Sellers Turn to Stickers to Stay in eBay’s Good Graces

Big changes are coming to eBay, and eBay Sellers are gearing-up in anticipation. In April 2010, eBay raises the minimum standards that Sellers must meet in order to qualify for the coveted “Top-rated” status, which rewards them with preferred placement in search results and discounts on eBay fees. eBay’s renewed focus and strict enforcement of the Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR’s) could put many Sellers at risk of losing those privileges.

After each eBay sale, customers may rate the Seller’s performance on a scale from one-star to five-stars (with five-stars being the best rating). Sellers are graded in four critical areas: Accuracy of the listing; Communication with the Buyer; Shipping speed; and Shipping charges. These DSR ratings are given anonymously, and the average scores for each Seller are available for customers to review.

As the deadline for the new stringent requirements draws near, a sense of urgency is spreading among the community of eBay Sellers, who are using online discussions forums and blogs to voice their concerns. The most common complaint from Sellers is that the information eBay provides to Buyers is unclear and inconsistent. Sellers are critical that eBay hasn’t done enough to educate Buyers about the program.

Now, one company is offering sellers a new product aimed at getting their customers to understand the finer points eBay’s feedback and DSR system.

Maryland-based Foxtrot Printing has created a series “Feedback Reminder” stickers and “DSR Information” stickers. The colorful stickers (about 2-3″ in size) contain “thank-you” messages along with  wording that briefly explains some often misunderstood points about eBay’s DSR program.

The labels also urge Buyers to follow-through with positive feedback comments and reward the Seller with 5-star DSR scores. Typically, these stickers are placed on packing slips and invoices. Some are used on the outside of packages to draw attention to the postmark shipping date.

Other messages remind Buyers that the Seller is eager to resolve any issues, and in the event there are problems with the sale, the Buyer is encouraged to first contact the Seller before resorting negative feedback or low DSR scores. (Novice eBay Buyers often don’t realize that feedback and DSR scores are permanent, and once given, cannot be retracted, even if the situation is handled to their complete satisfaction.)

A spokesman for Foxtrot Printing reminds sellers that it’s impossible to guarantee results.  “Human nature is unpredictable,” he said.  “A sticker can’t literally force people to do something they don’t want to do. However, you can explain, guide and encourage them. That’s usually all it takes.”