Ebay’s testing of “last-mile” delivery hasn’t been totally shelved, it seems. The company, distancing itself from its earlier eBay Now initiative, announced today that it’s expanding its eBay Local pilot program in Brooklyn with the addition of 80 small businesses that will offer scheduled and same-day delivery, as well as in-store pickup to area customers.
On November 19 eBay migrated its eBay Now delivery service to its main website and mobile app as the company began to rethink how it wants to handle same-day deliveries. Instead of continuing to expand to dozens of markets across the U.S., eBay said it was folding eBay Now into “core,” and it pulled its eBay Now app from the App Store. The eBay Now website is still up-and-running, and still sporting the “eBay Now” branding, though, because Now is still powering local deliveries occurring through eBay Local.
However, eBay’s newer focus is more about working with smaller sellers whose customers may prefer picking up items bought online in their local stores. To that end, eBay last year bought a same-day delivery startup Shutl, which uses a “click and collect” model in the U.K. that allows shoppers to pickup their eBay purchases from retailer Argos. Meanwhile, for same-day deliveries, Shutl uses local couriers. (eBay previously used valets to deliver packages in the U.S., but switched over to the Shutl platform here this spring, Reuters reported.)
Today, eBay is touting its “eBay Local” service, which is basically the rebranded eBay Now offering with the added pickup options. Like eBay Now, eBay Local is offered in limited markets. In the U.S., it runs in New York (including Brooklyn and Queens), San Francisco and parts of the Peninsula, San Jose, Dallas and Chicago. In addition, eBay runs Local programs in the U.K., Germany and Australia, it says.
In these markets, customers can choose to have items delivered through traditional means, opt for same-day delivery or pick up items for themselves at nearby stores.
“We find that our customers like having choice, based on when they need the item and how much they want to pay to get it,” explains Tom Allason, senior director of eBay’s Local initiatives, in a brief post announcing the Brooklyn expansion. Actually, what eBay really found is that customers weren’t really clamoring for same-day delivery in large numbers, which is why a standalone, same-day delivery service didn’t really make sense.
For consumers, including those shopping eBay or its retailer competitors also experimenting with same-day (including Amazon and Walmart), free delivery and lower prices are generally more important than the instant gratification of same-day delivery, which still has obstacles like having to order by certain cutoff times. Customers seem to be unwilling to shoulder the cost of same-day delivery as well, making it hard for retailers to generate significant revenues from the option.