eBay's Detailed Seller Rating program has been around for sometime now. When leaving feedback, buyers rank their transactions in four areas. The eBay DSR have become as vital, if not more so, than a seller's feedback score. If your rating falls below a certain standard, not only can it hurt your listings in Best Match searches, but it can also result in selling limits on your account or even missing out on special promotions such as free listings.
Many sellers strive to become a Top-Rated Seller to earn special privileges such as a 20% discount on final value fees each month. To become a Top-Rated Seller, a seller's stars have to be high in all four categories. If someone receives one or two stars in any of these categories 0.5% of the time, they do no qualify as a Top-Rated Seller. So how do you make sure you keep your bidders happy and eBay DSR scores high?
Below are some of the key things I have focused on to improve my DSRs to earn Top-Rated Seller status or, at least, Above Standard since the ratings are one person's opinion or perspective. As anyone who has sold more than a couple of things on eBay, even doing all the right things can still occasionally lead to poor results.
Item as Described
Many sellers rarely describe items any more. I did a Twitter poll earlier in the year and over 80% of buyers said they do not read the descriptions anymore. Many buyers now are using smartphones and simply reading auction titles. I have never had a problem with this star rating and I rarely receive a low score.
The key here is that if there is a problem with the item you're selling, be sure the pictures show it and it is mentioned. I would even go as far as placing something in the title such as 'read description,' 'dinged' or 'damaged.'
Interestingly enough, those I have spoken with that have had issues with the Item as Described category say they ran into problems by, perhaps, glorifying a card's condition. You often see sellers describe a card as Gem Mint or worthy of a high professional grade, either in an item's title or description. Conditions can be subjective. Use caution if you plan to list a condition better than Nrmt-Mt unless it actually is professionally graded.
I leave condition off unless the card is damaged, but if you are going to, avoid phrases such as 'Gem Mint' or 'BGS 9.5?'
This category has become easier for a 5-star rating. eBay's latest policy is that if there is no contact through eBay messages prior to feedback being left, the seller automatically receives a perfect score.
Personally, I disagree with eBay's way of thinking. That said, it is good that the buyer can not ding sellers here when they never needed to or attempted to communicate.
If someone does contact you, it is important to answer as quickly and as professionally as possible. I try to respond to my messages every hour during the day and every few hours in the evening, although this is not always possible. Nor should it be an expectation. Everyone has to have a life outside of eBay. You may want to put up an auto response that says you appreciate the email and will get back to them quickly regarding their question.
eBay questions can be urgent. If a potential buyer is asking about an item prior to it ending, it is always a good idea to at least look at responding to these inquiries first.
Top-Rated Sellers now have to upload tracking information within the stated handling window 90% of the time. This is a new requirement. Furthermore, eBay requires your handling period to be one-day if you also wish to receive the Top-Rated Seller 20% discount on final value fees. Sellers must also have a 14-day return policy to qualify.
Be clear about your handling time and let buyers know of any conflicts that cause a delay in shipment. Also, if you are pre-selling items like sets, be sure to state this in your listings and set your handling time appropriately.
Many buyers are also sellers so they understand it may take a day or two to ship, but most will still expect it to ship as fast as possible. Again, be clear about shipping details, handle things quickly and communicate when an issues arises. These are all key.
Remember to upload your tracking into eBay if you do not use eBay or PayPal shipping. This will also allow your buyers to see the tracking for themselves.
Shipping and Handling Charges
This is a pet peeve for me as buyers know the shipping charges before to purchasing or bidding (unless the seller changes it at the invoice, which that is another story).
When polling followers on Twitter, many said a range of $2-$3.50 is acceptable, with the average being $3. Also, a combined shipping policy is a must with buyers. Not only will it increase your star ratings, but it will bring stronger sales as buyers will bid on more of your items. Many sellers charge $0.25 to $0.50 for additional single cards and a little more on sets.
Not matter what you charge, be clear and upfront about your shipping fees and do not go overboard.
Of course, you can always offer free shipping especially on higher-priced items. That gives you an automatic 5-star rating in this category. I do not recommend free shipping on lower-priced items as they often will sell for less than a comparable item once the shipping is factored in. You could start your auction higher but that could cost you more in fees. It might also scare off potential bidders.
Final Notes on Getting a Strong eBay DSR
Nobody can please everyone. Nor can they control their eBay DSR completely. Hopefully these tips can help.
I recommend leaving feedback as soon as an item is paid for. I have mine set up automatically. I feel this is a way of thanking the customer immediately and acknowledging their payment -- a form of communication without directly communicating. I also hope it delivers confidence to the customer that I feel the transaction has been a good one and runs smoothly on their end.
Do not be afraid to try new things to see if you can increase your eBay DSR in your quest to become or remain a Top-Rated Seller. Best of luck!
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