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Happy 7th Birthday eBay Fast & Free (now please get updated)

By Chris Dawson September 18, 2019 - 11:00 am

Spotted on the eBay home page today: An advert urging prospective sellers to qualify for the eBay Fast & Free badge. ‘Stand out from the crowd’ is the message but there is a problem. Although many buyers appreciate free shipping, don’t expect it to be fast. It’s hard to believe that, with today’s retail standards of next day (sometimes even same day) being par for the course, eBay are still promoting three working day shipping as ‘Fast’ (four days if you include today).

eBay Fast & Free = Delivery next week

To put eBay Fast & Free into perspective, it’s Wednesday lunch time, it’s the middle of the week and if you were indulging in a bit of retail therapy you wouldn’t be surprised to find that your purchases arrived tomorrow on Thursday. It would be reasonable for your purchases to arrive on Friday, but eBay are asking you to accept that if what you buy today on Wednesday arrives next Monday you should consider that to be fast shipping. This is a real screen shot taken from eBay at 9am this morning:

eBay Fast & Free Shipping screen shot

If buying midweek and not receiving your purchases until next week is fast shipping it does beg the question as to what eBay considers to be slow shipping? Buy Wednesday and receive next Wednesday? That’s ridiculous! We live in a relatively small country where Royal Mail can transport lightweight items at a reasonable cost the 874 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in 24 hours. With a few outlying Islands as exceptions, just about every courier in the land delivers in 24 hours and all the major couriers only offer 24 hour or 48 hour delivery options. Delivering next week is not fast.

I can already hear some Tamebay readers shouting in my head that there are couriers such as for pallet deliveries which can’t deliver within 48 hours and yes, you are correct. However for the majority of items being delivered by post or regular courier one or two days is the norm.

If delivery next week is fast, what’s slow?

There are certainly sellers who work part time and need a couple of days to despatch items but this would be classed as slow delivery by anyone’s standards. Most professional sellers are set up to pick, pack and despatch at lightning speed, certainly either same day or next day, so why is a two day despatch time classified as ‘fast?

In a nutshell, the problem we still have on eBay is that there is no way to highlight sellers who can still deliver purchases this week rather than next week and no way for buyers even to search for sellers who can genuinely deliver fast (whether free or paid for).

Not every buyer is in a hurry for a purchase. If you’ve just won a fabulous antique you’ve been watching for 10 days on an auction you’re unlikely to be in such as rush for your purchase that you want it tomorrow. However for millions of consumers there is a reasonable expectation that if you’re shopping on Wednesday lunch time you are likely to get the goods delivered before the weekend…. Especially when they have a badge that says delivery will be Fast & Free.

After 7 years, eBay Fast & Free needs updating to today’s retail standards

Buyers love free delivery – ask the millions that pay for Amazon Prime and have free delivery on virtually everything that they buy. However buyers also love fast delivery – again ask the millions that pay for Amazon Prime. Delivery next week for a Wednesday purchase is not today’s retail standards.

It’s time for eBay to stop advertising eBay Fast & Free in it’s current format, bite the bullet, accept that times have changed since Autumn 2012 when Fast & Free rolled out in the UK. Couriers have upped their game, Amazon have upped their game, retailers have upped their game. We’re starting to feel the 7 year itch and it’s no surprise that buyers are having an affair with Amazon.

Either scrap Fast & Free or tighten the requirements on sellers to qualify for the badge so that the fast part of the promise meets retail standards. eBay Fast & Free should be updated to a next day service with a same or next day despatch as the slowest option and if some sellers can’t meet that standard it’s not a problem, they just won’t get the badge on their listings but for those that do it will signify a service fit for 2019’s retail standards.

  • 3 months ago

    It only needs a little tweak really, but it does need one.

    Fast & Free can seem slow if you order at the wrong time of the wrong day, but on the other hand, you can order on a Monday lunchtime and potentially receive the item as early as Wednesday morning, from any sellers using 2nd class/RM48 post who dispatch same day.

    Most ebay buyers seem happy with fast & free, as they don’t opt to pay more for 1st class/RM24, even when it’s a tiny optional amount like 50p. But for those who want it faster, it needs to be easier than looking into the detail of each listing.

    Ebay should either automatically display the other delivery options plainly next to the listings in the search results (though this could look a little busy) or add search result filters for same day dispatch and next day delivery costs.

    This would help expose Chinese location abusers, who wouldn’t be able to offer next day delivery for 50p/£1 extra and tempt the sort of people who habitually use Amazon Prime.

    So keep fast & free as it is, but have a proper get it faster option.

  • 3 months ago

    The ordering on a Monday and ‘potentially’ receive on Wednesday is exactly where the problem lies with Fast & Free because that offer will be mixed up with a load where the delivery promise is Thursday. Equally there will be some that could still delivery Tuesday.

    What we need is exactly what you say – an option to choose a genuinely fast delivery and highlight the fantastic sellers that choose to offer the service so that buyers can search for it. In the mean time Fast & Free isn’t fit for purpose without a little tweak.

