eBay said 83 businesses – including online merchants as well as retailers with physical stores – have joined its eBay Local pilot program in Brooklyn, NY., offering a range of delivery options, including $5 same-day and in-store pickup, to consumers through eBay’s website and mobile apps.
The Brooklyn trial is taking place as the company shifts the focus of eBay Local more toward its core marketplace sellers, with less emphasis on major retailers.
While eBay Local is also up and running in Manhattan and Queens, NY, San Francisco and parts of the Bay Area peninsula, San Jose, Dallas and Chicago, Brooklyn is the test bed as far as signing up a broader number of participants. This is because eBay found it has the right mix – and critical mass – of buyer and seller populations, including both online merchants and retailers, in close proximity.
In addition to servicing the fulfillment needs of local sellers in Brooklyn, participating retailers in eBay Local include Best Buy, Guitar Center, Home Depot and Toys ‘R Us.
In Europe, eBay Local is testing “click and collect” capabilities through large retail partners like Argos in the UK. It also operates in Germany and Australia, and the company says this option has really taken off down under: 60% of merchants there offer the click and collect, compared to 20-25% in the U.S.
Tom Allason, who heads up eBay Local, said the is to change shoppers’ perspective of eBay from that of an online marketplace only to an outlet that also offers fast, local, convenient shopping and deals.
“What we aim to do is see if we can change buyers’ expectations of eBay,” Allason said. “Buyers today aren’t coming to us for convenience, but if we give existing sellers capabilities like same-day delivery and in-store pickup, and buyers are surprised by the convenience experience, it will organically change consumer perceptions, how existing sellers sell, and what kinds of sellers are on eBay, as well.”
The reason eBay Local offers several different options is because a lot of its buyers are value conscious and therefore unwilling to pay a premium to get something in an hour. And unlike Amazon’s Fresh and Prime Now services and Google Express, the core merchandise on eBay isn’t everyday items like diapers and groceries. “We find a lot of customers want to pick up in store, and sellers love it because they get people into the store and are more apt to make additional purchases,” said eBay spokesperson Madeline Chadwick. “And if buyers do need something now, they have that option available to them.”
Last month, eBay retired the standalone eBay Now mobile app, folding it into the core eBay site and its mobile apps. The decision was made, Allason said, “once we realized eBay Now (the company’s same-day delivery service) was ready to be a delivery option within core eBay.”
This past summer, eBay Now began using local couriers in the U.S. via its acquired Shutl service to deliver items purchased on eBay; Allason had been the founder and CEO of Shutl. Previously, eBay Now used its own “valets” to run into stores, make purchases and deliver them to customers, but that model proved impractical.
The merchants in Brooklyn have been brought online over the past few weeks, Allason said. “Once we get enough of them onboard, it gives a boost to locally available inventory,” he said. “If we’re able to provide convenience options that make buyers happier, and they’re more likely to purchase, then it makes sense to give preference to those kinds of sellers.”
He added there was “no specific time banding” on expansion of the Brooklyn model to other markets eBay Local serves. “We’re just looking for the most logical places with existing buyers and sellers, and we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it will evolve naturally,” Allason said.