eBay serious about same-day in the UK, acquires Shutl

By Dan Wilson October 22, 2013 - 4:42 pm

eBay announced this afternoon that it will be buying same-day courier marketplace Shutl. President of eBay Marketplaces Devin Wenig made the announcement at a special press conference in New York City this afternoon.

Exact details of the deal, such the sum paid, have not been disclosed and any indications of future plans are hazy. But the direction of travel is clear: eBay is serious about same-day delivery in the UK and across the US.

I first wrote about Shutl last year when I heard the impressive Tom Allason speak. Allason has written about the deal on his company blog.

Shutl started offering same-day, even same-hour delivery slots in London several years ago and has expanded to serve other locations and this year took on several cities in the US. It pays to think of them more of a pizza delivery company than the Royal Mail or a courier. The clear synergy with eBay Now is obvious and with this deal it looks like eBay’s ambitions are pretty big.

What is fascinating and important is that with this deal eBay has taken a big leap ahead of Amazon in the same-day stakes here in the UK. Stateside, Amazon has been building a new infrastructure to accomdate faster deliveries. But over here has been less speedy. Shutl already has the basics of London same-day sewn up already.

One quite critical question is also unanswered: how can an eBay/Shutl hook-up be useful for Marketplace sellers, especially smaller ones who aren’t High Street retailers? eBay Now is not part of the eBay Marketplace. Rather it’s a stand-alone eBay branded service with access to just a handful of retailers. It would be interesting to hear if and how, this could be rolled out to help eBay sellers faster and more alluring merchants.

  • Gerry007
    8 years ago

    Assumably their max’ distance in the UK of 50 miles will not work….

    And with rates of between £92-£160 for a 50 mile journey they may be tad expensive….

    • 8 years ago

      That’s now. What next? With eBay money they can invest much more than they have so far.

      The notion, the idea, the possibilities… that’s what is really tantalising.

  • Oliver Ridley
    8 years ago

    A great acquisition by eBay, look forward to seeing how this plays out for business sellers and the buyer experience.

    • 8 years ago

      I’ve been a fan of Shutl for some time and feel very sure that this is gonna be a game-changer.

  • Mark
    8 years ago

    I notice that shutl cannot manage the 1-hour delivery that eBay want to offer.

    I tried getting a quote for a short journey (less than 1.5 miles, within the centre of Edinburgh, booking at 14:15). They claim to collect within 74 minutes and deliver within 135 minutes. They charge £6 for this (or £12 for collections after 19:45).

    Once time for the order being processed by the merchant is taken into account then a 1-hour service looks even less likely.

    There booking system seems to have some flaws. If I book a collection between 14:45 and 16:00 they claim that the delivery will be between 16:00 and 17:00 (for the example above). If a dedicated vehicle is being used for this service, and the item collected towards the beginning of the delivery window, then the delivery would happen a lot sooner than quoted.

    • JD
      8 years ago

      Get a taxi?

    • 8 years ago

      Taxis are already part of the Shutl fleet in London, I’d imagine.

      The thing here is not what they offer now, for it is not perfect, but what it might become.

    • JD
      8 years ago

      My point is that giving it to a 4th party costs more than DIY by either the first or second party giving it to the 3rd party.

      OK the 4th party will have ‘efficient’ systems but there are limits.

      and ‘….. little fleas have smaller fleas upon their backs to bit’em’ comes to mind.

  • davelovesbeay
    8 years ago

    I get a quote of £41 on an item for a motorbike. 10 miles up the road.

    For that price may as well do it yourself.

    • 8 years ago

      Yup. In that case, do you offer it?

      But for the right buyer and for the right item, in need and with funds… that could be a very good price.

      This isn’t to replace all that is currently on offer. It’s the new frontier.

  • northumbrian
    8 years ago

    1.5 miles by road in the centre of Edinburgh can take most of the Day, edinburgh traffic lights can stay on red for weeks ,it s quicker to walk

    • 8 years ago

      It’s the hills. the bloody hills.

    • northumbrian
      8 years ago

      Edinburgh’s flat compared to the surrounding countryside lol

    • paddy
      8 years ago

      Edinburgh traffic was fine until they decided to build a tram system that nobody asked for and wasn’t required. It is an exercise that makes the Scottish Parliament project look like a prudent purchase.

  • JD
    8 years ago

    For any of this we are talking about peeps with the money but without the time. It’s a very very small market and only likely to be profitable for high end sellers.

    I suppose that eBay can aspire to that but they must have lost their most recent focus.

    Trying to be all things to all people is not going to end well.

    And it does take a unique type of outfit to even dream of ruling the world. (I had to think for a long time to put it just that way!)

  • 8 years ago

    I don’t agree that it’s a small market. Let alone a very very small one. If we accept in the short term that eBay Now and the Shutl absorption is the start… we are talking very many millions of potential shoppers. It’s gonna take them a year or so to grow that.

    And there are lots of time poor money rich people who will pay for this. The US eBay Now experience (which I have written about) is instructive.

    And also remember: this isn’t for eBay sellers at all. Currently eBay Now is just for retailers. As I noted in the article.

    I would like to know how they expand that. But as yet. Not something that the average eBay seller is gonna get anything from.

    eBay will seek to be profitable… as any corp must.

    • Jimbo
      8 years ago

      There is also the possibility that it will fail and is not really what customers want or a sustainable demand (to make it viable).

  • JD
    8 years ago

    I didn’t mention eBay sellers. Just high end sellers and eBay trying to be all things to all people.

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