eBay today invited some San Francisco users to a new same-day shipping service called eBay Now. An iOS app, eBay Now’s beta will let SF residents get $5 same-day shipping on products from local stores. It’s now signing up users for an “exclusive beta”. Anyone can register, and those admitted should get a download link soon.
Startups like TaskRabbit and Uber have given consumers a taste of instant gratification, and now it seems eBay wants to deliver the same satisfaction. We are witnessing the rise of convenience tech.
Rakesh Agrawal tweeted about being invited to eBay Now this morning. It only works for purchases over $25, but beta testers get $15 off their first eBay Now order plus free shipping on their first three orders before a $5 delivery fee kicks in.
[Update: I've gotten some more details from eBay. You can eBay Now from any store on its Milo platform, the service is open to SF residents M-Sat 9am to 9pm and Sunday 9am-6pm, and deliveries can arrive in as little as an hour but a store must be open at least a half hour after an order is place. Partnered stores include Macy's, Toys'R'Us, Target, and Best Buy. Those invited will get prioritized for access before general signups. Finally, eBay will be gauging user interest to figure out product updates and whether to further roll out eBay Now.]
Below is the email those invited to the beta received, though you can sign up here to get eBay Now when it’s ready:
We know you love shopping on eBay. But sometimes you just can’t wait for shipping. Sound familiar?
If so, we’ve created an exciting new way to shop. Starting today, for purchases of $25 or more, San Francisco shoppers can order products from local stores and have them delivered to their door — at home, at work, or anywhere else in San Francisco. The new service is called eBay Now, and you can download it here for your iPhone®, iPad®, or iPod® touch.
Since eBay Now is in beta, we’re taking $15 off your first order and offering FREE delivery for your first three! After that, each delivery during the beta period is only $5. Your orders arrive fast — usually within an hour! Pretty convenient, huh?
Download the app now and try it out. If you like it, share it!
You have three invites for friends and family.
The eBay Now Team
eBay Now could go head-to-head with Amazon, which is said to be planning warehouses in major cities to offer its own same-day shipping. This could shorten the wait for Amazon Prime users, who for an $79 a year subscription get free two-day delivery and $3.99 next-day delivery. However, Amazon’s CFO Tom Szkutak said “we don’t see a way to do same-day delivery on a broad scale economically” during the company’s Q2 earnings call.
The distribution network required to execute same-day service could be immensely expensive for Amazon, and even more so for the less-equipped eBay. Failure to produce a reliable or affordable service could be a big waste of resources. Szkutak’s comments do leave open the possibility of same-day service like eBay Now in metropolitan areas, which is certainly easier than in spread out rural locales.
eBay Now will also have to take on nimbler startups like Postmates Get It Now and Y Combinator’s brand new Instacart, one-hour(!) delivery services for take-out food, groceries, and other store-bought goods.
They certainly appealing to customers. If I’m in a big city surrounded by brick-and-mortar stores and want something immediately, why wait days by going with ecommerce unless there’s a super-speedy shipping option? Yes, so you never have to leave your cave. But eBay Now could turn your briefest impulse into products at your door just hours later.