DSR FAQ – what if the buyer rates me on only a couple criteria vs. all 4? (Plus a bonus soapbox on our recent eBay workshop)

February 28, 2008

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Earlier this week we hosted an eBay Workshop on DSRs and some best practices to help improve DSRS.  Thanks to the ChannelAdvisor’s: ML, RK, CF, SJ, SH and RZ for your help!

One unanswered question was submitted that I wanted to make sure I followed-up on as I had to confirm with eBay.  The question was:

If a buyer is leaving me DSR feedback and of the four criteria they leave me say a 5, 5, 4 and then on the fourth criteria they do not rate me at ALL, does that count as a zero in my average or is it not tallied at all?

The answer is it is not tallied at all.  You can see this if you look at some larger seller’s DSRs. For example, when I look at virtualexchanges today, I see that there is as large a delta as 70 stars left for each DSR.  Here’s a snapshot taken this am:


Now back to the workshop – it was basically a complete mêlée with about 30 insanely VERY emotional and upset sellers attacking us from every angle even after we clearly stated we were there to talk about some best practices and have no ability to change the DSR system.

A good example is this Tim guy who runs the boycottebay site at myspace here.

There was some valid criticism of the DSR system such as:

  • The wording that eBay uses for buyers needs some work, eBay makes it seem like 4 is excellent and a 5 is superhuman.
  • eBay’s encouraging free shipping and sellers will lose money on that potentially
  • The $ spent to achieve a 4.8 to get the 15% isn’t worth the 15%
  • The tiers eBay has defined as poor/good/great are tough to achieve (4.8, etc.) and don’t match up with the buyer ratings (this is by design, but I couldn’t get that across to this audience).  I guess there’s a bunch of people that have never been graded on the bell curve, but I’m painfully familiar with it from the good old days of being an engineering student.  The idea is to create a distribution curve so you can see how sellers rank against each other and then you can determine your bottom X%, top Y%, etc.

What I find interesting about this group of sellers is they seem to admit that S+H on eBay is a problem, and bad sellers in general are a problem, but they never offer another viable solution to the problem.  At least in the large seller groups like IMA and PESA there are some ideas of other solutions or ways to overhaul/tweak DSRs and make it more viable. Also large sellers are doing the math on their S+H weighed against the costs/benefits and looking at this as a business.

For example, I’m sure one solution eBay looked at is to charge a FVF on S+H in addition to the core price of a product.  eBay could lower overall FVF by 10% and then do this and it would immediately eliminate the incentive to make money on S+H which is the core problem we have.  This is how Amazon’s fees work.  They take the 15% on the entire pie, not just the core.

If you think people are upset about DSRs, if eBay implemented a FVF on S+H, people would have lava coming out of their eyes as there are many challenges with that approach. I can hear them now:  “I sell furniture and the S+H is usually 40% of the item price and you just increased my fees 80000%!”, “eBay has no right dipping its hand in another pocket”, etc.

So in that context the DSR solution is definitely better IMHO than something much more complex and economically impactful than FVF on S+H.

Thus I’m left with this logic:

  • DSRs at a macro level seem to be a moderate way to solve the bad/good/better seller problem on eBay.
  • For the first time eBay has put some carrots into the system (search advantage and FVF discount) so that’s a positive
  • eBay doesn’t seem interested in budging from DSRs
  • Thus we are going to live in a world of DSRs for the foreseeable future and the best plan of attack is:
    • Give eBay feedback to try and improve the system
    • Evaluate changes to your eBay business to see if the carrots are worth it for you and make darn sure you avoid the sticks.

So to the crankypantsmartha ‘s  of the eBay world, you guys continue to befuddle me.  Why do you sell on eBay if you hate it so much?  Why would you expect buyers to rate a seller called crankypantsmartha highly on communication or customer satisfaction?  Heck you don’t even have enough feeedback to have DSRs yet! What’s really going on here?