Like it or lump it, eBay have now officially changed their policy on Feedback. From now on, sellers are unable to give buyers negative or neutral feedback, only positives.
The reasoning behind what has been an extremely controversial move is that eBay believe buyers have previously been too scared of retaliation to give honest feedback. The idea is that removing the negative option for sellers will encourage buyers back to fold and bolster the increasingly flabby eBay brand name.
It’s been noted by many commentators that the eBay sellers most concerned by these changes have been those with small to medium businesses. What this says to us is that the feedback changes will most affect sellers without proper business systems in place.
For smaller sellers, eBay’s changes mean that it will be harder to get away with rushed descriptions and grainy photos or taking shortcuts with packing and shipping.
But will businesses actually be ruined, as some sellers have claimed?
The short answer is yes. Up until recently, eBay has welcomed sellers of all levels with open arms. People who knew less than nothing about business were encouraged to make a go of it – and many did. The feedback changes mean that the bar is now set much higher. Sellers who’ve previously managed to get by will now find it requires more effort to maintain the same level of sales. If they don’t lift their game, then their business will suffer, no doubt about it.
What people need to realize is that eBay’s move is part of a general trend back to ‘the customer is always right’ way of thinking. When you think about it, the majority of other truly successful auction sites also have tough policies for sellers. Amazon is one of the top ecommerce sites in the world, but only allows buyers to place feedback. It also has a very lenient approach to refunds and anecdotal evidence from Amazon sellers suggests that it’s not uncommon for refund requests to be honored no matter what the circumstance. Another very popular eBay alternative, UBid, also sets the bar high. Seller requirements include being a registered business, having a proven business track record and providing three references.
Let’s face it: buyers like their shopping experience to be consistently good. And as the economy slows down, we must try even harder to win the loyalty of our customers with better service. As money becomes more precious, people will look for a higher quality spend.
To our minds, eBay is still a relatively easy way to start a business. It’s far less risky and potentially more profitable than buying a Subway franchise for example. Sellers have just got to take a bit more responsibility for ensuring that their buyers get a professional experience.
In the long-run there are three things you can do to ensure that your online business remains profitable:
Watch out for our upcoming post on Easy Ways to Improve Your Feedback DSRs, appearing here in a few days time...