Etsy came out with this new policy called ODR. This stands for "Order Defect rate". Although it may appear a new policy, they were already acting on this, the only difference is that now they finally publicly stated how it works and gave you some tools to measure your shop's ODR.
This is bad news or everyone. Up until recently, each Etsy shop's success was determined by the quality of the products and services it provided. How? by the reviews. It's basic logic: good shops have good reviews and keep going, bad shops have bad reviews and nobody purchases from them. This is over now.
Etsy already has a system that highly favors buyers, so why did they need to add more rules that eliminate the underperforming sellers? In my personal opinion, the old system worked fine. I was terrified of bad reviews because they would hurt my business, but I also knew that unfair bad reviews wouldn't hurt me as much (or sometimes at all). I understand they want to keep a clean marketplace where buyers feel safe, but for that, you already have the case system. Did you buy something from a bad seller that tried to scam you or mislead you? open a dispute and you will be fine then leave a bad review warning other potential buyers.
The way I see it, this is more than enough to keep a safe marketplace. Buyers will know that sometimes some new sellers might be a little riskier, but Etsy always has their backs so they don't really fear too much. Buying from shops with a low rating is a risk while shops with high ratings it's not. This is basic common sense.
But we all know Etsy is a publicly-traded company, they need to please shareholders with numbers and statistics. They have so many sellers, they get to pick and choose the very best for their platform. They probably get more money from outside investments than from Etsy sellers themselves, so each time someone things "my shop gives Etsy a lot of money" - think again.
Now let's do some math, shall we?
Etsy's "ODR" can't go over 1% of your orders over a period of 90 days. First of all, what accounts for the "defect rate"?
Two things: Negative reviews (2 stars or less) and Opened cases.
But hold on!! When I say negative reviews, I mean all of them, including those made by mistake and switched instantly, or someone who changed their mind and corrected to a positive review. As soon as a bad review hits your store, independently of why or how it counts to your order defect rate and doesn't matter if it's changed.
And for cases, the idiotic logic is the same: each open case, even if it's closed in your favor, counts to increase your ODR. Even if someone opened a case because the order was a little late and then closed it immediately after because they received it, it still counts.
So, for each one of these that happens, you need another 100 orders without issues to compensate for it.
Got an open case? hope that you get more than 100 orders during those 90 days without any issues to compensate for that.
Got a bad review? get those prices down, you need to get more 100 orders.
Now you may be thinking. What if I only sell highly-priced stuff, therefore I only sell a couple things a month. If I get a bad review, what will happen? Well, it's easy, if you get 1 order a month and one of them gets a bad review or an open case, you'll have a 33% ODR and will most likely get banned.
Hopefully, it's not as stupid as this example. The problem is that sometimes the shop reviews are done automatically through bots, therefore only math is taken into consideration and not common sense.
But still, the math is pretty simple. For each bad thing that happens you need another 99 good things to not go over 1%.
How many times did you have one of those customers that simply can't be pleased? I don't know about you but at least 1 out of 100. You get one of those and an order delayed by the shipping company and you are screwed.
This is the reason why ODR is the number one subject on Etsy forums, facebook groups, Reddit, all over the place.
Here's an example is taken from a facebook group:
We have had the warning - 4 orders out of 568. 2 poor reviews and 2 cases - all about our shipping partners, which is so frustrating.
Think about this - this person had a suspension/ban warning because of 4 orders out of 568, all because of postal delays which is something this seller can't even control.
I'm sure that they will tweak some retarded things, hopefully starting with the changed reviews and cases decided in your favor. That's how Amazon Handmade works for example - they only count a specific type of dispute closed in the client's favor to your order defect rate so the likelihood of it going over 1% (because it's the same number as Etsy but with different rules) is very thin.
This 1% percentage is the industry standard because most online selling is reselling. It's a rule to eliminate small sellers and keep the big ones. Why? big sellers have lower prices, they have enough volume to be able to do affordable shipping with big companies like UPS or DHL. Have you ever tried contacting one of those with a few hundred orders per month? Nobody will pay for those high shipping rates. You have to use whatever national mail service you have in your country, USPS, Royal mail, or whatever. Those tend to not be great, as you already know.
So how do you avoid this? what can you do? For now, nothing.
As soon as Etsy changes the rules to something more sympathetic what you can do is essentially beg each and every one of your customers who give you a bad review, give them refunds and whatever they want to have the review changed to something positive. Even if not all of them comply, some will and that will help you lower your ODR percentage. You absolutely need to reply to all messages as soon as humanly possible.
This means being on your phone during a family dinner replying to a customer. This means replying to messages during a romantic dinner. This means replying to a message in the middle of the night while you are in bed.
If you want to secure your business, this is the only way. Depending on where you are in the world it can get worst because of different timezones. From my experience, most open cases can be avoided if you reply to messages as soon as humanly possible. You have to be as nice as you can possibly be. Be super sweet with sugar on top. Here's an example: let's get a real-world scenario
Hey. I ordered this item for my niece's birthday, that's tomorrow and I didnt receive the order. I'm really upset about this.
Here's what you should reply:
Hello! First of all, I'm really sorry you didn't get this item as soon as you expected, however, I hope you can understand that I didn't know you wanted this for a specific date If I knew I would have advised you to upgrade your shipping and would have told you that I couldn't guarantee that date. But don't worry! Maybe it will still arrive on time, and if it doesn't and you don't want the item anymore, you can always return the item for a full refund. Just send some sort of receipt showing you sent the order back, and we'll refund your order.I hope you understand this is the postal services doings, not mine! I did my best to make and ship your order as soon as humanly possible. I'm always here to make sure you have the best experience possible. Thank you, and have a wonderful day :D
This is just an example, I'm sure you can do better. But essentially it should include an apology even if it's not your fault, you need to show empathy with the situation the customer is in, guilt-trip him into knowing it's his fault he didn't mention the date he needed the product by.
You also need to try and delay the resolution (refund or no refund) as much as possible because a lot of times customers end up forgetting the problem.
After that, ensure the customer he can get his money back and that you are present and willing to resolve the issue - this will keep the customer from going over your head to Etsy by opening a dispute, and possibly even feel sympathetic to your situation and give you a good review for the provided service.
Also, to help keep ODR at a minimum, always put a processing time bigger than you actually need it to be. This way customers are happy the order was dispatched early than scheduled.