August 29, 2014, 3:24 PM

What the changes at eBay mean for sellers

The online marketplace introduced new rules for sellers last month. It’s crucial that sellers understand the new rating system and how to score well in order to have success on eBay.

In August 2014, eBay introduced some important changes with the launch of its new seller performance standards. This new system means that sellers are allowed to incur a certain number of defects before their performance is scrutinized. The "defect rate" is a measure of how often a seller leaves a buyer unsatisfied or negatively affected in some way. It is important to keep that defect rate below 5% of total transactions during the most recent evaluation period as failure to do so may result in lower visibility in eBay search.

To help you achieve this goal, here is a brief summary of the changes being made to the eBay seller standards as well as five tips that will help you keep your defective rate low and your customer satisfaction high.

Changes introduced by eBay


The new scoring system on eBay allows each seller to incur a certain number of defects before their performance comes under review. EBay will calculate a seller’s defect rate based on what percentage of their total transactions has one or more of the following transaction-related defects:

Detailed Seller Rating of 1, 2, or 3 under “Item as described." Rating system is based on a 1- to 5-star scale. 5 stars is the highest rating, and 1 star is the lowest. Average ratings are calculated on a rolling 12-month basis and appear only when a seller has received at least 5 ratings. If a seller hasn't received at least 5 ratings in a category, the average rating won't appear.

  • Detailed Seller Rating of 1 under “Shipping time”.
  • Negative or neutral feedback.
  • Requests to return an item for any reason that indicates that
    the item was not as described in the listing.
  • Opening an eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection case for an item, indicating either that it was not received or that it was not as described in the listing.

Meeting the standards

EBay divides sellers into two categories: Regular sellers and Top Rated Sellers. If you want to belong to the second group you will have to keep your defect rate below 5% of your total transactions during the most recent evaluation period.

Failing to meet the standards

If you fail to keep your defect rate below the required 5% your will lose your top-rated seller status which may result in lower visibility in eBay search, or even selling restrictions.  Sellers who have subscribed to an Anchor Store (one of the three subscription packages, the one with the lowest insertion fees)  and have opted in to international selling, may also lose their promotional rates for international selling. If a seller’s defect rate is considered by eBay to be excessively high they may even find their account suspended.

Top tips to help you keep it right

1. Create great listings

Describe your items accurately using lots of pictures, and optimize your listings for viewing on mobile devices. Fill out item specifics as much as possible and include important details like size, weight, colour, and quantity. Be accurate and mention all defects. Write as if there were no pictures, so you leave no doubt in buyers' minds about what they're getting. Write descriptions that include the relevant details about your items.

This will keep your potential customers sure about exactly what they are buying and avoid disappointment after an item is received. Remember, one of the potential causes for a defective transaction is a low Detailed Seller Rating.

2. Manage your stock carefully

Make sure you control your inventory carefully. This will avoid selling items that you don’t actually have in stock. Remember, cancelling a transaction for ‘item not in stock’ will result in a defective transaction score

3. Shipping & Tracking

Ship promptly and upload valid tracking information immediately. This will give you a high score in your Shipping and Dispatch rating and simultaneously remove the threat of receiving a defective transaction due to a low detail seller rating for shipping time.

4. Provide consistently high-quality customer service

Providing excellent customer service is a must if you want to maintain a successful eBay store. Customer care includes many aspects of your business such as communicating with your customers, providing accurate listings, offering quick delivery times and of course selling quality items at the right price.  Make sure you always do your best to make your customers feel like they were treated well.

5. Use the new eBay dashboard

Know where you stand—track your performance with your seller dashboard in ‘My eBay’. This will help you keep everything under control and avoid any unpleasant surprises from your clients.

Remember, the new standards are here to stay, so familiarize yourself with them and follow the tips given to ensure you continue to offer the best possible service to your customers and maintain the highest possible standing with eBay.  Customer care should be at the heart of everything you do and ensuring the satisfaction of your customers makes good business sense when it comes to securing the long term future of your store. Happy selling!

Webinterpret assists retailers in selling internationally via eBay and Amazon.

comments powered by Disqus


Recent Posts from this Blog


Cynthia Price / E-Commerce

4 tips for improving email marketing results

Every piece of data you collect can help you serve your audience exactly what they ...


Bart Mroz / E-Commerce

How smaller retailers can utilize data as effectively as Amazon

Smaller companies have more constraints, but once they set priorities can still benefit greatly from ...


Philip Masiello / E-Commerce

3 reasons retailers fall short in email and social marketing

Reason one: They’re constantly trying to sell their customer, rather than to help and engage ...


Rotem Gal / E-Commerce

7 surprising e-commerce trends for 2017

Consumers will engage with products and brands in new ways online in the year ahead.


Research Guides