eBay set to ding eBay Now. What about shutl?

ebay noweBay is scrapping its within the hour eBay Now service in the USA. This fits in with their pattern of rationalising some of their ventures post split to concentrate on the core business. The move was announced in a blog post yesterday.

We’ve written about eBay Now several times before. It was a service that allowed buyers in certain locales stateside to buy goods from retailers and get delivery within the hour or same-day. It was fulfilled by retailers rather than eBay sellers.

RJ Pttman, Chief Product Officer at eBay says of the move: “Today we are retiring the eBay Now service in the U.S., including the local Brooklyn pilot program. Last year, we retired our eBay Now app and brought the program’s delivery capabilities and many participating merchants’ inventory into our core mobile apps. This significantly reduced our dependency on a separate standalone service. While we saw encouraging results with the eBay Now service, we always intended it as a pilot, and we are now exploring delivery and pick-up/drop-off programs that are relevant to many more of our 25 million sellers, and that cover a wider variety of inventory that consumers tell us they want. We will continue to pilot scheduled delivery in the UK.”

We’re not entirely sure what this means. But it does make us wonder on several levels. It looks like eBay is retreating from the same-day super quick delivery battleground that Amazon is successfully expanding in to with Amazon Prime Now. That’s hardly surprising: Amazon can fulfil orders itself as a retailer in its own right with a solid distribution network and also by plugging into FBA.

We also don’t know what the last line means – “We will continue to pilot scheduled delivery in the UK.” eBay Now was launched in London but we haven’t heard much about it since.

And in particular we wonder what this means for the excellent business eBay acquired in October 2013 called shutl.

Founder Tom Allason was an interesting and inspiring figure and since eBay bought his company out he has been sadly quiet. Maybe now he’ll be unleashed once more? Hope so.

It seems that eBay has realised that it is not best suited to projects that require it to have an infrastructure of delivery and fulfilment and that makes a lot of sense. It has 20 years experience as the enabler – like airbnb, uber and the like – it has great talent as a middleman and maybe it is remembering that.