Once upon a time, eBay shoppers would periodically see prominent “PowerSeller” logos at the tops of certain auctions and fixed priced listings, indicating that the seller(s) in question were amongst eBay's best and most experienced.
Though the listing featured logo and associated marketing have disappeared from eBay as the Top-Rated Seller program has emerged, the eBay PowerSeller status is still at work behind the scenes for sellers that have earned it.
The Making of a PowerSeller
PowerSellers are eBay sellers that have maintained high sales volume for a nominal period of time while managing to also maintain reasonable customer service standards. The program is by-invitation-only, and in general, the requirements that sellers must meet before being invited at the basic (bronze) level are:
- $3,000 in U.S. sales volume over the past 12 months, and
- 100 transactions over the past 12 months with feedback 98% positive or better
- DSR averages of 4.6 or higher with no more than 0.5% of transactions disputed
- An eBay account and policy compliance in good standing
Volume requirements increase through a number of PowerSeller levels, moving from “Bronze" through “Silver,” “Gold,” “Platinum,” and “Titanium.” A complete list of the requirements for becoming a PowerSeller can be found on eBay; these give some indication of the volume and quality of seller required.
Reasons for PowerSelling
So why should a seller want to become a PowerSeller, particularly if the status no longer offers visible cues to buyers in search listings?
The Top-Rated Seller Goal
The PowerSeller status is a step on the path toward Top-Rated Seller status and the benefits in fees discounts, marketing (the prominent Top-Rated Seller logo) and a user search placement that the Top-Rated Seller status offers.
Special Relationship to eBay
PowerSellers have priority inside eBay. PowerSellers are served by a separate customer service team that is more directly accessible than the customer service team that responds to regular eBay members’ issues. PowerSellers also have priority at all other eBay departments, including those that handle billing/accounting issues and those that handle reports of rules violations. PowerSellers can thus ensure a much more immediate response from eBay when concerns arise.
Networking and Tool
Finally, PowerSellers enjoy separate, private community and discussion areas on eBay and access to marketing and selling tools, information and resources that are unavailable to regular eBay members.
UPS Shipping Rate Discounts
PowerSellers that ship via UPS enjoy a range of shipping rate discounts by virtue of their PowerSeller status.
PowerSellers receive a number of other benefits, including access to informative eBay newsletters, access to group health and other insurance rates and access to PowerSeller templates and stationery for marketing and communications purposes.
Advantages in Sum
Together these advantages tend to ensure that PowerSellers become more successful over time, and ultimately, make their way toward Top-Rated Seller status. And that’s the goal. Though the special benefits enjoyed by PowerSellers have at times been controversial amongst other eBay members who may feel that such inequality weakens or runs counter to a sense of fairness that otherwise seems central to eBay’s ideals, it is in eBay’s best interest to support its PowerSeller community.
Not only do eBay’s PowerSellers drive a vast chunk of eBay’s revenue stream, but PowerSellers are also reliable in a way—due to the nature of the program and its requirements, eBay gains through PowerSellers a community of heavy hitting traders that endeavor to maintain good customer service—essential if eBay is to thrive.
Benefits for Buyers
As it turns out, the nature of the PowerSeller program also creates benefits for buyers as well, though they are for the most part indirect.
The PowerSeller program and the nature of the benefits that PowerSellers enjoy tend to ensure that amongst high-volume eBay sellers, meeting PowerSeller standards is the norm. Since these sellers also make up for the larger part of eBay's sales volume, the PowerSeller program indirectly helps to make eBay a trustworthy place for buying.
Regular Stock or Shopping Opportunities
The nature of eBay often makes repeat buying difficult. At brick-and-mortar stores where stock and prices are both regular, customers can “frequent” an establishment with clear expectations about what it carries and at what price. On eBay, the stock tends to be unpredictable; prices doubly so. The PowerSellers program rewards sellers that have a consistent business plan and consistent volume, which generally means consistent sources, pricing, and stock.
Because high supply and high competition both drive prices downward, eBay’s facilitation of a community of high-volume sellers that often compete against one another helps to ensure that prices remain low in many of eBay’s product segments and categories, keeping available both ample supply and broad choice for consumers.