eBay.com has which are to be implemented later this year. The two biggest groups of changes affect the way seller quality is measured on the site, and the way search results are presented. There are also changes to the unpaid item process, email contact between members, vacation settings, and more control over ship-to locations.
There are a lot of changes, and no doubt more detail will emerge as sellers read and digest eBay’s announcement. In the meantime, here are the headlines:
Measuring seller quality: new Top Seller program and DSR changes
DSRs: the low numbers count
When DSRs are used to measure seller performance, eBay will be moving the focus from overall average to the percentage of 1s and 2s. As buyers don’t necessarily have a consistent standard for what “good” is (and eBay tell them that 4 is “good”, while penalising sellers for getting 4s), concentrating on the number of buyers who have had a demonstrably bad experience and have left a 1 or 2, is a more effective way to measure seller performance.
DSRs left by non-US buyers will no longer count at all for this purpose, but repeat US buyers will be counted. There will be minimum numbers of 1s and 2s left before sellers will be penalised under this policy, which is intended to ensure that the feedback of one buyer cannot cause penalties for a seller. (In practice, being a low feedback seller is going to continue to be difficult.)
That said, for the moment, average DSRs continue to be a factor in many aspects of eBaying, including:
New Top-rated Seller program
The new eBay Top-rated seller status recognizes PowerSellers who consistently provide the best experiences to their customers. The program differentiates sellers by their relative performance and offers incentives and rewards for providing great buyer experiences.
PowerSellers with low numbers of 1 and 2 DSR scores will be eligible for this new program, which offers the highest level of fee discounts, increased search visibility under BM, and 😀 a new badge for their listings (and perhaps in search results).
Changes to PowerSeller program
PowerSeller icons will no longer show on listings. For PSs who do not qualify for the TS program, their fee discounts will continue until April 2010. After that, non-TS PSs (are you confused yet?!) will receive a 5% discount on their FVFs.
We’ll be looking at these changes in more detail in a future post.
Changes to search results pages
Changes to Best Match
- As of July 27, 2009, raising the price or changing the title will not automatically reset your recent sales.
- Number of impressions (views) versus number of sales will become a factor in BM.
- New BIN listings will be given some exposure under BM even if they have no sales, to boost them at the start.
- Titles, seller performance, shipping costs will be factors in BM. Fixed price listings with free shipping will continue to be advantaged.
- Auctions ending soon will be boosted under BM.
Listing enhancements removed
Featured Plus, Border, Highlight, Gift services, ProPack and Homepage Featured are being discontinued. Featured First will be available only to Top Sellers, but will not be displayed when any other sort method than Best Match is selected.
New search visibility tool
A new tool is being launched so that sellers can measure a listing’s position under BM, impressions to sales, and compare their own listings to those on page 1 for a given search result.
Better selling practices
New “Selling Practices” policy
- Return policy and handling time must be specified in listings
- Sellers can include “only relevent terms and conditions”. Inconsistent or contradictory T&Cs are a violation of this.
- “Listing descriptions must be professional in both language and tone” – “Listings cannot include comments that undermine confidence in the marketplace, such as comments expressing negativity toward buyers or the selling process.”
If we could get rid of “I am not responsible for items lost in the post”, I’d be very happy.
No more additional insurance
Sellers will no longer be able to specify an additional optional or compulsory insurance fee for their listings.
Auctions versus BINs
For auction listings with BIN prices, the BIN price will have to be at least 10% above the auction start price (anyone would think people had been using this to get around eBay fees 😉 ).
Things that sellers have been asking for…
More control over ship-to locations
Sellers will be able to specify countries they do not want to ship to. eBay give as an example that sellers can specify they ship to Europe, but exclude Russia and Italy.
Faster unpaid item process
Sellers will be able to open a UID 4 days after the listing ends (currently this can’t be done until 8 days). It will be possible to automatically open a UID, and buyers will not be permitted to leave feedback while this claim is open. Emails will be “more neutral in tone”.
Changes to email
Emails between members will be “threaded” both in My Messages and email clients – so you’ll be able to keep track of an entire conversation without having to dig into message histories. However, buyers will be kept anonymous until after sales are complete. eBay’s emails to buyers post-sale are being streamlined:
Vacation settings improved
Stores sellers will now be able to put all fixed price listings “on vacation” – not just SIF. The same options (to hide listings or display a “this seller is away” message) will be available as now.
Changes are scheduled for weeks commencing 22nd September and 1st October. At time of writing, these announcements have been made for eBay.com only. eBay UK’s corresponding announcement isn’t due until tomorrow, and though we expect much of the content to be similar, in some places, it is bound to differ.
As normal with eBay announcements, there’ll doubtless be more questions than answers as sellers work through the implications of the announcement. We’ll be looking at exactly what sellers will need to do to ready their listings for September and take advantage of new site features once the UK announcement has been made tomorrow.
In the meantime, what do you think – good, bad or indifferent changes? Just what eBay needs, or too little too late? Leave us a comment.