How to Become a Top-Rated Seller on eBay (US)

Allison Lee

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January 25, 2021

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Between the hotshot brands that now sell on eBay and the average at-home sellers, the competition on eBay today is fierce. 

You need to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack—and one of the best ways to do that is by wielding a ‘Top Rated Seller’ badge. Like Prime status, ‘Top Rated’ status suggests that you’re a trustworthy seller with a superior product and exceptional customer service. 

(Worth noting: There is debate over how important ‘Top Rated’ status is. Some sellers have seen great benefits from it, while others have not and have instead focused on other distinguishing features like ‘Fast and Free’ shipping status.) 

But, how do you get there? This blog will walk you through the basics, plus lesser-known details, of the program so that you can realistically aspire to achieve eBay’s top-dog status.  

What Are the eBay Seller Levels? 

There are three primary eBay seller levels that your company can fall into:

  1. Top Rated - This is the highest honor you can receive on eBay as a seller. A Top Rated Seller provides the highest level of customer service and receives valuable benefits (as we’ll cover below). To achieve this seller level, you must also meet the minimum sales requirements. 
  2. Above Standard - This is the category that most sellers fall into. Above Standard means you are meeting the minimum sales requirements while providing acceptable customer service to buyers. 
  3. Below Standard - You’ll want to avoid this level at all costs. Below Standard means you’re failing to meet one or more minimum customer service requirements. This can result in sales restrictions on your account and ineligibility for Promoted Listing.  

Each status is temporary, meaning, you need to continuously earn them and you can be promoted at any time. Each seller account is evaluated on the 20th of each month and assigned to a different level if warranted. 

You can find your seller level, as well as tips to obtain the next level,  in your Seller Dashboard. 

Benefits of Achieving Top Rated Seller

Becoming a Top Rated Seller will help you to save money, build trust and increase sales in the following ways: 

  • Your Top Rated Seller seal is front and center on every eligible listing, instilling a higher buyer trust and confidence (which should ultimately increase sales)  
  • Increase listing visibility by being included in the 'Best Match' search ranking
  • Additional protections (when you offer 30-day or longer returns) from abusive buying behaviors and events outside of your control
  • $30 credit towards Promoted Listings every quarter

Requirements to Obtain Top Rated Seller Status

Sellers must meet each of the seven criteria below to qualify as a Top Rated Seller: 

  1. Your eBay seller account must be active for at least 90 consecutive days
  2. During a 12-month period, you must complete at least 100 transactions with buyers in the United States that are worth a minimum of $1,000 collectively
  3. Adhere to eBay's Selling Practices Policy
  4. Achieve a defect rate of 0.5% or less
  5. Obtain a Cases Closed Without Seller Resolution Rate of 0.3% or less
  6. Have a Late Shipment Rate of 3% or less
  7. Maintain a Carrier Validation Rate of at least 95%

Now that you know what the requirements are to achieve Top Rated Seller, let's take an in-depth look at how you meet each of these criteria.

1. Have an Active Seller Account for at Least 90 Days

This is the easiest criteria to meet. Once you’ve created and verified your eBay account, it is active until you close it. However, eBay does have the authority to close your account at any time if you’re found to be engaging in unpermitted or illegal behavior.

2. Complete 100 Transactions in One Year

Over the course of a 12-month period, you must successfully conduct at least 100 transactions. Each sale must take place with a buyer located in the United States. When combined, all of the sales must total at least $1,000. Keep in mind that you can still sell to foreign buyers, but these transactions will not count toward Top Rated Seller status for eBay's U.S. platform.

3. Adhere to eBay's Selling Practices Policy

eBay's Selling Practices Policy is put in place to ensure a world-class buyer experience. Follow these tips to make sure you are in compliance: 

  • Listing description - Provide as many details as you can about the items you are selling (e.g., brand, condition, color, material, etc). Be sure all information is 100% accurate. The more customers know about an item, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
  • Costs - Be very clear about which charges are for the product, shipping, handling and tax. Consumers want to know where their money is going.
  • Shipping - Know your shipping times and make sure they are 100% accurate. Provide all shipping information to buyers so they know what to expect. 
  • Order fulfillment - Let buyers know how long it will take to fulfill the order. The shorter the time frame, the better, but it is most important to be realistic and not to make promises that you can't keep. 
  • Customer service - Answer any questions and address any issues buyers may have in a timely and professional manner.

