The Lowdown on eBay’s Seller Rating System

Detailed seller ratings and Feedback were designed with the same purpose – to help buyers identify ‘the best and most reputable sellers on eBay.’

According to eBay, buyers can evaluate the trustworthiness of a seller by looking at their Feedback score, their selling ratings and the number of items sold.

Read on to discover more about eBay’s detailed seller rating system and how it relates to the Feedback program. This article will also look at the diminishing importance of the detailed seller rating system for seller evaluation purposes.

What are detailed seller ratings?

The main purpose of detailed seller ratings is to provide additional insight into a seller’s performance.

After a transaction, buyers are offered the chance to rate the seller in these areas:

  • Item description: How accurately was the item described?
  • Communication – Did the seller communicate well with their buyer?
  • Shipping time – How quickly did the seller ship the item?
  • Shipping and handling charges: Were the costs reasonable?

Buyers are asked to rate the seller from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best score and 1 the worst. Detailed seller ratings can be left up to 60 days after the transaction.

Once a seller receives at least ten different ratings, an average score (indicated in stars) will be displayed on the seller’s Feedback profile. The number next to the star score indicates how many buyers have left ratings.

Buyers can view a seller’s Feedback profile and their detailed seller ratings by clicking on the Feedback score next to their username.

What is Feedback?

Feedback has been a core component of the eBay experience since 1996. The detailed seller rating system was introduced more than ten years later.

With the Feedback program, buyers are asked to rate the transaction as positive, neutral or negative. They can also leave a comment.

Each eBay member has a Feedback score, calculated from the total amount of positive, neutral and negative Feedback received. This score is displayed next to their username. The higher the score, the more experience a seller has.

Each member’s Feedback profile page also displays a Positive Feedback percentage score. This percentage is calculated from the total number of positive and negative Feedback ratings for transactions within the last 12 months. The higher the percentage, the more positive ratings a seller has.

Seller ratings vs. Feedback

Seller ratings and Feedback have a similar goal but function in a different way. Here are some other similarities and differences:

  • Feedback scores are displayed next to each member’s username. Detailed seller ratings are shown only on Feedback profile pages
  • Buyers are not obligated to rate their buying experience on eBay and, as such, leaving Feedback and rating sellers is completely optional
  • Sellers can leave Feedback for buyers, but with a positive rating only. There is no buyer rating system beyond this option
  • Feedback scores and comments are associated to the eBay member’s username, whereas detailed seller ratings are given anonymously
  • Most buyers will give detailed seller ratings at the same time as Feedback. Some buyers, however, choose to leave Feedback without detailed seller ratings (or vice versa)

How important are seller ratings on eBay?

Seller ratings, and the Feedback system more generally, have diminished in importance on eBay over the years but still have significant importance.

Seller performance standards

At one time, sellers were primarily judged by their Feedback score and detailed seller ratings. In addition to this, having a good Feedback score was a crucial part of the eligibility criteria to achieve PowerSeller status.

These days, eBay uses seller performance standards to evaluate sellers. Each seller is allocated a performance level (Top Rated, Above Standard, Below Standard) calculated from their:

  • transaction defect rate
  • cases closed without seller resolution
  • late shipments (Top Rated sellers only)
  • tracking validation (Top Rated sellers only)

Notably, Feedback scores and detailed seller ratings are not used to calculate a seller’s performance level.

Sellers who do not meet the minimum performance standards risk selling restrictions, lower search rankings, higher Final Value Fee rates and held payments.

The PowerSeller program, designed to reward ‘the most successful sellers on eBay’ is being discontinued in June 2021. The closest replacement is the Top Rated Seller program, although this has already been in operation for a number of years.

Search ranking

Although the exact algorithm is not known, it is widely theorized that eBay’s search engine, Cassini, uses Feedback and detailed seller ratings as a ranking factor.

Notably, the four main factors that feed the algorithm relate fairly closely to detailed seller ratings and the Feedback system:

  • Relevance (item description)
  • Value (shipping and handling charges)
  • Convenience (shipping time)
  • Trust (positive Feedback percentage score)

From this, it is possible to deduce that sellers who maintain great Feedback and Detailed Seller Ratings are more likely to be rewarded by Cassini.

Buyer utilization

Detailed seller ratings remain helpful for buyers who may want to evaluate the overall trustworthiness and efficiency of sellers.

Buyers who are looking to choose between sellers who have listed identical, or very similar items, may be particularly influenced by detailed seller ratings.

Experienced sellers, what do you think about detailed seller ratings? Let us know in the comments below

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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