June 2, 2007, 12:00 AM

AbeBooks.com introduces ratings with a twist

In April AbeBooks.com implemented a ratings system that assigns each book seller a series of stars based on the number of successfully fulfilled orders. AbeBooks will soon give online shoppers access to the same information.

Online books retailer AbeBooks.com is rolling out a ratings system with a twist.

Other online book merchants such as Amazon.com have online reviews and ratings programs garnered from customer feedback. Visitors and shoppers can rate a book on a sliding scale and post their comments online.

But AbeBooks.com, No. 70 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, operates on a different business model. AbeBooks carries an online inventory of more than 100 million rare and out-of-print books. The site is a marketplace for book buyers and independent book sellers who list all or a part of their available inventory online. AbeBooks markets and manages the site and processes all orders. But each order is fulfilled by the individual book seller.

In April AbeBooks implemented a back-end ratings system that assigns each book seller a series of stars based on the number of successfully fulfilled orders. One star means a book seller has successfully filled up to 59% of all orders; two stars from 60% to 69%; three stars from 70% to 84%; four stars from 85% to 94% and five stars more than 95%.

AbeBooks built the ratings systems and integrated the program with its internal order management and customer service applications. The system was designed to help AbeBooks do a better job of tracking inventory and fulfillment and giving better reporting tools to independent book sellers, says CEO Hannes Blum.

But in July AbeBooks.com will feature the new ratings system on its web site so customers can see the same fulfillment rankings as book sellers. “It costs money to acquire customers and they come to AbeBooks.com looking for very expensive rare books,” says Blum. “If they can’t get the books they order through us, they feel let down and they might not come back. This new ratings system lets both the buyer and seller know each book seller’s order completion success rate.”

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