Feedback DSRs and how they'll affect you

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After six months of Detailed Seller Ratings in feedback eBay have come up with the average seller. Average sellers will have a rating of 4.8 for Item as described, Communication and Dispatch time with 4.6 for Postage and packaging charges.

That covers fifty percent of all sellers, if you’re in the top 25% you’ll have better scores, if you’re in the bottom 25% your ratings will be lower.

Bottom 10% of Sellers Bottom 25% of Sellers Average Seller Top 25% of Sellers Top 10% of Sellers
Item as Described 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 5.0
Communication 4.5 4.7 4.8 4.9 4.9
Dispatch time 4.3 4.6 4.8 4.9 4.9
Postage and packaging charges 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.8 4.8

I’m not in the least surprised that postage charges have the lowest average score, any seller that’s VAT registered has to add VAT onto Royal Mail charges. This mean means it’s higher than the perceived cost without even allowing for packaging materials. Any seller scoring 5 or close to 5 on this rating is losing money and needs to increase the amount they charge!

The important news isn’t what’s average though, it’s what effect it may have on your ability to sell and how easily your products will be found in the future. This could affect you in three ways – seller performance, PowerSeller eligibility and priority in search results.

Seller performance is a misnomer, what eBay really mean is Seller Non Performance, or SNP as they like to term it. If you’re in the bottom 10% of sellers on DSRs start worrying, that’s where eBay are likely to focus once they roll DSRs into the Negs and Neuts for evaluating your performance. If you can’t increase your DSRs expect to have your selling ability limited.

PowerSeller eligibility is likely to be more far reaching. This is for the elite sellers, pillars of the community with an excellent sales performance record. I’d forecast if you’re in the bottom 25% of sellers you may lose PowerSeller status and benefits.

Priority in search results based on Feedback Detailed Seller Ratings was hinted at in Boston at eBay Live! It makes sense for eBay to guide buyers towards sellers that give exemplary service in preference to those whose buyers are less satisfied. Happy buyers are come back and buy again which is good for everyone. There has been no indication as to which buyers may be advantaged in search results and which may be disadvantaged. I’d guess the top 10% and probably the top 25% would be promoted in search results. The 50% “average” sellers would appear next and the bottom 25% would be at the bottom.

Poor DSRs may limit your sales with the seller non performance program. PowerSeller status and benefits don’t really affect your ability to sell. The one real advantage of great DSR scores will be for top sellers whose products eBay actively promote in the future.

The really sad part is that visibility on DSRs is hidden. You can’t tell if one particular product line is lowering your DSR scores. DSRs are not related to products or buyers so you have zero visibility on where problems lie. If eBay are to start penalising or advantaging sellers based on DSRs then sellers need more visibility in order to determine where and how they can improve.

18 Responses

  1. Interesting to see that the most important part of the whole statement was in the last five words “and for prioritising search results”.
    This will have a huge impact upon most sellers – good news for some and bad news for others. I’m just glad I spent the last 3 years being focused on good feedback on deals, even if it sometimes meant losing money by having to ship replacement goods or giving refunds when things got broken in the post.

    With the median score for S&H at 4.6 it would seem that buyers are unhappy with the prices that sellers charge for postage. We know that we a lot of people use it to keep down FVF fees, but it seems about time that ebay brought in measures to cap S&H charges i.e. charges cannot be greater than the Buy it Now price of the item or something similar.

  2. “With the median score for S&H at 4.6 it would seem that buyers are unhappy with the prices that sellers charge for postage”
    That’s because most buyers have no clue how much it costs to send items these days, particulally packets. A lipstick costs 40p. A lipstick that has a box costs 94p. Customers also have no concept of the time it take to pick, pack, weigh, log and transport to royal mail. Packaging is by no means free, but buyers seem to expect no extra charge on top of postage costs.
    There is evidence to support this customer ignorance when it comes to p&p charges: Why else would sellers who offer free postage often have the same star rating as those who charge reasonable rates AND also those who blatantly overcharge?
    That aside, these moves by ebay are seemingly thier way of cleaning up the site without having to do any dirty work. By letting the buyers weed out the bad sellers for them they are giving buyers more power to vote with thier £. It’s a shame ebay couldn’t police/manage the site properly in the first place but it’s a start.

  3. Smacks of ‘nanny state’ to me. Feedback & DSR (wish they’d called it something else, my immediate interpretation of the abbreviation is ‘Distance Selling Regs’) are there for all buyers to see. Is this not sufficient?

    MY personal account scores as ‘average’ & ‘top 25%’ in all
    categories but I’m still not sold on the concept of sorting results by performance. eBay was founded on the principles of a level playing field & amateurs just starting out may need the chance to learn from their mistakes before becoming a valuable part of the eBay community.

    “these moves by ebay are seemingly thier way of cleaning up the site without having to do any dirty work.” Exactly. My view is that going about it in this way is flawed, since I’ve seen pirate DVD sellers with lots of feedback & a 99-100% rating – presumably because they were blantantly shonkey so people knew what they were getting. If a dishonest buyer buys from a dishonest seller & leaves them glowing feedback, the seller will not be penalised by this system.

  4. The other thing that eBay have totally missed out in their communication is that Brian Burke himself stated that no one should expect 5/5 for DSR stars. Also that sellers shouldn’t compare themselves with the average, but compare themselves with other sellers dealing in the same categories. No where in the averages does it break out category by category variences!