4. Maintain a Transaction Defect Rate Below the Maximum Threshold

A transaction defect occurs when you, the seller, cancels a transaction with a buyer. This can occur in one of three ways:

  1. A buyer purchases an item that is actually out-of-stock because the listed quantity is incorrect
  2. You choose to cancel a transaction without providing a reason
  3. You are unable to solve an issue (seller's fault) to the buyer's satisfaction

Your Transaction Defect Rate is calculated as the percentage of total sales that have a transaction defect. To qualify for Top Rated Seller, your Transaction Defect Rate must be 0.5% or less. 

How to Maintain a Low Transaction Defect Rate

One of the most common reasons for canceling a transaction is due to an item being out of stock. The root of the problem is usually poor inventory management, which can be aided by an automation platform like Zentail. Platforms like Zentail allow you to easily sell on multiple channels while keeping your inventory accurately synced between all channels. This means you do not have to worry about accidentally selling an out-of-stock item. Zentail will also identify when stock is running low and calculate the opportunity cost, so you can quickly decide whether it’s worth restocking. 

Another tip: Never let a buyer issue go unresolved. Not only will this have a negative impact on consumer trust but eBay will step in when you can’t resolve the issue yourself. At that point, the transaction is counted as a defect. If at all possible, follow through on all transactions. If you must cancel a transaction, give the buyer a reason and offer an alternative, such as a discount that can be used on a future purchase. 

5. Obtain a ‘Cases Closed Without Seller Resolution’ Rate Below the Maximum Threshold

The Cases Closed Without Seller Resolution Rate refers to the percentage of cases not resolved by the seller without eBay having to step in. To qualify as an eBay Top Rated Seller, you must have a rate of 0.3% or less. This is similar to one of the ways you can incur a Transaction Defect and will negatively impact both rates. The bottom line is to find a satisfactory resolution for every buyer case you receive in a timely manner. 

6. Maintain a Late Shipment Rate Below the Maximum Threshold

A transaction is identified as a late shipment when either one or both of the following occur: 

  • The seller doesn't send the time within the promised handling time.
  • The item is delivered after the promised delivery date. 

You must maintain a Late Shipment Rate of 3% or below to be eligible for Top Rated Seller status. To achieve this rate make sure that your handling and shipping times are accurate. It is important to provide shipping and handling times that are appealing to buyers and correct at the same time. Always err on the side of caution and advertise times that are the worst-case scenarios.

7. Maintain the Required Carrier Validation Rate

eBay requires that Top Sellers provide valid tracking for at least 95% of orders. This means that you must make sure all tracking information is uploaded and available to the buyer, plus have one recorded carrier scan within the handling timeframe. To achieve this rate, have dedicated personnel or automation in place to ensure valid tracking for all orders.

What Is Top Rated Seller Plus? 

If you achieve Top Rated Seller status, you may be eligible for additional Top Rated Seller Plus benefits. In addition to meeting the requirements for Top Rated Seller, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Provide one day shipping
  • Offer free returns for a minimum of 14 days

Note: sellers in the real estate, specialty services or locally picked-up goods categories are not eligible for Top Rated Seller Plus status. 

screenshot of ebay's top rated plus badge

Benefits of Top Rated Seller Plus

If you obtain this status, you can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • The Top Rated Plus seal is displayed in all eligible listing descriptions and on search results
  • Receive a 10% discount on your Final Value Fees 

Bonus Tips for Obtaining and Keeping Top Rated Seller Status

  • Keep in mind that the time zone for eBay is PST. No matter what time zone you are shipping from, all shipping and handling deadlines must be met according to PST.
  • Consider using a 3PL if you find it difficult to ship items as quickly as you need to.
  • You are not necessarily obligated to list eligible items with Top Rated Plus status. Consider whether it is worth the more stringent shipping and handling requirements to do so. 
  • Ship all items in the appropriate packing material to reduce the chances of damage upon arrival. 
  • Make sure that your return policy is easy for buyers to understand to avoid issues.
  • Collect as many buyer reviews as you can in an ethical manner.
  • Ensure that all of your listings are as detailed and accurate as possible to give buyers a realistic idea of what they can expect. Note that aside from a strong title and description, you’ll want to include more than just the required attributes of your product. Look at some of the common filters that buyers use on search pages, and try to include those attributes in your listing so that there’s a greater chance of buyers finding you.  
screenshot of ebay filter bar

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