eBay unveils a more merchant-friendly rating system

September 10, 2015 04:58 PM

New CEO Devin Wenig combined a celebration of eBay Inc.’s 20th anniversary today with a coming-out party for the newly slimmed-down company. And eBay’s 25 million sellers came away with sought-after party favors in the form of a less onerous rating system.

The changes, announced Thursday at an eBay Seller Summit in San Jose, Calif., mean retailers that sell on eBay no longer will be penalized in their ratings for routine returns and exchanges and for late shipments beyond their control. The new rules take effect Feb. 20.

The new standards put control back in the hands of sellers and eliminate worries about problems that are out of sellers’ control, Wenig said during the gathering of eBay merchants. The audience applauded.

“It will take the stress, hassle and cost out of the returns process to allow you to serve customers better,” he said. “We are very clear that it is critical that standards are fair, that you can have control over them and that they are predictable.”

Wenig, who took over as CEO from John Donahoe in July after eBay and PayPal became separate companies, also took the opportunity to needle his biggest competitor, Inc. He said the changes reflect his intention for eBay, which celebrated its 20th birthday earlier this month, to remain a people-centered technology company, as opposed to companies that work with drones—a pointed reference to rival Amazon’s highly publicized experiments with delivery packages via unmanned flying vehicles. is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide

While addressing some merchant concerns about its rating system, Wenig emphasized that the marketplace will only be successful if consumers are happy shopping on eBay. “Our experiences have got to be simple, engaging and trusted,” Wenig said. “Consumers want uniqueness and a breadth of value—not just in inventory but in product experiences.”

He says eBay can prosper without imitating competitors. “If we do this right, the world will shop eBay first because we present better things, unique things, a spectrum of value. We do that because we have an incredible, powerful selling platform,” Wenig said.

EBay also announced it is setting up a “seller hub,” where sellers can find all the selling tools eBay offers in one place. The hub will include listing guidance, pricing suggestions and detailed analytics to help sellers see how their business is doing and ways to sell more, Wenig said.

Scot Wingo, executive chairman of ChannelAdvisor, an e-commerce services provider that helps retailers sell through online marketplaces, says eBay’s changes represent a simpler system for sellers. He advises merchants to stay on top of the details of eBay’s changes so they don’t get caught flat-footed.

The most valuable feature among the returns options is sellers’ new ability to automate accepting or rejecting return requests based on the sellers’ business needs, Wingo says. “This will eliminate the need to manually manage each request and provide the opportunity to customize based on rules that each seller configures,” Wingo wrote in a blog post.

Ebay says it will drop from a seller’s defect rating the following items: Detailed seller ratings; negative and neutral buyer feedback; returns requests that are successfully resolved with the buyer; and “Items not received” requests that the buyer resolves.

Ebay also will start measuring on-time shipment based on what retailers can control. EBay will consider shipments to be late in two instances:

  • Tracking shows an item was delivered after the estimated delivery date, and there's no acceptance scan within the stated handling time or there's no confirmation from the buyer of on-time delivery.
  • Buyer confirms an item was delivered after the estimated delivery date, and there's no acceptance scan within the stated handling time or there's no delivery confirmation by the estimated delivery date.

Under the new metrics, eBay will judge sellers only on delivery time and two measurements that it says measures the effectiveness of the seller's customer service:

  • Seller-canceled transactions for items that are out of stock or cannot be fulfilled for any other reason.
  • Cases that are closed without seller resolution.



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