In Part I of this two-part blog series, Scot Wingo provided an in-depth analysis of the upcoming eBay seller standards changes announced in eBay’s latest Seller Release, known as SR14.1. As the dust settles from eBay’s announcement, let’s take a look at what you can do now to take advantage of the benefits this change has to offer (and avoid any negative consequences along the way).
But first, here’s a quick recap of Part I:
To stay competitive with the likes of Amazon and other major online retailers, eBay is making changes to provide a premium buyer experience. To this end, the company has created a new seller ranking system and introduced related changes to raise the bar for its sellers.
The headlines of SR14.1:
- The introduction of eBay’s Defect Rate (what we call “eDR”): One measure to rule them all.
- Top-Rated Seller changes: TRS is being changed to now be based on the eDR.
- Return policy changes: To qualify for the Top Rated Seller Plus seal and the 20% final value fee discount between November 1 and December 31, TRS sellers must offer extended holiday returns, with returns accepted until January 31.
- Returns policy: There will be improved messaging about hassle-free returns to consumers.
- Category changes: Minor category changes will be coming April 7, 2014.
The new eDR includes:
- Item As Described DSR: If you receive a 1,2 or 3, that transaction will hit your eDR.
- Ship Time DSR: If you receive a 1, that transaction will hit your eDR.
- Feedback: If you’re left negative or neutral feedback, that transaction will hit your eDR.
- Returns: If an item is returned and the reason is ‘not as described’ (SNAD in eBay-speak, meaning significantly not as described), that transaction hits your eDR.
- eBay Money Back Guarantee/PayPal purchase protection cases opened for INR (item not received) or SNAD.
- Seller-cancelled transactions: If, for example, you say you have ten of something, sell them and then cancel five unique transactions, that’s five eDR “hits.”
As Scot mentioned in Part I, we believe the introduction of eDR and the ties to TRS are the most impactful part of this release. We’ll focus on these two areas today.
4 Ways to Protect Against a High eDR:
The elements of eDR boil down to four main areas, in descending levels of importance (but they’re really all important): describing your items accurately, providing a positive buyer experience, managing oversells and shipping quickly.
1. Describe Your Items Accurately
EBay has been focusing on listing quality for some time now, with changes to image requirements and item specifics as prime examples. Item Not As Described is the DSR area that can really bite you, so it’s imperative to make sure your items are represented as accurately as possible. We see this especially affecting sellers of refurbished items. Refurb sellers should review their descriptions and explicitly call out any possible irregularities with the item. Multiple, high-quality images are also helpful here.
Other Areas Where Item Not As Described Can Count As a Defect:
Cases: Be vigilant of and responsive to cases escalated to eBay for Item Not Received or Item Not As Described, but remember that eBay considers the act of opening a case at all to be indicative of a poor buyer experience…so be sure to provide excellent service to avoid this at all costs.
- Returns: Be very clear in your return policies so buyers are aware of the process and don’t initiate returns for reasons that point to the item not being as described. As eBay has stated, “If you disagree with the reason selected by a buyer for returning the item, you can report a return issue, add pictures of the item and we’ll prompt the buyer to escalate the return to eBay for review. If the case is resolved in your favour, it won’t be counted against your seller performance and you won’t pay return postage costs.”
➢Action: Check your Item as Described DSR counts (1s, 2s and 3s) as a percentage of total transactions. The DSR Count is available in My eBay to perform this calculation. Anything over 5% (or 2% for TRS) should be a red flag.
2. Provide a Positive Buyer Experience
While feedback can be subjective, the best way to mitigate neutral or negative feedback is to be fanatical about providing excellent customer service. ChannelAdvisor surfaces the most recent neutral and negative feedback in the eBay dashboard and/or in the Sales view, and it’s of course available in your eBay seller account.
➢Action: Check Negative/Neutral feedback counts as a percentage of total sales and search for trends to address. Feedback can be removed if it violates eBay’s feedback policy, so it’s important to understand this policy, as well as address the legitimate issues mentioned in buyers’ feedback.
3. Manage Oversells
If you’re using a solution such as ChannelAdvisor, then you’ve already taken some action to manage oversell situations. However, it’s of utmost importance that you manage your inventory quantity tightly. If your quantity is adjusting outside of ChannelAdvisor, then make sure you’re sending frequent updates to keep your quantities in sync. We’ve taken measures to make sure your listings are pulled down with extreme urgency when in an oversell situation.
➢Action: Calculate total seller-cancelled transactions as a percentage of total sales. Evaluate how many transactions have been cancelled due to oversells (one way could be to look at refunds for which you have not restocked the item). If you have high-velocity items, consider using a buffer. We It’s super important to stay on top of this now, so please take a look at what’s causing your oversells and address it quickly.
4. Ship Quickly
Fast is quickly becoming almost — if not more — important than free when it comes to shipping. Buyers’ expectations have risen significantly as a result of fulfilment programs like Amazon Prime, and gone are the days of 10-day delivery times (in most cases). In fact, the median lead-time-to-ship across all ChannelAdvisor eBay sellers is 1 day. Over 80% of the listings powered by ChannelAdvisor offer 2 days or fewer handling time, and over 60% of listings ship within 1 day. Remember that there’s an option to offer 0 day handling time on eBay.
➢Action: Check low Ship Time DSR counts (1s) as a percentage of total sales. Review your stated lead time vs. actual lead time: Are you shipping within your stated lead time? Is your lead time low enough (one day or less)?
If not, perhaps it’s worth considering making some adjustments to your fulfilment operations to optimise lead time and absorb that in your item price (if you can still be competitive) or charge a nominal shipping fee. If you’re at risk of losing TRS due to lead time, then the visibility gains from TRS may counteract any negative impacts of a slightly higher total product cost.
Don’t Forget to Do These 3 Things to Retain Your Top-Rated Seller Status:
Keep your eDR at 2% or lower (see above)
Be prepared for extended holiday returns. This means that returns should be accepted for all transactions that take place in November and December, and will be required for listings to receive the Top Rated Plus seal (Premium Service badge in the UK).
Provide a valid tracking number — that’s a tracking number with at least one carrier scan recorded and validated by eBay — within your stated handling time on 90% of all transactions.
Remember that these standards will apply to transactions beginning in May, so you should take action quickly to address any areas of deficiency. Also, if you’re in decent standing, it’s still a good idea to strive to improve. Even if your eDR is less than 2%, your competition’s may be better, and they’ll be rewarded for that in search results.
Make sure you’re the one reaping the rewards of high standards!
Blog post by Jenny Hock, ChannelAdvisor product manager.
Want to learn more about what the eBay Seller Release will mean for you? Register now to attend our webinar, Introducing the eBay Defect Rate: eBay Seller Release 14.1 and How It Can Affect Your Sales, with Jenny Hock and ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo on Monday, April 7, 2014 at 1 p.m. EDT.