Becoming a PowerSeller

Benefits of status among eBay's top sales producers

by staff writer
- Jun 26, 2008

You'll know you've made the grade as an online seller when you receive an invitation from eBay to join its PowerSeller program.

In eBay circles, the PowerSeller name and logo carry a certain amount of cachet. The PowerSeller program is eBay's honor roll—recognition reserved for the auction site's top sales producers with the highest standings among customers.

eBay recently loosened its eligibility requirements to let more sellers join the club. But at the same time, it introduced policy changes that apply more stringent standards to retaining PowerSeller status.

Premium performance

Among other requirements, to become a PowerSeller, you must have sold both:

  1. 1,200 items or $12,000 worth in the past 12 months
  2. at least two items per month in the past 12 months

The second part of these requirements allows "seasonal sellers" to qualify for the program. These are the folks that do sporadic high-volume business, like at the holidays, but don't sell much the rest of the year.

As your business grows, you can advance through the ranks. The six PowerSeller tiers—Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium and Diamond—are determined by average monthly sales over a trailing three month period. But there's no room for slackers in this bunch. eBay reviews eligibility on a monthly basis. If you fall short, you'll have just 30 days to bring your performance back up to par.

In addition to minimum sales levels, PowerSellers are expected to maintain superior levels of customer satisfaction. Currently, at least 100 feedback points with a 98 percent positive rating is required. Starting in July, eBay will apply additional, tougher standards, requiring a minimum Detailed Seller Rating of 4.5 in each of four categories. (Different rules apply for eBay's Motors and sites).

Now, 4.5 out of 5 stars in every category is a pretty stringent requirement, but not all that surprising. An increasing share of eBay's profits—and reputation in the e-commerce universe—come from transactions carried out by its PowerSellers, so you can bet the powers that be will be keeping close tabs on individual performance within this elite group.

Rewards for good service

The juiciest carrot eBay dangles is PowerSeller fee discounts

So you've worked your tail off to get to become a PowerSeller; what do you have to show for it? A lot, actually. There are a number of perks that come along with the PowerSeller name. Some have more tangible value than others, but all are free.

The juiciest carrot eBay dangles is PowerSeller fee discounts: 5 percent for those who maintain DSRs of 4.6 or better in all categories for 30 days; 15 percent for DSRs of 4.8 or more; 20 percent for 4.9 stars across the board. According to eBay, 16 percent of all PowerSellers currently qualify for the highest discount. A 20-percent discount may not seem like much, but for PowerSellers doing thousands of dollars in sales each month, those fees can be significant.

As an added reward for maintaining high DSRs, your listings will rank higher in searches using Best Match, which is now the sort default for searches on eBay.

Also, as a PowerSeller, you're entitled to dedicated customer support from eBay. At the Bronze level, you have to communicate with support through e-mail, but at least you have access to a specialized team, and support is available around the clock. Higher levels receive phone support from actual live humans. Additionally, Gold-and-above PowerSellers are assigned a dedicated account manager with a direct-dial phone number, so you know exactly who to call when you need help.

Other significant benefits include Unpaid Item protection. That is, if you have a deadbeat buyer and you complete an Unpaid Item claim, eBay will credit your listing feature fees, in addition to your basic insertion fees. If you have a PayPal account linked to your eBay account, you'll also get expanded seller protection against claims, chargebacks, reversals for unauthorized payments and merchandise not received.

Perk up

Displaying the PowerSeller logo gives buyers a feeling that they are doing business with a professional

eBay also provides its top sellers with exclusive access to networking sites, tools and one-on-one advice to help you manage your business, as well as a Reseller Marketplace, where you can find new suppliers to help fuel your sales growth.

Here's one more plus: Displaying the PowerSeller logo next to your eBay ID and on your AboutMe page gives many buyers—newbies, especially—a warm, fuzzy feeling that they are doing business with a professional who has earned their place among eBay's elite.

But maybe you're modest and don't want to draw attention to your remarkable sales achievements. Or perhaps you've overheard unhappy buyers grumble that PowerSellers are high-volume dealers who don't have time for customer care. eBay's tougher DSR standards should help to change that perception over time. If you're still uneasy, for whatever reason, you may opt out of the program. Better yet, you can continue to reap the benefits of PowerSellerhood without flashing the PowerSeller logo sign by going to My eBay > eBay Preferences > Seller Preferences, and just turning off the logo.

Achieving PowerSeller status is no easy feat. But for dedicated sellers who view customer satisfaction as an essential ingredient of their online business, it's a mark of distinction and quality service.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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