U.S. transactions. At the time, this was very controversial - and it continues to be so. I received the following email from a seller just last week:
I have been selling on Ebay since 1998 and consider myself a Top Rated Seller, but not according to Ebay and their Tracking Number Policy. I have a near perfect high Feedback Rating with nary any complaints. I ship within one business day and customer gets their product very quickly.
Here's the problem. I sell a low priced product (average selling price about $12.00). I ship it in a #10 business envelope with a 66 cent stamp for USA and $1.10 global stamp for International.
Now, to comply with Ebay's rules, I would have to pay about $1.69 for USA and $6.16 for International shipping. Ebay's 20% discount off Final Value fee does NOT make up for the increased postage costs.
Ebay's Tracking Number Policy for this is unfair for our type of product. Does anyone know if Ebay is going to modify this?
In last week's Analyst Day presentation, Payne specifically mentioned the ship-tracking requirement. Referring to all of the stricter requirements, he said, "The impact was significant on our marketplace. We saw increases in the number of listings that offer free shipping; that offer 2-day shipping; and that provide returns in a window of 14 days or more."
Payne said Top Rated Sellers represent the best of the best and deliver the best experiences to shared buyers. "This program recognizes them and rewards them for their efforts. Today they drive a significant portion of the GMV in North America."
Because eBay rewards Top Rated Sellers with greater exposure in search, it's no wonder Payne said Top Rated Sellers' growth in 2012 not only outpaced non-Top Rated Sellers, but outpaced the ecommerce market overall. However, there is a perception among "regular" sellers that eBay is giving its largest retail customers (i.e., GSI Commerce customers, etc.) special treatment, increasing resentment from non Diamond sellers.
I've also received reports from readers that eBay's automatic 5-star DSR program meant to ensure that buyers can't ding sellers who conform to some of its mandatory requirements to maintain TRS status is not working. "I have found repeatedly that buyers are enabled to rate the shipping time even though I qualify for the automatic 5 star," wrote a seller today. "When I've phoned eBay to request the rating be changed, they either don't understand what I'm talking about or refuse to change the rating! It's unfair for them to have a policy and make a seller jump the hoops to reach for that 5 star and yet still refuse it when they qualify."
Readers of EcommerceBytes are also familiar with some seller reports that sales are declining for them. Payne revealed that over the past 2 years, eBay has doubled the amount of listings on its site - there's more inventory on eBay than ever, doubled to 400 million items in 2012 from 200 million in 2010.
Even when you factor in a higher conversion rate - Payne said it was up 13 percent over the last 2 years - there's no indication that growth in the number of buyers and traffic to the site has doubled to correspond with the doubling of items available for sale. While eBay was boasting about greater selection, doubling the number of listings makes it a more competitive marketplace for sellers vying for the top of search results.
Look for tomorrow's Newsflash article about Christopher Payne's full presentation at Analyst Day and let us know what you think. (Here's the link to the EcommerceBytes Newsflash article.)