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Improve Your Detailed Seller Ratings

Detailed Seller Ratings, or DSRs are the subject of much discussion amongst eBay sellers. Many don't like them, don't agree with them or just ignore them, but there are some advantages to keeping them above a certain level. Here's our list of suggestions on how to improve your eBay Detailed Seller Ratings, along with a brief explanation of what they are.

DSRs are the stars that are shown near your feedback and are ratings reflecting how buyers rated you on four specific areas.

Buyers rate sellers on how they feel the seller performed in the following areas;
  • Item as described
  • Communication
  • Dispatch time
  • Postage and packaging charges

To help sellers keep track of their DSRs, eBay introduced the Seller Dashboard. This will show how you've performed in the last 30 days or 12 months, and allows you to compare yourself against eBay averages, or your own 30 day ratings against your 12 months ratings.

eBay use these ratings in a number of ways and this can either help or hinder your eBay selling performance.

All sellers are affected by eBay's search standing rating. eBay UK have two search standing levels, Standard and Lowered. If any of your DSRs drop below eBay's minimum standard in a 30 day period, then your items will be lowered in search.

The grey bars represent your 30 day ratings (rounded up or down) and the orange bars represent eBay's minimum standard, which at present is 4.4. So to get your items seen in search, you really need to maintain DSRs above 4.4 continuously, otherwise other sellers' items will be higher in the search than yours.

As well as search standing, you also need to maintain a DSR score above 4.4 if you want to run a featured shop, or above 4.6 to have an anchor shop. If you're a powerseller, keeping your DSR score on all four stars above 4.6 makes you eligible for discounts on selling fees of up to 40%. Personally, I think buyers also prefer to buy from sellers that have fairly high DSRs as it inspires buyer confidence.

Item As Described

This is quite easy to get a good rating for as it is fairly self explanatory. Describe your item as accurately and truthfully as possible. If it's used, don't say it's new. If it's a bit battered round the edges, point this out in the description. If you send out an item that could be a different colour than the one shown, simply put 'colour may vary' in the listing.

Also make sure your photographs are clear, well lit and of the actual item you're selling. Clearly explain the measurements of the item as sometimes photographs can be misleading, or perhaps even photograph the item next to a pen or a coin to give a reference for size. If the buyer receives the item they're expecting then they should rate you highly.


Different people have different ideas as to what good communication is. While it's good to keep your buyer informed, sometimes buyers get 3 or 4 emails just to say they've bought the item, then another 2 when it's dispatched, and so on. Too much communication is just as likely to get you marked down on your DSRs as not enough. One email to inform the buyer of the purchase, one to say you've received their payment and one to say you've posted it should be enough for most buyers.

Include something in the parcel such as a packing slip or compliments card so that the buyer knows who it's from - they may have bought a few of the same item from different sellers and have no way of knowing which is which. If a buyer asks questions about the item before they buy it, they could also include how quickly and professionally you replied (if you did) in their evaluation of your communication. If a buyer tells you about a problem with the item before they leave feedback and ratings, then respond quickly and professionally to their query.

Dispatch Time

Despite people's misconceptions, sellers are not responsible for how quickly items are delivered. They are responsible for how fast they dispatch it, the rest is largely down to Royal Mail or the courier. The best approach in my opinion is to 'under-promise but over-deliver'. In other words, if you say in your listing it will be dispatched within three working days, but you can manage to send it the same day or the next day, it's likely that the item will arrive before the buyer expects it to.

Unfortunately, most people will just rate you on how fast they get their item. If you can send it out quickly, and it gets to them within a day or two of them buying it, the chances are they will rate five out of five on all your DSRs, because they're happy to get it so quickly, making your dispatch time DSR one of the key ways to get good ratings.

Be sure to mention any possible delays, for instance if you're selling something on pre-release, or you don't post on certain days. This way you're lowering the buyer's expectation of how quickly they'll get their item.

Postage and packaging charges

This is the hardest Detailed Seller Rating to get high scores in. Ask most eBay sellers which is their lowest DSR, and this will be it. Even sellers that have free P&P don't get great scores. So how can you improve? There are a few methods worth considering.

The obvious approach is to not overcharge for P&P. In my experience most buyers will understand if you charge a maximum of 50p for the packing materials on top of the actual stamp price, much more than this and many will mark you down for it. It's also worth including somewhere in your terms or the listing page that your postage price includes materials such as jiffy bags, tape, labels etc as buyers often see the stamp price and think that's the only cost involved in sending the item.

Another option is to charge less than it actually costs to dispatch the item, but add a little extra on to the price of the item. This will cost you more in eBay fees, but may be worth it if you're aiming for powerseller discounts or your search standing is lowered. Consider offering a postage discount for combined purchases if practical.

If you offer free P&P eBay will now force the buyer to leave a 5 star rating for this DSR providing they paid by PayPal. Also make sure your item is well packed to avoid damage, and looks neat as first impressions often last the longest. If the package arrives intact and looks professional, the buyer is more inclined to mark you higher.

To sum up, if you get all four aspects of the sale right, you're more likely to be rated as a five star seller because in general the buying experience was good. In contrast, if you get just one of them wrong, you could well be marked down on all four as a result.

Some sellers have started using emails or flyers asking (or even demanding in some cases) that buyers give them five stars for everything. This is not something I would recommend personally. It might just prompt a reaction you don't want. A short phrase in your dispatch note such as 'We aim to give all our buyers a five star buying experience, please contact us if you feel this is not the case' could promote the idea that good = 5 stars, and if done correctly without going over the top, can help to improve your DSRs.
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