eBay have just made an announcement about the use of Detailed Seller Ratings (“the feedback stars”) on the eBay UK site. Here’s the gist:
The changes we’ll introduce will use Detailed Seller Ratings to make sure good sellers continue to have access to our audience of buyers, and to give less emphasis in search results to the tiny percentage of sellers who are responsible for a disproportionate number of the bad experiences that buyers have.
Back at eBay Live in June, sellers were told that DSRs would affect search results, so this is no surprise, though eBay haven’t explained how it will work: for example how DSR-based search results will interact with other search-sorting criteria, and whether search results will be entirely ranked by DSR ratings, or whether, say, the bottom 10% of sellers will just be buried: the wording of the announcement – “the tiny percentage of sellers…” – suggests that it might be the latter.
eBay justify their actions by saying that buyers want reliable sellers, and eBay want to link sellers with confident buyers, ergo featuring higher-ranked sellers further up search results should be a good thing.
Whether sellers will feel so happy at having buyers’ ratings directly affecting their sales potential is quite another question. When the majority of sellers have the majority of their stars at 4.8 , it seems that there is far too little differentiation between sellers for search-sorting on these criteria to be meaningful. Furthermore, the sorting should be under the buyers’ control: there are times when speedy dispatch is crucial, and times when it isn’t, just as there are items where you want cheapest postage possible, and other times when you’ll be more concerned about quality and care. We await the promised further announcements with interest.