Brandon Dupsky of ECMTA hosted today's special invitation conference call for PeSA/ECMTA members and selected invitees of the Trading Assistant Journal and eBay & Beyond Internet Radio Show.
The call, focusing on the reality of DSRs (Detailed Seller Ratings) and how they effect eBay sellers' businesses, was held at 5PM Eastern time on Thursday, April 10th, 2008.
The intention was not to complain or commiserate about the eBay DSR situation. The goal of this call-in session was to help members of PeSA/ECMTA find a clear path through the eBay DSR minefield and to find a way to move forward into profitability. Some members have found sales levels diminishing because of the new buyer feedback system.
All eBay sellers are obviously worried about being disadvantaged in the new Best Match search, which is tied to the detailed seller ratings left by buyers.
DSRs - Detailed Seller Ratings - What did we learn?
Buyers may like DSRs - Buyers seem to view the new DSR ratings as an advantage when choosing a product to buy on eBay. Buyers want to know what the seller is like, how they perform and what the history of the seller has been.
There are two sides of the DSR story - DSRs improve information for both buyers & sellers. Sellers have access to more information about their direct competition via DSRs.
Shipping & handling DSR below 4.2 = Kiss of Death, Disadvantaged in search
- Sellers who have a S&H DSR at 4.2 or below should get very serious about finding a remedy for that situation. eBay considers a 4.2 the lower limit of feedback results and will begin to disadvantage that seller in search. With any lower rating, further restrictions will result.
- If DSR is in the bottom 1% of all sellers, then seller restrictions are worse than previously thought.
- One media seller with a 4.2 Shipping DSR had a 48% drop in sales one month to the next after the DSR system was introduced.
DSR Dashboard (lite) introduced - Seller Dashboard gives sellers an idea of how each seller's DSR ratings have tallied in the last 30 days. Seller Dashboard Lite is a precursor to the promised full featured seller dashboard slated to arrive in May. It can be found in My eBay under My Account section.
eBay is sending a mixed message
Buyers are told a 4.0 rating is: Accurate Description, Satisfied with communications, Quick Shipping and Shipping & Handling costs are reasonable.
Sellers are told a 4.0 rating is: No Power Seller status, No Discounts on fees, No Advantage in Search, and the Seller account is restricted.
This mixed message is THE biggest problem for sellers - Why?
- Buyers only leave whole numbers 1,2,3,4,5
- Sellers are being rewarded or punished for 4.0, 4.2, etc. If sellers are judged by fractional amounts, why not allow buyers to rate in fractional increments? It works for the Olympics!
- A good DSR rating has little impact on poor scores while a single "1" rating can kill good DSR Score.
- There is no way to know who, what or why poor or good scores are left for sellers. We need real feedback to improve this rating method.
What to do? Common Suggestions:
- Change shipping policies to get 15% discount. (Good sellers have already cut that margin too thin.)
- Lower shipping & handling and increase product price. (Could be a good idea - depends upon your business.)
- Focus on improving DSR results
What to do? The Basics:
- Very Accurate Descriptions - Just as eBay has always taught.
- Very Satisfied Customers - Just as eBay has always taught.
- Ship Very Quickly - Just as eBay has always taught. How much faster can you ship?
- Very Reasonable S&H - Just as eBay has always taught. But costs are costs...
What is the Solution? Manage the expectations of your customers.
- Say expected shipping time - state plainly what your standard processing time is in each listing.
- Clearly state shipping costs & policies - No Games
- Offer Combined Shipping where possible - No Brainer
- Evaluate your International DSRs - Make sure they are not bringing you down
- Set up customer expectations, then beat them! - If your listing states shipping time averages 10 days and your shipment arrives in 5 days, then your shipping time has exceeded expectations.
But that is not enough!
Take control of the message your buyers hear about your DSRs and do not rely upon eBay to educate the public about Detailed Seller Ratings. Educate each and every buyer yourself - in your emails, in your shipment and in your telephone conversations - exactly what the DSRs mean to your company. Create a message which resonates with the buyer and ask for great feedback!
- "Burden is on the back of the sellers now to educate the buyers." - David Hardin Sr., Shoetime
- "Years ago we were more connected to buyers than we are now." - David Hardin Sr., Shoetime
- "Personalize customer service for your buyers. Make the buyer feel like they are dealing with people, not a huge corporation." - Miss Bonnie, CSR at Shoetime Shoetime@esavz.com
- "Let your customers know what the difference is between a 4 and a 5."
- "What are we going to do to make sure our customers are satisfied each and every time?"
"Stop thinking about what eBay is saying and doing. Start thinking about what you are doing and saying to your customer."
- "Start asking for feedback."
- "Under promise and over deliver."
- "Go to feedback first. What that has done for us is a 20% increase in people who leave feedback."
- "Ask them all for 5 stars. All they can say is yes or no."
- "Place a link in shipping email directly to the feedback area so buyers will be inspired when they get the shipping notification to leave feedback right away. Make it easy".
- John Lawson, 3rdpoweroutlet.com
Some examples points to include in shipping and feedback emails:
- You already left 5 star or great feedback for them.
- Thank You - We appreciate your business. - Be nice.
- Please leave me feedback. - Ask and you shall receive.
- I want 5s all the way across the board. If you do not think I deserve 5s, please tell me how I can improve before you leave feedback. - Word it as you like, but ask.
PeSA members get a chance to see what buyers are leaving for feedback DSRs for up to 100 feedbacks. This is a special arrangement with eBay and this information could be very valuable to sellers. For more information about this program write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This call also served as a marketing function for PeSA/ECMTA. It was an introduction to the organization and hopefully a way to impress prospective new members enough to consider joining PeSA/ECMTA.
The pitch for new membership was to be expected, as this is a membership-driven organization. The sales pitch was not overbearing or obtrusive and I found the soft sell quite appropriate. PeSA/ECMTA was giving value to its members while offering non-members a chance to listen in and evaluate for themselves if the benefits of joining the associations are worthy of consideration.
Today's eBay sellers need all the help they can get. If you are a seller considering joining an organization to get this kind of feedback and insight, you should know that more than one of the non-member callers mentioned the positive impression made by PeSA/ECMTA as a result of the content shared in this conference call.
I personally found the call to be informative and valuable. The most important points and real world suggestions came from long-standing PeSA sellers.
PeSA/ECMTA invites all members to attend the 2008 Spring eCommerce Summit, held this year in New Orleans.
**All readers of the Trading Assistant Journal who follow the link above receive a discount on registration!**
Summit in New Orleans for both organizations is scheduled in two weeks. I know I take a great deal away from these types of events, both actual useful knowledge and great networking contacts. Trade shows and conventions are still a big part of business. eBay will be there, and Brandon Dupsky mentioned during the call that he is trying to arrange a "reverse panel" where actual eBay sellers will be panelists telling eBay what they think! Just that one portion of the Summit could be worth the visit!
If you are considering joining the PeSA/ECMTA (yes, you get membership to both with one fee), you should follow the link to save $50 on membership, thanks to a special arrangement betweenn PeSA/ECMTA and the Trading Assistant Journal. I think you will find this membership worthwhile.