If you are an eBay seller, Detailed Seller Ratings are going to become pretty important very soon.
eBay are introducing a raft of changes under new leadership including Finding changes (search), fee changes and more.

Detailed Seller Ratings are going to matter to you. If you haven’t been concerned about your ratings, and you take your business income on eBay seriously, then please read on as poor DSRs may have a real impact on your bottom line.

dsr.gifeBay plans to change the way products are displayed in search by using DSR ratings to weight search results. What does this mean? It means if you have low DSR ratings for your account, your items (even if they may appear more relevant based on the keywords in your titles ) may appear BELOW many of your competitors because of your DSR scores.

Also, eBay US sellers will now likely get volume discounts, and these discount rates on your fees are tiered against DSRs.

So, how you to improve your DSR ratings, to enable better item visibility in eBay and get some listing discounts? Here are my top tips for improving your DSR rating…

Lets go through each DSR in turn.

Item as Described

  • This is common sense really, but some sellers rush through the description too quickly. All a buyer wants is no surpises when they open their package. These are the things you need to think about:
    • Make sure you include ALL relevant details on the item, (including things like model numbers, accurate colour information, etc)
    • If your item is sold elsewhere by a distributor with better info, you might want to add a link to the manufacturer website for the customer, but make sure it is the same product!
    • Take good photos (read this, and try this), and make sure they are focused and clear.
    • Where possible, take photos of the actual item you are selling, and state this in the listing
    • Don’t only highlight the positive selling points, where applicable mention any negatives as well (eg, small surface scratch on rear of unit” etc)
    • If you repeatedly sell the same SKUs, listen to your customers! If customers often ask the same question about a specification, or you get even one complaint about something in the images or description of your product then consider adding more information to the listing, so next time there will be fewer questions and a more accurate listing.

    If you can do all of these things, you should ensure pretty high ratings. And, if you really pay attention to what your customers are asking and what issues they have with your descriptions and you update future listings accordingly you can pretty much guarantee a heap of 5 ratings of Item As described, and also less customer service work to boot!

Communication

I have already made some posts on communicating with buyers. There are a number of tools out there to help you keep track of correspondence too.

When buyers see ‘Communication’ as a DSR and are asked to rate it, they will think of :

  • how prompt you were at answering their questions
  • how prompt you were at emailing them updates on their purchase
  • how professional your communication was (did you email them enough, did you write with correct grammar and spelling?)

As you can see, the key points here are speed and effort.

So, what can you do? Try these ideas :

These next two DSRs are not my favourites. The reasons are this :

They are difficult to score highly on because many buyers don’t disassociate the customer service aspect of shipping, versus the actual shipping service (which is out of your control). For this reason, I believe shipping DSRs are the hardest to get high scores for, so these may be the ones you need to make some extra effort to improve.

Shipping Time As Described

Well then, what CAN you do to make sure buyers give you high ratings?Again, it is basically educate, inform and perfom.

  • The obvious first step is to clearly and accurately state how long it will take to not only ship the item out your door, but to process payment beforehand. Don’t forget, many buyers see this payment processing/shipping time as the same thing. Make sure they know it isn’t. What we do is this : we try to state in our listings how long it will take to ship their item after payment is completed. We send an automatic email to them when payment has been completed, and another when the item is shipped (usually same or next day). This way, they are being informed at every step of the way.
  • Try to communicate with your customers by emailing them when payment has appeared in their account, and then when the item is shipped. Maybe you could even highlight to them that you managed to ship the item ‘same day’. Read your emails back to yourself, and try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Ask yourself these questions, ‘Does it sound like great service?’, ‘Does it sound like they acted quickly, and professionally in dispatching the order on time?’
  • The old adage, underpromise, overdeliver might work for you! You could try adding a statement like ‘We ship items with 48 hours of payment clearing’ when you know you do it within 6.

Shipping And Handling Charges

This is the big one to get right. If you are a Powerseller, and hoping to get volume discounts from eBay, this will the the single most important DSR to get right as on average it is the lowest score you are going to receive.

Why is that? Well, I think it is a combination of a few things,

  1. Customers don’t often make the effort to read shipping cost information. I have seen this time and time again with my own accounts. They bid and bid and bid, get their items shipped to them within hours of their payment clearing, using the service we promise at the cost we state in listings, only to leave feedback of something like ‘I thought shipping was a little expensive’.
  2. If customers do read the shipping information, but decide to bid anyway (maybe you are the best looking seller to them for that given item) they might still grumble about shipping. eBay buyers are tough. They hunt for the cheapest product, then seem to complain freely!

Recently Scot Wingo of ChannelAdvisor and his team did some analysis of their top 4000 sellers to see what their Shipping and Handling DSR ratings were and they averaged out at 3.9. Sounds low! In looking further, they found 400 that had a rating of 4.8 or higher and identified the top 150 in this group to see what they had in common.

Their recommended 10 best practices were :

  1. Specify reasonable flat-rate shipping (where possible)
  2. Highlight your shipping, return and other important policies ‘above the fold’ (this means, at the top of the page, don’t make the user scroll down!)
  3. Provide 2-3 shipping options CLEARLY spelled out
  4. Call out international shipping information – set expectations around time and customs, and other international ‘gotchas’.
  5. Provide a clear and easy to understand return policy
  6. Provide (and communicate) discounted combined shipping
  7. Keep it simple
  8. Ship to one location only (consider splitting into two seller IDs) – hopefully this will avoid ANY confusion when buyers are trying to work out shipping costs.
  9. Amp up your customer service
  10. Consider free shipping as an option
  11. Communicate, communicate, communicate – suggest 5 stars in listing, WBN, shipping notification, feedback,etc.

Now some of these options may not work for you but I would recommend starting with these basic ideas:

  • Make your shipping cost bold and clear, in a very visible location, high up on the page.
  • Keep your shipping information in your listing short, and simple to understand
  • Spell out a simple and clear returns policy
  • Clearly state the type of shipping option you use (ground, express, air etc)
  • If possible, reduce your shipping cost as much as possible and consider increasing your item price if you can to make up for it.

At the end of the day you need to be able to clearly communicate to your buyer how much shipping will be, for how many items and make sure that when they get their product, and unwrap it, they can’t find fault in the shipping service and cost.

I think with eBay’s fee changes in the US encouraging more fixed price auction and store listings there will be opportunity for sellers to control their sale price and reduce their quoted shipping amounts.

Good luck!