eBay lower 1st & 2nd Class delivery estimates

eBay have said that they’re changing the way that delivery estimates are displayed on the site for Royal Mail. The announcement in full reads:

From mid-February, we’re testing some changes to the delivery estimates associated with Royal Mail First and Second Class services to more closely reflect Royal Mail’s delivery commitment (1 working day for First Class, and 3 working days for Second Class).
Depending on how the test goes, we may make this a permanent change.

So just how realistic are these changes? Royal Mail has the answers in their latest pdf Quarterly Quality of Service and Complaints Report to Ofcom and Consumer Focus.

Royal Mail’s stated Targets are

  • First Class mail – a minimum of 93 per cent delivered the next working day
  • Second Class mail – a minimum of 98.5 per cent delivered within three working days.

This means that if they meet their targets then 7% of First Class post won’t be delivered the next working day and 1.5% of Second Class post will be late.

Royal Mail’s latest results – November 2012

For Second Class Royal Mail exceeded their targets with 98.6% of Second Class mail delivered three working days after posting in the April to December 2012 period.

However they narrowly missed their First Class target with 92.2% mail delivered next working day. That leaves 7.8% of First Class mail being delivered late.

Royal Mail said “Performance was affected by the increase in traffic in the third quarter, which always proves most challenging; this was further compounded by adverse weather which impacted significant parts of the country, and by change within our Mail Centre estate due to our ongoing transformation programme.”

eBay’s Targets and Royal Mail’s Performance

eBay does of course rely on buyer ratings, if they start to raise expectations that First Class mail will be delivered next day, instead of 1-2 days that could potentially start to impact your detailed seller ratings. 7% of less than five star ratings could ruin your eBay business.

Should you worry? In reality there’s no way to tell how much delayed First Class mail were eBay packages rather than bills, Christmas and Birthday cards. From personal experience, all things considered, Royal Mail do deliver a fantastic service, but then I live within the RG Postcode area where 93% of mail was delivered on time. If you live in Bromley (89.3%), East London (89.9%), Hemel Hempstead (89.8%), Kirkwell (89.5%), North West London (89.7%), or Stevenage (89.5%) then 10% of your First Class Mail was late.

If you live in Lerwick only 51.7% of your First Class post will be delivered the next day, but hopefully buyers who live in Lerwick are used to a slower postal service and will simply ignore eBay’s delivery promises when awarding DSRs to eBay sellers.

What to do?

There’s really very little you can do if eBay make the change or some of your buyers (or you!) are in the test group. You could increase your handling time by a day but we wouldn’t recommend this as it could put off some buyers looking for speedy delivery. You could attempt to notify buyers that they live in areas of the country with the worst performance, but this will be difficult as areas that performed worst in the last quarter could potentially perform best in the next quarter.

Our advice would be to do nothing, but if you ship a large proportion of your mail First or Second Class with Royal Mail then monitor your DSRs and shout if you see a significant drop in customer satisfaction levels. Finally of course carry on giving the best service you possible can, despatch as quickly as you can and if you’re one of those who provide the best possible service on eBay you’ll still be at the top of the pile in DSR ratings.