eBay to take on Amazon Prime with Fast & Free

Fast and FreeIn a discussion with eBay CEO Devin Wenig and CFO Scott Schenkel, Wall Street analyst Mark May from Citi got the eBay top brass to discuss shipping options and how to compete with Amazon Prime.

Obviously, Amazon Prime has a lot of ecommerce people vexed because it is a good service and fast and free. Two day delivery on millions of things of sale and all for $99 stateside (£79 in the UK). It also engenders real loyalty from shoppers who think ‘Amazon First’ when shopping.

eBay is looking at introducing a three day delivery option in the US called Fast & Free and May says in his report: “In the second half of 2016 eBay will launch a “Fast and Free” initiative where they promote items with free shipping and 3 day delivery. The company believes 3-day shipping is the threshold for acceptable delivery and notes that a substantial share of packages already meets this criteria, with 67% of their packages shipped during the holiday season having been delivered in 3 days or less. We view the strategy of not trying to compete head-to-head with Amazon on shipping as a wise choice, but it is encouraging to see management recognize that fast and reliable shipping are now table stakes for many ecommerce shoppers.”

This, obviously, is a change that will not immediately affect UK sellers. The US scheme looks a lot like the eBay UK Fast & Free option that has been in place for some years. However, it might herald a new look at Fast & Free and perhaps also see it promoted more to buyers.

Naturally, eBay is right to look at shipping and how that impacts on buyers and whether they buy and shop more. Although equally it will never fill an eBay seller’s heart with joy that eBay may be looking at new ways of spanking diligent sellers.

But we do wonder if eBay is looking in the right place here.

At Tamebay, we’ve said this many times: we don’t understand why eBay doesn’t have a Next Day Delivery search option. eBay knows when sellers’ cut off despatch times so it could be implemented. As a use case it’s worth noting that I cannot right now go to eBay and search for items that will be delivered on Tuesday. On Amazon, I could search for goods I can get tomorrow (Monday).

And it wouldn’t even have to be free. It could be a premium service. But it’s not an option.

We’ll see how this one pans out.