How eBay’s New Guaranteed 3-Day Shipping Compares to Amazon

From the do-we-even-need-to-spell-it-out department:

CNET about the announcement:

On Monday, eBay announced it will offer a new guaranteed-delivery program in the US starting this summer, pledging deliveries in three or fewer days for more than 20 million products. For the first time, eBay’s shoppers will be able to filter searches to see only items guaranteed to arrive in one, two or three days.

Industry analyst Jan Dawson:

eBay is announcing that it now offers guaranteed 3-day shipping on 20 million items, compared to Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping for over 50 million items. The difference in the range and timing here highlights another big difference: whereas Amazon increasingly controls its logistics infrastructure, eBay has very little control at all, which is why it’s been reluctant in the past to commit to delivery dates even though it says almost two thirds of its sales already reach customers in three days. That’s because eBay buyers are responsible for shipping their own goods, while Prime and Fulfillment by Amazon leverage the company’s massive distribution infrastructure including an increasingly deep investment in its own shipping.

eBay is very far behind.

CNET on the implementation of the new plan:

New seller tools coming this year will give eBay more information on sellers’ working hours and the location of products, so the company can provide more accurate shipping times throughout its US site.

Those same tools will power the guaranteed-delivery program, which professional sellers can use to highlight their speedy shipping. The new program, which is voluntary to join, may encourage other sellers to ship faster so they can opt in, too. Most smaller, amateur sellers likely won’t qualify for the program since they don’t have the warehouses and staff to guarantee these shipping times.

It is rather mind-boggling that eBay has not been building out its own logistics infrastructure over the last years.

eBay’s majority (and, arguably, its very identity as a marketplace in the eyes of end consumers) are those smaller, amateur(ish) sellers. Those sellers could use that infrastructure. Those sellers would jump at a one-stop-shop solution even if better, more efficient and/or inexpensive, alternatives were available. (And the absence of that solution may be the final straw for some sellers to leave eBay for Amazon. In other words: The costs of switching / multi-homing should not be underestimated.)

eBay doesn’t want to serve them and make more money off of its marketplace. (Remember: services, services, services.)

It is thus only a matter of time until a delivery provider -maybe even Uber in a couple of years- will come in and slowly but surely take over eBay’s seller base. (Companies like Uber or Postmates are only one frantic coding month away from opening up their own marketplace/distribution destination. Even if they don’t go that route they may eventually earn more money from eBay transactions than eBay itself. Even if it may be implicitly. By bundling merchants, for example. Those companies are not like UPS or FedEx. They have a different mindset.)

Meanwhile, Prime Now, with its two-hour deliveries, is already available in 45 cities in seven countries.

Combine this with the “seller-fulfilled Prime” programme and the dynamics a Prime badge can bring and you see a marketplace lifting itself ever higher.

Now, for the closing statement, let’s hear it from Hal Lawton, SVP for eBay North America:

“We have no plans to have warehouses,” Lawton said, “or take control of inventory or assortment.”


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