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This research was rapidly designed to better understand why sellers were receiving low ratings in the Shipping and Handling category of eBay's feedback system. The approach used quantitative information coupled with linguistic analysis to generate insights in a short amount of time (<60minutes), and with limited access to information.  



Why do sellers receive low Shipping and Handling Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs)?

This was a rapid assessment, requiring less than 60 minutes to design, research, and analyze. Looking into Neutral and Negative feedback left by buyers from recently completed purchases of clothing, revealed that 13% of sellers with less than 100% positive feedback, had buyer complaints specifically concerning product packaging (n= 22). Linguistic analysis, was the method chosen to deconstruct comments and their underlying meaning.


The first negative comment illustrates that packaging has a utilitarian purpose such that it must secure the content, and ensure the item arrives intact. “Heels came off as I removed shoes from packaging” shows that the  product was damaged in transit, before the buyer had a chance to try them on.

In the second negative comment, we see how visual aesthetics affects the buyer's reaction to quality, and that packaging serves another purpose other than security (as expressed in the first review). The buyer’s use of the word “disgusting” is a strong reaction to the seller’s method of packing (“tape(d) by yellow envelope”). While the buyer did not mention whether the product was damaged, they did allude to their dissatisfaction with the type of supplies used to package the product.

Lastly,  the neutral feedback left by a buyer suggests two concerns about poor packaging. While the buyer leaves a positive comment in reference to the speed of delivery, they also reveal a sense of carelessness from the seller explaining that the item was “just stuffed in envelope”. The buyer continues their dissatisfaction mentioning the poor state that the product was in (“very wrinkled”), in contrast to the amount the buyer paid to have it shipped ($5.90). In other words, the buyer had expectations that for an above average shipping charge, the item should have been better packed.


Buyers, regardless of the amount paid for the item, care about the handling and packaging of their purchase. Sellers should consider the materials used and ensure that the quality is sturdy and appears clean. Time and consideration should be spent to pack the item safely. Garments should be folded similar to those found in brick and mortar stores. Clothing should be packed spaciously to avoid "stuffing" of items. If shipping charges are higher than average, buyers should have the quality of packing reflect it. Examples can include designer poly-mailers, colored tissue wrap and/or thank you cards.

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