How do I Improve My Completion Rate?

What is a completion rate?

Order completion refers to the number of orders that you successfully process and ship to buyers, minus any rejections or returns. It can be calculated as:

(Shipped orders – Returns and Refunds) / Total orders

For example:

  • 100 orders received in 1 month.
  • 2 rejected as “Item previously sold.”
  • 2 returns for “Item did not arrive.”

Completion = 100 orders received – 2 orders rejected = 98 shipped orders – 2 refunds = 96 / 100 = 96%

AbeBooks currently requires a minimum completion rate of 90% (96% for sellers with 1 million listings or more). Failure to meet this requirement can result in suspension or closure of your AbeBooks account.

Are you a New Seller?

If you are a new bookseller who has received no orders yet, your Completion Rate will display at 0% on your My Account page. Your percentage will update as soon as your first order is received and until then, the percentage should not be of concern. And in spite of the 0% Completion Rate, your Bookseller Rating will remain at 4 stars until you’ve received 4 orders. At that point, your Star rating will be updated on the 1st and 15th of every month to accurately reflect your Completion Rate.

Why is it important to maintain a high completion rate?

A high completion rate means that buyers can feel assured that they will receive the book they ordered, on time and as described, ensuring buyer satisfaction and instilling buyer confidence. This translates into higher sales, repeat business, and increased revenue for you, the bookseller.

How can I find my current completion rate?

  1. Sign on to your AbeBooks account with your email address and password.
  2. Select [Completion Rate] in the ‘My Account Stats’ section at the top of the Menu.

How do I compare to other booksellers?

The AbeBooks average completion rate is currently 91%. While this may vary slightly from month to month, this figure is a good benchmark for comparison.

How do I prevent orders for books I’ve already sold?

There are several reasons that a book can end up online even though it has already been sold. The most common reasons are:

  • If sold online, but not marked as Sold in your inventory management software, the books can be accidentally uploaded For Sale again in future.
  • You’ve sold a book outside of AbeBooks, but have not yet uploaded your changes to us.
  • Over time it is possible that one or two uploaded files have had transmission errors. If the complete contents of your upload file are not processed, we may have missed Sold records from you, meaning that these books are still appearing online.

Keep track of your Sold records:

There are several ways for you to maintain your sold books. The three most common are to use a status field, a quantity field (0 quantity = sold), or to send us Delete.txt files.

  • Status: Include a field in your database indicating “Sold” or “For Sale.” Every time you upload we will add or update any books marked as “For Sale,” and delete any books marked as “Sold.”
  • Quantity: If using a quantity field, a quantity of ‘0’ will indicate that the item is sold and remove the listing from your online inventory.
  • Delete.txt: Send us a file of all of your sold books, and name the file delete.txt. Based on this file name, we will know to delete these records, rather than adding or updating them.
  • Online Removal: Remember, if you remove a book from our website using the List and Maintain link, or if the book is removed automatically when it is ordered, please update the status to “Sold” in your own database. If the book is not marked as sold in your inventory management system, it will appear for sale again on our Web site.

Upload Often:

If you sell on other marketplaces or in a storefront, it is essential to keep your online data up-to-date. When inventory is kept up-to-date, duplicate orders are less likely to occur, meaning fewer rejected orders. Please upload as frequently as necessary to keep your inventory current; most sellers find daily uploads sufficient but depending on sales volume, you may find you need to upload more or less often.

Purge and Reload Schedule:

If you find that you have books online which should not be, please Purge and Reload. A Purge and Reload will remove all the books you have online and replace them with the inventory that you upload, removing any inconsistencies between our database and yours. As long as your sold books do not appear in your database as ‘For Sale’, a purge and reload will make sure they also do not appear online. You should purge and reload two to four times per year.

Important: Purging is not to be used as a method of inventory management. It is a feature to be used infrequently (every 3 or 4 months) to ensure the listings in a bookseller’s inventory management system are synchronized with their AbeBooks online inventory.

Files processed with a purge request take much longer to process than incremental update files and can negatively impact file processing times for all booksellers. Regular, incremental updates, which process much faster, will not only ensure that your inventory is kept up to date, they will also eliminate the need to purge frequently.

Further information on Managing Sold Books

How do I manage my inventory/data to minimize loss of sales?

Consider removing stale records:

Unavailability can occur not only because you’ve sold the book elsewhere, but also simply because the book has been misplaced. This is most common with your oldest book records. You may consider removing your oldest book records (often books with the lowest bookIDs). Before making any bulk deletions, we would ask that you speak with our Customer Support Team to ensure that all of the data is managed properly, to prevent exacerbating the issue.

