Seller Control over Shipping Time DSR Scores

Like a lot of sellers, I believe eBay did a questionable job in creating the Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) system.  The Shipping Time score is open to a lot of buyer interpretation.  Are they supposed to rate us on how quickly we get the package to the carrier after receiving payment, did we ship on-time based on our promises in the listing, or are they supposed to rate us purely on how quickly the package arrives?That said, I take minor exception to so many sellers saying they have absolutely no control over how fast a package is delivered by the carrier.

I firmly believe there are things sellers can do to influence transit time. Here are two lists of packaging traits, guess which group’s packages will arrive faster?

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The eBay Feedback Theory – Busted

Back when Pierre first conceived the eBay idea, he decided that the community should police itself. He did not have time to mediate disputes between buyers and sellers, so he instituted “feedback.” The concept was that buyers and sellers would leave each other honest feedback, which would weed out the bad community members.

New ebayers could easily see the feedback of a seller and decide whether or not to buy from this seller. The theory was if the seller had a lot of negative feedback, the buyers would go elsewhere to bid. In other words, Pierre made the assumption that humans are able to look out for themselves.

It is my opinion this theory has been proven wrong over and over again. One only has to have seen the feedback for the now infamous seller “Bargainland” to know that people cannot look out for themselves. With feedback at 90% and many times lower, they continued to sell 100’s of items a day. Burned buyers would post to the eBay boards regularly whining that they got “taken” by Bargainland. Seasoned eBayers would ask these buyers why they didn’t heed the feedback? It’s right there, pasted in the auction, why didn’t you heed it?

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The eBay Flip Flop

Wasn’t it just 2 years ago that eBay wanted to bring back the “vibrancy” to core by encouraging 99 cent starting bids? In 2006 they decreased the listing fee for the 99 cent starting bid while increasing the costs for eBay store listings. eBay felt the need to go back to their roots – the auction format.

So it was with shock that I read the new fee structure. eBay’s 99 cent auction sellers are no longer the darlings of eBay. They have been hit the hardest by the new fee structure. Because the traditional 99 cent auction sellers generally have a very high sell through rate, they are being hit hardest by the large increase in Final Value Fees.  Although their insertion fee has decreased by 5 cents it’s nowhere large enough to make up for the 3.5% increase on the backend.

Yet Fixed Price sellers, who generally have a low sell through rate, have seen their insertion fees decrease greatly, especially the majority who use gallery.  They still pay the increased FVF, but the decreased insertion fees will more than make up for the increase in FVF’s for those seller with sell through rates below 50%.

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IMA Conference Registration Now Open!

IMA announces their second annual seller’s conference

The Internet Merchants Association (IMA) is hosting its second annual conference for internet merchants in Las Vegas March 2008. The conference begins March 03, 2008 and runs through March 05, 2008. This leading industry conference is presented in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Trade Shows.

Philip Justiss, ebayThe opening keynote speaker for this year’s IMA conference is Philipp Justus, Senior Vice President Auctions, eBay Inc.

This industry-leading event will include the who’s who in internet commerce! Google will be presenting effective Adwords campaigns. Ebay and Amazon representatives will be there. Scott Wingo, CEO of Channel Advisor will talk about making comparison shopping engines (CSE) work for you. IMA will have educational sessions on SEO, Branding, Keywords, Front End systems, Back End Systems, Proper Advertising, building customer loyalty and other ways to capture and help grow your internet business.

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The “e” in eBay

written by the Lively Prognosticator

When I got suckered in, I mean asked to write a blog, the first thing I had to do was select a subject. Initially, I thought to myself that I would keep it positive, and pick a topic where maybe I could give some great suggestions on how to increase effectiveness as an internet marketer. But a couple of mojitos later, I said naaahhh, what fun is that? So I decided to go for the gusto, pick a topic, and share my thoughts in a manner reminiscent of Bill Maher, with a little Geraldo Rivera thrown in. Not that I’m as witty or talented as either of them, but I gotta aim high, ya know?

Just a few more things about me before we get started. I choose to remain anonymous. I’ve been told by many naysayers that eBay doesn’t get mad, they get even. But many of you know me. I have been selling items in my category for over 25 years, using many different methods, including mail order, face to face sales, and ecommerce. For many of those years, I was also a senior manager for a Fortune 500 company. I’ve been selling on ebay for almost 10 years, and became a PowerSeller almost immediately. I’ve got a wealth of knowledge, and people often seek out my opinions on a variety of subjects. OK, enough said. Let’s get into it.

