With more than 25 million sellers on eBay, rising above the competition and getting your products seen by potential buyers can feel near-on impossible.
But it doesn't have to.
While there's no denying that boosting visibility on eBay is a challenge, there is a way you can significantly improve your chances of being found by prospective customers.
By acquiring eBay's Top Rated Seller status.
Now while this premium eBay rating is reserved to sellers who meet a certain criteria, knowing exactly what you need to do to meet this criteria can be confusing.
In fact, this isn't helped given that there are several other statuses awarded to high-performing sellers.
Throughout this guide, we're going to break down exactly what the eBay Top Rated Seller status is and the specific criteria you have to meet to get it.
We'll also outline the differences between the three premium eBay seller statuses; Top Rated, Top Rated Plus and Power Seller.
What does eBay Top Rated Seller status mean?
Let's start with the basics.
eBay is a huge advocate of good customer service, and their Top Rated Seller status is homage to this.
If eBay doesn't hold its sellers to such high standards, buyers will simply go and splash their cash elsewhere (and trust us, there are tons of other online marketplaces for them to choose from).
In fact, to really hammer home the importance of top-notch customer service, eBay will only award Top Rated Seller status - not to mention provide the subsequent benefits - to sellers who are seen to provide their customers with an exceptional level of service.
Now although eBay don't flaunt a specific set of guidelines to determine what makes a seller's customer service 'exceptional', this eBay seller status is usually awarded to merchants who exceed a certain amount of monthly sales, have very few transaction defects and a low late shipment rate, amongst other factors we'll get to in a moment.
But first...let's take a look at the benefits of being an eBay Top Rated Seller.
eBay Top Rated Seller benefits
Aside from the glory of having a Top Rated Seller badge on your eBay listings, there are a few other benefits that sellers with this title can expect to see.
In fact, eBay Top Rated Sellers can claim a 10% discount on final value fees.
Where to find your eBay seller status
Finding your eBay seller status is easy as it's clearly listed in your Seller Dashboard.
If you check back every month (in the UK, eBay evaluates accounts on the 20th of each month), eBay will mark which listings are eligible for Top Rated benefits or they'll let you know which areas you can improve to boost your status.
How to become a Top Rated Seller on eBay
So, what does it take to be awarded Top Rated Seller status?
Below, we've listed some of the milestones you must hit (and maintain) to be in with a chance.
To start with, your account must have been active for at least 90 days.
You need to have sold £1,000 worth of products over a minimum of 100 transactions.
You must comply with eBay's "Selling Practices Policy", which includes:
Making sure you have an accurate origin location on your products (for example, if your product is being sent from London, you need to mention that)
Ensuring your terms and conditions are clear and correct (this includes your shipping and returns policy)
Accepting returns on any of your goods (although this isn't a hard and fast rule, eBay recommends that you do this)
You must also meet eBay's requirements in three areas:transactions, shipment and resolutions.
In other words, you need to have:
A transaction defect rate that is 0.5% or less, with no more than three defects from individual buyers.
No more than 0.3% of cases closed without a seller resolution and no more than two resolution cases with the same buyer.
A 3% or lower late shipment rate, with a total of 5 or less late shipments.
For most eBay sellers, achieving these requirements can seem overwhelming.
But it doesn't have to be.
Invest in the right tools - such as eBay inventory management software- and you'll find that you have much more time on your hands to improve your eBay listings and reach Top Seller status.
In fact, an inventory and order management system automates and synchronizes your stock to prevent overselling and avoid stock outs, protects your seller status and circumvents account suspension, among many other benefits.
What's the difference between an eBay Top Rated Seller, Top Rated Plus and a Power Seller?
If you're well-versed in the world of eBay, it's likely that you'll have come across a few other seller statuses. These include Top Rated Plus and Power Sellers.
But what are they and how do they differ from an eBay Top Rated Seller?
Top Rated Plus Sellers
Top Rated Plus does exactly as it says on the tin - it's one step above being a Top Rated Seller.
More specifically, these are sellers that go above and beyond the usual criteria for being a Top Rated Seller to provide an even better customer service.
As well as sticking to all the terms of a Top Rated Seller, Top Rated Plus sellers also provide:
Same day shipping or no more than one business day handling of items.
