eBay is wading into the fast shipping wars, taking on Amazon Prime and Walmart with its new Guaranteed Delivery offering that will launch this summer on its selling platform with more than 20 million eligible items. Shoppers on eBay will also be able to search and filter items by one- and two-day delivery.
By comparison, Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items – that is, after the $99 per year membership fee. Amazon also offers one-day or same-day shipping on more than 1 million items, Prime Now two-hour delivery for 25,000 items.
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“While the majority on eBay already ship within three days or less, as well as for free, Guaranteed Delivery will give shoppers even faster delivery options and the confidence that their items will arrive on time,” said Hal Lawton, Senior Vice President of North America at eBay in a press release.
According to eBay, if a guaranteed item arrives late, the buyer can have the shipping cost refunded. If it was free, they will get a coupon toward their next eBay purchase. Alternatively customers can return the item at no cost.
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eBay’s program will give sellers the ability to find new buyers by making items searchable by delivery date. They can set their own shipping rates based on 100 regions, the proximity of their warehouse to the customer’s location and multiple shipper services. Sellers can also set what days they’re working (including weekends and holidays) and shipping cutoff times.
“Ultimately I want it to be a shopping experience of one for 167 million shoppers,” said Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay at the ShopTalk conference. “[Shoppers] want more certainty in shipping.”
While Guaranteed Delivery will launch with no additional cost to sellers, they must meet a required set of shipping standards to participate.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction in terms of the customer experience on eBay, and for the most part formalizes what sellers have already been providing,” said Baird analyst Colin Sebastian, who follows Amazon and ecommerce in general. “The comparisons with Prime are inevitable, but there is still a gap in selection and service.”
As for how eBay will make its promise happen, Sebastian said the company “is going to essentially just back the performance standards of top sellers that can provide that service reliably.” It ditched its eBay Now delivery service in 2015 after the service failed to catch on. Rival Google meanwhile has been expanding its Express same-day service. Last year eBay struck a deal with FedEx to tap 1,600 of its locations where sellers could drop off their orders for delivery.
MCM Musings: This latest move by eBay is an indication of just how heated the “fast and furious” shipping wars have become. Even though there isn’t massive demand (yet) for this-minute delivery of most items – although a case can be made for certain everyday consumer packaged goods – the course has been set and the combatants will continue to up the ante. Recently both Amazon and Walmart have been going back and forth with moves and counter-moves on free shipping thresholds.
MCM Content Manager Daniela Forte contributed to this report