    • 3 months ago

      Yes, there might be a spread of delivery dates under Fast & Free, but those dates are displayed in the search results. It’s not spot on all the time, but you can see roughly when things should arrive. eg. today, a Wednesday, I can do a search and find the same item from various sellers that could be delivered before, during or after the weekend, all under the fast & free banner.

  • 3 months ago

    “Buyers love free delivery “……………..there is no such thing as “FREE” delivery – all delivery costs are added to the item price. Many of my buyers buy multiple items, they don’t want to have to pay for shipping twice, three times or more. They want to be able to buy the item at the price it is advertised and then ask for a combined invoice…..something that is becoming increasingly difficult on eBay. Many buyers follow my instructions to put items into their basket and then request a total from the seller only to be greeted with the screen that says – This seller does not combine postage. This is nonsense and presumably only comes about because eBay wants the commission on the extra shipping on each item.

    • 3 months ago

      Sounds like your buyers may benefit if you added multi-buy discount on some of your items. Done correctly, they would get a fairer delivered price, without all the hassle you mentioned.

  • 3 months ago

    No – eBay Multi-Buy pricing enables sellers to offer discounts to buyers when they buy multiple quantities of the same item. … I mainly sell unique items so my buyers buy a number of different items. For example: sheets & pillowcases or tablecloths and napkins. Maybe four or five different items. It is even worse for international buyers who often like to buy 8- 10 items over 1 couple of weeks to keep shipping costs low

    • 3 months ago

      There’s 2 ways of doing it. Promotion would cover a mix and match type multi-buy. It sounds like it would be tricky for you, but it can work. Some of the bigger booksellers do it.

  • Dav
    3 months ago

    Fast & Free/Guaranteed Delivery is just another eBay gimmick for buyers in a long line of gimmicks and always has been. How does a company that ships NOTHING and has no shipping network guarantee anything? It’s as if they think they control the speed which carriers will deliver.

    Even those that will get conned into their Managed Delivery program will have no guarantees. Just imagine how badly eBay will botch this like they do everything else. eBay won’t ship on time, send the wrong items, package poorly, then dump all the problems on the seller and take no responsibility themselves. Because that’s what eBay does. But hey, they’ll get your money for the program, get a lot of buyer complaints and returns, and steal more from you in seller penalties! That’s all they’re really aiming for.

  • Stephen Wright
    3 months ago

    One thing I’m amazed that you still can’t filter by on eBay – NEXT DAY DELIVERY…

    Daughter wanted some goggles for swimming early next week, so jumped on ebay – filtered “UK only” – then went to shipping – no option for speed of delivery just “Free postage” or “Click and collect”… Not much competition to Amazon Prime there

    • 3 months ago

      Yep, that’s what most sellers would agree is needed, whether as an overhaul of fast & free or a filter option. I guess the only sellers who’d be against it would be those who can’t manage same day dispatch.

      Ebay have all the info in place and you can find it if you delve into a listing, but you have to do it individually, listing by listing. This shouldn’t be the case.

  • steve
    3 months ago

    It’s not surprising really is it? eBay a company with no experience in the world of physical business – no experience of buying stock, warehousing, distribution, tells it’s sellers what to do based on their experience of gathering data off their own flawed platform. Now how could you ever get it right?

  • Toby
    3 months ago

    Excatly. What i want to see is Get it next WORKING day or get it within 2 working days… It just needs to be clear. More confusion is caused by some couriers delivering on sat, even sunday and royal mail delivering sat… It all adds up to a very mixed bunch.
    Froma sellers point of view the list of postage methods doesn’t help… it is long winded and doesn’t always apply. I would like to see the options of 1, 2, 3 and 5 day delivery just like that, not having to pick a random courier just because the time frame fits.
    I get plenty of buyers asking where their item is when it states 2 to 3 days and it’s only the 2nd day!
    I was suprised to see a fast and free item the other day i and i worked out it would take best part of a week to get to me! If it is not within 48hrs then i don’t consider it to be fast.
    Oh and maybe a next day GUARANTEED option…. normal next day is NOT guaranteed and this too causes issue if it is ‘late’.

  • 3 months ago

    “Buyers love free delivery – ask the millions that pay for Amazon Prime and have free delivery on virtually everything that they buy.”

    Many of the users subscribe to prime for the other benefits, I doubt that many pay for the fast delivery or more would pay to upgrade to 1st class, only about 8% of my Amazon customers upgrade.

    I have just joined the SFP program and will need to add £3.30 to my prices to cover the extra postage, Amazon fees & VAT. Would they rather pay the extra £3.30 or the £1.50 upgrade I currently charge? Or maybe they are not in a hurry and would have been happy with RM48 for free.

    I wonder what results that poll would show?

    “However buyers also love fast delivery”, some do, other prefer something that arrives in good time but is cheaper.

    The eBay Fast & Free is well overdue an upgrade to show buyers what they really want rather than what eBay keep telling us they want.

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