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Advertising – Outside the Box

There are many ways to advertise a website. The traditional ways are to buy Google Adwords, participate in a link exchange, submit your site to all the search engines, etc. These are all good ways to advertise; however, why not think outside the box?

We sell swimsuits. We have been brainstorming ways to get the product to the people. Here are some things we have done recently: We had some bling, bling shirts made advertising the site which we give to our favorite people. We bought some tank tops and had this fantastic gal decorate them with rhinestones. We wear them to events where there are sure to be people who will ask about the site.

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When Is a Neutral a Neg?

When eBay reviews your account – that’s when. At least that’s what was told to sellers recently on an Ebay forum by an eBay employee:

“If more than 5% of a seller’s buyers are dissatisfied, as measured by negative and neutral Feedback left or Item Not Received complaints during a 90 day period, the seller is in violation of the Seller Non-Performance policy.”

It has always been thought that Neutral Feedback was just that – the buyer was neither happy nor unhappy. Now eBay is using Neutral Feedback against sellers. <--more-->

For most sellers, receiving a neutral feedback is almost as bad as receiving a negative feedback. However, many buyers feel that a neutral feedback is akin to leaving no comment – it doesn’t count towards the seller’s positive feedback, and it doesn’t count toward the seller’s negative feedback. Additionally, some buyers use neutral feedback as a means of communication.

In the past sellers have been wary to request mutual withdrawal for neutral feedback as they feel it will look like they received a negative when buyer’s review their “mutually withdrawn” totals. So sellers advised each other to leave neutral feedback alone.

Is that advice no longer relevant?

Just exactly how is eBay determining that a seller falls into the bottom 1%? Is there some kind of rating system for negative feedback, neutral feedback and INR’s? Say you have two sellers, both with 2500 total feedback. One has 50 negs and 25 neutrals, and the other has 25 negs and 50 neutrals. Are they rated equally? Or are more demerits given to the seller with the 50 neg/25 neutral ratio?

And how are INR’s determined now that eBay no longer offers any protection to buyers? Most buyers filing INR are going straight to Paypal since filing an INR with eBay will forward them directly to Paypal anyway. Is Paypal forwarding these records to eBay?

Should sellers now go through the mutual withdrawal system for neutral feedback? From other posts I’ve read on eBay discussion boards, eBay phone reps are encouraging sellers to go through the mutual withdrawal system – leaving me to believe that eBay feels a bad transaction is wiped clean upon a successful withdrawal.

It would be nice if eBay would publish specific standards, so sellers know where they stand. There have been reports of sellers with FB above 99% receiving the dreaded “Poor Seller Performance” emails. These sellers thought they were doing a good job, but eBay didn’t. Ebay – why such secrecy? Why don’t you publish the standards so all eBay sellers can monitor their ratings the same way you do?


Spring Cleaning – The eBay Way

There have been a rash of reports from sellers stating they have received a “Poor Seller Performance” notice from Ebay and their accounts have been restricted. This email basically tells them they are in the bottom 1% of sellers. It seems like Ebay is doing some spring cleaning, and about time.

It was about a year ago that I sent an email to Bill Cobb asking why Ebay didn’t use their own feedback system to monitor sellers’ performance. I received a reply giving me a complete history of the feedback system and how to use it properly. Not exactly what I was after. But now it seems that eBay IS actually using their own feedback system to monitor sellers and place restrictions if they see there is a problem.

According to an eBay employee posting on an Ebay forum:

“Sellers receiving this notification have been identified as part of this bottom 1% of sellers as measured by Feedback and Item Not Received complaints over the past 90 days. If more than 5% of a seller’s buyers are dissatisfied, as measured by negative and neutral Feedback left or Item Not Received complaints during a 90 day period, the seller is in violation of the Seller Non-Performance policy. In such case, eBay may take a range of actions intended to incent performance improvement — or, if the situation warrants, may remove the seller from the community.”

This is good – for the most part. However, from the posts I have read, the sellers being restricted are low to medium volume sellers, while sellers with 1000’s of listings a month, and 100’s of negs, continue on their merry way. Any seller with a feedback rating below 98% should be reviewed by eBay and action taken. How many high volume sellers have feedback below 95%? 90% or less? And yet they continue to be allowed to list thousands of auctions a month.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to start with the huge sellers who put up 5000 listings a month, and receive 500 negatives a month? Think about it – get just one of those sellers cleaned up and next month you will have 500 more happy buyers. Compare that to restricting 100 smaller sellers who have on average 4 negatives in a month. Much easier and faster to start with the large volume sellers and work your way down, right?

Good start eBay, but let’s do this on a “level playing field” just as you charge fees on a “level playing field.”