Should eBay TRS status be harder to achieve?
I’m hearing very mixed views on eBay’s Top Rated Seller (TRS) program. Unsurprisingly many are questioning the value of the program since eBay announced a 10% decrease in the Final Value fee discounts in the 2012 Spring seller release. However I’m hearing more sellers wishing eBay would make it even harder for their competitors to qualify and retain TRS status to make the program more exclusive than it has become.
When Top Rated Seller status was first introduced there were many sellers who thought it an impossible goal to achieve. Getting Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) high enough were for some an impossible goal, and yet those same sellers are now easily achieving TRS status and finding all their competitors are too. I’ve also heard complaints that sellers appear able to retain TRS status even if their feedback percentage drops from the typically high percentage that’s usual on eBay. Sellers who are TRS but have feedback scores significantly lower than reasonably common 99.9% really aren’t providing great service.
If eBay were to raise the TRS standards then those at the very top would retain the status and have less TRS competition. So what does TRS status get you?
- Final Value Fee discounts: Whilst this is the benefit most sellers are currently complaining about I’d suggest that it’s the benefit you should discount first. There’s only one way discounts are likely to go and that’s down and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them disappear entirely or at least be further reduced over the course of the next few seller releases
- eBay Top-rated seller badge: It’s not just having the TRS badge on your listings, eBay also display it in search results and give the ability to narrow search results to TRS listings only. They also have additional marketing from time to time including promotion of TRS on the eBay home page:
- Protection from one off feedback blipseBay have made it easier than ever to retain TRS status with a grace period to protect your business from one off issues that may arise. If your feedback drops below TRS status you get time to recover and in the mean time keep your TRS badge and benefits.
- Access to eBay “Value Box” on product pages: TRS gives you the opportunity to appear in the Value Box when listing with a matching product from the eBay catalogue in Technology.
- Access to Featured First: If you’re not TRS then you don’t get access to the Featured First listing promotion. Although there’s a cost implication this is still one of the best ways to kick start sales on your new listings.
- An average 20% boost in visibility in Best Match search: I’ve saved the best for last – this is the biggest benefit of TRS status and as with everything on eBay sales are what keeps sellers on the site. eBay have previously said that TRS gives around a 20% boost in search result placement resulting in around a 15% increase in sales compared to sellers who aren’t TRS. This is the real reason that sellers would prefer less of their competition to be TRS.
New eBay.com TRS service requirements
We’ve only got to look to the eBay.com 2012 Spring Seller Release to get an idea of how eBay may tighten the TRS criteria in the future – The answer is service. eBay say that buyers expect their items to ship without delay once they pay and they want to be able to see when their order has shipped. If you want to be TRS on eBay.com that’s what you’ll have to do.
US sellers will soon have to ship 90% of their items with tracking and upload the tracking information to eBay within their stated handling time in order to qualify or retain TRS status.
Visibility will also be lowered for TRS sellers who don’t offer the very best levels of service. eBay.com sellers need to offer 1 day or same day handling and a 14 day or longer return policy to get the greatest boost in Best Match and qualify for the final value fee discounts.
There’s been much discussion in the US about the new TRS requirements, especially the tracking requirement. It’s been pointed out that very low weight items (typical products would be Stamps and Postcards) have in the past been posted as letters costing just $0.25 to send with USPS. The lowest price for tracking appears to be $1.64.
Will we get tracking and fast shipping requirements in the UK?
If eBay listen to the sellers calling for more stringent TRS requirements then mandatory tracking for all shipments and a 1 day handling time could be introduced in the UK in future seller releases.
DSRs are largely becoming irrelevant for the best sellers. In the UK you can now get auto five star ratings on two of the criteria and as more sellers routinely qualify for TRS status DSRs are no longer able to differentiate between the good and the outstanding. Rather than tweak the DSR requirements eBay could well decide that service will be the next way that sellers in the UK are measured and differentiated.