Can eBay Fight Its Way Back With Same-Day Shipping?

By on August 7, 2012
Dru Bloomfield

When the pendulum swings, it swings hard… especially online. We’ve seen it time and time again; no matter how dominant a company may be online, you’re never much more than one false move from irrelevance. We’ve seen it happen with Digg and Hotmail, and we’ve certainly seen it with eBay.

What’s interesting about each of these examples is that they’re all 3 trying to make a dramatic user-centered comeback at this very moment. Digg just relaunched after being sold for a mere $500K; Microsoft just launched a clean, well-organized Outlook.com interface to claw its way back into inbox advertising relevance; and, in a very similar fashion, eBay is testing a feature that’s sure to make customers happy.

Much like it did with its RedLaser App, last Fall, eBay is working overtime to leverage a combined mobile/customer service attack. Unlike RedLaser, however, I think eBay’s latest effort might actually pay off.

The newest service, an iOS app called eBay Now, offers same-day shipping for any purchase for $5. Basically, it’s a faster version of Amazon Prime, without the $79 yearly subscription fee.

Right now, the beta version of eBay Now is only available to shoppers in the San Francisco area, but I expect they’ll roll it out to other major metro areas by the holiday season. If eBay can somehow make the economics of this app profitable, $5 same-day shipping is definitely an attractive offer. If it were available in Austin, I’d try it out.

Ebay, much like the other two companies, suffered a number of missteps that took them away from what had initially made them so attractive and we’re then outflanked by a more consumer-centric rival.

For eBay, it was the move away from the addictive bargain-hunting thrill of the online auction. As eBay became more like Amazon, its only viable competitor, Amazon simply did it all a little better. Through its history, Amazon has placed unbelievably huge bets on customer satisfaction — and it’s paid off.

Have any of you guys in the SF area tried eBay Now? What did you think?

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