Free returns for between 14 and 30 days (or longer) depending on the type of goods you're selling:
Selling collectibles and arts? You only need to offer 14-day free returns to get Top Rated Plus status.
If you're selling books, DVDs, motors, music or instruments, you need to offer free returns for 30 days or more to get your Top Rated Plus badge.
"Power Seller" was the term used before Top Rated Seller came into play, and it has stuck around because buyers got used to it.
There are, however, some differences between Top Rated Sellers and Power Sellers.
To get Power Seller status, you still need to have had an active eBay account for 90 days or more and follow the criteria mentioned above. The difference is that in addition to that, you must also:
Have a 98% or higher positive feedback score.
Sell over a certain amount of goods, spread across a minimum of 100 transactions and a 12 month period (in the UK, this is £1,000 over 100 transactions).
Using eBay's Premium Service as a Top Rated Seller
The benefits continue for those who managed to get to the heady heights of Top Rated Seller status.
Once you’ve met the criteria and have got your badge, you’re then eligible to provide the eBay Premium Service to individual listings.
Basically, this indicates to prospective buyers that you offer top-notch fulfillment and delivery options.
You can choose to add this service to some, all, or none of your listings if they meet the criteria.
Those that you do apply it to get maximum visibility in the Best Match search results feature and a discount of 10% off your final value fees.
Listings you decide to promote with the eBay Premium Service will also feature a badge alongside them to let buyers know you offer a high level of customer service.
In order for your listings to qualify for the eBay Premium Service, you have to offer:
A return policy of 30 calendar days (and clearly state this in your returns policy).
Free domestic delivery within three working days.
Delivery within two working days for a delivery fee of less than £10.
Tracked delivery and a valid tracking number of items that cost £20 or more.
Will having an eBay Top Rated Seller status increase sales?
There has been a bit of controversy around whether having Top Rated Seller status bolsters sales, with some sellers claiming it absolutely does and some saying it has had no impact whatsoever on their sales numbers.
What it comes down to is this:there’s no harm in trying.
eBay doesn’t hide the fact that, to improve the visibility of your listings, you have to play by the Best Match rules, and having Top Rated Seller status instantly gives you more visibility in that arena.
For businesses selling in a competitive niche, having Top Rated Seller status can give customers the push they need to buy from you and not your competitors.
Think about it.
If you're selling in a saturated market, your listings are likely to get lost in potentially hundreds of pages of search results.
Even if your product has made it to page five of 100, it’s highly unlikely that many browsers make it past the first few pages (with some only checking out what comes up one page one).
In this case, having the additional boost of a Top Rated Seller badge can push your listings from the bottom of the ladder to a higher (and more profitable) positioning.
Creating your plan to get Top Rated Seller status
If you’ve had an active eBay account for more than 90 days, you can start putting plans in place to get your Top Rated Seller status.
Hitting the milestones might seem like an overwhelming task, but if you break things down into manageable chunks, you can get there in a month or less.
Here’s what you need to consider when planning your route to Top Rated Seller status:
Think about how many more sales you need to make to reach £1,000 and how many more transactions you need to have to reach 100. Run a drive on sales or a campaign on a specific product to get those numbers up if you need to.
Make sure the products you’re sending out are high quality with no defects (and, if there are problems, accept returns without questioning them).
Ship your items on time, every single time.
Lastly, you need to keep at it.
Unfortunately, eBay doesn't grant sellers Top Rated Seller status for life.
Instead, each month they evaluate accounts to make sure they're keeping up their end of the deal.
This means you have to keep providing exemplary customer service and maintain your process of making 100 transactions and £1,000 in sales every month.
But don’t worry too much if you can’t keep it up. Not every month is going to be your best month, and eBay knows that. If you lose your Top Rated Seller status one month, you’re able to qualify for it the next month if you meet all the requirements again.
Maintaining an eBay Top Rated Seller is a lifestyle
And, while it might seem like there are tons of hoops you need to jump through just to get a little badge on your listings, if you set your mind to it, getting and maintaining Top Rated Seller status doesn’t have to be too difficult.
Think of it as more of a lifestyle, and change how you run your eBay business so it aligns with the Top Rated Seller status guidelines every single month.
Providing great customer service is a must in any business, and by adhering to eBay’s strict rules for providing the best customer support possible, you’ll reap the benefits, whether that’s improved visibility on Best Match results or a discount on your final value fees.