Becoming an eBay Top Rated Seller should be the first order of business for anyone hoping to make a living on eBay. TRS status can boost your search ratings and decrease your final value fees by 20%. That means more sales at a lower cost—no buts about it.
Luckily, getting there takes less work than you might expect. Just about anyone can become a Top Rated Seller. But with a little elbow grease, you can become an eBay TRS within 90 days of creating an account—or just a couple weeks of getting serious.
eBay Top Rated Seller Requirements
Most American sellers only need to sell 100 items per year and make $1,000 worth of sales annually. That averages out to a mere eight or nine sales a month of about $8.40 each. Not too tough!
You can boil the customer service requirements down to two basic points:
- Upload tracking info to eBay within your stated handling time for everything you sell (with obvious exceptions like local pickup listings).
- Keep a very low transaction defect rate. You’re only allowed to have one out of every 333 transactions result in PayPal or eBay stepping in and settling matters in favor of the customer, and one in 200 ending either that way or with you canceling a sale. (You have a bit of a cushion at first—at least four orders must be defective before they start counting.)
There are more nuances and a couple exceptions, but hitting those targets should make you an eBay TRS.
Meeting the customer service requirements allows you to become a Top Rated Seller. However, you won’t get all the benefits unless you create Top Rated Plus listings.
Creating Top Rated Plus listings is relatively easy:
- Offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for returns.
- Offer handling within one business day or better.
Choose those settings when you create your listing and you’ll get your final value fee discount and Top Rated Plus badge on it. You’re all set to make more sales and pay lower fees on each one!
But how do you get to this point? And how can you hope to deal with things like one-day handling?
Becoming an eBay TRS
To become an eBay Top Rated Seller, you need to get four things down: sales, customer service, shipping and handling, and inventory. And don’t rest on your laurels once you gain TRS status! These things only grow in importance afterwards, because eBay will reevaluate you on a regular basis.
You don’t need to reach any specific eBay star colors, have an average selling price for your products, or anything else fancy. You just need to hit at least 100 sales totaling at least $1,000 within 12 months. Do it in a month, though, and you’ll make a lot more sales during the rest of the year!
One popular strategy is to sell dozens upon dozens of cheap trinkets at a loss and then a handful of expensive items (or just one very expensive item, like a used car). You can easily meet the sales requirements in a matter of weeks this way. The cheap items get you to 100 sales quickly and the expensive one(s) take you straight to $1,000.
You’ll also reap an additional benefit as long as you provide world-class customer service: a sharp uptick in your eBay Feedback score thanks to the rapid sales of cheap items. (SaleHoo’s Online Selling Tactics provide an excellent in-depth lesson on this if you’re willing to pay for them.) This will make it easier to sell your more expensive items and to build a long-term career on eBay.
With the tiny number of defective transactions you’re allowed to have, your customer service will play a huge role. You must prevent the customer from resorting to using eBay or PayPal to resolve an issue at all costs. eBay seller protection has its limits and both organizations almost always side with the buyer.
This is when it’s important to know what great customer service means. Slow or poor responses will push an upset customer closer to contacting PayPal or eBay; fast and carefully phrased ones often pull them back from the edge.
This usually isn’t a big problem when you’re running a small selling operation. When you start selling several dozen items every month, though, you’ll find an inbox constantly piled with support requests. And the longer it takes to answer, the more likely you’ll get hit by one of the dreaded transaction defects.
An eBay autoresponder can let buyers know you’ve received their message and even answer common questions. Every message should receive a human’s attention, though.
You could let employees provide customer service when you’re unavailable. However, this can be a huge eBay security problem because there’s no support for multiple users on one account or the kind of email forwarding that would allow employees to answer customers off-site. You have to give your username and password to anyone you want to answer your customers.
You can solve this problem and make customer service way easier by using an eBay messaging service to integrate eBay with a helpdesk. That’s the best possible way to ensure customer service keeps up with buyers’ need for fast responses.
With the infrastructure in place, the rest depends on the quality of service you and your team provide.
Shipping and Handling
The shipping and handling requirements pose the greatest challenge for many sellers. You’ll have to do the following every time someone makes a purchase:
- Send the item on its way within your stated handling time.
- Upload valid tracking information to eBay within the same timeframe.
- Hope your carrier performs a scan of the shipment to confirm that it’s on the way—still within your handling time.
- If your carrier fails to scan the shipment, hope that they deliver it within your promised shipping time!
If any one of those things goes wrong, you could get a black mark against one or more of the eBay TRS metrics. Sadly, the blame will sometimes land on you when your carrier screws up colossally (which is part of why eBay gives you a few chances). Just make sure you’re never the one responsible for these things going wrong and you should have no trouble maintaining Top Rated Seller status.
If you start making so many sales that you and/or your team can’t keep up with shipping, consider some of the ecommerce shipping solutions out there. You can find anything from software that makes it easier to services that take over all your shipping and handling for you.
Once you master these basics of shipping on time, the one-business-day shipping required to make your listings Top Rated Plus won’t seem that tough.
You also need to keep careful track of your inventory. When you cancel a transaction because you’re sold out, it counts toward your order defect rate. If it happens on more than one in 50 purchases, you’ll cease to be a TRS even if you’ve done everything else perfectly.
You can get help with this as with anything else. Inventory management software like ecomdash can track your stock levels for your eBay listings, as well as listings on other sites like Amazon at the same time. Definitely worth it if you find your order defect rate climbing to dangerous levels!
If you make a reasonable number of sales each year and run your business professionally, you should have no trouble becoming an eBay Top Rated Seller. Then you get to enjoy lower fees, higher search rankings, and greater customer trust. Kick your operation into high gear and go get it!
P.S. Don’t forget to share this article with your team and your business partners so they understand what you’re working toward. Explaining your course to the crew keeps everyone rowing in the same direction.