Keep your Internet stock separate from your Brick and Mortar stock:

If you have a large number of un-catalogued records, you might consider splitting this stock between your internet business and your storefront. There are several benefits to this. Since you can upload stock online after your B&M shelf space is full, more of your stock will be exposed to the buying public. As well, you never have to worry about rejecting orders due to a book being sold in-store, or being misplaced by a buyer or staff.

Integrate your Point-of-Sale system with your online inventory database:

If your business has a high daily turnover in-store, it is very beneficial to integrate your Point-of-Sale system with your database of internet stock. However, this is a less accurate option than having separate internet stock, as explained above. If you have not already integrated your POS system and your internet database, please consider this as an option. Doing so can help prevent lost sales, and can also save you time, since you’ll only have to update your inventory in one place.

The intricacies of integrating a POS system with an internet database are beyond the scope of this Help page. If you have programmers on staff, AbeBooks does have tools to help you integrate your system with ours. Please contact Customer Support for further assistance.

Avoid Pricing Errors

All books uploaded will be available at the price listed on the AbeBooks websites. If a buyer should happen to purchase a book with a pricing error, we recommend that the order be accepted and processed at the price listed to ensure buyer satisfaction. If you choose to reject the order, that rejection will negatively impact your Completion Rating.

To prevent such order rejections we recommend that you review your new listings to ensure there have been no pricing errors uploaded inadvertently.

Try using HomeBase:

HomeBase is our free inventory management program and makes the job of managing your online inventory faster and easier. HomeBase allows you to manage several types of information: books, catalogues, clients, invoices, and client wants. The software also allows you to create several kinds of reports. HomeBase 3.2 has enhanced data-entry, including multi-edit and improved ISBN matching, and we’ve simplified the process of sending books and/or wants to AbeBooks.

Download HomeBase

How do I prevent returns for the reason “Item not as described”?

Ensure you send accurate ISBN data:

Abebooks attempts to match bibliographic data and ISBNs to your books based on ISBN and/or other bibliographic data present. The goal is to present a complete set of book information to buyers to help drive sales through our marketplace. To aid in this process it is best to use a specific field to upload your ISBN data. HomeBase has a built-in ISBN field, but if you use a spreadsheet you can simply add a new column to the end of your spreadsheet, and upload ISBN data in this field. Be sure to inform Customer Support before you alter your upload format in any way. If you cannot upload using an ISBN field, please put the ISBN in your description field with an “ISBN:” prefix. For example: ISBN: 043935806X

The ISBN matched data provided by AbeBooks does not match your listing, simply add NOISBN to your keywords field to disassociate the mis-matched data.

ISBN matching can also be turned off at the account level, to be applied to all your listings. Contact Customer Support for assistance.

Do not re-use Book IDs:

Re-using a book ID number is never a good database practice. Once a book has been sold, please permanently archive that book ID, and use it again only if that book is returned and you are re-listing it. If you use HomeBase, you can clone your book records if you have more than one copy of a book.

Ensure we are properly processing your book attributes:

Attributes are specific, searchable details about a book. The best practice is to have a separate field for each attribute type, (e.g., Binding, Edition, Signed, Jacket, and Condition). Be sure to inform Customer Support before you alter your upload format in any way. If you cannot use specific fields for this information please add the following to your Description field:

  • Hardcover or Softcover
  • First Edition – will index a book as a first
  • Signed by Author or Signed by Illustrator
  • Inscribed by owner – should be used for inscriptions that do not increase value
  • Dust Jacket or No Dust Jacket
  • Poor, Good, Very Good, Fine, As New or New – use these terms to describe the condition of the book, or of the book/dust jacket in the format Book/Jacket (for example: good/very good)

How do I ensure I receive enough funds to ship my orders?

Rejecting an order due to an insufficient shipping charge should never be necessary. Every bookseller on AbeBooks has the ability to set their own shipping rates and speeds. You can alter current rates and add specific rates and speeds for any country not already listed in your account. View your Shipping Matrix.

If you require additional funds to ship an oversized or heavy book, or to cover the cost of tracking or insurance, you can click the [Extra Charges] option while processing your order.

Requesting Extra Charges

You may want to increase the selling price for your heavier books or multi-volume sets to proactively cover any extra shipping costs that will be incurred.

How can I prevent Order Expiry?

Check your account daily for new orders and process them immediately. If you take weekends off, check and process orders last thing on Friday and again first thing Monday morning.

If you fail to process orders within 4 days, they will expire. Using the vacation feature will temporarily remove your online inventory, thereby preventing expired orders and disappointed buyers. Whenever you are going to be unable to process orders within 4 days, please set your account to Vacation status.

Back up often, back up properly:

An up-to-date backup file is the best defense against loss of data due to computer failure or other mishap. Be sure to have backups on removable media, such as a CD or USB Flash Drive, in case of a hard drive crash.

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