Sunday, April 29, 2012

eBay's Top-Rated Seller Program

You might recall that I have been working towards top-rated seller status on eBay. Bonanza is still my home base for selling, and this will not change. I want top-rated seller status because I will presumably receive better search placement on eBay. Furthermore, if I have better search placement, my eBay sales should improve, thus giving me additional opportunities to drive traffic to my Bonanza booth. I inform my eBay buyers about my Bonanza booth by enclosing the URL to my Bonanza booth within each package.

With that goal in mind, I have gradually ramped up my level of eBay sales and have been very close to the required sales amount for a number of months. I have slowly inched closer, and now I have finally passed the $3,000 sales mark for the first time, although some sales from a year ago could roll off before my next evaluation date on May 20.

Regardless of whether I am still above $3,000 on May 20, I will be far above $1,000 on June 1 when eBay lowers the required sales amount to $1,000 for the top-rated seller program. This means that I will become a top-rated seller either on May 20 or June 1. eBay has already contacted me through both email and the regular mail to inform me of my upcoming change in seller status.

Since I will soon be a top-rated seller, the changes eBay will be making to the top-rated seller program in the next few months are especially of interest to me. These changes are taking effect in stages. As is typical, some of the changes are controversial and have caused much discussion.

One change which has made sellers upset is the requirement that top-rated sellers upload tracking information for at least 90% of their transactions. The sellers who are the most upset are those who ship small, lightweight items such as stamps, coupons, and postcards. Delivery confirmation on first class parcels has a thickness requirement of 3/4 inch, which would cause the shipping price to be much higher than a single first class stamp.

For people like me who use PayPal shipping and do not mail small items, this change means nothing. I already upload tracking information for 100% of my transactions.

Another change is that sellers must offer a minimum of a 14-day return policy. I do not like offering that long of a return policy, but I also do not have problems with book buyers wishing to return books. Therefore, I will offer a 14-day return policy and not worry about it. I have very few problems with book buyers.

Top-rated sellers must also offer one-day handling. I already do this. Occasionally, I have a transaction which is mailed out on the second day. All I have to do is make certain that never happens on an eBay transaction.

eBay has also made a change to the DSR system. Any transaction in which a seller uploads the tracking number within one day and no communication occurs between buyer and seller will result in the seller receiving five stars for communication. Many people are stating that they will refuse to answer questions in order to force the five stars.

That tactic is potentially self-destructive. If the buyer has sent a message, then it seems that the buyer might be able to rate the seller on communication. Any buyer who is snubbed will leave less than five stars. It would be far better to answer the question. The vast majority of my eBay transactions result in no communication between me and my buyers. I am sure that I can handle a few buyers rating me for communication. It's not as though they haven't already been doing so for the last four years.

Coming in July, all sellers will receive 12 free pictures to upload to eBay for each item listed. This is the best change of all. I have been pampered by getting to upload multiple pictures to Bonanza for free, and listing on eBay has been a drag for the last three years since I have to format my listings in a completely different fashion. I do believe eBay is trying to compete with some of these alternative sites. It's about time.

Coming this fall, all eBay listings must have a picture, and the picture must be at least 500 pixels on the longest side. eBay also states that item specifics such as ISBNs will become more important this fall. I will probably list all of my books in the Antiquarian and Collectible Books category in order to avoid some of that. I have already moved most of my current and recent listings to that category.

Finally, if eBay could fix my broken saved searches and my now-broken advanced search page, I would be most grateful. My manual searches are now broken half the time, and my saved searches are broken 100% of the time. Please, eBay?


Andrea said...

Hey... love your website! I found it while searching for the old audio tapes of SVH books. I remember sitting in our (omg brand new) minivan in the mid-late 80's, listening to the stories over and over. Any chance you remember these or know where to find them? Or even the narrator's name? It was a male but I can't remember his name.
Also.. ever considered The Babysitters Club series? I used to love that one too. :)

Good luck with your ebay aspirations!

Jennifer said...

I tried to find the audio tapes for sale, but I can't find any of the vintage ones. I do see some current ones on Amazon, but those are not the ones you want. I hope you are able to find them!