    I’d also very much like to see a differential between casual sellers and business sellers. Does that make a difference, the seller who sells one item every now and again compared to the seller who sellers hundreds and in some cases thousands of items a week?

  5. Ah, I was going to say exactly that about Brian Burke saying you should compare yourself with your competitors. Frankly a site-wide average is just meaningless.

    And how can eBay really make a comparison between casual and business sellers when – contrary to UK law – they don’t enforce business sellers saying that they *are* business sellers. How many times have you seen a Shop with hundreds of listings, obviously a trader, but the seller still shows as “private seller”? That’s an offense under the Business Advertisements (Disclosure) Order 1977, and yet eBay allow it to go on completely unchecked.

  6. Re. the P&P charges, I think that the reason that these are consistently the lowest stars is because buyers know what they are from the start. You can’t surprise someone nicely with P&P – you can only charge them what you’ve said you’re going to charge them – so buyers are very unlikely to mark you up on this one.

  7. Even worse is that DSRs were touted as a way for buyers to more easily differentiate between a good and a bad seller, as a 98% feedback rating sounded pretty ok to someone not used to eBay.

    Sadly with a differential of just 0.4 – 0.6 splitting the top 10% of sellers from the bottom 10% it’s not doing a particularly good job of doing so!

  8. Still not quite sure how this would work.

    If, for instance, one particular bead seller made it into the top 10% overall and all other bead sellers were in the top 25%. Would this one bead seller have all their listings (which could number in the 100s I would have thought) shown first in the bead category?

    BTW I’m not sure if eBay have changed the figures since the announcement was made but your figures do not match. Tamebay figures have me in the top 25%, with eBay I am top 10% 🙂

  9. Actually, I’m going to try to put a positive spin on this…

    Even the lowest scoring eBay sellers are (averagely) marked as good. This means that eBay sellers are, in general, absolutely superb at what they do, and that eBay is a great place to shop. I think that’s what we should be emphasising.

  10. I am in the top 10% in just about all my ids for postage and dispatch
    time to up my prices and give myself less stress about catching the post,

    a few thousand quid a year postage costs, saved/creamed of the top.


  11. if being in the top 10% makes a real differance to search and resulting sales,
    I must have at least 3 or 4 ids on 20 or 30 feedback with 4.9/5.0 across the board, that have not sold enough to average out
    so the trick might be to have lots of ids and keep yourself high in the search results

  12. Not sure what happens if you are in between – for example I seem to be mostly above average but not quite as good as the top 25% – 4.9, 4.8, 4.8, 4.7 – so where does that leave me? Should I be pleased or indifferent? Especially as there’s hardly any difference between top and bottom!

  13. Personally Kate I think everyone in the UK should hang their heads in shame that the US are 0.1 star above us in the UK, across the board 😯

    I really wouldn’t worry too much – the range is too small and the breadth of sellers and categories covered is too wide to be statistically relevant to any individual seller. What should worry people is if they are at the bottom of the bottom 10%. Other than that compare your DSRs with similar sellers in similar categories and worry about anything else in the future 🙂

  14. 78% of people leaving feedback use them, but only 70% of people bother leaving feedback in the first place.
    So the specific adoption rate of DSR’s is only 54.6% of all buying transactions. That’s not what I would call a positve result, more of a lethargic result.

    The average figures quoted also show that the majority of scores left are straight 5’s. Remember that buyers can only rate whole numbers, and given that the median score left in all categories is over 4.5, would indicate that the majority of people are leaving 5’s rather than 4 or less. Even the bottom 10% of sellers are still rated 4+ !!!

    Combining this with the first observation, would indicate that around 1% of all buying transactions result in a DSR score of 4 or less. if 99% of people are leaving straight 5’s, then why not extend the range? The more cynical amongst us will expect eBay to use this data to suggest that all is peachy in eBay-land and buyers are ecstatic with service levels, rather than apathetic about having to click a few extra buttons.

  15. Far too many bidders think 4 is a good star rating when it is a very bad star rating… While I dislike the star system as a whole I think they need to add an A+ rating — IE an “above and beyond” rating beyond the 5 that would count as say 5.5 and be for the special. These would help mitigate some of the hits sellers take AND would make it less likely that buyers would worry about giving the 5 rating on the assumption that nobody is perfect and they want to ding you in some way to show you how you should improve even though it is something anonymous.

    What scares me even more than the star system is the possibility that they will adopt the double blind feedback method they are testing in mexico. That would be a HUGE disaster.

  16. On the other hand, a quick scout round all the announcement boards for the English language sites shows some interesting discrepancies.

    The further east you go from Ipswich, the lower the averages become. When you think about it, this is blindingly obvious, because the major buying markets are in the west and the goods have further to travel, therefore items 3 & 4 take a hammering from the majority markets.

    Additionally, the further east you go, the lower the English skills of the sellers (English being the International language of trade etc), and therefore rating number 2 takes a hammering – thus automatically, 3 out of the 4 ratings are penalised just by geography.

    On the other hand …… UK sellers facing banning or suspension, might be able to get themselves to the top of search by re-registering on eBay India, or Singapore, or elsewhere eastwards.

    Now there’s a niche market – business accomodation addresses with mail forwarding from an address in Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, or Kong Hong, aimed specifically at eBay sellers. :))


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