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Understanding the Spring 2012 Seller Update

New tweaks to feedback, DSRs, and the top-rated seller program

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Understanding the Spring 2012 Seller Update

Twice a year, in Spring and in Fall, eBay releases a "seller update" to make adjustments to the marketplace and the way that it works.

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The Spring 2012 seller update is out, and it's full of changes that may help some sellers to feel a sigh or two of relief about some of the changes that have come down from above in previous periods. Let's take a look at some of the changes and what they mean for you.

Pro-Seller Feedback Handling Changes

Detailed seller ratings (DSRs)and more specifically the fact that buyers could often leave ratings that had no bearing on reality have been a seller complaint since eBay launched DSRs as an adjustment to the feedback system several years ago and connected it to the seller performance rating and things like fee discounts and search placement.

The Spring 2012 seller update makes one major change to DSRs and two other changes to feedback that are likely to have many sellers finally heaving a sigh of relief, though others will no doubt insist that significant problems with the feedback system and its management remain:

  • Automatic 5-star for communication. For sellers offer expedited (one-day or same-day) handling and that ship (on record, with tracking information) by the end of the business day following the transaction, an automatic 5-star rating will be given for seller communication, on the theory that no communication was required, so any rating is superfluous.
     
  • Automatic removal of feedback from deadbeats. Any feedback left by a buyer in a deadbeat transaction will now automatically be removed once the deadbeat bidder process has been completed by the seller.
     
  • Feedback removal for qualifying international transactions. Any negative feedback left by an international buyer (relative to the seller) that only references customs issues (delays, fees, tariffs, failure to "report" according to buyer wishes, seizure of goods, etc.) will now qualify for removal if requested by the seller.

These changes go a long way toward resolving some of the most egregious feedback issues, though some more tweaking to the DSR system is probably necessary before sellers will feel as though it's completely fair.

Top-Rated Seller Program Expansion

Because the top-rated seller program provides both marketing benefits and the potential for fee discounts to help top sellers to manage their fee overhead, it has been a deisrable status since it was introduced, but one that has been difficult for some sellers to maintain.

Starting in June, the minimum sales requirements for top-rated seller status will be reduced to $1,000 annually, potentially allowing a vastly increased number of sellers to qualify. In combination with the DSR and feedback changes above, the pool of top-rated sellers is likely to expand significantly later this year.

Other requirements for top-rated seller status will now include:

  • Tracking information for 90 percent of shipments. Beginning May 1st, at least 90 percent of a seller's transactions must be completed with tracking or delivery confirmation in eBay's system in order for the seller to qualify for top-rated status.
     
  • Fee discounts and placement wins only for 1-day turnaround, 14-day returns. Once the changes go into effect, only listings offering same-day or one-day handling and a 14-day money-back return policy will be eligible for maxiumum search placement enhancement and a 20 percent fee discount.

Useful Tools and Infrastructure Changes

Along with these changes, a number of other useful and/or interesting changes are coming with this update as well:

  • Same-day handling option. Sellers will be able to create listings specifying same-day handling if the order is received by a cut-off time that they specify.
     
  • USPS First Class postage now "standard" rather than "expedited" in listings. The reclassification of what is (for the Post Office) standard "first class" service to be "standard" on eBay as well is likely to end some instances of buyer and seller confusion.
     
  • Prominent notices for long handling times. Item pages specifying long handling times (longer than three days) will now feature a prominent message to buyers that the item isn't to be expected in an expedited time frame, which should go some way to improving feedback and reducing buyer complains for sellers that can't fulfill quickly.
     
  • All pictures free. Rather than charging a per-picture fee for additional pictures, sellers will now be able to insert up to 12 pictures for free, even without an eBay Stores subscription (which was previously required for this perk).
     
  • Best match "intelligence" tweaks. Best match will start to use data included in an item description alongside other data in determining search placement, which should help sellers that include a great deal of relevant information in their item descriptions.
     
  • New picture limitations. Pictures smaller than 500 pixels on the longest side or that have added borders or text will no longer be accepted, though identifying "watermarks" remain permissible.

Other changes include adjustments to category data and the categories in which their use will be required, modifications to how sellers are able to manage payment, shipping, and return policies for their listings, and a variety of catalog, item, and category changes.

For the complete rundown on the Spring 2012 seller update, visit eBay's 2012 Spring Seller Update page.

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