How can a Small eBay seller survive the new DSR rating?

Posted on May 23, 2008. Filed under: Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , |

With Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) now affecting everything — Powerseller Status and Discounts, occasional Listings Specials designed for sellers with “good” DSRs, and most importantly the standings in the Best Match searches — gaining a good understanding of how to improve your DSRs is critical.  With few exceptions, most sellers have as their lowest DSR rating the Shipping & Handling DSR. 
Larger eBay sellers have both advantages (lower negotiated rates with UPS, for example) and disadvantages (labor costs and overhead) in the overall costs they must pay for shipping and handling.  However, the biggest intangible benefit that large sellers have is the buyer recognizes a business almost always has higher actual costs that must be compensated for when shipping a package.  Buyers tend to be more understanding of the shipping and handling costs for a business eBay seller versus an individual who sells on eBay.  This recently came to our attention today as we sat around and discussed the new eBay Seller Dashboard.
We source our product directly from manufacturers and distributors and we have also had our own product manufactured.  We allow the people who assist us daily in our mail-order business to have access to the product we procure so that they, too, can have their own eBay account on which they can sell and not have to worry about sourcing product.  What we have noticed is that even though these individuals charge the same costs or less shipping costs as we do, for the exact same item, their DSRs for shipping and handling are consistently lower than ours.  So, we brainstormed today and we came up with some suggestions as to how a small eBay seller could raise their Shipping & Handling DSR:
1. If there are costs included in the shipping that the buyer would not able to see then be sure to educate them.  For example, if you insure postal packages through a third-party carrier, like U-Pic, then that amount would not be immediately recognizable to the buyer and the package would not be stamped as insured.  So be sure to let the buyer know what you paid for and that the amount of insurance is included in the shipping cost they paid.
2. Make sure your packaging is professional so that the buyer gets what they consider to be a good value for the cost they paid.  It’s okay to recycle packaging materials whenever possible as long as the package will still be viewed favorably.  If you pay for boxes and always use new packaging materials, like packing peanuts, then be sure to state in  your auction that the shipping cost the buyer pays includes the cost of a new box and careful packaging.
3. Include a packing slip or some insert which has your eBay store logo and/or name.  Be sure to tell the buyer how to contact you (eBay messaging system, phone, etc) if they have questions or concerns.  You will be perceived as being more serious about the transaction and thus more deserving of the shipping costs paid.
4. Take a few minutes to write a short hand-written personal note to the buyer, thanking them for their purchase and letting them know that you strive to provide 5-star service.  Be sure to include the auction number because the easier you make it for the buyer to leave feedback right away, the more likely you are to get the best feedback possible.
5. First impressions are a lasting impression!  Be sure to tape the box nicely so that the customer receives a good-looking package.  Avoid haphazard taping and do not over-tape to the point it makes it difficult for the buyer to open their package.
6. Be sure to evaluate all the shipping costs you pay, including packing materials and postage fees, to see if there is any way you can ship more economically.  See if you can find other small sellers in your local area to cost-share with by buying in bulk.  Buying a larger quantity of packaging materials at one time could get you a lower cost.  For priority mail packages, printing your postal labels online now qualifies anyone for commercial discounts. 
7. Be sure to offer the buyer shipping choices whenever possible.  For example, someone purchasing a 4 pound item could be offered parcel post as well as priority mail shipping rates.  In that way, any buyer choosing the lower cost shipping alternative already perceives they are getting a good deal on shipping.
8. Use “stealth” postage whenever possible.  Even if you charge little or no handling fee, it is probably not a good idea to remind a buyer what they paid for shipping.  No one likes to pay for shipping and you want the buyer’s focus to be on the package contents, not on the amount of postage they paid.
9. Remember that stars are “contagious.”  If you make sure to perform well in other areas, like Communication and Item as Described, you are much more likely to get a good score for Shipping & Handling.
10. Sell more!  The smaller the number of sales you have, the more weight each of the scores carry and it only takes one poor rating to have a major impact on your DSRs.
Most small sellers have an advantage in that they typically do not have to pay warehouse or office rent and they probably don’t have to pay an employee.  Small sellers who keep their shipping and handling costs reasonable and take active steps to improve their DSRs can effectively compete against the larger sellers. 

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One Response to “How can a Small eBay seller survive the new DSR rating?”

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Great write up! I plan on using some of your tips to help increase my DSR as it is becoming even more important! thanks Gitasan

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